The Eighteen Principles of Divine Revelation

Principle No. 10 The Numerical Principle Part 1

By Clifton L. Fowler

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1924


The Numerical Principle is one of the most remarkable principles indicated by the Holy Spirit in the Word of the living God. Its very existence has "been spoken, of dubiously by some students because of their feeling that a direct statement concerning the Numerical Principle, giving specific significances of the numbers, is sometimes difficult to find. In a few instances their position is well taken so far as a direct statement is concerned, but from the standpoint of cumulative evidence the Bible demonstrates that these skeptical brethren have failed to observe all the proof which may be adduced.

Although some authorities are prone to view the Numerical Principle with suspicion their attitude is by no means shared by all who write on the Sacred Scriptures. For example consider the statement of F. W. Grant in reference to the Numerical Principle:

"The fact remains; the numbers are there. Let criticism do its work thoroughly, and prove if they are not. Let it be as severe as the subject demands, and let the pretension be exposed, if it be merely that. Certainly it ought to be easily disproved if untrue."

And again listen to the words of one whose testimony has been mightily blessed of God in the unfolding of the deep things of the Book of books, — James H. Brookes. His statement is brief, but very much to the point:

"There is Scriptural meaning in the numerals.''

Other Biblical scholars of no mean acumen have been led by the Spirit of God to see the beauty and accuracy of this wonderful principle and to write upon it. The illinninating work of Ivan Panin entitled, "The Structure of the Bible a Proof of Verbal Inspiration of the Scripture," the remarkable discussion by Dr. Milo Mahan entitled "Palmoni," and the book bearing the name, "Number in Scripture" by E. W. Bullinger of England are striking examples of this fact. The Numerical Principle has not escaped the attention of reputable Bible students although by many it has failed of recognition.

The definition of the Numerical Principle is, —

The Numerical Principle is that principle of Divine Revelation wherein God places a definite significance upon the numbers employed by the Holy Spirit in the Scripture and continues that significance with unbroken uniformity throughout the inspired Book.

There are certain numbers in Scripture which even the most casual reader will immediately recognize as doubtlessly carrying with them some hidden significance. The number forty is an example of this. What child in studying the ordinary Sunday School lessons furnished by the International Sunday School Lesson Committee has not wondered as to what could be the possible significance of the children of Israel spending forty years in wilderness wanderings, or the Lord Jesus spending forty days of hunger followed by the onslaughts of the devil? And w ho has not secretly wished that he might find some way of knowing the significance of the seven seals or the seven trumpets or the seven vials? And has there ever been a student of God's Word who has failed to discover a pressing inquiry in his soul as to why there should be twelve tribes in Israel and twelve Apostles of the Lamb, and twelve foundations to the city? These are certainly legitimate questions. They are questions to which the Word of God itself gives rise. Since we are told so plainly that, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God * * * and is profitable," we do not hesitate to say, "The numbers must have a message."

As we have observed the meanings of the particular numbers are not determined in most instances on the basis of a direct statement in the Word but on the basis of the agreement and context principles, — the cumulative result of the entire testimony of Scripture. Employing this method we proceed to the determining of the significance of several of the numbers.


The number one in Scripture stands connected with unity, hence points directly to Deity, and instantly; reminds us that God is the BEGINNING of all things. A few of the passages from God's Word in which the word "one" or the word "first" occurs will satisfactorily demonstrate the significance of this number.

Mark 12:29:

"The Lord our God is ONE LORD."

Again the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostle P shows to us the number one standing connected with the names of all three Persons of the Trinity, thus revealing the significance of the number itself and demonstrating the unity of the Trinity.

Romans 3:30:

"Seeing it is ONE GOD which shall justify the circumcision by faith and the uncircumcision through faith."

Romans 5:17:

"If by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by ONE, JESUS CHRIST";" and

I Corinthians 6:17:

"He that is joined unto the Lord is ONE SPIRIT."

1 Corinthians 12:13:

"For by ONE SPIRIT we are all baptized into one body."

Since the Scripture demonstrates the number one to stand associated with Deity Himself the secondary significance of the number becomes quite self-evident. It stands connected with pre-eminence, — the fact that God is at the head of all things, that He is first and that there is no other. This is shown in many familiar passages, as —

Isaiah 44:6:

"Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and hi; Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts: "I AM THE FIRST and I am the last and beside me there is no God."

And Revelation 1:11:

"I am Alpha and Omega, THE FIRST and the last."


Two in the Word of God is Election means choice. God's the election number. Election means Choice. God's election is invariably centered in the Lord Jesus Christ, hence two stands connected with the Saviour, the second Person of the Trinity. In one of the most striking passages in the writings of the Apostle Paul, election is defined. The passage is found in Rom. 0:11-12:

"For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger."

Here it becomes evident that election is the setting aside of the first and the establishment of the second.1 Hence number two, being the election number, we conclude that two is the number, the message of which in the Scripture is the setting aside of the first and the establishment of the second through a Redeemer. The body of Scripture bears out these conclusions. Paul presents the soul of the believer as torn between the dictates of two natures. It is the second which is to be chosen and established. Prophetic Scriptures reveal Israel in the Great Tribulation to be torn between two kings — the one the Antichrist and the other the true Christ Who finally comes back to His waiting and willing people. It is the true Christ, the second. Whom God hath chosen and established. Even the Psalm Book furnishes an illuminating and confirmatory testimony concerning the significance of two — the second Psalm closing with an appeal to choose or elect the second Person:

"Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and ye perish from the way when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."


I HE number three stands connected with tri-unity and resurrection. Thus we have the living creatures at the throne of God ascribing holiness unto Him Who sitteth upon the throne, repeating the word "holy" three times:

"Holy! holy! holy."

It is most significant that they stopped when they did. Would not additional repetitions have made their ascription more majestic and more impressive? Perhaps so. But majesty and impressiveness were not the things which they were desiring to set forth. The living creatures were declaring the tri-unity of God. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since three is the number setting forth the fullness of the Godhead it is appropriately used n the Scripture to stand connected with resurrection. Hence Jonah is cast forth in a typical resurrection from he belly of a great sea monster at the end of a period of three days, and Jesus, our wondrous Redeemer, is brought worth in an actual resurrection without His body seeing corruption on the third day.

The tri-unity set forth by the number three is not necessarily a tri-unity of goodness. This is shown by the number which is given to the Antichrist — the number six et forth in a tri-unity — 666. And Satan himself is depicted in the Scriptures as wielding three horrid tools or weapons in his determined warfare against the saints. His weapons are, the world, the flesh, and the demons.


Four is the earth number. Speaking of this number and its significance G. H. Pember says:

"Among other instances we read of the four quarters of the earth, the four corners of the earth, the four winds of the earth. Again created beings are described as 'Every creature which is in the heaven, on the earth, under the earth, and such as are in the sea.' The human race is summed up as, 'Every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.' There are four sore judgments for creation, the sword, the famine, the noisome beast, and pestilence. So, too, the destined earth rulers were directed, when marching through the wilderness, to pitch their tents in four camps, turned toward the four cardinal points. And lastly the visions of Daniel disclose four world empires." It is most heartening and encouraging to that student of the Word of God whose soul is hungry for the rich things to be found in the Bible treasure-trove to find others who have found joy in the same truths and whose investigation along these more or less recondite lines has met with identically the same result. Four is the earth number.


Five is the number of grace. This is shown in God's Word in many beautiful ways. When God in grace first poured forth the Holy Spirit in baptismal power upon His people it is recorded that about FIVE thousand received the Word (Acts 4:4). When the Lord Jesus looked out upon the hungry multitude and asked if there were any food for them it was found that there were but FIVE loaves and some fishes and out of that wondrous "FIVE" abundance was found for every hungry mouth. "Where sin abounded grace did much more abound." When the people of Israel were terrorized by the challenge of the Philistine giant a little lad, David by name — a type of the Lord Jesus, put the enemy to rout and led his brethren into glorious victory by means of FIVE smooth stones. And when Jesus came to earth fulfilling the Davidic type He too met the fierce enemy and gained eternal victory for His brethren by means of FIVE wounds. His hands. His feet. His side. When God erected the tabernacle in the wilderness He surrounded it by a wall of linen FIVE cubits high, supported by pillars erected FIVE cubits apart. So that upon entering the courtyard as the eye rested upon that linen wall, setting forth the flesh of the Lord Jesus, everywhere were seen the squares FIVE by FIVE, FIVE by FIVE, FIVE by FIVE. The coming of Jesus in the lowliness of the flesh was the wondrous manifestation of the wondrous grace of God. Throughout God's Word this message appears in the number five.



1) The election principle will be discussed as the thirteenth principle in the series on the Eighteen Principles of Divine Revelation.