The Color of God

…the original red lettering in Bibles was based on the symbolic color of blood.

My first Bible, “King James Version,” had red letters in it. Whenever Jesus spoke, the text was red. Whenever He didn’t, the text was black. My first Bible did not have quotation marks in it to distinguish Jesus’ words from explanatory text; the red lettering took its place. To me, red was the color of Jesus.

My new Bible, “The Living Bible,” does not have red letters in it. All letters are black. Whenever Jesus speaks, quotation marks are used instead. To me, “black in quotations” has become the new red.

According to an article by Steve Eng (“The Story Behind: Red Letter Bible Editions,” 1986, Bible Collector’s World), red lettering in Bibles first appeared around 1900. Red was chosen based on the symbolic color of blood. It was inspired by Luke 22:20: “After supper he gave them another glass of wine, saying, ‘This wine is the token of God’s new agreement to save you – an agreement sealed with the blood I shall pour out to purchase back your souls.’ (Literally, “This cup of the new covenant in my blood, poured out for you.”)

Perhaps it doesn’t matter whether we read a red-lettered version of the Bible or a black-lettered version. Jesus’ message is the same whether printed in red or black. His is a spiritual message, not a worldly one. The color of our ink is unimportant.

The only colors that are important are the colors with which He paints. Jesus’s palette is love and the spiritual colors with which He paints include mercy, compassion, forgiveness, service, sacrifice, and salvation.

Combined they form the color of God.


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