Another thing that I wanted to share from my study of this chapter, is the emphasis on the creation of mankind. It says God created man(kind) in His image and in the image and likeness of God He created them. I think overall the passage mentions that we were made in God’s image three times! As Mike Pilavachi would say, if God says something three times, it’s generally “good-theology” to pay attention.
So it is not surprise then that the commentators did pay a lot of attention to this. I wanted to include a list of thoughts towards what it means to be made in the ‘Divine Image’ here:
1. Humans are given Various (God-like) Capacities. Wayne Grudem, I understand, calls these “communicable attributes of God” – the attributes of God that we share/shadow in. For example we can reason, we can create, we can talk and listen. Obviously not to the infinite extent God-can, but like Him nonetheless. There are “incommunicable attributes” as well such as omnipotence, omnipresence etc. But clearly part of what it means to be made in God’s image is that we can function a little like God. See my previous post on Genesis to see how God has provided mankind with authority.
2. Humans are made Relational beings. Just like the Trinitarian God, who has been subtlety introduced throughout this passage (His Spirit over the water, “let us make mankind” and that He made us in His image: male and female), human beings are made relational. In fact we will later notice that the one thing “not good” in all of creation is that it was not good for man to be alone.
The commentators highlighted that we are not just relational in terms of our capacity to relate to each other, but also in our capacity to relate to God.
3. Human beings are made Human Becomings. Since humans are relational, and relationships happen over time part of what it means to be a human is to be someone who is moving into closer relationship with God. To be someone who is growing into their identity. That’s why Ephesians 4:13 hints at when it says: “until we all reach unity…and knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
It was picked up by the commentators in the next chapter: man is offered two paths to knowledge. 1) Experientially, through obedience to God and participation with His plan. 2) Sinfully, through detachment and “enlightenment” via the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”. The commentator emphasises that true knowledge is always found via knowing and obeying God. This is how we become more human. I am fascinated with this concept!
4. Human beings are made to Represent God to creation. Just as an ancient king might set up statues in distant lands to represent himself to the population, so too our God sets us up to represent Him to creation. However because of sin we are limited and marred in all our attempts to do this. However, Jesus who never sinned, is called the ultimate image of God, in fact His exact representation! (Col 1:15)
Finally, let us not forget Colossians 1:15: “THE SON IS THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD THE FIRSTBORN OVER ALL CREATION.’’ Where Adam and Eve failed to live up to the opportunity God gave them, Christ succeeds. May we seek to look upon Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12), may we contemplate His glory and in so doing be transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3). For we know that it when He appears, when we see Him, that we will be like Him (1 John 3:2).
Oh, may our gaze ever be towards Christ, the true divine image of God!
There was a quote which I really liked. To be made in the Divine image is both “a task and a gift, it is a history and a status”. Yes it is inherent in our nature to be made in God’s image, but it is also a responsibility, an invitation and something which we can grow into. May we seek to obey God, steward His gifts, represent Him, carry out our God-like capacities, and in so doing come to know Him more through experiential obedience!