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Question and Answer

Was Jesus white? Why is He pictured as being white in Revelation 1:14–16?

Jesus was the son of David, and the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1; 22:42; Luke 3:34). His genealogies in both Matthew and Luke trace His ancestry through the lines of the Jewish nation (Matt. 1:1–17; Luke 3:23–38). Mary and Joseph had Him circumcised eight days after His birth according to the Mosaic law (Lev. 12:3). Then they presented Him according to the law of the redemption of the firstborn (Ex. 13:2, 12). Anna the prophetess spoke of Jesus to everyone awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). Moreover, the Magi recognized Jesus as the one born “king of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2). Therefore, it is clear that Jesus was Jewish. So Jesus cannot be classified as “white” in any racial or ethnic sense.

The Revelation passage mentioned in this question depicts the glorified Christ as having white hair (Rev. 1:14). His other features are not descriptions that identify Him racially or ethnically, but ontologically as deity. “His eyes were like blazing fire” and “his feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace” describe the risen Christ with words that transcend any categories of race. This description is of the One who is Lord over all.

Did Jesus ever actually claim to be the Son of God?

Jesus did claim to be God the Son by calling God, “My Father” (John 5:17–18). His Jewish audience understood His claim to deity and labeled it blasphemous. Similarly, Jesus later says, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30–33). His Jewish opponents wanted to stone Him for what seemed blasphemous to them, as they replied, “Because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (10:33). In His rejoinder, Jesus reiterates His deity, saying, “Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?” (10:36).

Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of Man” is a reference to being God the Son. When the chief priests and scribes demanded Him to answer as to whether or not He is the Christ, He replied, “But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God” (Luke 22:69). The Jewish leadership replied with the question, “Are you then the Son of God?” They grasped that the claim to be the Son of Man was a claim to be the Son of God. Jesus responded to their question: “You say that I am.” They concluded, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard this from His own lips” (22:70–71). In other words, with His own speech, Jesus indicated to them that He was the Son of God. He did not contradict their conclusion or say they misunderstood Him. They understood rightly His claim to deity.

Can you explain the Trinity so an ordinary person can understand?

It would be great if there were a really simple illustration or analogy that could explain the complex nature of the Trinity. But to describe our God as One who is three-in-one is not a simple matter.

The biblical doctrine of the Trinity contains three important principles: 1) There is only one God; 2) There are three persons in the one God; and 3) Each of these three persons is fully God. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “There are three Persons in the Godhead: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” This explanation is simple enough to understand, and can be defended easily by Scripture. Clearly, the Bible teaches the full deity of each member of the Trinity—the Father (Eph. 5:20; 1 Peter 1:2); the Son (Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8); and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3; Heb. 9:14).

Unfortunately, all human analogies for explaining the Trinity fall short at some point. Some have compared the complex relationship within the Trinity to the different states of chemicals; a person having three relationships (e.g., one man is a father, son, and brother); a three-leaf clover; a boiled egg (e.g., shell, white, yolk); or the triple point in chemistry—the point at which an element, under the right pressure exists simultaneously as a solid, liquid, and gas. But all these analogies fail to show the one distinct element displayed as three distinct entities in a perpetual relationship. Instead, the Trinity is an eternal relationship in which God is at once three distinct entities (Father, Son, Spirit).

These analogies help provide an idea of the Trinity, but they all are inadequate in giving a true and complete understanding of its complexity. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ, and knowledge of Scripture, can believers gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the Trinity.

BY Dr. Eric C. Redmond

Dr. Eric C. Redmond serves as a professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and as associate pastor of adult ministries at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Ill. He is married to Pam and they have five children. He is the author of Say It!  Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition (Moody Publishers), Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men's’ Questions about the Church (Crossway), a commentary on Jonah in the Christ-Centered Exposition Series (B&H Publishers), and a study guide on Ephesians in the Knowing the Bible series (Crossway).

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