Image of God

In the first chapter of the Bible, the Creator declares a specific reason and purpose for humanity’s existence – “in ‘the Image of God’ He created him; male and female He created them” [Genesis 1:27]. In these persons is to be THE designed reflection/image by which Creation can glimpse its Lord. Here is to be the “Likeness” [Genesis 1:27] of God’s very “Soul” intended to be seen by every creature throughout the cosmos (the Greek word for “world”).



The Creator’s Choice

He Who creates the Universe “with a word” [Psalm 33:6; II Peter 3:5] chooses to “need” help! So crucial are these humans, that tasks which are important to God will never get done unless accomplished by their hand, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking proper care the earth – even sharing the Gospel. His desire is to make mankind an essential sharer in not just His work but also in His delight and joy in those activities and accomplishments. He is so intent on human participation that angels will not take up the slack, nor will He back down on His chosen dependence upon and trust in these creatures. In fact, in order to rescue humanity, He chooses to do this as a human Himself; and a Human (God come into the flesh) now occupies the throne of heaven.

Male and Female

Although procreation requires both genders, there is something more here. In Genesis 2, each gender is uniquely handcrafted by God, each with it own stated purpose for his/her creation, and both are essential to get a complete reflection of the Image of the Creator. Masculine and feminine are no accidents of culture, but rather are the two unique ways by which God chooses to express Himself to the Universe. Both are to counterpoint and complement each other, giving a “binocular” “3-D” view of God, just as our two eyes add a dimension that is unavailable to each eye singly.
This is not just for this world. When St Paul quotes the marriage verse from Genesis 2:24 in Ephesians 5:31, in the following verse, he adds that this is a great mystery and that it speaks of Jesus and the Church (as His Bride). In fact, throughout his discussion (verses 21-32), he identifies that Jesus with His Church is not like a human marriage, but rather that human marriage is to reflect Jesus and His Bride. Since Heaven is called the great Marriage Feast [Revelation 19:7-9], then even into eternity the attributes and qualities of masculine and feminine are to be carried on, the Church being “the helper fitting for Him” [Genesis 2:18] forever.

The Glory of God

What are the humans, being in “the Image of God,” to reflect? There are many answers, but one of the most significant occurs in a “throw-away line” in the Bible. These are verses we basically skip over because they obviously are just meant to move the story along or are just too obscure with which to bother. Then one day we put the brakes on hard – “What did that say???” We look again and are startled by what the verse contains. Of such an experience is Exodus 33:18-23 and 34:6-7.

The request is simple: “I pray, show me Your Glory.” What is most interesting is Jehovah’s response. His Glory – of what do we think when we talk about it? all-power, all-knowing, majesty, rule of the universe, and so forth? But is that what God emphasizes? His immediate definition of His Glory is: His Goodness, Grace, Mercy, and Covenant relationship (that is, His Name under Covenant – “Jehovah”). In chapter 34, He adds Steadfast Love (HESED), Faithfulness, Forgiveness and Justice.
It is not His majesty, but rather His Grace and Mercy; not His creative ability, but His Covenant relationship; not His power and might, but His Steadfast Love; not His Lordship, but His faithfulness; not His absolute holiness, but the counterpoint of His Forgiveness and His Justice – this is the Glory upon which His relationship with humans centers, and of which they are to reflect to Creation [II Corinthians 3:18].
These items are qualities. One cannot see “a box of Mercy” or “a bottle of Grace” – such qualities can only be shown in their demonstration. In other words, Moses must see the history – His-Story – which shows these qualities at work, which at this point has been the books of Genesis and Exodus. Even here there must also be a “binocular” vision: to see God’s Glory; it is in the His-Story of both the New and the Old Testaments which then give content as to what we should be reflecting as His Image, and how we will “glorify” His Name.

The Trinity

God is a Trinity, that is, a Tri-unity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit/Ghost – three separate and definable Persons –, yet are a single God with a seamlessness between the Persons, so that although One of the three Persons may be the focus for a certain task, the others are just as involved. For example, although the Father is considered the Creator, yet the Son and the Holy Spirit/Ghost also have their roles in this activity.

As God is a Trinity, so also in His Image the human is a trinity, however within the limitations of being a creature. Therefore mankind has not three persons but three separate and describable parts in one person in a seamless integration [I Thessalonians 5:23]: the body (which is shared with all creatures); the soul is an indefinable life principle (also shared with all creatures) which animates the body, while having some degree of intelligence, creativity, and other such traits; and the spirit, which is described as the bearing of the breath of God [Genesis 2:7] – a special spiritual (“breath”) relationship with the Creator, which appears to be unique among physical creation.

Therefore having one “foot” in the physical and the “other” in the spiritual spheres, this direct connection with God means that humans are to be a priestly bridge between God and creation [Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6]. However, the spiritual has been the most affected and broken area from the fall into sin and this position has been corrupted, as well, the other “parts” are just as traumatically affected; for example, there is now physical death.

Nonetheless, this position of priest has regained its status, because of the new High Priest, the perfect Man, Jesus [Hebrews 4:14-15], into Whom we are placed by Baptism; meanwhile “bearing the breath” in us is revitalized only by the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit/Ghost [for example: Romans 8:26-27].


We are sloppy in our understanding of sin: it is not an error, a mistake, or the like. One reason why Satan has Eve repeat the Lord’s prohibition in regard to the Tree of Knowledge [Genesis 3:1-3] is so that she cannot plead forgetfulness, nor misunderstanding, nor ignorance. In fact, she even embellishes on the command. Why he does this is because he wants deliberate rebellion, not a mere blunder – he wants mankind to spit in God’s eye (so to speak).
Thousands of years later, there is no change. Even before we do something wrong, the thought will come to our minds that “this is wrong.” We even say: “I know I shouldn’t, but …”; “I know I should, but …” From that point on, as we go ahead with our own will, it now becomes deliberate rebellion. That is why St Paul in Romans 5 calls us “enemies” of God. Satan has us walk this path because it is the same path he walks. And it is a path that we take even when we do not at first intend it that way, as Paul describes his – and our – spiritual struggle in Romans 7:15-25.

The Ultimate of Helplessness

Like the deep sea diver in the bell helmet who takes his knife and cuts off his air hose from the surface, humanity has cut itself off from Him Who is the Life, and death is the inevitable result [Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:20]. It is a destruction that encompasses both the physical as well as the spiritual, which brings hopelessness, despair, emptiness and nothingness (note the reflection of “fatalism”) – death is the ultimate of weakness, of helplessness.
Even before that eventual outcome, we now live in the midst of a Creation that is leaderless – the representative of God is no longer at his post, and Creation rebels against the rebel [Genesis 3:17-19] – we are helpless against the whim of nature, for instance, the flood, the earthquake and the tornado; and against the whim of fortune, such as an accident and other random adversity. Moreover, we are defenseless against the whim of tyrants – in political power, in the workplace, in the schoolyard, or even in the home.

There is no way by which sin can be “made up” – there is no possibility of extra-credit. The Creator designed mankind to “Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Notice that this is not an “x” number of deeds, but rather a total relationship based on Love. How could one love beyond “with all the heart, … soul, … mind and … strength” to do something “extra” for extra credit? It is not that “if we do a fairly good job,” but rather “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” [Matthew 5:48] – we must be as “good” as God is.

Even if we did never make a mistake, there is no room for pride, for as Jesus put it: “when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty'” [Luke 17:10]. Yet every instance of broken Love simply puts us farther and farther behind. We need a Savior.

The Design is Not Discarded

It is surprising that when Adam and Eve sin, the Creator does not therefore forsake His design – the charge and responsibility given to Adam and Eve has never been withdrawn. St Paul’s words hold here as well: “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” [Romans 11:29]. What is to be done by human hands is still to be done only by human hands.
What the Lord does do is to set into motion a Plan which will provide the opportunity – the only opportunity – for humans to be returned to this high honor and significant office with their Maker. What is astonishing is that in order to do this, He will do it as a Man Himself – He is that committed to humanity always being an essential part of His activity in this cosmos.