Water plays a vital role in our daily lives, and our bodies depend on it to survive. The meaning of water in the Bible is significant since water has shaped history since the beginning of time, including that recorded in the Bible. There are many correlations between water and the Christian context, or faith.
The Bible talks about how water has various meanings. It’s a symbol of rebirth, fertility, and the renewal of life. The spiritual and physical value of water is emphasized in the scriptures through stories like Jesus turning water into wine and through rituals like baptism.
Water has been established to symbolize a wide range of mystical occurrences (similar to rain symbolism) by citing specific examples from the scripture.
What Does Water Symbolize In The Bible?
As Christians, we place great importance on the spiritual aspects of water. Over the years, it has come to represent a wide range of ideas, including God’s Spirit, purity and sanctification, the Bible, and more.
Water has been mentioned in the Bible 722 times, making it more prevalent than the four major Christian tenets of faith, hope, and prayer combined. We can’t exist without water, so it’s also a crucial component of our physical existence.
Water As The Spirit Of God
Water is mentioned at the beginning of Genesis 1:2 as the first element created in God’s creation. Both water and the Holy Spirit are mentioned in a significant passage, which are common images for him. In John 7:37–39, Jesus discusses the coming of the Holy Spirit and mentions “streams of living water.”
“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2).
On the day of Pentecost, believers received the new Spirit to equip them for the task of going out into the world and making disciples. In yet another figurative application of the word, Jesus utilizes water. “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Now, this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37–39). On the Day of Pentecost, God would pour out His Spirit upon the Church, fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy regarding the Spirit who “had not been given” as the “living water.
Other passages in the Bible mention God intervening with water. God’s help is described as “the gently flowing waters of Shiloah” (Isaiah 8:6). Meanwhile, God’s judgment is described as water overflowing one’s hiding place (Isaiah 28:17).
Water As Eternal Life
God’s gift of salvation and eternal life through trust in his Son is symbolized by water springing throughout the Old and New Testaments. If we cite an instance showing water as a symbol of eternal life, Isaiah talks about this in his book (verse 12:3): Jesus tells the Samaritan woman a familiar line in the parable of the well.
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Jesus told her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water” (John 4:10–15, ESV).
Here, Jesus refers to the water He will give the adulterous woman as “living water” and then goes on to add that He is the fountain from whence that water flows and brings new life. This is a picture of heaven.
Furthering this idea, water might represent God’s grace and the spiritual cleansing that results from accepting His redemption. Ezekiel 36:25 also supports this: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.”
Does Water Symbolize The Word Of God?
Paul meant for Jesus to “wash the church with his own blood,” which makes sense in light of the numerous references to water metaphorically identified as a cleansing agent in the Bible for the word of God.
“That he might sanctify her, Jesus cleansing her by the washing of pure water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in glory, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26–27, ESV)
Prophet Ezekiel writes about where the Lord God says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.”
The reference to water in 1 John 5:7–9 has been a source of speculation. “For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.”
The Holy Spirit completes the Trinity as the third person. Just as Jesus did during his time on earth, he brings conviction to sinners and shows them their desperate need for a Savior. As a result of this realization, individuals are moved to repent, realizing that they can’t make it without God’s grace and the atonement provided by the death of Christ on the cross. John says that the Spirit, the Word, and the Water all testify to the truth of what he has written.
As such, water in the Bible symbolizes the washing away of sins, the washing of evil consciences, and the washing of bodies through the water of God’s Word; water is the source of the living water that springs up into eternal life; Jesus referred to the coming of the “living water” as the Holy Spirit, which at the time He spoke had not yet been poured out.
And finally, the word of God is the source of this living water in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and those who drink from it will never die and indeed, shall never thirst (John 4:14).