Pastor Mike Harding
A. Old Testament
The “image of God” (imago dei) describes man in his original creation that distinguishes him from all of creation. There are profound similarities in the nature of man and God’s nature. We were created as finite replicas of the infinite God. It is what makes man human, a created being, totally dependent upon God. Personhood is linked to creature-hood preventing man from being deified.
Genesis 1:26-28 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
“Image” (tselem) comes from a root meaning to “carve” or “cut.” “Likeness” (demuth) from a root meaning “to be like.” Man images God in that he represents God and is like God in certain respects. Terms are overlapping and synonymous. In the Hebrew text there is no conjunction between the two expressions, “in our image, after our likeness.”
Mankind, in reference to male and female, uniquely reflects God and bears His image corresponding to the divine original.
Mankind as God’s viceroys, male and female, are mandated to exercise dominion over the animals and the earth, since God has supreme dominion over all his creation.
Man has a need for suitable, appropriate female companionship as a social being and is uniquely complemented by the woman. This reflects the inherent fellowship in the Tri-unity of the Godhead.
Man resembles God in his personhood, being a responsible moral being in holiness, righteousness, and spiritual knowledge, capable of thought, intellect, speech, spirituality, conscience, self-determination, self-consciousness, volition, emotion, affection, creativity, imagination, and artistic beauty.
The image in which man was created enables him and her to have a divinely intended relationship with each other in a “one flesh” marital relationship, with God, with their fellow man, and to perform the functions that God has mandated.
Genesis 5:1-3 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
After the Fall Adam is still described as one created in the image of God, though the image was spiritually tarnished by the Fall. Since Adam is still in the image of God and Seth is in the image of Adam, Seth is also an image-bearer of God passed on through the natural procreation of Adam and Eve, though now having been corrupted and polluted by sin.
Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
To touch the image of God is to touch God himself; to kill the image of God is to do violence to God himself. Yet, mankind remains an image-bearer of God beyond the Fall and the Flood.
B. New Testament
Redeemed man shall ultimately be conformed to the image of God’s Son
1 Corinthians 11:7-9 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
The present tense indicates that man and woman, though distinct, are still in the image of God. As a result the genders are not to be confused or interchanged. Man naturally differs from woman in that it is a shame to him taught by nature itself that he should appear as a woman (long hair). Man culturally differs from a woman in that he should not confuse the cultural signs of masculinity and femininity. In this case, the wearing of a female shawl particularly during worship would be sinful. This rule applied to all the churches— no exceptions.
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Redeemed man shall ultimately be conformed to the image of Christ, God’s only Son, who is the perfect, express image of the Father. The spiritual corruption of the image is restored through Salvation.
James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
All human beings after the fall are still in the image of God. However, we “all with open face behold the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18). That restoration involves becoming a new person in Christ.
Ephesians 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The old man is the person in his unity dominated by sin. The new man is the person in his unity ruled by the Holy Spirit, created in righteousness and true holiness in accordance with the likeness of God, continually being renewed in an ever-increasing likeness to God.
Colossians 3:9-10 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Via biblical knowledge God’s people will be flawless image-bearers of God. In common grace and saving grace man’s dominion mandate as male and female experience suitable marital relationships whereby man procreates and fills the earth. All of which is the direct result of his creation in the image of God which equips man with the ability to have proper relationships and rule the earth as God’s viceroys. In so doing man reflects God, is like God, and represents God. The image is inseparable from one’s humanity and universal in the human race, fully restored through salvation, enabling man to have the divinely intended relationship with God, his fellow man, and his exercise of dominion.
To be continued…
Mike Harding is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Troy, Troy, Michigan.
This article is the manuscript form of a message preached June 15, 2016 at the Annual Fellowship meeting of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International in Indianapolis, IN. The audio version of this message can be found here.
- Note: Special thanks to Doug Wilson for some introductory material, Andreas Kostenberger’s “God, Marriage, and Family,” Albert Mohler’s “We Cannot Be Silent,” Rolland McCune’s Systematic Theology, and Commentaries by Hugh Ross, Victor Hamilton, John Davis, and James Boice. [↩]