SHORT BIBLE STUDY: What does the dove mean in the Bible?
What does a dove represent in the Bible? A dove in the Bible represents new beginnings, new possibilities, new creation, the presence of God.
Genesis 6-9 tells the story of the great flood when God instructs Noah to build an ark so that Noah’s family and a remnant of God’s creatures might be saved for a new creation. For 40 days rain falls. Following the 40 days of rain, Noah sends a raven from the Ark to see if there is dry land, and the raven returns. Noah then sends a dove and the dove returns. A second time Noah sends the dove and the dove returns with an olive branch, a sign of new beginnings and new possibilities. A third time Noah sends the dove and the dove does not return, a sign that it is time for Noah and the inhabitants of the Ark to leave the Ark and begin living in God’s new creation.
What does a dove represent in the Bible? In the New Testament, the dove represents God’s presence through Jesus. In the first four books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John there is the story of Jesus being baptized in the waters of the Jordan River as the creative presence of God present in the beginning, present at the flood, is also present at Jesus’ baptism. Matthew chapter 3:16-17 tells of the spirit of God being present as a dove at Jesus’s baptism. When Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens opened to him and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove upon him. A voice from heaven said, “This is my son, my beloved with whom I am well pleased.”
What does the dove represent in the Bible? New creation, new possibilities, the presence of God. In Genesis 15, a dove is part of the clean animals who are sacrificed to God as a sign of Abrahm’s Covenant with God. Abrahm, who will later become known as Abraham, offers this sacrifice as a sign of his faithfulness to God, of God’s new beginnings, and his life as he walks with his family to a land where they never lived before.
The gospel tells of how Jesus was presented before God by his parents, Joseph and Mary, with a sacrifice of two turtle doves in obedience to the law.
What does a dove represent in the Bible? New creation, new possibilities, God’s presence, God’s presence in our lives, our life of faithfulness to God, of new beginnings, and the God who makes all things new.