Why is the fish number 153 so special?

cover for book Numbers & Roots of Numbers in the Bible

What is special about the fish number 153?

153 is an extremely special number.

What is special about 153 is that all natural numbers that are divisible by 3, for example, numbers 3, 6, 9 and so on, share this same numerical root. In other words, one third of all numbers can be traced back to this same root, 153. Based on this, to discover the meaning of 153 we have to start with this 1/3 fraction.

Two passages in the Bible are prominently and closely connected to this 1/3 fraction.

The first passage comes from chapter 12 of Revelation:

“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” (Revelation 12:3-4)

Here the third part of the stars that were swept out of heaven and down to earth refer to those fallen angels who had followed the enormous red dragon – Satan – in rebelling against God. Concerning this, almost all students of the Bible do not have any dissent.

The second passage is found in chapter 13 of Zechariah:

“And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, said the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.” (Zechariah 13:8-9)

The third part here plainly points to the people of God and again no one disagrees with this.

Based on the above observations we can see that this numerical root 153, which is closely related to 1/3, hooks onto the fallen angels on one hand but connects with the people of God on earth on the other hand.

We have already pointed out earlier, that the number 3 represents both the Holy Spirit in the Trinity and the work that the Holy Spirit is to carry out. And sanctification has always been the means and goal for the work that the Holy Spirit is trying to accomplish.

Right from the beginning, Genesis shows us on the first day, that God started His work by separating the light from the darkness. Then the Spirit of God continued this method of separation to carry out and accomplish His predestined plan. In the end, when we come to Revelation, we see God still uses the method of separation to accomplish His entire plan of redemption.

Thus we can clearly see this: the numerical root 153 is closely related to 3 – the spiritual realm, especially the fallen angels; related to 6 – people on the earth, especially the people of God; and related to 9 – the final sanctification that the Holy Spirit is to carry out.

Naturally, when the Holy Spirit begins sanctification, it is not hard to understand the need for the one third people of God mentioned in Zechariah to go through a process of purification and chastening in order to be rid of the impurities of their old lives, like silver and gold have to go through fire.

It is worthy to note that the fractions 1/3 and 2/3 mentioned above are like the difference between the literal and spiritual interpretations of the Bible. On many occasions we cannot gauge the actual and literal quantity. What God favors more is the quality rather than the quantity.

Moreover, you can also see 2/3 = 0.666… this endless repetition of 666 traps all the fallen ones in the Lake of Fire who have totally deserted 1 – the one and only true God. If, therefore, you cannot see this but rather choose to assign the number 666 in Revelation to a particular being, then you will eventually become powerless and hopeless when the end comes.

For a deeper understanding of the root 153, let us look at a passage near the end of the Gospel of John. This passage records the resurrected Lord Jesus’ meeting with His disciples by the sea of Tiberias:

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, I go afishing. They say to him, We also go with you. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, Children, have you any meat? They answered him, No. And he said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of [raw] fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat to him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with [raw] fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and [cooked] fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus said to them, Bring of the [cooked] fish which you have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great [raw] fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus said to them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples dared ask him, Who are you? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then comes, and takes bread, and gives them, and [cooked] fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. (John 21:1-14)

There is one point that deserves our attention in this passage that has been instilling curiosities from many people because of the number 153, that is, “fishes” show up many times. In fact, in Greek, there are two types of “fish” which are two different words: one type is “raw fish” (or “live fish”) and another is “cooked fish” that has been subjected to a process because its Greek word derives from a root which means “cooked meat.”

For convenience, we have added “raw” or “cooked” in brackets according to the Greek text so that readers can discern at a glance between “raw fish” and “cooked fish” and see clearly where each type shows up in the passage.

Obviously it was the “cooked fish” that Jesus asked for, not the “raw fish;” what He gave His disciple to eat is also “cooked fish,” not “raw fish.” If we reflect along this line for the meaning of this passage, we can see that the 153 great raw fishes are all yet to be processed further so that they can be sanctified and become the “cooked fishes” as other people’s providence in life, that is, the believers who can glorify God and benefit the people.

In addition, the word “fish” or “fishes” occurs 6 times in the above passage, among which “raw fish” in Greek occurs 3 times and “cooked fish” in Greek also shows up 3 times. The meaning of distinction between the two is self-evident.

From here we can see more clearly what spiritual meanings the number 153 can bring to us. May the work of sanctification that the Holy Spirit is doing in each one of us be made complete according to the will of God.


This chapter is taken from Taichuan Tongs book “Numbers & Roots of Numbers in the Bible” published by TheoLogos Publications – click the text link or cover image to learn how nine roots of numbers were unprecedentedly discovered that connect all numbers together no matter how big they are.

As a result, study of numbers in the Bible has three levels: (1) surface numbers, (2) families of numbers and (3) roots of numbers.

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