How are we made in God’s image?

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By BibleAsk Team


The concept of humanity being made in the image of God is one of the most profound and foundational teachings in the Bible. It is found in the book of Genesis, in the account of the creation of humanity. To explore the meaning of being made in God’s image, let’s delve into relevant passages from the Bible, as well as examine theological interpretations and implications.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NKJV)

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, 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.”

This foundational passage in the creation narrative highlights several key aspects of being made in God’s image:

a. Reflecting God’s Likeness: Being made in God’s image means that humans possess a reflection of God’s attributes and characteristics. While God is infinite, eternal, and transcendent, humans, as finite creatures, are not identical to God but bear a resemblance to Him in certain ways. This likeness encompasses moral, spiritual, and relational dimensions, including qualities such as rationality, creativity, morality, and the capacity for meaningful relationships.

b. Dominion and Stewardship: The passage also emphasizes humanity’s unique role and responsibility as stewards of God’s creation. Humans are given dominion over the earth and its creatures, indicating a position of authority and caretaking entrusted to them by God. This dominion is not one of exploitation or tyranny but of benevolent rule and responsible stewardship, reflecting God’s own sovereignty over His creation.

Genesis 9:6 (NKJV)

“Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”

This verse, found in the context of God’s covenant with Noah after the flood, underscores the sanctity and value of human life. It affirms that the image of God in humanity confers inherent dignity and worth, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or social status. The shedding of human blood is a grave offense because it is an attack on the image of God Himself, who created humans in His own likeness.

New Testament Perspectives

While the concept of being made in God’s image is primarily rooted in the Old Testament, the New Testament offers further insights and implications of this theological truth. For example:

a. Colossians 3:10 (NKJV): “…and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

This verse from Colossians speaks of believers being renewed in knowledge according to the image of God. It suggests that the process of sanctification and spiritual growth involves conformity to the likeness of Christ, who is the perfect image of God (Colossians 1:15). Through faith in Christ, believers are transformed inwardly and outwardly, reflecting more fully the character and attributes of their Creator.

b. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV): “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

This verse speaks of believers being transformed into the image of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit. It emphasizes the ongoing process of spiritual growth and conformity to the likeness of Christ, which is a central aspect of the Christian life. As believers behold the glory of the Lord and yield to the work of the Spirit, they are gradually conformed to the image of God’s Son, reflecting His character and glory in increasing measure.

Theological Interpretations

The concept of being made in God’s image has been the subject of theological reflection and interpretation throughout the history of Christianity. Various theological traditions offer different perspectives on the nature and implications of this doctrine:

a. Imago Dei: The Latin phrase “imago Dei,” meaning “image of God,” is used to encapsulate the biblical teaching that humans are created in God’s image. This doctrine underscores the inherent dignity, value, and worth of every human being, regardless of individual differences or abilities. It forms the basis for Christian ethics and social justice, as it affirms the sanctity of human life and the call to love and respect one another as fellow bearers of God’s image.

b. Christological Interpretation: Some theologians interpret the concept of being made in God’s image through a Christological lens, emphasizing Jesus Christ as the perfect image of God (Colossians 1:15). According to this view, humanity’s original creation in the image of God finds its fulfillment and restoration in Christ, who reveals the true nature of God and restores fallen humanity to communion with God through His life, death, and resurrection.

c. Relational Interpretation: Another interpretation highlights the relational aspect of being made in God’s image, emphasizing humanity’s capacity for relationship with God and with one another. Humans reflect God’s relational nature in their capacity for love, fellowship, and community. This relational dimension of the image of God underscores the importance of loving God and loving neighbor as the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-39).

Practical Implications

The doctrine of being made in God’s image has profound practical implications for how Christians view themselves, relate to others, and engage with the world around them:

a. Human Dignity and Equality: Recognizing that every person is created in God’s image affirms the inherent dignity, value, and worth of every human being. This theological truth forms the basis for human rights, social justice, and the pursuit of equality and equity in society. It challenges discrimination, injustice, and oppression based on race, ethnicity, gender, or social status, calling for the recognition of each person’s intrinsic worth as a bearer of God’s image.

b. Ethical Responsibility: The image of God in humanity carries ethical implications for how individuals treat themselves, others, and the created world. It calls for reverence for human life, compassion for the vulnerable, and stewardship of the earth’s resources. It motivates believers to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8), reflecting the character of their Creator in their attitudes and actions.

c. Mission and Ministry: Understanding that humans are made in God’s image informs the Christian mission and ministry, which seeks to proclaim the gospel, make disciples, and demonstrate God’s love and compassion to all people. It underscores the importance of evangelism, discipleship, and social engagement as integral aspects of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). It motivates believers to share the message of redemption and reconciliation through Jesus Christ, inviting others into relationship with the God in whose image they are created.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the concept of humanity being made in God’s image is a foundational teaching in the Bible with profound theological, ethical, and practical implications. It affirms the inherent dignity, value, and worth of every human being as a reflection of God’s likeness. It underscores humanity’s unique role and responsibility as stewards of God’s creation and participants in His redemptive purposes. It challenges believers to love God and love neighbor, to pursue justice and mercy, and to embody the character of their Creator in all areas of life. Being made in God’s image is not only a theological truth to be affirmed but also a calling to be lived out in faithful obedience and love.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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