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The Symbols of the Holy Spirit

And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him (John 1:32 KJV)

The Bible uses various symbols or emblems to describe the person or work of the Holy Spirit. Though we often read of the seven emblems of the Holy Spirit, it is essential to note there are more than seven symbols. 

A symbol is something that stands for something else, especially a visible sign of something invisible. Therefore, there are two essential parts of a symbol. First, a symbol is something physical, concrete, and familiar to us. Second, a symbol represents something abstract or non-concrete, which is the Holy Spirit in our case. With this definition in mind, it is crucial to note that the symbol is NOT the thing it stands for—it simply represents it.

The Bible uses various symbols to describe the person or work of the Holy Spirit: dove, water, fire, wind(or breath), oil, seal, wine, the finger of God, first fruits, number seven. Each of these symbols reveals a profound truth about who the Holy Spirit is or the work He performs in our lives. For example, in John 1:32 above, God used the symbol of a dove to represent the person of the Holy Spirit. The dove is a symbol of gentleness and peace, describing an essential characteristic of the Holy Spirit’s personality. Some scholars object strongly to the symbol of a dove, stating that the Holy Spirit is not a dove. However, as noted above, a symbol is just what it is — a symbol. The Holy Spirit is not a dove, just as He is not oil or fire, and just as Jesus is not a sheep because scripture uses the symbol of a lamb to represent Him. A symbol is simply a natural object God uses to describe the invisible realities about His Being or His works.

Therefore, we can learn about the Holy Spirit using the different physical objects He Himself has used in the scriptures to describe who He is and how He works.

Read more: View all articles on the Holy Spirit to learn more about Him.

Watch Deshen Live Bible Study: The Symbols of the Holy Spirit.


What is the meaning of the symbol of the Holy Spirit? What are some symbols the scripture uses to describe the Holy Spirit?

Apply the Word

The Holy Spirit is gentle and peaceful. He does in our lives what water does to a piece of farmland or a thirsty person. He works as oil in our lives that burns to produce fire and light, expressions of the beauty and glory of God. Get to know the Holy Spirit. Above all, grow in your intimacy and walk with Him.


Ask the Father to reveal to you who His Spirit is and how He operates in our lives.

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