The written Chinese language is a fascinating subject of study. As beautiful as it is ancient, the written language is at least 3,000 years old and consists of thousands upon thousands of individual characters.
The purpose of this article, however, is not to get into the complexities of the language or start readers on an introductory course. Instead, the goal is to introduce parallels between the written Chinese language and Biblical concepts, particularly those found in the book of Genesis.
There is a theory that several Chinese characters get their meaning from the biblical accounts found in Genesis. The idea is that after humanity split up according to families after the episode at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, those that made their way eastward toward modern day China would have still had some knowledge of the stories found in Genesis 1-11 because they were passed down from one generation to the next.
Two examples of this are the Chinese characters for boat （船）and for forbidden （禁）. Let’s look at each of these individually:
The character for boat （船）can be divided up into three parts: vessel （舟）on the left, eight （八）on the top right, and people （口）on the bottom right; as seen in the below diagram:
This seems to be a clear reference Noah and his family aboard the ark (see Genesis 7:13)!
The character for forbidden （禁）can likewise be divided into two parts: two trees （林）on the top and God （示）on the bottom (in an abbreviated form); as seen in the following diagram:
This seems to be a clear reference to God forbidding Adam and Eve from the garden which contained both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (see Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24)!
Among the characters that indicate a biblical meaning, the one that jumps out as an indication of the gospel is the character for righteousness （義）.
This character for righteousness （義）can be divided into two parts: lamb （羊）on the top, and me （我）on the bottom; as seen in the following diagram:
What does that have to do with righteousness? “Lamb over me”! To be made righteous, we must be covered by the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ!
Could it be that the ancient Chinese were aware of this concept? Were they aware of the need of a sacrifice for atonement with God so that they could be righteous? Could it be that they knew of how the Lord God made coats of skins to clothe their ancestors Adam and Eve after they sinned (see Genesis 3:21)? Were they aware of needing a Lamb over them to be made right with God?
This seems to indicate that perhaps the earliest Chinese people had some concept of the God of the Bible! Unfortunately, they have obviously strayed very far from this belief over the centuries. They have in recent centuries followed Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and more recently Atheism.
How sad is it that those who have traces of the gospel message buried in their language and culture have strayed so far from it!
Would you please pray for China? Would you pray that the Lord would penetrate the darkness of this country with the light of His gospel? Would you pray that the Lord would use you in some way, whether it be praying, giving, or going, to reach the billions of China for Christ?
“…he hath set the world in their heart…” Ecclesiastes 3:11