What Does the Number 5 Mean in the Bible? (Symbols in Scripture)

Some people are fascinated with numerology in the Bible, especially the symbolic meaning of certain figures. There is general agreement that numbers like 3, 4, 7, and 12 have significant symbolic meaning in Scripture. But what about the number 5?

The number 5 doesn’t have a clear symbolic meaning in the Bible, according to scholars, when the grammatico-historical method is used to interpret texts. The number 5 has great importance in non-biblical and non-Christian occult spiritualities, which some people attempt to read into the Bible.

What is occult numerology? What do non-biblical and non-Christian spiritualities believe about the number 5? What is a grammatico-historical interpretation of Scripture? What does the Bible teach about the number five Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also see What Does the Bible Say About Astrology? to learn more.

Holy Bible
What is occult numerology? See below

What is occult numerology?

The word “numerology” simply means the study of numbers. Many Christians love to study the Bible in detail and some are interested in the numbers it mentions. For example, some readers love to learn about Jonah being in the big fish for three days and Jesus being dead for three days, or that Israel had 12 tribes and the early church had 12 apostles. Occult numerology involves more than this.

Occult numerology employs an unorthodox spiritual component to numbers that the Bible doesn’t support. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, numerology is “the study of the occult significance of numbers.” Similarly, Oxford Languages defines the term as “the branch of knowledge that deals with the occult significance of numbers.”

Wikipedia elaborates on the spirituality of numerology in its definition: “Numerology is the pseudoscientific belief in a divine or mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events. It is also the study of the numerical value of the letters in words, names, and ideas. It is often associated with the paranormal, alongside astrology and similar to divinatory arts.”

Also see What Does the Bible Say About Crystals? to learn more.

What is the meaning of 5 in occult numerology?

The meaning of five in non-biblical and non-Christian belief systems varies widely. One non-Christian belief system that finds meaning in fives in the Bible is occult angelology. “Angel numbers” are a central belief in this worldview. Angel numbers refer to the idea that angels communicate with people by showing them numbers, especially in repetition, like 111 or 555.

Does the Bible teach the concept of angel numbers? No. Why adherents of this worldview are so interested in the Bible is likely due to the fact that it’s an old book that mentions angels. But to be clear, those that subscribe to this belief system who are citing fives in the Bible aren’t biblical scholars or even Christians. They are inappropriately and unethically using the Bible to support their false teaching.

What does five mean in occult numerology? Those who practice occult numerology don’t agree on the meaning of five in their own worldview. As the table below shows, examining five different websites on occult numerology reveals different meanings for the number.

1In numerology, the number 5 represents spiritual growth and self-confidence. As a token of their care and affection, the angels have sent you this number. In this stage of spiritual growth, you have a wonderful opportunity to actualize your desires and wishes.
2The number 5 is a symbol of balance. It means that you have to keep balance between material and spiritual aspects in your life.
3In numerology, number 5 spiritually represents Man.
4Angel number 5 is a number indicating health and vitality in the midst of change.
55 is a symbol of individualism, personal freedom and adaptibility [sic]

While five may have symbolic meaning in certain biblical texts (more below), it’s definitely not the symbolic meaning that other worldviews assign to it. The number five doesn’t have universal, spiritual truths embedded in it, which are found in the Bible and other ancient books and worldviews. Rather, the Bible itself is truth (John 17:17) and isn’t subject to other belief systems.

What is the difference between eisegesis and exegesis? Seeing occult numerology in the Bible is an example of eisegesis as opposed to exegesis. Eisegesis refers to “interpreting a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas” (emphasis added). Exegesis refers to “an explanation or critical interpretation of a text” (Merriam-Webster).

In other words, eisegesis is reading into the text and exegesis is reading out of the text in alignment with the historical context, literary genre, and authorial intent. The first approach starts with an idea (occult numerology) and tries to find it in the text, as opposed to reading the text and discovering its true, original meaning (more below).

Also see What Does the Bible Say About Mediums? to learn more.

New Testament
What does 5 mean in the Bible? See below

What does 5 really mean in the Bible?

Frequently, those interested in occult angelology demonstrate little awareness of Scripture, hermeneutics (more below), or the basic meaning of texts they cite. The Bible refers to such people as “false teachers” (Acts 20:29; 2 Peter 2:12) who distort the truth of Scripture for their own selfish purposes.

What is grammatico-historical hermeneutics? This term describes how readers should study, learn, and examine the Bible. While the term may seem complex to some, its meaning is simple.

  • First, hermeneutic comes from a Greek word meaning “interpretation”
  • Second, grammatico refers to the grammar of a text
  • Third, historical, in this context, refers to the cultural and historical background of a text

In other words, grammatico-historical hermeneutics is a way to interpret biblical texts that focuses on the grammar and background of a verse, passage, chapter, or book of the Bible. This method is by far the best way to interpret Scripture to ascertain its true and original meaning.

What does grammatico-historical hermeneutics tell readers about the number five? In summary, this approach to interpreting Scripture tells readers that when numbers are used in Scripture, sometimes they have a symbolic meaning, but most of the time they don’t. In other words, most of the time five just means five.

One website on occult angelology gives these examples of the significance of the number five.

  • 5 fingers, 5 toes, 5 senses
  • 5 books of law (Genesis – Deuteronomy)
  • 5 loaves were not enough to feed the great multitude
  • 5 brothers in Luke 16 who would not believe Moses and the prophets
  • 5 husbands could not satisfy the woman at the well
  • 5 wounds were inflicted upon

Analysis: The Bible doesn’t attribute symbolic meaning to the number of fingers, toes, and senses people have. There are five books of the Law, and the number does appear in other stories on the list as well, but as stated above, sometimes a five is just a five. Regarding the last example, the Bible mentions the ways people wounded Christ, but it doesn’t emphasize them in the manner that Medieval theologians did.

Also see What Does the Bible Say About Drugs? to learn more.

Old Testament
What does 5 mean in the book of Revelation? See below

The symbolic meaning of 5 in the Bible

The Bible might use the number five in a symbolic way, according to some scholars. If this is true, it’s important to note that the meaning of the symbolism has nothing to do with occult angelology in any way. Possible examples of this belong to a genre or writing style called “apocalyptic literature.”

What is apocalyptic literature? The word “apocalyptic” literally refers to the “apocalypse,” meaning a final revelation. “Apocalyptic literature” is a genre that sometimes teaches about the end times, but does so using symbols (e.g. scrolls), unnatural imagery (e.g. beasts), visions, and other imaginative elements. These elements stand for realities in the true world.

Where is apocalyptic literature found in the Bible? The book of Revelation and Daniel, chapters 7-12 contain apocalyptic literature. Some Old Testament prophets, like Ezekiel and Zechariah, also contain passages belonging to the apocalyptic genre.

Revelation 9:5They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone.
Revelation 9:10They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails.
Revelation 17:10they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.

What is the meaning of five in Revelation? Revelation scholars commonly take one of two positions on the meaning of five in Revelation.

  • Some argue that five actually isn’t symbolic at all, even though the number appears in the apocalyptic genre. In this case, five in 9:5 and 9:10 probably refer to the five-month lifecycle of locusts. And five in 17:10 probably refers to five literal Roman Emperors.
  • Others who find symbolism in the figure, suggest that five in 9:5 and 9:10 depict limitation, as opposed to seven, which often signifies completeness in apocalyptic literature. In other words, God is purposefully restricting this particular judgment. Scholars who find symbolism in the number five in 17:10 don’t agree on its meaning.

Also see Does the Bible Mention Covid 19? to learn more.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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