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There are 27 books in the Protestant, Trinitarian canon of scriptures of the New Testament writings. Which is three times three times three.

There are 9 authors (Peter, James, Jude, Matthew, Paul, Mark, Luke, John and the writer to the Hebrews - whom many Protestants see as representing Jesus himself, the apostle to the Jews). Which is three plus three plus three.

The number three in the bible is significant. Three men came to Abraham in the plains of Mamre. Three persons are associated with the burning bush which Moses saw (Jehovah, Elohim and the Angel of the Lord). The Lord God Almighty is said to be 'holy, holy, holy'.

And those who are baptised are baptised in three - the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Do Protestant Trinitarians see a testimony to the completeness of the canon of scripture in these numbers, 27 and 9 and 3 ?


As an aside, it is notable, also, that there are 39 books to the Old Testament scripture which is one short of a significant number. Four is the number, in scripture, of the earth (north, south, east and west) and ten is the number of completeness (ten fingers to count on). Thus forty is a complete testimony to the entire earth.

But less one indicates that the Old Testament scriptures are incomplete without the New.

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    "Jehovah, Elohim and the Angel". Does this mean that "Elohim" isn't a synonym (in this context) for Jehovah or the Angel or both? If the answer is "yes", should I ask it as a real question? Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 18:57
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    @RayButterworth Yes. I think it would be an excellent (additional) question.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 9:08
  • @I've asked this question: names of god - Do any denominations teach that Moses was talking with three distinct beings in the burning bush? - Christianity Stack Exchange. If I didn't ask it correctly, feel free to edit as appropriate. Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 13:59
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    @RayButterworth I have up-voted your new question. Appreciated. But I did not say that Moses saw three at the bush. I said that three are associated at the bush. Also I did not use the word 'beings' which (in English) is best avoided. I prefer the word 'persons' in discussions about the nature and person of Deity. I look forward to seeing responses to your question. Thank you for it.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 20:56
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    @RayButterworth - Likewise, your question deserves an up-vote, and I will be interested to see what responses you get.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 17:42

3 Answers 3

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It's almost impossible to say definitively that no Christians believe any given thing. However in general Christians do not believe in any significance to the number of books or to the number of authors. That would be "numerology" which is not a part of Christian beliefs.

Also traditionally St. Paul and the author of Hebrews were reckoned to be one and the same by many Christians.

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As a Trinitarian Christian of the Protestant persuasion, I see great significance in the number three as it pertains to the Godhead. This represents divine fullness, totality, sufficiency and completeness in the being and work of God.

However, when it comes to maths, I’m a complete dunce. As a child I found the nine times table difficult to master, although I see the mathematical connection between three, nine and twenty seven. As for the completeness of the canon of New Testament scripture and the connection between the number of books and the number of authors, well, that’s a new one for me! Here is some information I found on the significance of the numbers 3, 4, 7, 9, and 40:

The number 3 is thought to be the number of divine fullness, completion and perfection: The Trinity consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and disciples are baptised in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Man is a threefold being with body, soul and spirit. The Bible speaks of many threefold blessings: Faith, hope and love; grace, peace and mercy; the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:13).

The number 4 is thought to be the number of creation: North, south, east and west; the four seasons; the four phases of the moon. Significantly, Revelation 4:6-8 describes four living creatures around the throne, giving unending praise, glory, honour and worship to him who sits on the throne.

The number 9 has significance inasmuch as Jesus was crucified on the third hour (9 a.m.), cried out to his father and then dismissed his spirit on the ninth hour (3 p.m.). For this reason the number 9 is sometimes viewed as the number of judgment and finality. The fruit of the Spirit has 9 elements that all work together (Galatians 5:22-23) and there are 9 gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

The number 40 is often understood as the “number of probation or trial” because it appears so often in contexts dealing with judgment or testing. For example: the Israelites wandered for 40 years (Deuteronomy 8:2-5); Moses was on the mount for 40 days (Exodus 24:18); 40 days were involved in the story of Jonah and Nineveh (Jonah 3:4); Jesus was tempted for 40 days (Matthew 4:2); Jesus was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:2) and there were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:3). Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/40-days-Bible.html

I was unable to find any useful information on the significance of the number 27, but the partial quote below shows that the New Testament concludes with the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the twenty-seventh book of the Protestant New Testament Christian canon:

In the Bible, the number 7 is identified with something being “finished” or “complete.” From Genesis chapter one that association continues, as the number 7 is often found in contexts involving completeness or divine perfection. In the book of Revelation the number 7 is used there more than fifty times in a variety of contexts: there are seven letters to seven churches in Asia and seven spirits before God’s throne (Revelation 1:4), seven golden lampstands (Revelation 1:12), seven stars in Christ’s right hand (Revelation 1:16), seven seals of God’s judgment (Revelation 5:1), seven angels with seven trumpets (Revelation 8:2), etc. In all likelihood, the number 7 again represents completeness or totality: the seven churches represent the completeness of the body of Christ, the seven seals on the scroll represent the fullness of God’s punishment of a sinful earth, and so on. And the book of Revelation itself is the capstone of God’s Word to man. With the book of Revelation, the Word was complete (Revelation 22:18). https://www.gotquestions.org/number-7-seven.html

The 39 books of the Old Testament point to the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, and yes, the canon of Holy Scripture is completed with the 27th book of the New Testament.

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  • To the person who saw fit to down-vote my answer, would you have the decency to identify yourself and say why you thought my answer was unhelpful? And are you the same person who down-voted the question and Anne's answer?
    – Lesley
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 14:41
  • Doesn't answer the question. The question is not about the significance of the numbers 3, 4, 9, 40 or 7 but about the significance of the number of books or authors. Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 15:52
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    @DJClayworth - Thank you. I guess my problem with this question was that I couldn't link the significance of the number of books or authors to the Trinity. Notwithstanding, my last sentence does address the completeness of the canon of New Testament scripture. I like to share information I have found from my research, even if it diverges somewhat from the nitty-gritty of the question. There has been a huge decrease in people asking questions and providing answers recently. This is the first Christianity Stack Exchange question I have answered recently. The site is becoming unfriendly. ):
    – Lesley
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 17:28
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I am about the worst person on Stack to comment on numerical matters, as I am an almost complete dunce when it comes to arithmetic. Yet even I can see that the key number here is '3'. The original question drew attention to the numbers 27 and 9, and 3 is the common denominator with them.

Although it may be true that many Protestants have never given a second thought to any significance attached to such numbers in the Bible, and many others have gone overboard to immerse themselves in an almost superstitious way of thinking about them, there are others (like myself) who are learning to weigh up the significance of those numbers. After all, when "All scripture is inspired of God and beneficial..." the numbers in scripture are just as inspired of God as are the words. There's nothing incidental about those numbers.

Only this morning, I was studying an exposition of the book of the Revelation regarding the four-square nature of the heavenly New Jerusalem, its 12 gates, 12 angels, 12 names of the tribes of Israel, its 12 foundations with 12 names of the apostles; its wall measuring 144 cubits. A clue is given about that: "according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel" (Rev. 21:16-17). For sure, the number points to a spiritual truth. 144 is 12 x 12, indicating the safe inclusion of all the old testament (12 tribes) and all the new testament (12 apostles). Together, they constitute the spiritual seed of the seed of Abraham by faith, measured by the "angelic man".

But you ask about any significance of 27 books of the new testament, and 9 authors. Yes, there is spiritual significance, even though nobody's salvation depends on uncovering the spiritual significance of those two numbers. The way "in" to this kind of symbolic understanding seems to me to first get a full grasp of the significance of the number three in the entire Bible. Without that, there will just be juggling of numbers. This is why the question does, indeed, need to link into the three-fold aspect of the Godhead at the outset. And that, I believe, IS significant with regard to anybody's salvation. That is why trinitarian Protestants may well be interested in such a question. I certainly am.

It makes spiritual sense to me that there is a specific, limited number of 'books' in the new testament. The number of new testament authors is also significant, for nobody can categorically state that any one individual wrote the letter to the Hebrews. There are, indeed, many aspects of its style of writing that indicate a ninth, unnamed author, which would make the total number of new testament writers 9, and not 8 (were Paul to be that author).

This is as much as I can answer, for I'm still in process of learning the symbolic meaning behind biblical numbers. It's being open to the idea, and having grasped the power of the three-fold nature of the Godhead, that begins to turn the 'key' in this spiritual 'lock'.

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  • You miss a key point. The numbers of gates and angels etc. are indeed significant because they are written into scripture. The number of books and authors is not. In fact the 39 books of the OT are an accident of writing. The book of Kings, for example, was one book that was divided into two scrolls just because it was too long. Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 12:48
  • @DJClayworth When I wrote, "there is a specific, limited number of 'books' in the new testament, just as there is with the old testament" I had in mind the deuterocanonicals as not being included, though others think they are. I am also aware that the Judaic naming of OT books is different. Those 8 words you picked up on are now removed due to your observation - thanks!
    – Anne
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 14:01

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