On What It Means To Be An Image Bearer
In this video conversation, N.T. Wright considers what it means to be an image bearer of God. He suggests that what the book of Genesis and the apostle Paul mean by humans reflecting the image of God is less a static picture and more of a “creative, dynamic” proposition.
To emphasize the point that bearing Christ’s image is multi-dimensional, Wright suggests the metaphor of an angled mirror as example. To contextualize this in practical terms, he recounts a childhood anecdote about being ill in bed as a child and having his mother rest an angled mirror on his bedroom door so he would be able to see the comings and goings of other family members and not feel so isolated and alone. Similarly, Wright comments, we can use this metaphor to understand what the Bible means about being an image bearer—God can reflect his love, care, and stewardship toward humans, and in turn, they can reflect God back to the world.
As such, the “image of God” is not something about us—instead, it is what we do and how we do it. That is, how we reflect God into the world—aptly described by Paul in Colossians 3:9-10: “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (ESV).
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.
N.T. Wright is a leading biblical scholar, former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England, and current Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St Andrews. He studied for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and was ordained at Merton College, Oxford. Wright holds a Doctor of Divinity from Oxford University in addition to several honorary doctorates. Wright has also written over fifty books, including the multi-volume work Christian Origins and the Question of God and his two most recent books Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters and How God Became King.