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SIMILITUDE (ὁμοιότης, ὁμοίωσις; comparison, copy, likeness, agreement). In the gospels this is used to introduce Christ’s comparisons to the nature of the kingdom (Matt 13:24; 18:23; 22:2; 25:1), though in Matthew 11:16 the comparison is with “this generation.” Apparently Mark 4:30 equates a comparison and a parable.

In the epistles the word expresses the reality of the incarnation. God has sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3), born in the likeness of sinful men (Phil 2:7); he had to be made like his brethren in every respect (Heb 2:17) and was tempted like us yet without sin (Heb 4:15). Though many have taken the “likeness” to point to some remaining “unlikeness,” surely the intent of these passages is to teach the agreement of Christ’s nature with true humanity. These passages underline the reality of Christ’s work for men, including His continuing care and intercession.

Sin includes exchanging God’s glory for images “like” men or animals (Rom 1:23—true glory exchanged for “true” images). Men curse others, who are made in the likeness of God (James 3:9; cf. Gen 1:26). Believers are united with Christ in a death like His, and shall be united in a resurrection like His (Rom 6:5—true likeness because true union).

See Parable; Image of God; Kenosis.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)