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What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos in Revelations?

Ever find yourself wondering, "What does the bible say about tattoos in Revelations?" There are a few verses that allude to the concept or the idea of tattoos in this book of the Bible, which may seem contradictory to Old Testament beliefs held by individuals who practice Judaism and other orthodox sects of Christianity who believe the Bible to teach against the practice of tattoos. 

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos in Revelations

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos in Revelations:

Three key verses in Revelations refer to the possibility of tattoos. This is not meant to say that this is directly what the verses are saying, but it does provide a possible implication for tattoos that will be addressed later on. 

Revelation 7: 2-4 says: "Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given the power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:" ESV

Revelation 9: 2-4 says: "He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads." ESV

Revelation 9:16 says: "On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." ESV

What Can Be Learned About Tattoos from Revelation:

Two things about tattoos can be learned from these verses that we read in the book of Revelations. One, the servants of God, and those who accept and consider themselves adopted into the family of God could be marked with the seal of God on their foreheads. In chapter seven we see that the angel who had the seal of God told the other angels to cause no harm until he had sealed all the servants of God on their foreheads. Later on in chapter nine when the locus are released, they're specifically told to not destroy those who have the seal of God on their foreheads. To me, this indicates that they were specifically marked and set apart so that the locus knew to not destroy them. 

The second thing to note is the inscription on the thigh of Jesus. It would appear that in Revelation 9:16 that Jesus possibly has a tattoo on his thigh that reads, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords."

What Does the Old Testament Say About Tattoos:

One verse in the bible that people often refer to as an implication that tattoos are sinful is Leviticus 19:28 which reads, "You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD."-ESV All translations of the bible are pretty clear about this verse and all tend to point to "tattoos" as the thing we're trying to avoid. 

When considering verses in the bible like this, it is important to remember who was being spoken to, the culture, and what was happening. In this time of the Israelites before Christ, it was common to get a tattoo as a symbol of your tribal identity. What God is trying to teach the people of Israel in these verses is that their identity is found in God and not in their tribes and culture, and to not mark their bodies as such. 

Jesus' Death on The Cross and the New Covenant:

Jesus' death on the cross was a moment in time where the old covenant and the laws and regulations that were held in the Old Testament were no longer applicable and we became members of the new and everlasting covenant. This means that our salvation is not through our works and the things we do and don't do on this earth but through a belief in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. This isn't to say that Christians are free to get any and all tattoos and that they're able to live a lawless life. I do believe that there are certain implications that a Christian should consider when getting a tattoo, but making a modern decision about tattoos based on an Old Testament verse might not be the thing to base decisions on. 

5 Considerations for Christians Who Want a Tattoo:

For Christians who are looking into getting a tattoo, there are a few considerations that one should keep in mind if they're wondering if a tattoo is right for them:

  • Don't get a tattoo if it is of something evil/satanic, etc...
  • Don't get a tattoo as a punishment, self-deprivation, or to feel pain
  • Consider where you're going to place the tattoo... avoid getting a tattoo on part of your body that also might suggest or mean something inappropriate, explicit, or sexual.
  • The number of tattoos you have. Are you covering yourself head to toe in tattoos as a form of punishment, to cover parts of your body you're insecure about? 
  • What are you trying to say with the tattoo you're getting? 

Cultural Reasons to Get a Tattoo:

Proverbs 16:2 reads: "All the ways of man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit."-ESV When looking at this verse through the lens of getting a tattoo, I think it's important to consider the intention behind the tattoo and the spirit behind getting it. I believe there are some cultural implications that would make getting a tattoo completely fine, especially if you're trying to set yourself apart from the rest of your culture as being a part of the family of God.

Personally, I think that if a Christian is getting a tattoo and that tattoo is representing Jesus and the gospel, and they're doing it to be able to wear the name of Jesus wherever they go, then that is a great reason to get a tattoo if it is something that has been given a lot of consideration and they feel it is the right choice for them.

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