FAQ: Should a Christian Own Pictures and Statues of Jesus (Exodus 20:4)?

The second commandment prohibits the use of anything that represents God or could easily become an object of worship: "You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" (Exodus 20:4). Since Jesus Christ is God (Hebrews 1:8), this would directly prohibit any picture or likeness of His person.

In addition, so-called pictures or statues of Christ have no similarity whatever to the way Jesus Christ really looked. Most representations of Jesus depict a man with long hair, soft feminine features, and a sentimental, sanctimonious look in his eyes. This is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible!

For starters, notice that the apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 11:14: "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?" First-century society frowned on long hair as shameful. Busts, statues, and other art of that time and region show men with short hair in the Roman style.

The Bible describes Jesus in masculine terms. For instance, as a young man, He was a carpenter—working outdoors and doing rigorous labor (Mark 6:3). In fact, He continued to spend most of His time outdoors even during His ministry. He twice chased moneychangers out of the Temple courts, something no weakling would consider doing (John 2:13-17; Mark 11:15-17). He had the vitality to fast for forty days (Matthew 4:2), as well as to endure two scourgings, along with at least one beating before He was crucified (see Matthew 26:67; 27:26-31; John 19:1). He was not effeminate in any way.

Christ inspired the prophet Isaiah to describe His human appearance in this way: "For He shall grow up before Him [the Father] as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form nor comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2). As a human being, Jesus was a normal, healthy young Jew. There was nothing in his physical form that made Him stand out in a crowd.

Therefore, most crucifixes, pictures, and images of Jesus are in total opposition to every description given of Him in the sacred Word of God. They give a false impression of the true Jesus Christ in every respect.

If we think of Jesus' appearance at all, we should think, in general terms at least, of the way He looks today in His glorified state as our Savior, High Priest, and soon-coming King. The apostle John describes His present appearance as he saw Him in a vision in these words: "His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire" (Revelation 1:14). His overall countenance is as the sun shining in its full strength (verse 16). Why dwell on His earthly appearance when He is the Forerunner of what we can become (I John 3:2; see also I Corinthians 15:42-54; Romans 8:18, 30)?

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