What Does a Red Letter Bible Mean?
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What Does a Red Letter Bible Mean?


A red letter Bible is a unique and visually striking tool that helps readers navigate the teachings and words of Jesus Christ with ease. This distinctive approach has been utilized for centuries, highlighting the significance and impact of Christ’s words within the context of the Christian faith. As believers, it is crucial to understand the teachings of Jesus, as they provide us with a moral compass, a sense of purpose, and a foundation for our faith. In this blog post, we will explore the history, significance, and benefits of the red letter Bible, as well as the New King James Version (NKJV) translation, which we will cite throughout.

The use of red ink to emphasize Jesus’ words in the Bible is not just an aesthetic choice but serves a deeper purpose. By visually separating His teachings from the rest of the text, readers are encouraged to reflect on the profound wisdom and guidance that Christ offers. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the red letter Bible, so you can appreciate and effectively utilize this invaluable resource in your spiritual journey.

The History of the Red Letter Bible

The concept of using red ink to denote the words of Jesus Christ can be traced back to the Middle Ages when scribes used red ink to emphasize important text within religious manuscripts. This practice, called “rubrication,” was eventually applied to the words of Jesus in the Bible. The first red letter Bible was published in 1899 by Louis Klopsch, an American Bible editor who was inspired by the words of Jesus in Luke 22:20 (NKJV): “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Klopsch believed that using red ink to emphasize Jesus’ words would help readers better understand and appreciate their significance.

The Significance of the Red Letter Bible

The primary purpose of the red letter Bible is to highlight the teachings and wisdom of Jesus Christ. By focusing on these passages, believers can gain insight into the core values of Christianity and develop a more profound relationship with God. One such example is the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew chapters 5-7 (NKJV), where Jesus provides guidance on various aspects of life, such as prayer, forgiveness, and how to treat others.

The red letter Bible also serves as a reminder of the divinity of Jesus. In John 1:1 (NKJV), the Bible states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” By emphasizing Jesus’ words in red, readers are reminded of His divine nature and the importance of His teachings for Christian faith and practice.

Benefits of the Red Letter Bible

There are several benefits to using a red letter Bible in one’s spiritual journey. First, it allows readers to quickly identify and locate Jesus’ words throughout the New Testament. This can be especially helpful during Bible study or when seeking guidance in times of need. For example, Jesus’ comforting words in John 14:27 (NKJV) can provide solace during challenging times: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Second, the red letter Bible encourages readers to contemplate Jesus’ teachings and apply them to their lives. By focusing on these highlighted passages, believers can develop a deeper understanding of Christian values and principles, strengthening their faith in the process. An example of this can be found in Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV), where Jesus outlines the greatest commandments: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” Meditating on these words can guide Christians in their daily interactions and decision-making.

Third, the red letter Bible serves as a constant reminder of the centrality of Jesus in the Christian faith. It emphasizes the importance of His teachings, His role as the Savior, and the transformative power of His love and grace. For instance, John 3:16 (NKJV) highlights the essence of the Gospel message: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

The New King James Version (NKJV) and Red Letter Bibles

The New King James Version (NKJV) is a modern translation of the Bible that maintains the beauty and accuracy of the original King James Version while updating the language for contemporary readers. The NKJV is available in red letter editions, making it an excellent choice for those who wish to study Jesus’ teachings in depth. The use of red lettering in the NKJV allows readers to easily locate and reflect upon Jesus’ words, enhancing their understanding and application of these vital teachings.

Incorporating the Red Letter Bible into Your Spiritual Practice

Incorporating a red letter Bible into your spiritual practice can help deepen your relationship with God and enrich your understanding of Jesus’ teachings. Some ways to make the most of a red letter Bible include:

  1. Regularly read and reflect upon the red letter passages during your daily devotions. This will help you internalize Jesus’ teachings and apply them to your life.
  2. Use the red letter Bible during Bible study sessions, either individually or with a group. This can foster engaging discussions and shared insights into the significance of Jesus’ words.
  3. Pray and meditate on the red letter passages, asking God for wisdom and guidance in understanding and applying these teachings to your life.


In conclusion, the red letter Bible is a powerful tool that can enrich your spiritual journey by bringing the teachings of Jesus Christ into sharper focus. By utilizing a red letter Bible, such as the New King James Version, you can enhance your understanding of Christ’s teachings, deepen your relationship with God, and grow in your Christian faith.

Embracing the red letter Bible can lead to a more profound appreciation of the wisdom and guidance that Jesus offers. As you study and meditate on His words, you may discover new insights that can transform your faith and your life. May your journey with the red letter Bible be one filled with growth, understanding, and the transformative power of Christ’s love.

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.