Are colors in the Bible significant?
Colors in the Bible have often been misused in mystical ways to communicate special properties or ideas that the text did not intend to communicate. However, a close look at Scripture does reveal that colors sometimes serve a special purpose.
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For example, white is often symbolic of purity or holiness in Scripture. In Revelation 1:14 Jesus is described using the color white for His hair: "The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire." In Ecclesiastes 9:8 we read, "Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head." It is clear that white was associated with purity.
Black was often associated with darkness and contrasted with light in the Bible. Lamentations 4:8 included black associated with mourning: "Now their face is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets." The black horse in Revelation 6:5 represented judgment.
In ancient times, purple was often considered a color of royalty. This becomes an important fact to note on the day Jesus was crucified that a purple robe was placed on him: "And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe" (John 19:2). This matched the purple worn by the kings of Midian (Judges 8:26), Mordecai (Esther 8:15), and King Belshazzar (Daniel 5:7). Purple, blue, scarlet, and gold were all used in connection with the Jewish priests in Exodus. Blue was often associated alongside purple in connection with the priests in Exodus.
Green has long been associated with growth, an emphasis seen in the Bible. Psalm 52:8 notes, "But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever." Psalm 92:14 adds, "They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green." Psalm 23 speaks of lying down in green pasture.
Red was often associated with blood and violence. The clearest biblical example is found in Revelation 6:4: "And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword."
Gold and silver were considered colors of influence and wealth. This was largely due to the cultural connection of these colors with gold and silver metals used as currency. While gold and silver were often associated with riches, Jesus was also betrayed for thirty pieces of silver.
Colors have no mystical interpretations in the Bible, yet are often associated with cultural ideas that the biblical writers used to communicate God's revealed Word as part of His divine purposes.
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