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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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in a religious sense, is an artificial representation of some person or thing used as an object of adoration, and is synonymous with idol. Nothing can be more clear, full, and distinct, than the expressions of Scripture prohibiting the making and worship of images, Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 16:22 . No sin is so strongly and repeatedly condemned in the Old Testament as that of idolatry, to which the Jews, in the early part of their history, were much addicted, and for which they were constantly punished. St. Paul was greatly affected, when he saw that the city of Athens was "wholly given to idolatry," Acts 17:16; and declared to the Athenians, that they ought not "to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device,"

Acts 17:29 . He condemns those who "changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things," Romans 1:23 .

That the first Christians had no images, is evident from this circumstance,—that they were reproached by the Heathens, because they did not use them; and we find almost every ecclesiastical writer of the first four centuries arguing against the Gentile practice of image worship, from the plain declarations of Scripture, and from the pure and spiritual nature of God. The introduction of images into places of Christian worship, dates its origin soon after the times of Constantine the Great, but the earlier Christians reprobated every species of image worship in the strongest language. It is sometimes pretended by the Papists, that they do not worship the images, but God through the medium of images; or, that the worship which they pay to images is inferior to that which they pay to the Deity himself. These distinctions would be scarcely understood by the common people; and formerly an enlightened Heathen or Jew would probably have urged the same thing. The practice is in direct opposition to the second commandment, and notwithstanding every sophistical palliation, it has always led to a transfer of human trust from God to something else. Hence idolatry, in general, is condemned in Scripture; and all use of images in the worship of God, making or bowing to any likeness, is absolutely forbidden. See ICONOCLASTES and See IDOLATRY .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Image'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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