Over the past weeks, we have been looking at John’s gospel and the significance of the number seven. I hope it has been interesting and enlightening for each of you. Each group of seven conveys an important idea for us about Jesus and his role in our faith.
The only list of seven I didn’t cover was the seven disciples (John 21:1-3). Even though we know there were many more disciples than this, John only mentions seven, two of which are not even named. Thus, there are seven sevens’ listed in John’s gospel and that tells us that John purpose was to complete the story of Jesus and give us the whole story.
I wanted to give you some interesting things connected to John’s gospel and the number seven. John writes 21 chapters, which equals three times seven, which gives us the entire story of Jesus. The last half of the gospel of John covers seven days in the life of Christ. The seventh Old Testament quote in John’s gospel is Isaiah 53 in John 12:38. Which tells us that John frames his entire gospel account of Jesus around Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant, which puts all the focus on Jesus’ crucifixion for our sins.
For first-century Christians, numbers were important and carried significance and meaning. Did you realize that the number seven, along with seventh and sevenfold, is used 860 times in Scripture? It is used 54 times in the book of Revelation alone!
This tells us that the number seven is, at the very least, significant to the Word of God. Throughout Scripture, the number seven conveys the idea of completeness or wholeness, both spiritually and physically. Much of this comes from it being tied directly to God’s creation of all things (Gen. 2:1-3). According to Jewish tradition in the Talmud, Adam was created on the first day of the seventh month (Tishri) of the Hebrew calendar. Even the word “created” is used seven times in the creation account (Gen. 1:1, 21, 27; 2:3, 4). There are seven days in a week and the Sabbath is the seventh day.
I wanted to share with you some other significant sevens in Scripture and hopefully help you see how important this idea was to the people of God.
There are seven men in the Old Testament who are specifically called “men of God.” Moses (Joshua 14:6), David (2 Chron. 8:14), Samuel (1 Sam. 9:6, 14), Shemaiah (1 Kings 12:22), Elijah (1 Kings 17:18), Elisha (2 Kings 5:8), and Igdaliah (Jer. 35:4).
In Hebrews, there are seven titles given to Jesus. He is called the “heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), the founder of our salvation (Heb. 2:10), the apostle and high priest of our confession (Heb. 3:1), the source of eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9), our forerunner (Heb. 6:20), our high priest (Heb. 10:21), and the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:1-2).
In Matthew 13, Jesus gives seven parables and there are seven Psalms ascribed to David in the New Testament.
In the book of Revelation, there are seven churches, angels, seals, trumpets, thunders, and seven plagues. The first resurrection happens at the sounding of the seventh trumpet and completes salvation for the church.
How does this help us understand John’s Gospel? Throughout the gospel of John, we see the number seven quietly playing an important role as it conveys the idea of completeness and wholeness. John’s seven’s (witnesses, signs, “I AM’s”, feasts, disciples, questions, and proofs of his divinity) all stand to give us a complete, holistic picture of Jesus, and how he is the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation.
Please take some time to read John’s account of Jesus and allow his complete picture of Jesus to impress upon your heart that Jesus is God’s solution to our problem and sin. He is the whole picture, the whole story, the whole solution, and the whole reason for living the faith. Have a blessed day.