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Bible Parables, Allegories, and Symbols

Parables are seemingly simple and memorable stories, often with imagery, and each conveys a message. Scholars have commented that although these parables seem simple, the messages they convey are deep, and central to the teachings of Jesus. Christian authors view them not as mere similitude’s which serve the purpose of illustration, but as internal analogies where nature becomes a witness for the spiritual world

 

Old Testament Parables

1.

Mount Moriah Genesis 22; Hebrews 11:17-19

2.

The tabernacle Exodus 25-31; Hebrews 9:1-10

3.

The trees Judges 9:7-15

4.

The ewe lamb 2 Samuel 12:1-4

5.

The two sons 2 Samuel 14:1-24

6.

The wounded prophet 1 Kings 20:35-43

7.

The shepherdless flock 1 Kings 22:13-28

8.

The thistle and the cedar 2 Kings 14:8-14

9.

The nature of wisdom Job 28

10.

The vine out of Egypt Psalms 80

11.

The little city Ecclesiastes 9:14-18

12.

The master’s crib Isaiah 1:2-9

13.

The Lord’s vineyard Isaiah 5:1-7

14.

The almond rod and the boiling pot Jeremiah 1:11-19

15.

The marred girdle Jeremiah 13:1-11

16.

The wine bottle Jeremiah 13:12-14

17.

The potter and the clay Jeremiah 18:1-10

18.

The broken bottle Jeremiah 19:1-13

19.

The two baskets of figs Jeremiah 24:1-10

20.

The cup of fury Jeremiah 25:15-38

21.

The bonds and yokes Jeremiah 27-28

22.

The hidden stones Jeremiah 43:8-13

23.

The living creatures Ezekiel 1:1-28

24.

The eaten scroll Ezekiel 2-3

25.

The tile Ezekiel 4:1-17

26.

The shaved head and beard Ezekiel 5:1-17

27.

The temple wickedness Ezekiel 8:1-18

28.

The writer’s ink horn Ezekiel 9-10

29.

The cauldron and the flesh Ezekiel 11:1-25

30.

The great escape Ezekiel 12:1-28

31.

The vine branch Ezekiel 15:1-8

32.

The harlot wife Ezekiel 16

33.

The great eagle Ezekiel 17:1-24

34.

The lioness and her whelps Ezekiel 19:1-9

35.

The plucked up vine Ezekiel 19:10-14

36.

The two sisters Ezekiel 23:1-49

37.

The boiling cauldron Ezekiel 24:1-4

38.

The prophet’s dead wife Ezekiel 24:15-24

39.

The cedar in Lebanon Ezekiel 31

40.

The unfaithful shepherds Ezekiel 34

41.

The valley of dry bones Ezekiel 37:1-14

42.

The two sticks Ezekiel 37:15-28

43.

The rising waters Ezekiel 47:1-12

44.

The great image Daniel 2:31-45

45.

The great tree Daniel 4

46.

The four beasts Daniel 7

47.

The ram and the goat Daniel 8:1-25

48.

The harlot wife Hosea 1-3

49.

The horse and myrtle trees Zechariah 1:8-17

50.

The horns and smiths Zechariah 1:18-21

51.

The measuring line Zechariah 2:1-13

52.

The parable of Joshua the priest Zechariah 3:1-10

53.

The golden candlestick Zechariah 4:1-6

54.

The flying scroll Zechariah 5:1-4

55.

The woman and the basket Zechariah 5:5-11

56.

The four war chariots Zechariah 6:1-8

57.

The crowns Zechariah 6:9-15

58.

The parable of beauty and bands Zechariah 11:1-17


Jesus’ Parables

1.

The Wise and the Foolish Builder Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49

2.

Creditor with Two Debtors Luke 7:41-42

3.

Binding the Strong Man Mark 3:22-30

4.

The Parable of the Sower Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15

5.

The Parable of the Weeds in the Field Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

6.

Man Who Cast Seed into the Ground Mark 4:26-29

7.

The Grain of Mustard Seed Matthew 13:31, 32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19

8.

The Parable of the Leaven Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20-21

9.

Treasure Hid In a Field Matthew 13:44

10.

The pearl of great price Matthew 13:45-46

11.

The Net Cast into the Sea Matthew 13:47-50

12.

The Instructed Scribe Matthew 13:52

13.

A Piece of New Cloth on an Old Garment Matthew 9:16-17; Mark 2:21-22; Luke 5:36-39

14.

Children Sitting in the Markets Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:31-35

15.

The Ungrateful Servant Matthew 18:23-35

16.

The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37

17.

Seven spirits and a swept house Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26

18.

The Rich Fool Luke 12:16-21

19.

Keep the home fires burning Luke 12:32-40

20.

A sinning servant and a returning ruler Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-48

21.

A fruitless fig tree Luke 13:6-9

22.

Choosing the least at a wedding feast Luke 14:7-11

23.

Two fools and a henpecked husband Luke 14:15-24

24.

A missing sheep, misplaced silver, and a miserable son Luke 15:1-32

25.

The stewings of a steward Luke 16:1-13

26.

The rich man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31

27.

When our best is but the least Luke 17:7-10

28.

A widow and a weary judge Luke 18:1-8

29.

A haughty Pharisee and a humble publican Luke 18:9-14

30.

The workers in the vineyard Matthew 20:1-16

31.

Three stewards and their silver Luke 19:11-27

32.

Two sons who changed their minds Matthew 21:28-32

33.

The vicious vinekeepers Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19

34.

A wedding guest with no wedding garment Matthew 22:1-14

35.

The fig tree and the future Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-31; Luke 21:29-33

36.

Five lamps that went out Matthew 25:1-13

37.

Three stewards and their talents Matthew 25:14-30

38.

Separating the sheep from the goats Matthew 25:31-46


Other New Testament Parables

1.

The great sheet Acts 10:9-22

2.

The parable of rewards 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

3.

The olive tree Romans 11:13-25

4.

The two women, sons, and mountains Galatians 4:19-31

5.

The whole armor of God Ephesians 6:11-17

6.

The Promised Land Hebrews 3:7-4:16

7.

The two mountains Hebrews 12:18-24

8.

The tongue James 3

9.

The sevenfold lampstand Revelation 1:9-3:22

10.

The seven-sealed book Revelation 5:1-14

11.

The four horsemen Revelation 6:1-8

12.

The persecuted woman Revelation 12:1-17

13.

The seven-headed, ten-horned dragon Revelation 12:3-4; 13:1

14.

The bloody harlot Revelation 17

15.

The arrogant queen Revelation 18

16.

The pure bride Revelation 19:1-10


Allegories

1.

The Shepherd Psalm Psalms 23

2.

The grape vine Psalms 80:8-14

3.

God’s vineyard Isaiah 5:1-7

4.

The great eagle Ezekiel 17:1-10

5.

The lioness Ezekiel 19:1-9

6.

The bread of life John 6:26-51

7.

The sheepfold and shepherd John 10

8.

The vine John 15:1-7

9.

The Christian foundation 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

10.

The whole armor of God Ephesians 6:10-17

11.

Hagar and Sarah Galatians 4:21-31


 Fables

1.

The fable of the bramble tree, related by Jotham to ridicule the mad dog ruler Abimelech Judg. 9:7-15

2.

The fable of the thistle bush, related by Jehoash, king of Israel, to Amaziah, king of Judah to ridicule him 2 Kings 14:8-9


Symbols of Christ

1.

Alpha and Omega Revelation 1:11

2.

An anchor Hebrews 6:19

3.

Bread, manna John 6:31-35

4.

An eagle Exodus 19:4; Revelation 4:7

5.

The firstfruits of a crop 1 Corinthians 15:20

6.

A hen Matthew 23:37

7.

A lamb John 1:29; Revelation 5:6

8.

Light John 1:9

9.

A lily Song of Solomon 2:1

10.

A lion Ezekiel 1:10; Revelation 4:7; 5:5

11.

An ox or calf Ezekiel 1:10; Revelation 4:7

12.

A rock Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:8

13.

A root Isaiah 11:1; Revelation 5:5; 22:16

14.

A rose Song of Solomon 2:1

15.

A serpent John 3:14

16.

A star Revelation 22:16

17.

A living stone 1 Peter 2:4

18.

A cornerstone 1 Peter 2:6

19.

A precious stone 1 Peter 2:7

20.

A stumbling stone Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8

21.

A rejected stone Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11

22.

A crushing stone Daniel 2:34

23.

The sun Revelation 22:5

24.

A temple John 2:19

25.

A vine John 15:1

26.

A worm Psalms 22:6


Symbols of the Church and Believers

1.

An athlete 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:1

2.

A body 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 3:6; 4:4; Colossians 1:18

3.

Branches John 15:1

4.

A bride 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2

5.

A building 1 Corinthians 3:9

6.

Candlesticks, lampstands Revelation 1:20

7.

A family Ephesians 3:15

8.

A farmer 2 Timothy 2:6

9.

Lights Matthew 5:14; John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:5

10.

Pearls Matthew 13:45-46

11.

Priests 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6

12.

Salt Matthew 5:13

13.

Sheep, lambs Luke 10:3; John 10:11; 21:15-17

14.

Soldiers 2 Timothy 2:3

15.

Stewards 1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Peter 4:10

16.

Stones Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:5

17.

A temple 2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Peter 2:5

18.

A vessel 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:21

19.

Wheat Matthew 13:29-30

20.

A wife Revelation 21:9


Symbols of Israel

1.

A linen girdle Jeremiah 13:10

2.

A marred clay vessel Jeremiah 18:4

3.

Two baskets of figs Jeremiah 24:1

4.

Three bunches of hair Ezekiel 5:1-2

5.

Dross in a furnace Ezekiel 22:18

6.

A valley of dry bones Ezekiel 37:1-2

7.

Two sticks Ezekiel 37:16-17

8.

A barren fig tree Matthew 21:19; Luke 13:6

9.

An empty vine Hosea 10:1

10.

An unturned, half-baked cake Hosea 7:8

11.

A backslidden heifer Hosea 10:11

12.

A silly dove Hosea 7:11

13.

A wild ass Hosea 8:9

14.

Dust Genesis 13:16

15.

Sand Genesis 22:17

16.

Sheep Psalms 100:3

17.

Stars Genesis 22:17; Daniel 12:3

18.

Three servants Matthew 25:14-15

19.

Ten servants Luke 19:12-13

20.

Ten virgins Matthew 25:1

21.

A harlot wife Hosea 4:15

22.

Three wedding guests Luke 14:16-24

23.

A hidden treasure Matthew 13:44

24.

A persecuted woman Revelation 12:13

25.

Precious jewels Malachi 3:17

26.

Trees of righteousness Isaiah 61:3


Symbols of Satan

1.

A dragon Revelation 12:3, 7

2.

A serpent Revelation 20:2

3.

A roaring lion 1 Peter 5:8

4.

A sower of weeds Matthew 13:39

5.

An angel of light 2 Corinthians 11:14

6.

A prince John 12:31


Symbols of Apostates

1.

Waterless clouds Jude 12

2.

Fruitless trees Jude 12

3.

Raging, wild waves Isaiah 57:20; Jude 13

4.

Wandering stars Jude 13

5.

Dogs 2 Peter 2:22

6.

Hogs 2 Peter 2:22

7.

Brute beasts Jude 10

8.

Goats Matthew 25:33

9.

Tares Matthew 13:30


Symbols of the Bible

1.

A mirror James 1:23-25

2.

A seed Matthew 13:18-23; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23

3.

Water Ephesians 5:25-27

4.

A lamp Psalms 119:105; Prov. 6:23; 2 Peter 1:19

5.

A sword Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17

6.

Gold Psalms 19:10; Psalms 119:127

7.

Silver Psalms 12:6

8.

Milk 1 Peter 2:2

9.

Meat Hebrews 5:12-14

10.

Bread John 6:51

11.

Honey Psalms 19:10

12.

A hammer Jeremiah 23:29

13.

A fire Jeremiah 20:9; Luke 24:32


Symbols of the Holy Spirit

1.

A dove John 1:32

2.

Water Isaiah 44:3; John 7:37-39

3.

Oil Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; Hebrews 1:9; 1 John 2:27

4.

A seal 2 Corinthians 1:22;  Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30

5.

Wind John 3:8; Acts 2:1-2

6.

Fire Acts 2:3

7.

A guarantee 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14


Symbols of the Kingdom of Heaven

1.

A field Matthew 13:3-30

2.

A tree Matthew 13:31-32

3.

The sea Matthew 13:47-48

4.

The marriage feast Matthew 22:2


Symbols of Coming Judgment

1.

A sickle Revelation 14:14

2.

A dragnet Matthew 13:47

3.

A wine press Isaiah 63:3

4.

A falling stone Daniel 2:34

5.

Four horses Revelation 6:2-8

6.

A white throne Revelation 20:11


Symbols of Wickedness and Uncleanness

1.

Leaven Matthew 16:6

2.

Leprosy Leviticus 13:44

3.

An ephah Zechariah 5:6


Symbols of the Antichrist

1.

A little horn Daniel 7:8

2.

A seven-headed, ten-horned beast from the sea Revelation 13:1


Symbols of Sorrow

1.

Ashes Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:6

2.

Sackcloth Esther 4:1; Jonah 3:6

3.

Torn clothing 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 13:31; Ezra 9:3; Job 1:20; Job 2:12; Matthew 26:65


Symbols of the Death and Resurrection of Christ

1.

The great fish Jonah 1-2

2.

Baptism Romans 6:2-10


Symbol of Rewards

1.

Crowns Revelation 4:4

2.

A white stone Revelation 2:17

3.

Hidden manna Revelation 2:17

4.

A morning star Revelation 2:28

5.

White raiment Revelation 3:18; Revelation 19:8

.

.

KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING BIBLE SYMBOLS

Animals and their Parts

  • Horse = Strength and Power in Battle Job 39:19, Psalms 147:10, Proverbs 21:31
  • Dragon = Satan or his agency Isaiah 27:1;30:6, Psalm 74:13-14; Revelation 12:7-9; Ezekiel 29:3; Jeremiah 51:34
  • Beast = Kingdom/government/political power Daniel 7:17, 23
  • Lamb = Jesus/sacrifice John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7
  • Lion = Jesus/Powerful King i.e. Babylon Revelation 5:4-9, Jeremiah 50:43-44, Dan. 7:4,17,23
  • Bear = Destructive Power / Medo Persia Proverbs 28:15; 2 Kings 2:23-24, Daniel 7:5
  • Leopard = Greece Daniel 7:6
  • Serpent = Satan Revelation 12:9; 20:2
  • Tongue = Language / Speech Exodus 4:10
  • Wolf = Disguised Enemies that hunt in a time of darkness Matthew 7:15
  • Dove = Holy Spirit Mark 1:10
  • Ram = Medo Persia Daniel 8:20
  • Goat = Greece Daniel 8:21
  • Horn = King or kingdom Daniel 7:24; 8:5, 21, 22; Zechariah 1:18, 19; Revelation 17:12
  • Wings = Speed / Protection / Deliverance Deuteronomy 28:49, Matthew 23:37

Colors

  • White = Purity Revelation 3:4,5; 7:14; 19:14
  • Blue = Law Numbers 15:38-39
  • Purple = Royalty Mark 15:17, Judges 8:26
  • Red/Scarlet = Sin/corruption Isaiah 1:18; Nahum 2:3; Revelation 17:1-4

Metals, Elements, and Natural Objects

  • Gold = Pure Character Precious and Rare Isaiah 13:12
  • Silver = Pure Words & Understanding Proverbs 2:4, 3:13-14, 10:20, 25:11, Psalms 12:6
  • Brass, Tin, Iron, Lead, Silver dross = Impure Character Ezekiel 22:20-21
  • Water = Holy Spirit / Everlasting Life John 7:39, 4:14, Revelation 22:17, Eph. 5:26
  • Waters = Inhabited area/people, nations Revelation 17:15
  • Fire = Holy Spirit Luke 3:16
  • Tree = Cross; People / Nation Deut. 21:22-23, Psalm 92:12, 37:35
  • Seed = Descendents / Jesus Romans 9:8, Galatians 3:16
  • Fruit = Works / Actions Galatians 5:22
  • Fig Tree = A Nation that should bear fruit Luke 13:6-9
  • Vineyard = Church that should bear fruit Luke 20:9-16
  • Field = World Matthew 13:38, John 4:35
  • Harvest = End of World Matthew 13:39
  • Reapers = Angels Matthew 13:39
  • Thorns / Thorny Ground = Cares of this life Mark 4:18-19
  • Stars = Angels/messengers = Revelation 1:16, 20; 12:4, 7-9; Job 38:7
  • Jordan = death Romans 6:4, Deuteronomy 4:22
  • Mountains = Political or religio-political powers Isaiah 2:2, 3; Jeremiah 17:3; 31:23; 51:24, 25; Ezekiel 17:22, 23; Daniel 2:35, 44, 45
  • Rock = Jesus/truth 1 Corinthians 10:4; Isaiah 8:13, 14; Romans 9:33; Matthew 7:24
  • Sun = Jesus/the gospel Psalm 84:11; Malachi 4:2; Matthew 17:2; John 8:12; 9:5
  • Winds = Strife/commotion/”winds of war”Jeremiah 25:31-33; 49:36, 37; 4:11-13; Zechariah 7:14

Miscellaneous Objects

  • Lamp = Word of God Psalm 119:105
  • Oil = Holy Spirit Zechariah 4:2-6; Revelation 4:5
  • Sword = Word of God Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12
  • Bread = Word of God John 6:35, 51, 52, 63
  • Wine = blood/covenant/doctrines Luke 5:37
  • Honey = happy life Ezekiel 20:6, Deuteronomy 8:8-9
  • Clothing = Character Isaiah 64:6, Isaiah 59:6
  • Crown = A Glorious Ruler or Rulership Proverbs 16:31, Isaiah 28:5, Isaiah 62:3
  • Ring = Authority Genesis 41:42-43, Esther 3:10-11
  • Angel = Messenger Daniel 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26; Hebrews 1:14
  • Babylon = apostasy/confusion/rebellion Genesis 10:8-10; 11:6-9; Revelation 18:2, 3; 17:1-5
  • Mark = Sign or seal of approval or disapproval Ezekiel 9:4; Romans 4:11; Revelation 13:17; 14:9-11; 7:2, 3
  • Seal = Sign or mark of approval or disapproval Romans 4:11; Revelation 7:2, 3
  • White Robes = Victory/righteousness Revelation 19:8; 3:5; 7:14
  • Jar / Vessel = Person Jermiah 18:1-4, 2 Corinthians 4:7
  • Time = 360 Day Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32; 7:25; Daniel 11:13 margin
  • Times = 720 Days Daniel 7:25, Revelation 12:6,14, 13:5
  • Day = Literal year Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34
  • Trumpet = loud warning of God’s approach Exodus 19:16-17, Joshua 6:4-5

Actions, Activities, and Physical States

  • Healing = Salvation Luke 5:23-24
  • Leprosy / Sickness = Sin Luke 5:23-24
  • Famine = Dearth of Truth Amos 8:11

People and Body Parts

  • Woman, Pure = God’s People Jeremiah 6:2; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-27
  • Woman, Corrupt = Apostate People Ezekiel 16:15-58; 23:2-21; Hosea 2:5; 3:1; Rev. 14:4
  • Thief = Suddenness of Jesus’ coming 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4; 2 Peter 3:10
  • Hand = Deeds / Works / Actions Ecclesiastes 9:10, Isaiah 59:6
  • Forehead = Mind Deuteronomy 6:6-8, Romans 7:25; Ezekiel 3:8, 9
  • Feet = Your Walk / Direction Genesis 19:2, Psalm 119:105
  • Eyes = Spiritual Discernment Matthew 13:10-17; 1 John 2:11
  • Skin = Christ’s righteousness Exodus 12:5; 1 Peter 1:19, Isaiah 1:4-6
  • Harlot = Apostate People Isaiah 1:21-27; Jeremiah 3:1-3, 6-9
  • Heads = Major powers/rulers/governments Revelation 17:3, 9, 10

About David M. Curtis

Profile photo of David M. Curtis
David is a self-employed business owner who enjoys web and graphics design, a good TV show or movie, spending time with his animals and friends. For many years,David taught the Bible on the west coast 5 days a week over the radio for a broadcast he called, "The Loud Cry Ministry." David has been in ministry his entire adult life, having visited and taught in churches coast to coast, including churches in California, New York, Tennessee, Kansas, Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Oregon and Washington. David has been in marketing for over a dozen years now having owned or managed four offices, with hundreds of employees. David is responsible for creating and developing projects that cost in excess of half a million dollars, and absolutely loves developing new concepts and ideas and turning them into a reality. Currently David resides in Cincinnati OH where he works from home managing his online business US Home Work Force for the past three years, in which he provides websites and training for thousands of people all across the country helping them to earn a substantial income over the Internet.

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