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White in the Bible – What Does it Mean?
Over the past few months, we have taken a look at many of the colors on the spectrum and its biblical meaning. We have covered blue, green, yellow and red. (For an overview of colors in the Bible, see this post).
I love studying symbolism in the Bible and even learning the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic words for biblical terms (you can find the list of translations for white in those languages below).
This month, we will turn our attention to white. White in the Bible, to me, is one of the most meaningful of the colors symbolisms.
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The color white is the presence of all the light in the visible spectrum. When it enters our eyes, it stimulates all of our cone cells that God made light sensitive. Snow and clouds appear white because almost all of the light from the sun is reflected by water (either frozen or liquid), with only a small amount of the visible spectrum absorbed.
In the King James Version (KJV) Bible, the word ‘white’ occurs seventy-five times, twenty-nine of which are in the New Testament. It is the most frequently mentioned color in the Bible. (The second most mentioned color in the Old Testament is blue, which occurs fifty time and next, red, which occurs forty seven times.
What has several biblical meanings or representations, but it is often used to depict purity and the redemption of sin as in Psalm 51:7 below and Isaiah 1:18.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
White also represents the beautiful and absolute purity of God (Daniel 7:9), of Christ (Revelation 2:17), of God’s judgment on the white throne (Revelation. 20:11), as well as God’s replete victory over the powers of evil (Zechariah. 6:3, Zechariah 6:6; Revelation 6:2, Revelation 19:11).
(White, is also, for many denominations, the official color of the church and worn on holy days and the days surrounding Easter and Christmas)
White, in the Bible and in even today, is associated with purity, things that are good, innocence, honesty, and cleanliness.
In addition to purity, white is often associated with righteousness. Below are some of the many Bible verses which use white to denote righteousness:
“As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze”
There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.
Note that not all translations show the word or words for white, but the meanings remain.
You can also find references to white in the Bible as related to righteousness in: Revelation 1:12 – 14, 6:11, 19:8, 20:11). The color white represents righteousness because of its purity of color and light. Fully light and without stain, the color white reminds us of the righteousness of Christ. He is pure light and pure righteousness and when a sinner comes to Him in faith He washes them clean.
White, as denoting purity can be found abundantly, as well:
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. – Isaiah 1:18
When Jesus washes us clean from sin, He makes us “white as snow” by giving us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are then set on a path of growing in faith.
Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic Words for White in Bible Translations
|ܚܽܘܪ||look, behold, white|
|λαμπρός||clear, fine, goodly, gorgeous, white, bright, splendid, shining, gay|
|λευκαίνω||made…white, whiten, white, make white|
|בּוּץ||white linen, linen, fine linen, fine…linen|
|חוּרַי||white cloth, Hurai|
|חַלָּמוּת||egg, white of an egg|
|חֹרִי||white bread, white|
|לָבַן||make bricks, become white, purified, be whiter, make, make white, make them pure, make brick, be white, whiter, white, making brick|
|לָבֵן||white ones, white|
|lâbân, lâbên||law-bawn’, law-bane’|
|צַח||clearly, plainly, dry, clear, dazzling, white, scorching|
|רִיר||flow, spittle, white, saliva|
|תִּנְשֶׁמֶת||mole, white owl, swan, chameleon|
Isn’t color symbolism fascinating? White in the Bible is so beautiful, so impactful. This may be my favorite “color” that we have studied.
For more on Bible symbolism or white in the Bible, consider this recommended resource:
Because He Lives,