What Does the Color Purple Symbolize in Christianity? Unveiling the Spiritual Significance of the Royal Hue

The color purple is often associated with royalty, luxury, and elegance; but have you ever wondered what it symbolizes in Christianity? Surprisingly, the color purple is widely used in the Christian religion and holds a deep spiritual significance. It is commonly used during the season of Lent, on Advent candles, and in the vestments worn by clergy during Holy Week. But what does this regal hue represent in Christianity? Let’s take a closer look.

In Christianity, the color purple is often used to symbolize penance, humility, and repentance. During the season of Lent, which marks the forty days leading up to Easter, purple is used as a symbol of mourning for Christ’s suffering and death. Advent candles are often also wrapped in purple to signify hope, expectation, and preparation. And in the Holy Week, priests and other church leaders adorn purple vestments during solemn liturgical services to express humility and mourning for the death of Jesus Christ.

While the color purple may be associated with royalty and power in secular contexts, in Christianity, it represents something far more meaningful. As you’ll see, through its many uses in the Christian faith, the color purple is a symbol of divine power, quiet reverence, and spiritual transformation. Whether you’re a devoted Christian or simply curious about the faith, understanding the significance of this color will undoubtedly enrich your appreciation of its role in Christian tradition and practice.

The Significance of the Color Purple in Christianity

The color purple has been used in Christianity as a symbol of various religious concepts and beliefs. Here are some of the main significances of the color purple in Christianity:

  • Royalty and Majesty – The color purple has been traditionally associated with royalty and majesty. In ancient times, purple dye was very expensive and was derived from a rare sea snail called the Murex. It was therefore reserved for royalty and nobility. In Christianity, the color purple is used to represent the majesty and sovereignty of God. It symbolizes His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. It also represents the regal nature of Jesus Christ, who is referred to as the “King of Kings” and the “Lord of Lords”.
  • Penitence and Sorrow – In some Christian traditions, the color purple is used during the season of Lent, which commemorates the period of fasting and penitence leading up to Easter. During this time, the color purple is used to symbolize sorrow and repentance. It is a reminder to Christians to reflect on their sins and seek forgiveness from God.
  • Advent and Royalty – Advent is a season of preparation leading up to Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. During Advent, the color purple is used to represent royalty and the coming of the King. It symbolizes the anticipation of the arrival of Jesus Christ, who is considered the long-awaited Messiah in Christianity.

Overall, the color purple has played several important roles in Christianity throughout history. It has been used to symbolize God’s power and majesty, as well as the penitential and anticipatory aspects of the Christian faith.

Purple as a Symbol of Royalty in the Bible

The color purple has been associated with royalty and nobility for centuries. In the Bible, purple is often mentioned as a symbol of wealth, luxury and status. It was also worn by nobles and kings as a symbol of their high position in society. One of the most significant references to purple in the Bible can be found in the Old Testament during the construction of the tabernacle.

  • Exodus 26:1 – “Moreover, thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shall thou make them.”
  • Exodus 28:6 – “And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.”
  • Exodus 39:1 – “And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the Lord commanded Moses.”

The tabernacle was a portable sanctuary that the Israelites used during their journey in the wilderness. It was at the center of their religious and social life and was built according to specific instructions from God. The use of purple in the tabernacle was intentional, and it was a symbol of the majesty, honor, and presence of God.

Throughout the New Testament, the color purple is also referenced as a symbol of royalty. In the Gospels, we read about the Roman soldiers mocking Jesus and dressing him in a purple robe, before he was crucified.

The use of purple in Christianity continued through the Middle Ages, where it became the liturgical color for Advent and Lent. The use of purple in these seasons was a reminder of the suffering and sacrifice of Christ on the cross, as well as a symbol of the royalty of his divine nature.

Scripture References Meaning
Exodus 26:1 Tabernacle curtains made with purple represent majesty, honor, and God’s presence.
Exodus 28:6 Purple thread used in the ephod symbolizes nobility, wealth, and status.
Exodus 39:1 Purple garments were made for Aaron, as a symbol of his high priestly position.
Mark 15:17 Jesus was mockingly dressed in a purple robe, symbolizing his royal status as the king of the Jews.

In conclusion, the color purple holds a significant symbolic meaning in Christianity. It has been used to represent royalty, divinity, wealth, status, and sacrifice. Whether in the tabernacle, in the Gospels, or in the liturgical calendar of the church, purple remains a powerful and enduring symbol of God’s majesty and Christ’s kingship.

The Connection between Purple and God’s Sovereignty

In Christianity, the color purple is often associated with God’s sovereignty. Let’s explore this connection in-depth, starting with the number 3 subsection:

Three Ways Purple Represents God’s Sovereignty

  • Purple is a rare color in nature, often associated with royalty and nobility. In the Bible, purple was used to represent the kingship of God and His ultimate authority over all things.
  • The color purple is created by mixing red and blue, two colors that represent opposite ends of the spectrum. This symbolizes God’s balance between justice and mercy, and His ability to reconcile seemingly opposing forces.
  • Purple is often used in liturgical settings, such as vestments and banners, to signify the holiness of God and the majesty of His throne.

The Use of Purple in the Bible

Purple is mentioned several times in the Bible, often in association with royalty, wealth, and power. For example:

“The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is interwoven with gold. She will be led to the king in embroidered work; the virgins, her companions who follow her, will be brought to You. They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing; They will enter into the king’s palace.” -Psalm 45:13-15

In this passage, the king’s daughter is clothed in purple and represents the glory of God’s kingdom.

“One of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.’ And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.'” -Revelation 5:5-10

Purple in the Bible Meaning
Exodus 25:1-7 Purple curtains for the Tabernacle
Mark 15:16-20 Jesus is clothed in purple by the Roman soldiers as a mocking gesture
John 19:2-3 Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd wearing a purple robe
Revelation 17:1-4 Symbolic use of purple to represent the “great whore” who sits on many waters

In Revelation, purple is used to symbolize the royalty and majesty of Jesus as the conquering King who has overcome death and reigns over all creation.

Overall, the color purple holds significant meaning in Christianity as a symbol of God’s sovereignty, holiness, and kingly authority. Its use in liturgical settings and throughout the Bible serves as a reminder of the power and majesty of our Creator.

The Use of Purple in Liturgical Vestments

In Christianity, the color purple holds great significance and is often associated with royalty, penance, and sacrifice. This is why it is commonly used in liturgical vestments, such as the chasuble worn by the priest during Mass. The use of purple has deep roots in Christian tradition and symbolizes many important aspects of the faith.

  • Penitential Seasons: One of the primary occasions when purple is used in liturgical vestments is during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. These seasons are a time of reflection, repentance, and preparation for the coming of Christ, and the color purple is meant to reflect this somber and reflective mood.
  • Majesty and Royalty: Purple has long been associated with royalty and majesty, and it is often used in the vestments of bishops and other church officials who hold positions of authority within the church. The use of purple in this context is meant to show honor and respect for these individuals and their important roles within the church.
  • Priestly Sacrifice: In Christian symbolism, the color purple is also associated with sacrifice, particularly the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. This is why it is often used in the vestments worn by priests during Mass, as a reminder of the sacrifice that they are called to make in their own lives and of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

Overall, the use of purple in liturgical vestments is a powerful symbol of the Christian faith and its rich history and traditions. Whether it is used during penitential seasons, to honor those in positions of authority, or to reflect on the sacrifice of Christ, the color purple plays an important role in the life of the church and its followers.

For example, during the season of Lent, priests typically wear a purple chasuble as a sign of the penitential nature of the season. The use of purple helps to set the tone for a time of spiritual reflection and preparation, as believers prepare to celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Similarly, the use of purple in the vestments of bishops and other church officials symbolizes the authority and respect that these individuals hold within the church community.

There are also many other colors that hold significance in Christian tradition, each with their own unique symbolism and meaning. However, the color purple remains one of the most important and meaningful colors in the Christian faith, and continues to be used in a variety of contexts to this day.

Purpose Color
Penitential Seasons Purple
Advent Purple or Blue
Christmas and Easter seasons White and Gold
Ordinary Time Green

As this table shows, there are many different liturgical colors that hold important significance in the Christian faith. While purple is certainly one of the most well-known and frequently used colors, each of these colors serves an important purpose in the life of the church and its followers.

Purple as a Symbol of Suffering and Martyrdom

In Christianity, the color purple has long been associated with suffering and martyrdom, particularly in the Catholic Church.

  • Purple is used during the season of Lent, a time of fasting, prayer, and sacrifice in preparation for Easter. During this period, the Church reflects on the sacrifices of Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for the sins of humanity.
  • Purple is also used during Advent, a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It signifies the waiting and longing for the arrival of the Savior, which was accompanied by intense suffering for many people.
  • Purple is often used in the vestments of priests and bishops during funerals, symbolizing the mourning and grief that accompanies death and the hope of eternal life.

Furthermore, the color purple is closely tied to the concept of martyrdom, which refers to the willingness to suffer and die for one’s beliefs. Several saints and martyrs are depicted wearing purple robes or garments in artwork and iconography.

A notable example is Saint Lawrence, a deacon in the third century who was famously roasted to death by the Romans. According to legend, when Lawrence was about to be executed, he asked for a few minutes to gather all the wealth of the Church, which he then distributed to the poor and needy. As a result, he is often depicted holding a purse and wearing a purple cloak.

In addition to its use in religious symbolism, the color purple has also been associated with social and political movements that seek to end suffering and oppression, such as the women’s suffrage movement and the civil rights movement.

Purpose Purple Symbolism
Lent Sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ
Advent Waiting, longing, and suffering for the arrival of the Savior
Funerals Mourning and grief for the dead, hope of eternal life
Martyrdom Willingness to suffer and die for one’s beliefs

Overall, the color purple carries deep symbolism in Christianity, particularly as it relates to suffering and sacrifice. It serves as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the many martyrs who gave their lives for their faith.

The Purple Thread of Redemption in the Old Testament

The color purple is a significant symbol in Christianity, and its meaning can be traced back to the Old Testament. The use of purple in the Bible represents wealth, royalty, and power, but it also has a deeper symbolism related to redemption and salvation. The following subsection will focus on the purple thread of redemption in the Old Testament.

  • The Color of Kingship: Purple was a sign of royalty and nobility in ancient times, and it was often reserved for the kings and queens. The biblical King Solomon was said to dress in purple, and the royal robes of the Persian King Ahasuerus were made of purple and white linen (Esther 8:15). This symbolism of purple as a regal color is also reflected in the Gospel of John (19:2-3), where the Roman soldiers mockingly clothe Jesus in a purple robe to suggest his claim to kingship.
  • The Color of Sacrifice: In the Old Testament, purple was also a color associated with sacrifice and redemption. The purple thread, known as the Tekhelet, was used to weave the veil of the Tabernacle and the garments of the high priest. It was made of a rare dye extracted from a type of sea snail, which was costly and time-consuming to produce. The purple thread, therefore, represented the sanctity of sacrifice and the willingness to pay a high price for redemption.
  • The Color of Messiah: The association of purple with sacrifice and redemption in the Old Testament foreshadowed the coming of the Messiah, who would be the ultimate sacrifice and redeemer. In the New Testament, Jesus is described as the great high priest who entered the heavenly tabernacle, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, giving eternal redemption to all who believe (Hebrews 9:11-12).

The use of purple in the Old Testament, therefore, was not just a symbol of wealth and power but also held deeper significance related to the concept of redemption and the coming of the Messiah. Its use was reserved for things of sacred value and reflected the high cost of sacrifice and redemption.

Further understanding of the role purple played in the Old Testament can be derived by analyzing the usage of the color within specific historical context. The purple thread, Tekhelet, was reserved for weaving priestly garments. The significance of the priestly garments lies in their function within the divine order. According to the Book of Exodus, the Tabernacle structure was built to serve as the earthly dwelling place for God and the location for sacrificial offerings. The priests were tasked with the responsibility of performing the rituals, and the garments were necessary for their role. The divine state of priesthood meant that the garments had to correspond accordingly. Therefore, the robes had to be majestic and symbolic. In example, the High Priest’s breastplate, known as an ephod, contained twelve gemstones that were appointed according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Priestly Garment Symbolism
The Robes Majesty, Holiness, and Royalty
The Breastplate The Priest’s connection to Israel and God’s role in it
The Tekhelet thread The sacrifice necessary for redemption and holiness

The use of purple in the Old Testament thus represents the connection between sacrifice and redemption. It foreshadows the coming of the ultimate redeemer and enhances the beauty and power of Godly appointments.

Purple as a Sign of Wealth and Prosperity in the Bible

Purple is a rich and regal color that has historically been associated with wealth and prosperity. In the Bible, purple was highly valued and often used to represent royalty and wealth.

  • During the time of King David, purple was considered a sign of wealth and prosperity. Purple fabrics were reserved for the king and his family, and were made from the finest materials.
  • In the New Testament, the Roman Empire used purple as a symbol of their power and wealth. Jesus was dressed in a purple robe and mocked as “King of the Jews” before his crucifixion.
  • In Revelation 17:4, the “great prostitute” is described as being dressed in purple and scarlet, further emphasizing the color’s association with wealth and luxury.

Additionally, the number seven also holds significance in the Bible, representing completion and perfection. The combination of purple and the number seven can be seen in various biblical references.

In Exodus 28:6-8, the high priest’s robe was made of blue, purple, and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, with seven precious stones on the breastplate. This symbolized his importance and perfect connection with God.

Seven biblical references to purple:
1. Lydia, a seller of purple cloth, becomes a Christian in Acts 16:14-15
2. The curtains of the tabernacle were made of blue, purple, and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen in Exodus 26:1
3. The robe of the high priest in Exodus 28:6-8 was made of blue, purple, and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen
4. Mordecai is dressed in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a purple robe in Esther 8:15
5. The woman in Proverbs 31 is clothed in purple and fine linen
6. In Mark 15:17, Jesus is dressed in a purple robe and mocked as “King of the Jews”
7. In Revelation 17:4, the “great prostitute” is described as being dressed in purple and scarlet

In modern Christianity, purple is often associated with the season of Lent and Advent, representing penitence and preparation for the coming of Christ. However, the color’s historical association with wealth and prosperity still holds symbolic significance in the lives of believers.

The Role of Purple in the Color Symbolism of the Four Gospels

As a symbol of spirituality and royalty, purple holds a significant place in Christianity.

The Number 8: Resurrection and New Creation

In the Bible, the number 8 represents a new beginning, a resurrection, and a new creation. This symbolism is found particularly in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which occurred on the eighth day (or the first day of the new week), following His crucifixion. In Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus is considered the ultimate proof of His divinity and power over death.

  • In the book of Genesis, the eighth day marks the circumcision of Abram, which symbolizes the beginning of his new life in God.
  • In the Old Testament, the Feast of Tabernacles lasts seven days and is followed by an eighth day, known as “the last and greatest day.” This day symbolizes the completion of the cycle of the year and the beginning of a new one.
  • The baptism of Jesus is also associated with the number 8. The baptism is said to have occurred on the eighth day of January, and it symbolizes the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.
Symbolic Meaning of the Number 8 in Christianity Examples
New beginning The resurrection of Jesus, Abram’s circumcision on the eighth day
Resurrection The resurrection of Jesus, baptism of John the Baptist
New creation The creation account in Genesis, baptism of Jesus

The color purple is often used in Christian liturgy to represent the resurrection and new creation associated with the number 8. It is also used to symbolize the royalty and majesty of God, and the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ. In the four Gospels, the purple robe placed on Jesus during His trial before Pontius Pilate is seen as both an act of mockery and a recognition of His kingship and divinity.

The Symbolic Meaning of Purple in Christian Art

Colors have extreme significance in Christian art and serve as a crucial element in religious symbols and themes. One such color is purple, which has a rich symbolic meaning in Christian art and philosophy.

The Number Nine (9)

The number 9 is a significant number in Christian art and numerology. Christians believe that the number 9 represents the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Additionally, the number 9 represents the nine ranks, or choirs, of the angels in heaven. These angels are divided into three triads, with each triad occupying a different celestial sphere. The highest triad includes the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones, the middle triad includes the Dominions, Virtues, and Powers, and the lowest triad includes the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.

  • The number 9 signifies the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
  • The number 9 represents the nine ranks of angels in heaven.
  • Each celestial triad of angels holds a different position of importance in heaven.

In Christian art, the number 9 often appears as a group of 9 people or objects. For instance, the religious artwork often depicts Christ and the nine choirs of angels. Similarly, the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit are symbolized in the Nine Orders of Angels, a series of paintings representing the different choirs of angels, and Giotto di Bondone’s fresco cycle in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, one of the most famous examples.

Moreover, there is a close association between the color purple and the number 9 in Christian art. This is because purple was considered a royal color and was associated with the kingship of Christ, who reigns over the nine choirs of angels in heaven.

Symbolic Meanings of Purple in Christian Art Explanation
Regal and Royal Purple is often used to signify royalty and wealth. It represents the majesty of Christ, the King of Heaven.
Richness and Opulence Purple signifies abundance, luxury, importance, and wealth. It also symbolizes the richness of the Christian faith.
Sacrifice and Mourning Purple is also a color of penance, sacrifice, and mourning.
Repentance and Forgiveness Purple is often associated with repentance and forgiveness in Christian art and literature. It symbolizes the need to seek forgiveness and reconcile with God.

Overall, the color purple possesses rich symbolic meaning in Christian art, with the number 9 holding a significant place in its meaning. From the royalty and majesty of Christ to the penance and sacrifice of Christian life, the use of the color purple helps convey the rich and complex themes of Christian philosophy and art.

The Spiritual Significance of the Color Purple for Christian Devotion and Prayer

Purple is a color that has long been associated with royalty, luxury, and spirituality. In Christian tradition, the color purple has special significance and is often used in religious rituals and practices. Here are some of the spiritual meanings and symbols associated with the color purple.

  • Repentance and humility: In some Christian denominations, the color purple is traditionally worn during the season of Lent as a symbol of repentance, penitence, and humility.
  • Royalty and kingship: Purple was a rare and expensive dye in ancient times, and was often worn by royalty and nobility. As such, it has come to symbolize kingship, authority, and power, and is sometimes used as a symbol of Christ’s sovereignty and divine power.
  • Suffering and sacrifice: The color purple can also be associated with suffering and sacrifice, such as the suffering Christ endured on the cross.

When used in Christian devotion and prayer, the color purple can evoke these powerful spiritual themes and help worshippers connect with the divine. For example, purple candles are often used in Advent wreaths to represent both royalty and penitence, while purple vestments are sometimes worn by clergy during Lent or other solemn occasions.

Here are some other ways that the color purple might be used in Christian devotion:

  • Prayer shawls or stoles with purple accents
  • Stained glass windows or altar cloths with purple designs
  • Embossed or embroidered purple cross or other religious symbols on prayer books, Bibles, or other devotional items

Overall, the color purple has many different spiritual meanings and associations in Christian tradition. Whether used in prayer and worship, or simply as a reminder of the divine, this regal color can be a powerful symbol of faith and devotion.

Symbol Meaning
Purple cloth Kingship and sovereignty of Christ
Purple dye Penitence, repentance, and humility
Purple candle Penitence, sacrifice, and preparation during Advent and Lent

Whether worn as a garment, used in crafting devotional items, or simply appreciated for its beauty, the color purple can be a powerful spiritual symbol for Christian believers.

FAQs: What Does the Color Purple Symbolize in Christianity?

1. Why is purple a significant color in Christianity?

Purple is typically associated with royalty and nobility, and it is also a symbol of penitence and mourning. In Christianity, purple is often used during the liturgical season of Advent and Lent.

2. What does purple represent during the season of Advent?

During Advent, purple symbolizes the anticipation and preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ. It is also a reminder of the humility and sacrifice of Christ.

3. What does purple represent during the season of Lent?

During Lent, purple symbolizes penitence, mourning, and reflection. It is a time to repent for sins and to prepare for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

4. What is the significance of purple in the Catholic Church?

In the Catholic Church, purple is a symbol of repentance, humility, and sacrifice. It is often used during the season of Advent, Lent, and also in certain holy days such as All Souls’ Day.

5. Is there a biblical basis for the use of purple in Christianity?

Purple is mentioned several times in the Bible, often as a symbol of royalty and wealth. In Mark 15:17, Jesus is mocked by Roman soldiers who put a purple robe on him and placed a crown of thorns on his head.

6. What other colors are used in Christianity?

In addition to purple, other colors used in Christianity include white (symbolizing purity and innocence), red (symbolizing the blood of Christ and martyrs), and green (symbolizing growth and life).

7. Can anyone wear the color purple in Christianity?

There are no restrictions on who can wear the color purple in Christianity. However, it is important to understand and respect the symbolism behind the color.

Closing Thoughts

We hope these FAQs have provided you with a better understanding of what the color purple symbolizes in Christianity. Whether you are celebrating Advent or Lent, or simply interested in the symbolism behind the colors used in Christianity, purple remains an important color for believers. Thanks for reading and be sure to check back for more informative articles!