Agape Bible Study


In addition to the study of the symbolic significance of numbers in Scripture is the study of the numbers formed by the letters of words themselves, which is known by the Greek word gematriaThis is the study of the words formed of letters of the alphabet used as number figures.  The Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and many other ancient peoples used their alphabets for numbers.  In their alphabets the letters are used for numbers with the value corresponding to the place in the alphabet.  The Hebrews used all 22 letters of their alphabet plus 5 finals.  The Greeks used the 24 letter alphabet and 3 additional finals.  The Romans only used 6 letters of their alphabet and their combinations to form numbers: I= 1, V = 5, X = 10, L = 50, C = 100, D = 500.  The number 1,000 was formed by two D's (combined to form an M like figure).  By adding up the values of component letters of a person's name, for example, the total yields the "number of a person's name."

The Apostle John, writing during the time of the first great Roman persecution of Christians, recorded in the Book of Revelations 13:18 that the number of the Beast was 666 and that this number was the number of a human being.  Most ancient MSS (hand-written manuscripts) of the book of Revelation record 666 as this significant number while others manuscripts record the number as 616.  Is it a coincidence that all the Roman numeral added together total 666 (excluding the symbol for 1,000 which was not a separate letter/ number but two "D"= 500 place back to back)?  Is it also a coincidence that the gematria for Neron Caesar (an alternate Hebrew spelling of the Emperor's name in wide use in the 1st century AD) totals 666 while the Greek spelling of Nero Caesar totals 616?  Six is the number of the beasts and of man (both created on the 6th day).  It is also the number which is symbolic of man's nature to rebel against the law of God. 

Examples of Gematria for Neron Caesar and Nero Caesar in Hebrew

נורנ רסק - (Neron Caesar) נור רסק - (Nero Caesar)
Name Symbol Value Name Symbol Value
Qoph ק 100 Qoph ק 100
Samech ס 60 Samech ס 60
Resh ר 200 Resh ר 200
Nun נ 50 Nun נ 50
Resh ר 200 Resh ר 200
Vau ו 6 Vau ו 6
Nun נ 50      
    666     616

The gematria of Roman numerals

Numeral Value
I 1
V 5
X 10
L 50
C 100
D 500
Total 666

The total of the numbers is 666.  The total of the Roman numbers is 666 [the "M" for 1,000 is two "Ds" back to back; there are only 6 Roman numerals].  666 is the number of the Beast.  Caesar was Rome and Rome was Caesar and Caesar claimed to be a god.  The word for "god" in Greek is theos.  Caesar god is Caesar (or in Greek, kaisar) theos.  The gematria is:

Name Symbol Letter Value
Kappa Κ K 20
Alpha Α A 1
Iota Ι I 10
Sigma Σ S 200
Alpha Α A 1
Rho Ρ R 100
Theta Θ T 9
Epsilon Ε E 5
Omicron Ο O 70
Sigma Σ S 200
Total     616

The number 7, however, represents perfection, fullness and completion - especially perfection through the work of the Holy Spirit.  In Revelation 19:16 there are 2 titles for Christ which St. John reveals to us form one "name."  Is he telling us to add the words together to determine the gematria of the titles?  The gematria of "King of kings, Lord of lords" in Aramaic (leaving out the "and") equals 777'a trinity of perfection in contrast to the Beast's number 666 which will never achieve perfection.  And the gematria for JESUS in Greek, the language of the New Testament documents is a trinity of 8's, the number representing rebirth, regeneration, and salvation:

Name Symbol Letter Value
Iota Ι I 10
Eta Η H 8
Sigma Σ S 200
Omicron Ο O 70
Upsilon Υ U 400
Sigma Σ S 200
Total     888

Michal Hunt Copyright © 2000 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Other recommended documents on this subject:

"The Significance of Numbers in Scripture" in the Documents section of Agape Bible Study
"The Significance of Jesus' Genealogy in Matthew's Gospel" in the Charts /Gematria section of Agape Bible Study.

Recommended Reading:

  1. The Handbook of Biblical Chronology, Jack Finegan; Hendrickson Publishers
  2. Numbers in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance, E.W. Bullinger; Kregel Publications.
  3. The Stromata, Clement of Alexandria; Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume 2; Hendrickson Publishers.