Blood – definition

Blood is a symbl of the life
Correctly understanding these terms leads to a better
understanding of the character of God and the Gospel.

Blood is a very misunderstood, yet very important concept in the Bible.

Traditional Legal Model – “Blood” (the bodily fluid) is the means or currency used to make payment for the legal debt the sinner owes.

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb 9:22)

No blood shed = no remission or forgiveness of sins. It can be either:

  • the sinner’s blood = eternal death or
  • the blood of the sin offering, Jesus, on the sinners account = life

Biblical Healing Model – Blood is a metaphor representing the life – “For the life of the flesh is in the blood …” (Lev 17:11). So Jesus’ blood stands for His life.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Lev 17:11)

This verse mentions both death and life:

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom 5:10)

So there is a real sense in which it is the life of Christ that leads to atonement. That atonement is not in the sense of legal payment but in the sense of a healing in our relationship with God. It is seeing Jesus, the self-sacrificing, ever-loving and forgiving representation of His Father that brings atonement.

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)

A Modern Dictionary has one definition that relates to this study:

Blood (noun)

2. the vital principle; life:


Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

Blood (noun)

5. Life. Shall I not require his blood at your hands? 2 Samuel 4:11.
11. The death and sufferings of Christ. Being now justified by his blood we shall be saved from wrath through him. Romans 5:3. [Note: mistake in Webster’s; it should read Romans 5:9]


Both dictionaries include blood as a symbol of the life, Webster’s perhaps more so.


Since the definitions are similar the point of this glossary entry is more about the role of blood in salvation.

Christians speak of being “cleansed by the blood,” “washed in the blood,” and sing about “power in the blood.” There seems almost to be a concept that it actually covers the physical record of sins making them unreadable and therefore unpunishable. That the blood and its effects are not to be understood quite so literally is shown by Jesus’ words:

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56)

This clearly points to Jesus’ blood being a symbol – a symbol of His life. The power is not really in the blood itself; it is in the One who shed His blood, the One who is “… the way, the truth and the life …” (John 14:6)

Jesus is the way to the Father:

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus is the truth about the Father:

“Jesus saith … he that hath seen me hath seen the Father …” (John 14:9)

Jesus is the life; our source of everlasting life:

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life …” (John 3:36)

That sacrifices in the Old Testament were not actually required for forgiveness is shown by numerous verses showing that sacrifices were not God’s idea.

See a video of a group study on the meaning of the term blood.

Return to The Character of God and the Gospel Glossary

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