Blue is often associated with heaven, purity and divine power in the Bible. But in the Song of Solomon and Revelations, the color purple is just as powerful. It can symbolize luxury, royalty, or even holiness.
Purple is especially significant when referring to purple garments. This can point to the spiritual authority of Jesus and his kingship. In Scripture, it is thought that certain people wore purple garments as a show of status and even devotion. Some of the most striking examples of this are found in Kings, Isaiah and Esther.
In the New Testament, purple is the colour of the cloak worn by the wealthy for whom Jesus specifically said, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 19:24). This could describe Jesus’ disapproval of a life of luxury.
Purple is also used to symbolise Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. In some paintings, Judas is depicted with a purple sash on his waist, while others show him wearing a lavender tunic. These two colour nuances represent the colour purple and the colour of the priestly vestments, which Judas had rejected when he betrayed Jesus.
This deep violet hue is often associated with perfect peace and joy. In the Bible, it symbolises joy, satisfaction and deep inner peace. This can be seen in the Song of Solomon, where the Shulamite is likened to a field of growing lavender. Lavender is also seen as a sign of gladness in the Old Testament, where a bride’s wedding garment was made of scarlet, blue and purple cloth.
In Isaiah, lavender is used to symbolise Israel’s liberty from Babylon. It is also a colour of paradise, with lavenders mentioned in the New Testament as one of the fragrances promised to the faithful when heaven is complete.
The colour purple is a symbol of the regal and majestic power of the king and the Church. It is often used to describe the beauty and grandeur of heavenly saints and kings in Scripture. When Jesus is described as a “king in purple robes” (Psalm 45:3-5), it is seen as a sign of his royalty and majestic power. Also, in Revelation, the colour of the Lord’s throne is described as being like a sapphire, amber and royal purple.
In the New Testament, purple clothing was reserved for the high priest or ceremonies with high ranking members. Thus, it was seen as the colour of those in power. It also showed that individuals in the presence of Jesus and other powerful people, whether it was a high ranking priest or a follower of Jesus, should show respect and honour.
Violet is an important colour in the Bible and is often used to symbolise sorrow, contrition and grief. It is generally seen as a symbolic reminder of Jesus’s suffering. In some of the ancient mosaic art, Jesus is depicted wearing a violet robe to symbolise his suffering. This can also be seen in some of the Christian artwork where Jesus wears a dark purple cloak as a sign of his trials and tribulations.
Violet is also used symbolically to show repentance, humility and mourning of sin. In Luke 10:30, the thief on the Cross is offered a purple robe by Jesus as a sign of his repentance. The colour purple is also often used to symbolise Holy Week, the time where Jesus was offered up as a sacrifice for mankind’s sins.
White and Pink
White and pink have a few symbolic meanings in the Bible, but they are most associated with purity, innocence and righteousness. They are often seen as a sign of pure love and beauty that is free from sin and defilement. The Virgin Mary is often depicted wearing white, symbolizing her purity and innocence and they are referred to in Proverbs 31:25 ‘She is dressed in fine linen and purple gowns.’.
White and pink are also often used to symbolize holiness and sinlessness. As part of the six colours of the Church, they remind us of the purity of Jesus and the Church. Jesus’ resurrection is often portrayed as an event of pure white light, with angels wearing white cloths to symbolize their innocence and holiness.
In a symbolic sense, the colour purple often points to the spiritual authority of Jesus and his kingship. Jesus is clothed in a purple robe when his authority is challenged in Matthew 27;25-26. There is also a reference to a purple robe in the gospels of Mark and John.
In addition to its symbolic representation, purple robes can be seen as a sign of luxury and wealth. In the Hebrew Bible, kings are said to have worn purple garments in order to demonstrate their status and opulence. It is believed that purple cloth was also used as a mark of reverence and power within the Jewish Temple.
Purple Veils and Draperies
In the Bible, purple veils and draperies are used to symbolise the beauty of a divine refuge. In the Song of Solomon, the beloved is compared to a purple canopy, a beautiful reminder of the sanctuary of God’s love. Purple draperies are also used to veil the holy ark when it is being carried, a reminder of its sacred nature and the mystery of God’s presence.
Purple veils and draperies are also used to symbolise the grief of sin and suffering. In Revelations, the purple veil of mourning is used to symbolise the coming of God’s judgement on mankind. All through the Bible, purple drapery is used to represent a sense of mourning, suffering and distress.
The colour purple is a powerful symbol in the Bible, representing a wide range of feelings and ideas. It can represent luxury, royalty, holiness, joy, sorrow, suffering, death, and resurrection. It is used to help us to remember that Jesus is a king, that He is holy and also that He suffered for us. So next time you read the Bible keep an eye out for the colour purple, and remember the power and meaning behind it.