The image of God, “imago Dei” in Latin, refers to the special relationship mankind has with God as his Creator. From the time of the Protestant Reformation theologians have seen this concept referring to the way God first created mankind in absolute purity and wholeness. This thought can be seen from the very beginning in the Old Testament when Moses wrote in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
The “imago Dei” doctrine brings to light some very important questions, (1) How is man made in God’s image, (2) Does this image continue even after the fall of man into sin, (3) How does the image relate to both male and female sexes, and (4) In what ways did Jesus fulfill this image?
- First, how man is made in God’s image can be seen in the following points, (1) Man was created in perfection like how God is perfect- Genesis 1:26, (2) Man was given a mind and the freedom of will as God has a mind and freedom to act as He wishes- Genesis 2:15-17, (3) Man was given a triune nature- body, soul, and spirit as God is three divine persons in one unified being- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- 1 Thessalonians 5:23, and (4) Man was created to have authority and dominion over the earth as God does over all creation- Genesis 1:26.
- Second, the image of God as seen after the fall can be understood in the following ways, (1) Man does not lose his freedom of choice, however, he is now born with sin, which leads to sinful acts- Romans 5:12, (2) Man continues to have a triune nature, however, imperfection both physically and spiritually are normal from birth- Deuteronomy 28:61, and (3) Man still has the ability to govern the earth, but such things like suffering, evil, and natural disasters are now out of his control because of sin- Isaiah 45:7.
- Third, the image of God is seen in both male and female sexes in the following ways, (1) The male and female sexes together when created made the perfect whole image of God, not just the man alone, but both together- Genesis 1:27, (2) The woman was subjected to the man because of her sin- Genesis 3:16, and (3) In Christ through salvation the two sexes have equality again and together make the image of God- Galatians 3:26-29.
- Fourth, Jesus fulfills the perfect image of God in the following ways, (1) He is the second Adam, virgin born in man’s fleshly image yet without sin- 1 Corinthians 15:45, (2) Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is given power over the earth, i.e. the devil, evil, sin, and suffering- Luke 4:18-19, and (3) Jesus is given total authority and dominion over the earth because of His perfect obedience to the Father and the atoning work of the cross- Matthew 28:18.
Therefore, we as Christians are able to see that we are not products of “evolutionary chance,” but rather the workmanship of a divine Creator, who created us for His purposes and plans- Ephesians 2:10. Thus, we are made in His likeness and image, but because of sin we have a corrupted image or a “broken hard drive.” As a result, we need to have a Savior, Jesus, wash away our sins, pay our price of judgment and bring healing so we can have the image restored once again. Today, salvation in Christ is the renewal of the “imago Dei” on the inside and soon after the coming of Jesus, we will have the “imago Dei” restored on the outside- meaning a new resurrected body to house our newly created spirit!
1 Corinthians 15:42-49, “42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”