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What are the meaning of colors in Christian symbolism?

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Quick Answer

Some colors in the Bible represent negative qualities, such as suffering or sin, while others represent positive qualities, including purity and divinity. Black, scarlet, white, gray and blue are some of the colors in the Bible that have clear symbolic meanings.

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Full Answer

The Bible usually associates the color black with human suffering caused by either famine, disease or death. For example, Revelation 6:5 describes a rider of a black horse; the context of the verse explains that this horseman raises the prices of food, thus representing famine. Lamentations 4:8 describes the Israelites as a people in despair, suffering from war and hunger. The verse also describes their appearance as the color of soot, black.

The Bible associates scarlet with sin and royalty. For example, Isaiah 1:18 describes how God, even if sins are as deep as scarlet blood on wool, can forgive to the point where a person is entirely clean. Matthew 27:27-30 shows how Pilate dressed Jesus with a scarlet robe because of the Romans' belief that he claimed to be king of the Jews.

White is often associated with the divine as well as the virtues of purity and righteousness. For example, Revelation 7:14 describes the ones who survive the great tribulation as wearing white robes following their purification through the Lamb's blood. Revelation 6:2 also uses white to describe the first horseman, who receives authority to conquer.

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