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Bible Words: Image

By: Professor Jon Kehrer

Socrates, in an extended debate with Glaucon, illustrates a point about learning with an example from life. Someone can’t recognize a letter of the alphabet, Socrates explains, let alone the image of a letter reflected in water, if that person hasn’t learned their letters to begin with. Recognizing a reflection requires knowledge of the original image.

The word Socrates uses for “image” is eikōn (ei-CONE), meaning “representation” or “likeness.” That same word is used in the Greek translation of Genesis 5:1, where it says, “In the day God made ‘Man,’ he made him in the image of God.” We “image” our Creator; God designed it that way!

Furthermore, “male and female he created them, and he blessed them, and he named them ‘Man’ when they were created” (Gen 5:2). God intended diversity to reflect the image of God, and the more we know God, the more we see his image in us.

However, cultures tend to separate groups based on how we look, how we sound or how we think. Anything “different” feels dangerous, so we live increasingly isolated from those different from us.

But there is one place on earth where those differences are celebrated as th eimage of God: the church! Paul says that in Jesus, we put off our old selves and put on the new, which is being renewed in the eikōn of its creator (Col 3:10). In fact, it is in that image “where there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, Barbarian or Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all!” (Col 3:11)

Paul’s point is not that diversity disappears within the church. Instead, our manufactured labels disintegrate as our distinctiveness actually “images” God. Praise God for our differences! Together, may we increasingly reflect our Creator.

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