Another criticism of image veneration appears in the non-canonical 2nd-century Acts of John (generally considered a gnostic work), in which the Apostle John discovers that one of his followers has had a portrait made of him, and is venerating it: (27) "..[John] went into the bedchamber, and saw the portrait of an old man crowned with garlands, and lamps and altars set before it.And he called him and said: Lycomedes, what do you mean by this matter of the portrait? For I see that you are still living in heathen fashion." Later in the passage John says, "But this that you have now done is childish and imperfect: you have drawn a dead likeness of the dead." At least some of the hierarchy of the Christian churches still strictly opposed icons in the early 4th century. 305) bishops concluded, "Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration". Elsewhere in his Church History, Eusebius reports seeing what he took to be portraits of Jesus, Peter and Paul, and also mentions a bronze statue at Banias / Paneas under Mount Hermon, of which he wrote, "They say that this statue is an image of Jesus" (H. ); further, he relates that locals regarded the image as a memorial of the healing of the woman with an issue of blood by Jesus (Luke -48), because it depicted a standing man wearing a double cloak and with arm outstretched, and a woman kneeling before him with arms reaching out as if in supplication.At the same time there has been change and development.Aside from the legend that Pilate had made an image of Christ, the 4th-century Eusebius of Caesarea, in his Church History, provides a more substantial reference to a "first" icon of Jesus.This was in no small part due to Christians being free for the first time to express their faith openly without persecution from the state, in addition to the faith spreading to the non-poor segments of society.Paintings of martyrs and their feats began to appear, and early writers commented on their lifelike effect, one of the elements a few Christian writers criticized in pagan art — the ability to imitate life.Plato of Ankyra appeared to a Christian in a dream.
After adoption of Christianity as the only permissible Roman state religion under Theodosius I, Christian art began to change not only in quality and sophistication, but also in nature.
Though especially associated with "portrait" style images concentrating on one or two main figures, the term also covers most religious images in a variety of artistic media produced by Eastern Christianity, including narrative scenes.
Icons may also be cast in metal, carved in stone, embroidered on cloth, painted on wood, done in mosaic or fresco work, printed on paper or metal, etc.
Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis, wrote his letter 51 to John, Bishop of Jerusalem (c. John Francis Wilson have thought it to represent Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing, but the description of the standing figure and the woman kneeling in supplication precisely matches images found on coins depicting the bearded emperor Hadrian reaching out to a female figure – symbolizing a province – kneeling before him.
394) in which he recounted how he tore down an image in a church and admonished the other bishop that such images are "opposed . When asked by Constantia (Emperor Constantine's sister) for an image of Jesus, Eusebius denied the request, replying: "To depict purely the human form of Christ before its transformation, on the other hand, is to break the commandment of God and to fall into pagan error." After the emperor Constantine I extended official toleration of Christianity within the Roman Empire in 313, huge numbers of pagans became converts.