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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.

BY Eric C. Redmond

Eric C. Redmond serves as an assistant 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 Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Mens’ 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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