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Colors in the Bible have such rich symbolism. Over the past year, we’ve been examining the colors in the Bible (Red, Blue, Yellow, white, and black), and today, we’ll park on green and take a good look at the color green in the Bible. (For an overview of colors in the Bible, see this post).
Symbolic Meanings of Green in the Bible
Green, a secondary color, is made by mixing Yellow (trials, for one) with Blue (Word of God, living water, etc). So combining yellow and blue gives us green. Most biblical scholars agree that one of the primary meanings behind green in the Bible is immortality.
Green is also symbolic of resurrection and the greenness of Spring, praise, growth, prosperity, a new beginning, flourishing, and restoration. The color green occurs rather often in Scripture, usually referring to the color of vegetation.
The color green in the Bible is associated with everlasting life, growth, and fertility. It also appears for nations and is also used to signify fruitfulness.
The idea of fruitfulness is described in the following passage, where God furnishes His children with everything they need for their spiritual sustenance and the confidence that His children will place in Him will bear fruits:
The color green also refers to the fragility of human life. We grow and thrive, but just for a time, then life ends.
Variations of the Hebrew word for green found in The Old Testament:
In Leviticus, ‘abiyb’ is used to describe the greening of ears of corn. It was to be part of the first fruits offering – a seasonal offering to be made to God. The same word is used for the season of ‘greening’, or the onset of spring.
‘Deshe’ is another word used for the green of tender new shoots of grass. These would be the new shoots of grass, the light, almost yellow-green. It is the word used to describe green pastures.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not fear. He provides me with food and towels to rest upon; even though it may be difficult at times for me, he will never leave or forsake his flock-no matter how far they wander from home.
The Hebrew word for green, ra`anan, occurs most frequently (twenty times) in the Old Testament and always indicates the greenness of the mature leaves of trees. A thriving tree after several years of surviving the extremes of hot summers and frigid winters. This is the color of the leaves blooming with healthy roots deep and wide and branches reaching out. This color represents life and survival.
Shady mature trees with spreading branches were sadly the sites of many pagans, and idol worship. A majority of the verses using this word for green are found in verses where God condemns the rituals and false worship practiced under the leafy branches of majestic trees in high places.
This form of the Hebrew word for green is most often found when describing herbs, vegetables, and other greens.
This variation of a Hebrew word simply means greens, green plants, or green things.
The Hebrew word ‘yereq’ is one of the earliest Hebrew words used for green. In Genesis, it is a word that describes the greenness of edible herbs. It is the color of what food should be: fresh, vibrant, and sustaining life.
This green tree is also a powerful image of a righteous man who heeds God’s commandments.
Unfortunately, mature trees with shade were often the sites of pagan idol worship. A majority of the verses using this word for green are found in verses where God condemns the rituals and false worship practiced under the leafy branches of majestic trees in high places.
All sorts of pagan sacrifices and incense were offered under mature trees, whose beauty should have been a visible reminder of the greatness of God. Green is, in this context, a color of strength, power, and vigor that could only have come from God himself.
In the Old Testament, we see the “spreading tree” misused and worshiped, twisted or perverted, provoking the following command:
It’s not surprising that God compares Israel to a harlot for her divided loyalty. After all, the people were worshiping false gods.
The trees are a good reminder that despite all the forces trying to take them down, they can still be green and strong under God’s control.
It is also the color of abundance, first as the vividness of the tender shoot, then as the deep richness of the mature leaf or tree.
Green in the Bible: New Testament
In the New Testament, the word for green is the Greek “chlōros”(khlō-ro’s). The word chlorophyll, which we all learned in middle school biology, comes from that root word. It means verdant, dun-colored, green, or pale.
When we talk about being ‘green,’ it’s often an expression that is used to refer to being nauseous, envious, or jealous. Remembering that it equates with death’s repulsive paleness is a good reminder for us.
As the people sat down on the green grass, in obedience to Jesus’ command, they witnessed the miracle of the feeding of five thousand with the ridiculously small provision of five loaves and two fish!
In Revelation, the word ‘chlōros’ is used to describe the ‘pale’ (greenish-yellow pale) horse of Death.
In our culture, we often use green to describe feeling nauseous and sometimes even “green with envy.” It makes sense since the Bible uses green to describe the pallor or paleness of death.
Green, with many shades, nuances, and variations, is the color of life – either vibrant, flourishing life or even life flowing or leaving. Green is a color that is life-affirming, just as our Creator gave us life and affirms it daily with His love.
One of the most important symbolism of the color green is that of everlasting life. Jesus, in the following verse, tells his disciples to endeavor for food that will lead them to eternal life:
Grab the 36-page eBook The Significance of Colors in the Bible here for deeper study.
More Symbolic Verses about Green in the Bible:
Fresh or Undefiled
We can see that green is the color of life in all its various shades and nuances. Whether it be vibrant, flourishing lives or just pale ebbing away from living things, green equates to life or the ebbing away of it.
Green is a color that symbolizes abundance and fertility. In the beginning, it’s what makes your plant shoot stand out against all others – vibrant with life; but as time goes on this same greenness must submit to wintering trees until they are ready once again for another springtime cycle of growth.
I love this verse for this life-affirming color of green in the Bible.
Symbols in the Bible: Animals, Colors, Minerals, Nations, Places, Numbers, Floors, Ceremonies, Utensils, Clothing (Bible Study of Christian Doctrine Book 11) Book 10 of 15: Bible Study of Christian Doctrine | by Fanny M. Goff and Sermones Bíblicos
Because of Him,