Genesis 1:26-31 — The Value and Purpose of His Image

Read Genesis 1:26-31.

THE COMMENTARY

The use of the word “us” and “our” in verse 26 once again implies the triune nature of God. Especially when associated with the singular “his” and “him” in verse 27.

Man takes a special place in creation. Mankind was the only form of life created “after our likeness” and “in his own image.” The word image is tselem, which means “shadowing forth,” a “phantom,” or “image.” It comes from the root word “to shade.” We resemble God in a mere shadowy way, and are but a phantom of him, his shade, in a sense.

But still, that is a special thing –a high honor (and responsibility). Nothing in else in creation was given this semblance.

Some debate what “in our image” really means. Some believe that man resembles God in some way physically. Some believe its more about the character and attributes that man has which are similar. If man alone was made in the image of God, perhaps we can work backwards to see what man has that other created life does not.

Humans are moral creatures. We know right from wrong, and will chose a “morally” right option at times even if it costs us. Animal do not really know “right” from “wrong” like people do. Animals do what they must to survive. Sure, they are intelligent and wonderful creatures, and even capable of some relationship, but an animal is not capable of morality in the way that a person is.

Humans are eternal. Animals and plants are not. The human body is capable of death just once (unless God intervenes), but the human soul continues to exist in either eternal life (“heaven”) or eternal death (“hell”). Animal’s bodies, not having the breath of life, return to the dust when they die and are no more.

Humans are a trichotomy of mind, body, and soul. Theologians and philosophers alike will debate this, but I think there is a strong argument from a Christian worldview for a trichotomy. We all have a body. There are few who would dispute that. In a body, we also have a mind and a soul. According to the bible the soul is dead until you accept Christ and He gives your soul new life and you are “reborn” (John 3). And yet, there are many who have a body, are not Christian, and are yet capable of thinking, rationalizing, deciding, speaking, and the ability to imagine or ponder things not yet in existence. This is all evidence of a mind. Since you can have a body and a mind, but have a dead soul, it would follow that the three are in some way distinct from each other. And yet they are all still united in one: you.

There are similar creatures anatomically to humans, although humans are still unique physically.

God is moral (He describes Himself as just and good). He is eternal. And he is triune (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).

There are more ways in which we resemble God, but I think you get the point. You are special.

THE DEVOTIONAL

God has given you both a blessing and a calling. You are to “be fruitful and multiply” and to rule over the earth, and eat of the fruit of it.

By making you in His image God gave you an immense value, and by telling you to be fruitful, multiple and rule over the earth He gave you a purpose. The word image can also be translated as “a representative figure” and so the way that you are fruitful, multiply, and rule over the earth is important. You should do so in a way that truly represents the One in who’s image and likeness you have been made.

Thankfully, Christ offers help. We have been renewed already if we have put our trust and faith in Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone [is] in Christ, [he is] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” [2 Cor. 5:17]

And we are being renewed by the transforming of our minds (which is something we also allow God to do in our lives by sanctification).

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” [Romans 12:2 NKJV].

Our image, which has been tarnished by the fall of man through sin, has been renewed in Christ according to the image of Him who created you.

“and have put on the new [man] who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,” [Col 3:10 NKJV]

All by the grace of God.

“not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” [Tit 3:5 NKJV].

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