Did Jesus Have Long Hair?


The Bible clearly reveals that Jesus Christ, when He was here on earth as a human being, did not wear long hair. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:14: “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?” It would therefore be inconceivable to assume that Jesus would have worn long hair.

Some have misunderstood a passage in the book of Matthew, erroneously claiming that Christ was a “Nazirite” (also spelled Nazarite in the Authorized Version) and that He therefore wore long hair. However, Christ was not a Nazirite, but a Nazarene. The passage in Matthew 2:23 reads:

“And he [Joseph] came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He [Christ] shall be called a Nazarene.'”

Jesus was called a Nazarene, because He lived and grew up in the city of Nazareth. He was not a “Nazirite.” The sixth chapter of the book of Numbers describes the law of the “Nazirites.” Those who took the vow of a Nazirite did not cut their hair, but they were also prohibited from drinking any wine or touching a dead body (Numbers 6:4-6). Christ, however, did drink wine (Luke 22:14-18; Matthew 11:19), and He did touch dead bodies (Luke 8:51-55).

If Christ had been a Nazirite, He would have broken His vow and thereby violated one of God’s laws. But He said that He had kept His Father’s commandments (John 15:10), including all ritual laws still in force and effect at His time, and we read that He never sinned. The Bible defines sin, however, as the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4, Authorized Version). Therefore, Christ could NOT have been a Nazirite.

Christ was a Jew, and He looked like an ordinary Jewish man, without special beauty in appearance (compare Isaiah 53:2). Judas had to identify Him to others with a kiss. He was able to escape on occasion, by mingling with the crowd and going “through the midst of them” (Luke 4:30; John 8:59). Apart from the Bible, archeology and history also confirm as well that the Jews at the time of Christ did not wear long hair. Christ, therefore, did not either–otherwise, He would have stood out in a crowd, and a special identification through Judas would not have been necessary.

Recently, Israeli and British forensic anthropologists and computer programmers got together to create Christ’s face featured in “Popular Mechanics,” a 1.2 million circulation magazine. They did not mean to imply that Christ actually looked the way the magazine cover portrayed Him, as they used the skull of a Jew from the first century — not, of course, the actual skull of Jesus. They nevertheless determined that Christ did not wear long hair. Other experts agree with that conclusion. On February 24, 2004, Reuters wrote:

“‘… Jesus didn’t have long hair, said physical anthropologist Joe Zias, who has studied hundreds of skeletons found in archeological digs in Jerusalem.’ [He also mentioned:] ‘Jewish men back in antiquity did not have long hair.’ ‘The Jewish texts ridiculed long hair as something Roman or Greek,’ said New York University’s Lawrence Schiffman. Along with extensive writings from the period, experts also point to a frieze on Rome’s Arch of Titus, erected after Jerusalem was captured in AD 70 to celebrate the victory, which shows Jewish men with short hair taken into captivity. Erroneous descriptions of Jesus in Western art have often misled film makers in their portrayal of Jesus, experts say.”

It is important to realize that virtually all depictions of Christ don’t accurately reflect His appearance as a human being on earth. He did not wear long flowing hair, and He did not look like a woman. He was a carpenter, a builder, and He was also the leader of former fishermen. Even His hair color was probably not blond — as depicted on most paintings — but black, as the Hebrew people at the time of Christ were recognized as having predominantly black hair.

In any event, Paul tells us that we are not to “know” Christ “according to the flesh.” We read in 2 Corinthians 5:16 (Phillips): “… even though we knew Christ as a man, we do not know him like that any longer.”

It is dangerous to focus on images and pictures of Christ, including portrayals of Christ by actors in movies, and think that in some way those portrayals may accurately represent how Christ might have looked. We are to focus on Christ as He is now — a powerful Spirit being! To get a correct portrayal of Christ’s present appearance, please read Revelation 1:14-16. Christ has white hair — as white as wool or snow — and His eyes are like flames of fire, while His face shines like the sun in full strength. THAT is the Jesus Christ of the Bible — God the Son, who is worthy of worship!

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