The Greek Alphabet

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The original Greek alphabet had 22 letters. Early in its history, however, the letter digamma (also known as stigma, the sixth letter) was dropped. Other letters dropped included koppa (eighteenth letter) and san (also called sampi, the twenty-seventh letter). Added to the alphabet, however, were upsilon, phi, chi, psi and omega.

The above changes meant that the classical Greek alphabet, from the fourth century B.C. forward, was composed of twenty-four letters including consonants and vowels (The Universal History of Numbers, page 219). Their names are alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, zeta, eta, theta, iota, kappa, lambda, mu, nu, ksi (xi), omicron, pi, rho, sigma, tau, upsilon, phi, chi, psi and omega.

Unsurprisingly, given the New Testament was originally written entirely in Koine (common) Greek, some of its letters have been used in a symbolic manner while others were utilized to establish doctrine.


The Anointed One

The most common New Testament Greek title for Jesus is Christos (Strong's Concordance #G5547), a word which means anointed or Messiah. Found 569 times in the original language text, it is usually translated in the KJV (and other Bible versions) as "Christ." The first two letters of this word, Chi (Χ) and Rho (ρ), are commonly found in Christian inscriptions and artwork, even in modern times, to symbolize Jesus Christ.

Greek letters Alpha, Omega, Chi and Rho
The letters Chi and Rho in the middle,
with Alpha and Omega as well,
found in the catacombs of Rome.

First and last

The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha (Α) and Omega (ω), are used by a resurrected Jesus four times in the book of Revelation. The Lord uses them to underscore his eternal nature, his power in the Godhead (the Almighty), and that he is both the starter and finisher of God's great plan for his creation.

"I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, THE BEGINNING AND THE ENDING," says the Lord, "Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come - the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8, see also verse 11, 21:6 and 22:13).

Letters to numbers

When it came to representing numbers, the Greeks utilized their classic twenty-four character alphabet but added back digamma (stigma), koppa and san (sampi). The below twenty-seven letters, with the numeric values they represent, have been in use from at least the third century B.C. to modern times (The Universal History of Numbers, page 220).

Greek alphabet with
their numeric values

Α   α
Alpha
1
Ι   ι
Iota
10
Ρ   ρ
Rho
100
Β   β
Beta
2
Κ   κ
Kappa
20
Σ   σ
Sigma
200
Γ   γ
Gamma
3
Λ   λ
Lambda
30
Τ   τ
Tau
300
Δ   δ
Delta
4
Μ   μ
Mu
40
Υ   υ
Upsilon
400
Ε   ε
Epsilon
5
Ν   ν
Nu
50
Φ   φ
Phi
500
ϛʹ
Digamma
6
Ξ   ξ
Xi
60
Χ   χ
Chi
600
Ζ   ζ
Zeta
7
Ο   ο
Omicron
70
Ψ   ψ
Psi
700
Η   η
Eta
8
Π   π
Pi
80
Ω   ω
Omega
800
Θ   θ
Theta
9
ϟʹ
Koppa
90
ϡʹ
Sampi
900

Symbolism

A Christian version of Gematria (which some label Biblical numerology) uses the numeric values of letters in the Greek alphabet, shown above, to hunt for symbolism in New Testament words.

One well-known example of Christian Gematria is Jesus' name. In the Greek, his first name is spelled Ι (Iota), η (Eta), σ (Sigma), ο (Omicron), υ (Upsilon) and σ (Sigma) composing the word Ιησουσ (Strong's Concordance #G2424). The numeric equivalents of these six Greek alphabet letters are 10, 8, 200, 70, 400 and 200, which adds up to 888.

List of terms in
Dictionary of Biblical Words

Recommended Articles
How did the Greeks influence Apostle Paul?
List of Jesus' names and titles!
Why study Hebrew?

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Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons



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