© 2000 Walter E. Gast
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Banner
The banner is a symbol of victory. It is often pictured borne triumphantly by the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) as a symbol of the Resurrection and the triumph of Christ over sin and death. The Emperor Constantine incorporated a cross into his flag when he was converted to Christianity after seeing a vision of a cross in the clouds. A banner may also be used as an emblem of saints such as John the Baptist, George of Cappadocia, Ansanus, Reparata and Ursula. A banner figures prominently in the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Isa. 11:12 He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. (NIV)


Bee
The bee has been admired for its noble traits by many cultures and therefore has a variety of symbolic meanings. It can be used to represent community, diligence and industry, purity, immortality and and resurrection. Its sting may represent judgment. The honey it produces may represent sweetness of character or heavenly riches.

Beehive
The beehive is a relatively modern symbol representing the church. Many bees, each assigned a different task, working together for the building up of the hive reminded artists of the Body of Christ, which is built up (edified) by many believers with differing spiritual gifts. Nine bees traditionally represent the nine fruit of the Spirit. The beehive may also be used as an emblem of St. Bernard of Clairveaux, and of St. Ambrose, who is the partron saint of beekeepers.

Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV)


Bell
The bell is symbolic of the call to worship and the proclamation of the gospel to the world.

Birds
Click here for symbolism of various species of birds.

Book
A book most commonly represents the Word of God, the Bible. An open book represents truth or revelation. A closed book may be presumed to contain the names of the elect, and so may symbolize the Last Judgment and the inheritance of the saints. In the hands of an Apostle, a book represents the writings of the New Testament (Old Testament writings are usually represented by a scroll). A book is used in the emblems of many saints, among them John the Baptist, Stephen, Bartholomew, Matthias and Simon.

Season: The Sundays after Pentecost


Branch (Tree of Jesse)
The shoot growing from the stump of Jesse is an Old Testament symbol of the promised Messiah foretold by Isaiah in a passage often read during Advent.

Isa. 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (NIV)

Season: Advent


Bronze Serpent
The serpent of bronze is an important Old Testament picture of Christ. Jesus himself recognized the typology when he said, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3:14,15 NIV)

Num. 21:4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, (n) to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" 6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people. 8 The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. (NIV)

Season: Advent


Burning Bush
The burning bush is an important Old Testament symbol of God's revelation of Himself. It was at the burning bush that Moses was given the most holy name of God, I AM WHO I AM (Yahweh). It is also a powerful type of Christ, who is the supreme revelation of God Himself.

Exod. 3:13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" 14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. (n) This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' " (NIV)

John 17:25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." (NIV)

Season: Advent


Butterfly
The butterfly is a symbol of the Resurrection. The beautiful butterfly rising from the seemingly lifeless chrysalis of the ugly caterpillar reminded the early Christians of the new life that is ours in Christ.

Season: Easter