This great spiritual significance is maintained throughout the Word of God. Of course we cannot recognize any human arrangements or divisions of books, chapters, or verses, etc. We can take only that division, order, and arrangement which is Divine.
The second of any number of things always bears upon it the stamp of difference, and generally of enmity.
Take the second statement in the Bible. The first is -
Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
The second is, "And the earth was [or rather became] without form and void."
Here the first speaks of perfection and of order. The second of ruin and desolation, which came to pass at some time, and in some way, and for some reason which are not revealed.
How is the number two represented in divisions?
Then we have seen that the Book of Genesis is Divinely divided into twelve parts (consisting of an Introduction and eleven Tol'doth). The first of these twelve divisions records the perfection of God's sovereign work. The second (Genesis 2:4-4:26) contains the account of the Fall; the entrance of a second being - the Enemy - that old Serpent the Devil, introducing discord, and sin, and death. "Enmity" is seen first in this second division. "I will put enmity" (Genesis 3:15). We see a second to God in the Serpent; a second creature in the woman, who was deceived and "in the transgression"; a second man, in the Seed of the woman, the subject of the great primeval promise and prophecy.
The second "Tol'doth" (Genesis 5:1-6:8) begins with the words,
"The book of the generations of Adam."
While of "the second Man" it is written (Matthew 1:1) "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ."
If we look at the Pentateuch as a whole, we see, in the First book, Divine sovereignty , but the Second book (Exodus) opens with "the oppression of the enemy." Here, again, there is "another," even the Deliverer and the Redeemer, who says, "I am come down to deliver" (Exodus 3:8). To Him the praise is offered in the Song of Moses: "Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people which Thou hast redeemed" (Exodus 15:13). And thus Redemption is introduced into the Bible, and mentioned for the first time in this second book, and in connection with the enemy (just as was the first promise of the Redeemer in Genesis 3:15).
The second of the three great divisions of the Old Testament, called Nebiim, or the Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2Samuel, 1 and 2Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) contains the record of Israel's enmity to God, and of God's controversy with Israel. In the first book (Joshua) we have God's sovereignty in giving the conquest of the land; while in the second (Judges) we see the rebellion and enmity in the land, leading to departure from God and the oppression of the enemy. Here, again, we have side by side with the enemy the "saviors" whom God raised up to deliver His people.
In the third great division of the Old Testament, called "the Psalms," because it commences with the Book of Psalms, we have in the Hebrew Canon, as the second Book, the Book of Job. Here, again, we see the enemy in all his power and malignity opposing and oppressing a child of God; and we are taken within the veil to behold the living God as the shield of His people, a very present help in the needful time of trouble.
Besides Genesis, the Book of Psalms is the only book which is marked by any similar Divine divisions.
It consists of Five Books:
The first - Psalms 1-41
The second - Psalms 42-72
The third - Psalms 73-89
The fourth - Psalms 90-106
The fifth - Psalms 107-150
The Second Book of the Psalms commences (as does Exodus) with "the oppression of the enemy" (Psalm 42:9). This is the burden of the whole of this Psalm, and indeed of the whole of this second Book!
Not only is this true of this Second Book, but it is true also of the second Psalm of each of the other books! e.g.:
The second Psalm of First Book (Psalm 2): -
"Why do the heathen rage,
And [why] do the people imagine a vain thing?
[Why do] the kings of the earth set themselves,
And [why do] the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His anointed?"
But here, again, we have the Deliverer, in verse 6.
"Yet have I set My King."
The Second Psalm of the Second Book (Psalm 43) opens with "the oppression of the enemy," repeated in verse 2, together with the prophecy of praise for the promised Deliverer.
The second Psalm of the Third Book (Psalm 74): -
"Lift up Thy feet unto the perpetual desolations:
Even all that the ENEMY hath done wickedly in the sanctuary,
Thine ENEMIES roar in the midst of Thy congregations . . .
O God, how long shall the ADVERSARY reproach?
Shall the ENEMY blaspheme Thy name for ever? . . .
Remember this, that the ENEMY hath reproached, O LORD . . .
O let not the oppressed return ashamed . . .
Arise, O God, plead Thine own cause . . .
Forget not the voice of Thine ENEMIES."
The second Psalm of the Fourth Book (Psalm 91) would have to be quoted as a whole. It describes how the enemy shall be finally trodden down by the coming Deliverer.
The second Psalm of the Fifth Book (Psalm 108): -
"That Thy beloved may be delivered:
Save with Thy right hand, and answer me . . .
Give us help from trouble,
For vain is the help of man.
Through God we shall do valiantly:
For He it is that shall tread down our ENEMIES."
How is the number 2 significant in the New Testament?
The same symbolism of this number is seen in the New Testament. Wherever there are Two Epistles, the second has some special reference to the enemy.
In 2Corinthians there is a marked emphasis on the power of the enemy, and the working of Satan (2:11, 11:14, 12:7). In 2Thessalonians we have a special account of the working of Satan in the revelation of "the man of sin" and "the lawless one." In 2Timothy we see the church in its ruin, as in the first epistle we see it in its rule
In 2Peter we have the coming apostasy foretold and described. While in 2John we have the "antichrist" mentioned by this name, and are forbidden to receive into our house any who come with his doctrine.*
* Brand (Pop. Ant. iii. 145) quotes Numerus Infaustus, in the preface to which the author says, "Such of the kings of England as were the second of any name proved very unfortunate persons, William II, Henry II, Edward II, Richard II, Charles II, James II."
It is impossible even to name the vast number of things which stress the importance of the number 2, so that the one may teach concerning the other by way of contrast or difference.
The Two foundations of Matthew 7:24-27: the one which "fell not, for it was founded upon a rock"; the other which "fell, and great was the fall of it." The Two goats (Leviticus 16:7); the Two birds (Leviticus 14:4-7); the Two opinions (1Kings 18:21); the Two masters (Matthew 6:24); the Two commandments (Matthew 22:40); the Two debtors (Luke 7:41); the Two covenants (Galatians 4:24); the Two men (Luke 18:10); the Two sons (Matthew 21:28, and Luke 15:11, and Galatians 4:22), etc., etc.
What are the LIFE TYPES of Genesis?
The second of the seven life-types of Genesis has the same character.
The first Adam sets forth our first parents in their innocence, fall, and expulsion, driven out from the presence of God (Genesis 3:24). How could they again walk with God? This is the great problem which is to be solved in the words which immediately follow, written on the forefront of revelation to set before us the answer to the all-important question,
"How can Two walk together except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3).
The solution is given in Genesis 4, in the second life-type, which is Two-fold in the persons of Cain and Abel. Here are presented and described the Two ways - "The way of God" (Acts 18:26) and "The way of Cain" (Jude 11), the only Two Religions which the world has ever seen. One, the true; the other, the false.
True religion is one and unchangeable. Its language is -
"NOTHING in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling."
False religion is one and unchangeable. It has many varieties; its one language is -
"SOMETHING in my hand I bring."
Men quarrel bitterly as to what that something is to be. They persecute, and burn, and destroy one another in the heat of their controversies about it. But however this "something" may vary, it is one, in that it is not "the way of God," not the way which God has appointed, but it is "the way of Cain," man's way. The one is "faith," the other is "works." The one is "grace," the other is human "merit." The one is "the path of life," the other ends in "the second death."
Not only have we this contrast or eternal difference in Cain and Abel, but others are presented in this manner, in order to bring out further spiritual truths.
The meaning of 2 found in comparing differences
How were Abraham and Lot so different? These Two were related as uncle and nephew; both descended from Shem through Terah. Both started together from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran in Mesopotamia (Genesis 11); they both started together from Haran to go into the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:4); and afterwards they both go up together out of Egypt (Genesis 13:1). But soon the difference between the Two was manifested, and "there was a strife" between them. The difference was manifested.
Lot, the second of this pair, lifted up his own eyes and chose his own portion (13:11); while Abram's portion was chosen for him by God (13:14). Thus they were "separated" (13:11,14).
First, Lot looked and "behold" the plain of Jordan with its cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and it seemed to him "as the garden of the LORD" (Genesis 13:10); then he "chose" this for his portion (13:11); then he "pitched his tent towards Sodom" (13:12); then he "dwelt in Sodom," and shared in Sodom's troubles and wars, and lost all the treasure which he had laid up there (14:12). He afterwards "sat in the gate of Sodom" (19:1) and held office there as a judge in spite of his being daily "vexed" with their ungodly words and deeds (2Peter 2:6-9); and finally he escaped from its overthrow, only with his life.
Abram, on the other hand, had his portion with God. He walked by faith; he pitched his tent only where he could build his altar (12:8, 13:3,4); he held communion with God who was his "shield and exceeding great reward" (15:1). Though he was a stranger on earth, he was "the friend of God," and received the secrets of God's purposes (Psalm 25:14; Amos 3:7; John 15:15). Truly there was a difference. And this difference was greater in their Two wives. Sarah was a type of the Heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:21-31); while "Lot's wife" became a pillar of salt, and remains a beacon of warning to be for ever remembered (Luke 17:32).
How were Issac and Ishmael DIFFERENT?
Issac and Ishmael are presented together. Here the relationship was nearer, for they were step-brothers. Both were the sons of Abram, Sarah being the mother of Isaac, and Hagar the mother of Ishmael. Though the relationship according to the flesh was nearer than that between Abram and Lot, the difference was morally and spiritually greater. For it is written, "neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children: for in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Romans 9:7). Oh! how great was the difference! Isaac, "born after the spirit"; Ishmael, "born after the flesh" (Galatians 4:29,30), and therefore a persecutor. We read of no "just" Ishmael, no "righteous" Ishmael, as we do of Lot. Lot's descendants were the Moabites and Ammonites, and Ruth from Moab was an ancestress of Jesus. But Ishmael's posterity were "cast out," and continue to this day wild and unchained.
How were Jacob and Esau DIFFERENT?
Jacob and Esau are presented together. Here the relationship is still closer. Not only were they the children of the same father (Isaac), but of the same mother (Rebekah). But the spiritual difference is still greater. The enmity was manifested when the babes "struggled together," being yet unborn (Genesis 25:22). And it is written in the Scriptures of truth, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Malachi 1:2,3; Romans 9:13). Esau was "a fornicator and a profane person," despising his birthright (Hebrews 12:16,17); while Jacob so loved and prized it that he sinned grievously in grasping it. As the difference is seen in the posterity of Abraham and Lot, Isaac and Ishmael, so here it is still more marked. Israel is God's glory, the "everlasting nation" (Isaiah 43:12,13, 44:7); while the Edomites were accursed. And of the Amalekites God declared that He would "have war with Amalek from generation to generation" (Exodus 17:16).
Which words occur two times?
A long list of these could be made. We give a few from the Hebrew and from the Greek. In all such words we can see important instruction. In apoplew (apopleo) we see the work of the enemy seducing the very elect, were it possible (Matthew 13:22), and causing them to err from the faith (1Timothy 6:10).
In apopnigw (apopnigo) we see the enemy choking the seed (Matthew 13:7), and himself choked in the sea (Luke 8:33). In apolausiV (apolausis) we have the things which God has given us for enjoyment (1Timothy 6:17), and the enjoyment of the pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25). In apokuew (apokueo) we have sin bringing forth death (James 1:15), and God begetting us by the word of truth (James 1:18). In atmiV (atmis) we see the difference between earthly life, which is but a vapor, compared with life which is eternal (James 4:14; Acts 2:19).
In panoplia (panoplia) (panoply) we see a difference indeed. It is not that the word occurs twice (merely as a word), but it is used in Two senses and Two places, namely, of the armor of Satan (Luke 11:22), and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11,17).
The armor of the "strong man" is taken from him by the "stronger than he," and the soul is delivered, never more to be under the dominion of Satan. All the armor in which Satan trusted is then taken away from him (Luke 11:21,22), and the poor sinner who was before in his power is now endued with the "whole armor of God."
Similar studies may be made with other words. And even where a word may occur often, it may occur only twice in connection with another word making a phrase. This may be significant. For example, o uioV thV apwleiaV, the son of perdition. Both of these words, "son" and "perdition," occur many times, but only twice together (John 17:12 and 2Thessalonians 2:3, pointing to Psalm 109). Some have questioned from this whether Judas Iscariot will be revealed again as the man of sin.
Additional commentary on the Biblical Meaning of 2 *
The number two signifies union, division and verification by witnesses:
The union of husband and wife as one.
The union of Christ and the Church
The unity between the Old and New Testaments.
The witness of God in the Old and New Testaments
God requires a minimum of two witnesses in any trial or dispute. Jesus sent the disciples out to witness and preach the gospel in pairs. The final witnesses of God during the tribulation will be the Two Witnesses:
"And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." (Revelation 11:3)