In Revelation 1:12–16, Jesus is described using multiple similes such as “the hair on His head was white like wool, as white as snow” (Revelation 1:14). John the apostle, the author of Revelation, is in the presence of Jesus Christ in chapter 1. Throughout this chapter, John provides an introduction and an account of his vision of Jesus Christ. Jesus will then give John the imperative to record “what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later” (Revelation 1:19).
In his description of Jesus, John utilizes the images of wool and snow to symbolize the color of Jesus’ hair in the vision. As John sees Jesus for the first time in Revelation, he simply describes Jesus’ appearance. Throughout the Bible, authors utilize various figures of speech to emphasize a fact or observation. The meanings of these figures of speech are not left to the reader to determine in some obscure way; rather, the meanings are intended to be discovered utilizing context and other passages.
In examining Revelation 1:14, we should remember at least three things. One, John is seeing a vision, and what he sees is symbolic, not literal. Second, John is using an obvious simile: Jesus’ hair is like wool; it is not actually wool. And, third, John is describing the color of Jesus’ hair in the vision, not the texture. The hair is only like wool in that it is white—John also compares the color to that of snow.
Why might John have described the hair of Jesus, and what was his intended meaning in saying that it was “white like wool”? There are many aspects of Jesus’ appearance John could have described, but he focused on just a few, including the color of Jesus’ hair. As Paul shows in Galatians 3:16, every detail of Scripture has significance—John described what he did for a reason. Jesus’ hair being white like wool creates an interesting connection with Daniel 7:9.
Daniel 7 records an eschatological vision giving details about the millennial kingdom (cf. Revelation 20:1–6) and the One who will reign in an everlasting kingdom. In Daniel 7:9, Daniel sees the “Ancient of Days,” the covenant-keeping God of the Bible, Yahweh. In this description of God, Daniel describes His clothing as “white as snow” and His hair as “white like wool.” The whiteness of the clothing and hair, in both Daniel 7 and Revelation 1, speak of purity and holiness. God is holy and completely unstained by sin.
In the next verses, “one like a son of man” (later revealed as Jesus Christ) approaches the Ancient of Days and receives from Him a never-ending kingdom (Daniel 7:13–14). The description of Jesus’ hair in Revelation 1:14 is the same as Daniel used for God, showing that Jesus has a oneness and shared identity with God Himself. It is likely that John’s original audience would have quickly made this connection.
Jesus claimed in His earthly ministry, “Before Abraham was even born, I Am!” (John 8:58, NLT), pointing to the self-proclaimed name of God in Exodus. Paul claims the deity of Jesus as well in Colossians 1:15–20. The deity of Christ is proclaimed throughout the Bible, including the symbol of Revelation 1:14.
Jesus’ hair is “white like wool” in Revelation 1:14 to emphasize the holiness, purity, and perfection of the sinless Lord.