In a recent article I covered the mystical science of Hebrew gematria, and demonstrated how God used the Hebrew alphanumeric system to establish spiritual connections between related biblical concepts and verses, and to watermark the Hebrew Old Testament. This examination will introduce the New Testament equivalent of Hebrew gematria, namely: Greek isopsephy.
The origins of Greek Isopsephy
The alphanumeric cipher on which New Testament Greek Isopsephy is based was devised to meet the same practical need which gave rise to the Hebrew alphanumeric system. Like the ancient Israelites, the ancient Greeks needed some kind of system for representing numbers in writing. To meet this need, they assigned each letter of their alphabet a specific numerical value. Once this system became universally accepted as the standard Greek system of numeral representation, it was only a matter of time before those whose first language was Greek began adding up the values of names and words, and we have evidence to suggest that this practice was relatively common in lands where Greek was the lingua franca by the time that the New Testament was being written.1
The Greek Alphanumeric System
The Greek alphanumeric system is charted in the table below. With but few exceptions (due to the letters digamma and qoppa later being dropped from the alphabet), the numbering of the Greek letters follows the exact same pattern as the Hebrew system.2 Note that the four last letters of the Greek alphabet were additions to the alphabet invented by the Greeks themselves to meet the needs of their own language. These are the only four letters that they did not inherit directly from the Phoenicians, which is why the Greek alphabet contains more letters than the Hebrew, with values ranging from 500-800.
|Σ σ ς||200|
|Φ φ ϕ||500|
Greek Isopsephy in the New Testament
In my last post, I cited several different examples which I believe prove that God used the Hebrew alphanumerical system to “encode” the Old Testament–using it to establish connections between prophetically related words, phrases, verses, and so forth. Given that the ancient Greeks assigned each of the letters of their alphabet with specific numerical values as did the Hebrews, this naturally raises to the question–did God similarly use the Greek alphanumerical system as a sort of cipher to cryptically establish connections between numerically equivalent words, names, phrases, and whole verses in the Greek New Testament? I say yes he absolutely did, and I will cite four specific examples which I believe prove that Greek Isopsephy was utilized by the divine hand to establish such cryptic prophetic connections between numerically equivalent biblical constructs and passages.
NT Greek Isopsephy: Example 1
As can be seen, when the values of all the Greek letters are summed, Jesus’ statement: “The testimony of two men is true” (John 8:17), is numerically equivalent with the statement that he makes in the very next verse: “I am one that bear witness of myself.” Although Jesus is only one man (John 8:14), during his earthly ministry he was both God in heaven (Matt. 23:9), as well as God on earth (John 14:9; cf. Rev. 11:4; Zech. 4:14). Not only that, but he was both fully God as well as fully man–having God as his biological father (Matt. 1:18; 1:20; Luke 1:35; John 5:18), yet being a biological descendant of Adam through his mother Mary (Luke 3:23-38). Accordingly, although he be only one man–his witness actually counted as that of two men because of his divinity and omnipresence. This appears to be the spiritual logic under-girding the numerical equivalency between these two statements. For those with eyes to see, this is just one of many examples which bears witness of the reality of Greek Isopsephy “codes” in the New Testament.
NT Greek Isopsephy: Example 2
I think the correlation between these two numerically equivalent verses is fairly self-evident. Both speak of Jesus Christ manifesting himself publicly in his glorified resurrected body. This example is particularly impressive due to the fact that the numerical value of the two verses is so large, which makes it exceedingly difficult to write it off as a coincidence.3 This is another fine example testifying to God’s use of Greek Isopsephy in the New Testament.
NT Greek Isopsephy: Example 3
Here’s another obvious one that needs no explanation. Note that Hebrews 11:19 speaks of Abraham’s demonstration of his unwavering faith in God by his willingness to offer up his son Isaac. The writer of Hebrews here points out that Abraham’s faith was rooted in the fact that God had long ago assured him that in Isaac his seed would be called (Gen. 21:12; Heb. 11:18). Thus, because Abraham knew that God is bound by his own Word and cannot go back on his promises once he has spoken them (Isa. 45:23; 55:10-11; Esth. 8:8; Dan. 6:7-17; Heb. 6:18), he knew that God would be obligated to raise Isaac from the dead after the sacrifice was performed. As can be seen, it just so happens that this particular verse happens to be numerically equivalent with the verse from the Gospel of John in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. And to make it even more astounding–it just so happens that these are the only two verses in the entire Bible that have the numerical value of 5766.4As a matter of fact, there is neither a single word in the entire Bible which shares this value. Taken together, it is practically statistically impossible that an alphanumeric equivalency such as this occurred by random chance. This is yet again another divine watermark testifying to the reality of Greek Isopsephy in the New Testament.
NT Greek Isopsephy: Example 4
For our final demonstration, let’s look at a more advanced example that requires a bit of exegesis and explaining:
In this example we yet again have a numerical equivalency between two whole verses. The relation between these two verses is not easily discernible unless one is a very advanced student of the Bible and also just so happens to possess a spiritual gift for understanding biblical prophecy. Thus some explaining is required to understand the connection here.
It should first be noted that the vision of Revelation 11 is inextricably linked to the prophetic vision of Zechariah 4. We know this because Revelation 11 identifies God’s two witnesses who are slain by the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit as the “two olive trees” (Rev. 11:4), which is a blatantly obvious allusion to the vision of Zechariah 4.5
In Revelation 11 we get several clues as to the identity of God’s two witnesses. In addition to being identified as the two olive trees of the Zechariah 4 vision, they are additionally described as “two prophets” (Rev. 11:10), as well as: “the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.” (Rev. 11:4).6 It is stated that they will prophesy and testify of Jesus Christ for 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth (Rev. 11:3). They are described as being hated universally by all the citizens of the world, who rejoice and celebrate when they are slain by the beast who makes war against them (Rev. 11:10). Yet the real clue to their identities lies in the miracles which they are described as being empowered to perform. Revelation 11 states that they have the power to shut heaven so that it does not rain during the days of their prophecy, as well as the power to turn waters to blood, and smite the earth with all plagues (Rev. 11:6). Those with even a modest amount of biblical literacy will immediately recognize these to be the miracles of Moses and Elijah.7 By this description, Revelation 11 thus identifies the two witnesses as Moses and Elijah, albeit not literally. As we will see, Moses and Elijah are merely symbolic types for what the two witnesses actually represent.
The key to understanding what Moses and Elijah signify as symbolic types lies in the writings of Luke (The Gospel of Luke, and book of Acts). For example, it is Moses and Elijah who appear in glory on the mount of transfiguration and converse with Jesus about his crucifixion that he is set to accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:30-31). This in and of itself is not unique to Luke’s Gospel, as the other two synoptic Gospels preserve the same record (Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4). Yet, although not explicitly named, Moses and Elijah appear two other times in Luke’s writings.8 Moses and Elijah appear again in Luke’s Gospel at the tomb of Jesus and testify to his disciples that he has risen and is no longer there (Luke 24:3-7). They then appear one final time in Acts 1 at the ascension of Jesus, where they testify to his disciples who are gazing up at the sky and watching him ascend that Jesus will so come in the same manner as they have seen him go up (Acts 1:10-11).
As others have rightly recognized, Moses was the great lawgiver of Israel, while Elijah was considered to be the greatest of the Hebrew prophets. Accordingly, they are figurative types of the Law and the Prophets, which during the time of Jesus constituted the Written Word of God in its totality. The appearance of these two Old Testament characters have thus been strategically placed in very specific scenes of Luke’s writings in order to create a prophetic allegory whose spiritual meaning is obvious to those whose spiritual eyes are open. To help make this allegory clear, I have provided the following data tables:
|Symbol||What he represents|
|Appearance||Action||What it represents|
|Mount of Transfiguration||Speaking with Jesus about his imminent death||witness to the death of Jesus|
|The Tomb||Telling the disciples that he was no longer there, but had risen.||witness to the burial and resurrection of Jesus|
|The Ascension||Telling the disciples that Jesus will so come in like manner as they have seen him go into heaven.||witness to the Second Coming of Jesus.|
Thus, the three appearances of Moses and Elijah in Luke’s Gospel and Acts 1 function as a prophetic allegory which states that the Law and the Prophets (signifying the Written Scriptures in their entirety) are the two primary witnesses which testify of the death, burial, resurrection, and second coming of Jesus Christ.
The Law and the Prophets today constitute what for modern Christians is the entire Protestant Old Testament canon. Yet it must be noted that, during the time of Jesus and the Apostles, the Law and the Prophets referred to the two-fold structure of the entire canon of Scripture. In our time, however, “The Law” and “the Prophets” more literally correspond to the Old and New Testaments.9 Moses (The Law) thus represents the Old Testament, while Elijah (The Prophets) represents the New Testament. This is not my private interpretation, but is literally proven by Scripture itself.10 It is further supported by the fact that word “testament” means “witness.” Thus, God’s “two witnesses” are none other than his two testaments.
When we import this interpretation of the two witnesses into both Revelation 11 as well as Zechariah 4–the cryptic meaning of both of these complimentary and interlocking prophetic visions is suddenly unlocked. Revelation 11 is a cryptic prophecy describing the Satanic war against the Holy Bible which began in the mid-seventeenth century and reached its climax in the nineteenth, while Zechariah 4 is a cryptic prophecy describing the two testaments merging together into one body to form the Protestant biblical canon in the sixteenth century.11
Thus Revelation 11 as well as Zechariah 4 are both prophecies about the biblical canon.12 Once we have this understanding, we now possess the eyes to clearly see the spiritual correlation between the two numerically equivalent Greek New Testament verses in our present example. Revelation 11:4 states: “These are the two witnesses, and the two olive trees, standing before the God of the earth.” As we saw, the two witnesses represent the two-fold canonical division of the Protestant biblical canon, and thus the biblical canon itself. When we understand this, the spiritual connection between Rev. 11:4 and 2 Cor. 10:16 becomes blatantly obvious. That verse reads: “To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand.” The Greek word that the KJV translators translate as “line,” in this verse is the Greek word κανόνι (κανών), from whence we get the English word “canon.”13 Note that this Greek word only appears a total of 5 times in the entire New Testament (2 Cor. 10:13; 10:15; 10:16; Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:16), and 3 of those instances occur in this one chapter. Thus, it’s not as if this is some kind of commonly used Greek word that appears multiple times in every New Testament book, which thus makes the numerical equivalency between these two NT verses all the more compelling. Indeed, when we have the knowledge and spiritual eyes to see that the two witnesses of Revelation 11 represent the two-fold canonical division of the Protestant biblical canon, it becomes literally impossible to argue that the numerical equivalency of Rev. 11:4 and 2 Cor 10:16 is a coincidence. This is yet another example which bears witness of the fact that Greek Isopsephy was a tool utilized by the divine hand to cryptically establish connections between prophetically related biblical constructs, statements, verses, and so forth.
The examples cited in this brief introduction to Greek Isopsephy all point to the same conclusion–namely that the Lord Jesus Christ (who is the author, editor, and redactor of the entire biblical canon) utilized Greek Isopsephy to cryptically establish prophetic connections between prophetically related biblical constructs, statements, and verses in the New Testament, just as he did with Hebrew Gematria in the Old Testament. In the next part of this series, we will take it a step further and show how such alphanumeric “codes” within the Bible are not bound by either language or testament.
- Psychoyos, Dimitris K. (April 2005). “The forgotten art of isopsephy and the magic number KZ”. Semiotica. 154 (1–4): 157–224. doi:10.1515/semi.2005.2005.154-1-4.157
- The Greek letter digamma (Ϝ) was the Greek equivalent of the Phoenician (and Hebrew) letter vav (ו). Like vav in the Hebrew alphabet, it was assigned the numerical value of 6. However, digamma gradually fell out of use and was eventually dropped entirely from the Ionic Greek alphabet. Accordingly, there is no Greek letter to represent the number 6, which is why the Greek alphanumerical system goes from 5 to 7. The same holds true for the Greek letter qoppa (Ϙ), which was the Greek equivalent of the Phoenician (and Hebrew) letter quph (ק). It was assigned a numerical value of 90, but was later dropped from the Ionic Greek alphabet, and thus the Greek alphanumerical system has no letter to represent the value 90.
- Generally speaking, the larger the numerically equivalent value–the more impressive the finding
- This factoid is brought to you by Richard McGowen’s Bible Wheel Gematria Database.
- In another post, I demonstrate how the golden candlestick (which is the symbolic centerpiece of the Zechariah 4 vision), which represents the word of the LORD (Zech. 4:6; cf. Ps. 119:89), is on one level a symbolic prefiguring of the Holy Bible as specifically exemplified in the Protestant biblical canon. This is a very important clue with regard to the identity of the two witnesses, as we shall see.
- Note that this would identify the golden candlestick of the Zechariah 4 vision as “the God of the earth” (Rev. 11:4; cf. Zech. 4:14)
- Moses turned all the waters of Egypt to blood with the rod of God (Exod. 7:17-20), while Elijah caused a three and a half year (1,260 days) drought during the reign of Ahab in Northern Israel (1 Kings 17:1; cf. Luke 4:25; Js. 5:17)
- For Luke, the appearance of Moses and Elijah at the mount of transfiguration function as their introduction. Just as a person does not need to be introduced twice, so too Luke only introduces Moses and Elijah by name during their first appearance in his writings. Although not named, the lack of a physical description of these two men (both at the tomb as well as the ascension) in Luke’s writings would suggest that Luke presumes that his readers either already know the identity of the two men, or will be easily able to figure it out.
- God orders history in such a way to where it always repeats itself, and he orders it so that the temporal things that exist in one historical period function as a figurative “types” or “shadows” of more literal and “true” versions of those things which will be brought into existence at some later historical period (Eccles. 1:9-10; 3:15; cf. Isa. 42:9). To apply this principle to the present example, one should thus think of the two-fold canonical division as exemplified in “the Law and the Prophets” as functioning during the time of Jesus and the Apostles as a figurative type of the “true” two-fold canonical division which would be brought into existence in the sixteenth century during the Reformation (Heb. 9:10). In this analogy, the latter two-fold canonical division is the literal fulfillment of what the former two-fold canonical division figuratively foreshadowed at an earlier time in God’s prophetic timeline. The key idea here, in other words, is that the Law and the Prophets were (during the time of Jesus and the Apostles) a “figure for the time then present” (Heb. 9:9).
- In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul literally states that Moses is a symbolic type of the Old Testament Scriptures when he refers to Exodus 34 where Moses covered his radiant face with a veil when he spoke with the children of Israel, which he interprets to be a prophetic allegory which foreshadowed natural Israel being unable to understand the meaning of their own Scriptures. Likewise Elijah’s miracles (multiplying food, raising the dead, etc.) foreshadowed the miracles that Jesus and the Apostles would perform in demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit under the New covenant. These parallels are deliberate, and are designed in part to establish an undeniable prophetic connection between Moses and the Old Testament, and Elijah and the New Testament.
- Note that these two prophetic visions also converge to form one large unified singular prophecy which is currently awaiting fulfillment, but that is a very intense and in depth topic that remains far beyond the scope of the present discussion.
- This truth is literally undeniable, being supported in numerous other ways by both Zechariah 4 as well as Revelation 11. As but one example, the Hebrew word for the individual branches of the golden candlestick (which is the central symbol of the vision of Zechariah 4) is קָנֶה (kaneh), which is the Semetic root word from which came the Greek word κανών (kanon), which is the word from which we get the English word “canon.” Interestingly, the LXX renders the branches in the description of the candlestick as καλαμίσκοι (kalamiskoi), which just so happens to be the same word for the measuring reed that John is given at the beginning of Revelation 11 to measure the temple of God (here a metaphor for the body of Christ). When recall that the word canon simply means “measuring reed” or “measuring line”, and analyze all of this evidence in its totality (especially if you will recall from my previous post that the Golden Candlestick is a proven symbolic type of the Protestant biblical canon) it all falls perfectly into place and makes sense. In Revelation 11, John is handed the complete Protestant biblical canon with which he is commanded to measure the body of Christ to see if it lines up with the divine standard.
- The Greek word κανών literally referred to a reed that was used as a measuring line or carpenter’s rule, which is why it is translated as “line” here.