Does God See Colors?

In a bid to affirm that they are nonracist, some Christians have gone overboard to make such claims as “I am color blind.” By this, they mean that they do not see the various diversities that exist within the human race. To them, ALL MEN look alike. Although the intention behind such statement is noble, it is unbiblical. The Bible (God’s Word to man) recognizes our individual differences—God sees colors!

Like we have said, there is JUST ONE HUMAN RACE. But within that race exists a multiplicity of diversity. God’s Word does not recognize different human RACES but it DOES recognize ethnic groups, nations, tribes, languages and even skin colors. God honors how men have chosen to group themselves. In fact, He, in His Word, addresses people in their groups.

Two Hebrew words are used in the Old Testament in reference to this: “ammim” and “goyim.”

Ammim” means “peoples.” It is the plural of “am,” which is used over 1868 times in the OT. “Am” refers to a group of people with a corporate identity, for example, the people of Israel, the people of Egypt etc. It is usually translated as “laos” in the Greek.

This word “am” is used to refer to common folk, to differentiate them from royalty or the religious rulers. Thus, it can mean “laity.”

This word was used to describe a group of people larger than a tribe (the tribe is known as the “shebet” or “matteh” in the Hebrew). “Am” is often used for a nation; those who are are closely related or united, what we call “ethnic groups” in today’s parlance.

The other Hebrew word we see often used to describe people-groups is “goyim.” “Goyim” means “nations.” It is the plural form of “goy” and a synonym of “ammim.”

Goyim” refers to a defined body or group of people. It usually referred to the nations, particularly the pagan nations that surrounded Israel. They were often called “Gentiles” or “heathen.”

The word “goy” is used to describe people who have the same political, territorial and ethnic groupings. Both “ammim” and “goyim” are together used in Psalm 96:3

Psalm 96:3 (NKJV)

3 Declare His glory among the NATIONS (goyim), His wonders among all PEOPLES (ammim).

The new Testament portion of the Bible also uses the word “genos” which means nation, different in identity from other nations. Observe its usage in the following texts:

Acts 4:36 (NKJV)

36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the COUNTRY (genos: nation) of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 

Acts 18:1 (NKJV)

1 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, BORN IN PONTUS (the Greek says “a native of Pontus” that’s his ethnicity), who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 

So God’s Word recognizes nations and ethnic groups. Mark 7:26 speaks of a Syro-Phoenician woman, “The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.” She was from Syria. In Titus 1:10-13, the Apostle Paul mentions the “Cretans.”

You also find that the children of Israel are often described by their ethnicity:

Acts 7:19 (NKJV)

19 This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our FOREFATHERS (the JEWISH forefathers or progenitors. Ancestors speak of ethnicity), making them expose their babies, so that they might not live.  

Galatians 1:14 (NKJV)

14 And I advanced in JUDAISM (the Jewish faith and practices) beyond many of my contemporaries in my OWN NATION (genos), being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of MY FATHERS (the Jewish fathers).

Paul identified with his Jewish ethnicity, “circumcised the eighth day, of the STOCK (genos-nation) OF ISRAEL, of the TRIBE (phulé-clan) OF BENJAMIN, a HEBREW of THE HEBREWS; concerning the law, a PHARISEE”  (Phil 3:5).

Acts 2:9-11 lists different nations on the day of Pentecost as well, “9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs…”

So God’s Word sees and acknowledges different people-groups. There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong in saying “I am black,” “I am white” or “I’m Asian” etc. There is nothing wrong with identifying with your ethnicities.

In the Scriptures, God would speak to Israel and call them by their ethnicity:

Exodus 19:6 (NKJV)

6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL .”

He recognizes the people He is talking about.

Exodus 3:17 (NKJV)

17 and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of EGYPT (He knows there is a place called Egypt and its people are called Egyptians) to the land of the CANAANITES and the HITTITES and the AMORITES and the PERIZZITES and the HIVITES and the JEBUSITES (these are all nations and He recognizes them), to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’

God’s Word even recognizes different languages and accents:

1 Corinthians 14:10 (NKJV)

10 There are, it may be, SO MANY KINDS OF LANGUAGES in the world, and none of them is without significance.  

Paul, who was a Jew, spoke Greek, “Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can YOU SPEAK GREEK? Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” But Paul said, “I am a Jew FROM TARSUS, in CILICIA, a citizen of NO MEAN CITY; and I implore you, PERMIT ME TO SPEAK to the people.” (Acts 21:37-39)

Judges 12 records an interesting incident (during the civil war between Gilead and Ephraim):

Judges 12:5-6 (NKJV)

5 The Gileadites seized the fords of the Jordan before the Ephraimites arrived. And when any Ephraimite who escaped said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” 6 then they would say to him, “Then say, ‘Shibboleth’!” And he would say, “Sibboleth,” for HE COULD NOT PRONOUNCE IT RIGHT. Then they would take him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. There fell at that time forty-two thousand Ephraimites. 

The Ephraimites had a distinct accent, pronouncing the letter “shin” as if it was “sin.” Though the Gileadites and Ephraimites were of the same nation of Israel, and spoke the same language, yet their pronunciation differed. (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Similarly, Matthew 26:73 records how Peter’s accent revealed where he came from, “And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are ONE OF THEM, for YOUR SPEECH betrays you.” The word “speech” translates the Greek word “lalia” which means “dialect, mode of speech or pronunciation.” Peter was a Galilean, and they were known for pronouncing “sh” as “th,” mispronouncing the guttural sounds.

God’s Word (the Bible) recognizes different languages as well as accents. God DOES sees our diversity. He see our cultures, ethnicities, languages etc and He loves them!

God has NEVER let any ones’ language, tribe or even skin colour affect how He interacts with them. He sees PEOPLE FIRST, before colour. But He DOES see colour. For example, Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian CHANGE HIS SKIN (he sees the colour of our skin) or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.

The Ethiopians were descendants of Cush, the son of Ham (see Gen 10:6) and they were known for being dark skinned. So God saw their skin colour. He is not colourblind.

Esau is described in Genesis 25:25 as, “…RED. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.” The word “red” (“admoni” in the Hebrew) is what today’s parlance terms “ginger” or “redheads.” It refers to being very ruddy. Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, were known for their warm red skin colour. So they inherited those genes from their ancestor Esau.

The same is said of David in 1 Samuel 16:12, “…he was RUDDY (red), with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Solomon too inherited this physical appearance from his father David: “My beloved (Solomon) is white and RUDDY, chief among ten thousand” (Songs of Solomon 5:10). His skin colour was a mixture, whitish-red or bright-red.

The Bible even talks about Jesus’ skin colour!

Revelation 1:12-15 (NKJV)

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like FINE BRASS , as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;

The phrase “fine brass” translates the Greek word “chalkolibanon” (χαλκολίβανον) which means “bright yellow” or “brown” (dusky). So Jesus is described as having brown skin! This is not farfetched as He was a Middle Easterner (a descendant of Shem and a Jew) in the flesh.

Thus, even the Bible discusses different skin colors. God recognizes them, just like we do. But they don’t affect His actions IN ANY WAY.

You don’t have to deny that there are different skin colours to love people. God doesn’t. And this is why His Gospel is inclusive: He calls on ALL PEOPLES, EVERYWHERE to enjoy His goodness.


(For a thorough treatment of this subject, you may consult the sermon-series “God Wants The World! PART 2” by Pastor Josh Banks, which provides a Biblical perspective to the concepts of RACE, SKIN COLOUR and RACISM)


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2021.


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