Why 613 is (and isn’t) in the Bible

Thousand of years have gone by since the Bible was written. How the world has changed. Those who wrote the words could not have known that today, as the age draws to a close, we would use computers to identify and solve hidden mysteries.

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Why 613 is (and isn’t) in the Bible

Does the number six hundred and thirteen mean anything to you? If you're a Gentile, probably not. If you're Jewish, and especially if you are a religious Jew, then six hundred and thirteen does mean something. It's the number of commandments in the Law of Moses.

And yet, the number ... six hundred and thirteen ... does not appear anywhere in the Bible. However, it can be found, in the original text of the Bible ... hidden ... out of plain sight.

Why would God create such a mystery? Because a contrast is highlighted ... a contrast between the Old Testament and the New; a contrast between a salvation of works and a salvation by faith, a contrast between the Law of Moses and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The contrast is highlighted, in these last days, as a reminder for the church regarding sound doctrine and as a call to the Jewish people.

Some background ... More than 3,000 years ago, God imposed the Law, on Israel. Why ? ... because of unbelief. (Psalm 78:22) God had done dazzling miracles to deliver Israel out of slavery in Egypt but they complained. They made it clear ... they didn't trust God. (Exodus 14:10-12; 15:22-24; 16:2-3; 17:1-3)

So God placed Israel under the Law, and the Law is a covenant, an agreement ... with conditions. God said to Israel: "If you obey all the Law, I will bless you. If you disobey, I will bring curses on you."

The Law was imposed on Israel, and the people of Israel said they would obey. “All the people of Israel said, 'All that the Lord has spoken, we will do.'" (Exodus 19:8; 24:3,7). Israel did not obey the Law. They failed. Israel has failed to obey the Law because it's impossible for fallen man to meet the perfect standard of the Law. The Law is perfect, but man is not.

God gave the Law ... to show that His standard is perfection (Psalm 19); to show that nobody measures up (Romans 3:20); and to show that man is unable to achieve righteousness by his own efforts. We need a Savior. (Hebrews 8:7-8)

The Law is not simply ten commandments. On top of the many moral laws, there are ceremonial laws and sacrificial laws. The Bible doesn't list the laws as numbers one, two, three, four, five, etc. It takes a lot of sorting through the written record to identify and number everything that God commanded.

Over the years, various Jewish rabbis and scholars have developed lists of what they think is correct, and what they conclude is an accurate count. The totals have varied, depending on who did the counting but, starting with Rabbi Simlai about 1,800 years ago, they focused on six hundred and thirteen laws. It took another thousand years, to the famed rabbi Maimonides, before his list was widely accepted, and the count of six hundred and thirteen commandments in the Law was widely acknowledged. The point is, it wasn't a settled matter in Bible days, and for hundreds of years after, and even today a few still question the total of six hundred and thirteen.

The Bible doesn't make a definitive statement that it is six hundred and thirteen laws. However, God certainly knew that rabbis would eventually settle on six hundred and thirteen. God, who is the author of the Bible, knew that six hundred and thirteen would be the number that, in Jewish minds, would be associated with the Law. Why do we say this? Because the Bible (the text determined by God before the dawn of time), reveals the number six hundred and thirteen linked to the fulfilment of the Law ... in Jesus of Nazareth. It shows God's way of righteousness, by faith in Jesus. And it shows God's hand of design in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. If anyone should give serious consideration to these connecting links it is Jewish people.

Here are six ways that Scripture itself links the count of six hundred and thirteen to fulfilment in Jesus.

First, there is only one chapter in the Bible that has exactly six hundred and thirteen words, in the original text, in the original language. It's a chapter in the New Testament, in Greek. The chapter could not be more significant or more relevant ... John 20.

To check the Bible text and word count, go to this website: LivingGreekNT.org

There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. The division into chapters was made about 800 years ago, long after the writing, and long after the canon of Scripture was settled and, of course, we believe that God had fore-knowledge that this structure of chapters would be set in place. Indeed, like the truth that the Holy Spirit guided the hand of those who wrote the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21) so we believe that the Holy Spirit guided the decisions of those who assembled the books of our Bible, and guided the order of the books, and the division into chapters and verses.

The shortest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 117) has only 17 words, in the original Hebrew text. The longest chapter in the Bible (Matthew 26) has 1,239 words, in the original Greek text. The average chapter length in the Bible is 373 words, in the original languages. And there is only one chapter that has exactly six hundred and thirteen words. It's John 20, and John 20 is the 88th chapter in the New Testament.

The chapter has six hundred and thirteen words, by design. The chapter testifies to the resurrection of Jesus. It's a vital theological truth. Jesus' resurrection means that His sinless sacrifice was accepted in the throne-room of heaven.

Under the Law, the High Priest would enter the temple, into the Holy of Holies, once a year, every year, with the sacrificial blood of an innocent animal. And the congregation would wait to see if the animal sacrifice would be accepted. That was for Israel, under the Law.

Jesus fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17). Jesus' sacrifice was final. Perfect. Enough. Blood sacrifices do not have to be repeated time and again (Hebrews 10:10). Jesus' sacrifice was once-and-forever so, for those who accept Him by faith, sin is atoned for, and the Law has no power over them (Hebrews 9:11-14).

The Gospel is rooted in three historical facts: Jesus died on the cross to pay for sin, He was buried, and He rose from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). And John 20, the only chapter in the Bible with six hundred and thirteen words in the original text, is a witness ... The tomb of Jesus is empty. Jesus has risen from the dead.

John 20 effectively declares the Law null and void, for Jews who accept Jesus and, for Gentiles who were never under the Law (Ephesians 2:12), it ensures that no obligation of the Law of Moses is to be imposed on them (Acts 15).

Now you may say, there are other Gospels ... Matthew, Mark and Luke. They don't have chapters with six hundred and thirteen words in the original text, but they do have chapters that testify to the resurrection of Jesus. Yes ... but John 20 stands out, because John 20 adds a vital detail that is not in the other Gospels. On resurrection day, Jesus appeared before His disciples and “He breathed on them and He said to them: 'Receive the Holy Spirit'.” (John 20:22). That event signified the ushering in of a whole new order. And we learn this only in John chapter 20.

Circumcision was a sign for Jews (Genesis 17:11; Galatians 5:2-3). The giving of the Holy Spirit is the sign for believers in Jesus. (1 John 4:13).

And John 20 ends with the words, “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Jesus' death and resurrection, and the giving of the Holy Spirit, means that the Old Covenant is surpassed by the New. We have a better covenant with better promises (Hebrews 8:6-13).

This brings us to the second connection ... the New Testament says that, in Jesus, the Law was “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14). It's a spiritual picture. The Law wasn't physically nailed to the cross. What was nailed to the cross was a declaration, written by Pontius Pilate, proclaiming: “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews”. (John 19:19). The chief priests wanted Pilate to change the sign to say: “He said, I am King of the Jews”. Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” (John 19:22). In the Greek, “ O ΓΕΓΡΑΦΑ ΓΕΓΡΑΦΑ “

Every letter of the Greek alphabet has a numeric value, and the value of the word ΓΕΓΡΑΦΑ is six hundred and thirteen. The word is repeated in the text. It is emphasised: 613 ... 613. The emphasis is intentional ... it is to highlight a contrast ... Jesus is declared King. Jesus fulfilled the Law. Jesus reigns. Jesus replaces the Law, with His rule in our hearts, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And this leads to the third connection. Jesus' parable of the pearl of great price, and the Greek word for the “pearl” ... ΜΑΡΓΑΡΙΤΗΝ. The numeric value of ΜΑΡΓΑΡΙΤΗΝ is six hundred and thirteen.

The parable is found in only one place ... in Matthew 13: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:45-46). That's short and to the point.

The pearl, of course, is the truth, in Jesus Christ. Elsewhere Jesus says that the soil of a field symbolises the heart. (Luke 8:15)

Note: a man forsakes everything to ensure that he possesses this treasure; the pearl of great price. Jesus is to reign in his heart.

It is not an accident that the Greek word in the text for the pearl has the same numeric value as the number of laws in the Law of Moses. Faith in Jesus replaces reliance on the Law.

Here is something interesting. There are several words in the Bible that have a numeric value of six hundred and thirteen, and many of those words occur more than once in the text. The total number of occurrences of words with a numeric value of six hundred and thirteen, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, is exactly one hundred. That seems to be by design.

And the first word in the New Testament with a numeric value of six hundred and thirteen is this word for the “pearl” of great price (ΜΑΡΓΑΡΙΤΗΝ). Go to our website: LivingGreekNT.org, and click on the link to this video on the Findings page, and you can download a pdf with the one hundred Scripture references.

And this leads us to the fourth connection: The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7). God made unconditional promises to King David. David was planning to build a temple for the Lord in Jerusalem. The Lord sent word to David with nine promises (2 Samuel 7:9-16). Promises to make David's name great; to plant David's descendants in their own land; to give David rest from all his enemies; to make a house for David; to raise up a descendant for David (someone to come forth from him); to establish his kingdom; that he would build a house for the name of the Lord and he would be established forever; to be a father to him and he a son to God; and that his house and his kingdom and his throne shall be established forever.

It's not possible to say that those promises, especially the last three, were fulfilled in David's immediate heir, Solomon. They could only be fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. He is the descendant of King David who reigns forever.

The New Testament says that, "...no matter how many promises God has made, they are yes and amen in Christ Jesus ..." (2 Corinthians 1:20). In other words, the promises that God made to King David are to be fulfilled in Jesus.

2 Samuel 7 ends with David praying a prayer of acceptance in response to God's promises. There are exactly 117,442 Hebrew words in the original text of the Bible up to the end of 2 Samuel chapter 7. 117,442 is 26 x 4,517. 26 is the numeric value of this word יהוה ... spelled yud heh vav heh in Hebrew. To Jews the word is unpronounceable. When reading and they come to this word they say: Ha Shem … the Name … or they say Adonai … the Lord. They acknowledge that this is not the name of the Lord. It is a mystery. It represents the name of the Lord. It is a hint of the name of the Lord.

The New Testament says that Jesus is the Lord (Romans 10:9) Yud heh vav heh is a hint of the name of Jesus. 26 in the breakdown of the number of words in the text, up to the end of the chapter of the Davidic Covenant, appears to be a sign that the promises are to be fulfilled in the Lord ... in Jesus Christ.

117,442 is 26 x 4517. 4,517 is a number that is indivisible. It is a prime number. It is the 613th prime number.

It cannot be an accident that, in the original Hebrew writing of the Old Testament, from the start of our Bibles up to the end of 2 Samuel chapter 7 and the promises made to King David, that the breakdown of the number of words equals 26 (the numeric value of the Hebrew word that points to Jesus the Lord), times the 613th prime number, indicating the fulfilment of the Law, in Jesus Christ.

That leads us to the fifth connection. The first two chapters of Isaiah. In the original Hebrew text of Isaiah there are exactly six hundred and thirteen words in the first two chapters. Why? Study the chapters and we see that they concern Judah and Jerusalem. In other words, they are specifically for the Jewish people.

Further examination shows that the text starts with a rebuke. God raised them up but they rebelled. Then God predicts their future: Their land would be desolated. That was fulfilled. Only a remnant of the people would survive. Their religious observances are unacceptable.

But, a promise follows: if they obey the call, they will be washed clean. Judgement is coming, but the remnant will be redeemed and restored. Jerusalem will become the center of the world and there will be universal peace.

However, the closing verses of the second chapter show that God has a further purpose: to humble mankind. The Lord alone will be exalted in the end. (Isaiah 2:11,17)

The two chapters present a picture of why God chose Israel, and why He placed them under the Law. God chooses. God chastens. God humbles. And God completes what He began.

The two chapters together have exactly six hundred and thirteen words in the original text, because the Law, and Jewish history, will be fulfilled in Jesus, the Lord. When mankind has been humbled, in and through the Jewish people, in the land of Israel, then Jesus will reign supreme and there will be no further need for the Law. All Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

This brings us to the sixth connection: Psalm 135 ... the 613th chapter in our Bibles.Psalm 135 follows immediately after the 15 Psalms of Ascent.

On our website theLivingWord.org.au, there is a seminar series called “Bringing sons to glory”. The video series shows how the Psalms of Ascent start, in Psalm 120, with turning to the Lord, and the 15 psalms continue with the spiritual climb to the heavenly Jerusalem.

Psalm 126 shows that the Lord has a promise, to bring the Jewish people back to the promised land. Psalm 127 emphasises that it is the Lord who will build His house. Then follow five psalms all about God's future dealings with Israel, leading to the fulfilment of the Davidic Covenant in Psalm 132, and the unity of all believers, Jew and Gentile, in Jesus in Psalm 133, and final praise for the Lord in Psalm 134.

Psalm 135 then follows, and Psalm 135 is the 613th chapter of our Bibles. And this sums up Israel's history and ends with their praise for the Lord and all that He has done. His work is complete. The Law is fulfilled. Jesus has accomplished His purpose.

It seems that it is not random and by chance that Psalm 135 is the 613th chapter of our Bibles. It seems that it is an appropriate and fitting culmination of the spiritual picture of God's plan of redemption.

Jesus said: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until ... (that's a key word) ... until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until ... (there's that word again) ... until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:17-18)

It seems that Psalm 135 is the 613th chapter of our Bibles because God arranged it that way.