MBS085 THE IMAGE OF GOD IN MAN
By Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum
For Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believes.Romans 10:4
This manuscript is a study on the image of God in man in order to clearly understand exactly what that image is, where that image is today, and what the condition of that image is today. This subject will be discussed in five categories.
I. THE IMAGE OF GOD IN THE SCRIPTURES
There are five Scripture passages that mention the image of God; three are in the Book of Genesis, and two in the New Testament. What the Bible teaches about the image of God must be deduced from these five passages.
First, Genesis 1:26–27: 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 creeps 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.
Secondly, Genesis 5:1–2: 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.
Thirdly, Genesis 9:6: Whoso sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
Fourthly, 1 Corinthians 11:7: For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
And fifth, James 3:9: Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God.
II. THE TERMS: IMAGE AND LIKENESS
The second category deals with the question, “Are the terms image and likeness to be differentiated, or are they the same?” In these five passages, the terms image and likeness are used interchangeably. For instance, one of the following verses used both terms, while all the others used either one or the other: Genesis 1:26 used both image and likeness together, in verse 27, however, only image is found. Genesis 5:1 used likeness only. Genesis 9:6 used image only. 1 Corinthians 11:7 used image only. And James 3:9 used likeness only.
To understand exactly what the image of God is, one should avoid making a sharp distinction between image and likeness. Therefore, these terms should not be differentiated, for are used interchangeably and basically mean the same thing.
III. A DEFINITION OF THE IMAGE OF GOD
The third category deals with the question, “How exactly can the image of God in man be defined?” In defining the image of God in man, four points should be noted. The first two points are concerned with defining exactly what the image of God is, while the last two points deal with the doctrine of the image of God.
First, those features that God has that are also true of man comprise the image of God in man. It is where God and man share the same features, the same characteristics, or the same attributes.
The second point in defining the image of God is to discuss the image in its original state. When man was created, his original state was characterized by holiness. It was a holiness that is theologically called “unconfirmed creaturely holiness” in that he was holy, but until that holiness was tested, it remained unconfirmed. When Adam was tested, he failed, so his holiness was not confirmed; instead, he became corrupt. But the original state of the image of God in man was unconfirmed creaturely holiness, and this aspect of the image was lost in the Fall. It no longer exists, because man no longer has unconfirmed creaturely holiness. So this is one aspect of the image of God in man that no longer exists.
Thirdly, other aspects of the image of God are still there, for the image of God is still present after the Fall, though it has been marred. It is obvious that man still has the image of God in him because of passages Scripture that describe the image of God in man that use the present tense (Gen. 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; Jas. 3:9). While on one hand, man does not have the original state of unconfirmed creaturely holiness, there are other features of God that he still has and that are still true in man. These other features have been marred; they are no longer perfect; they are no longer holy, but they are still very much there.
Fourthly, the image of God is still in man presently, and this is the basis for respecting all humanity. Genesis 9:6 forbids the act of murder on the basis that the one murdered was created in the image of God. In 1 Corinthians 11:7, the image of God is the basis for church decorum in that man is to have his head uncovered in the meeting of the church, while the woman is to have her head covered. Furthermore, James 3:9 forbids cursing people because the person cursed still has the image of God in him. Three of the five passages that mention the image of God in man bring out the fact that this is the basis for the respect of humanity.
To summarize this category, when dealing with a working definition of the image of God in man, four points should be noted. First, it refers to those features of God that are also true of man; secondly, there is one feature that no longer exists, unconfirmed creaturely holiness that was lost in the Fall; thirdly, there are still other features that God and man share, so man still has the image of God in him, although it is marred; and fourthly, even though it is marred, enough of it still remains so that men are commanded to respect their fellow man accordingly.
IV. THE COMPONENTS OF THE IMAGE OF GOD IN MAN
The fourth category deals with the question, “What are the components of the image?” “Exactly what does it consist of?” Six things can be listed. The first one reveals what it is not, and the other five reveal what it is.
First, the image of God in man is not a physical likeness. When man was created in the image of God, it did not mean that God had physical features just like man does. John 4:24 states: God is a Spirit; therefore, He does not share the particular physical likeness and form of man. Furthermore, God is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16). So it is not a physical likeness, because God is both Spirit and invisible.
Secondly, the image of God in man is a personal likeness (Gen. 2:19–20, 23). This means that, just as God is a personality, man is a personality. Personality is defined by three attributes: intellect, emotion, and will. Whoever and whatever has these three attributes is a personality. God has intellect, emotion, and will; man has intellect, emotion, and will. This is one component of the image of God in man.
Thirdly, the image of God in man is a spiritual likeness in that man himself has an eternal spirit within him (1 Cor. 15:45). While the physical part of man can die, the immaterial part of man can never die. This spiritual likeness is a component of the image of God in man.
Fourthly, the image of God in man is a moral likeness (Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:9–10). God is a moral being, and man also has a sense of morality. Even in the darkest areas of the world, among the most primitive tribes, there is still a sense of morality, a sense of right and wrong. This moral likeness is a component of the image of God.
Fifth, the image of God in man is a social likeness. God is a social being, and He has eternal communication with the Trinity. The Triune God has always existed, so there has always been a continuous social interaction and a continuous social fellowship between the three Persons of the Trinity. Just as God is a social being (1 Jn. 1:3), man shares this particular likeness with God. People are social beings who like to communicate and share with other people. Because of this social likeness, the believer can have fellowship with God and fellowship with other believers.
And sixth, the image of God in man is an authoritative likeness. God is sovereign; He is the sole authority over the entire universe; He controls the entire universe. Man shares this authority with God, so he has an authoritative likeness. This is evident in two ways. First, man was given authority over the animal kingdom, and secondly, man was given authority over the material universe (Gen. 1:28; 9:2).
Thus one component of the image of God in man is not a physical likeness, although God has, at times, taken on the form and appearance of a man, that is not His regular, natural form. The components of the image of God in man are: a personal likeness, a spiritual likeness, a moral likeness, a social likeness, and an authoritative likeness.
V. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE IMAGE AND REDEMPTION
The fifth category of the image of God in man brings out the relationship between the image of God and redemption in three passages. The first passage is Romans 8:29: For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Here Paul states that believers have been foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son. The image that was marred by the Fall will some day be totally restored to its pure holiness. One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit’s work in the area of sanctification is to conform the believer more and more to the image of the Son of God. So the image, now marred, will some day attain confirmed creaturely holiness, when the image is totally conformed to the image of His Son.
The second passage that connects the image with redemption is in 1 Corinthians 15:49: And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
This verse states that believers are destined to bear the image of the heavenly. This teaches the same thing as Romans 8:29, because the Heavenly One is the Son Himself. Believers are foreordained to be conformed more and more to the image of the Son of God. Believers will not attain the perfection of the image in this life, but will upon arrival into Heaven. In Heaven, believers will bear the image of the Heavenly One, as they have been completely conformed to the image of His Son.
The third passage that connects the image with redemption is 2 Corinthians 3:18: But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.
According to this verse, believers are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory. Once the process of sanctification is complete, either at the Rapture or upon death, at that point believers will be thoroughly conformed to the image of His Son. They are going to bear the image of the heavenly from then on and, as a result, will be transformed into that same image from glory to glory. It is in this image that believers will reflect the Shechinah Glory of God.
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