What Is Transformation in the Bible?

Did you know the Bible speaks of something called transformation? It’s found in these two verses in the New Testament:

2 Corinthians 3:18: But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.

Romans 12:2: And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.

So what does it mean for us as believers to be transformed? And how can we experience transformation in our Christian life?

The definition of transformation

The word “transformation,” according to Merriam-Webster, means “a complete or major change in someone or something’s appearance, form, etc.” This gives us a basic definition of transformation as a kind of change.

But what does transformation mean for us as Christians? Does it mean we clean up our act, change our behavior to be more Christ-like, or live by a new set of rules and regulations? When we look more closely at the verses mentioned above, we find that in the Bible, transformation actually means something different from all of these things.

In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word used for transformation is metamorphosis. The biological definition for metamorphosis, again according to Merriam-Webster, is “a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.”

Although an outward change in appearance or form takes place, the change comes from within the life of the organism. A caterpillar is born with the life that causes it to become a butterfly. It doesn’t put on a butterfly costume or strive to act like a butterfly. As long as it eats, its metabolism takes the nutrients it consumes, assimilates them into the caterpillar, and causes it to grow, so that eventually, the caterpillar changes and becomes a real, genuine butterfly.

A caterpillar changing into a butterfly is an excellent picture of what the Bible speaks of concerning the transforming of the believers into the image of Christ.

The transformation in our Christian life

When we prayed to receive Christ as our Savior, we were regenerated, or reborn, with God’s life to become children of God. We were reborn with the divine life of God within. This life transforms us into the image of Christ.

But, like the caterpillar, we have to stay in the process of transformation by eating. In John 6:35, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall by no means hunger, and he who believes into Me shall by no means ever thirst.” The Lord wants us to take Him as our spiritual food. If we want to grow and change, we need to eat Him every day.

Some caterpillars eat only one kind of leaf for their whole lives. In the same way, as believers, we also are meant to eat only one kind of spiritual food throughout our entire lives—Christ. When we eat and drink of Him, we’re supplied with His life for our Christian life and we grow with that life. As we grow, we’re in the process mentioned in 2 Corinthians 3:18, being transformed from one degree of glory to another, little by little, into the image of Christ.

By taking in Christ as our food, more of His element is added to us and assimilated by us. We undergo a transformation that’s not merely an outward change, but one that comes from our being spiritually nourished and the life of God operating in us.

What transformation is not

Transformation is not a change brought about by simply doing good or improving our behavior. Imagine a person who is undernourished, sickly, and pale, but who puts on makeup to improve their appearance. They may look healthier, but the makeup is only cosmetic, something externally applied. What they really need is a genuine change that results from a life process within.

If that same undernourished, pale person were to eat healthy, nourishing food, a noticeable change would begin to occur. Their color would improve and their body would be strengthened. Eventually, their appearance would become healthy not because of something they did outwardly, but because of something that changed inwardly.

Adjusting our behavior to look more like Christ is like applying that external makeup. Our inward condition remains the same, but we try to cover it by doing good things or improving our conduct. As a result, what people see is not really Christ Himself lived out of us and expressed in our lives, but spiritually undernourished people striving to imitate Christ’s life the best they can.

Genuine transformation is different. An inward change takes place in our being as we take Christ in as our spiritual food and drink. As we eat, the divine life within us is allowed to operate, and our “appearance” gradually improves until we spontaneously begin to express Christ more in our daily lives.

People might remark, “That person’s different than he was before. What happened to him?” The difference comes from being transformed by the life of God through our eating Christ and assimilating Him into our being until we express Him more and more.

How we cooperate to be transformed

We can’t transform ourselves, but we can “be transformed,” that is, we can cooperate with the Lord for this process of transformation to take place in us. To be transformed, we need to take Christ in as our food and our drink. We can do this in many ways, such as:

  • By calling on His name throughout the day, saying, “Oh, Lord Jesus,” or “Lord Jesus, I love You.”
  • By singing with our spirit to the Lord.
  • By praying with our spirit.
  • By praying over what we read in the Bible.
  • By giving thanks to God.
  • By praising God.
  • By preaching the gospel or speaking about Christ to others.

All of these are ways to eat Christ as the living bread and to drink Him as the living water.

Did you learn anything new or helpful about transformation by reading this post? If yes, leave a comment and let us know.


We love hearing from you, so please share your thoughts and experiences related to the post (blog commenting guidelines).

31 thoughts on “What Is Transformation in the Bible?

  1. This all goes back to what we let influence us.Clearly what we take in will and does influence us greatly as to how we make changes in life. But we also must alow the Holy Spirit to take over and dwell with our spirit so that we can change and grow in the will of God the Father.

    1. My 93 yr old mother was in her last days for a month or so and one morning she awoke so excited as she had had a beautiful dream of an over abundance of snowfall which she said was sooo beautiful. She had a couple of other dreams prior to that which I thought could be the lORD SPEAKING TO HER. She passed in Jan
      and the day of her funeral we had a tremendous snow storm and it was beautiful. Interpretations indicated possibly snow representing transformation and/or purification!???? She loved the Lord with all of her heart and severed Him always. She wanted her service to be joyful and happy….and so it was…a metamorphosis?

  2. When I read that caterpillars eat only one kind of leaf their whole lives, my first thought was of the children of Israel coming out of Egypt. All they had to eat was manna, every day, and for every meal. They complained, but maybe it was for their metamorphosis from Egyptian slaves into people of God’s kingdom. Probably caterpillars don’t have an opinion about their food. They just eat. And then…butterflies!

  3. This is a nice illustration, very basic but giving a real picture of the whole thing,
    May God bless you for sharing it with us.

  4. an interesting note: the greek word for transformation is metamorphoo. The greek word for butterfly is psuche (soul). How mysterious and wonderful is metamorphosis. A caterpillar is basically a stomach with skin stretched over it, an eating machine. At some point it spins a cocoon and emerges a short time later a high tech and beautiful flying machine. What a picture of God’s complete salvation.

  5. THIS IS WELL SAID BECAUSE I ALWAY’S WANT A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD.I WANT TO BE THE WAY GOD WANT’S ME TO BE IT GREAT WHEN PEOPLE SEE YOU AND SAY HE’S CHANGED NO I DIDN’T CHANGE GOD CHANGED ME YOU SEE IT’S NOT WHAT I DONE IT’S WHAT GOD’S DONE.THANL YOU LORD FOR SAVING ME!!!!!!!

  6. This really made a difference because for a time I was cosmetically transformed until God entered my heart! I live The Lord and welcome my transformation in Jesus name! Amen

  7. this was good stuff,,, but I am just trying to be a good person and not lie like I do,, doing more is adding stress to me,, I can;t do this all to be a good christian all at once,, I will keep reading from your site.

  8. I enjoyed the part about how caterpillars eat the same kind of food for their whole life. Similarly, we believers need to daily “eat Christ” like John 6:57 says. By taking Him as our real spiritual food we’ll be transformed into His image.

  9. This is truly an excellent interpretation of the transformation process, and well backed by scripture, so Brother Timothy stop stressing and continue eating and drinking the words of truth(the Spirit of Christ) and let the butterfly continue in its transforming process. If we can fix ourselves then all he did for us was in vain…I and the Lord love you Brother and will never abandone you…

  10. I am Really happy to read this,because as I am 4 monhts with Christ, am sure this w1ll help me not to sweat to much,making GOD happy with my own virtues.This is really Great illustration God Bless You !!

  11. Thank you God for what you have done for the son. You are worthy to be praised at all times. I thank you for the life extension. Your children Thank you for the life extension.

  12. That’s really a nice stuff…I read it and feel like to read it again and again…I am thanking God almighty for making me to have this great opportunity to be aware of this site…I believe now I will be able to have something I can study and meditate on…thanks a lot to all those that God has used to touching lives…GOD BLESS YOU ALL…more of this please

  13. The illustration of the caterpillar becoming a butterfly and eating the same kind of leaves everyday has touched me. Yes, trying to improve our behaviour by ourselves is of no use. Thank you for the timely message.

  14. I really appreciate this post about transformation. In my opinion this takes a lot of pressure off of people who are attempting to be Christ-like. Becoming Christ-like has less to do with our outward deeds and more internal. This forces me to spend more time in my word, to pray in the spirit while I’m on my way to work. To worship the Lord while I’m running errands, to just praise Him for who He is so that my transformation can began to take place.

    Thanks BFA

  15. Thank for sharing this article…awesome revelation,helped show me what God has been working in me by His Holy Spirit to get me to where I am now and where He’s leading me now…deeper in my relationship with Him, transforming me to look and be more likeHim ever day.

  16. I am writing a paper on Colossians 2:13-3:10. what I need to discuss is following: “Generally there are two views of this passage. Identify both positions and interpretation of this text in light of both positions” – this is about transformation, really, by I am having difficulty identifying two different positions. does anyone have any idea?

  17. I believe that the events of my life completely transformed the life I was living in to the life I am living now. All through the power of God and learning from Christ, amen.

  18. This was very helpful and this is very true….when people start changing on the inside it reflects on the outside….you start looking different then your light shines more and more in the Lord….people will see the change in you

  19. This is an excellent written article. There was so much revelation and God gave me additional. This has truly bless me…

  20. Yes, to be transformed is to be reborn by praying, reading Gods word daily and singing praises to God and thanking Him for everything! It should not matter what’s going on around you because you have the peace that passes all understanding thanks be to God! Thanks for this explanation ! God bless you always !

  21. We can be transformed by “consuming” the energy of Christ. Internalization will therefore affect the external.

  22. True. The food of the living word is the nourishment that transforms us from glory to glory. We need His Word every day or we get stunted in growth. This personal relationship is filled with choices to love and praise God while living by the Word. No one else can do this for us. We have to eat to be healthy. Thank you for this beautiful illustration.

  23. This has truly helped me in in this process I needed clarification on Divine Transformation I can truly say this is as clear as it can get I thank you so much for help to opening my spirit more. God Bless

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