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Perfection or Perdition
The Express Image.
pp. 155 - 158
We have seen that "the brightness of His glory" is illustrated by the Shekinah glory of
the Tabernacle, the Presence rendered visible in the pillar of fire, and anticipated in the
prophecy of Ezekiel. We now must ponder the words that follow:
"The express image of His Person "
In Col. 1: 15 Christ is said to be "the Image of the invisible God", and it is evident that
the word "image" is placed over against the word "invisible" with intention. The A.V.
translators apparently intended us to understand that a different word was employed in
the original of Heb. 1: 3, for there we read not "image" but "express image". The R.V.
margin reads "impress". However figurative the usage of such expressions as "express",
"impress", "oppress", "depress" and the like may be, the fundamental idea of "pressure"
remains, and when we note that the word employed in Heb. 1: 3 is the Greek charakter,
we realize the reason for the translation given.
The Greek word charakter of course supplies us with the English "character". The
idea of "one's character", i.e. one's personal qualities, is a secondary one, the primary
meaning being a stamp, mark or sign engraved or stamped, the "mark" of Rev. 13: 16,
according to Wycliffe's translation. The letters of the alphabet are called "characters" as
also the handwriting of a person.
"I found the letter . . . . . You know the character to be your brother's?" (King Lear).
We no longer use the verb "to character" but in Shakespeare's day this was so:
"O Rosalind! these trees shall be my book
And in their barks my thoughts I'll character" (As You Like It).
The Greek verb charatto means "to engrave" and is similar in sound to the Hebrew
cheret "graving tool" (Exod. 32: 4), and charath "to engrave" (Exod. 32: 16).
Charagma is used by Paul in Acts 17: 29, when he said "we ought not to think that the
Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device". Classical
usage of charakter shows that Plutarch employed it for letters engraved or inscribed on
waxed tablets; Sextus Empericus for the impressions or impressed images made by seals;
Aristotle for stamping and coining money, literally "putting the impress on it", giving a
coin its "image and superscription".
Philo, a learned Jewish philosopher of Alexandria, born a few years before Christ, and
who in 40A.D. petitioned the Emperor Caligula, wrote very fully regarding the Logos,