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What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos In Revelations 19:16?

What does the Bible say about tattoos in Revelations 19:16?


As much as tattoos are gaining more popularity in our culture today, it is a question for many Christians if having a tattoo is a sin or not, and rightly so.

People give several reasons for getting tattoos: as a form of art expression, in memory of a loved one, or even just for fun. However, what does the Bible say about getting tattoos?

Is it a sin? 

Leviticus 19:28What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, or print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” [KJV]

This scripture is a popular reference by Christians why they believe that God is against having tattoos.

Many modern Bible translations use the word “tattoo.” However, the old King James Version uses the word “print.”

“Tattoo” was introduced to the English language in the 16th century, and the Hebrew word used transliterates as “writing marks.”

The word translated as “marks” is used once here in scripture with its root uncertain.

Does this make it any more complicated to understand what the Bible says in Leviticus 19:28?

The answer can be found by looking at the context of the scripture and the culture of the time.

God was giving a series of laws to His people, the Israelites, so they could be different from the nations around them (Deuteronomy 14:2).

The nations around them were pagan nations who served various gods and had various forms of worship for their gods.

One of which was making cuttings on their bodies for their gods (1 Kings 18:28) and for the dead.tattoos in the bible

They were nations that believed in necromancy (that is, calling up the dead and speaking with them) and usually made markings upon themselves for the dead.

God was simply listing out things that had defiled the nations, which the Israelites were to desist from doing (Leviticus 18:24) because these were the reasons He was driving them from the land to give Israel as a possession (Leviticus 20:23).

Israel was to have nothing to do with their customs and traditions.

They were to be a separate people (Leviticus 18:30, Leviticus 14:2). 

The instruction was clear and direct: “Do not copy the cultures of the nations around you because those acts lead to defilement.

There are still cultures today that make markings on their bodies for religious purposes, and this is clearly what Leviticus 19:28 was speaking against.

Does that make tattoos a sin?Does that make tattoos a sin

Tattoo involves making designs on the skin by inserting ink into the skin.

Historical evidence shows that tattooing has been a known practice for several centuries, with many ancient Egyptian and Asian tribes having it as part of their culture to indicate social ranking.

Ancient records also show that the ancient Greeks and Romans tattooed their slaves for identification.

In all, the point of tattoos is to change the pigmentation of the skin to form a design of some sort for diverse reasons.

In our modern culture, it is simply seen as a form of art by the general populace of those who indulge in it.

In light of the only scripture that hints at tattoos, they share similarities only based on the intentions of those getting a tattoo. If the tattoo is gotten as a form of worship or made for the dead, it becomes a sin.

Can Christians get tattoos?Can Christians get tattoos

As much as there is no clear Bible passage against changing the pigmentation of the skin to form designs on it (which is what tattoos basically are), Christians still have to be cautious about having tattoos.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us that your body (as a Christian) is the temple of the Holy Ghost.

You no longer live for yourself, but you now live for Christ.

You mustn’t get a tattoo simply because you fancy it.

According to this scripture, You need permission from the Lord to have one.

Your body belongs not to you but to God for His Holy Spirit to dwell in.

No matter how famous or widespread something is, it does not automatically make it right. 

Some reference Revelation 19:16 as evidence that God is not against tattoos, and it only depends on the intention. The passage reads thus: 

“On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” is tattoos against the bible

They argue that the name is written on the thigh and can only be achieved by tattooing. However, we have to consider the context of the passage.

John was witnessing a series of visions that were not entirely literal.

For instance, he gives descriptions of beasts with several horns.

He could talk (Revelation 13:1,11), a woman sitting on a beast with a cup in her hand (Revelation 17:3-4), frogs (Revelation 16:13), a sword going out of the mouth of “The Word of God” (Revelation 19:15) and so on, most were symbolic descriptions of things, some of which were given explanations by the angel with him. 

The name written on the thigh of our Lord, as described in Revelation, could also be a symbolic description of the authenticity of Jesus Christ as God and Judge.

Taking it as a license to tattoo your body may be walking in the error of misinterpreting scripture for personal gain or validity. 

Paul advises in 1 Corinthians 10:31 to do things to the glory of God, not our glory or men’s glory.

Going with the popularity of something already makes it walking in error because our standard must be God, not culture or fame.

We are to know what is pleasing to God and do it. We should not engage in anything that will not edify our body, soul, and spirit.what does the bible say about tattoos new testament

Having tattoos can generate sinning, especially when it is lust.

Some people clad themselves in tattoos because they have given themselves to their lust over it.

Just as adorning ourselves with jewelry or some forms of clothing can be lust, tattooing the body can be a form of lust.

The Bible tells us to be modest and do things in moderation so everyone around us will know (Philippians 4:5). 

Indulging in unrestricted lust is detrimental to the overall well-being of the Christian, which is why the Bible advises us to have control over our body and bring it into subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27).

The Holy Spirit in you is a Spirit that gives self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). We are not to be ruled by our wants and desires; we are to make them known to God, and He will supply all we need (Philippians 4:6,19).

Christians are meant to present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

To reiterate what has been said, our bodies no longer belong to us but to Christ, who has purchased us by His blood (Acts 20:28).

Therefore, our service is to Him daily, living for Him in everything.

How does getting a tattoo aid us in presenting our bodies to God as a living sacrifice or honoring God in any way?

If there is no support from scripture to have a tattoo to show devotion to God, it is best to avoid getting one.

Where does this put those who already have tattoos?what does god say about tattoos

In Christ, we all become new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Whatever was done before meeting Jesus was done in ignorance.

At salvation, all sins were blotted out (Acts 3:19) because Jesus paid the price on the cross for us (Colossians 2:14).

We were dead in our sins until Christ forgave all our sins and brought us to live in His righteousness (Colossians 2:13). 

There should no longer be a condemnation of those in Christ who already have permanent tattoos.

Before God, they are like new babies reborn into the family of God.

We should accept them as part of the family, brothers, and sisters who were once ignorant like the rest of us but have now received the light of the knowledge of God’s word. 

Takeaway about what does the bible say about tattoos in Revelations?does the bible say anything about tattoos

We can get wisdom from 1 Peter 3:3-4.

We are not to put in all efforts to adorn ourselves externally.

We are instead to adorn the inner man with gentleness and a quiet spirit.

Having tattoos in today’s pop culture is more about adorning the body with art designs. However, we have seen through the scriptures that not all things are expedient for us to indulge in, especially if they bring no form of edification. 

Some may want to inscribe Bible verses on their skin with tattoos as a form of statement, but you should be guided.

Ensure that whatever you do is not based on lust or self-will but on pleasing God.

Let the Lord direct your actions, or you may give the devil a foothold in your life.

Remember, to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6), and as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). 


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