Howdy, I have a question about numerology. I am one who believes in the God of the Bible because it makes rational and scientific sense to me. My mother-in-law on the other hand has the tendency to delve into some of the fringe and even dangerous elements, in my opinion, of questionable theology. Her latest pursuit is numerology. She asked me to read the book, “Number in Scripture” by E.W. Bullinger from the early 1900s. I am in the process of reading it, but this is out of my wheelhouse so to speak. It seems like absolute transparent garbage to my mind but i wanted to get some other perspectives on this as well. Does anyone have any experience with this topic and if so where do I began in the scripture to look into this. Honestly I can’t see any scriptural references that would definitively point towards a set of magical numeric meanings. This book seems to stray into astrology and fortune telling as well although admittedly I am still yet to finish and admittedly unfamiliar with this subject. Any help or guidance here would be appreciated.


@CroaMagna There are a few issues with trying to find patterns in texts. For one, statistically patterns are much more common than we think and you could probably find a pattern to support about whatever you wanted to given enough time and a large enough sample set. Second, any type of astrology or numerology is outside of what Scripture permits. While certain numbers - like 40 or 12 - do have significance in Scripture, it is not the same thing as trying to find patterns not explicit to typology.

CRI has a critique of one of Bullinger’s other works that you may find helpful. May Christ grant you wisdom as you engage with your mother-in-law :slight_smile:

Critique of Bullinger’s “Gospel in the Stars” Theory

There is no uniform message behind the stars. As in the case of astrology, the star-formed zodiac signs can be assigned whatever meaning the interpreter decides upon; the purported messages behind the signs are completely arbitrary.

Certainly, there are Bible passages that speak to the notion of deriving messages from the stars; however, these all pertain to the practice of astrology, which is sternly condemned (Isa. 47:13-14). Moreover, GIS runs contrary to the Bible’s assertion that no one understood God’s complete plan of redemption before Christ came (Rom. 16:25-26; 1 Cor. 2:7-8; Eph. 3; Col. 1:26-27; 1 Pet. 1:10-12).

How Patterns are More Likely than We Think

As just a simple example of how statistics can be surprising when it comes to what we would call coincidence or divine ordainment, consider the birthday paradox. We might say if we only had 23 people in a room and 2 had the same birthday, their arrival at that place may have some significance. Statistically, it does not.

How many people must be there in a room to make the probability 50% that two people in the room have same birthday?
Answer: 23
The number is surprisingly very low. In fact, we need only 70 people to make the probability 99.9 %.


@CroaMagna. After reading your question and SeanO’s response; I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 3:6. “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

As SeanO has stated. “you could probably find a pattern to support about whatever you wanted to, given enough time and a large enough sample set.” That’s a persistent error found in the practice of taking only portions of the scripture to develop philosophy or doctrine. It is why I believe as a society we are confident that the Bible is a book of inconsistencies and errors.

I am currently experiencing a similar event when conversing with one of my cousins. He places great stock in numbers and meanings. It has led him to believe that there were four people crucified alongside CHRIST. He says that was to establish the numerical value of five which stands for grace.

I am simple-minded I guess. All I could think was. “what has that got to do with the price of beans?” So, as we converse I am faithful to pray. To know what and how to say what seems obvious to me. It is important that I do so because I know even when I can’t readily identify it; that I depend upon the patience of grace.


Thanks guys. I find it difficult to discuss a topic so blatantly irrational, and so easily demonstrable as false, with someone who falls for it anyways. I am not a naturally diplomatic person and don’t want to damage the relationship, especially it being the mother in law and all. The input is greatly appreciated.