Paul, Christ, and the Image of God

The category of “image of God” is fundamental to theological anthropology, and many biblical theological analyses of the topic seek to draw a typological line from Adam, who was created in the image of God, to Christ. In this paper I argue that while terms like “Adam Christology” may be helpful in describing Paul’s soteriology, they actually hinders a proper understanding of Christ’s relationship to Adam. Paul does not articulate his understanding of Christ as the Image of God (2Cor 4:4; Col 1:18) based on a similarly to Adam; indeed, he posits a strong contrast between the two (1Cor 15:49) that can only be overcome by means of ontological transformation (2Cor 3:18). I put forward the thesis that Paul’s understanding of what it means for human beings to be made in the image of God is based on his encounter with the risen Christ as the true image of God which led him to reconstruct his anthropology with Christ at the center.

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