Man Created in the Image of God

Earl E. Robertson
Xenia, Ohio

Moses wrote "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 birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:26, 27). These verses affirm that God is the creator, man the created; and they also say man was created in the image of God. God is the pattern for man. God is not an old, but the original, image in whose likeness He created man. He is the archetype: "the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies" (Webster's Seventh, p. 46). God is the original author, the source for man's image (See Arndt-Gingrich, p. 111, and Moulton & Milligan -- The vocabulary of The Greek New Testament. p. 80 on the word arkegonos).

Moses says man was created in the "likeness" of God. Likeness (homoiosis) is defined as "that which has been made after the likeness of something, hence a) a figure, image, likeness, representation." Further, "b) likeness, i.e. resemblance (inasmuch as that appears in an image or figure), freq. such as amounts well-nigh to equality or identity " (Thayer, p. 445. and also see Arndt-Gingrich, p. 571)

Later Moses says, "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him'' (Gen. 5:1). "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man" (Gen. 9:6). Paul wrote, "For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God" (1 Cor. 11:7). Concerning the tongue, James says. "Therewith bless we the Lord and Father: and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God" (James 3:9).

These passages do not say that God is flesh, and they are not dealing with the shape, form, and contour of God or mans body. "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24), and "a spirit hath not flesh and bones" (Luke 24: 39). These passages deal with uprightness and character. Moulton & Milligan say "likewise to progressive character'' (The Vocabulary to the Greek New Testament, p.449). They mean that when God created man in his image, man was upright, pure, and holy. God did not create man in a fallen or sinful condition, but rather in his own likeness. Man knew no sin; he was perfect. The Almighty had created him! In this condition of uprightness the created reflected the glory of the Creator!

"It lies in the nature of the case that the 'image' does not consist in bodily form; it can only reside in spiritual qualities, in man's mental and moral attributes as a self-conscious, rational, personal agent, capable of self-determination and obedience to moral law" (James Orr, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. 2, p. 1264).

The Created Tempted and Falls

In time, however, man was tempted by the devil and sinned. In his sinful and tarnished condition he could no longer radiate the effulgence and glory of God who had created him in His own image. "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Vincent says, "they sinned, and therefore they are lacking  The glory of God is used of the aggregate of the divine attributes" (Word Studies, Vol.3, p. 42). So, when man sins (and the scripture hath concluded all under sin, Gal. 3:22) he is no longer in the image and likeness of his Creator; he no longer reflects the glory and image of the divine Creator. His sins separated him from his God (Isa. 5():1, 2). Paul says "all" have sinned and that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Being separated from God, "dead in trespasses and sins" such an one is a criminal before God with no hope for self-extrication. What a loss! What a tragedy! The work of Jehova has become marred. Human wisdom and ability could not and cannot provide the way back to God, and a transformation into His image. Only deity could make the necessary provisions and requirements to transform and reconcile the tarnished sinner. "God so loved the world that he gave" declares John (John 3:16).

Christ in Likeness of God and Man -- Redeeming Price

Atonement for sin (which separated the creature from the Creator) had to be made God hall to be satisfied. He sent His son "born of a woman" to ransom and redeem (Gal. 4:4; 1 Tim. 2:6). The Son left heaven, condescending from deity to live in a body of flesh prepared him by the Father (Heb. 10:5). Having come from where he was "before" (John 6:62), he had a mission to accomplish in perfecting character, or restoring. He came in the likeness of the father and the likeness of men. Paul says he "is the image of God'' (2 Cor. 4:4). Again, he says that Christ "is the image of the invisible God"; that he is "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person" (Col. 1:15: He. 1:3). Coming as "God manifest in the flesh," men (sinners) were able again to see the glory of God (1 Tim.1:16). John tells us that Christ was in the beginning with God, and that he was God. John is telling us of his eternity, divinity, and incarnation. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-14). John tells us more: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18). The Son's life declared the likeness of God; he showed the world what God is like. Every characteristic of God was manifest in Christ. He was Emmanuel -- God with us (Matt. 1:23). Drawing from John 1.18 and 1st Tim. 3:16, one can easily grasp Jesus' statements to Thomas: "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him." And "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:7, 9).

He not only bore the perfect image of the Father in "declaring" him to man, but he also bore the likeness of man (Rom. 8:3; Phil. 2:7). He became a servant. He came not be he ministered unto, but to minister (Mark 10:45). Thus, he emptied himself of being deity only, and became the son of man. In this he could be tempted as we, yet without sin, and thereby attest for us the adequacy of Priest, Prophet, and Saviour (Heb. 4:15: 2:14-18).

His coming into the world and revealing through himself the characteristics of God, proving perfect obedience to the Father (Heb. 5:8, 9; John 8:29; Matt. 17:5), satisfied the Creator. The Father even though in that darkest hour had forsaken him (Matt. 27:46), raised him from the dead declaring him to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4); gave him all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18; 1 Pet. 3:22); received him into heaven (Psa. 24:7-10: John 17:11: Acts 3:20. 21), and will one day send him to claim the (His) new creation (Acts 3:20).

The New Creation in the Image of Christ

The coming of Christ to make sacrifice (Heb. 9:26), was in view of taking the creation of God which had become sinful and darkened and wash it in his own blood, thus effecting a new creation presentable to God. God willed that the old creation become the new "conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom. 8:29). This "new" creature is truly "renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:10). Having once been so benighted in sin, one in this new relationship, having been cleansed is again in the "image" and "likeness" of God. What an expense to heaven to accomplish this! The motivating power? "God so loved."

When one is buried with Christ in baptism, God operates "without hands" in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh (Col. 2:1013). A new man is raised up with Christ, bearing his likeness and image. What a glorious change. With his affections on things above, carnal appetites mortified, and his life hidden with Christ in God, he can truly exemplify and extol the divine characteristics now imbibed. Cf. Col. 3:1-10.


If you have been redeemed, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16.) What you do which Jesus here calls good (kalos) is not only good in quality but it is winsome in its nature; it is beautiful. This is not inherently with man, otherwise those who see the good works would not glorify God who is in heaven. But this is a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), now bearing the image of the divine hand, in whom Christ dwells (Cf. Phil. 2:13; Gal. 2:20).

April 1969