The Symbolic Language That The Bible, And In Particular Jesus, Used


At the beginning of Mark's Gospel in the New Testament, the Bible says:

Mark chapter 1 (NLT)

1 Here begins the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. 2 In the book of the prophet Isaiah, God said, "Look, I am sending my messenger before you, and he will prepare your way. 3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness: 'Prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming! Make a straight road for him!'" 4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He lived in the wilderness and was preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned from their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.


In the first chapter of John's Gospel, the Bible says:

John chapter 1 (NLT)

29 John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!


Near the end of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, which is about the first Christians, the Bible says:

Acts chapter 20 (TEV)

17 Paul sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. 18 When they arrived, he said to them, "You know how I spent the whole time I was with you, from the first day I arrived in the province of Asia. 19 With all humility and many tears I did my work as the Lord's servant during the hard times that came to me because of the plots of some Jews. 20 You know that I did not hold back anything that would be of help to you as I preached and taught in public and in your homes. 21 To Jews and Gentiles alike I gave solemn warning that they should turn from their sins to God and believe in our Lord Jesus. 28 So keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock which the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he made his own through the blood of his Son. 29 I know that after I leave, fierce wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. 30 The time will come when some men from your own group will tell lies to lead the believers away after them.


The apostle Paul wrote to his fellow Christian worker Titus in his "Letter to Titus" in the New Testament:

Titus chapter 1 (NLT)

10 There are many who rebel against right teaching; they engage in useless talk and deceive people.

15 Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are defiled. 16 Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are despicable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.


In Matthew's Gospel, the Bible says that Jesus said:

Matthew chapter 7 (NLT)

15 "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really wolves that will tear you apart. 16 You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. You don't pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles. 17 A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.


In Luke's Gospel in the New Testament, the Bible says:

Luke chapter 15 (TEV)

1 One day when many tax collectors and other outcasts came to listen to Jesus, 2 the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law started grumbling, "This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them!"

3 So Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them-what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it. 5 When you find it, you are so happy that you put it on your shoulders 6 and carry it back home. Then you call your friends and neighbors together and say to them, "I am so happy I found my lost sheep. Let us celebrate!'

7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent.


The Old Testament prophet Zechariah said:

Zechariah chapter 10 (NLT)

1 Ask the LORD for rain in the spring, and he will give it. It is the LORD who makes storm clouds that drop showers of rain so that every field becomes a lush pasture.

2 Household gods give false advice, fortune-tellers predict only lies, and interpreters of dreams pronounce comfortless falsehoods. So my people are wandering like lost sheep, without a shepherd to protect and guide them.

3 "My anger burns against your shepherds, and I will punish these leaders.


The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel prophesied:

Ezekiel chapter 34 (TEV)

1 The Lord spoke to me. 2 "Mortal man," he said, "denounce the rulers of Israel. Prophesy to them, and tell them what I, the Sovereign Lord, say to them: You are doomed, you shepherds of Israel! You take care of yourselves, but never tend the sheep. 3 You drink the milk, wear clothes made from the wool, and kill and eat the finest sheep. But you never tend the sheep. 4 You have not taken care of the weak ones, healed the ones that are sick, bandaged the ones that are hurt, brought back the ones that wandered off, or looked for the ones that were lost. Instead, you treated them cruelly.


In the New Testament, in letters that the apostle Paul wrote, the Bible says:

1 Timothy chapter 3 (TEV)

1 This is a true saying: If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work.

Titus chapter 1 (TEV)

6 an elder must be without fault; he must have only one wife, and his children must be believers and not have the reputation of being wild or disobedient. 7 For since a church leader is in charge of God's work, he should be without fault. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered, or a drunkard or violent or greedy for money. 8 He must be hospitable and love what is good.


In one of his letters which is in the New Testament, the apostle Peter wrote:

1 Peter chapter 5 (TEV)

1 I, who am an elder myself, appeal to the church elders among you. I am a witness of Christ's sufferings, and I will share in the glory that will be revealed. I appeal to you 2 to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve. 3 Do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the glorious crown which will never lose its brightness.


In the gospels, the Bible says that Jesus said:

John chapter 14 (NLT)

6 ... "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Matthew chapter 7 (NLT)

13 "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. 14 But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.

John chapter 10 (CEV)

1 Jesus said:
I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. 2-3 But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd's voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out. 4 When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. 5 The sheep will not follow strangers. They don't recognize a stranger's voice, and they run away.

6 Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about. 7 Jesus said:
I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. 8 Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. 9 I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.

11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don't own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don't care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep.
16 I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.
17 The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. 18 No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.

Luke chapter 9 (GWT)

18 Once when Jesus was praying privately and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"

19 They answered, "Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, and still others say that one of the prophets from long ago has come back to life."

20 He asked them, "But who do you say I am?"

Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, whom God has sent."

Matthew chapter 16 (NIV)

17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."


In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, the Bible says:

Acts chapter 4 (TEV)

11 Jesus is the one of whom the scripture says, "The stone that ... the builders despised turned out to be the most important of all.' 12 Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us."


In the First Letter of Peter in the New Testament, the Bible says to Christians:

1 Peter chapter 2 (CEV)

4 Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. 5 And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God. 6 It is just as God says in the Scriptures,
"Look! I am placing in Zion
a choice and precious
cornerstone.
No one who has faith
in that one
will be disappointed."
7 You are followers of the Lord, and that stone is precious to you. But it isn't precious to those who refuse to follow him. They are the builders who tossed aside the stone that turned out to be the most important one of all. 8 They disobeyed the message and stumbled and fell over that stone, because they were doomed. 9 But you are God's chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done. The Scriptures say,
10 "Once you were nobody.
Now you are God's people.
At one time no one
had pity on you.
Now God has treated you
with kindness.


In John's Gospel, the Bible says:

John chapter 8 (NLT)

12 Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."


In Matthew's Gospel, the Bible says:

Matthew chapter 5 (TEV)

1 Jesus saw the crowds and went up a hill, where he sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them:

14 "You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. 16 In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.


In the Old Testament Book of Job, the Bible says:

Job chapter 24 (TEV)

13 There are those who reject the light; they don't understand it or go where it leads. 14 At dawn the murderer gets up and goes out to kill the poor, and at night he steals. 15 The adulterer waits for twilight to come; he covers his face so that no one can see him. 16 At night thieves break into houses, but by day they hide and avoid the light. 17 They fear the light of day, but darkness holds no terror for them.


In the New Testament, the Bible says to Christians:

Ephesians chapter 5 (NIV)

3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

Ephesians chapter 5 (GWT)

5 You know very well that no person who is involved in sexual sin, perversion, or greed (which means worshiping wealth) can have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Don't let anyone deceive you with meaningless words. It is because of sins like these that God's anger comes to those who refuse to obey him. 7 Don't be partners with them.

Ephesians chapter 5 (TEV)

8 You yourselves used to be in the darkness, but since you have become the Lord's people, you are in the light. So you must live like people who belong to the light, 9 for it is the light that brings a rich harvest of every kind of goodness, righteousness, and truth. 10 Try to learn what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the worthless things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light 12 (It is really too shameful even to talk about the things they do in secret.) 13 And when all things are brought out to the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed; 14 That is why it is said, "Wake up, sleeper, and rise from death, and Christ will shine on you."

15 So be careful how you live. Don't live like ignorant people, but like wise people.

Romans chapter 13 (NLT)

11 Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So don't live in darkness. Get rid of your evil deeds. Shed them like dirty clothes. Clothe yourselves with the armor of right living, as those who live in the light. 13 We should be decent and true in everything we do, so that everyone can approve of our behavior. Don't participate in wild parties and getting drunk, or in adultery and immoral living, or in fighting and jealousy. 14 But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don't think of ways to indulge your evil desires.


In the gospels, the Bible says:

John chapter 12 (NLT)

44 Jesus shouted to the crowds, "If you trust me, you are really trusting God who sent me. 45 For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness. 47 If anyone hears me and doesn't obey me, I am not his judge - for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. 48 But all who reject me and my message will be judged at the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.

49 "I don't speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me gave me his own instructions as to what I should say. 50 And I know his instructions lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say!"

John chapter 3 (NLT)

19 This is how the judgment works: the light has come into the world, but men love the darkness rather than the light, because they do evil things. 20 Anyone who does evil things hates the light and will not come to the light, because he does not want his evil deeds to be shown up.

21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, in order that the light may show that he did his works in obedience to God.

Matthew chapter 16 (GWT)

5 When the disciples crossed over to the other side of the lake, they forgot to take any bread.

6 Jesus said to them, "Take care; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

7 They started discussing among themselves, "He says this because we didn't bring any bread."

8 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he asked them, "Why are you discussing among yourselves about not having any bread? What little faith you have! 9 Don't you understand yet? Don't you remember when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand men? How many baskets did you fill? 10 And what about the seven loaves for the four thousand men? How many baskets did you fill? 11 How is it that you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread?
Guard yourselves from the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!"

12 Then the disciples understood that he was not warning them to guard themselves from the yeast used in bread but from the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.


Later in the New Testament, in the First Letter of John, the Bible says:

1 John chapter 1 (NLT)

1 The one who existed from the beginning is the one we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ, the Word of life.


At the beginning of the Gospel of John, the Bible says:

John chapter 1 (NLT)

1 In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make. 4 Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.


Later in John's Gospel, the Bible says:

John chapter 6 (NLT)

22 The next morning, back across the lake, crowds began gathering on the shore, waiting to see Jesus. ...

John chapter 6 (CEV)

29 Jesus answered, "God wants you to have faith in the one he sent."

30 They replied, "What miracle will you work, so that we can have faith in you? What will you do? 31 For example, when our ancestors were in the desert, they were given manna to eat. It happened just as the Scriptures say, 'God gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"

32 Jesus then told them,
"I tell you for certain that Moses wasn't the one who gave you bread from heaven. My Father is the one who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 And the bread that God gives is the one who came down from heaven to give life to the world."

34 The people said, "Lord, give us this bread and don't ever stop!"

35 Jesus replied:
I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty. 36 I have told you already that you have seen me and still do not have faith in me. 37 Everything and everyone that the Father has given me will come to me, and I won't turn any of them away. 38 I didn't come from heaven to do what I want! I came to do what the Father wants me to do. He sent me, 39 and he wants to make certain that none of the ones he has given me will be lost. Instead, he wants me to raise them to life on the last day. 40 My Father wants everyone who sees the Son to have faith in him and to have eternal life. Then I will raise them to life on the last day.

41 The people started grumbling because Jesus had said he was the bread that had come down from heaven. 42 They were asking each other, "Isn't he Jesus, the son of Joseph? Don't we know his father and mother? How can he say that he has come down from heaven?"

43 Jesus told them:
Stop grumbling! 44 No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me makes them want to come. But if they do come, I will raise them to life on the last day. 45 One of the prophets wrote, "God will teach all of them." And so everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him will come to me. 46 The only one who has seen the Father is the one who has come from him. No one else has ever seen the Father. 47 I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life. 48 I am the bread that gives life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, and later they died. 50 But the bread from heaven has come down, so that no one who eats it will ever die. 51 I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who eats it will live forever. My flesh is the life-giving bread that I give to the people of this world.

52 They started arguing with each other and asked, "How can he give us his flesh to eat?"

53 Jesus answered:
I tell you for certain that you won't live unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. 54 But if you do eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life, and I will raise you to life on the last day. 55 My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. 56 If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are one with me, and I am one with you. 57 The living Father sent me, and I have life because of him. Now everyone who eats my flesh will live because of me. 58 The bread that comes down from heaven isn't like what your ancestors ate. They died, but whoever eats this bread will live forever.

59 Jesus was teaching in a Jewish place of worship in Capernaum when he said these things.

John chapter 6 (NIV)

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them,
"Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

John chapter 4 (NLT)

1 Jesus ... 3 ... left Judea to return to Galilee.

4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Please give me a drink." 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, "You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?"

10 Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."

11 "But sir, you don't have a rope or a bucket," she said, "and this is a very deep well. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his cattle enjoyed?"

13 Jesus replied, "People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. 14 But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life."

John chapter 7 (NLT)

2 It was time for the Festival of Shelters, ...

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, "If you are thirsty, come to me! 38 If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within." 39 (When he said "living water," he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

The main Bible pages on this site:

Bible Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories
Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites
Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.
Or go directly to the next in the series: The Last Weeks Before Jesus Was Crucified.

The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials:

Warning Against Believing Everything you Hear or Read

Don't be afraid to question the truth of what a religious authority figure tells you, or even the Bible or other holy books themselves, or certain people's interpretation of them. Nothing to do with religion or the supernatural is so well established in fact it shouldn't be questioned. To find out why caution is a good idea, visit:

The Beauty of the New Testament's Moral Teaching and Other Important Pages on this Website

Are you up to trying the challenges of the New Testament's moral guidelines, and would you like to know more of what it says about the love of Jesus? Here are some links to Bible quotes about the beautiful ideals the New Testament encourages Christians to try to live up to:


There are a lot of pages on this website with quotations from the Old Testament on them. Many of these are unfortunately rather gruesome, since the main theme of the Old Testament is warnings and stories about how it says societies were punished for mass lawless and hurtful behaviour, even to the extent of having war brought on them by God, that seem to have been designed to scare societies where crime and violence were rampant into behaving more ethically. In case there is any misunderstanding, it should be understood that this website does not endorse war as anything other than a last resort. The position of the website owner can be gleaned from the articles:


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