Most people are aware of the traditional portrayal of the image of Jesus. The long haired white man most commonly used by the vast majority of the Christian world today. It doesn’t take too much investigation or common sense to come to the realization that this image is not and in no way can be what the actual Jesus who walked the earth 2000 years ago looked like.
There is however a movement that claims that Jesus was not only not white but in fact Jesus was black. Many parts of this movement also claim that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were also black as are the “true” Israelites.
This writing is not intended to prove that Jesus or anyone else was any specific colour it is solely intended to answer the biblical verses used by those that claim that Jesus was black and that the Bible depicts him as such. Here I will only be answering the biblical evidence for the physical appearance of Jesus and nothing more.
There are in fact only 2 passages of the Bible that are offered as evidence that Jesus himself was black based on the description of Jesus given in the Bible.
The first and most often used passage is in the book of Revelation.
Revelation 1- 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
So it is claimed that Jesus had hair like wool which is used to demonstrate the tight curly afro hair of black people and also that his colour was that of brass with this meaning Jesus was of a dark brown colour.
So lets see if the claim stands up to scrutiny.
The first thing that we need to understand is that this ISNT actually Jesus that is being described although it does resemble the image of Jesus.
The simple fact is that when John turns to see who was talking to him in revelation he actually sees one LIKE unto the son of man, NOT the son of man himself We are told this in the 2 previous verses
Revelation 1- 12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
John actually saw an Angel. This was the angel that Jesus has sent unto John. This is made very cleat at the beginning of the book of Revelation.
Revelation 1-1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John
God gave the revelation of Jesus that God gave him, Jesus gave it to his angel and the Angel went and gave it to John. So when John is spoken to and turns to see who it is it is this angel that he sees. Now the angel looked LIKE the son of man so the description of what the angel looked like was a representation of what the son of man looked like but wasn’t actually Jesus.
What is more important to notice is that this depiction of Jesus in Revelation is referencing aresurrected Christ after he has ascended to heaven. This is Jesus in his glorified body. There is no reference whatsoever to the body of Jesus that walked the earth as a Jewish man before his death burial and resurrection. To try and link the reference in Revelation to the physical man Jesus is a complete and utter distortion of scripture and is either due to a lack of study or a purposeful deception.
But let’s continue and analyze the description itself.
Let’s start with the claim that Jesus had afro style hair.
Revelation 1- 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
This verse states his hair was WHITE like wool not that his hair was like wool. The comparison is regarding the colour not the texture. To further illustrate the whiteness rather than the texture we then have a 2nd comparison with snow, both are referring to the colour not what it looked like. It must also be noted that it doesn’t just make reference to his hair but his head also. Not only is his hair white but also his head I have yet to see a black man with a white head.
Furthermore why is it only the first part of the verse is used as evidence. If the first part of the verse is used to prove the way that Jesus physically looked like then why wouldn’t the second part also be used, “his eyes were as a flame of fire”. How many black men have eyes as a flame of fire. Im yet to meet any man regardless of colour that possesses this physical attribute although it could be argued this could be referencing a red eye colour possessed by those who are albino but this would be assumption rather than fact and most advocates of a black Jesus do not use the second part of the verse in their argument.
Then we have verse 15
Revelation 1- 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters
It is this verse that is used to demonstrate the dark skin colour of Jesus. The claim being made that Jesus had feet the colour of brass that had been burned in a furnace. Therefore Jesus had dark “burnt” colour skin.
So lets again analyze what the verse actually says against the claim.
The verse starts by saying “And his feet like unto fine brass”. Notice the word fine before the word brass. The colour was like fine brass not burnt brass. Fine brass (polished) is not brown or black but a golden or yellowish colour
The Greek word translated “fine brass” is chalkolibanÅ orichalcum, meaning a fine metal, or frankincense of a yellow color.
The verse then states “as if they burned in a furnace” (present tense) so the colour is linked to BEING burned in a furnace not having already been burned in the furnace. The Greek word here is πεπυρωμÎνης pepyrÅmenÄ”s this is the perfect participle from of the word πυρáω pyroÅ. It literally means made to glow.
Anyone that has seen metal being burned in a furnace will know that it causes a very bright white/yellow light. So bright in fact that those working with the metal in the furnace wear special eye protection goggles. We must also take the second part of the verse and apply this as well. “and his voice as the sound of many waters”. Can this really be stated of black men, or any man for that matter.
Again the claim just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. The scripture is simply twisted or misrepresented in order to make it appear to be saying something that is actually isn’t.
Both the eyes like fire and the feet like fine brass are stated again in revelation 2-18
Revelation 2-18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
The description of Jesus continues on in verse 16 although this is not quoted by those who use verses 14 and 15 but as verse 16 is a continuation of the description we must also look at what it says and be consistent and apply this in the same way as verses 14 and 15.
Revelation 1- 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
Here Jesus is depicted with a twoedged sword coming out of his mouth. “and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword”
I am yet to find anyone that can give a convincing argument as to why this would be referencing a black man, I don’t think I need to offer any other statement than this but if we are going to take part of the description as literal we must take ALL the description as literal as we have no indication that any is meant to be taken non literally while other parts are. To state some are literal and others are not is to make personal assumptions that are not indicated in the text itself.
Then we have “and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.”
Countenance being the Greek word áψις opsis meaning the features, outward appearance his face his look was like the sun in its strength meaning in its brightness.
The outward appearance of Jesus was like the sun in its brightness. We see this kind of reference when Jesus appeared to Saul (who became Paul) on the road to Damascus.
We are told about Jesus appearing before Saul in acts 9
Acts 9 – 1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
Saul saw a light from heaven.
Acts 9- 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
When Saul/Paul recounts the event we are told that the light was above the brightness of the sun.
Acts 26-13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
The word “above” in the above the brightness of the sun is the Greek word áπáρ hyper meaning above, beyond, greater than
The brightness of Jesus being beyond the brightness of the sun.
Jesus calls himself the light of the world
John 8-12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
When we go back to acts 9 we see that Saul/Paul was actually blinded by this light for 3 days.
Acts 9- 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
In the new Jerusalem there is no need for the sun as The lamb, Jesus, is the light thereof.
Revelation 21- 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
Jesus is the brightness of the glory of God
Hebrews 1-3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
At the transfiguration of Jesus, Peter James and John saw a vision of Jesus in his glorified body.
Matthew 17- 1And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Again we are told that the face of Jesus did shine as the sun.
The Prophet Daniel saw the glorified Jesus during a vision he was given. He described the appearance of what he saw.
Daniel 10-6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
Again we see that the feet (and this time arms also) were as POLISHED brass not burned brass. The Hebrew word translated as polished is qÄ-lÄl; ×Ö×ÖÖ’× which means burnished which literally means to be polished. This again would mean a golden/yellowish colour not a dark brown one.
We must also again be consistent. If we are going to use one part of the description in this verse we must also use all the description in this verse. The body is likened to beryl. The Hebrew word translated as beryl is ×ÖÖ×Ö×Ö×××× tarshish which means a yellow or golden precious stone most likely to be a yellow jasper.
The face is as the appearance of lightning and the eyes as lamps of fire. None of which has any likeness to a black man.
The use of these verses to show that Jesus was a black man work only if you take the representation of the verses by those making the claim, without any investigation into what the verses are actually saying, ignore parts of the verses and misrepresent them in a way that allows you to represent them in a way to support the claim. This is either through ignorance or dishonesty, either way the claim the Bible describes Jesus as being black is incorrect.