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The Image of God

Remember that God is not a physical being. He is not a spiritual being. He is creator of both the physical and the spiritual realms. He is described as spirit, as well as other things such as ‘love’ and a ‘consuming fire’

26Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. 29 Then God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground— everything that has the breath of life in it— I give every green plant for food. And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning— the sixth day Genesis 1:26-31

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7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2: 7-8

15The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die. 18The LORD God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. 19Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23The man said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man. 24For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Genesis 2:16-25

Two mistakes to avoid concerning God’s image ot

  1. God is physical 24 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.John 4:24
  2. God looks like a human
  3. God cannot be represented on an icon (except symbolically and even that is too finite)

What it means to be made in God’s image

  1. To be more than the other earthly creatures. None of them are made in God’s image.
  2. To have a connection with God that no other earthly creature that makes humans ‘like‘ God
  3. To rule God’s creation, just as divine beings in the spiritual realm exercise rule, to carry out God’s decrees.
  4. Male and Female (that is humankind) together are equally made in God’s image
  5. inherent in being human, ie, without being in God’s image we are not human. We either are, or are not in God’s image. There is no partial image.

What the image of God does not mean

  1. The image is not some sort of ability or capability
    • eg, such as intelligence, sentience, or cognitive skill, or emotion, or linguistic ability, or the ability to discern spiritual things or relaate to God, or to make tools etc
  2. To have an awareness of things that can only be sensed Spiritually
  3. To have an ability to see things that will occur far into the future, even in the new heavens and new earth
  4. The soul or spirit, because even animals have a soul (nephesh Genesis 1:30) and spirit (ruach) and soul are both used to describe the same thing in 1 Samual 1:15 and Job 7:11.

The image is shared with divine beings who exist in the Spiritual Realm?

  1. 26Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-28

Traditionally, Christian theologians have seen a reference to the Holy Trinity.

But the most likely is that in this verse God is addressing heavenly beings who have already been created. The language is plural in v26 and changes to singular in v27. Humanity is made by God alone, and in God’s image alone, not in the image of other created divine beings.

2. This image makes us fit to rule God’s earthly creation, just as divine beings in the spiritual realm exercise rule, to carry out God’s decrees, as determined by a sovereign God whose chosen method is to decree and allow the implementation to those beings in his image (divine beings in the spiritual realm, and humans in the earthly realm). For example, 1 Kings 22:16-23; Daniel 4:13-24)

3. Perhaps we get a hint as to why Satan rebelled. God makes man in His image but this image in man is different to the heavenly beings. In reference to believers appealing to non-Christian judges, the apostle Paul says that “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!” 1 Corinthians 6:3. Human rule will extend over heavenly beings!

To be further developed

Acknowledgement

I’d like to thank the editor of The Debriefing for assisting me to develop this topic of interest in much greater depth than I originally had posted.

About the Author
Agios Dimitrios

Agios Dimitrios

Who is this saint? Is he from Constantinople, or the 'new' Rome further north? Can be very Orthodox at times.

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