The Number 3

The Number “3”

(The Trinity)


Meaning and Symbology

  • Past, Present, Future
  • Birth, Life, Death
  • Begining, Middle, End
  • The number 3 pictures completeness, though to a lesser degree than 7. The meaning of this number derives from the fact that it is the first of four spiritually perfect numerals (the others being 7, 10 and 12).
  • Three tangible celestials bodies: Earth, Sun, and Moon
  • Man is Body, Soul, and Spirit
  • Philosophers; Aquinas, Kant, Hegel, C. S. Peirce, and Karl Popper have made threefold divisions, or trichotomies, which have been important in their work


In the Bible

  • The 3 righteous patriarchs before the flood were Abel, Enoch, and Noah.
  • After the deluge, there was the righteous “fathers” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (later renamed Israel).
  • Noah had three sons: Shem – Ham – Japheth The story of Noah is in Genesis chapter 6 -10
  • There are 27 books in the New Testament, which is 3x3x3, or completeness to the third power.
  • By three times in his last speech to the apostles, Jesus prays in order that they become One like Him and the Father are One. (Jn 17,11-23)
  • By three times in Gospels the Father gives a testimony to his Son: during his Baptism on the edge of the Jordan (Mt 3,17); on the Thabor during the Transfiguration (Mt 17,5); and to the Temple during the last Passover, in presence of the Gentiles come to make the knowledge of Jesus (Jn 12,28).
  • Three times in the Gospels Jesus resuscitates a dead body: the girl of Jairus (Lk 8,54); the son of the widow of Nain (Lk 7,14); and Lazarus (Jn 11,43).
  • The devil tempted Jesus 3 times in the desert. (Lk 4,2)
  • By three times in the Gospels, Jesus announces his passion.
  • Joseph and the Virgin Mary lost the Jesus Child for three days and finally found him at the Temple. (Lk 2,46)
  • Jesus fell three times when carrying his cross.
  • The three hours of darkness on all the earth, from midday to three o’clock, when Jesus was nailed on the cross. (Mt 27,45)
  • The three witnesses of the Transfiguration of Jesus: Peter, John, and James. Those are the same apostles who were witnesses to his agony.
  • The three years of the public ministry of Jesus-Christ.
  • The Three Magi that visited Jesus Child, offering to the mother three presents: the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh. (Mt 2,11)
  • The number of persons who were crucified on the Calvary including Jesus, symbolizing the three manners to accept the cross. (Jn 19,18)
  • By three times the apostle Peter renounces Jesus and by three times also he affirms his love for Him. (Lk 22,56-65; Jn 21,15-19)
  • The triple visions of Peter. (Act 10,16)
  • The Virgin Mary remained three months with Elizabeth for the birth of John the Baptist.
  • The three terrestrial witnesses: the Spirit, the water, the blood. (1 Jn 5,8)
  • The three theological virtues: the Faith, the Hope, and the Charity.
  • The three attributes of the Christ: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
  • The three persons that were thrown in the furnace of fiery fire under the order of the king Nebuchadnezzar: Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. (Dn 3,19)
  • Samson trifles at Delilah three times. (Jg 16,15)
  • Under the reign of David, a famine lasted three years. (2 S 21,1)
  • By three times, Elijah laid down on a child, then he returned him to life. (1 K 17,21)
  • Three friends converse with Job. (Job 2,11)
  • The three just of Ezekiel: Noah, Daniel, and Job. (Ezk 14,14)
  • The three towns of refuge. (Dt 19,2)
  • Moses is hidden three months after his birth. (Ex 2,2)
  • The three days road’s to travel in the desert for Hebrews. (Ex 3,18 and 15,22)
  • The three annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem. (Ex 34,23)
  • The three days of fast of the Jews of Suse. (Is 4,16)
  • The three daily prayers and the three weeks of mourning for Daniel. (Dn 6,11 and 10,2)
  • The Old Testament reports that Yahweh, by three times, asked some peoples to construct his three Temples:
    1. Moses: 13th century before J.-C. (Ex 25,8)
    2. Solomon: 975-932 before J.-C. (1 K 5,17)
    3. Ezekiel: 6th century before J.-C. (Ez 40)
  • The three days while Jonah remained in the belly of the fish. (Jon 2,1)
  • The three mysterious men visiting Abraham. (Gn 18,2)
  • The three floors of the Ark of Noah. (Gn 6,16)


Biblical Occurrences

  • The number 3 is used  485 times in the KJV Bible.
  • In the Bible, 20 numbers are used 3 times. Among them there are the numbers 45, 65, 77, 98, 123, 160, 172,180, 36000 and 144000.


Other Religions

  • The Hindu Trimurti
  • The Hindu Tridevi
  • The Three Jewels of Buddhism
  • The Three Pure Ones of Taoism
  • The Christian Holy Trinity
  • The Triple Goddess of Wicca
  • In Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
  • Shiva carries a trident representing: Will, action, and knowledge
  • It is believed in Hinduism that people have 3 eyes. Two eyes with we wee the material world and our 3rd eye which sits between and just above them.
  • Shiva: which is the 3rd God in the Trinity in the Hindu faith has 3 eyes and a trident with 3 points. 3x3x3= 27
  • The number 3 is used 20 times in the Koran.
  • The three virtues of HumataHukhta, and Huvarshta (Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds) are a basic tenet in Zoroastrianism.
  • Odin endured three hardships upon the World Tree in his quest for the runes: he hanged himself, wounded himself with a spear, and suffered from hunger and thirst.
  • Wicca-The Triple Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone; the three fates.
  • Under Muslim law, a man can divorce his wife by repeating the phrase “I divorce thee” three times.
  • The symbol of three interlocked triangles is called Valknut. It was used in Viking times as a symbol for the slain dead.



  • All living organisms are dependent on three types of very large molecules for essentially all of their biological functions. These molecules are DNA, RNA, and proteins, and are classified as biological macromolecules. Without DNA, RNA, and proteins, no known forms of life could exist. The simple summary is that DNA makes RNA, and then RNA makes proteins.
  • Only three primary colors are needed to mix most other colors; red, yellow and blue.
  • The three great pyramids on the Giza Plateau: Khufu, Khafre, Menkaure
  • The pillars of western culture and civilization: The Greek “Trivium” Logic, Grammer, Rhetoric, and Debate
  • Newton’s three laws of motion:
    1. Inertia.
    2. The relationship between an object’s mass.
    3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
  • The 3 Laws of Thermodynamics: Temperature, energy, and entropy.
  • The number 3 is one of the most important numbers in Freemasonry. It represents the blue lodge or the 3 levels of Masonry. The initiate, the Apprentice, and Master Mason.
  • The number 3 is prominent in most sports around the world. Baseball-3 batters, 3-Strikes; Bowling- 3 strikes; Basketball- 3 point shot behind the arch. etc.
  • In European alchemy, the three primes (Latin: tria prima) were salt (Line within circle.svg), sulfur (Sulphur.svg) and mercury (Mercury symbol.svg).
  • 3 is the atomic number of lithium.
  • Three is the number of dimensions that humans can perceive. Humans perceive the universe to have three spatial dimensions, but some theories, such as string theory, suggest there are more.
  • The triangle, a polygon with three edges and three vertices, is the most stable physical shape. For this reason it is widely utilized in construction, engineering, and design.
  • The ability of the human eye to distinguish colors is based upon the varying sensitivity of different cells in the retina to light of different wavelengths. Humans being trichromatic, the retina contains three types of color receptor cells or cones.
  • In fairy tales, 3 is “the magic number”. ex, 3 wishes from the magic genie.
  • Heros often overcome trials and tests on the third attempt.
  • Plato divided his Utopian city into three populations: Laborers – Guardians (warriors) – Philosophers (rulers)
  • On the Nobel Peace Prize Medal, there is engraved a picture of three naked men. The inscription reads: Pro pace et fraternitate Gentium, translated ” For the peace and brotherhood of men”. The medal was designed by Gustav Vigeland.
  • According to Benjamin Disraeli (British Prime Minister, 1804-1881), there are three degrees of lies:   Lies – Damned Lies – Statistics
  • In the Tarot, three is the card of the Empress.
  • Gemini is the third astrological sign of the Zodiac. (May 21 – June 21) Number three is the number of Jupiter.
  • The Shamrock, the three-leaf clover, is a symbol of Ireland.
  • The iris flower was a symbol of power in ancient Egypt. It was often placed on scepters of rulers and kings. The three large petals of the iris flower symbolize:  Faith  – Wisdom  – Courage
  • The Three Languages of the Rosetta Stone The Rosetta Stone contains inscriptions in three languages: Demotic (Egyptian), Hieroglyphic and Classical Greek.
  • Three English Kings have died in battle. 1. Harold II – October 14,1066  2. Richard the Lionheart – April 6, 1199  3. Richard III – August 22, 1485
  • Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. 1801 – 1809. Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The octopus has three hearts. Camels have three eyelids. Cats have a third eyelid.


For More Studies on Numbers Please Visit the “Number Studies” page.