In this article, we will continue our series on the numbers as we look at the Biblical meaning of the number 1. So, grab your Bibles, and let’s dig in…
The Bible is a spectacular book. We can learn so much from it, not just from reading and studying it but by looking at the deeper meanings behind certain words, phrases, and symbols. God loves using symbols and hidden meanings, as we can clearly see from Jesus’ parables. Many of these deeper meanings are linked to numbers.
As we look at the meaning of the number 1 in the Bible, we must remember that no such interpretation should ever contradict the Bible’s core message. God loves symbolism, but He also says that the gospel is easy enough for a child to understand (Matthew 11:25). We don’t have to go digging into the meanings of numbers to fully understand God’s grace.
It’s not a form of fortune-telling, either, so we must be careful not to read more into a number than we should. But we can discover some fantastic things as we study the hidden meanings of numbers and how God used them in His Word. Let’s see how the symbolic meaning of the number 1 can help us to understand the Bible more fully.
The Biblical Meaning Of The Number 1
We can attribute many valuable interpretations to the way God used the number 1 in the Bible. Here are some of its meanings.
Aleph, Or “Ox”
Biblical Hebrew has strong links between numbers and the Hebrew alphabet. Some Bible writers used letters of the alphabet to signify numbers. A notable example is Psalm 119, where David uses the letters of the alphabet to separate verses, starting with Aleph, the first Hebrew letter, which can also be interpreted as “one” or “the beginning.”
The word Aleph literally means “ox.” Even the ancient Hebrew symbol for the letter resembled the head of an ox. That might seem confusing for modern Bible students, but back then, oxen weren’t regarded as they are today. Your cattle were a symbol of wealth and prosperity.
With that in mind, the symbol of the ox refers to a few meanings that we can associate with the number 1:
- Strength: Oxen were strong animals that assisted with manual labor.
- Leadership: Whether moving a caravan or tilling the soil, oxen lead the procession. Where more than one ox was used, one of them would take the lead. That’s the ox that Aleph (one) refers to.
The Different Hebrew Words For “One” In The Bible
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. – John 17:20-21
There are two ancient Hebrew words that mean “one.” The first one we will look at is “yachid” or “yacheed.” This word is usually referenced for solitary, like the word “my one and only daughter.“
יָחִיד yâchîyd, yaw-kheed’; from H3161; properly, united, i.e. sole; by implication, beloved; also lonely; (feminine) the life (as not to be replaced):—darling, desolate, only (child, son), solitary.
The second Hebrew word is “echad.” It refers to a compound unity, similar to one interpretation of “yacheed.” But it more specifically refers to a single, all-encompassing object. Only one, a unique one, and no others exist. An example is the verse in Deuteronomy 6:4, which says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
“echad” refers to the fact that there is only one true God.
It also means perfect unity. This is the type of unity between a husband and wife, between God the Father and the Son, and the type of unity Jesus prayed for us as believers to have in John 17:20-21. It’s a unity that’s so perfect that there is only one recognizable entity. A tall order, to be sure, but that’s what we should be aiming for.
אֶחָד ʼechâd, ekh-awd’; a numeral from H258; properly, united, i.e. one; or (as an ordinal) first:—a, alike, alone, altogether, and, any(-thing), apiece, a certain, (dai-) ly, each (one), eleven, every, few, first, highway, a man, once, one, only, other, some, together,
I like what Bible.ca says about echad:
“Instead the Holy Spirit chose to use the Hebrew word, “echad” which is used most often as a unified one, and sometimes as numeric oneness. For example, when God said in Genesis 2:24 “the two shall become one [echad] flesh” it is the same word for “one” that was used in Deut 6:4.” (source)
For example, the singular sacrifice of Jesus, as we can see in 1 Tim. 2:5 and John 10:16. That one sacrifice was enough to cover all the world’s sins and ensure redemption for all who believe.
One God, one Son in unity with one Father, and one sacrifice to cover all, to bind into one body all those who believe.
How The Number 1 Is Used In The Bible
There are a few notable ways that the Bible refers to the number 1 that can further explain its meaning.
The Oneness Of God
We already looked at Deuteronomy 6:4, which states the oneness of God. This verse, known as Shema, is such a fundamental part of Jewish life and faith that all devout Jews recite it daily to affirm their belief in the one and only God.
Jesus emphasized this in Mark 12:29 and again in John 10:30, where He says, “I and the Father are one.”
The Primacy Of God
In Revelations 1:17-18, Jesus declares, “I am the first and the last.” Again, in Revelations 22:13, He repeats this statement by saying, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
God is Prime. He was there before anything else was and will still be there after everything ends.
This meaning of the number 1 is further emphasized when we consider that 1 is the only number that is perfectly divisible from all other numbers. It forms part of every other number; no others would exist without it. Yet it can also stand independently with no other numbers to represent or accompany it.
There’s a reason why God repeatedly says that He is One. It doesn’t only refer to His singular nature but also to the fact that everything exists because of Him. He is both part of and separate from everything that exists in the world.
The One And Only Son Of God
The very famous John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” As mentioned, the word “one” refers to something unique, the only of its kind. Jesus is the Father’s one and only Son, which ties in with His use of the words “first” and “Alpha” in Revelations.
This emphasizes that there can be one Jesus. He is the only One.
Unity In The Body Of Christ
We’ve seen how Jesus used the word “one” when He prayed for His disciples to be one in John 17:20-21. He included not only those who were following Him at the time but also “…those who will believe in Me through their word.” Jesus prayed that all of us, even those of us who believe today because of the word of the original Apostles, would be one.
Paul emphasized this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 where he said, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
We are meant to act as one. That does not mean there won’t be disagreements; Paul and Peter had notorious conflicts. It seems that few people in the young church could get along with Paul. But, in the end, they served the same Lord and God and had the same goal: furthering the Kingdom of God by preaching the gospel.
If we can set aside our differences and start to work together as God intended, we will see the Kingdom manifest as never before.
The Spiritual Meaning Of The Number 1
We have explored the number 1 in the Bible and learned some interesting things. Now it’s time to round up the number’s spiritual or prophetic significance and meaning. These three meanings really sum up what we have gone over.
Unity and Unification
The number one is a powerful symbol of unity in the Bible. It is often used to represent the perfect and harmonious unity that exists between two or more entities.
IT symbolizes the perfect unity between the Father and Son. Jesus said, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). This is an example of spiritual unity that transcends all boundaries. Furthermore, the number one is also used to depict the marital union between husband and wife.
When God created Adam and Eve, He proclaimed that they were “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Jesus also taught about this union in Matthew 19:6 by saying, “what therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The number one is a powerful reminder of the deep level of unity expressed throughout scripture, both among people and with God.
- Unity between the Father and the Son – (Jn. 10:30)
- Unity between husband and wife – (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5)
Completeness and Perfection
The number one is a key symbol in the Bible that is often used to signify completeness and perfection. It is often seen in regard to God’s oneness, emphasizing that He is complete within Himself.
The number one in the Bible is symbolic of uniqueness. It represents God’s absolute sovereignty and power as He stands alone above all other gods and religions. The number one also symbolizes the singularity of Jesus’ sacrifice. As written in 1 Timothy 2:5, Jesus was the “one mediator between God and men.”
Numbers of the Bible Series
Have you ever been curious about the numbers used in the Bible? Me too! That’s why I’ve recently embarked upon a series of articles that shines a light on numbers in the Bible.
The goal is to explore their symbolic and spiritual meaning, discovering deeper truths from Scripture. Check out my articles below if you’re interested! I’m sure you’ll learn something new along the way!
Whenever we see the number 1 in scripture, we can remember that God is One and that He is Prime in all creation, and he is above all we face and over every challenge. We can also remember that Jesus, as the only Son of God, made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be one with Him and our fellow believers. Only then will we be able to accomplish the task He set before us.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…