Seventeens in Scripture (14)

This is not numerical literary style at all. It is simply an example of 17 occurrences of the same name. But since the name has a reference to joy, that wonderful word found 17 times in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I think it’s worth making an exception.

Abigail means my father is joy. In Hebrew, the word for joy alludes to a crown. I guess it’s appropriate that Abigail is one of the queens of Israel.

  1. Abigail…was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband, a Calebite, was surly and mean in his dealings. 1 Samuel 25:3
  2. One of the servants told Nabal’s wife Abigail: “David sent messengers from the desert to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. 1 Samuel 25:14
  3. Abigail lost no time. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 1 Samuel 25:18
  4. When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 1 Samuel 25:23
  5. David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 1 Samuel 25:32
  6. When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing until daybreak. 1 Samuel 25:36
  7. Then David sent a proposal to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 1 Samuel 25:39

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Seventeens in Scripture (13)

Paul lays out the qualities of an elder in the church, citing seventeen qualifications for anyone who desires such ‘a noble task’.

Now the elder must be

  1. above reproach
  2. the husband of but one wife
  3. temperate
  4. self-controlled
  5. respectable
  6. hospitable
  7. able to teach

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Seventeens in Scripture (12)

The first epistle of John is often said to have a comparatively impoverished vocabulary compared to the gospel. It is also said to have ‘worked to death’ a very few select themes.

In a blog-length letter—a little under 2200 words—John used ‘eido’, to know the truth, seventeen times. Of course ensuring such an important word appears this exact number of times in such a comparatively short letter virtually guarantees this theme will appear to be over-emphasised.

  1. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 1 John 2:20 NIV
  2. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth… 1 John 2:21 NIV
  3. …but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 1 John 2:21 NIV
  4. If you know that he is righteous… 1 John 2:29 NIV
  5. …you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. 1 John 2:29 NIV
  6. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that… 1 John 3:1 NIV
  7. …it did not know him. 1 John 3:1 NIV

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Seventeens in Scripture (11)

The gospel of Mark records two occasions when Jesus fed thousands of people by multiplying loaves and fish. Between those two events, several incidents are recorded which refer in different ways to ‘bread’. These incidents include:

  • Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm which ends with a thought about bread
  • Jesus confronting the Pharisees over their attitude towards the way his disciples ate bread
  • Jesus indulging in repartee about bread with a woman who had come to ask him to cast a demon out of her daughter.

This so-called ‘Bread Portion’ of Mark’s gospel contains—you guessed it!—seventeen references to bread all up.

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Seventeens in Scripture (10)

Following on from both the overt and implied seventeens of Hebrews 11, there’s another set of them in Hebrews 12. The format is similar to Paul’s list of the things that cannot separate us from the love of God in its list of seven, a short interlude, then a list of ten.

You have NOT come:

1.   to a mountain that can be touched

2.   to burning fire

3.   to darkness

4.   to gloom

5.   to storm

6.   to a trumpet blast

7.   to a voice speaking  such words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded.

But you have come:

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Seventeens in Scripture (9)

As well as being seventeen instances of an overcomer in the book of Revelation—as mentioned yesterday—there are also seventeen promises to the overcomer.

  1. granted to eat of the tree of life (Revelation 2:7)
  2. not to be hurt of the second death (Revelation 2:11)
  3. granted to eat of the hidden manna (Revelation 2:17)
  4. given a white stone (Revelation 2:17)
  5. given a new and secret name (Revelation 2:17)
  6. given power over the nations (Revelation 2:26)
  7. given white raiment (Revelation 3:5)

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Seventeens in Scripture (8)

Seventeen of the twenty-eight occurrences of nikao—to overcome or to conquer—in the New Testament are found in the book of the Revelation. Five of the seventeen refer to the Lord, three to the Beast and nine to the people of God.

  1. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
  2. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:11)
  3. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)
  4. He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. (Revelation 2:26)
  5. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:5)
  6. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore ; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. (Revelation 3:12)
  7. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne. (Revelation 3:21)

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Seventeens in Scripture (7)

The boast of Paul listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23–26 contains seventeen ‘perils’…

I have:

  1. worked much harder
  2. been in prison more frequently
  3. been flogged more severely
  4. been exposed to death again and again.
  5. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
  6. Three times I was beaten with rods
  7. once I was stoned

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Seventeens in Scripture (6)

Love is:

  1. patient
  2. kind
  3. not envious
  4. not boastful
  5. not proud
  6. not rude
  7. not self-seeking

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Seventeens in Scripture (5)

The roll–call of faith in Hebrews 11 is not only another list of seventeen but is specifically marked at its golden ratio. Look who gets the coveted eleventh spot.

  1. Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel
  2. Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch
  3. Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah
  4. Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham
  5. Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac
  6. Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob
  7. Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph

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Seventeens in Scripture (4)

This is the set of seventeens that started my investigations into its meaning as a metaphor in Scripture. I was reading Joost Smit Sibinga who happened to mention there are 17 instances of the use of ‘Father’ in Matthew’s narration of The Sermon on the Mount. He pointed out they are distributed so that the Lord’s Prayer divides them in the golden ratio. Sibinga was puzzled by the use of 17: was it, he wondered, something to do with the fact the Pythagoreans didn’t use it?

  1. Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
  2. Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
  3. Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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Seventeens in Scripture (3)

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεός ἦν ὁ Λόγος

En archē ēn ho Lógos, kai ho Lógos ēn pros ton Theón, kai Theós ēn ho Lógos
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Seventeen words, in both Greek and English. This is the marvellous poem that opens John’s gospel and is sometimes called the ‘Hymn to the Logos‘.

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