Beyond the Surface: Discovering What the Number 38 Reveals in Biblical Scripture

Number 38 symbolizing spiritual significance and healing in biblical contexts.

In biblical numerology, numbers often hold significant spiritual and symbolic meanings, reflecting deep layers of message and theology. The number 38, while less prominently featured than others, appears in contexts that highlight themes of healing, judgment, and the fulfillment of divine promises. This exploration uncovers its specific implications and instances within the scriptures, offering insights into its unique place in biblical narratives and teachings.

I. Introduction

In the rich tapestry of biblical literature, numbers transcend mere quantifiers to embody deep symbolic meanings. The ancient texts weave numerology into their narratives, where each number carries its own spiritual and theological significance. Among these, the number 38, though less frequently mentioned, holds a place of interest for scholars and believers alike, offering a unique lens through which to view the themes of perseverance, divine intervention, and healing.

II. The Significance of Numbers in Biblical Context

A. Overview of Biblical Numerology

Biblical numerology is the study of numbers within the Holy Scriptures, where numbers are believed to have symbolic values beyond their literal sense. This discipline highlights how numbers can represent concepts, convey messages from the divine, or signify the order of creation itself. From the creation week, consisting of seven days, to the Ten Commandments, numbers serve as foundational elements that reflect the underlying principles of God’s interaction with humanity.

B. Patterns and Symbolism of Numbers in Scripture

The scriptures are replete with patterns and symbolism that emerge through specific numbers. These patterns often reveal deeper insights into God’s character, the nature of humanity, and the spiritual journey of faith. For instance, the number 12 symbolizes divine authority and perfection, as seen in the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles. Similarly, the number 40 is frequently associated with periods of testing, trial, and judgment, such as the 40 days of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.

III. The Meaning of Number 38 in the Bible

A. Instances of Number 38 in Biblical Texts

  • Healing at the Pool of Bethesda
    The Gospel of John recounts a remarkable event at the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus heals a man who had been invalid for 38 years. This story stands out not only for the miraculous healing but also for the specific mention of the 38 years of suffering, emphasizing a period of waiting and anticipation for divine intervention.
  • Other References
    While direct mentions of the number 38 are scarce within the biblical text, its appearance in the context of healing and deliverance speaks volumes about its significance. These instances serve as focal points for reflection on the themes of endurance, faith, and the fulfillment of God’s promises.

B. Symbolic Interpretations of Number 38

  • Themes of Waiting and Healing
    The number 38 symbolically represents a period of waiting that precedes a significant transformation or divine healing. In biblical narratives, such periods often test individuals’ faith and perseverance and ultimately lead to a profound encounter with the divine. The healing at Bethesda, specifically, illustrates how prolonged suffering can culminate in miraculous deliverance and highlights God’s timing and sovereignty in the process of restoration.
  • Connection to Israel’s Wilderness Journey
    While not directly mentioned in relation to the 38 years, the period of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land echoes similar themes of trial, purification, and preparation. This parallel draws attention to the process through which faith is refined, and God’s people are readied for their destiny, offering a broader perspective on the spiritual significance of waiting periods.

IV. Comparative Analysis with Other Biblical Numbers

A. Number 38 Versus Number 40

The comparison between 38 and the more frequently cited number 40 offers insights into the nuanced differences in biblical numerology. While both numbers relate to periods of trial and testing, the number 40 is more commonly associated with a complete time of testing ordained by God. In contrast, 38 may signify an incomplete period, suggesting a time of unexpected deliverance or an interruption in the natural course of events leading to God’s intervention.

B. Number 38 in Relation to Number 12

Examining the number 38 alongside the number 12, which symbolizes divine authority and organizational completeness, reveals a contrast between individual transformation (38) and corporate identity (12). This juxtaposition highlights the individual’s journey within the broader community of faith, underscoring personal encounters with God that contribute to the collective experience of divine grace and authority.

C. Unique Aspects of Number 38

The distinctiveness of the number 38 in biblical numerology lies in its specific association with healing and the cessation of prolonged suffering. Unlike numbers that signify wholeness or judgment, 38 speaks to the personal and often isolated experiences of waiting for God’s deliverance. This number, therefore, enriches the biblical narrative by adding depth to the understanding of divine timing and the individual’s role within God’s redemptive plan.


Q: What does the number 38 mean in the Bible?
A: The number 38 in the Bible symbolizes a period of waiting and suffering that precedes divine intervention, as illustrated by the healing at the Pool of Bethesda.

Q: How is biblical numerology significant in understanding scripture?
A: Biblical numerology provides deeper insights into the spiritual and theological dimensions of scripture, revealing hidden messages and divine principles through the symbolic meanings of numbers.

Q: Are there any other notable instances of the number 38 in religious texts?
A: Direct mentions of the number 38 are scarce in the Bible, with the healing at the Pool of Bethesda being a primary example, emphasizing themes of healing and deliverance.

Q: What is the significance of the number 40 in comparison to 38 in biblical contexts?
A: While the number 38 signifies an incomplete period of trial or suffering, the number 40 is often associated with a complete time of testing, judgment, or purification as ordained by God.

Q: Can the number 38 have a personal significance in one’s spiritual life?
A: Yes, reflecting on the number 38 can inspire individuals to consider the role of divine timing in their own lives, recognizing periods of waiting as opportunities for growth and preparation for God’s blessings.

Q: What does the number 17 mean in the Bible?
A: The number 17 in the Bible is often seen as a symbol of victory and resurrection, given its connection to certain biblical events where God delivers His people or demonstrates His power.

Q: What does the number 23 mean in the Bible?
A: The number 23 is less prominently featured in the Bible, but some interpret it as symbolizing God’s protection and support, drawing from the few contexts in which it appears.

VI. Conclusion

A. Summary of Key Points

This article has explored the significance of the number 38 in the Bible, highlighting its association with periods of waiting, suffering, and eventual divine intervention. Through examining its appearance and symbolic meanings, we’ve gained insights into how numbers serve to enrich the biblical narrative, offering layers of meaning that extend beyond the literal text.

B. Theological Implications of Number 38

The theological implications of number 38 underscore the concepts of divine timing, perseverance, and faith. This number reminds us of the importance of waiting on God’s timing, suggesting that periods of trial and suffering can lead to significant spiritual breakthroughs and healing.

C. Personal Reflections on Number 38 in Spiritual Life

Reflecting on the number 38 encourages believers to embrace their periods of waiting as integral to their spiritual journey. It serves as a reminder that while the timing and reasons behind God’s interventions may not always be clear, faith and patience can foster a deeper trust in His plan for our lives.

VII. Suggested Readings

Exploring the world of biblical numerology offers a fascinating journey into the depths of scripture, where numbers open up new dimensions of understanding and insight. Below are a few suggested readings for those interested in delving further into this topic:

  • “Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance” by E.W. Bullinger – A comprehensive exploration of biblical numerology, offering an in-depth analysis of the significance and spiritual meanings of numbers found throughout the Bible.
  • “Biblical Numerology: A Basic Study of the Use of Numbers in the Bible” by John J. Davis – This book provides an introductory look at the role of numbers in biblical texts, helping readers understand their symbolic meanings and theological implications.
  • “The Mystery of Numbers: Revealed Through Their Digital Root” by Thomas G. Wangler – Offering a unique approach to understanding biblical numbers through the concept of digital roots, this book uncovers patterns and messages hidden within scripture.
  • “The Secrets of Biblical Wisdom: Unveiling the Mystery of Heavenly Arithmetic” by Kyle Searcy – A fascinating look at how biblical numerology can unlock deeper spiritual wisdom and understanding, guiding readers to apply these principles in their personal faith journey.

These resources serve as gateways to deeper knowledge and appreciation of the symbolic language of numbers in the Bible. Whether you are a scholar, a believer seeking spiritual growth, or simply curious about biblical numerology, these books offer valuable insights and perspectives to enrich your understanding of scripture and its profound spiritual dimensions.

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