Some Holy Spirit Symbols along
with Descriptions and Explanations
There are numerous appropriate Holy Spirit symbols that remind us what a special friend we have been given by God, when we receive the Holy Spirit.
Many of these symbols of the Holy Spirit are found in the bible.
The Holy Spirit is a special gift from God, sent by the Father and the Son. He is the 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is 3 persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - in one God.
The Symbol of a Dove
When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan at the beginning of his public life and public mission, the Holy Spirit came as a dove. All 4 Gospel writers note this, which makes this quite important. (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32)
The dove is a symbol of peace.
A dove is noted for it's calm disposition and gentle calling. It's also been said that if there is much noise and disturbance, a dove will leave it's home and go to another location to build it's nest.
This is a good lesson for each of us, to not be the cause of interior turmoil, worldly distractions, and incessant noise in our minds, hearts, homes, and families, and to not allow such things to take away peace of soul.
The dove also makes a cry or cooing that has a sound of mournful sadness, which is noted in the Song of Solomon (Canticle of canticles 2:12) when the beloved comes.
This is a reminder that this world is a vale of tears, a sad broken place because of sin, and that the world was redeemed by the coming of Jesus Christ with great suffering, especially the great suffering of knowing that despite all of his efforts, people would still choose to stay on the path to hell.
The Holy Spirit is Called Rivers of Living Water
One day in the temple, Jesus called anyone who was thirsty to come to him and drink, and from him would flow rivers of living water.
He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who is known as the River of Life, as is shown in Ezekiel (47:1-12) and Revelations (22:1-4)
I discuss this further in sermons for Pentecost
The Holy Spirit is Seen as a Flame, a Tongue of Fire
When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in a special way on Pentecost, there appeared what looked like flames of tongues of fire appeared, and came on each of them. (Acts 2:3)
Fire is a symbol of zeal, energy, cleansing, renewal. It is also a symbol of burning love.
The tongue is also a symbol of speech. By a miracle of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles spoke in tongues at Pentecost, and used their tongues as tools for the Holy Spirit, to praise God and boldly preach to the people.
The Symbol of Fire
John the Baptist foretold the coming of Jesus by saying that he (John) baptized with water, but the one coming soon (Jesus) would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; cf. Mark 1:8; cf. John 1:33)
Before Jesus died, rose from the dead, and went to heaven, he promised to send the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel writer John records this in the teachings of Jesus at the Last Supper. (John 14:15-31, 15:26-27; 16:7-15)
After the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter preached a Holy Spirit-filled sermon. (Acts 2:14-42)
Some people call a time of revival - or spiritual awakening - a time of Holy Spirit Fire. Some people will also say that a zealous preacher is filled with Holy Spirit Fire, or Holy Ghost fire.
Is it "Holy Spirit" or "Holy Ghost"?
Holy Ghost is another term for the Holy Spirit, found in older bibles and still used by some congregations.
Personally, I grew up in a denomination that used only "Holy Ghost," but now I prefer to use only "Holy Spirit", especially since over the years "Holy Spirit" is more generally used and more easily understood than "Holy Ghost".
Today, the word "ghost" is scary, and I don't think God should ever be scary - except maybe to bad people to help them change. If we are making our best efforts, with the help of God's grace, the Holy Spirit should be for us our closest, dearest, truest, ever-present, and best friend - one who will never let his friends down.
The Anointing with Holy Oil at Confirmation
Some churches and denomination have a rite called confirmation. It is given to someone already baptized, usually to children or young teenagers. It can also be given right after or shortly after baptism, in the case of an adult convert.
Confirmation is an outward sign of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon an individual, when the person is anointed on the forehead in a special ceremony with a holy oil.
In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit comes in a special way to an individual, just as he came upon the early Christians at various times, as recorded in several places in the Acts of the Apostles.
A Heart is Often Used to Symbolize the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit has many names, one of which is the Spirit of Love.
Love is often represented by a heart.
A pierced heart with flames is a symbol for the heart of Jesus in some church denominations. A heart with flames is also a symbol for the love of God in general, whether the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit.
Another Symbol of the Holy Spirit - the Color Red
Tongue, fire, a heart. All of these are red. Red is the color of love, faithfulness, courage, energy, zeal and fervor, and close unity and friendship.
That is why red roses, red rose buds, and cards and gifts in the shape of hearts, are often sent on special days between lovers, such as Valentine's Day, to express love, affection, and fidelity and commitment to each other.
More on the Color Red - a Primary Color
Over the years, in my research with experts and scientists, I have discovered that many peoples and cultures have associated the 3 primary colors with the 3 persons of the Trinity.
Many of them were probably not even aware of what they were doing, but were probably acting under inspiration.
- The Father is depicted with stars in a blue sky.
- The Son is shown with a yellow halo and yellow rays, similar to the sun.
- The Holy Spirit is depicted with the color red.
When you unite the light from all 3 primary colors, you get the color white - a symbol of One God in 3 persons.
Remember, years ago many people did not have books like we have. Many of them used simple pictures and pictographs to record and illustrate what they wanted to say, so the meaning of colors was very important to them.
Even in the Middle Ages, books were scarce, many people could not read, but they learned many lessons in the stained-glass windows, mosaics, paintings, statues, artwork and architecture found in their churches, schools, palaces, and other public buildings and places.
Red is Also the Color of Blood
One of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit is fortitude.
The color red is a symbol of courage and strength, the color of heroes. It is the color of blood, the color of sacrificing one's life.
Jesus shed his blood on the cross to atone for sin and grant us salvation.
Many of his followers became martyrs by also shedding their blood in giving their lives for the truth. "Martyr" is a word meaning "witness" to Christ.
Stephen was the first martyr in the church after Pentecost.
Stephen worked many miracles, he was falsely accused and arrested, and brought before the Jewish council, where everyone saw his face become as bright as an angel.
He proved that Jesus fulfilled the bible prophecies. The Jewish leaders were so angry at Stephen, they shook their fist at him in rage.
Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, stared to heaven, and saw Jesus standing at God's right hand, and told them so.
But stopping up their ears, and shouting to drown out his voice, they rushed at him, dragged him out of the city, and stoned him to death.
If anything comes close to a sin against the Holy Spirit, this is it.
Nevertheless, like Jesus who forgave his enemies before he died (as discussed in the the 7 last words of Jesus
), Stephen asked that God not hold them responsible for this sin. (Acts 7:60).
And we know that his prayer was fruitful, because one of the chief instigators, a man named Saul, helped in the stoning of Stephen, but later was miraculously converted, and became the Apostle Paul.
Holy Spirit Symbols - Noise, Wind, Earthquake
When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, a noise like a rushing wind was heard and filled the whole house where the followers of Jesus were at. (Acts 2:2).
Later, when Peter and John had been arrested and freed, the community of believers prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit to grant courage and miracles. (Acts 4)
After the prayer, the whole house shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and great courage. (Acts 4:31)
"With courage" is translated in various bibles as "with boldness", "with confidence", "with freedom", and "without fear."
The Holy Spirit is Compared to a Breath of Fresh Air
This is a symbol hard to depict in a picture!
But the word "Spirit" means "Breath". The word inspiration means to "breathe in".
When God made the first man Adam, God formed him from the dust, and breathed into him the breath of life.
At the Last Supper, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth at least 3 times. (John chs 14-17)
Just like without air we will physically die, so without the truth our soul will remain dead or die.
"All scripture is inspired by God" means "All scripture is God-breathed." (2 Timothy 3:16)
Other Symbols of the Holy Spirit
All creation declares to us - and reminds us - of the glory of God.(Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20)
In my simple understanding, glory often means the work - or handiwork - of God, which is not only visible, but also invisible, and often beyond our mere human understanding.
If we wish - because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and dwells within us as the truest, best, and dearest friend of our soul - we can even adopt our own special symbols to remind us of His presence.
Some More Appropriate Symbols of the Holy Spirit
Here are some symbols we might adopt. Some of these are referenced in the teachings and prophecies of the bible:
- A Sword or a Bible - symbols of the Word of God which is inspired by the Holy Spirit - appropriate symbols for pastors, preachers, and teachers
- Blossoms and Flowers - their delicate beauty, turning into fruit, remind us of the beauty of the Holy Spirit and his 12 fruits
- Wedding or Friendship rings - to remind us of the intimate union that a soul in God's grace has with the Holy Spirit
- Sighs, tears, and tear drops - remind us of the groaning of creation, our groaning, and the Holy Spirit groaning within us. The Apostle Paul discusses this in one of his epistles. (Romans 8:22-27)
- A boat or ship anchor - a symbol of hope for heaven and bodily resurrection, restoration, and renewal, which the Holy Spirit gives amid the suffering, sorrow, and pain of this life.
- Water, rain, gentle rain, and dew - symbols of refreshment, vitality, growth and fruitfulness, to quench spiritual thirst and stop spiritual hunger.
- Sky, clouds, sunrises and sunsets - symbols of God's majesty and beauty. Clouds in the holy scriptures in the bible are associated with the glory of God. For some reason, light, wispy clouds especially remind me of the Holy Spirit, or of angels..
- Stars, especially the North Star or other guiding stars - We all go through spiritually difficult times at one time or another, when everything is dark as night. Especially in those times, we need the Holy Spirit to guide us with his light, truth, and grace.
Even when we can't see the stars because of storm clouds, the stars are still there.
So too, when the storms of life seem to go against us, our faith teaches us that the Holy Spirit still is the Star guiding our life, bringing us peace inside, and giving us hope.
Thank your stars!
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