Biblical meanings of dreams (types of dreams in the Bible)

As a Christian with a background in theology, I’ve learned that life is spiritual. Even some of our dreams have spiritual meanings rooted in the Bible.

This topic was so fascinating that I decided to conduct more research to find out what the Bible says about dreams. After speaking to several scholars and a mental health expert, I realized that dreams are a significant part of the human experience.

A conversation with my local pastor revealed how much God used dreams to communicate to various people in the Bible. Incidentally, the topic came up the following weekend during bible study.

One of my friends wanted to know if we can interpret all our dreams from a biblical perspective. Having done my due diligence on the topic, I was thrilled to share my findings on the biblical meanings of dreams.

Dreams are used many times throughout the Old and New Testaments. Every dream in the Bible has a unique meaning and purpose. In some cases, the dreams signified God’s love and protection. In other cases, God used dreams to reprimand sinful behaviour and give warnings. According to Numbers 12:6, God communicates His will to select people through visions and dreams.

In this article, we will explore the biblical meanings of dreams. Join me as we discuss the various dream symbols used in the Bible. Read along to find out how to interpret your dreams from a Biblical perspective.

What does the Bible say about dreams?

The Bible mentions that dreams can appear so real that they evoke strong feelings even after you wake up. Scripture illustrates this in Isaiah 29:8, which explains that a hungry man might dream that they are eating only to wake up and realize he is still hungry, which can be irritating.

Certain scriptures categorically state that God communicates with His people through dreams. In the book of Joel 2:28, God promises to bestow His spirit on all flesh.

This gift would enable them to see visions, prophesy and have meaningful dreams. The same theme is repeated in the book of Acts 2:17, where God promised to use dreams, visions and prophesies to communicate to his people during the last days.

However, the Bible warns believers against putting too much hope in dreams. That is because some dreams can be misleading.

Ecclesiastes 5:7 reiterates this, reminding believers that the fear of God should precede any insight one gets from alternative sources like dreams.

Again, Jeremiah 29:8 echoes those thoughts. As indicated in this verse, people should be wary of the false prophets who claim to know the truth based on their dreams.

What do dreams symbolize in the Bible?

types of dreams in the Bible
What do dreams symbolize in the Bible? Image source: Unsplash

Dreams in the Bible symbolize a hidden message from God. They reveal hidden truths that people cannot access in their conscious minds. The Bible gives an interesting definition of dreams in the book of Job.

According to Job 33: 12-18, one of Job’s friends reminds him that God communicates in various ways. The fellow mentions a dream as one of the communication tools Go uses.

This scripture describes a dream as a vision that occurs when a person is deeply asleep.

Typically, visions happen when someone is still awake and aware of their surroundings. However, dreams only show up when you fall asleep and relinquish control of your thoughts.

Therefore, dreams in the Bible may symbolize a loss of control. Several characters in the Bible had such disturbing dreams.

A great example is Abraham in Genesis 15: 12-13. God appeared to Abraham in a dream and told him that his descendants would become slaves. There was nothing Abraham could do to prevent the enslavement of the Jews.

Theology scholars argue that God allowed them to be slaves in Egypt so they could grow in numbers and build character. That’s because it was not easy driving out all the wicked tribes on their way to the promised land.

Types of Dreams in the Bible

Dreams come in different forms and for various reasons. The following are four types of dreams recognized in the Bible.

Prophetic dreams

In the Old and New Testaments, God speaks to numerous people through prophetic dreams. Based on Job 33:14-16, sometimes God conveys a message through dreams.

The word of God proves this in Genesis 28:10-17. As confirmed in this scripture, Jacob had a vivid dream about the future of his household.

In the dream, he sees angels walking up and down a ladder. Jacob then hears God’s voice promising to bless the Israelites and their future generations.

When he woke up, the father of the Jewish nation realized it was a prophetic dream, and he worshipped God.

Soul dreams

Soul dreams are said to be tied to a person’s emotions, beliefs and attitudes toward various situations in life. These types of dreams often evoke anger, fear and various other emotions. God uses such dreams to help us address difficult situations in the present or the future.

In Genesis 15:12-13, Abraham is overcome with fear and a dreadful darkness in his dream. This was God’s way of letting Abraham know that his descendants would suffer slavery for 400 years.

Spiritual warfare dreams

These types of dreams involve struggle and conflict. Such dreams leave your spirit disturbed. Many theologians and believers have reported having spiritual warfare dreams that wake them at night, prompting them to pray.

Christians are aware that the enemy is very active in the wee hours of the night, which I when people are in their deepest sleep. That is why Psalms 4:8 reassures believers that they can sleep peacefully, knowing that God is their protection.

If you have a dream that you feel has elements of spiritual warfare, you can find comfort in Bible verses like Psalms 91:5. This scripture reminds humanity that God is their shield during the day and night.

Ordinary dreams

From a biological point of view, dreaming is normal and even healthy for the brain. It is one of the ways human beings process various aspects and events in their lives.

According to neuroscientists, dreams are typical during the REM period of sleep. These professionals argue that the contents of your dreams are based on what you ingest into your mind.

For instance, watching horror movies increases your propensity for nightmares. People can have a certain level of control over processing dreams by watching what they feed their senses.

You can find meaning in your ordinary dreams through prayer.

How does God use dreams?

God uses dreams to communicate various messages to his people. In Genesis 20:3, God uses a dream to send a warning to Abimelech for attempting to take Abraham’s wife.

In the dream, God told Abimelech that he would die for sleeping with a married woman. This prompted the king to make things right with Abraham.

As narrated in Matthew 2:12, God warned Joseph to escape Bethlehem to protect baby Jesus.

God also used dreams to send prophetic messages to several people in the Bible. Old Testament Joseph had a dream that he would rise to a powerful position that would have his family bowing down to him in Genesis 37:5-8.

Later in Genesis 40:5-8, Pharaoh has prophetic dreams about a terrible famine.

In several instances, God made promises to people through dreams. As mentioned earlier, Jacob’s ladder dream was God’s way of promising to exalt the Israelites over all the nations of the world.

For Joseph in Matthew 1:20-21, God sent a dream to give him a powerful revelation about his marriage. After finding out Mary was already pregnant, Joseph wanted to break off the engagement silently.

Back in the day, marrying as a virgin was considered honourable. God used a dream to communicate to Joseph about his son-to-be wife and child.

Dreams mentioned in the Bible

Biblical Meaning of Eating In A Dream 
Dreams mentioned in the Bible. Image source: Unsplash

Several people have life-changing dreams in the Bible. The following are examples of memorable dreams documented in the Bible.

Pharaoh’s dreams

Pharaoh’s stressful dreams paved the way for Joseph to reach his destiny. According to Genesis 41: 1-8, the then king of Egypt dreamt of seven healthy, plump cows and seven thin and distressed cows.

The thin, sickly cows ate up the fat cows right before the pharaoh woke up. When he fell asleep again, Pharoah had another disturbing dream with the same ending.

He saw seven heads of healthy and bountiful grain. Soon after, seven shrivelled-up heads of grain appeared and swallowed up the healthy batch.

As interpreted by Joseph, these dreams were a representation of seven years of affluence and seven years of famine.

Joseph’s dreams

In the Old Testament, we encounter Joseph, one of the most heroic characters in the Bible. Joseph was his father’s favourite child. As you can imagine, his 11 brothers were not thrilled about it.

In Genesis 37:5-11, Joseph had two dreams that he shared with his indifferent brothers. In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers were fastening bundles of grain when his bundle got up, and his brother’s bundles bowed down to his.

In the second dream, Joseph saw several celestial bodies (the moon, stars and the sun) bowing down to him. These were premonitions of Joseph’s ascend to the highest position in Egypt during the great famine in Genesis 41:39.

Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams

Nebuchadnezzar was another leader whose dreams were so unnerving that he summoned all the “wise” men in Babylon to interpret them.

In the book of Daniel 4:9-16, the Babylonian king saw a large tree rich in beauty and fruits, providing shade to wild animals and birds. He then saw an angel giving the order to have the tree cut and its branches trimmed.

The tree would become a stump for seven years. Based on Daniel’s interpretation, this dream meant that Nebuchadnezzar would lose his mind and live in the wild for seven years.

Joseph’s dreams (Jesus’s earthly father)

When Joseph found out that his fiancée was already pregnant, he had a mind to secretly divorce her, as the Bible narrates in Matthew 1:18-19.

However, God sent an angel to encourage him in a dream.

In the dream, an angel appeared to Joseph and urged him to go through with the marriage. After Jesus was born, God sent Joseph a warning to flee to Egypt to protect the child from King Herod. You can read about this in Matthew 2:13.

Spiritual dream symbols used in the Bible


Water is a powerful element in nature. In Genesis 1:2, the Bible says that God’s spirit was roaming over the waters. This is why water is usually associated with the Holy Spirit of God.

Seeing water in your dreams might be a sign of divine guidance from the Holy Spirit. Dreams about rain are believed to be symbolic of impending blessings.

Still, the Bible uses water as a representation of death and resurrection. The apostle Paul reminds believers of the significance of baptism in Romans 6:4.

In this scripture, Paul says that your old self is buried with Jesus through baptism, while the new you has resurrected with Christ after being cleansed and overcoming evil.


Bathrooms signify cleanliness and purity in the Bible. In Leviticus 8:5-6, God commanded Moses to ordain Aaron and his sons.

During their ordination ceremony, Moses began by washing them with water in the presence of everyone. He did this to make them ritually clean.

Having a bathroom dream is believed to symbolize a need for self-care. After all, being clean is said to be Godly.


Doors appearing in dreams are believed to signify new beginnings and opportunities. Doors can also represent secrecy. The Bible uses doors to signify the human heart.

In Revelations 3:20, the Bible says that Jesus is knocking at our door, hoping to come in and dine with us. The heart is the doorway to your mind and soul.

Dreaming about knocking on your door could be a sign that Christ is calling you to salvation.

How do you interpret dreams from the biblical perspective

According to John 14:15-17, Jesus promises to leave us with the spirit of truth. In this case, He is referring to the Holy Spirit.

With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can find the answers to many mysteries, including our dreams. Therefore, the Holy Spirit can guide you through prayer and scripture as you peel the layers of your dreams.

Christian psychologist David Benner suggests identifying the main theme in a dream and thinking about the emotions that you felt during the dream.

Benner then proposes that we should think about the unanswered questions in the dream and present them to God in prayer. Since the Holy Spirit is within you, he will guide you through the word of God to understand the deeper meaning of your dreams.

How can you tell if your dream is spiritual or just a normal dream?

You can determine if your dream is spiritual through prayer. As a Christian, it’s important to consult God through prayer before assigning meaning to a given dream.

In reality, a dream with a real message from God is likely to come once in a lifetime. Take the cases of Nebuchadnezzar or Pharaoh.

These kings had life-changing dreams only once in their lives. That means that most people process dreams based on the situations in their lives.

Still, one might have unprovoked nightmares that signify spiritual attacks from the enemy. This is explained in Jude 1:8. In such cases, it would be wise to seek the intervention of an ordained man or woman of God.

These ministers are in a better position to guide you through the experience of interpreting your dream. The word of God is also a powerful guiding tool that contains the answers we need.

If you need more help, speaking to a mental health professional with a background in theology would be a great idea.

Does God still speak to us through dreams?

Yes, a study published by Dudley Woodley proves that even today, God uses dreams to communicate with people. Based on the study, many Muslims admitted having life-changing dreams that led them to become Christians.

This is not surprising considering all the biblical evidence of God sending clear messages through dreams. Having said that, it is important for believers to first seek answers through prayer and studying the word of God.

Today, God tends to speak to believers through his word, which is far more accessible thanks to modern innovations such as the internet.

Leave a Comment