666 in the Gospel of Luke

The Falling Architecture of Luke 12:49 – 13:35

An online friend noticed that the tower of Siloam in Luke 13:4 killed eighteen people, and only a few paragraphs later, in 13:11, the bent-over woman had been disabled for eighteen years. Is this a coincidence? Not likely.

I think this repeated number is a clue to the literary structure of this part of Luke’s gospel. If we see a “double witness” like this, very often the identical points are indicators that we are near the centre of a symmetrical arrangement. If we see two flags on the beach, the lifeguard should be somewhere in the middle.

Tracing the subject matter both backwards and forwards from this centre seems to give the following outline, which is as grand as it is profound. It begins with a five-fold Covenant and ends with a seven-fold Creation. The Covenant scroll is opened by the worthy Lamb. The middle points all seem to be “three-level” houses, like the primeval world, the ark of Noah, the Tabernacle and the Temples. Eighteen is 6+6+6, that is, a triune failure in Garden (Adam), Land (Cain) and World (Sons of God). At Passover we have allusions to the sins of Adam and Cain, and at Atonement the Great Flood. The instances of eighteen appear at the Bronze Altar (earth) and at the Incense Altar (heaven), with Israel as the mediator between them as the light of the Lampstand obscured by unfaithfulness, or, in Old Testament terms, harlotry.

SABBATH – Rest disturbed
No Peace on the Land – De-Creation/Ark

T – I came to cast fire on the Land (Initiation – face like the sun)
H – and would that it were kindled (Delegation – church lamps)
E – I have a baptism to be baptized with (Purification – true Jews)
O – and how great is my distress (Vindication/Oath-Sanctions)
S – until it is accomplished (Representation/Succession)

PASSOVER – End of the Old Creation
Not Peace But Division – Division/Veil
3 – World (family divided – Noah and family)
2 – Land (harvest times – Cain and Abel)
1 – Garden (theft and the accuser – Adam)

FIRSTFRUITS – Bloodied House
Repent or Perish – Ascension/Altar+Table
Pilate’s human sacrifices (un-Altar)
6+6+6 men slain by falling tower (un-ascension)
Adam dies for all three domains.

PENTECOST – Hearts Revealed
The Barren Fig Tree – Testing/Lampstand
3 years – Pentecost to Holocaust – Spirit

TRUMPETS – Resurrected House
The Upright Woman – Maturity/Incense Altar
6+6+6 woman in bondage – Eve rises and enters into rest

ATONEMENT – Days of Noah – Beginning of the New Creation
High Priest and Mediating Animals
1 – The Mustard Seed in the Garden (Adam shelters Eve: Priest)
2 – The Leaven in the Land (Eve brings forth righteous sons: Priest and King)
3 – The Narrow Door (Righteous sons safe behind the door: Priest, King and Prophet)

The lament over Jerusalem – the Tabernacle destroyed

Creation – Pharisees warn Jesus about Herod (false gods)
Division – He sends them back to Herod (a vain name) [1]
Ascension – Three day mission (the Land and the womb)
Testing – Prophets perish (murder and adultery)
Maturity – Corruption of Sanctuary (theft and false witness)
Conquest – Jesus’ priestly wings as a covering (Adam’s house…)
Glorification – She would be blinded (…left empty)

This last stanza seems to work through the Ten Words. Also, the reference to Herod as a fox might be because the Idumeans (Edomites) were descendants of Esau. He was thus red, hairy, unclean, and a conniving predator.


If that’s all too much, here’s how this passage represents the entire story of Christ and the Church in the first century:

(five-fold: God’s mind concealed)
(Christ’s walk to the cross: old history cut off)
(Offering as Isaac – binding) [2]
(Israel forgiven)
(Church summoned – loosing) [3]
(Church gathered: new history begun)
(seven-fold: God’s mind revealed)

Breathtaking! It would be interesting to see where this structure fits in the shape of the entire Gospel.

[1] This Herod is the Tetrarch under whom John the Baptist was martyred.
[2] The placement of the falling tower ties this passage to the tower of Babel, a false “ascension” to the heavens, and thus to the Herodian “Babylon” of the Revelation.
[3] See the chapter on the sacrificial meaning of “binding and loosing” in God’s Kitchen.

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