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Reaching Unbelievers Through Bible Numerics
Does a mathematical design exist in the text of the Bible, and if so, would it convince unbelievers that the Bible is divinely inspired? An early 20th century mathematician believed it could.

Marie and I pastor the Messianic assembly, Congregation Beth Chesed in Federal Way, Washington. For some time we have felt a prayer burden for a Russian Jewish couple. They have been looking for prayer support and help to reach Russian Jews in Israel, America and in Russia. We believe we can help them to fulfill the vision and call God has given them, and to put tools in their hands that can bring to fruition all their hopes and dreams. Why are we so confident?

In the spring of 1944, as a new believer in Jesus, I was approached by a Russian Jew, Dr. Jewell. He challenged me. "You are called to the ministry, no?"

Reaching Unbelievers Through Bible Numerics
Dr. Ivan Panin

"Yes," I replied.

"You would like to know Greek, no?"

"Yes, I again responded.

"If I teach you Greek, would you study the works of the great Ivan Panin?"

I had not heard of the great Ivan Panin, but I quickly perceived that this would be a bargain for me, so I said, "Yes."

"Here are two pamphlets by Dr. Panin," he said. "Take and read, and next week we have our first lesson."

The following week, Dr. Jewell did not show up at our church in Victoria, B.C., of approximately 400. Not only that, but no one in the congregation could recall him at all! I wondered if I had met an angel.

When I was discharged from the Canadian Navy in 1945, I attended Bible college in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for one year. During that time I often took out Panin's two pamphlets and pondered them. I decided to order all 20 or so books and pamphlets listed on the back cover. Soon I received a package from Ontario containing my order. When I read Panin's introduction to his Greek Numeric New Testament, I was "bit." He demonstrated that Bible Numerics show the original Greek reading of the New Testament, reveal copyists errors among the seven major manuscripts and 3000 New Testament fragments, and more than that, Bible Numerics clearly settle accurate contexts by sentence, paragraph and chapter equivalent.

I immediately outlined the book of Ephesians by giving each sentence a title, and then summarizing these titles into paragraphs and chapters. I was so impressed with the clarity that came to this book, that in time I did the same for the entire New Testament. In the process I copied out the Greek text by hand twice, and worked back Panin's English translation into a literal format, so that individual English words lined up under the Greek words. I then inserted my sentence titles and summaries into paragraphs and chapters. Next I put Strong's Concordance numbers above each significant Greek word.

It was also for the sake of Panin that I prepared the outline of Ephesians as a model for the rest of the New Testament. By working his translation back into a literal form, preserving it as closely as possible to his original, the desire of his heart for his Russian compatriots would be fulfilled.

On Saturday morning March 18, 1967 I was preparing for our Sunday services at Broadway Tabernacle, Seattle. Totally unexpectedly—in a split second I saw how to use the works of Englishman's Greek Concordance, John Stegenga's Greek Concordance, and Panin's New Testament numeric Greek and English texts to produce Greek word studies in a new format, but easily usable by lay leaders. It took me two hours to write up the insights given to me at that time by the Holy Spirit. While the Interlinear Greek and English New Testaments give perspective and context, the word studies provide accurate definitions that can quickly be converted into preaching and teaching outlines. I have sought to provide "tentative evaluations" of each Greek word, as much as possible void of personal doctrinal convictions, by letting God's Word mean what it wants to mean so that God alone can say what He wants to say. In a few months I hope to have the book of Ephesians in this format on my website. And added to this, as it is finished, each significant Greek word as a new type of word study based on the above mentioned texts.

I am currently transliterating the Greek text into English letters along the Berlitz method of learning foreign languages. In this way a layman with no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew can pronounce the Greek text understandably with the correct accent, while seeing Panin's translation right below.

Panin himself had both his Greek and English Numeric New Testaments printed in Oxford, England in a most scholarly way, devoid of typos and personal choice of words. Preceding the production of his Greek Numeric New Testament, he spent ten years providing a scientific and mathematically checked Greek Concordance as an accurate guide to accompany his New Testament. It also proved to be a great help in providing an English translation.

He was a mathematical genius who died a Harvard scholar …

It was Panin's hope and conviction that his countrymen, among whom were many mathematicians and scientists, would through this tool find God's plan of redemption in Jesus. Jehovah's Witnesses offered to use his two texts to form an interlinear Greek New Testament in a parallel manner to their Emphatic Diaglott. Panin turned down this offer, because he considered them to be a cult. For 63 years since his death in 1942, his hope has languished.

Here is a brief bio of Panin by Keith Newman, titled, "God Is a Mathematician".

"The authenticity of the Holy Bible has been attacked at regular intervals by atheists and theologians alike but none have explained away the mathematical seal beneath its surface.
"It would seem the divine hand has moved to prevent counterfeiting in the pages of the Bible in a similar manner to the line that runs through paper money. Bible Numerics appear to be God's watermark of authenticity.
"Vital research on this numeric seal was completed by a native of the world's most renowned atheistic nation, Russia. Ivan Panin was born in Russia on December 12, 1855. As a young man he was an active nihilist and participated in plots against the Czar and his government. He was a mathematical genius who died a Harvard scholar and a citizen of the United States in 1942.
"Panin was exiled from Russia. And after spending a number of years studying in Germany, he went to the United States where he became an outstanding lecturer on literary criticism.
"Panin was known as a firm agnostic—so well known that when he discarded his agnosticism and accepted the Christian faith, the newspapers carried headlines telling of his conversion.
"It was in 1890 that Panin made the discovery of the mathematical structure underlining the vocabulary of the Greek New Testament. …
"This article is in truth an oversimplification of the work of Panin and others who followed in his footsteps. Panin's work initially involved some 40,000 pages of material on which he had written millions of small neat calculations. It involved volumes.
"He often labored up to 18 hours a day exploring the vast numeric structure. By and large it was a thankless task. Panin said 'When I first made the discovery I was of course, taken off my feet—I was in the same condition as our friend Archimedes who when he solved a great mathematical problem while in the bath, rushed into the street naked, crying "I have found it". I thought people would be delighted to embrace the new discovery but I found human nature is always the same. So I quietly withdrew and did my work all by myself.'
"Although it would appear that his work has been largely lost from popular reading today—Panin did accomplish several outstanding works. He published Structure in the Bible through the 'Numeric Greek New Testament' and the 'Numeric English New Testament.'
"The works of Ivan Panin have been put before the experts many times. Panin once challenged nine noted rationalists and Bible critics through the medium of the New York Sun newspaper November 9, 1899. He dared them to publicly refute or give explanation for a few of his presented facts. Four made lame excuses. The rest were silent.
"Panin issued a challenge throughout leading newspapers of the world asking for a natural explanation or rebuttal of the facts. Not a single person accepted. He died at Aldershot, Ontario Canada on October 30th, 1942, age 87."

If you want to investigate the reliability and accuracy of Panin's 100,000 hours and 50 years of research, do a Google search on "Bible Numerics" as it relates to Ivan Panin. Check him out with men like Dr. Jowett, David duPlessis, Winkey Pratney, Dr. Keith L. Brooks, Karl G. Sabiers and many others. These men have researched the reliability of Panin's work and have come to believe that Bible Numerics is a God-given tool that could sweep millions of Russians into the Kingdom of God. They in turn could win many Russian Jews to the Messiah, and these then could win more Russian and fellow Jews to faith in Jesus, who at his first coming worked out redemption for the whole human race.

You will find in your Bible Numerics Google search strong opponents to the research work of Ivan Panin. Take the opposition of the critics to Ivan Panin with a grain of salt. I have experienced seen his work draw unbelievers to Christ on several occasions.

I presented to a Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Illinois in Chicago a portion of Panin's Greek text of John 1, with the numerical equivalents. He checked it out, and in less than two weeks, was completely satisfied. He asked me what he should do about his own spiritual life. I gave him John 7:17, and encouraged him to seek water baptism, which he immediately did. He then left his humanistic, modernistic, Unitarian type church, and found an Evangelical church that honoured God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit, and God's infallible Word.

Also, the Bible students to whom I taught Panin's material in a Seattle Bible college, went to the campus of the University of Washington and literally won dozens of students to Christ not only as their Saviour, but also as their Lord. These students wanted to be discipled in all Christ's teachings.

Imagine translating the word "baptism," as "washings"!

One caution. Many cannot withstand the temptation to use Panin's findings for their own greed, power and personal prestige. Paul said, "All have forsaken me but Timothy." His disciple Demas went back to the world, and others left him for various reasons.

I always hoped that the students I trained according to Panin's material would help realize Panin's vision. But four of them left for various reasons and prostituted the vision, goal, spirit and example that Panin set. I had to withdraw my name from the writings of one of my former associates who would have proverbially caused Panin to turn over in the grave at the extent to which he had corrupted Panin's vision. Imagine translating the word "baptism," as "washings"! I encountered so many errors in this man's interlinear text that I couldn't touch his work for two years because of the grief it caused me to think of the travesty it wrought upon Panin's work. But, I take heart. God is great! His servant Panin was humble and faithful and the task is still worthwhile.

With the above tools, I believe that our Russian Jewish friends in the Seattle Tacoma area will effectively enter into the ministry to which God has called them.

In your Google search you will find an order form for both of Panin's texts. They sell for $25.00 each plus shipping and handling. Write to: J. W. Irwin, 81 Bayview Ridge, Toronto ON M2L 1E3, Canada. Fax: (416) 445-4060. Email: A further search on this subject will yield an order form for Dr. Keith L. Brooks book at $1.00, as well as Karl Sabiers book for $5.00.

Jim Watt, formerly a Canadian resident, now lives with his wife Marie in Federal Way, Washington. They pastor the Beth Chesed assembly. Website:,

Originally published in "Two Are Better Than One" Ministries Newsletter, November 2, 2005.




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