I can’t find one instance of a “wedding ring” in Scripture. What we do see in Scripture is the “signet ring,” which was a symbol of authority and social status. A good example of this is seen in Genesis 41:42, “Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck” (NKJV). The signet ring was used for signing documents, for the seal of the ring was impressed on a clay document which showed the authority of the person wearing the ring (see Esther 3:10-12 for another example).

Before we look at the actual origin of the wedding ring, let’s also read Luke 15:22, “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a RING ON HIS HAND and sandals on his feet.” This verse is in the well-known parable of the “Prodigal Son.” When he returned home to his father in true repentance the father showed his favor towards him by donning him with these three things. Some commentators believe the ring was, as we have seen, the “signet ring” and the restored son was given a place of authority along with his father. Others believe the ring was a “sign of SONSHIP,” for the father went on to say in verse 24, “For this SON of mine was DEAD and has come to LIFE again; he was lost and has been found.” In short, putting a ring on his hand signified that he was restoring the relationship they once had; he was now HIS SON once again!

This thought of RELATIONSHIP is what the “wedding ring” has always symbolized. It is believed the wedding ring originated in ancient Egypt where people would exchange “rings of love.” The “circle” was a symbol of “eternity” and thus the ring served to show “the perpetual love of the spouses.” They placed it on the ring finger of the left hand, believing that “this finger enclosed a special vein that was connected directly to the heart, denominated in Latin the ‘Vena amoris’.” This belief and custom of exchanging “rings of love” were embraced by other peoples and cultures and it is the custom in most countries today.

It is said that this custom came into use in Christian wedding ceremonies in the 9th century. Though based upon the old Egyptian custom, Christians look upon it as a symbol of “perpetual commitment to the marriage relationship.” Scripture definitely teaches that marriage is a lifetime commitment (see Matthew 19:3-9 and Romans 7:1-3), so the ring can certainly be used to remind the husband and wife of that commitment. But it is NOT a requirement, and thus it is not a matter of “right or wrong” in adhering to this custom. (297.3) (DO)