Image - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words


[ 1,,G1504, eikon ]
denotes an image;" the word involves the two ideas of representation and manifestation. "The idea of perfection does not lie in the word itself, but must be sought from the context" (Lightfoot); the following instances clearly show any distinction between the imperfect and the perfect likeness.

The word is used

(1) of an "image" or a coin (not a mere likeness), Matthew 22:20; Mark 12:16; Luke 20:24; so of a statue or similar representation (more than a resemblance), Romans 1:23; Revelation 13:14-Revelation 13:15 (thrice); Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:4; of the descendants of Adam as bearing his image, 1 Corinthians 15:49, each a representation derived from the prototype;

(2) of subjects relative to things spiritual, Hebrews 10:1, negatively of the Law as having "a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things," i.e., not the essential and substantial form of them; the contrast has been likened to the difference between a statue and the shadow cast by it;

(3) of the relations between God the Father, Christ, and man,
(a) of man as he was created as being a visible representation of God, 1 Corinthians 11:7, a being corresponding to the original; the condition of man as a fallen creature has not entirely effaced the "image;" he is still suitable to bear responsibility, he still has Godlike qualities, such as love of goodness and beauty, none of which are found in a mere animal; in the Fall man ceased to be a perfect vehicle for the representation of God; God's grace in Christ will yet accomplish more than what Adam lost;
(b) of regenerate persons, in being moral representations of what God is, Colossians 3:10; cp. Ephesians 4:24;
(c) of believers, in their glorified state, not merely as resembling Christ but representing Him, Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:49; here the perfection is the work of Divine grace; believers are yet to represent, not something like Him, but what He is in Himself, both in His spiritual body and in His moral character;
(d) of Christ in relation to God, 2 Corinthians 4:4, "the image of God," i.e., essentially and absolutely the perfect expression and representation of the Archetype, God the Father; in Colossians 1:15, "the image of the invisible God" gives the additional thought suggested by the word "invisible," that Christ is the visible representation and manifestation of God to created beings; the likeness expressed in this manifestation is involved in the essential relations in the Godhead, and is therefore unique and perfect; "he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father," John 14:9. "The epithet "invisible." ... must not be confined to the apprehension of the bodily senses, but will include the cognizance of the inward eye also" (Lightfoot).

As to synonymous words, homoioma, "likeness," stresses the resemblance to an archetype, though the resemblance may not be derived, whereas eikon is a "derived likeness" (See LIKENESS); eidos, "a shape, form," is an appearance, "not necessarily based on reality" (See FORM); skia, is "a shadowed resemblance" (See SHADOW); morphe is "the form, as indicative of the inner being" (Abbott-Smith); See FORM. For charakter, See No. 2.

[ 2,,G5481, charakter ]
denotes, firstly, "a tool for graving" (from charasso, "to cut into, to engross;" cp. Eng., "character," "characteristic"); then, "a stamp" or "impress," as on a coin or a seal, in which case the seal or die which makes an impression bears the "image" produced by it, and, vice versa, all the features of the "image" correspond respectively with those of the instrument producing it. In the NT it is used metaphorically in Hebrews 1:3, of the Son of God as "the very image (marg., 'the impress') of His substance." RV. The phrase expresses the fact that the Son "is both personally distinct from, and yet literally equal to, Him of whose essence He is the adequate imprint" (Liddon). The Son of God is not merely his "image" (His charakter), He is the "image" or impress of His substance, or essence. It is the fact of complete similarity which this word stresses in comparison with those mentioned at the end of No. 1. In the Sept., Leviticus 13:28, "the mark (of the inflammation)."

"In John 1:1-John 1:3, Colossians 1:15-Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:2-Hebrews 1:3, the special function of creating and upholding the universe is ascribed to Christ under His titles of Word, Image, and Son, respectively. The kind of Creatorship so predicated of Him is not that of a mere instrument or artificer in the formation of the world, but that of One 'by whom, in whom, and for whom' all things are made, and through whom they subsist. This implies the assertion of His true and absolute Godhood" (Laidlaw, in Hastings' Bib. Dic.).

Note: The similar word charagma, "a mark" (See GRAVEN and MARK), has the narrower meaning of "the thing impressed," without denoting the special characteristic of that which produces it, e.g., Revelation 13:16-Revelation 13:17. In Acts 17:29 the meaning is not "graven (charagma) by art," but "an engraved work of art."

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words