The Image of God

The Image of God is a concept and theological doctrine in Christianity and Judaism which asserts that human beings are created in God‘s image and therefore have inherent value independent of their utility or function.

  • Then 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
    (Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)

Man in the image of God; what does this mean in practical terms? It cannot refer to bodily, biological form since God is a Spirit and man is earthly. But while it may be true that the body does not belong to the image, since God does not have a body, yet somehow we would like to see man’s body (which is a very real part of man) included in the image. Language and creativity,—two important parts of the image, are impossible without a body. And God the Almighty agreed to share with man dominion and authority over the animal kingdom (Genesis 1:28), an activity in which the whole man, body as well as mind, is involved. Furthermore the Son of God honored the human body by becoming flesh and dwelling among men (John 1:14) (Hebrews 2:14). C. S. Lewis suggests that before the Fall, the first man, Adam mirrored Christ the man of Galilee even more nearly than Christ would have resembled his own half-brothers. If this is so, it seems almost blasphemy to consider Adam sired by a shambling ape.

  • And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
    (Genesis 1:28 ESV)
  • And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
    (John 1:14 ESV)
  • Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.
    (Hebrews 2:14 ESV)
  • Answers in Genesis: Man – The Image of God

Humans in God’s image were intended at creation to bring glory to God as people who hadn’t sinned. Fallen humanity hasn’t lost the image of God, but the image is tarnished. “With Adam’s moral freedom to choose,” says Mark, “he rebelled against God, which has profoundly damaged the image of God in humanity and affects us in all areas of life. Through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection, God is now restoring his original image in humans as they are transformed by following Jesus Christ.” The writer of Hebrews says of Jesus that “the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3-4). Jesus shows us who God is and what God is like.

  • He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
    (Hebrews 1:3-4 ESV)
  • Thinking Through Faith: What is the “Image of God”?

The Torah has additional references that indicate that mankind was created in the image of God.

  • .This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.
    (Genesis 5:1-3 ESV)
  • “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
    (Genesis 9:6 ESV)

We are made in God’s image, but the potential value of this image will not be realized unless we become conformed to the image of Christ in our morality. To be living in God’s image, we must be in a right (i.e., moral) relationship with God and with other humans, using our minds and our authority to serve God and our fellow humans. This is what it means to be in the image of God and conformed to the perfect image, his Son.

The Holy Bible states that Jesus Christ is the visible image of God.

  • He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.
    (Colossians 1:13-16 ESV)
  • In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
    (2 Corinthians 4:4-7 ESV)
  • GotQuestons: What does it mean that man is made in the “image of God”

His Eye is on the Sparrow

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
(Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)

For years, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have counseled members to have a year’s supply of food and other essentials stored for emergency preparedness and independence. Joseph Smith, the first prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints taught that “The Church and its members are commanded by the Lord to be self-reliant and independent” (Doctrine and Covenants 78:13-14). I have always called this “Squirrel Syndrome”.

In this day and age martial law seems to be imminent, we have a president (Barack Obama) who appears to be ineligible for office and cares nothing about the rule of law, natural disasters seem to be striking more frequently, the entire world is experiencing economic depression and war seems to be likely between many countries. Given these conditions, I believe it is indeed prudent to plan ahead a few days.

Storing a years’s worth of food and essentials is overkill. It is expensive, unnecessary and shows a lack of faith in God’s Providence for His creation.

If a person makes the right choices in this life there is no reason that one should be anxious. Yeshua provided two fortiori arguments in Matthew 6:25-34, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” and “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” These fortiori arguments show that since God cares even for the birds and the lilies, how much more will He care for His own. To be anxious demonstrates a lack of faith in God, who promises that he will graciously care for all these things.

Yeshua said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV). In his epistle to the Romans the Apostle Paul wrote, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 ESV). In their epistle to the Philippians the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Timothy wrote, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:5-6 ESV).

Human beings are of more value than animals because only humans are created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27), because God gave the human race dominion over all the earth and all its creatures (Genesis 1:28), and because God loves mankind so much that He sent His only begotten Son to pay the ultimate price for our sins (John 3:16).

There is scarcely any sin against which our Lord Jesus more warns his disciples, than disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of this life. This often insnares the poor as much as the love of wealth does the rich. But there is a carefulness about temporal things which is a duty, though we must not carry these lawful cares too far. Take no thought for your life. Not about the length of it; but refer it to God to lengthen or shorten it as he pleases; our times are in his hand, and they are in a good hand. Not about the comforts of this life; but leave it to God to make it bitter or sweet as he pleases. Food and raiment God has promised, therefore we may expect them. Take no thought for the morrow, for the time to come. Be not anxious for the future, how you shall live next year, or when you are old, or what you shall leave behind you. As we must not boast of tomorrow, so we must not care for to-morrow, or the events of it. God has given us life, and has given us the body. And what can he not do for us, who did that? If we take care about our souls and for eternity, which are more than the body and its life, we may leave it to God to provide for us food and raiment, which are less. Improve this as an encouragement to trust in God. We must reconcile ourselves to our worldly estate, as we do to our stature. We cannot alter the disposals of Providence, therefore we must submit and resign ourselves to them. Thoughtfulness for our souls is the best cure of thoughtfulness for the world. Seek first the kingdom of God, and make religion your business: say not that this is the way to starve; no, it is the way to be well provided for, even in this world. The conclusion of the whole matter is, that it is the will and command of the Lord Jesus, that by daily prayers we may get strength to bear us up under our daily troubles, and to arm us against the temptations that attend them, and then let none of these things move us. Happy are those who take the Lord for their God, and make full proof of it by trusting themselves wholly to his wise disposal. Let thy Spirit convince us of sin in the want of this disposition, and take away the worldliness of our hearts.
(Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 10:28-33 ESV)

It is not food, clothing, shelter, cars, and other personal possessions that we need to be concerned with in this life, that is materialism. God has promised to provide our needs already, and God always keeps His promises (Joshua 1:1-6; Numbers 23:19). We need to concentrate our efforts to walk as Messiah Yeshua walked. Tomorrow will worry about itself and today is more than enough trouble already.