In the bible the symbolic meaning of the number 153 represents blessings and abundance in complete spiritual order from divine revelation and applied wisdom that is divinely established.
We live in a universe made of energy, the code for which, the language if you will, is based on math. Truth is expressed through God's creation in many ways; one among them is what we call mathematics. It is a foundational principle and frequently used as a consice language to communicate attributes of the Creator and His creation to man.
The books of the bible were written by men whose culture was steeped in the understanding and practice of ancient mathematic symbolism. Many times the lessons to be learned by reading these books are not so much in the apparent story told, but in the significance of the underlying details to be observed.
NUMBERS IN SCRIPTURE:
According to author and biblical scholar E.W. Bullinger, in his book titled "Numbers in Scripture", he claims the bible is filled with numerical and mathematic significance. The following is based on an understanding of his work.
Looking at the separate numbers:
1 is symbolic of God, unity, uniqueness, beginning,
5 is symbolic of grace, divine favor
3 is symbolic of completion, solid, real, substantial and entire
An interesting mathematical fact concerning the number 153 is that it's the sum of the first 17 integers. Meaning, the sum of the first seventeen numbers equals 153. 1+2+3+4+5+...+17 = 153. When you study the symbolic meaning of each number up to 17, this additional fact becomes deeply thought provoking. Moving on...
3 is complete - and the first number that 153 is wholly divisible by.
17 is the number for perfection of spiritual order. 3 (complete) x 17 (perfect spiritual order) = 51
51 is the number of divine revelation and wisdom.
3 and 17 are prime numbers, 51 and 153 are not. Prime numbers are not evenly divisible (expect for the number 2). 3 x 17 = 51. Therefore 3 and 17 are the more dominant focus in this particular equation. 51 (divine revelation and wisdom) is an intermediary or a “stepping stone” in between.
3 (complete) x 17 (spiritual perfection) = 51 (complete spiritual perfection in divine revelation and wisdom) x 3 (complete) = 153. Note that the number 2 is symbolic of something being divinely established. So when x 3 is used twice that means the completion is established. It's like double-stamping "complete" and adding two exclamation marks!!
153 is the number representing blessings and abundance in complete spiritual order from divine revelation and applied wisdom that is divinely established. And also a little more covertly the essence of Jesus’ ministry and the number of the Sons of God.
BLESSINGS: In the NT the Lord directly blessed a grand total of 153 people in 48 separate incidents. See [Ref 1] below for list.
ABUNDANCE: The miraculous draught or catch of fishes (John 21:1 - 11). After Jesus was put to death, a distraught and discouraged Peter decided he wanted to go back to the comfort and safety of his former profession of being a fisherman (John 21:2 - 3).
Upon hearing his plans several of the other disciples (Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other unnamed disciples) went with him to fish on the Sea of Galilee. The men fish for an entire night and catch nothing. In the morning, Jesus calls to them from the shore and asks if they caught anything. They answer no. They are then told to drop their nets on the right side of the ship. Then it happens, almost immediately- When they try to bring the net out of the water it is so FULL of fishes that it nearly sinks their boat! On shore, Peter counts a total number of 153 fish in the net.
"Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn." - John 21:11
Symbolizing abundance, 153 can even represent an OVERFLOW blessing from God. The Bible states the disciples marveled at the fact that their net held together even though it contained so many large fish. (John 21:11) Additionally, the catching of such a large amount of fish happened only after Christ became involved. This is a subtle reminder that without Christ the disciples' attempts to accomplish something great on their own will fail, but that with Jesus all things are possible (John 15:5).
Other than the symbolic significance of 153 fishes there are two other great lessons to be learned here
- That the net catching the abundance does not break- meaning you’ll be able to “catch” all the abundance God sends your way with the resources you have at the ready, and
- That maybe we should be casting more than one net when Jesus says to “cast your NETS’.
SONS OF GOD: Near the beginning of his ministry Jesus said to his prospective disciples, "Follow me and I'll make you fishers of men" (Matt 4:19). This being a clever play on words because he was talking specifically to professional fishermen at the time. That being the essence of Jesus' ministry- to spread the Good News about the Kingdom of God being at hand, to find others willing to involve themselves in the same task with the results of adding to the Kingdom as many people as possible.
Although not spoken in the verses referenced, it is implied in their actions following the event that the disciples got the main point Jesus was getting across. They seemed to be reminded of their calling and went back to work with Jesus as "fishers of men".
All followers of Jesus are to be "Fishers of Men" walking in his footsteps, joining the Kingdom that is "at hand" (meaning near, close by) and by sharing this good news with others adding to the Kingdom as many as who are willing to enter into it.
This is the great lesson behind the symbolic meaning of the number 153.
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Author's dirt bike boldly displaying his favorite number in scripture
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[Ref 1] The following is the list of 48 miracles amounting to 153:
- The leper, Matt 8:2 (1)
- Centurion and servant, Matt 8:5 (2)
- Peter's wife's mother, Matt 8:14 (1)
- Two possessed with devils, Matt 8:18 (2)
- Palsied man and bearers [Mark 2:3], Matt 9:2 (5)
- Jairus and his daughter, Matt 9:18 (2)
- Woman with issue of blood, Matt 9:21 (1)
- Blind men, Matt 9:27 (2)
- Dumb man, Matt 9:32 (1)
- Eleven Apostles, Matt 10:2 (11)
- Man with withered hand, Matt 12:10 (1)
- Blind and dumb devil, Matt 12:22 (1)
- Brethren of the Lord [Acts 1:14] Matt 13:55 (4)
- Syrophoenician woman and daughter, Matt 15:22 (2)
- Lunatic child and father, Matt 17:14 (2)
- Blind men (leaving Jericho),* Matt 20:30 (2)
- Simon the leper, Matt 26:6 (1)
- Mary (sister of Lazarus. See Nos 32 and 47), Matt 26:7 (1)
- Centurion; Matt 27:54 (1)
- Salome (mother of Zebedee's children), Matt 27:56 (1)
- Mary (mother of James, and wife of Cleopas), Matt 27:56 (1)
- Mary Magdalene, Matt 27:56 (1)
- Joseph of Arimathaea, Matt 27:57 (1)
- Man with unclean spirit; Mark 1:23 (1)
- Man, deaf and dumb, Mark 7:32 (1)
- Blind man, Mark 8:22 (1)
- Son of the widow of Nain, Luke 7:12 (1)
- A woman, a sinner, Luke 7:37 (1)
- Joanna and Susanna, Luke 8:3 (2)
- A disciple—"follow Me", Luke 9:59 (1)
- The seventy disciples, Luke 10:1 (70)
- Martha, Luke 10:38 (1)
- Woman with infirmity, Luke 13:11 (1)
- Man with dropsy, Luke 14:2 (1)
- The ten lepers, Luke 17:12 (10)
- The blind man (approaching Jericho),** Luke 18:35 (1)
- Zaccheus, Luke 19:2 (1)
- Malchus [John 18:10], Luke 22:51 (1)
- Penitent thief, Luke 23:43 (1)
- The two disciples at Emmaus, Luke 24:13 (2)
- Nicodemus, John 3:1 (1)
- Woman of Samaria, John 4:4 (1)
- Nobleman and sick son, John 4:46 (2)
- Impotent man (Bethesda), John 5:1 (1)
- Woman taken in adultery, John 8:11 (1)
- Man born blind, John 9 (1)
- Lazarus, John 11 (1)
- Mary, mother of Jesus, John 19:25 (1) = (153)
* Bartimeus being one of them (Mark 10:46), these two being healed as Jesus left Jericho.
** The blind man (No. 36) was healed (Luke 18:35) "as He was come nigh unto Jericho," and therefore is additional to the two who were healed as He was leaving Jericho (No. 16). See Matt 20:30; Mark 10:46.
Article written by Daniel Sweet
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