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Study on the Number Three


The number three is found frequently in the Bible. It would appear that we could say the number 3 in the Bible signifies God’s plan. It’s sort of a vague definition, but the number three lets us know that whatever happened wasn’t by chance. God intended it to occur for His own purpose.

We find the number three used repeatedly in connection with the atonement:

There were 3 crosses Luke 23:33
Peter denied Jesus 3 times Matthew 26:34,75
Jesus prayed 3 times that this cup might be removed Matthew 26:39-44
Three disciples went deeper into the garden with Him Matthew 26:36-37
He was crucified on the third hour Mark 15:25
There was darkness over the earth for 3 hours Mark 15:33
He was in the heart of the earth 3 days and 3 nights Matthew 12:40
Pilate asked the Jews 3 times, "What evil hath He done?" Luke 23:22
The sepulcher was made secure unto the third day Matthew 27:64
The inscription on the cross was written in 3 languages John 19:19-20; Luke 23:38
They shouted "Crucify him!" 3 times Matthew 15:13-14

Other Examples of the Number Three Signifying God’s Plan or Intent

Peter preached a sermon at Pentecost and 3,000 people were saved:

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)

Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights:

Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)

Paul spoke in the synagogue for three months, but the hearers’ hearts were hardened:

And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8)

Paul waited three years to go to Jerusalem to see Peter:

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. (Galatians 1:18)

The ships went out every three years to gather gold and other fine things. This signified the bringing in of believers as part of God’s salvation plan.

For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. (2 Chronicles 9:21)