Symbolism in the Bible is used to help some difficult concepts take on meaning that the people of the time could understand. Sometimes later in the scripture context, the exact meaning of the symbol is explained or clarified, and other times it is left up to deduction. The specific meanings of stones or rock throughout the Bible vary depending on the original Greek or Hebrew word that was used in any given verse.
Strength of Character
In some places in scripture, a stone is used to describe strength and resiliency in a person's character. In the case of Peter before Christ's death, Jesus announces his new name will have the same meaning as a stone after Christ's death. This is to indicate the steadfastness and resolute nature that Peter will possess. Before Christ's death, his faith was shaky, and after he witnesses Christ after Christ's death, his conviction is as strong as a rock.
Larger stones were also described as mountains. Stones in this case are referenced as having a meaning of great strength or power with the ability to destroy whatever is in its path. A large stone is also used to describe a barrier between where a person is and where a person is meant to be, either physically, emotionally or spiritually. In the case where Bible readers are told they can ask for what they believe in prayer and it will be done for them, there is a reference to being able to command a mountain to be cast into the sea and then believe it will happen. This is symbolic of a mountain or a large stone blocking a person's individual path in life or resolution to a circumstance.
Hard Truth to Hear
Stones can represent truths or concepts that are difficult to understand or accept. The Old Testament describes hail, which literally meant stones plummeting and destroying. In the symbolic sense, it means to have a hard truth delivered and then suffer the discomfort of realizing how applying those truths will effect your life.
Precious stones such as topaz, emerald, pearls and sapphires are listed in the Bible and have meanings of their own. In the Old Testament, the 12 different precious stones were used to symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel. In the New Testament, these stones are used symbolically to describe how the new city of Jerusalem will be built. Some say the 12 precious stones also represent each of the 12 Apostles or each of the 12 zodiac signs, although these interpretations can be debatable.
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images