In Revelation 21 many numbers are associated with New Jerusalem. To form a base for considering these specific numbers, let’s take a brief look at the spiritual significance of some numbers in the Bible.
Romans 15:4 tells us that “the things that were written previously were written for our instruction.” Galatians 3:16 interprets God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 13:15 and 17:7-8. In this interpretation there is attention to detail—the singularity of “seed” as opposed to plurality. Based on these verses, we should expect instruction from numbers in the Bible. Here I present the significance of a few numbers when that significance is of importance and is supported by multiple verses. Please remember that these significances should not be applied indiscriminately to every appearance of the number.
First Timothy 2:5 declares “there is one God,” Ephesians 4:6 proclaims “one God and Father of all,” and 1 Corinthians 8:6 announces “there is one God, the Father, out from whom are all things, and we are unto Him.” All of these have their base in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Although “one” is used in many other ways throughout the Bible, clearly the primary significance is “one God.”
Matthew 18:16 presents the principle, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” This same principle is in 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19, and Hebrews 10:28. All of these have their base in the same wording in Deuteronomy 19:15. In these verses are “two or three.” Since “three” has other significances, “two” indicates established words or a firm testimony, such as that of Peter and John (e.g. Acts 4:13).
Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Acts 10:40; and 1 Corinthians 15:4 all declare that Jesus was raised from the dead “on the third day.” Without doubt, in many verses “three” points to resurrection. As an example, John 2 begins “on the third day.” This indicates that the changing of water into wine, as a symbol of Jesus changing our death into life, is a change in resurrection.
Certainly “three” also refers to the three of the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, who are eternally coexistent and coinherent.
Mark 13:27 says, “…He will gather together His chosen from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven.” Revelation 7:1 describes “four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth…” Revelation 20:8 and Isaiah 11:12 also speak of the “four corners of the earth.” Hence, one significance of “four” is the entire earth.
Revelation 4 and the following chapters speak many times about “four living creatures.” Hence, another significance of “four” is the creatures on earth. In John 11:17, when Jesus came to Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb four days, as a picture of the entire creation being under death and needing resurrection through the Lord Jesus.
Putting these significances together, we rejoice to firmly testify that the Triune God has come into humanity, died, and rose to be available now as the resurrection to men over the entire earth and eventually to free the entire creation from the slavery of corruption (Romans 8:19-22).