Pearls of the Word

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Whose is this icon?

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, Whose head [eikon] is this, and whose title?" (Matthew 22:20).

An icon is an image representing a character. God had forbidden the Hebrew people to make any graven image of heavenly things (Exodus 20:4), or any figure, the likeness of a male or female (Deuteronomy 4:16), in order not to make an idol (Leviticus 26:1). That is why there is no representation of heavenly things or human faces on ancient coins of Israel.

When the Herodians came to trap Jesus hypocritically with a Roman denarius, He established a clear separation between the things of God and the things of men by saying, "Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's". Any image of heavenly things leads to confusion and idolatry (Psalm 97:7).