As an avid reader of the Bible, I’m often amazed by how God used his creation to communicate different messages to his people. One of the most common elements God used to convey his messages was water. This has led me to wonder about one thing: “What does water symbolize in the Bible?”
Water symbolizes different meanings in the Bible. Ezekiel 36:25 suggests that water symbolizes spiritual cleansing from sin, while Exodus 14:16–28 suggests that water symbolizes liberation and God’s faithfulness to his people. Also, Isaiah 43:2 equates water to the difficult times in a Christian’s journey with God, while John 4:13–14 suggests that water symbolizes the power of God to give eternal life.
In this article, I will extensively explore the Bible to provide you with different Biblical meanings and symbolisms of water. I will also provide you with Biblical meanings of different dreams you might have had about water. Keep reading to find out more!
What is the significance of water in the Bible?
From the beginning (Genesis 1) to the end (Revelations 22), the Bible uses water to communicate different symbolisms and meanings to Christians.
End of sin
In Genesis 1, God created the plants, birds, and animals after separating water from land; hence, Christians see water as a source of life and fertility. Genesis 6 suggests that water signifies the end of sin and the beginning of virtue. God sent floodwaters to destroy all life on earth after he witnessed how corrupt the human race had become.
Liberation and Hope
In Exodus 14:16–28, God helped the Israelites to cross the Red Sea on dry land as they escaped from captivity in Egypt. Here, water signifies liberation and God’s faithfulness to his people. God communicated the same message when he provided the Israelites with water from a rock as they wandered in the desert (Numbers 20:8–11). This water nourishes and sustains the Israelites and their livestock; hence, it is also a symbol of nourishment and hope.
The Bible suggests that water represents the difficult and challenging times in a Christian’s journey with God. In Isaiah 43:2, God promises to be with us when we pass through waters, and he assures us that rivers will not overwhelm us when we pass through them. In Psalms 69:1–3, David prays to God to rescue him from the deep waters that have come up to his neck, and Jeremiah implies that the difficulties his enemies put him through felt like waters that closed over his head and almost perished him (Lamentations 3:54).
Cleansing and Salvation
In other verses, water signifies spiritual cleansing and salvation from sin. In Ezekiel 36:25, the Lord promises to cleanse the Israelites of all their impurities by sprinkling clean water on them. In Matthew 3, John the Baptist baptized believers in River Jordan to cleanse them of their sins and prepare them for the coming of the Lord. The apostle Paul adds on to this message when he suggests that Christ made the church holy and blameless by washing her with water through the word (Ephesians 5:25–27).
Lastly, water in the Bible symbolizes the divine power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In John 7:38–39, Jesus preached that rivers of living water would flow within those who believe in him. The Scripture explains that the water represents the Holy Spirit that would later fill those who believed in Jesus. This was fulfilled in Acts 2:1–4, when Jesus’ apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
How does water appear in the Old Testament?
Source of Life
Water is first mentioned in the Bible in the Old Testament, in Genesis 1:2. Before God began creating the world, the Spirit of God was present above the waters that covered the surface of the earth. Here, the Catechism of the Catholic Church suggests that water is the source of life and fertility, as it was from it that creation began. The Catechism also suggests that the Holy Spirit breathed on the waters and made them eternally holy.
Water then appears in Genesis 6, when God sent floodwaters to destroy all life on earth. God had witnessed how corrupt the human race had become, and he decided to wipe it off the face of the earth (Genesis 6:7). Here, God used water to punish sin and cleanse the earth of it. God saved Noah, his family, and two of every earthly creature so that they might fill the earth with a new generation.
Next, water appears in the Old Testament when God helped the Israelites cross the Red Sea on dry land (Exodus 14:16–28). Here, water is a symbol of God’s power to help his people in times of trouble. When the Israelites wander in the desert and become thirsty, God provides them with water from a rock to sustain themselves and their livestock (Numbers 20:8–11).
After these major events, water appears in the Old Testament to symbolize different things. Isaiah 43:2 suggests that water represents the challenging times in a Christian’s journey with God. Water is a symbol of spiritual cleansing in Ezekiel 36:25 when the Lord promises to sprinkle clean water on the Israelites so that they can be cleansed of all impurities.
6 symbolic meanings of water in the Bible
Water holds different symbolic meanings in the Bible:
The Spirit of God
John 7:38–39 suggests that water represents the Spirit of God. Jesus preached that those who believed in him in accordance with the Scripture would receive the power of the Holy Spirit, which he likened to “rivers of living water.” Jesus’ prophecy was later fulfilled in Acts 2:1–4 when his apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. From these verses, we can perceive that living water in the Bible symbolizes the divine power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Several verses in the Bible suggest that water symbolizes the difficult times in a Christian’s journey with God. These difficult times are often brought about by forces of enemies who wish to make us lose our faith in God. In Isaiah 43:2, God, through the prophet Isaiah, uses water to assure us of his presence during our encounters with such challenges. Psalms 32:6 encourages faithful Christians to pray to God while he may be found so that they will not be overcome by mighty waters. You can perceive this to mean that when you pray to God, the constant attempts of your enemies to bring you down will not succeed. While crying to God for help, Jeremiah equated the tough times he experienced at the hands of his enemies to waters that closed over his head and almost perished him (Lamentations 3:54). King David prayed to God to save him from the deep waters that had come up to his neck (Psalms 69:1–3), and he praised God’s name when he rescued him (Psalms 18:16–17).
The Bible implies that water symbolizes the power of God to give eternal life. While speaking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus declared that anyone who drinks the water that comes from him will never thirst, as the water will give them the gift of eternal life. (John 4:13–14). In Revelation 22:1, John tells us that there’s a river of the water of life that flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb. He goes on to invite Christians who are thirsty to come and drink it so that they can receive the free gift of eternal life. In these verses, Jesus is the source of the water of life, and it symbolizes his power to give eternal life to whoever drinks from it.
Water in the Bible symbolizes spiritual cleansing and salvation from sin. In Ephesians 5:25–27, the apostle Paul suggests that Christ made the church holy and blameless by washing her with water through the word. In Ezekiel 36:25, the Lord, through the prophet Ezekiel, promises to cleanse the Israelites from their impurities and from their idols by sprinkling clean water on them. John the Baptist baptized believers with water to cleanse them from their sins and prepare the way for the coming of the Lord (Matthew 3). When Nicodemus asked Jesus how someone can be born again when they are old, Jesus told him that anyone who wishes to enter the kingdom of God must first be born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:4–5).
Water in the Bible symbolizes God’s judgment against sin and human wickedness. In Genesis 6:17, God destroyed all life on earth using the floodwaters. This was after he witnessed how corrupt the human race had become, and filled with regret and displeasure, he decided to wipe the human race and every other earthly creature from the face of the earth (Genesis 6:7). Since Noah was blameless and righteous, God instructed him to build an ark to save himself, his family, and two of every animal on earth from the deadly floods. God flooded the earth with water for 150 days (Genesis 7:24) to cleanse the earth of all sin and pave the way for a new generation. Therefore, water in this story also symbolizes spiritual cleansing from sin.
Sixth, water in the Bible symbolizes God’s help for his people. In Isaiah 8:6, the Lord was displeased with people who had rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah. Theologians suggest that “the gently flowing waters of Shiloah” are a metaphorical symbol of God’s help. In Exodus 14:16–28, God helped the Israelites to flee from the Egyptians by dividing the waters of the Red Sea so that they could pass through it on dry ground. Then he brought the sea back to its place, and it swept away all the Egyptian chariots and horsemen who had followed the Israelites into the sea. When the Israelites became thirsty in the wilderness, God provided them with water from a rock that sustained them and their livestock (Numbers 20:8–11). From these Bible verses, we can conclude that God used water to show his faithfulness and help to his people.
Why Is the Holy Spirit Compared to Water?
The Bible uses water to represent the divine power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In John 7:38–39, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “rivers of living water” that would flow within those who believed in him.
So why is the Holy Spirit compared to water in this Bible verse?
Theologians suggest that the Holy Spirit is compared to “rivers of living water” because He has the power to cleanse the hearts of Jesus’ believers from sin. After God promised to cleanse the Israelites of all their impurities by sprinkling clean water on them, he went on to proclaim that he would put his Spirit in them and teach them to follow his laws (Ezekiel 36:25–27). The Holy Spirit is also compared to water because He can satisfy the spiritual thirst of all those who believe in God and grant them eternal life, just like the “rivers of the living water” (John 4:13–14). Based on these comparisons, water in the Bible fittingly symbolizes the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
What does a dream about water mean in the Bible?
Seeing an ocean in your dream
In Ezekiel 26:19, the ocean is a tool of God’s punishment against the city of Tyre. God declares that he will destroy the city of Tyre by covering it in the depths and vast waters of the ocean. Based on this verse, seeing an ocean in your dream can signify God’s power to conquer your enemies with its vast and deep waters.
Because of its depth and vastness, dream experts also suggest that seeing an ocean in your dream can represent overwhelming emotions or fear of the unknown. A calm ocean can be a sign of spiritual serenity, while a turbulent ocean can signify the troubled state of your emotions.
Seeing someone sprinkle water on you in the dream
In Numbers 8:6–7, the Lord asked Moses to purify the Levites by sprinkling the water of cleansing on them.
Since being sprinkled by water in the Bible is a symbol of spiritual cleansing, seeing someone sprinkle water on you in a dream can signify that you have received spiritual cleansing. This person can be a divine spirit sent by God to cleanse you of all impurities.
Dream about bathing water
The Bible also associates bathing with spiritual cleansing. In Leviticus 14, 15, 16, 17, and 22, the Lord instructed the Israelites to bathe with water to cleanse themselves of all impurities. While speaking to the people of Jerusalem through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord reminds them that he bathed them with water and washed the blood from them (Ezekiel 16:9).
Therefore, the Bible suggests that dreaming about bathing water can also signify that you have received spiritual cleansing.
Dream about dirty water
Proverbs 20:5 associates water with the purposes of a man’s heart. Drawing from this symbolism, you can perceive a dream about dirty water as a warning about the nature of your own intentions or someone else’s intentions upon your life.
Dirty water is also the opposite of the clean and pure water mentioned in the Bible; hence, dreams about dirty water can be a warning about impurities and uncleanliness in your life. These dreams could be reminding you that you’re not taking good care of yourself spiritually and that you need to receive the spiritual cleansing with clean, pure water.
Seeing yourself fall into water dream
In Proverbs 9:17, King David uses water to warn Christians against falling into temptation. So when you see yourself falling into water in a dream, you can perceive it as a warning that you may succumb to temptation if you do not fear the Lord and rely on his wisdom.
Water is also a symbol of troublesome times in a Christian’s life. Therefore, seeing yourself fall into water in a dream can be a warning that you will soon experience difficult or challenging times in your spiritual journey with God.
Dream about deep waters
In the Bible, deep waters are associated with difficult times or enemies that Christians often encounter in their spiritual journeys with God. In Psalms 69:1–3, David prays to God to save him from the deep waters that have come up to his neck. When praising God for saving him from his enemies, David sings that God reached down from heaven and rescued him from deep waters (Psalms 18:16).
Based on these biblical verses, seeing deep waters in your dream can signify the difficult times that you are going through or warn you of the forces of your enemies against you. Like David, you should turn to God for help, and he will surely rescue you from all danger.
Dream about swimming in the deep waters
As explained above, deep waters in the Bible represent the difficult times or enemies that Christians often encounter in their spiritual journeys with God (Psalms 69:1–3, Psalms 18:16).
Therefore, the Bible suggests that dreaming about swimming in the deep waters can be a comforting message from God that you will endure the difficulties that your enemies will bring against you and come out the victor. Despite the challenges you are going through, this dream can be an encouragement for you not to give up but to continue fighting, as the Lord will give you the strength to prevail over all challenges.
Dream about holy water
In Christianity, water that’s been blessed by a member of the clergy is called holy water. Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox churches use holy water to baptize, bless, and cleanse Christians. In Numbers 5:17–19, priests used holy water to affirm the fidelity of women to their husbands.
Therefore, dreams about holy water can convey a need for you to be cleansed, blessed, or baptized by a member of the clergy using the holy water.
Dream about drowning in water
The Bible suggests that dreaming about drowning in water can communicate that you’re being overwhelmed by the challenges you are going through. During such times, we should remain strong in the Lord and take comfort in God’s assurance that he will not desert us (Isaiah 43:2).
Other dreams about water and their biblical meanings
Dreams about drinking water
Several biblical verses suggest that people who drink water that has been provided by God experience spiritual nourishment or receive eternal life. In John 4:13–14, Jesus told the Samaritan woman that anyone who drank the water that came from him would receive the gift of eternal life. In Numbers 20:8–11, the Lord nourished the Israelites and their livestock with water from a rock when they were wandering in the desert.
Therefore, the Bible suggests that when you dream about drinking water, you can be receiving spiritual nourishment or the gift of eternal life from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dreams about falling in water
Proverbs 9:17 implies that dreams about falling in water can be messages of warning against falling into temptation. In this verse, King David warns that men who have no sense can fall into the traps of an adulterous woman because stolen water is sweet. Using this symbolism, you can perceive dreams about falling in water as warning messages that you may be tempted into sin and that you should apply wisdom gained through the fear of the Lord to overcome this temptation.
Dreams about flying over water
You can perceive dreams about flying over water to signify that you have prevailed over difficult times or the forces of your enemies that threatened to bring you down. This biblical meaning is based on the verses that suggest water is a symbol of difficult times or enemies that Christians sometimes encounter as they journey with God (Psalms 69:14; Lamentations 3:54).
So when you dream about flying over water, it can be a celebratory message that you have overcome and risen over the forces that threatened to bring you down.
Dreams about drinking salt water
In 2 Kings 2:21–22, Elisha healed the water and made it pure by throwing salt into it. As per the Lord’s command, the water stopped causing death and making the land unproductive. Today, Christians also value salt water for its healing and fertility powers.
Based on this biblical verse, dreaming about drinking salt water can mean that you have received spiritual healing from any ailments you may be suffering from and that you have been made fruitful and whole again.
Dreams about walking on water
Matthew 14:25–31 associates walking on water with faith in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. After Jesus assured his disciples that it was he who was walking on water towards them, he asked Peter to go to him by walking on water as well. When Peter saw the wind, however, he became afraid and began sinking. Jesus then asked him why he didn’t believe that he would keep him afloat.
Based on this verse, the Bible suggests that dreams about walking on water mean that you have strong faith in the power of Jesus to get you through even the most impossible missions. You may be about to undertake a mission that seems overwhelming or impossible to accomplish. When you dream about walking on water, it can be a green light for you to go ahead and do it because you have faith that Jesus will give you the strength and power to accomplish it.
Is water a good or bad symbolism in the Bible?
Water conveys both good and bad symbolism in the Bible. In John 7:38–39, water symbolizes the divine power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts of all sin and quench our spiritual thirst when we choose to believe in God. In John 4:13–14, Jesus is the source of the water of life, and it symbolizes his power to give eternal life to whoever drinks from it. Hebrews 10:22 and John 3:4–5 suggest that water is a symbol of spiritual cleansing and salvation from sin. In Genesis 6, God uses floodwaters to bring an end to sin and mark the beginning of virtue. Lastly, Exodus 14:16–28 and Numbers 20:8–11 portray water as a symbol of liberation, nourishment, and God’s faithfulness to his people.
On the other hand, water conveys bad symbolism when it symbolizes difficult times or enemies who must be defeated. Isaiah 43:2 suggests that waters and rivers symbolize challenging times in a Christian’s journey with God. In Psalms 69, David asks God to rescue him from deep waters that have come up to his neck, and Jeremiah implies that the tough times he experienced at the hands of his enemies are like waters that closed over his head and almost perished him (Lamentations 3:54).
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.