Number 1 is the most commonly referenced number in the Bible. The exact count of the mentions varies depending on the translation but in the King James Version, number 1 appears at least 1,000 times. The frequency of the use of the number 1 in the Bible is enough proof that it is an important number that has deep spiritual significance.
Number 1’s meaning can be derived from the creation account. On day one of creation, God created light and separated it from darkness. God and light are inseparable and God is even referred to as light (John 8:12, 1 John 1:5, etc.). The number 1, therefore, symbolizes the unity of God.
“Shema Yisrael” (שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל) is a Hebrew phrase that is derived from the book of Deuteronomy. It is a declaration of faith in one God and it is considered to be one of the most important prayers in Judaism. The English translation of Shema Yisrael is:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.” Deut. 6:4
It is recited by Jews as part of their daily prayers and is also said during important Jewish rituals and occasions. However, this is more just a prayer – it is a statement of faith that distinguishes the faith of Jewish people from that of her neighbors. While Israelites were living in slavery, they had been exposed to the religion of the Egyptians which believed in many gods. Because Israel had lived in that environment for 430 years, there was a chance that the practices had influenced their thoughts. This may explain why Israel easily resorted to idolatry even before they stepped into the promised land. In Exodus 32, they molded a golden calf and started worshiping it in the wilderness while Moses was on the mountain to receive instruction (Exodus 32).
Even after they got into Canaan, they would still be surrounded by neighbors who worshipped several gods. Shema Yisrael was therefore an important factor of their faith because it was meant to remind them that they had a monotheistic faith. They believed in only one God – the God that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had believed in.
Unity of the trinity
Number 1 also symbolizes the unity of the Godhead. The Godhead is a theological phrase that signifies the divine nature as represented by the trinity. The doctrine of the trinity teaches that God is one but he exists in three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. However, these three persons are not in competition but work together in perfect unity.
Each of the members of the Godhead has distinct roles. God the Father is the creator and he is the one that created the heavens and the earth. He is also the judge who will judge all the living when the end comes. God the Son is described as the only begotten of the Father and he is the one that came on earth as God incarnate to die for the sins of humanity. Jesus represents the grace of God through which salvation comes by faith. God the spirit is the helper that Jesus left for the church after he returned to heaven. He comes to empower the church for service as well as to guide them into truth.
Even though the three members of the trinity have distinct roles, they work harmoniously and are always in unity. When Jesus (God the Son) was on earth, he would often make statements that revealed the unity of the Godhead. For instance, he said that he was one with the Father (John 10:30) and that he only did that which he saw his Father do (John 5:19).
The concept of the unity of the trinity further confirms the Shema Yisrael which states that there is only one God.
Unity of the Bible
The Bible is a collection of 66 books (39 in the Old Testament and 29 in the New Testament ). These books were written by different authors that were inspired by God and these authors were separated in time by hundreds of years. Incredible, all these books demonstrate a perfect unity. A close look at the scriptures reveals that they are all interconnected and cohesive. Here are some of the reasons why the Bible is one:
- Theological unity: The Bible presents a consistent message about God, salvation, and the moral and ethical principles that guide human behavior. It is a unified revelation of God’s plan for humanity.
- Redemptive History: The Bible has one main theme – the redemption of mankind. Even though the different books have different themes, when read as a whole, it becomes clear that the Old Testament is a pointer to the New Testament story of redemption. Colossians 2:17 states that the Old Covenant was written as a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah.
- Covenantal Unity: The Bible contains various covenants or agreements between God and humanity, such as the Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, etc. The books of the Bible are also classified into two covenants – the Old and the New. These covenants are interconnected and build upon one another, ultimately leading to God’s plan for salvation.
- Literary and Structural Unity: Some scholars and theologians focus on the literary and structural elements of the Bible to argue for its unity. They examine themes, motifs, and narrative patterns that run throughout the text, suggesting that these elements contribute to the Bible’s coherence and unity.
- Canonical Unity: There were many sacred writings that were considered when compiling the final list of the Bible. The canonization process entailed comparing all these books to ensure that only the inspired ones were included as part of the scripture. First, the books had to be written in the original language of the other manuscripts (Hebrew and Greek). Secondly, the books had to be written by someone who was considered a “messenger” of God. Lastly, the books had to agree with the central theme of redemption. As such, the canonization process resulted in a unified Bible.
To sum it up, the number 1 represents unity. This unity is displayed in the scriptures in various ways. For instance, there is the unity of the Godhead and the unity of scripture. However, the most important illustration of this unity is the Jewish concept of Shema Yisrael which emphasizes that God is one.