Reflected Glory

What does Genesis mean by man being made in the image of God?

The bible indicates that my body, though not me, is integral to my humanity, which would be reduced without it. Scripture promises me resurrection. Plato thought I would be better off without a body, as many think today, but that is wrong.

I have a mind, including a conscience; also feelings and desires, along with my powers of mental and physical action. Thus endowed, I read the Bible as God's Word, teaching me what I should think and do about this puzzling, complex reality that I know myself to be.

Genesis 1:26-27 declares that God created mankind of both sexes, male and female, in his image and likeness. Image and likeness were once thought to express different things, but they mean about the same. This passage shows us, first, our unique and special dignity (God speaks of no creature other than man as his image-bearer), and, second, how we are meant to live.

Image means representative likeness—which tells us at once that we should be reflecting, at our creaturely level, what Genesis 1 shows God is and does. Therefore we should always act with resourceful rationality and wise love, making and executing praiseworthy plans just as God did in creation. He generated value by producing what was truly good; so should we. We should be showing love and goodwill toward all other persons, as God did when he blessed Adam and Eve (1:28). And in fellowship with God, we should directly honor and obey him by the way we manage and care for that bit of the created order that he gives us to look after, according to his dominion mandate (26, 28).

For us, then, as for Adam and Eve before the Fall, and for the Lord Jesus himself—the incarnate Son whom Paul hails as the Father's true image (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15)—being the image of God means actually ...

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Christianity Today
Reflected Glory
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December 2003

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