The word icon is a transliteration of the Greek word eikon and is found in the New Testament, particularly in the letters of the apostle Paul. While most Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians are familiar with the biblical theme of Jesus as the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1-14), Orthodox Christians also celebrate the biblical theme of Jesus as the Icon or Image of God.
The icons found in Orthodox Churches are a celebration of the fact that Jesus Christ is indeed the Word of God made flesh and that anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (John 12:45 and 14:8-12). As the 7th Ecumenical Council held in the city of Nicea in 787 AD proclaimed, icons are in color what the Scriptures are in words: witnesses to the incarnation, the fact that God has come among us as a person whom we can see, touch and hear. In fact, in the traditional language of the Church, icons are not merely painted but written and an iconographer is sometimes called “one who writes icons.”
Below are listed some of the places that the word icon is found in the original Greek text of the New Testament. Normally translated by the English words “image” or “likeness” in the New Revised Standard Version and the New International Version, in the texts given below the transliterated word icon has been left in the text.