There is a Bible verse that implies that Jesus has a tattoo, but in the context of Scripture, including the Old Testament laws and the typical dress codes of the priests and kings, it is unlikely. The description of His name (King of kings and Lord of lords) on His thigh in Revelation most likely refers to a banner that will bear His name when He returns as the conquering King.
Revelation 19:16 (ESV) On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Some Christians read this verse in the last book of the Bible and assume it means that Jesus has a tattoo. They then use this isolated scripture to help them answer the question: is it okay for Christians to get tattoos? But when it comes to Scripture and interpreting it, it is vital to consider the context (surrounding, relevant information) in order to understand and apply it correctly.
Let’s find out more about Jesus and His appearance when He came the first time, and when He returns—and whether he’ll have any tattoos!
Jesus Is the Fulfillment of the Law
Jesus, God the Son, emptied Himself of the glories of Heaven, came to Earth, took on the form of a man (Phil 2:7) and lived a perfect, sinless life. There was nothing about His appearance that made Him particularly noticeable (Is 53:1)—He looked like an average Jewish man.
Jesus made it clear that He didn’t come to get rid of the law, but to fulfill it—something sinful humans are incapable of. But God? Yes, God in the flesh could and did fulfill the law!
One of God’s laws was a command to not mark or tattoo your body (something the Israelites learnt from the pagan rituals of the Egyptians). So we can be certain that Jesus did not have a tattoo before His death on the cross.
Leviticus 19:28 (ESV) You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.
Matthew 5:17 (ESV) Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Jesus Is Our Great High Priest
We know that after Jesus died and rose again, He ascended into Heaven (Lk 24:51), and sat down at the right hand of God the Father (where He is now). There He intercedes for His followers which means He speaks to God the Father on our account (Rom 8:34).
Hebrews 8:1-2 (ESV) Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.
How does this help us solve the mystery of Jesus and His supposed “tattoo?”
Well, since Jesus is serving as a Heavenly high priest, there’s no reason to believe He would do so inappropriately, or partially dressed. A high priest wore intricate garments including a robe (Ex 28:4)—it was considered shameful to expose their thighs. It is highly unlikely that Jesus will return to Earth with His thighs exposed.
Many theologians agree that Jesus will likely wear a banner that rests against his thigh that bears that incredible name: King of kings and Lord of lords.
Jesus Is the King of kings
The description of Jesus in Revelation 19 (vs 12-16) is dramatic and rich with imagery! When Christ returns He will come in all His glory!
- Eyes like flames
- Multiple crowns
- Blood-dipped robe
- Sharp sword from His mouth
- “King of kings and Lord of lords” written on his robe and thigh
When we consider these verses in Revelation it should be the name written on his robe and thigh that grabs our attention, rather than the placement of it. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords!
This has always been true of Jesus, after all we know that He is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8)! He is still the fulfillment of the law, the perfect sacrifice, the lamb of God, He is our great High Priest, and He was, is, and will always be the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Have you accepted Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for your sins and bowed your knee before the King of kings? Are you united with Christ?
Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus Probably Won’t Come Back with a Tattoo
To reiterate, Jesus doesn’t have a tattoo, and despite the language used in Revelation 19, it’s unlikely He’s coming back with a tattoo on his thigh.
But He is coming back. And when He does, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Him as Lord.