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What do the colors mean in the Bible?

What do the colors mean in the Bible?

Colors are used throughout the Bible to reflect meanings, emotions and messages from God. While there are some colors that generally represent the same things across various biblical passages, the context and descriptions associated with the colors tell us more specifically what they represent. Looking closely at the scriptural uses of different colors gives insight into the messages God communicates through colors in the Bible.


Red is commonly associated with blood, sacrifice, courage, strength, leadership, passion and love. It is one of the most frequently mentioned colors in the Bible.

In the Old Testament, red represents blood and sacrifice. Red sacrifices were made to atone for sins and symbolized death (Leviticus 14:51, Numbers 19:4). Red also represents courage, leadership and strength as seen in the red battle attire worn by warriors (Nahum 2:3) and leaders (Isaiah 63:1-2).

The New Testament continues these associations of red with blood and sacrifice, most importantly symbolizing the blood of Christ sacrificed for the atonement of sins (Hebrews 9:12-14). Red clothing is used to mock Jesus’ role as “King of the Jews” at his crucifixion (Matthew 27:27-31). Red also represents love, seen in the scarlet appearance of the adulterous woman in Revelation, who represents the apostate church (Revelation 17:1-6).

Color Meaning Examples
Red Blood, sacrifice, courage, strength, leadership, passion, love Leviticus 14:51, Numbers 19:4, Nahum 2:3, Isaiah 63:1-2, Hebrews 9:12-14, Matthew 27:27-31, Revelation 17:1-6


Blue often represents the sky, divine revelation, the Holy Spirit, faithfulness and truth. It is sometimes associated with the heavenly realm.

In the Old Testament, blue dyes were rare and expensive, so blue ceremonial fabrics represented wealth and status (Jeremiah 10:9, Esther 8:15). The Israelites were commanded to include blue tassels on their garments to remind them of God’s commandments (Numbers 15:38-40).

In the New Testament, blue represents the sky and heavenly realm. Jesus frequently references the “birds of the air” and “flowers of the field” to represent carefree living in God’s provision (Matthew 6:26-30). The experiences of Jesus and other New Testament figures in the “heavens” points to the blue skies above (Mark 1:10-11, Acts 7:55-56).

Color Meaning Examples
Blue Sky, revelation, Holy Spirit, faithfulness, truth, heavenly realm Jeremiah 10:9, Esther 8:15, Numbers 15:38-40, Matthew 6:26-30, Mark 1:10-11, Acts 7:55-56


Green represents life, growth, flourishing, prosperity and the goodness of God’s creation. It sometimes points to the restored life we can find in Christ.

In the Old Testament, green trees, grasses and plants symbolized fertility and life sustained by water (Psalm 1:3, Jeremiah 17:8). The green gemstones on the high priest’s breastplate may have represented life and refreshment from God’s presence (Exodus 28:17-20).

In the New Testament, green vegetation provides imagery of spiritual life, growth and fruitfulness (Mark 4:32, Revelation 22:1-2). Paul uses agricultural metaphors to extend this imagery, with the Corinthian church described as God’s field where fruit grows by the nourishment of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Color Meaning Examples
Green Life, growth, flourishing, prosperity, goodness of creation, restored life in Christ Psalm 1:3, Jeremiah 17:8, Exodus 28:17-20, Mark 4:32, Revelation 22:1-2, 1 Corinthians 3:9


Purple represents royalty, luxury and wealth as well as penitence and mourning. It sometimes signifies the presence of God.

In the Old Testament, the rarity and cost of purple dye made it synonymous with wealth, status and nobility (Judges 8:26, Esther 8:15). After his pride, King Nebuchadnezzar was made to eat grass like cattle, dampening his royal robes with dew until he acknowledged God’s sovereignty (Daniel 4:25,33).

In the New Testament, purple robes mock Jesus’ proclaimed kingship during his trial and crucifixion (Mark 15:17,20). A purple garment is mentioned in relation to Lydia, a wealthy merchant who helped establish the early church (Acts 16:14-15). Purple also represents piety and mourning (James 4:8-10).

Color Meaning Examples
Purple Royalty, luxury, wealth, penitence, mourning, presence of God Judges 8:26, Esther 8:15, Daniel 4:25,33, Mark 15:17,20, Acts 16:14-15, James 4:8-10


White represents purity, righteousness, joy, glory and certain divine qualities like holiness and perfection. It can also indicate cleansing.

In the Old Testament, white objects were required to be pure and undefiled (Daniel 11:35, Isaiah 1:18). The throne room of God appears like gleaming white light, highlighting his glory, perfection and purity (Daniel 7:9, Revelation 4:2-6).

In the New Testament, Jesus’ clothes became radiantly white during his transfiguration, reflecting God’s divine glory (Matthew 17:2). White clothes also represented the righteousness of the saints (Revelation 3:5, 18). White is worn at times of celebration and joy (Ecclesiastes 9:8).

Color Meaning Examples
White Purity, righteousness, joy, glory, holiness, perfection, cleansing Daniel 11:35, Isaiah 1:18, Daniel 7:9, Revelation 4:2-6, Matthew 17:2, Revelation 3:5, 18, Ecclesiastes 9:8


Black signifies darkness, death, mourning, evil, sin and judgment. It can represent deprivation or loss.

In the Old Testament, black is associated with mourning (Jeremiah 14:2). Blackness and darkness are linked to judgment for sin, evil and deprivation (Lamentations 4:7-8, Job 30:26-30). The darkness over the land of Egypt during the plagues represented God’s judgment (Exodus 10:21-22).

In the New Testament, darkness is contrasted with the light of Christ and righteousness (John 3:19-21). Blackness and darkness are associated with eternal punishment for the wicked who reject God (Jude 1:13, Matthew 8:12).

Color Meaning Examples
Black Darkness, death, mourning, evil, sin, judgment, deprivation Jeremiah 14:2, Lamentations 4:7-8, Job 30:26-30, Exodus 10:21-22, John 3:19-21, Jude 1:13, Matthew 8:12


Yellow or gold represents glory, wisdom, joy, wealth and holiness. It can also indicate God’s presence and divine favor.

In the Old Testament, extensive gold furnishings and objects in the tabernacle and temple underscored the glory, holiness and presence of God (Exodus 25:10-40, 1 Kings 6:20-22). Gold items like the Ark of the Covenant were so holy they could bring death if touched improperly (2 Samuel 6:6-7).

In the New Testament, gold and yellow hues probably comprised components of the heavenly city where God reigns (Revelation 21:18-21). The wise men brought Jesus gifts of gold representing his royal stature and divinity (Matthew 2:11).

Color Meaning Examples
Yellow/Gold Glory, wisdom, joy, wealth, holiness, God’s presence and favor Exodus 25:10-40, 1 Kings 6:20-22, 2 Samuel 6:6-7, Revelation 21:18-21, Matthew 2:11


While colors are open to interpretation, common symbolic meanings emerge throughout scripture that give insight into their significance. Red and purple point to sacrifice, passion, mourning and royalty. Blue and white often represent heavenly realms, holiness and revelation. Green symbolizes life and flourishing while black signifies judgment, sin and death. Gold or yellow indicates God’s glory, wisdom and divine favor. The context, descriptions and juxtaposition of colors tells us more about their specific meanings and the messages God conveyed through colors in the Bible.