God’s Image (three views)

Human beings are Godlike beings as those who bear His image. God has endowed us with faculties making us like him and unlike the animals.

Humans are…

  • Volitional
  • Rational
  • Moral
  • Social/Relational
  • Creative
  • Administrative
  • Spiritual

Human flourishing is ultimately grounded in a shared reality of being created in the image of God (Imago Dei) (see – Genesis 9:6; James 3:9). The Imago Dei is also part of a theological case for believing that, “God has lawfully ordered his creation in a way that all human beings have some sort of cognitive access to that lawfulness.” (Richard Mouw). Romans 2:15-16 validates this cognitive access — even among those who don’t have access to Scripture (cf. Psalm 19:1-4).

God’s image provides common points of connection and cooperation for human beings. 

Three views – Relational, Resemblance, Representative

  1. Relational – Humans are fully human in relationship with God and others. Man is created a community or relational being, reflecting the relational aspect of God in tri-unity. “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness,…” (Genesis 1:26). Specific relational identity is creation as male and female. Genesis 1:27 – “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
  2. Resemblance – Something about man’s being resembles God. The debate here is between the functional aspects of resemblance and ontological (being) aspects. When we see that humans are… volitional, rational, moral, social/relational, creative, administrative, and spiritual, are we identifying functions or qualities that are part of being? 
  3. Representative – Humans were made to represent God in certain ways. One specific representation is in a ruling capacity. Genesis 1:26 – “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”

Three other references to image

  1. Humans (in general) – Genesis 1:26-27 – “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over (consequence – not the content of the image of God) the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
    • Genesis 5:1 – “When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God.”
    • Genesis 9:6 – “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.
    • James 3:9 – “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”
  2. Christ is the image of God
  • Colossians 1:15 – “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
  • Colossians 1:19 – “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him”
  • Colossians 2:9 – For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…”
  • II Corinthians 4:4 – “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. “
  • II Corinthians 3:18 – “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
  • John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

3. Believers are being transformed into the image of God. Because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23), the image of God in mankind is deeply marred (but not completely removed). Humans are now beings of dignity and depravity. Spiritual salvation and transformation is necessary for the restoration of the glory of God’s image in humans.

  • II Corinthians 3:18 – “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
  • Colossians 3:10 – “…put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
  • Ephesians 4:24 – and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
  • Romans 8:29 – “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
  • I Corinthians 15:49 – “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”
  • Colossians 2:9-10 – For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. 
  • II Peter 1:4 – Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature

Word usage – “Image” (Heb. tselem) and “Likeness” (Heb. demut)

Questions

1.. What does Philippians 2:6-7 contribute to discussion of image – “Who, (Christ) being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

  • See also – Hebrews 2:14,17 – “Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus) too shared in their humanity” v.17 – “For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God.”

2.. Does Ecclesiastes 3:11 relate to the image of God? “He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

3.. How does Isaiah 40:18 relate with the image of God – “With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him?”

4. How should we think about the incommunicable and communicable attributes of God in relation to the image of God?

  • Incommunicable (nonmoral) attributes of God -Self-existence, Omni-science, Omni-present, Omni-potent, Immutability, Incomprehensibility
  • Communicable (moral) attributes of God – Holiness, Love, Truth, Goodness, Mercy, Grace, Wrath, Patience

7. What are the effects of sin on the image of God in humans?

  • When sin became part of our experience, it required prefixes and suffixes to negate otherwise good qualities. Dis-obedience, dis-able, dis-agree, dis-advantage, faith-less, hope-less, etc… Could we use terms like Dys-functional or broken with this backdrop?
  • “Creation is the stage and first act of the world’s drama. In the second act, sin enters the picture, but only as a spoiler of God’s good creation. Creation is original; sin is only a parasite on it.”
  • “The real human predicament, as Scripture reveals, is that inexplicably, irrationally, we all keep living our lives against what’s good for us. In what can only be called the mystery of iniquity, human beings from the time of Adam and Eve (and, before them, a certain number of angelic beings) have so often chosen to live against God, against each other, and against God’s world” (Plantinga).
  • We have moments when life feels whole, full and satisfying but, at a deeper level, we know that we’re not what we’re supposed to be.
  • Something great has fallen from its greatness. 
    • Something amazing has lost its amazement.
    • Something beautiful has lost its beauty. 
    • Something whole is broken.
    • Something healthy is sick and in need of healing.
    • Something peaceful has been vandalized.
  • As a result of our fall, we can say that those who were whole are broken, partial and fractured. Brokenness is not the whole picture but it certainly belongs to it.
  • Working from a full theological perspective, a sad (yet realistic) set of terms is fitting to us:
    • lost 
    • wayward 
    • drifting 
    • restless 
    • fallen 
    • broken 
    • fractured 
    • alienated 
    • separated 
    • partial 
    • dysfunctional 
    • incomplete 
    • sinful 
    • dead
  • Not surprisingly, a vocabulary of salvation is what we need. We need intervention, rescue, regeneration, redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration.

8. How should truth about God’s image in mankind impact your treatment of human beings? (see Genesis 9:6; James 3:9).

Steve Cornell

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Creation, Image of God, Imago Dei, New Creation, Wisdom and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to God’s Image (three views)

  1. Reblogged this on Wisdomforlife and commented:

    An in-depth look at the image of God…

    Like

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