Theodoret of Cyrus considers the words of St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy:
“Be a model of the sound teachings you have heard from me in the faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13)
Imitate the painter, he is saying, and as they take note of the originals, painting copies of them with precision, so too keep as a kind of original the teaching given by me about faith and love.” (Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, p 239)
Theodoret gives us a way to understand icons of the saints. The iconographer aims to give us a precise image of the saint, to remind us of their life, holiness, their deeds and their teachings. When we contemplate an icon, we are drawn to think about the saint’s teaching on faith and love. We remember their teaching on and witness to Jesus Christ the Lord. Thus every icon bears witness to Christ.