The previous segment was entitled: An Image of Death while the present segment begins with the word ‘The’ instead of ‘An.’
‘An’ indicates there are multiple images leading to death while ‘The’ indicates there is a single image of life, and so it is.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse he expounds on God’s gracious gift of redemption made possible because of His Son.
“He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Colossians 1:15
‘Image’ means ‘representation’ or ‘likeness.’ And very significantly, Jesus ‘is the’ image of God. ‘Is’ means ‘to be’ or ‘am’ or ‘are.’ Recall from “An Image of Death” an image was made or achieved by effort. Jesus ‘is’ and ‘was’ and always ‘will be.’
Jesus’ deity is confirmed, inasmuch as He is described as ‘the firstborn (preeminent) over all creation.’
The writer of the Book of Hebrews makes similar proclamations as he describes Jesus relative to His Father.
“…who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power…” Hebrews 1:3
In this case Jesus is described as the ‘express image’ of His Father. The appropriate synonym for ‘express’ is ‘exact.’
‘Being’ in the above is akin to ‘is’ noted earlier. And Jesus’ deity is again exemplified when it is said He upholds all things by the word of His power. Jesus is ‘being’ the brightness of His Father’s glory; He is not made by effort as is ‘an image of death.’
Jesus’ deity was reinforced in an earlier verse in Hebrews.
“God…has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…” Hebrews 1:2
The doctrine of Jesus being the image of His Father is also expressed in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.
“…our gospel is veiled…to those who are perishing…who do not believe…the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…” 2 Corinthians 4:3
Again, Jesus Christ ‘is the’ image of God, not ‘an’ image made by effort.
And then Paul reveals an astounding truth about Jesus and His assignment from the Father.
Jesus, the Son of God with equal deity, forfeits equality with His Father for a season, for the sake of man, who was ‘created’ in the image of God.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men…” Philippians 2:5-7
Jesus, ‘being in the form of God’ means that He was and always will be God. No one or anything could be in the form of God without being God. Jesus continued as God as He subsequently took on the form of a bondservant. He then came to earth in the likeness of men, i.e. visible in outward appearance and identifiable form.
Jesus was never without being God, but took on the likeness or appearance of men.
When it is said that Jesus ‘did not consider it robbery to be equal to God,’ the meaning is that Jesus was always God and did not need to apply force, or to seize equality with God, as if by robbery; He already was God.
And then Paul revealed the divine purpose of the God/man Jesus.
“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8
The writer of Hebrews provides even more detail.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9
Thus Jesus took on the form (appearance) of a man to do that which created man could never do, i.e. fulfill the righteousness of God. The Creator fulfilled the duty of the created and gave life to the dead.
For more, see my latest book “Looking Backward from the Future: …Until Messiah the Prince”