The first man, Adam, was made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). Since he was an exact likeness of God, He was a type of Him, along with being the One who represented Him visually. But the second Adam, Jesus Christ, reflected “the invisible God” (1 Timothy 1:17) perfectly, referring to His visible glory, while the first Adam only represented His glory in part. Christ has always been the visible image of the invisible God, but in a way that was not possible for Adam. This is because the Godhead (consisting of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) was pleased to dwell in Christ in its fulness.
An Image is the Appearance and the Nature
An image refers to more than just a likeness. It’s the equivalent of what’s being portrayed, which perfectly represents its same essential nature and qualities. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the image of the Heavenly Father in all things, but He’s not actually the Father. Before Jesus came to earth in the flesh, for someone to be an image of what is invisible, that person also had to be invisible.
But it’s not until the Heavenly Father has been seen in Him that anyone can have a correct understanding of Jesus. Therefore, anyone who has seen Jesus has seen God. “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?” He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father…” (John 14:9)
“No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…Not that any man hath seen the Father, [except] he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.”John 6:44-46 (emphasis added)
“[Jesus] being the brightness of [God’s] glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…” (Hebrews 1:3 emphasis added).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2). Jesus is the Living Word of God. And as the Word, Jesus is the image of the invisible God.
Faith is not based on our senses, which can produce doubt, but on the Word of God. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 emphasis added). Moses regarded “…the reproach of Christ [to be] greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” (Hebrews 11:26).
Moses Saw in Faith Christ and Ultimately an Invisible God
Moses considered the reproach of Christ to be a greater honor than being on the throne of Egypt. He was raised in the palace of the Pharoah, but He had made it a habit to look away from the treasures in Egypt, and intentionally set his eyes on the heavenly reward instead. Then the Lord placed His invisible scepter in his hand, making him His physical representative on earth at that time.
“By faith [Moses] forsook Egypt…” which every believer in Christ must also do in a spiritual way, “…not fearing the wrath of the king…” (Hebrews 11:27). It happened at the time when Pharoah tried to kill him (see Exodus 2:15) but “…he endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 emphasis added). “Him Who is invisible” is a King higher than Pharaoh. This means that, by faith, Moses saw Christ. Paul the Apostle shows the difference between the invisible Divine Being and the gods of Egypt, who were visible, but also coarse, fleshly and completely useless.
Christ is superior to the king of Egypt because He is the King of the Ages, Who is both indestructible and invisible regarding His glory. “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:17 emphasis added).
“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…” (Romans 1:20 emphasis added). Creation has to have a creator. It displays God’s eternal power which is evident to everyone.
Our Means to “See” an Invisible God Comes Through Our Spirit
God’s “invisible things” refers to what our senses can’t discern. But it doesn’t say that the eye can see some things that apply to the character of God. It means that we can know some things about God which the human eye is not able to perceive. We can use our sense of sight, touch, or hearing, etc. to size up objects around us. But, even though we can’t actually see God, there’s still a way we can get to know more about Him.
God is invisible. No human eyes on Earth have seen Him, except Christ’s. No one else has seen God’s essence or known Him fully. But Christ saw and knew God in an intimate and complete way. Therefore, He was the perfect One to bring forth a fuller manifestation of Him.
When the Apostle Paul spoke of the invisible things of God, he was referring to His wisdom, His uprightness and such in general, along with His invisible qualities and omnipotence in particular. These are all invisible, but we can still see them in His works since He created the world. The things which are invisible can be seen by the mind’s eye, but only by those who are depending on their true understanding of Him.
Jesus is the Only Visible Representation of an Invisible God
The only One Who can truly represent God is His only begotten Son, Jesus, because He “…is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15 emphasis added), the exact, flawless copy of the Heavenly Father. God the Father is therefore fully revealed in His Son. Jesus puts the Heavenly Father into an understandable form. He is not seen anywhere else in the same way He’s seen in Christ, regarding His divine nature—by the invisible image, and regarding His human nature—the visible image of the Heavenly Father. But if His Father is invisible, His image in His Son must be invisible too. Therefore, the only way the invisible God can become visible to us is by faith.
“…Jesus…said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19 emphasis added). If we want to see God, we will have to set our eyes of faith on Christ as a man, because only those who see the Son “seeth the Father.” His humbleness and dependence on God showed what the rest of humanity was seriously missing.
God was in existence throughout all eternity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But He could not be seen by the eyes of men or angels until Jesus was born as a human baby in Bethlehem. He was the invisible God as much as His Heavenly Father or the Holy Spirit until He came to Earth in the flesh. Then He could be seen by both men and angels.
“God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”Hebrews 1: 1-4 (emphasis added)
Before His Son came to earth as man, the Heavenly Father spoke to man from time to time through the prophets of Israel. But now God speaks to man by Christ. “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). He’s the final and highest demonstration of the presence of God. We can therefore say that God fully made Himself visible to man in His Son.
God Made Himself Known to This World Through Christ
God revealed Himself on earth through the Man Jesus to those who were made in His image. And men were made in His image so that He would be able to reveal Himself to them. God wants to make peace with man so that He can communicate with him once more in love. Then man will no longer be a stranger to heaven and earth. In Christ, His love is revealed.
Being an image means more than just resembling or being like someone or something. It’s the exact counterpart of what’s being imaged. God’s exact counterpart, meaning One that exactly resembles another, perfectly represents His attributes and essential nature. Jesus is the only One Who can visibly represent the God Who is invisible.
We Can Only Know God Through His Son
God’s Son is the image of His Father in all things, with the only exception being that He’s not the Father. The Son has such a likeness to Him as the image of God that it makes Him qualified to be the manifestation of God to us. We know that God is invisible. This doesn’t just mean that He can’t be seen by the human eye, but also that He can’t be known by man alone. But when Christ is lifted up, then man is able to know the God Who is unknowable. Christ is the image of God for all who follow Him.
Being like God means being like Christ—Who is the visible image of the God Who is invisible. In every way possible, Jesus is the exact and perfect image of the invisible God. Man was intended to be the visible representative of the Heavenly Father in relation to the animal creation around him on Earth, but he failed to represent God as He is. Now, through this Man Jesus, the Second Adam, sent from God, God’s invisible presence and man’s visible presence will join together in Christ to become one!
Jesus said, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” (John 14:10). Do you want to see what God is like? All you need to do is to look at “His dear Son…the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15 emphasis added), the One Who came to Earth to reveal the Father in Himself!
[Additional image credits: Featured image (modified by author) by Rishabh Dharmani on Unsplash ; Opening image (edited by author) by Michelangelo from Wikimedia Commons on Picryl (Public Domain Mark PDM)]