What Does “Created In The Image Of God” Mean?

I’ve often wondered, but never found, an answer to the question. In Genesis, the first chapter, God is creating the universe. I believe that a literal interpretation of all scripture on the subject of creation here and throughout the Bible points to 6 literal days of creation and that’s all—no gap theories. But, I want to address the nature in which God created man; not so much the time it took Him.

There's more to man than meets the eye.

There is more to man than meets the eye.

This is how it is written in the English Standard Version (Gen. 1:26-28):

Then 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 livestock and 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.

And God blessed them. And God said to them,”Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

It’s a generous and humbling piece of scripture to read (if you believe it, as I do). God says here that He made us in His likeness. Then, He gave mankind dominion over every creature on the planet. That’s a big responsibility and privilege.

But I think it is much easier to understand what taking dominion over the creatures means than the part that concerns this post. Making man in God’s own image—likeness… what does that mean?

I heard an excellent way to explain it yesterday that made perfect sense. In fact, I liked it so much I gotta share it with my readers. Mind you, I’m not saying that this perspective I’m about to share is word-for-word explained shared with us in the Word of God. This is one man’s conclusions after studying God’s Word and coming to this conclusion. So, while I like this position, I am open to more scriptural insight on the subject.

So here is the idea. What does it mean to be created in the image of God? The answer:

Before God—the Trinity—produced the physical and spiritual characteristics of man, He knew everything there was to know about Himself. He knew what He was like, and He liked the way He is (I’m not trying to be funny here). He knew that He would make a physical representation of Himself one day to walk the earth. This incarnation of Himself would have physical properties in order to commune with His creation.

So he knew exactly what He Himself would look like if He produced a physical representation of Himself. (I find this fascinating…) And from that knowledge He chose to produce a creature that was different from all the rest.

But this was not solely a physical likeness man would have, but also a spiritual condition like that of God. God specifically chose to make the animals different from His own physical and spiritual characteristics. The animals were categorized as “beasts” and “birds” and “fishes of the sea.” They had/have no physical or spiritual characteristics that mirror God’s own personal qualities.

And neither do the angels. The angels are not made in the image of God, but each of them are made uniquely of their kind and do not have ancestry or progeny. None of the angels are “related” to the other angels (based on what God has shared with us in Scripture).

So unlike anything else in the universe, God made man with a reflection of His own spiritual and physical properties. It was not an after-thought that one day He’d come to earth as a babe born of Mary. The likeness of Jesus determined what man would be like—not the other way around. Man has a spirit soul and body that he can relate to the nature of God.

It kinda makes other aspects of biblical understanding fall into place for me. If God repeatedly states that he wants man to be like Him—behave like Him, think like Him, act like Him—then it only stands to reason that he made people the way He did.

Still it is a difficult to wrap the mind around. If I find anything else to add to this I’ll carefully consider it. I hope this perspective gives you new insight, and I’m not the last one to get what this means from God’s Word.

Thanks for reading!

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