What Does Number 3 Symbolize in the Bible? Examining the Significance of the Biblical Number Three

Have you ever noticed how often the number 3 appears in the Bible? From the Holy Trinity to Peter’s three denials of Jesus, the number 3 is used extensively throughout scripture. But what is the significance of this recurring symbol?

In many ancient cultures, the number 3 was considered a sacred number, representing completeness and perfection. The Bible is no exception. In fact, the number 3 is used over 300 times in the Bible, and is often associated with the divine. For example, Jesus was resurrected on the third day, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make up the Holy Trinity.

Additionally, the number 3 is often used as a symbol of unity and harmony. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, Paul writes, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” This passage highlights the beauty of how these three virtues work together to create a sense of wholeness and completeness. It’s clear that the number 3 is an important symbol in the Bible, and its significance cannot be ignored.

Trinity concept

The number 3 in the Bible is closely associated with the Trinity concept, which refers to the three divine persons of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The concept of the Trinity is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments, but it took centuries for the Church to fully understand and articulate it.

The Trinity is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, but it is hinted at in various passages. For instance, in the Old Testament, we have Genesis 1:26 where God says, “Let us make man in our image,” implying that there is more than one person involved in the creation of human beings. In the New Testament, we have passages like Matthew 28:19 where Jesus instructs His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

It is important to note that the Trinity is not a belief in three gods, but rather one God in three persons. This concept can be difficult to fully grasp and understand, and there have been numerous debates and discussions regarding its nature throughout Christian history.

Characteristics associated with the number 3

  • The number 3 is associated with completeness and perfection in the Bible. For instance, God finished the creation of the universe in three days (Genesis 1:13-19) and Jesus rose from the dead on the third day (Luke 24:46).
  • The number 3 is often used in repetition to convey emphasis. For instance, in Isaiah 6:3, the angels sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.”
  • The number 3 is also associated with unity and harmony. In Ecclesiastes 4:12, it says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Symbolism of the number 3 in the Bible

The number 3 is significant in the Bible and is found throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Not only is it associated with the Trinity, but it is also associated with several other important themes and symbols.

Here are some examples of where the number 3 shows up in the Bible:

Old TestamentNew Testament
Abraham has three visitors (Genesis 18)Jesus predicts Peter’s denial three times (Matthew 26:34)
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue with three parts (Daniel 2)Jesus prays three times in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44)
Jonah is in the belly of the fish for three days (Jonah 1:17)Paul’s sight returns after three days of blindness (Acts 9:9-19)

Overall, the number 3 in the Bible is rich in symbolism and meaning, and it conveys important themes and concepts like the Trinity, completeness, and harmony. As with all biblical symbols, it is important to study these themes in their historical and literary context to fully understand their significance.

Three Days of Darkness

The number 3 holds significance in the Bible as it is seen a number of times throughout scripture. It is often associated with spiritual completeness, divine wholeness, and perfection. The number 3 can also denote the Holy Trinity, which represents God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites were commanded by God to prepare for the Passover by sacrificing a lamb and putting its blood on their doorposts. This would protect their firstborn sons from the final plague that God would inflict on Egypt – the death of all firstborn sons. During this final plague, there was darkness over all of Egypt for three days.

  • This darkness was symbolic of God’s judgment for Egypt’s evil and idolatrous ways.
  • It was also meant to test the faith of the Israelites, who had to trust that they would be kept safe from harm during this time.
  • After three days, the darkness lifted, and the Israelites were allowed to leave Egypt and begin their exodus towards the Promised Land.

This event foreshadows the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which also occurred over a three-day period. Just as the Israelites were saved from the final plague through the blood of a lamb, so are Christians saved from their sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.

SymbolismMeaning
Number 3Spiritual completeness and perfection
Three days of darknessSymbolic of God’s judgment and testing of faith
Passover sacrificePrefiguring Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of sinners

The number 3 and the three days of darkness in the Bible remind us of God’s power, judgment, and mercy. They emphasize the importance of faith and trusting in God’s plan, even when things seem dark and uncertain.

Three Wise Men

The story of the three wise men, also known as the magi or kings, is one of the most well-known and significant references to the number 3 in the Bible. According to the Gospel of Matthew, these three men, who were likely astrologers or scholars from the East, traveled to Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews.

The three gifts they brought, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, are also symbolic and have been interpreted in various ways throughout history. Some see them as representing the infant Jesus’ royalty, divinity, and humanity, respectively. Others view them as foreshadowing events in Jesus’ life, such as his eventual crucifixion and anointing for burial.

Symbolic Meaning of the Number 3

  • In the Bible, the number 3 is often associated with divinity, completeness, and perfection. This is seen in the Holy Trinity, which is composed of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • The fact that Jesus’ ministry lasted for three years is also significant, as it represents a period of testing and completion.
  • Additionally, there are multiple instances in the Bible where events occur on the third day, such as the resurrection and the healing of the blind man in John 9.

Other References to the Number 3 in the Bible

Aside from the story of the three wise men, there are other important references to the number 3 in the Bible, such as:

  • The three temptations of Jesus in the desert.
  • The three crosses at the crucifixion of Jesus.
  • The three denials of Peter before the rooster crowed.
  • The three parts of the temple in Jerusalem: the Holy of Holies, the Holy Place, and the Outer Court.

Conclusion

Overall, the number 3 holds significant meaning in the Bible and is often tied to themes of divinity, completeness, and perfection. The story of the three wise men serves as a poignant example of how the number can be used to convey important symbolism and foreshadowing in scripture.

Symbolic Meaning of the Number 3References in the Bible
Completeness, perfection, and divinityThe Holy Trinity, three temptations of Jesus, three crosses at the crucifixion, three denials of Peter, and more.

Whether it’s through the three wise men or other references, the number 3 reminds us of the powerful symbolism and significance embedded within the Bible.

The Third Day Resurrection

The number 3 has great significance in the Bible, and it is no wonder that the concept of resurrection on the third day is one of the most important events in Christianity. In fact, the third day is mentioned multiple times throughout the Bible when it comes to resurrection.

Perhaps the most well-known example of the third day resurrection is the resurrection of Jesus. It is believed that Jesus died on the cross on Friday, the first day, and was resurrected on Sunday, the third day. This event is encapsulated in the Holy Week celebration of Easter, which is one of the most important Christian holidays.

What Does The Number 3 Symbolize?

  • The number 3 symbolizes completeness and perfection. In the Bible, God’s attributes are often described using the number 3, like the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
  • In Christianity, the three days that Jesus was in the tomb before His resurrection represent the ultimate sacrifice and the ultimate triumph over death.
  • Three is also considered a sacred number in other major religions such as Judaism and Islam.

Other Third Day Resurrections in the Bible

Aside from Jesus’ resurrection, there are other instances of third day resurrections in the Bible:

  • In the Book of Jonah, Jonah was in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights before being spit up on the shore. This symbolized Jonah’s “resurrection” and intervention by God.
  • Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, was raised from the dead on the fourth day after his death (John 11:39-44). However, many theologians still consider this as a third day resurrection since the Jewish counting of days considered a partial day as a full day.

A Table of Third Day Resurrections in the Bible

PersonBook/Chapter
JesusMatthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 26:61; 27:63; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 14:58; 15:29; Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:7; 24:46
JonahJonah 1:17; 2:1-10
LazarusJohn 11:39-44

These examples show how the number 3 and the idea of resurrection on the third day carry great significance in the Bible and in Christianity.

Holy Spirit

In the Bible, the number three symbolizes the Holy Trinity, which is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often represented by the number three because of its unique role in God’s triune nature. The Holy Spirit is the “third person” of the Trinity, and the number three represents the Spirit’s presence in the world.

God

  • The number three is significant in the Old Testament, where it is used to signify completeness and perfection. For example, God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, signifying completeness.
  • Additionally, the number three is used in reference to God’s attributes. The Bible often refers to God as “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3), emphasizing His perfection and completeness.
  • Finally, the three persons of the Trinity — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — illustrate God’s multi-faceted nature and characteristics. The number three is significant because it represents the fullness of God’s being.

Jesus

In the New Testament, the number three also represents completeness. Jesus was crucified and buried on the third day, signifying the completeness of His work on Earth. The number three also represents Jesus’ triune nature as the Son of God, as well as His position as the mediator between humankind and God.

The Number Three in Biblical Events and Symbols

The number three appears in many Biblical events and symbols:

SymbolSignificance
Three wise menThe three wise men brought three gifts to Jesus, representing his position as the King of Kings, the Sacrificial Lamb, and the God of our Salvation.
Three crossesJesus was crucified on the center cross between two thieves, representing the redemption of humankind.
Three temptationsIn the desert, Satan tempted Jesus three times, representing the significance of temptation, which Jesus overcame to represent the victory over sin.

The number three carries a rich symbolism of the Holy Spirit, God, and Jesus in the Bible. Understanding this can give us a greater appreciation of the Biblical stories and symbols that we encounter every day.

Three Temptations of Christ

The number three is used frequently in the Bible and holds significant symbolism. It represents completeness and wholeness, and is often associated with the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, the number three is particularly linked to the three temptations of Christ.

  • First Temptation: Satan tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread, to which Jesus replies, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). This temptation represents the desire to satisfy physical needs and desires, rather than relying on the spiritual sustenance provided by God.
  • Second Temptation: Satan takes Jesus to the highest point of the temple and tempts Him to jump, saying that the angels will save Him. Jesus counters with, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Matthew 4:7). This temptation represents the desire to test God’s power and protection, rather than having faith in His will and plan.
  • Third Temptation: Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offers them to Him if Jesus will bow down and worship him. In response, Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve'” (Matthew 4:10). This temptation represents the desire for power and influence, and the willingness to compromise one’s values and beliefs for personal gain.

The three temptations of Christ also serve as examples of how to resist temptation and follow God’s will. Jesus relied on Scripture to overcome each temptation, demonstrating the importance of studying and memorizing the Word of God.

Overall, the number three and the three temptations of Christ remind us of the importance of spiritual wholeness and reliance on God, rather than giving into our physical desires, testing God’s power, or compromising our beliefs for personal gain.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve'” (Matthew 4:10).

Number Three SymbolismMeaning
CompletenessGod’s work is complete and whole
TrinityRepresentative of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
ResurrectionSymbolic of Christ’s resurrection on the third day
Temptations of ChristRepresentative of resisting physical desires, testing God’s power, and compromising beliefs for personal gain

3rd Chapter of Books in the Bible

Chapter 3 of various books in the Bible holds significant meaning as it is often associated with new beginnings, redemption, and a fresh start. It was in the third chapter of Genesis where Adam and Eve fell into sin but were also given a promise of a savior. The third chapter of the Gospel of John speaks about being born again through belief in Jesus Christ. Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes emphasizes the importance of timing in life.

The Symbolism of Number 3 in the Bible

  • Trinity: 3 represents the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Christianity.
  • Resurrection: Jesus was resurrected on the third day after his crucifixion, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.
  • Completeness: It is believed that three repetitions or occurrences in the Bible represent completeness, for example, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty (Isaiah 6:3).

Number 3 in Biblical Events and Teachings

The number 3 is a recurring pattern throughout the Bible, appearing in both historical events and teachings. Some examples of the significance of number 3 in the Bible are:

  • Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and the ark had three levels.
  • It took three days for Jonah to be released from the belly of the fish.
  • Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.
  • Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion.
  • The wisemen brought three gifts to Jesus at his birth – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Number 3 in Spiritual Practices

Number 3 is associated with various spiritual practices as it represents harmony, balance, and divine guidance. Many people incorporate the use of threes in their spiritual practices, such as chanting a phrase three times or meditating for three minutes. In Christianity, the sign of the cross is made with three fingers – thumb, index, and middle finger – representing the Holy Trinity.

SymbolismMeaning
TriangleThe triangle symbolizes the Holy Trinity in Christianity.
St. Patrick’s CloverThe three-leaf clover represents the Holy Trinity.
Taizé PrayerThe Taizé prayer, which is a form of meditation, involves the repetition of short phrases three times.

The number 3 holds immense importance in the Bible and in spiritual practices and is often associated with new beginnings, completeness, and divine guidance.

Three Parts of the Tabernacle

The tabernacle was a portable tent where Israelites worshiped God during their exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. It was divided into three parts: the outer court, the holy place, and the Most Holy Place.

The Number 3 Symbolism

  • The number 3 represents the Trinity, as in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • It also represents completeness and perfection, as seen in the three days of Jesus’ resurrection and the three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness.
  • In the tabernacle, the three parts symbolize the different levels of intimacy with God.

The Outer Court

The outer court was the entrance to the tabernacle and was the only part accessible to all people. It symbolized the first stage of intimacy with God – salvation. Here, people would bring their offerings and sacrifices to atone for their sins before approaching God.

The outer court also had a bronze altar and a laver. The bronze altar was where sacrifices were burnt, symbolizing the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. The laver represented the sanctification and cleansing of believers through baptism.

The Holy Place

The holy place was the second section of the tabernacle and was accessible only to the priests. It symbolized the second stage of intimacy with God – sanctification. Here, the priests would offer incense, representing prayer and worship, and attend to the table of showbread, representing fellowship with God and each other, and the lampstand, representing illumination by the Holy Spirit.

The Most Holy Place

The most holy place was also known as the Holy of Holies, and only the high priest could enter it once a year on the Day of Atonement. It symbolized the third stage of intimacy with God – glorification. It contained the Ark of the Covenant, representing the presence of God. In this place, the high priest would sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial animal for the forgiveness of sins. When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place was torn, signifying that through His death, everyone could have direct access to God.

Tabernacle PartSymbolism
Outer CourtSalvation
Holy PlaceSanctification
Most Holy PlaceGlorification

The three parts of the tabernacle and their symbolism remind us of the different stages of our journey with God and the importance of having intimacy with Him.

Three Dimensions of Time

The number three symbolizes many things in the Bible, including the Holy Trinity and the three virtues of faith, hope, and love. However, in this article, we will focus on the number three’s significance in the three dimensions of time: past, present, and future.

The Number 3 in the Past

  • The patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
  • The three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness
  • The three crosses at the crucifixion of Jesus

In the past, the number three symbolized the completeness of God’s plan. The number is used to highlight significant events and people in history, such as the three patriarchs in the Old Testament and the three temptations that Jesus faced in the wilderness. Additionally, the number three is used to illustrate the completeness of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, with three crosses representing Jesus’ death alongside two criminals.

The Number 3 in the Present

In the present, the number three symbolizes the threefold nature of reality: physical, mental, and spiritual. These dimensions are interconnected, and neglecting one can lead to imbalance. The number three also represents the Trinity, the divine relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is present in the Eucharist, prayer, and community.

The Number 3 in the Future

In the future, the number three symbolizes the threefold nature of hope: memory, longing, and fulfillment. Memory reminds us of God’s faithfulness in the past, longing encourages us to keep our eyes fixed on the eternal, and fulfillment gives us hope for the future. The number three also represents the threefold nature of the resurrection: Jesus’ body, spirit, and divinity. This threefold nature gives us hope for our future resurrection and eternal life.

The Three Dimensions of Time in the Bible

Dimension of TimeNumber 3 Symbolism
PastAbraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Jesus’ three temptations; three crosses; completeness of God’s plan
PresentPhysical, mental, and spiritual; Trinity; Eucharist, prayer, and community
FutureMemory, longing, and fulfillment; Jesus’ body, spirit, and divinity; hope for resurrection and eternal life

Overall, the number three symbolizes the completeness of God’s plan in the past, the interconnectedness of physical, mental, and spiritual realities in the present, and the hope for resurrection and eternal life in the future. Understanding the importance of three dimensions of time in the Bible gives us a deeper appreciation for the complex and beautiful nature of God’s plan for humanity.

Three Strands of Cord

In Ecclesiastes 4:12, it says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” This passage is often used to refer to the importance of having strong, reliable relationships in our lives. However, this verse also has its roots in the symbolism of the number three in the Bible.

  • Three represents the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • In the Old Testament, Noah had three sons; Abraham was visited by three angels; and Daniel was in the lion’s den for three days.
  • In the New Testament, Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights before rising from the dead; and Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him.

The “cord of three strands” is a symbol of the strength that comes from having God at the center of our relationships. It represents a bond that cannot be easily broken because it is grounded in our faith. This passage encourages us to cultivate relationships that include God at the center, knowing that we will be stronger together than we ever could be on our own.

But what does this passage mean practically speaking? How can we apply it in our daily lives?

Three Strands of Cord in Practice

Practically speaking, the “cord of three strands” can look like:

  • A marriage that includes God as the foundation of the relationship.
  • A group of friends who pray together, worship together, and hold each other accountable.
  • A mentorship or discipleship relationship that is grounded in a shared love for Jesus.

When we have God at the center of our relationships, we invite His wisdom, guidance, and love into our interactions with others. This creates a bond that is strengthened by our shared faith. Just as a cord of three strands is stronger than a single strand, so too are our relationships stronger when God is at the center.

Conclusion

The symbolism of the number three in the Bible is rich and multifaceted. It represents the Holy Trinity and is woven throughout both the Old and New Testaments. In Ecclesiastes 4:12, three strands of cord represent the strength that comes from having God at the center of our relationships. When we cultivate relationships that are grounded in our shared faith, we invite God’s love, wisdom, and guidance into every interaction. This creates a bond that cannot easily be broken, and strengthens us in ways that we never thought possible.

Symbolic Meanings of Number 3 in the BibleBiblical Examples of the Number 3
Represents the Holy TrinityThree angels visit Abraham (Genesis 18:1-2)
Represents completeness or perfectionJesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights before rising from the dead (Matthew 12:40)
Represents unity or harmonyJesus asked Peter three times if he loved him (John 21:15-17)

Sources: Bible Gateway, GotQuestions.org

What Does Number 3 Symbolize in the Bible?

1. What does the number 3 symbolize in the Bible?
The number 3 represents completeness, as seen in the Holy Trinity, made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

2. Is the number 3 important in the Bible?
Yes, the number 3 appears throughout the Bible in various forms, including the three wise men, three days before Christ’s Resurrection, and three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness.

3. What other things does the number 3 represent in the Bible?
The number 3 represents resurrection, for example, with Jesus rising from the dead three days after his crucifixion. It also represents perfection, as the number three is considered the first true odd prime number.

4. What stories in the Bible involve the number 3?
Several stories in the Bible involve the number 3, such as Jonah being in the belly of the whale for three days and nights, and the three crosses on Calvary, where Christ was crucified.

5. Do other religions ascribe symbolic significance to the number 3?
Yes, the number 3 is important in many religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, where it is associated with the three jewels and the threefold path, respectively.

6. Is the number 3 significant in tarot or other forms of divination?
Yes, the number 3 is a powerful and meaningful number in divination, as it represents progress, balance, and creativity in many tarot decks.

7. How can I incorporate the symbolism of the number 3 into my spiritual practice?
You can incorporate the symbolism of the number 3 into your spiritual practice by meditating on its meaning, incorporating it into your prayers and rituals, and seeking guidance from spiritual leaders or books.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to learn about the symbolism of the number 3 in the Bible. By understanding its significance, you can deepen your spiritual practice and gain a greater awareness of God’s presence in your life. We hope you visit us again soon for more interesting and informative articles.