The risen Jesus, as the image of God, bridges the gap between an invisible, incomprehensible deity and a fallen creation. In Col the image of God represents the full revelation of divine essence Col , It is this visibly radiant Christ whom Paul speaks of as the image of God. The contextual discussion ; cf. Yet, the language is also reminiscent of Gen , and the allusions to Adam as the radiant and glorious image of God lead us to believe that Paul is also contrasting Jesus to Adam. Having seen how Paul views the image of God with respect to Christ, it is now left for us to understand the image of God as Paul relates it to mankind.
What we will see in this part of our study is that Paul thought of Jesus as an archetype of ideal humanity—a pattern to which Christians are conformed.
Professor Paul Trebilco, Our people, Theology Programme, University of Otago, New Zealand
In Colossians chapter three Paul exhorts the Colossian believers to live morally and righteously because of the present reality of their resurrection in Christ Col ; Rom In vv. With the conversion of a person to Christianity comes a resurrection of the inner person.
Thus, the image serves as an archetype to which the new person is progressively being aligned. It would appear, in light of Col , that Christ is the archetypal image mentioned here. In many ways Eph closely parallels Col Both passages are found within an ethical context, where proper Christian behavior is being contrasted with non-Christian behavior. As in Col , Paul uses imago Dei language in Eph to refer to a behavioral archetype which the new person is to resemble.
The underlying idea is that those Ephesian believers who continually practice righteousness and holiness would progressively become more like the human being which God intended for them to be. Eph As believers proclaim the gospel and act righteously 2 Cor their inner person is being progressively renewed cf. Col , though the outer body is still destined for death in its present state.
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Thus, in 2 Cor Paul sees the image of God as twofold. Second, these believers will be physically transformed into the image of God at their future bodily resurrection. In both cases the risen Jesus is the archetypal image to which Christians are being transformed. Moving from the concept of the imago Dei as present moral action and improvement, it remains for us to discuss the one passage which most clearly associates the bearing of the image of God with a future physical transformation.
In Rom 8, Paul joyfully declares that the glory which Adam lost will be restored through the redemption of creation at the end of this age Rom , Here in Romans, Paul views the image of God as the body of the resurrected Christ—a body of physical perfection.
Further, Paul declares that it is the elect humanity, who presently carry the imprint of Adam in their flesh, who have the hope of being transformed into the same physically perfect state i.
Paul concludes his discussion in v. Adam is the image fallen and broken, but the risen Jesus is the proper and perfect image of God. There is an exceptionally difficult textual problem in this passage which prevents us from drawing an interpretive conclusion too dogmatically. To bear the image, then, is to act in a way which morally represents the character of the heavenly man, Christ the image made of dust would represent the immoral practices characteristic of life in Adam.
In other words, Paul may not be arguing that the male is now the image of God, but rather that the male was originally created in the image of God.
By visibly concealing his head a man hides the glory of God and dishonors Christ 1 Cor Paul also viewed Christ, the imago Dei , as an archetype for redeemed humanity. Fallen and broken mankind, who no longer display the image of God as they should, can be renewed and restored to their proper state through the present and future resurrections made possible by belief in Christ.
Abbott, T. The Epistle to the Ephesians and the Colossians. International Critical Commentary, ed.
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Harold H. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, Barth, Markus. Ephesians , vol. The Anchor Bible, ed. New York: Doubleday, Barth, Markus, and Helmut Blanke. Translated by Astrid B. Best, Ernest. Emerton, C. Cranfield, and G. Bock, Darrell L.
Campbell , ed. Charles H. Dyer and Roy B. Grand Rapids: Baker, Callender, Dexter E. Atlanta: Scholars Press, Charlesworth, James H. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Clines, D. Cranfield, C. The Epistle to the Romans , vol. The International Critical Commentary, ed. Dunn, James D. Romans Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Dallas: Word, The Epistle to the Colossians and to Philemon. Howard Marshall and W. Ward Gasque. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Eichrodt, Walther. Theology of the Old Testament.
Translated by John Baker, vol. The Old Testament Library, ed. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, Fee, Gordon D.
BOOKS REVIEWED IN THIS VOLUME
The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Gordon D. Fossum, Jarl E. Freiburg: Universittsverlag Freiburg, Gottstein, Alon Goshen. Grenz, Stanley. Gundry, Robert H. Soma in Biblical Theology.
Matthew Black. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Hodge, Charles. An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, The teaching and study of Islam in western universities. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, p.
Related New Creation in Pauls Letters and Thought (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series)
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