What does the Bible say about art?
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
Scripture tells us God created the heavens and the earth. Because God is a creator, it stands to reason that creativity is important to him. When we read the early chapters of Genesis, we learn that God artistically created dry land, trees, plants, the seas, the sun, and the moon. He took his artistic ability a step further when he created humans. God made them different from his other creations. Genesis 1:27 says,
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female, he created them.
God created humans in his own image.
Since we’re created in God’s image, we can assume that humans possess the power to create things. It’s in our DNA, put there by God when he designed us. Whether you doodle, build a bookshelf, arrange flowers or organize your closet, you’re following a God-given creative impulse. Perhaps you’ve never thought about why God values creativity and art. What role does art play a role in Scripture? And what does the Bible say about art? Let’s take a look.
Christian quotes about art
“Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person as a Christian. What a Christian portrays in his art is the totality of life. Art is not to be solely a vehicle for some sort of self-conscious evangelism.” — Francis Schaeffer
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” C. S. Lewis
“The first demand any work of art makes upon us is to surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way.” C. S. Lewis
God is an artist
Besides creation, one of the clearest places we see God being an artist is in his detailed instructions to Moses on building the tabernacle. The tabernacle was where the Israelites worshipped and met with God during their time in the wilderness. It’s where the priests atoned for the sins of the people. The tabernacle was a temporary structure that moved from place to place as the Israelites journeyed across the desert to the promised land. Even though the tabernacle wasn’t permanent, God had detailed designs on how he wanted Moses to build the tabernacle. He ordered Moses to collect specific things to build the tabernacle. He told him to collect items from the Israelites, including
- Acacia wood
God chose a man named Bezalel to oversee this work. God says that he
filled him (Bezalel) with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.(Exodus 35:31-34 ESV)
Although we can assume that Bezalel, Oholiab, and Ahisamach were already craftsmen, God says he would fill them with the ability to create the tabernacle. God gave very specific instructions on how to build the tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, the table for bread, the curtains, and the clothing for the priests. Read Exodus 25-40 to learn all the intricate details God chooses for the tabernacle.
1. Ephesians 2:10 (KJV) “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
2. Isaiah 64:8 (NASB) “But now, Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter, And all of us are the work of Your hand.”
3. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
4. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
5. Jeremiah 29: 11 “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
6. Colossians 1:16 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
You are God’s artwork
Scripture reminds us of God’s view of us as his created creatures. It says,
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
Repeatedly in scripture, God says that humans are artwork, his created beings made to be his image bearers or clay molded by God, the potter. Your looks, personality, and abilities are all part of God’s unique design. God loves the diversity of the human race. He sees beauty in what he’s made.
In Genesis 1, we see the perfection of God’s artwork culminating in the creation of humans. Of course, we read the sad story of Adam and Eve’s sin, which ultimately questioned the goodness of God. They mistrusted God’s intent for a relationship. When sin entered the world, it tainted the perfect relationship between God and humans. It altered God’s created world. Suddenly, we see death and decay where there had been life and wholeness. All living things were suddenly under the curse of death.
Even amidst all this, God had a plan for our redemption and a renewed relationship with him. Jesus, birth, perfect life, death, and resurrection gave us forgiveness for our sins and a clean slate to start over. We can have a relationship with God through Jesus’s death on the cross.
We now live to display the worth, beauty, and goodness of God working in and through us. Even with all the beauty of creation-the, mountains, ocean, deserts, and plains-we remember and honor the creator above the created things.
Paul reminded his readers of this in his first letter to the Corinthians when he said, Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV).
7. Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
8. Revelation 15:3 “and they sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and wonderful are Your works, O Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations!”
9. Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
10. Matthew 19:4 “Jesus answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female.”
11. Revelation 4:11 (ESV) “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
12. Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
13. Psalm 100:3 (NLT) “Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”
14. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
15. Ephesians 4:24 “and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
The artwork of God is seen all around us
We probably see the artwork of God best in his creation. Seeing a tiny ant drag a small piece of food ten times its size or watching a bird soar on an ocean breeze through the sky reminds us of God’s unique creativity. Of course, humanity depicts God’s artwork in a special way. If you’ve ever studied human anatomy, it’s mind-blowing how intricately the human body is made. Each system fulfills its job of keeping your body functioning properly for decades.
16. Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
17. Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
18. Jeremiah 51:15 “The LORD made the earth by His power; He established the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.”
19. Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”
Is art a gift from God?
Art can be a gift from God. Art is a neutral expression that can be used for good or for evil. Another question we could ask ourselves is whether the art we see is God-glorifying. For art to be God-glorifying, it doesn’t need to have a religious theme or depict things from the Bible. A painting of a mountain view can be God-glorifying. When art degrades human beings or mocks God, it ceases to be a gift to humans and doesn’t glorify God.
20. Exodus 35:35 (NKJV) “He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver—those who do every work and those who design artistic works.”
21. Exodus 31:3 “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship.”
22. Exodus 31:2-5 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”
23. 1 Chronicles 22:15-16 “You have an abundance of workmen: stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and all kinds of craftsmen without number, skilled in working 16 gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Arise and work! The Lord be with you!”
24. Acts 17:29 “Being God’s offspring then, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.”
25. Isaiah 40:19 (ESV) “An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains.”
Art teaches patience
Art requires a certain amount of time and energy, but it also teaches you patience. What you’re creating may require research on how to make it. You may need materials that must be brought in, or the process could be labor-intensive. All these things teach us to be patient in the process.
26. James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
27. Romans 8:25 “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
28. Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.”
29. Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
30. Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
Why is creativity important to God?
During the creation story, we repeatedly read God’s assessment of his creation.
31. Genesis 1:4 “And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.”
32. Genesis 1:10 “God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.”
33. Genesis 1:12 “The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
34. Genesis 1:16-18 “And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.”
35. Genesis 1:21 “So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
36. Genesis 1: 26 “Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
37. Genesis 1:31 “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
38. Genesis 2:1-2 “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.”
God viewed his creation as good. In fact, on day six when he created humanity, he emphasized his creative endeavor as very good.
Praise the Lord for His gifts and use them for His glory
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8 ESV)
We all have gifts given to us by God. You may be good at organizing events or a skilled baker or have the ability to build things. Whatever gift you have, God wants you to use it for his glory and to serve others around you. These verses in Romans lay out a few gifts that some people may have and the attitudes we’re to exhibit through these gifts.
39. Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
40. Psalm 47:6 “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.”
41. 1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
42. James 1:17 “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
43. 1 Timothy 4:12-14 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.”
Scripture also talks about the spiritual gifts given to us by God.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 1to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 ESV)
It’s tempting to compare your gifts to others. Your gifts or abilities may feel too common. Being able to come up with a creative solution to a problem seems less exciting than someone who writes a worship song that gets sung on Sunday mornings.
The key to not comparing your gifts to others is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says,
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
It’s easy to forget this simple truth. Using your gifts and talents for God’s glory rather than your own is important. You can rest assured that your contributions are valuable to God because you’re doing it for him instead of doing it to be recognized. Knowing that God sees you using your gifts is all that matters. Keeping this in mind, we can praise God for the gifts he’s given us and use them to glorify God and serve others.
44. Romans 12:6 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith.”
45. 1 Corinthians 7:7 “I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”
46. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
Examples of art in the Bible
There are many references to artisans in scripture. Some of them include
- Potter working clay-Jeremiah 18:6
- Workmanship-Ephesians 2:10
- Knitting-Psalm 139:13
In scripture, we read about artisans and artists, such as
- David played the harp
- Paul made tents,
- Hiram worked with bronze
- Tubal-cain made instruments of iron and bronze
- Jesus was a carpenter
47. Exodus 31:4 “to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze.”
48. Jeremiah 10:9 “Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz from the hands of a goldsmith, the work of a craftsman. Their clothing is blue and purple, all the work of skilled artisans.”
49. Ezekiel 27:7 “Of embroidered fine linen from Egypt they made your sail, which served as your banner. Of blue and purple from the coasts of Elishah they made your awning.”
50. Jeremiah 18:6 (NKJV) “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!”
We know that God is a creator. He values creativity in his image bearers. You may not feel creative, but all humans have the ability to create in their own way. Acknowledging your ability to create and using this ability for the glory of God is key to glorifying God.