It is commonly taught that the Bible’s verse divisions are a construction of man which were devised for convenience long after the books of the Bible were written, from whence it is argued that these divisions have no divinely authoritative basis. The goal of this article is to cast this mountain of misinformation into the abyss where it belongs. In this article, I will show how God used the ancient Hebrew and Greek alphanumeric systems to create a system of alphanumeric watermarks which authenticate the system of verse divisions found in modern printed Bibles. It is my hope that by the end of this article, we will all be able to join hands and agree with one accord that the Bible’s verse divisions are just as God-breathed as the actual words of biblical writers (2 Tim 3:16).
Origins of the Bible’s verse divisions
Before we begin, something should be said of the origins of the Bible’s verse divisions. It is true that the system of verse divisions found in modern Bibles was not part of the original text. In their original form, the texts of both the Old and New Testaments contained neither chapter nor verse divisions. In the beginning, there was only text.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact time during the course of its transmission that the verse divisions we know today were added to the text of the Old Testament, as there doesn’t seem to be a unified consensus on when this occurred and who was responsible. Some say that it occurred very early on during the Talmudic period (ca. 135-500 AD);1 others claim that the Masoretes standardized the verse divisions sometime around 900 AD;2 and still yet others insist that Rabbi Mordecai Nathan created the OT verse divisions in the year 1448 AD. Whatever the case, what we can say with certainty is that verse divisions were not added to the text of the Old Testament until very long after the books of the Old Testament had been written.
In the case of the New Testament’s versification, things are not nearly as vague. It was Robert Estienne (commonly known as “Stephanus”) who devised the verse divisions found in New Testaments today, and these first appeared in his 1551 edition of the Greek New Testament. The system was well-received and very quickly became the standard for the versification of the New Testament. Estienne’s 1555 translation of the Latin Vulgate was the first complete Bible to contain verse divisions in both testaments. These verse divisions would also appear five years later in the Geneva Bible of 1560–which was the first English Bible to contain verse divisions in both testaments. Both systems of versification have appeared in practically every major edition of the Christian Bible ever since.
Verse divisions of the Old Testament vs. The Tanakh
With limited exceptions, the Jewish Tanakh has the same system of verse divisions as those found in the Christian Old Testament. There are a few isolated places where the versification of the Tanakh deviates in minor ways from that of the Christian OT. However these differences are very few and are usually extremely minor. While worth noting, these occasional minor differences will have no bearing on any of the evidence presented in this analysis.
The Hebrew & Greek Alphanumerical Systems
In antiquity, the system of Arabic numerals that is used universally throughout the world to represent numbers in writing today did not yet exist. Beginning around the late fourth century BC, it became standard practice in the Hellenistic kingdoms encompassing the former territory of Alexander the Great to use the Greek alphabet to represent numbers in writing.3 This involved the assigning of specific numeric values to each letter of the Greek alphabet. Thus was born the Greek alphanumeric system. It is theorized that the Jews took their inspiration from the Greeks when they devised their Hebrew alphanumeric system just a couple of centuries later, as both systems follow the exact same pattern and logic.4 Both systems were devised to fulfill the practical need amongst both Greeks and Jews to have systems for representing numbers in writing. But God in his perfect foreknowledge would use both of these systems to create alphanumeric watermarks which would authenticate the system of verse divisions which would later be added to the texts of both testaments many centuries later.
Evidence that the Bible’s verse divisions are divinely inspired
The way the system of alphanumeric watermarks work is simple. Essentially, God has designed it so that certain pairs of spiritually related verses from the Bible are alphanumerically equivalent. This means that when you add up the numeric values of all of the letters in each verse, they both equal the exact same total value. To demonstrate, let us consider some examples.5
Example 1: Zechariah 10:5 & Exodus 15:21
As shown above, when the numeric values of all of the containing Hebrew letters of Zechariah 10:5 and Exodus 15:21 are summed, they both equal exactly 2,168. As indicated by the highlighted portions of text in the figure above, the prophecy of Zechariah 10:5 states that “the riders on horses” shall be confounded, while in Exodus 15:21 Miriam magnifies the LORD and declares that he has thrown “the horse and his rider” into the sea. The fact that these two alphanumerically equivalent verses just so happen to contain such a blatantly obvious parallel is obviously indicative of deliberate design.
Example 2: Zechariah 13:1 & Deuteronomy 8:7
Here we can see that Zechariah 13:1 and Deuteronomy 8:7 are another pair of alphanumerically equivalent verses in the original Hebrew. Here yet again, both verses contain a striking parallel. Zechariah 13:1 is a prophecy which speaks of a day when “a fountain” shall be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Likewise in Deuteronomy 8:7, Moses tells the children of Israel that the LORD is bringing them into a land “of fountains and depths”. Thus we have a set of verses which are alphanumerically equivalent in the original Hebrew, which both just so happen to speak of fountain(s) being given to the children of Israel.
Example 3: Matthew 7:22 & Jude 1:16
As can be seen, Matthew 7:22 and Jude 1:16 are alphanumerically equivalent in the Greek NT.6 What the Lord has done here with these two alphanumerically equivalent verses is very interesting, in that he has designed it so that Jude 16 essentially functions as a statement of clarification which identifies who Jesus is referring to in Matthew 7:22. In fact, if you were to append Jude 16 to the end of Matthew 7:22 and read it as one continuous mini-paragraph–you’ll find that it’s as if both verses come together to form one new unified statement. The two fit together so perfectly you’re almost left feeling like you’ve just officially united peanut butter with jelly. It is very obvious that this was done by deliberate design.
Example 4: John 7:7 & Matthew 5:11
As shown in the table above, John 7:7 and Matthew 5:11 are alphanumerically equivalent in the original Greek when the numerical values of all of their containing Greek letters are summed–both verses carrying a total numeric value of 10,316. Here yet again the topical correspondence between the two verses should be obvious. In John 7:7, Jesus tells his disciples that the world cannot hate them, but rather hates him–because he testifies that its works are evil. He is essentially telling them that they should therefore not be surprised when they are persecuted by the world for his namesake. Indeed, anyone who stands for God’s righteousness in any generation will always suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). Likewise, in Matthew 5:11, Jesus tells his disciples to consider themselves blessed when men shall revile, persecute, and falsely accuse them for his sake. The fact that these two verses are alphanumerically equivalent in the original Greek, and just so happen to be speaking of the very same principle, is obviously by deliberate design.
Example 5: John 11:43 & Hebrews 11:19
This one is probably my favorite alphanumeric watermark in the entire Bible. The topical correspondence between these two alphanumerically equivalent verses is so self-evident that there shouldn’t even be any need for me to expound upon it. In John 11:43, Jesus commands Lazarus (who had been physically dead for four days) to come out of his grave. This is the only recorded instance in the New Testament of Jesus bringing a physically dead person back to life. Hebrews 11:19 is a statement made about Abraham’s unwavering faith in God’s ability to bring Isaac back from the dead if need be, in order to fulfill the promise that he had made to Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. That is what the verse is speaking about when read in its original context. But when this verse is read as part of this alphanumerically equivalent pair of verses, it’s as if Hebrews 11:19 gets extrapolated out of its original context, and miraculously transformed into a piece of divine commentary which speaks of Jesus’ unwavering faith that Lazarus would arise and come forth at his divine command.
Example 6: Revelation 1:7 & Acts 1:3
Revelation 1:7 and Acts 1:3 constitute yet another set of alphanumerically equivalent verses whose topical relation is self-evident. Revelation 1:7 speaks of Jesus’ appearing in glory before the eyes of the whole world at his second coming, while Acts 1:3 speaks of Jesus showing himself alive to his disciples “by many infallible proofs” after his resurrection. The fact that we have two verses which are alphanumerically equivalent in the original Greek, both of which just so happen to describe Jesus showing himself alive to a human audience after his resurrection–is obviously no coincidence. This is the finger of God.
Example 7: Mark 7:10, Matthew 15:4, & John 19:26
Here we have an example in which we have a total of three topically related alphanumerically equivalent verses in the original Greek. As can be seen, Mark 7:10, Matthew 15:4, and John 19:26 are all alphanumerically equivalent in the original Greek text of Scrivener’s Textus Receptus. What is remarkable about this is that, even though Mark 7:10 and Matthew 15:4 are different renderings of the same statement of Jesus, they are not worded exactly the same–and the differences in the Greek wording is more obvious than in English translation. The first five words of Mark 7:10 are entirely different from the first five words of Matthew 15:4. In addition, Mark 7:10 contains an additional σου which Matthew 15:4 does not contain. Despite all of these differences, both verses still miraculously both equal 10,319 in the original Greek when the values of all of their containing Greek letters are summed. The fact that these two alphanumerically equivalent verses in which Jesus’ speaks of the divine commandment to honoring one’s mother, just so happen to be alphanumerically equivalent with John 19:26, where Jesus speaks to his mother while on the cross, is the icing on the cake. It is abundantly clear that this did not occur by random chance.
Example 8: Genesis 28:15 & Luke 4:10
Up until now, we’ve looked at examples of alphanumerically equivalent verses which feature verses from the same testament. Examples like the one below demonstrate that these watermarks are not bound by language and testament:
As revealed in the figure above, Genesis 28:15 and Luke 4:10 both carry a total value of 6,633 when the numeric values of all of their containing letters are summed. The topical relation between these two alphanumerically equivalent verses should be self-evident. In Genesis 28:15, God assures Jacob in a dream of his divine presence, and assures him that he will “keep” him in all places where he goes–and will bring him again into the land he has promised him.
Luke 4:10 is actually Satan quoting a verse from Psalm 91 to Jesus out of context, in a crafty attempt to try and persuade him to jump off of the temple to prove his divinity. Nevertheless, the topical relation between these two alphanumerically equivalent verses is clear–as the verse quoted here is a divine promise that God will give his angels charge over his anointed, to “keep” him. Both verses accordingly feature a promise of divine protection issued from God himself. This is yet another example where the topical correspondence between the verses is so strong that you could append Luke 4:10 to the end of Genesis 28:15 and read them as one continuous paragraph, and it would sound like one unified statement straight from the pen of the same writer.
Example 9: Acts 15:18 & Exodus 20:11
Here we have yet another example of two obviously spiritually related alphanumerically equivalent verses from different testaments. As can be seen, Exodus 20:11, which describes God’s creation of the heavens and the earth (everything) in six days, is alphanumerically equivalent with Acts 15:18, which declares how all of God’s works are known to him from the beginning of the world. It should be noted that the seven days of creation as described in Genesis 1:1-2:4, on a prophetic level, functions as a symbolic outline of all of human history. In this paradigm, each day of creation signifies a period of 1,000 years, in accordance with the day is a millennium principle (Ps. 90:4; 2 Pet. 3:8)–ending in the seventh “day” of rest, which signifies the millennial kingdom of Christ (Rev. 20:1-6), or what rabbinic Jews would call “the messianic age.” Viewed through this lens, Exodus 20:11 becomes a recounting of God’s creation of everything in 6,000 years, from the beginning of the world until the second coming of Jesus, thus making the spiritual connection to Acts 15:18 even more apparent.
A timeline to help put things into perspective
I have created the timeline below to help put the evidence we have just looked at into perspective:
As stated earlier, both the Greek and Hebrew alphanumeric systems were devised to meet the practical societal need to have a system of representing numbers in writing. The Greek alphanumeric system was developed first, and is believed to have come into common usage sometime shortly after Alexander’s conquest of the middle East. The Hebrew system was developed by the Jews a couple of centuries later–perhaps as early as the time of the Maccabees. It is noteworthy that both systems were developed many centuries after the books of the Old Testament had already been written. The significance of this fact is that it proves that the Old Testament writers could not have consciously or deliberately placed any kind of alphanumeric codes in their writings, given that the system that such watermarks are based on didn’t even exist at the time that they were writing.
Even more importantly, the Bible’s verse divisions (which make the alphanumeric watermarks we have looked at in this analysis possible) were not created until 1350-1460 years after the last book of the New Testament was written! This proves that none of the biblical writers could have been responsible for creating these alphanumeric watermarks–since there is no way they could have foreseen at the time of their writing, that their writings would be divided into verses hundreds of years later. And even if they somehow had known this, there is no possible way they could have known what those verse divisions would be. The only logical conclusion one can make in light of these facts, is that God himself had to have been responsible for the Bible’s verse divisions. There simply is no other explanation.
The Bible’s verse divisions: Conclusion
In this article we have looked at several different examples of alphanumerically equivalent verses in the Bible containing obvious topical correspondence to one another. These alphanumeric watermarks are based on alphanumeric systems which were devised independently during the intertestamental period, in order to address a practical societal need to have a system for representing numbers in writing in Greek and Hebrew. We have seen that these pairs of alphanumerically equivalent verses frequently cross the language and testament barrier–a fact which by itself rules out the possibility that the biblical writers themselves could have conspired together to deliberately create these watermarks. This conclusion is further reinforced by the fact that these alphanumeric watermarks are dependent upon a system of verse divisions which was not devised until many centuries after the books of the Old and New Testaments were written. Taken together, the totality of the evidence all points to the same inevitable conclusion, namely–the Bible’s verse divisions are just as divinely inspired as the words of the biblical writers.
- Brotzman, Ellis R. Old Testament Textual Criticism: A Practical Introduction, 47. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998. Brotzman is careful to note that verse division does not necessarily mean verse numbering.
- FF Bruce was one of those in this camp. Bruce, F.F. “IX: The Text of the Old Testament.” In The Books and the Parchments, Revised ed., 121. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963.
- The oldest surviving artifact which contains a clear and objective use of the ancient Greek alphanumeric system is a papyrus that dates to 311-310 BC. Georges Ifrah, “Greek Alphabetic Numerals,” in From One to Zero: a Universal History of Numbers, trans. Lowell Bair (New York, NY: Penguin, 1988), pp. 267.
- Ifrah, 270.
- Note that for those of you who have read my articles on Hebrew Gematria and Greek Isopsephy, many of these examples should be familiar. I apologize in advance for the repetition.
- All examples in this article including verses from the Greek NT are based on the Greek text as it appears in Scrivener’s Textus Receptus (1894). It should be noted that there are a wide variety of divergent text-forms underlying the Greek NT, and these tend to be a lot more orthographically diverse than the manuscripts and editions of the Masoretic Text. Consequently, I cannot guarantee that any given pair of alphanumerically equivalent verses from the Greek NT shared in this article will be found in all editions of the Greek NT. The only edition I can guarantee that they are found in are Scrivener’s Textus Receptus. While it is tempting to interpret this as the Lamb placing his stamp of messianic approval on the latest edition of the Textus Receptus specifically, it is still possible that he may have similarly watermarked other editions of the Greek NT with different sets of alphanumerically equivalent verses than those found in this edition. More research must be carried out before any definitive conclusions on this matter can be drawn. For now all I can say with 100% certainty is that Scrivener’s Textus Receptus is divinely watermarked.