COLOUR AND THEIR MEANING

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Basic Meaning of Colours

Colour Meaning
Red Suffering, sin, worry, fear, blood
Orange Separation, Evil, Human Good, Apostasy, Root
Yellow Life, Strength (Capacity) for Life, Light, Glory
Green Happiness; Blessing, Plants, Fruit, Extravagance, Reversionism
Blue Righteousness of God;  Hardness of Heart, Self-Righteousness, Legalism
Indigo Covered, Hidden, Secret
Violet Justice, Judgment, Royalty, Jealousy
White Sanctification, Love, Pure 
Black Death, Darkness, World,

The chart of the Basic Meaning of Colours is a simplified reference for the most common meaning of colours in everyday life.  A more detailed table follows with Bible references.  Even more detailed meanings of colors will be presented for the topics in the Table of Contents.

General Meaning of Colours

Colour Meaning (Good/Bad) Derived Meaning
Red Blood (Ex 27:16; Heb 9:13-14, 22); Sacrifice (Eph 5:2) Redemption (1 Pet 1:18)
Sin (Isa 1:18) Adam, Earth (elements), Suffering, Fear
Orange Separation (Isa. 48:4 (iron neck); Ezek. 24:6 (rust); Psa. 2:9; Rev. 19:15) Root (1 Cor 3:11)
Evil, Human Good Evil/Dead Works; Apostasy, Root (Heb 12:15)
Yellow Life (man) (Gen 2:7), Eternal Life (Jn 1:4); Glory (Gen 1:4; Num 14:10; Heb 1:3), Light (Job 33:30; Jn 1:9) Strength (Capacity) for Life, Day
Weakness (2 Cor 12:10;1 Pet 1:24), Fading (Isa 17:4; 2 Cor 3:7, 11) Jaundice, Gall of bitterness
Green Garden of Eden, Plants (Gen 1:11-13, 2:8, 15), Fruit, Production Environment, Happiness; Blessing
Extravagance (Psa 37:35; Rev 18:3, 7, 9) Lawlessness, lasciviousness (Jer 2:20)
Blue Heaven (Jn 6:31, 33, 38), Righteousness of God (Ex 27:16) Heavenly Son of God, water
Legalism Hardness of Heart, Self-Righteousness, cold, bruised
Indigo Covering (Gen. 7:19; Lev. 17:13; Psa. 32:1, 147:8), Clothes Hidden, Private, Secret, Propitiation, Atonement
Eclipse Secret
Violet Royalty (Ex. 27:16; Esth. 8:15; Matt. 21:5-11) Justice, Judgment
Jealous Ambition (Isa. 14:14; Ezek. 28:2, 6, 9) Jealousy
White Pure (Isa. 1:18, 61:10; 1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:25-26; 1 Cor. 13:1-13) Sanctification, Love
Leprosy (Ex 4:6; Nu 12:10) Infection
Black Death, Darkness (2 Pet. 2:17; Jude 13 ) Night
World, Cosmic System (Jn. 1:5; Rev. 6:5) Burned, Deeds of Darkness, Diseased

Red

Red refers to the blood of Christ in the curtain over the Gate of the Tabernacle. The blood represented Redemption, the payment for the sins of the world. Red signifies sin (Isa. 1:18). Adam was made from clay, which was red. The name, Adam, is derived from that meaning. Adam was the source of sin in the human race.

The red dye that was used in the Tabernacle, called “scarlet” (Exodus 25:4), Hebrew tola`ath, was crimson. The real colour was crimson even though it is translated, scarlet, in the NASB.

Crimson

The root meaning of the Hebrew word is worm.  It was used in various forms in Hebrew with meanings such as shining worm, glow worm1, worm of brightness.  It referred to the insect, Coccus ilicis, qirmiz in Arabic, from which the English word crimson is derived.  The female insect, which feeds on the holm oak, laid eggs which contained a red substance from whence the dye was made.  The Greek name for the insect was kokkos, meaning berry because it was pea like and resembled a berry.2

Robes of crimson were worn by the wealthy (<a class="rtBibleRef" href="http://biblia.com/bible/nasb95/2%20Sam%201.24&quot; target="_blank" data-reference="2 Sam 1.24” data-version=”nasb95″ data-purpose=”bible-reference”>2 Samuel 1:24; Proverbs 31:21; Jeremiah 4:30; <a class="rtBibleRef" href="http://biblia.com/bible/nasb95/Lam%204.5&quot; target="_blank" data-reference="Lam 4.5″ data-version=”nasb95″ data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Lamentations 4:5; Revelation 17:4).  The Greeks and Romans used this color for military cloaks.  The cloak that the soldiers put on Jesus was crimson according to Matthew 27:28 and probably was one of the military cloaks.  Although Mark and John call it purple, this is not a contradiction since in the language of the people purple dye also produced the crimson color.

The crimson robe on Christ before His crucifixion calls attention to another meaning of the color.  Red means suffering.  The purple-red of crimson refers also to judgment – i.e. the justice of God.  The Lord Jesus Christ suffered the justice of God on our behalf.

Red in the human body is not only the colour of blood but also indicative of a health problem where it means suffering, inflamed, anger, or a raw wound (Exodus 21:25; Isaiah 1:6; 30:27).

Pink

Pink is a mixture of white and red.  It is the colour of healthy flesh.  Flesh in the Bible symbolizes the Old Sin Nature because the 23 chromosomes inherited from Adam reside there.  Thus, pink also represents lust.

Orange

Orange as the second color of the rainbow represents separation per the meaning of the number 2, for divine division, or separation.  The word for the color, orange, does not appear in scripture per se; but it is obviously there in the rainbow and in materials that are mentioned.  For example, iron ore and rust as well as iron, which was undoubtedly rusty, are all mentioned.  Pottery is often orange in color. Smashing pottery with a rod of iron represents judgment upon human good (rejection of divine good) and evil (Psa. 2:9; Rev. 2:27, 12:5, 19:15). The feet of pottery mixed with iron on the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:42-43) represent the weakness of man (human good) in the face of divine judgment. All these things are associated with negative volition and the resulting dead works. Orange refers to God’s separation and to man’s human good and evil, both of which were rejected on the cross.  Orange is also the color for roots. And orange symbolizes separation that is commanded regarding apostates and the world.

Brown

Brown means dying, decaying, atrophy (Job 13:28; Habakkuk 3:16; 2 Corinthians 4:16).  It is one of the colors for dead works as represented by wood, hay, and straw.

Yellow

Yellow is the colour of glory, which is the glow or shining of something that is releasing energy. There was a glow associated with the Shekinah Glory in the Tabernacle and the Golden Lampstand. The production of good works requires the release of energy. The radiance of light production is represented by yellow. Since human life radiates a glory, then yellow is also a colour for life. The strength, or capacity, of life is also represented by yellow.

However, yellow in the human body is not a sign of strength.  Yellow teeth may represent the first stage of decay.  Yellow in the body may also represent jaundice and bitterness (Job 16:13; Acts 8:23)

Green

The colour, green, refers to man’s perfect environment of the Garden of Eden. Green is the colour of plant life, which covers the earth in abundant luxury. It is associated with healthy plant life, and, therefore, with happiness. However, plants may be good plants or weeds. The spreading everywhere as uncultivated weeds is the basis for applying green to lawlessness and extravagance.  Green also symbolizes fruit and production.

Blue

Blue is the colour of the sky. It reminds us of heaven and refers to Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came down from Heaven as portrayed by the Gospel of John.  It represents the Righteousness of God.  So long as divine righteousness is associated with Heaven, that is proper; but when the created being (mankind) represents himself as divine righteousness that is a sin. When a human presents himself as God, then that is the sin of self-righteousness (making oneself God), which is also represented by the color, blue. Rejection of God is called hardening the heart, which is another derived meaning that goes along with making oneself God.

Blue in the human body, such as a bluish colour of the flesh, may mean cold or bruised (Exodus 21:25; Job 9:17; Isaiah 30:26).

. . . . .

Violet – Purple – Blue SpectrumThe colour, blue, used in the Tabernacle was called in Hebrew, tekeleth (Exodus 25:4).  The colour is deep, dark blue.  It is described as “purple of a dark blue shade, approaching black.”1 According to Josephus (Ant. 3.7.7) and Philo this colour blue symbolized the sky.  This is the color that is translated violet in Esther 1:6 because of its violet tint.  The color was worn by princes and nobles (Ezekiel 23:6).  The idols of Babylon were clothed in “violet (tekeleth) and purple” (Jeremiah 10:9).  Also the tassels on the corners of the Hebrew garments were to be this blue colour to remind them of the importance of obeying the commandments of the Law (Numbers 15:39-40) whereby they were sanctified, set apart, from the world.  The blue tassels were reminders of the promises of Bible Doctrine and symbolized the heavenly calling (from identification with the blue sky).

Indigo

Indigo is one of the colours of the rainbow, which appeared after the flood had covered the earth. It refers to being covered. It is a dark, background colour.  The Hebrew  kipper means to cover as well as to propitiate or make atonement.  Indigo is the colour of pin feathers, which are covered.  It is the colour of the veins which are covered by the skin and carry blood that is full of impurities back to the heart.  The veins cover the impure blood.  The colour can also mean hidden or secret.  The colour, indigo, does not appear per se in scripture.

Violet

Violet is a colour of the Visible Light Spectrum, but the only colours in scripture are Artificial Colours, which are made from dyes.  The colour purple in scripture was made from dye. The purple dye  may have tints that run toward blue or red. The red purple is sometimes translated, violet.  The colour purple in scripture is the symbol for royalty.  Kings dressed in robes of purple. The Lord Jesus Christ, future king of Israel, is portrayed as the Royal Messiah in the curtain over the Gate of the Tabernacle as well as the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 21:5-11).

From the association of purple with royalty, there are derived meanings for the colour.  Royalty has ruling power and is the source of justice.  Jesus Christ as the ruler of Israel in the Millennium will rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:11-16).  He will bring swift judgment upon the nations of the earth like smashing a clay pot with a rod of iron.  Thus, purple refers to justice.

For those who would seek to ascend the throne of royalty by their own ambition, the colour purple also signifies jealousy.  Jealous ambition was the original sin of Satan, who said, “I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14).  Jealous ambition seeks ruling power, which is the prerogative of God.  Thus, purple is also the color for jealousy.

The colour purple used in the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:4) was made from purple dye.  The word in Hebrew is ‘argaman.  The colour was true purple of a dark red color.1 The dye was made from the tiny mollusk,Murex trunculus, by the Phoenicians (Ezekiel 27:7, 16).  The dye was so expensive that only royalty and the wealthy could afford garments coloured with it (Esther 8:15; Daniel 5:7; Luke 16:19; Revelation 17:4).2

The purple in the Gate of the Tabernacle (Ex. 27:16) represented Jesus Christ, the Royal Messiah.  But this Royal Messiah would first have to suffer the justice of God on behalf of mankind.  Thus, inherent in the color purple was the justice of God.  Jesus Christ satisfied the justice of God and thereby became the mediator between God and mankind.  After He had satisfied the justice of God, He arose victorious and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  He will return at the Second Advent to conquer the nations who are the enemies of Israel, and He will rule in the Millennium with an iron rod (which symbolizes his swift justice).

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Author: Sir Godfrey Gregg

Sir Godfrey Gregg is one of the Administrators and managing Director of this site