CHRIST, THE IMAGO DEI
(Col 1:15) 05/14/17
Grace Bible Church, Gillette, Wyoming
Pastor Daryl Hilbert
I. CHRIST, THE IMAGE OF GOD
A. Image of God
1. Polemic Value of Eikōn
a. Though Paul was dealing with Pre-Gnostic and Judaistic false teaching, the issue was far greater. It centered on the doctrinal truth of the deity of Christ. Was Christ God or not?
b. Paul chose to use the Greek word eikōn to prove that Christ was God. If we do not properly understand eikōn, we may fall into the false teaching that denies the deity of Christ seeing Him as 1) one of many aeons, 2) an aberration of a divine /human Savior, 3) or a mere man, having been the first created being.
c. In addition, we may miss this strong argument of the deity of Christ portrayed by Paul’s use of eikōn.
2. Definition of Eikōn
a. Physical representation (artistic) of someone or something.
1) Coin - Luk 20:24;
2) Statue - Rom 1:23; Rev 13:14).
b. Non-physical representation of someone or something.
1) Man in the image of God - Gen 1:26-27; 1Co 11:7.
2) Believer in the image of Christ - Rom 8:29; Col 3:1.
c. True and real representation or manifestation of someone or something.
1) Reality - Heb 10:1)
2) Full manifestation of God - 2Co 4:4.
3. Explanation of Eikōn Applied to Christ
a. Difference between Man and Christ
1) Man was created in the “image of God.” Christ was given a human nature and body that was also created in the image of God. Yet Christ is clearly different than man according to the reference in Col 1:15 that He was the “image of God.”
2) When it is stated that man was created in the image of God, note that he was created “in” the image of God. Whereas Paul declared that Christ “is” the image of God.
3) The idea of man being created “in” the image of God does not equate man with God. Rather, it depicts man as having limited characteristics of God such as: intellect, volition, emotions, rationality, morality, though all of these have been tainted by sin since the fall.
4) Christ on the other hand, though he also possesses human intellect, volition, emotions, rationality, morality, He is not tainted by sin.
5) Nevertheless, when Christ is referred to as the image of God, it is a reference to the third definition of eikōn. Christ is the true and real representation or manifestation of God.
6) It is nothing short of saying that as the true manifestation of God, Christ is truly God with the full substance, nature, attributes, and characteristics of God. He is very God of very God.
b. Scripture’s Description of Christ as the image of God
1) Christ is the Full and Final Revelation of God (Heb 1:1-2; Joh 1:18).
2) Christ is the Exact Manifestation of God’s Nature (Heb 1:3).
3) Christ is Perceived as God (Joh 14:9).
4) Christ is the Form of God (Php 2:6).
5) Christ is God (Joh 1:1; Joh 8:58).
c. Comments on Christ as the eikōn of God
1) (Eikōn) does not imply a weakening or a feeble copy of something. It implies the illumination of its inner core and essence (TDNT).
2) To call Christ the image of God is to say that in Him the being and nature of God have been perfectly manifested-that in Him the invisible has become visible. (F.F. Bruce).
3) What Paul meant by it was that the Lord Jesus was the unique perfect likeness and manifestation of God. In other words, he is the great and final theophany (SLJ).
4) Christian antiquity has ever regarded the expression 'image of God' as denoting the eternal Son's perfect equality with the Father in respect of His substance, power, and eternity The Son is the Father's Image in all things save only in being the Father (Ellicott).
5) By using the term eikōn, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is both the representation and manifestation of God. He is the full, final, and complete revelation of God. He is God in human flesh. That was His claim and the unanimous testimony of Scripture. To think anything less of Him is blasphemy and gives evidence of a mind blinded by Satan (MacArthur).
B. The Invisible God
1. God is Spirit
a. We learn in Scripture that God is spirit (Joh 4:24). He is incorporeal, that is, without a body.
b. He is described as “invisible” which is the Greek word aoratos which literally means not visible. However, non visible does not mean nonexistent.
c. Indeed, He is the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, [to whom] be honor and glory forever and ever (1Ti 1:17).
2. Invisible Attributes
a. Though God is incorporeal, we see His invisible hand in and among the visible world.
b. Even His “invisible attributes” (aoratos - “invisible things concerning Him”), “eternal power” (aidios dunamis - “everlasting and unceasing power”), and “divine nature” (theiotês - divine characteristics) have left a divine imprint in and upon creation (Rom 1:20).
c. In fact, the existence of the invisible God is so apparent in His creation that rational men who have been created in His image have no excuse for denying Him (Rom 1:20).
II. CHRIST, THE FIRSTBORN OVER ALL CREATION
A. Polemic Value of Prōtotokos
1. From the Arians in the second century, the Jehovah Witnesses of our day, and most likely the Pre-Gnostics and Judaizers influencing the Colossian church, the meaning of the “firstborn of all creation” has been disputed.
2. They argue that Christ was the first and highest of God’s creation, making him a created being and not God.
B. Explanation of Prōtotokos Applied to Christ
1. “Firstborn” is the Greek word prōtotokos (prōtos - first, tokos childbirth). It can literally mean the first child born to a family. Jesus was Mary’s firstborn son (Luk 2:7).
2. However, it also has a metaphorical meaning which implies a person’s rank and/or their right to an inheritance. Scripture gives examples of this second meaning.
a. Israel was called God’s firstborn, though certainly not the first created nation (Exo 4:22).
b. Jacob received Esau’s firstborn birthright (Gen 25:30-34; Gen 27:36)
c. Jacob blessed Joseph’s second-born with the firstborn blessing (Gen 48:14-20).
d. It was a term applied to the preeminence of the Messiah (Psa 89:27).
3. Incorporating context into the interpretation, Paul explains (“for”) that Jesus was not the first created being, but Creator (Col 1:16). The only correct conclusion is that Christ is God.
4. The phrase could understandably be translated as “firstborn ‘over’ all creation” (NET) because God the Son has been exalted to highest rank after accomplishing redemption and reconciliation.
III. OBSEVATIONS AND APPLICATIONS
A. Worship Value of Eikōn
1. While Paul is arguing against weak theology, he is doing much more. As Moule also wrote (ibid., p. 73), Paul is not only discoursing, still less discussing; he is worshipping. For Paul, theology was not an interesting philosophic topic to debate. Theology always led Paul into worship as he contemplated the excellency and glory of Jesus Christ.
2. We must worship Him as God.
3. Mothers will pass on to their children the value of worship by their worship, action, church attendance, Bible Study.
4. It is hard to convince your children to worship Christ as God, when so much of the iconic things in this life take precedence over Christ.
B. Comfort Value of Eikōn
1. Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
2. Jesus could only do this if he was God. Therefore it has been a generational comfort to all believers, including you and me.
3. Mothers, there is no denying the enormous task, let me say tasks that you have. But the greatest comfort the Scriptures give is that Christ is in you, the hope of glory, and He is God.
C. Transformation Value of Eikōn
1. Rom 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.
2. Col 3:10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him--
a. We were created in the image of God. As believers we are being conformed to the image of Christ.
b. When man sin, he did not lose the image of God, but the image of God became tainted. The intellect became foolish and attempts to declare there is no God.
c. But when we come to Christ, God puts us back on the easel and He begins removing the taint of sin upon the image of God and He begins to conform the believer in the image of Christ.
3. Mothers, your greatest work is not to make your child the next great American icon, Rather it is cooperating with God and doing everything you can to conform your children and grandchildren in the image of Christ.
a. By your knowledge of Christ from the Scriptures and all that it means to be conformed to the image of Christ
b. By allowing your family to see Christ in you, moment by moment , year after year.
Grace Bible Church · 4000 E. Collins Rd · PO Box #3762 · Gillette, WY · (307) 686-1516