ETS Southwest Regional Conference
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
March 11, 2005
Editor’s Note: Eric Montgomery was one of my Th.M. interns for the 2004-05 school year at Dallas Seminary. This paper was the major task of his internship. He suggests an innovative way of viewing Paul’s notion of the image of God.
Daniel B. Wallace
For more than two millennia theologians have interpreted and reinterpreted the mysterious passages from Genesis in which the first humans are said to be created in the “image of God.” The author of Genesis employs this phrase, or its equivalent, five times over the course of nine chapters.1 Oddly, subsequent writers during the Old Testament period never repeat the phrase “image of God” or make direct reference to it. However, during the theological reflection which took place in the mid- to late Second Temple period the terms “image of God” and “likeness of God” were revived, and gained new and unprecedented use. Legends and myths formed around these phrases and continued to flourish in Jewish and Christian traditions for centuries.
A number of New Testament writers also use or allude to the phrase “image of God,” though these terms are most frequently found in the Pauline corpus.2 The purpose of the present study is to locate Paul’s thought within the broader Second Temple imago Dei traditions and then to identify his understanding of this phrase in light of his anthropology, eschatology, and Christology. Our study will begin with a brief survey of the various Second Temple traditions and then we will focus our attention on several key Pauline passages.
The Second Temple period inaugurated an era of rich theological reflection. During this time the phrases “image of God” and “likeness of God” were interpreted in a wide variety of ways.3 Some authors associated the image with man’s physical body, and the likeness was its corresponding similarity to God’s visible form. Other writers interpreted the image as an incorporeal mental or spiritual quality which man possessed. In either case the first man, Adam, was usually seen as the original bearer of this image which may or may not have been passed on to his descendents.
Though it is not possible to construct one systematic view of Second Temple Jewish thought, we do need to survey the various streams of ideas so that we can better understand Paul in light of his historical context.4
As early as the sixth century B.C.E. Jews may have been developing stories and legends around the tradition of the first man.5 The idea that Adam was somehow created or formed in the image and likeness of God piqued their interest and excited their imaginations. By the second century B.C.E. these stories had been thoroughly worked over and had gained an enduring place in the Jewish concept of creation. The first man came to be seen as a magnificent and glorious creature who, being the image of God, was originally created in a state of splendid perfection.
For example, Sirach 49:16 states that the glory of Adam was above every created thing. First Enoch 69:116 declares how human beings were originally intended to be like angels, and to live in an eternal state of purity and righteousness.7 Philo is even more picturesque when he describes the first human man as “the height of perfection” in both “body and soul.” He states that the original man was “the most beautiful of beings,” because his body and soul were far superior to all those who have come after him.8
Within these traditions it was particularly common to associate the image of God with a visible splendor possessed by the first man—a radiance variously described as light, sublime beauty, or an emanation of glory. Thus, the image of God came to be identified as that which manifests the radiance of God’s glorious appearance.9
These examples serve to demonstrate the prevalence of the belief that Adam was created by God in a perfect and ideal state in which he was intended to dwell for eternity.
It is likely that the phrase “image of God” was first interpreted as a reference to the visible similitude of the human body to the form of God.10 The earliest available evidence from the Second Temple period, such as the Life of Adam and Eve and book one of the Sibylline Oracles, only makes veiled references to the human body as the image of God.11 It is not until the middle of the first century C.E., or later, that more explicit statements become available to us. One example from this period can be found in the Testament of Isaac where the patriarch commands his son Jacob to carefully preserve his body once he dies so that the image of God is not defiled.12 In the following centuries some rabbinic and Gnostic writings became even more direct in associating the image of God with the physical form of the human body.13
Naturally as Judaism collided with the Hellenistic world many Jews became more consciously uncomfortable with the idea that God might possess a physical form and that a human was in some way similar to this form. Hence, the image of God was reinterpreted to mean other immaterial qualities which humanity shared in common with his creator. One of the more prominent concepts was that a person’s immortal soul, housed within a temporal body, represented the image of God.14 It was this immortal soul which functioned in someway as a likeness of the divine.15 Philo took this view and used it to specifically describe the human mind as the image and likeness of God, since the mind is “the most important part of the soul.”16 Thus, a broad stream of largely Hellenistic Jewish thought conceived of the image of God as displayed in humanity’s incorporeal being (their heart, soul, or mind).
The third stream of thought which utilized “image of God” language is that of the divine Wisdom tradition. Anthony Thiselton writes of the Second Temple concept of Wisdom that “the figure of Wisdom manifests, radiates, and mediates the otherwise inaccessible, transcendent reality of God.”17 In the Second Temple literature image terminology is seldom used to directly refer to divine Wisdom.18 However, the few instances we do have are important for understanding how the divine Wisdom may serve as a backdrop for Paul’s idea of Christ as the image of God.19
The most significant place where image language is used to refer to the divine Wisdom is found in Wisdom of Solomon 7:26. Here the writer describes Wisdom as “a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.” The author goes on to describe Wisdom as one who can do all things and who renews all things. She is more beautiful than the sun and covers the entire earth. Philo also refers to Wisdom as “the beginning, and the image, and the sight of God.” In addition, he sees man as an image of God because he displays wisdom with his mind and wise virtue by his actions.20 The Wisdom tradition identifies the divine Wisdom as the image of God, but also identifies man as the image when he comes to possess knowledge and virtue.
Given the discussion above we must now ask how Paul understood the phrase “image of God” in light of his diverse conceptual milieu. It has long been known that Paul was a collector and re-interpreter of various ideas, focusing them in a new and profound way through the lens of the incarnate and risen Christ.21 It is for this reason that Dunn22, Kim23 and others have argued that many aspects of Paul’s Christology are a refined amalgam of divine Wisdom traditions and Jewish first-man speculations. Paul apparently felt some freedom to use surrounding traditions in order to best express the majesty of Christ.
As we shall see below, Paul’s understanding of the image of God was put forth using the same method of selectively choosing from among existing traditions and re-interpreting them in light of the risen Christ. It has become apparent in recent scholarship that Paul’s doctrine of the image of God was built upon the ideas of the image as divine Wisdom, the physical body, the human soul, and the uncorrupted state of the original man.24 These traditions he focused through the lens of the risen Christ to produce a new and unique view of the imago Dei.25
It is our thesis that Paul, by drawing upon the diverse Adam and Wisdom speculations of the Second Temple period, viewed the imago Dei as the ideal state in which God created the first man, and which God intended all humanity to possess. For Paul, this original ideal state consisted of the physical human body as well as the mental and spiritual aspect of a person’s being. However, when the first man transgressed, this image was lost for all subsequent generations. Never again could humanity possess the image of God apart from a complete renewal of their total being.
Sometime after Paul’s conversion he conceived the idea of Christ as an antithetical second Adam. With this realization Paul found a means for the image of God to be restored to humanity—a concept which became central to his soteriology.26 Paul believed that Jesus, through his incarnation and resurrection, became the perfect and ideal man—the man which God intended all humanity to resemble. Thus, the resurrected Christ became the archetype to which humanity should be conformed.
For Paul the eschatological restoration of humanity was both a present and future reality. As Paul’s anthropology and eschatology coalesced around the imago Dei he came to understand that the two aspects of the human being, the “inner person” (the spirit, mind, or heart) and the “outer person” (the physical body), would be renewed separately, one part now and one part in the future.27 The inner person would be progressively renewed in this life by morally and ethically displaying likeness to Christ, while the physical body would continue to degenerate until death. Then, at the event of the final resurrection, the body would be renewed to its intended glorious form, restoring the complete image of God back to humanity.
One of Paul’s most significant theological innovations was his belief that Jesus had replaced Adam as the true and perfect image of God. At least twice Paul explicitly refers to Christ as the imago Dei (Col 1:15 and 2 Cor 4:4). In both cases he employs the language of the creation narrative in Genesis to describe the magnificence of Jesus as the ideal man—the image—who represents God and manifests his glory.
Looking first to the “Christ hymn” contained in Col 1:15-20, the prominence of Jesus as the image of God immediately catches our attention.28 The hymn opens with a declaration about Jesus “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation [or, over all creation29].” It is here that Christ is called the image of the invisible God, implying that there is a visible quality to the image; i.e., the image visibly manifests something about God which is otherwise hidden.30
Understanding the background of this hymn may help us to deduce what sort of claim is being made about Christ. The broad consensus of modern scholarship is that the hymn in Col 1:15-20 is based primarily on the ideas and language of Jewish divine Wisdom traditions.31 As was mentioned previously these traditions personified Wisdom and assigned it the role of God’s representative and active agent. As James Dunn has stated, “The invisible God makes himself visible in and through his wisdom.”32
In the Colossians hymn Jesus replaces Wisdom as the perfect agent and representative of God. It is Jesus who manifests God’s creative power and dominion (Col 1:16-18). Jesus is the full visible display of God’s character and attributes (Col 1:19). The risen Jesus, as the image of God, bridges the gap between an invisible, incomprehensible deity and a fallen creation. In Col 1:15 the image of God represents the full revelation of divine essence (Col 2:2-3, 9-10).
In 2 Cor 4:4 Paul again refers to Christ as “the image of God.” This statement falls in the middle of a larger passage in which Paul validates his activity as God’s minister.33 Starting in 3:7 he uses Moses as a description of how God’s appointed ministers radiate a divine glory. Paul continues to play off the word “glory” and the typology of Moses as he describes Christians as those who emanate the gospel of glory (4:3-4), and Christ as the supreme manifestation of God’s glory.
The final section of 2 Cor 4:4 is a string of concatenative genitives which may be translated, “the illumination (φωτισμός) of the gospel34 of the glory35 of Christ, who is the image of God.” A similar statement is made in v. 6 where Paul proclaims that God, “shined in our hearts for the illumination of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Christ.”36
It is this visibly radiant Christ whom Paul speaks of as the image of God.37 It is almost certain that Paul is making a double comparison between Christ and Moses, and Christ and Adam. The contextual discussion (3:7-18; cf. also 3:13 and 4:6) indicates that Paul is comparing Jesus to Moses. Yet, the language is also reminiscent of Gen 1-2, 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. Essentially, Paul is stating that Jesus is a better representative of God’s glory than either Moses or Adam.
It is in light of both of these biblical figures that we need to interpret Paul’s statement that Christ is “the image of God.” The idea of the “image” being God’s representative agent is certainly in view here.38 But, more specific to this passage is the concept that the “image” is that which visibly manifests the attributes and splendor of its archetype. Both Moses and Adam were representatives who displayed the visible radiance of God’s luminous glory in their bodies, yet both of these figures lost their glorious state. Jesus, however, is the perfect and enduring manifestation of God’s glory.
We may summarize our findings in Col 1:15 and 2 Cor 4:4 by stating that the image of God, as Paul relates this term to Christ, is that which acts as a perfect representative agent of God and that which visibly manifests God’s glory. Paul uses divine Wisdom and Adam language to paint a picture of the risen Christ who is a perfect display of God’s attributes, power, and majesty.
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.
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 3:1; Rom 6:1-14). In vv. 9-10 Paul interrupts his admonition with an explanatory clause connecting the believer’s present (spiritually) resurrected state to their possession of the image of God. Paul writes, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old person together with its practices and have put on the new person which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it.”39
Paul uses the language of Gen 1-2 to bring to mind a contrast between the old life “in Adam” and the new life “in Christ” (1 Cor 15:22). With the conversion of a person to Christianity comes a resurrection of the inner person. The old “inner person” is crucified and dies (Rom 6:6), and a new “inner person” is born—an inner person bearing likeness to Christ and not to Adam. In Col 3:10 Paul states that this new “inner person” is being progressively renewed (τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον)40 in knowledge (Rom 12:2) with the end result that it will correspond to the standard or measure of the image (κατ' εἰκόνα).
Paul’s exhortation to refrain from lying, in verse nine, is based on the premise that the Colossian believers have already taken off the old person and put on the new person; it is a past event from Paul’s perspective.41 Further, this new person is not the “image” itself, but is rather in the process of being renewed, or conformed (2 Cor 3:18), to that image. Thus, the image serves as an archetype to which the new person is progressively being aligned. It would appear, in light of Col 1:15, that Christ is the archetypal image mentioned here. In addition, just as Col 1:15 described Christ as the image which manifests God’s character and majesty, so now Paul states that Christians should display God’s character through their ethical behavior as they are progressively renewed in their minds to become more like the image of God.
In many ways Eph 4:24 closely parallels Col 3:9-10. Both passages are found within an ethical context, where proper Christian behavior is being contrasted with non-Christian behavior. In addition, both passages use the language of “old person” and “new person,” and both speak of the progressive renewal42 of this new person in accordance with a certain standard—that standard being the image of God.43
Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians that when they heard about Christ they were taught, with respect to their former way of life, to lay aside (ἀποθέσθαι) the old person, to be renewed in the spirit of their mind44 (ἀνανεοῦσθαι δὲ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν), and to put on the new person, the one created according to God (ἐνδύσασθαι τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν κατὰ θεὸν κτισθέντα) – in righteousness and true holiness. In v. 25 Paul concludes by saying, “Therefore, having lain aside… (διὸ ἀποθέμενοι),” implying that at the time of writing he expected that the Ephesians had already put off the old person and put on the new person.45 Paul exhorts his audience to live out the reality of their transformation by walking in accordance with their new state.
As in Col 3:9-10, Paul uses imago Dei language in Eph 4:24 to refer to a behavioral archetype which the new person is to resemble.46 The image of God is viewed here as a model upon which the new person has been created—a model characterized by righteousness and true holiness.47 Paul’s instruction to the Ephesians was that they should put on this new person who had been created in similarity with the image of God, and that they should begin the process of renewal in their minds. 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. Thus, we can summarize Paul’s view of the image of God, as found in Eph 4:24 and Col 3:10, as a behavioral manifestation of God’s character, purity, and love (cf. Eph 5:1-5).48
In 2 Cor 3:18 Paul compares Christians to the unbelieving Jews by saying, “we all, with unveiled faces beholding [or, reflecting49] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, which is from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Though this passage has proven notoriously difficult to interpret, the main force of Paul’s argument is fairly straightforward. The believing person is being transformed (μεταμορφούμεθα), as a present continuous process, toward a certain archetypal image—the image which they are beholding [or reflecting].50 Paul goes on to clarify his statement a few verses later (4:4) when he writes that this archetypal image is Christ, whom he calls “the image of God.” As believers look upon the luminous Christ (2 Cor 4:6) they are transformed and they begin to radiate a light of their own—a light which is the gospel message (the word or knowledge of God – 2 Cor 2:14; 4:6, 23). Thus, in 2 Cor 3:18 Paul is essentially stating that as ministers of the gospel proclaim their message they radiate God’s glory and are made more like Christ, the perfect image of God’s glory (2 Cor 4:10).
Within the context of 2 Cor 3-5 there is also an additional implication which underlies Paul’s statement in 3:18. Note that he says, “we all… are being transformed… from glory to glory.” Paul makes a similar statement in 2 Cor 4:16, within a discussion of physical resurrection, where he says, “…but even if our outer person is wasting away, yet our inner person is being renewed day by day.” It is here that we can see the twofold eschatological and anthropological meaning behind Paul’s statement that Christians are being transformed into the image of God. As believers proclaim the gospel and act righteously (2 Cor 4:2) their inner person is being progressively renewed (cf. Col 3:10), though the outer body is still destined for death in its present state. But, at the time of the future bodily resurrection their physical aspect (the “outer person”) will be renewed to match their spiritual state (2 Cor 5:1-5).
Thus, in 2 Cor 3:18 Paul sees the image of God as twofold. First, believing humanity is progressively becoming like the image of God in their inner person as they manifest God’s glory through the proclamation of the gospel and righteous conduct (2 Cor 4:2-4). 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. He is the perfect moral and physical manifestation of God’s character and magnificence.
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 Paul’s eschatological soteriology the event of physical transformation will conclude God’s redemptive work. The new creation which began with Christ’s resurrection will be completed with the final redemption and renewal of the physical body and the material world (Rom 8:17-30).
It is within this context of physical renewal that Paul proclaims a message of hope in Rom 8:29: “those whom he foreknew he also predestined to share in the form (συμμόρφους)51 of the image of his son52….” Once again Paul uses the language of Gen 1-2 to exalt Christ over Adam, giving us a picture of Jesus as the very image which Adam was intended to be.53 Whereas Adam now represents the broken image which lost its glory (Rom 3:23),54 Christ is the perfect and complete image which radiates God’s glory. 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 8:17-18, 23).55
Here in Romans, Paul views the image of God as the body of the resurrected Christ—a body of physical perfection.56 Whereas we have previously seen that the imago Dei was understood as a moral manifestation of God’s character, here Paul views the image as a physical manifestation of God’s radiant glory, of which the risen Christ is the most perfect archetype. 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.e., into the same image) in which Christ now exists.
In 1 Cor 15:49 we find the culmination of Paul’s resurrection discourse comparing the present corrupt life in Adam with the future glorious life in Christ. Paul concludes his discussion in v. 49 by saying, “And just as we bore the image of the man of dust, we will also bear [or, let us also bear]57 the image of the man of heaven.” Paul again uses the imago Dei language of Gen 1-2 in order to contrast Adam and Christ. 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. If we accept the conventional future indicative reading (“we will also bear the image”) then Paul intends to communicate the idea that just as we have borne a physically corrupt body (the image made of dust) so also will we come to bear a spiritually renewed body at the time of the resurrection (the image of the heavenly). However, if we take the less popular subjunctive reading (“let us also bear the image”) then this implies that Paul is exhorting the Corinthians to presently act in an ethical manner which properly corresponds to their hope of future resurrection. 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).
Either way in which this textual problem is resolved falls into alignment with our thesis that Paul understood the image of God as both a present moral manifestation of Christ’s character and a future physical likeness to Christ’s resurrected body.
First Corinthians 11:7 is one of the most intriguing and difficult passages to interpret dealing with Paul’s concept of the imago Dei. Here Paul states that “a man should not have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.” There are a number of ways in which commentators have attempted to interpret this passage, though none are completely satisfactory. 1) Paul could have meant that the human male presently possesses the image of God, while the human female does not (though she may possess an “image of man”).58 2) Zerwick and Grosvenor have suggested, based on the participle ὑπάρχων, that v. 7 may be speaking of the origin of man and woman, not necessarily their present state. 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.59 3) Other commentators have suggested that Paul’s concern here is not with “image” at all, but rather “glory.” According to this view Paul is using the word δόξα to describe how each gender has an appointed role to bring honor to that which is over it.60
This said, the question still needs to be asked, “How does Paul’s prohibition against the covering of a man’s head relate to men being the image of God?” The discussion which Paul is having concerns the physical, visible appearance of a person. By visibly concealing his head a man hides the glory of God and dishonors Christ (1 Cor 11:4). Morna Hooker is likely correct in interpreting Paul’s theological argument through the lens of Second Temple Jewish exegesis.61 It was Adam, as the image of God, and not Eve, who originally possessed a radiant appearance which reflected God’s visible glory.62 Though Paul certainly did not think that men still possessed a radiant appearance, he apparently believed that the human male was, somehow, heir to the divine image which Adam originally possessed, and that the human male still had a responsibility to display God’s glory visibly in his body.63 Thus, Paul makes a connection here between the male’s physical appearance and his being the image of God.
Though many uncertainties still remain in our interpretation of this passage, we must conclude that Paul is basing his theological argument in 1 Cor 11:7 on the understanding that the image of God is, in someway, a physical, visible display of God’s glory.64
To conclude, we can generally define Paul’s concept of the image of God as that which manifests God’s glory. It is the perfect, visible manifestation of God’s character, attributes, power, and majesty. Paul applied this phrase primarily to the risen Christ, who functions as God’s representative agent (displacing the concept of the divine Wisdom), and who has usurped Adam’s position as the perfect human being who visibly displays God’s character and majestic beauty. 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.
James Dunn has summarized Paul’s doctrine well by saying, “The dominant motif in Paul is that man is… the image of fallen Adam, shares his corruptibility (I Cor. 15:49), and that salvation consists in the believer being transformed into the image of God (II Cor. 3:18), consists in a progressive renewal in knowledge according to the image of the Creator (Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24).”65 Stanley Grenz rightly calls the human conformity to Christ as the image of God “the divinely determined goal for human existence.”66 Paul presents the resurrected Christ as the objective of human redemption. In Paul’s understanding, the conversion of a person to Christian faith initiates a present, spiritual resurrection of their inner person.67 This resurrection begins a process of renewal, during which time they will manifest the glory of God through their ethical behavior (Eph 4:24; Col 3:9-10) and the ministry of the gospel (2 Cor 3:18-4:3). At the time of their physical death, and subsequent resurrection, the Christian’s body will be redeemed and transformed into the same perfect and glorious state as the risen Christ (Rom 8:29). The end result of this process is that the Christian will become like Christ68 in body and spirit—images of God who visibly manifest God’s moral character and radiant majesty.
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Robertson, A. T., and Alfred Plummer. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. 2nd ed. The International Critical Commentary, ed. Samuel Rolls Driver, Alfred Plummer, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1914.
Steenburg, Dave. “The Worship of Adam and Christ as the Image of God.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 39 (1990): 95-109.
Thiselton, Anthony C. The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. The New International Greek Testament Commentary, ed. I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.
Trail, Ronald. An Exegetical Summary of 1 Corinthians 10-16. Dallas: SIL International, 2001.
Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
Wedderburn, A. J. M. “Philo's 'Heavenly Man'.” NovT 15, no. 4 (1973).
Zerwick, Maximilian. Biblical Greek: Illustrated By Examples. Translated by Joseph Smith. Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1963.
Zerwick, Maximilian, and Mary Grosvenor. A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. Translated by Mary Grosvenor. 5th revised ed. Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1996.
2 Non-Pauline references include Matt 22:20; Mark 12:16; Luke 20:24; Heb 1:3; Jas 3:9. Paul explicitly mentions or alludes to the image of God in eight places: Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 11:7; 15:49; 2 Cor 3:18; 4:4; Eph 4:24; Col 1:15; and Col 3:10. In addition to these references several scholars have postulated allusions in Rom 1:22-23 (Morna D. Hooker, From Adam to Christ: Essays on Paul [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990], 73-87) and Phil 2:6 (Ralph P. Martin, Carmen Christi: Philippians ii.5-11 in Recent Interpretation and in the Setting of Early Christian Worship [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983], 99-119). Rom 1:22-23 and Phil 2:6 will not be addressed in this paper, as further study is needed to determine whether or not these truly are references to the image of God.
To complicate matters the Pauline authorship of Ephesians and Colossians is disputed, and the Pauline origin of the other imago Dei references has been called into doubt at times. The question of Pauline authorship for Ephesians and Colossians is still a matter of heated debate. However, a number of modern scholars have adequately defended the traditional view, and Pauline authorship should be retained until more convincing evidence can be produced otherwise. Markus Barth, Ephesians, vol. 2, The Anchor Bible, ed. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman, 2 vols. (New York: Doubleday, 1974), 36-50; Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 2-61; Markus Barth and Helmut Blanke, Colossians: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary, trans. Astrid B. Beck, The Anchor Bible, ed. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 114-25; James D. G. Dunn, The Epistle to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, ed. I. Howard Marshall and W. Ward Gasque (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 35-39. (Though Dunn does not believe that Paul himself was the author, he suggests that the thought of Colossians so closely reflects Paul that the non-Pauline authorship becomes a moot point).
Some of the individual imago Dei passages also present a problem for our study. Two passages, Col 1:15 and Phil 2:6 (if it were to be included), are hymns, and it is likely that they were not completely original to Paul. Nevertheless, he did employ these hymns in a positive and approving manner, and the content of the hymns reflects his own thought elsewhere. The Pauline origin of the other image of God passages (Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 11:7; 15:49; 2 Cor 3:18; 4:4) has been disputed by some authors. However, these objections have been adequately answered by more recent studies (Seyoon Kim, The Origin of Paul's Gospel, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, ed. Martin Hengel and Otfried Hofius [Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1984], 141-59).
3 The word εἰκών has a fairly broad lexical range. In the Koinē period it was used for bills of sales, portrait pictures, statues, coin impressions, and even human rulers who represented a god (BDAG, 281-82; MM, 183; TDNT, 2.388-90). The word was also used for abstract concepts, such as ideas, thoughts, and dreams (e.g. Philo, Conf. Ling. 97), as well as Platonic ideas, such as the cosmos as an image of God (Corp. Herm. 8:2-5; 11:15). In general εἰκών should be defined as something which resembles the form, appearance, or characteristics of something else.
4 The warnings and criticisms which John Levison wrote, in reference to the study of Adam in early Judaism, are appropriate reminders for us (John R. Levison, Portraits of Adam in Early Judaism: From Sirach to 2 Baruch, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series, ed. James H. Charlesworth [Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1988], 13). We do not want to squeeze “the early Jewish data into the mold of Pauline concepts and motifs,” but rather we want to listen carefully and attentively to what these early Jewish writers were saying.
5 Dexter E. Callender, “The Primal Man in Ezekiel and the Image of God,” in Society of Biblical Literature 1998 Seminar Papers, vol. 2. 2 vols. (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998), 606-25.
6 All Old Testament Pseudepigrapha citations are rendered according to James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols. (New York: Doubleday, 1983).
7 See also Wisdom of Solomon 2:23-24, which states that “God created the man in immortality and he made him an image of his own eternity.” In both 1 Enoch and Wisdom of Solomon it is clear that man, in his original state, was not intended to experience death.
8 Philo understood the “image of God” in this first man not as his body but rather his soul (variously labeled as reason, virtue, or mind) which was housed in his body.
9 1QS IV, 19-23; CD A III, 20, “Those who remained steadfast in it will acquire eternal life, and all the glory of Adam is for them”; and 4Q504 VIII, 4, “[…Adam] our father, you fashioned in the likeness (דמות) of [your] glory […].” The concept of the physically perfect and glorious first man became more fully developed in the first few centuries C.E. (Hist. Rech. 5:4; 7:2; 12:1-3; Apoc. Ab. 23:5; Poimandres 12-14).
10 D. J. A. Clines, “The Image of God in Man,” Tyndale Bulletin 19 (1968): 56-58. Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, trans. John Baker, vol. 2, The Old Testament Library, ed. G. Ernest Wright, John Bright, and James Barr, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1967), 122-24.
11 Sib. Or. 1:23. L.A.E. 13:3 may be one of the more explicit references, which states that Adam’s face and likeness were made in the image of God. It is also possible that the description of Christ in Heb 1:3 is meant to convey the idea of Jesus as a physical representative of God (χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ). See also 2 En. 44:1-5; 65:2; Dave Steenburg, “The Worship of Adam and Christ as the Image of God,” JSNT 39 (1990): 96-97.
12 T. Isaac 6:33-35.
13 Cf. b. B. Bat. 58a; b. San. 38a-b; Gen. Rab. 8:9-12; 24:2; Poimandres 12-14. See also Alon Goshen Gottstein, “The Body as Image of God in Rabbinic Literature,” Harvard Theological Review 87 (1994): 171-95.
14 Ps.-Phoc. 105-108. In Hist. Rech. 15:10 the disembodied soul, which ascends to God after death, is described as “the likeness of a glorious light.”
15 The likeness shared between the soul and its creator was in some cases immortality (Wis 2:23), in other cases it was reason, wisdom, or virtue (Hel. Syn. Pr. 3:18-21; 12:36-40; Philo, Opif. 134-139).
16 Philo, Opif. 69. For Philo, however, it is not the human mind in itself that is the image of God, but rather it is because the individual mind “has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe as its primitive model.” In other words, the human mind is the image of God because its creation was based upon the pattern of God’s mind.
17 Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, ed. I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 834.
18 Steenburg, “Adam and Christ,” 102.
19 Concerning the extent of this Wisdom-Christology James Dunn writes, “It is clear therefore that the tradition of (pre-existent) Wisdom has been influential at many points in NT christology. In some of the earlier (i.e. Pauline) passages it may be no more than that language or exegesis has been prompted by specific language or some particular exegesis used in Wisdom tradition. But in other cases there can be little doubt that the role of Wisdom is being attributed to Christ” (italics his). James D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation (London: SCM Press, 1980), 167.
20 Philo, Leg. 1.43-55.
21 John F. Balchin, “Paul, Wisdom and Christ,” in Christ the Lord: Studies in Christology presented to Donald Guthrie, ed. Harold H. Rowdon (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1982), 211-14.
22 James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 204-05, 293.
23 Kim, Origin, 137.
24 It was popular in the beginning to mid-twentieth century to attribute Paul’s Adam-Christ typology to a Gnostic redeemer myth or Urmensch theory. However, these have been shown in more recent years to be insufficient explanations for the origin of Paul’s thought. Rather, it is more likely that Paul is basing his ideas on purely Jewish traditions which arose around the creation accounts. See ibid., 163-83; Jarl E. Fossum, The Image of the Invisible God: Essays on the Influence of Jewish Mysticism on Early Christology, NTOA (Freiburg: Universittsverlag Freiburg, 1995), 13; A. J. M. Wedderburn, “Philo's 'Heavenly Man',” NovT 15 (1973): 160-77.
25 The uniqueness of Paul’s view was not his eclectic joining of traditions. During the first and second centuries C.E. a number of authors began merging these streams of thought (e.g. Hell. Syn. Pr. 3:16-21; 12:35-50; Steenburg, “Adam and Christ,” 104). Rather, Paul was unique in his belief that Christ was the archetypal image and that the restoration of the image to humanity begins as a process in the present and ends at a future resurrection event.
26 Dunn, Theology of Paul, 53.
27 The meaning of the phrase “image of God” is, in part, a question of anthropology, and it must be deduced based on an accurate understanding of how any particular writer views the human being. It is widely believed that Paul understood humanity as composed of two parts or aspects. Paul labeled these as the “outer person” and the “inner person” (Rom 7:22-25; 2 Cor 4:16; Eph 3:16). The “outer person” is generally believed to be the physical body, while the “inner person” is variously identified as the heart, mind, or spirit (i.e. the incorporeal aspect of the human). In Paul’s conception the human being who is to be renewed must be renewed in both aspects of their being. Robert H. Gundry, Soma in Biblical Theology, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series, vol. 29, ed. Matthew Black (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 135-56. Robert Jewett, Paul's Anthropological Terms: A Study of Their Use in Conflict Settings (Leiden: Brill, 1971), 396-401.
28 The value of Col 1:15-20 for our study of Pauline theology is contingent upon the origin of this hymn. If the hymn did not originate with Paul, as is widely thought, then the passage has limited value. However, Paul does appear to employ the hymn as an extension of his own Christological thought. Further, the subject matter of the Colossians hymn is attested to in other Pauline passages (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 4:4). Therefore, we may use this hymn to make speculative conclusions about Paul’s Christology, being careful in the process to support these conclusions from more certain Pauline literature.
29 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 104, 128.
30 Though the genitive τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου could express possession over the εἰκὼν, it is more likely that τοῦ θεοῦ is an objective genitive. It is the invisible God who is being “imaged” by Jesus. Margaret MacDonald, Colossians and Ephesians, Sacra Pagina, ed. Daniel J. Harrington (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2000), 58-59.
It is also worth noting that Paul uses the word ἀόρατος with reference to God’s attributes in Romans 1:20 as part of a passage which may be a veiled reference to Adam’s loss of the image of God.
31 Dunn, Colossians and Philemon, 86 n.8, 88-90. Eduard Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, trans. WIlliam R. Poehlmann and Robert J. Karris, Hermeneia, ed. Helmut Koester (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971), 46-49. Though in general broad agreement exists on this point there are some dissenting scholars. These minority views tends to see the Christ hymn as a reflection of Anthropos- (heavenly Man) or Adam-Christology (e.g. Fossum, Image of the Invisible God, 13-39). Yet, the adoption of one of these minority views would not drastically alter how the concept of the image of God is being used in Col 1:15. The εἰκών would still represent an intermediate agent who acts on God’s behalf and who manifests God’s character and attributes. Though, if the hymn writer did have a heavenly man concept in mind, then it is likely that the phrase εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου is meant to emphasis the physical radiance and beauty of the image (i.e. the display of God’s glory) over its role as a representative agent.
32 Dunn goes on to comment on the connection between Wisdom and “image” by noting that, “The importance of this in Hellenistic Judaism was that ‘image’ could thus bridge the otherwise unbridgeable gulf between the invisible world and God on the one side and visible creation and humanity on the other—denoting both that which produces the divine image and the image thus produced.” Dunn, Colossians and Philemon, 88.
The divine Wisdom is described throughout the Second Temple literature in terms similar to those found in Col 1:15-20. Some of these include: wisdom as the creative agent (Ps 104:24; Prov 3:19; 2 En. 30:8-12; Wis 7:22; 8:5; Philo, Det. 54; Her. 199; Fug. 109) wisdom as the first creation (Prov 8:22; Sir 1:4; 24:9; Philo, Conf. 146; Agr. 51; Somn. 1.215) and wisdom as the image of God (Wis 7:26; Philo Leg. 1.43; Conf. 146).
33 This section of validation begins in 2:14 and ends in 5:21. Second Corinthians 3-4 is remarkable in the number of times that the word δόξα is used (15 occurrences). Throughout these two chapters Paul alternates the meaning of δόξα, sometimes using it to refer to a radiant light and at other times using it to mean honorable. Paul’s association of δόξα with ministry and the proclamation of God’s message is worthy of further study.
34 τοῦ εὐαγγελίου is either the source of the φωτισμὸς or it is in apposition to φωτισμὸς.
35 The genitive, δόξης, may be taken as an objective genitive (BDAG, 403; Maximilian Zerwick, Biblical Greek: Illustrated By Examples, trans. Joseph Smith [Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1963], 18).
36 Again, the concatenative genitives are problematic here.
37 2 Cor 4:1-6 is filled with words related to light and vision: φανέρωσις - v. 2; καλύπτω - v. 3; τυφλόω - v. 4; αὐγάζω - v. 4; φωτισμός - v. 4; λάμπω - v. 6; φῶς - v. 6; φωτισμός - v. 6. The abundance of these words in such close proximity to the phrase “image of God” indicates that Paul was thinking of the imago Dei as something visibly radiant.
38 That is, both Moses and Adam (especially in extra-biblical traditions) were agents who spoke for and represented God. Further, interpreting the “image of God” in a representational sense fits well within the context of 2 Cor 3-5, which is largely concerned with how God’s message and will are made known to the world.
39 The “one who created” is to be understood as God. The pronoun “it” (αὐτόν) refers back to the new [person] (τὸν νέον).
40 The present middle/passive participle indicates a progressive renewal of which God is probably the unstated agent. While the actions of “putting off” and “putting on” appear to be activities which the believer has control over, the process of renewal is passive in nature. Thus, Paul touches upon the delicate balance between human and divine agency in moral improvement and spiritual regeneration.
41 The participles ἀπεκδυσάμενοι and ἐνδυσάμενοι should be understood causally, giving the reason why the Colossians should not lie to one another. Dave Matthewson, “Verbal Aspect in Imperatival Constructions in Pauline Ethical Injunctions,” Filologia neotestamentaria 9 (1996): 34.
43 Though Paul does not use the words “image of God” in this passage, it is most likely that this is what he meant by the phrase “the one created according to God (τὸν κατὰ θεὸν κτισθέντα). This interpretation is not certain, however, since κατὰ θεόν is used elsewhere in the NT to mean “according to God’s will” or “according to God’s standard” (Rom 8:27; 2 Cor 7:10-11; 1 Pet 4:6). Because of the absence of the word εἰκών some commentators prefer to translate this passage “You were taught… to put on the new man, the one created according to God’s will” (T. K. Abbott, The Epistle to the Ephesians and the Colossians, International Critical Commentary, ed. S. R. Driver, A. Plummer, and C. A. Briggs [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1897], 138). However, the strong linguistic and theological parallels between Eph 4:22-25 and Col 3:9-12 (where εἰκών is used) have persuaded us to interpret κατὰ θεόν as an allusion to Gen 1:26-27 just as Col 3:9-12 alludes to this same passage. See Barth, Ephesians, 509-10; Ernest Best, Ephesians, International Critical Commentary, ed. J. A. Emerton, C. E. B. Cranfield, and G. N. Stanton (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1998), 436-41; Hoehner, Ephesians, 611; C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960), 59.
44 The “spirit of the mind” and the “new person” may be taken as roughly synonymous. The mind, or the way of thinking (cf. Philo, Leg. 1.53-55), is changed through the activity of God’s Spirit (Tit 3:5). It is for this reason that Paul closely associates renewal with knowledge in Rom 12:2 and Col 3:10 (see also Eph 1:17-18; 5:15-17; Col 1:27-28; 2:2-3). It is, perhaps, the idea of this renewed inner person which Paul has in mind when he prayers in Eph 3:16-19 that the Ephesians would be strengthened in their inner person (ἔσω ἄνθρωπον), that Christ would indwell their hearts, and that they would be filled with all the fullness of God.
45 Eph 4:22-24 presents some interpretive difficulty in that this passage is composed of three infinitives of indirect discourse. The first and third infinitives are aorist (ἀποθέσθαι, ἐνδύσασθαι), while the second infinitive is present (ἀνανεοῦσθαι) – all three relating to the verb ἐδιδάχθητε. The question is whether these infinitives represent imperatives in the original direct discourse, or whether they were indicatives. If the original direct discourse was composed of imperatives then Eph 4:22-24 should be interpreted as “you were taught that you must put off….” But, if the original direct discourse was composed of indicatives then Eph 4:22-24 should be read “you were taught that you have put off….” See Hoehner, Ephesians, 598-602; Wallace, Grammar, 605; Darrell L. Bock, “"The New Man" as Community in Colossians and Ephesians,” in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands: Biblical and Leadership Studies in Honor of Donald K. Campbell, ed. Charles H. Dyer and Roy B. Zuck (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 162-63.
The theological difference between these two interpretations is temporal. At the time in which the Ephesians “learned about Christ” had they already put off the old person or was this an action still yet to be accomplished? The answer to this question may also depend upon whether or not the Ephesians were Christian converts at the time of their instruction. The significance for our present topic is whether a person begins the renewal process of their inner person at the moment of conversion or whether it is initiated at some other time. It is clear, however, that by the time Paul wrote this letter he believed that his recipients had already began the process of renewal. The present reality of their transformation can be seen in the use of the aorist participle ἀποθέμενοι (“having put off”), and in Eph 5:8-10, where Paul states that these people “were at one time darkness” but now they are “light in the Lord.”
47 The phrase “in righteousness and true holiness” (ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ὁσιότητι τῆς ἀληθείας) modifies the participle κτισθέντα, indicating the sphere or quality in which the new person was created. Yet, since the act of creation is associated here with an archetypal model, it is implied that the model also has these characteristics.
48 It is possible that Paul connects the image of God to ethics based on a loose interpretation of Gen 9:6. However, the thought processes in Genesis 9:6 and in Paul’s writings are reversed from each other. In the former passage humans are to be treated ethically because they are the image of God. But, in Paul’s thought believers are to treat one another righteously and lovingly because they themselves are becoming like the image of God.
49 κατοπτριζω can mean, in the middle voice, “to look at oneself in the mirror; to look at something in the mirror; to contemplate.” Some prefer the meaning “reflect.” See BDAG, 535; Jan Lambrecht, “Transformation in 2 Corinthians 3,18,” in Studies on 2 Corinthians, ed. R. Bieringer and J. Lambrecht, Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1994), 296-300.
50 τὴν δὸξαν κυρίου is most likely the antecedent to τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα. The believer is transformed into the very same image which they behold. Further, the participle κατοπτριζόμενοι is probably causal, expressing the reason for the transformation. Ibid., 298.
52 τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ. Probably, τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ is epexegetically describing τῆς εἰκόνος (“the image which is his son”). James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-8, Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Baker (Dallas: Word, 1988), 483.
54 C. E. B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, vol. 1, The International Critical Commentary, ed. J. A. Emerton, C. E. B. Cranfield, and G. N. Stanton, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), 204-5.
55 The eschatological restoration of humanity’s original glorious state can also be found in a small handful of intertestamental references: 4 Ezra 7:95-98; 1 En. 62:16; 90:28-39; 108:13-14.
56 That Paul views the image of God as the resurrected Christ, as opposed to the incarnate Christ, can be demonstrated on several points. First, Paul states previously in 8:3 that God sent Christ in the likeness of sinful flesh (perhaps a reference to the image of Adam). Certainly it is not a future life in sinful flesh that we have to look forward to. Rather, Christ died in his sinful flesh so that his body could be redeemed and renewed (8:11). Second, it is within the context of physical restoration and resurrection that people are predestined to share in the image of his son (29a), with the result or purpose that they will become brothers and sisters of him who has already been reborn (note Paul’s use of the word πρωτότοκος, firstborn, within the context of resurrection). Thus, Paul sees the image as the firstborn, resurrected Christ (cf. Col 1:15), whose renewed physical form the elect will take part in (Phil 3:21).
57 This textual problem strongly determines how the passage is to be interpreted. If the future indicative (φορέσομεν) is taken then the implied meaning is that the bearing of the heavenly image is a future event (the future bodily resurrection). But, if the aorist subjunctive (φορέσωμεν) is read here then it indicates that Paul is commanding the Corinthians to presently bear the image, probably in a moral and ethical sense.
The future indicative reading is accepted by the vast majority of commentators and translations. It is most strongly supported by internal evidence, with little significant external support (B, I, 6, 1881, copsa al sa). The context of the 1 Cor 15:42-49 is clearly concerned with bodily resurrection, and thus an abrupt moral exhortation strikes the reader as being out of place. Further, the conjunction and comparative, καὶ καθώς, which introduces v. 49, seems to connect the thoughts here with those of the preceding argument. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (New York: American Bible Society, 1994), 502.
The aorist subjunctive reading, while difficult contextually, is supported by an overwhelming amount of external evidence (p46, א, A, C, D, F, G, Ψ, 075, 0243, 33, 1739, Byz, latt, vg, copbo, Irlat, Cl, Orgr, lat). Though the subjunctive could be the result of a very early scribal error (A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research [Nashville: Broadman, 1934], 200-201), it is difficult to see how this reading was propagated through most of the major witnesses for all of the textual families. The subjunctive reading is difficult, but not impossible within this context. It does occur at the climax of Paul’s discussion, and it is possible that this exhortation is harkening back to Paul’s earlier command to live righteously because of the coming resurrection (1 Cor 15:33-34). See Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Gordon D. Fee (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 787 n. 5.
58 Those who hold to this view usually understand the phrase “image of God” as a reference to authority or dominion which has been granted to males alone. Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1857), 210. See also Ronald Trail, An Exegetical Summary of 1 Corinthians 10-16 (Dallas: SIL International, 2001), 71.
59 “ὑπάρχων… here perh. in its proper sense, since he is in origin, being so constituted.” Maximilian Zerwick and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, trans. Mary Grosvenor, 5th revised ed. (Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1996), 519. See also A. T. Robertson and Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 2nd ed., The International Critical Commentary, ed. Samuel Rolls Driver, Alfred Plummer, and Charles Augustus Briggs (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1914), 231.
60 “Paul’s own interest, however, is finally not in man as being God’s image, but in his being God’s glory….” Fee, First Corinthians, 515. See also Thiselton, First Corinthians, 834-36.
61 Hooker, From Adam to Christ, 118-20.
62 L.A.E. 12-17.
63 The male inheritance of the imago Dei can be seen in Gen 5:1-3; as well as L.A.E. 37:3; 39:1-3. In later Jewish tradition Eve was also described as a radiant and glorious being, though usually lesser by comparison to Adam (b. B. Bat. 58a; Sib. Or. 1:32-33).
64 It is more difficult to suggest, however, that Paul believed that only males possessed the image and that the possession was present at the time he wrote to them. Paul’s argument in 1 Cor 11:1-12 is largely historical, though he brings it into his present social context to strengthen the force of his argument (thus, perhaps Zerwick and Grosvenor are generally correct – see note 59 above). Further, as numerous commentators have pointed out, it may be significant that Paul does not say that women are the “image of man.” Given Paul’s theology elsewhere (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Col 3:10; Gal 3:28) we should favor interpretations of 1 Cor 11:7 which suggest that unredeemed humanity does not possess the image of God presently, nor is the image of God gender exclusive. See Dunn, Christology, 308 n. 31.
1 Cor 11:7 also forces us to ask the question as to whether Paul thought that humans presently possess the image of God, or not. In the other passages we have surveyed it is clear that Paul believed that no human in their unregenerate state possesses the image of God. It is only those people who are renewed through belief in Christ who become present partial- and future full-bearers of the image of God. Thus, though 1 Cor 11:7 may seem to imply that some humans (possibly only males) presently possess the image, this a difficult interpretation to reconcile with Paul’s thought elsewhere.
65 Ibid., 105.
66 Stanley Grenz, “Jesus as the Imago Dei: Image-of-God Christology and the Non-Linear Linearity of Theology,” JETS 47 (2004): 617.
67 For Paul this first transformative resurrection appears to takes place at baptism (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12). However, some commentators are more particular and argue that the first resurrection is an event which takes place, not necessarily at baptism, but rather with the forgiveness of sins (Barth and Blanke, Colossians, 461).
68 Becoming “like Christ” is not simply an aphorism of modern Christian pop-theology. In Paul’s thought there is a very real sense in which the Christian is to become like Christ. As Paul discusses this in his letters he is doing more than metaphorically describing behavior change. He perceives that there is an ontological change that begins to take place within a Christian’s “inner person”—a change which results in their assimilation into the nature of Christ’s being. This understanding of Paul’s thought goes far in explaining many of his otherwise cryptic statements about humanity’s relationship to Christ. E.g., “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you…” (Gal 4:19). “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Rom 13:14). “God wanted to make known to them what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). See Hooker, From Adam to Christ, 59-65.