Questions and Answers—Is the Halo a Christian Symbol? | Tomorrow’s World

Questions and Answers

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A well-known circle of light hides a darkness that Christians should reject.

Question: The halo has been a popular symbol used in Christian art for centuries—but I’ve noticed that you never use it when depicting any of Jesus Christ’s followers. Do you have something against the halo?

Answer: Indeed, the halo has for centuries adorned popular depictions of Jesus, Mary, angels, and saints. However, long before Jesus was born, pagan religions were already using the halo in depictions of their gods and leaders. The Encyclopedia Britannica explains that the halo is a “radiant circle or disk surrounding the head of a holy person, a representation of spiritual character through the symbolism of light. In Hellenistic and Roman art the sun-god Helios and Roman emperors often appear with a crown of rays. Because of its pagan origin, the form was avoided in Early Christian art, but a simple circular nimbus was adopted by Christian emperors for their official portraits…. In the 5th century it was sometimes given to angels, but it was not until the 6th century that the halo became customary for the Virgin Mary and other saints” (“Halo,”, April 28, 2023).

With this brief background in mind, we can turn to the Bible to see God’s view of the halo. Ancient Israel continually offended the true God by dabbling in the worship of other gods and incorporating pagan practices in attempting to worship the true God (cf. Deuteronomy 12:29–32; 1 Kings 3:2–3; 2 Chronicles 33:17). God’s command to the Israelites shows His hatred of pagan worship: “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things” (Deuteronomy 12:2–4).

God told the Israelites, once they entered the Promised Land, to break up or burn down everything related to the false gods of its former inhabitants. This instruction was often repeated (e.g. Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 7:5), and carefully followed by faithful kings like Hezekiah and Josiah (2 Chronicles 31:1–3; 34:1–7).

This matters to God because He knows that the use of pagan practices and symbols leads people toward false gods. He strongly commanded that “you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land… and make your sons play the harlot with their gods” (Exodus 34:13–16). God is “jealous” for His people and forbids their dabbling in pagan practices because they lead to “harlotry” with false gods. God often uses the imagery of filth, adultery, and harlotry when describing this form of sin (Judges 2:17; Ezekiel 6:9; Hosea 4:11–13).

Use of pagan halo symbolism fundamentally violates the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). This fundamental commandment reaches far; it forbids not just the direct worship of other gods or becoming an adherent of another religion, but also forbids integrating the beliefs, practices, customs, and symbols of false worship into worship of the true God (cf. Deuteronomy 12:4, 31; Matthew 6:7; Mark 7:6–8).

From the perspective of human reasoning, a circle around a person’s head on a painting seems relatively insignificant. But a Christian’s view of the halo should be the same as God’s, and Scripture consistently shows that God hates all practices, customs, and symbols related to other gods—including the use of halos.

For more information on how practices related to false gods crept into mainstream “Christian” worship, please request a free copy of Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity, or read it online at


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