Does Revelation 19:16 indicate that Jesus had a tattoo?

Writing of his vision of Jesus, John says in Revelation 19:16, "On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and LORD of lords." Some have taken this to mean that Jesus has a tattoo. But that is probably not the case.

For one thing, Jesus was Jewish and observant Jews living under the law knew that tattoos were taboo (Leviticus 19:28). Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic law, He did not violate it.

Secondly, the book of Revelation is filled with symbolism. It seems that the description in Revelation 19:16 is symbolic. Revelation 19:12 talks about Jesus having eyes like a flame of fire and verse 15 talks about a sword coming of out His mouth. The "tattoo" is likely similarly figurative.

Ancient kings would emboss their robes, and about anything else they could, with their titles. Jesus' robe, as John saw and described it, may have His title—King of kings and LORD of lords—embossed and draped across His thigh. Or perhaps the title is seen on His sword scabbard, a sash, or any number of things. But Jesus probably didn't show His thigh or violate Levitical law by having a tattoo.

Now, does this mean that Christians can't have a tattoo because what John saw was in all likelihood not a tattoo on Jesus? Here's what Paul wrote: "'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor" (1 Corinthians 10:23–24).

Seek what is good and builds up your neighbor, not just what is permissible. Will your tattoo show God to be good? Will it distract from your message of Good News, or add to it? Pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and allow God to guide you.

Related Truth:

What did Jesus look like?

Was Jesus a Jew?

What do we know about the real, historical Jesus? Who is Jesus?

Is getting a tattoo a sin?

Are tattoos okay if they are Christian in nature?

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