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Jesus Christ

Man and the Image of God

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Does the apostle James confirm Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×
?

“…With it [the tongue] we curse men, who have been made in the similitude [likeness] of God” (James 3:9 James 3:9Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
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).

Clearly, two passages in Genesis (Genesis 5:2 Genesis 5:2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
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and Genesis 9:6 Genesis 9:6Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
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) substantiate the fact that men and women continued in the image and likeness of God even after sin had entered man’s world and greatly marred human character. Several millennia later Christ’s apostles confirmed this basic biblical teaching: To be a human being is to have been created in the image and likeness of God.

This is one good reason we should greatly value our human relationships and how we deal with each other. Slander, backbiting and maligning others contradict the natural dignity of our awesome purpose in life.

Did the apostle Paul also confirm this crucial truth?

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man” (1 Corinthians 11:7 1 Corinthians 11:7For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
American King James Version×
).

These two apostles, Paul and James, reaffirm this basic, fundamental biblical teaching. However, some have supposed that this particular passage excludes women from sharing in the image of God, which, if true, would clearly contradict Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×
and Genesis 5:2 Genesis 5:2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
American King James Version×
.

However, just a few verses later Paul shows this is not what he means. “For as woman came from man, even so the man also comes through woman; but all things [including His image, reflecting His character] are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:12 1 Corinthians 11:12For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
American King James Version×
). Apparently Paul is discussing the Corinthian congregation’s seeming disregard for the proper distinction between the roles of men and women.

Through whom is the image of God perfected in men and women?

“For since by man came death, by Man [Christ] also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
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).

“The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man [Christ] is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [Christ]” (1 Corinthians 15:47-49 1 Corinthians 15:47-49 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
American King James Version×
).

We humans have clearly let ourselves down. We have failed to grasp God’s purpose for us. We have not lived up to our marvelous, godly potential. Sin has marred the image of God in all people. But the restoration and renewal of the spiritual likeness (character) of God take place through Jesus Christ, in whose image we are destined to finally and fully conform at the resurrection of the just. Our fleshly bodies will then become glorious spirit bodies (Philippians 3:20-21 Philippians 3:20-21 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.
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; see also 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
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).

Is Christ also in the image of God?

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose mind the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
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).

“He [God the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:13-15 Colossians 1:13-15 13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
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).

Though humans are made in the image of God, it is the righteous and sinless Jesus Christ who justifies men and women who have sinned and brought the death penalty on themselves (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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).

Paul tells us that we, “who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works,…[Christ] has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present [us] holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed [we] continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast” (Colossians 1:21-23 Colossians 1:21-23 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
American King James Version×
). Though we have fallen far short of our potential, Jesus Christ—who is much more “the image of God”—provides a way for us to be reconciled to our Creator and attain that potential, which is to reflect the character of God in our lives (2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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).

Jesus Christ was the visible image of the invisible God. Christ said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 John 14:9Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
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). Through Christ we both see the Father and better grasp our purpose and potential.

Clearly, a major aspect of our goal in life is to attain God’s character. Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
American King James Version×
explains that Jesus Christ was “the brightness of [God’s] glory and the express image of His person…” In this verse image is translated from the Greek word charakter . This word means “a tool for [en]graving…’a stamp’ or ‘impress,’ as on a coin or seal, in which case the seal or die which makes an impression bears the ‘image’ produced by it, and, vice versa, all the features of the ‘image’ correspond respectively with those of the instrument producing it” ( Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words , “Image”).

Jesus Christ was truly the exact image of God the Father. The Revised Standard Version translates Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
American King James Version×
: “He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of His nature.” Christ confirmed this when He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 John 14:9Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
American King James Version×
).

What is the spiritual task of every Christian?

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and …put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24 Ephesians 4:23-24 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
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).

It is the new man (or new woman) who is spiritually in the image of God. But none can accomplish this transformation by himself (please request our free booklets The Road to Eternal Life and Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion ). The image of God can be renewed in human beings only through the living presence of Jesus Christ in their lives.

The apostle Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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). This truly miraculous experience can be accomplished only by and through God’s Spirit.

What is our ultimate destiny in God and Christ?

“For whom He [God the Father] foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
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).

Everlasting life in the Kingdom of God as part of God’s family is our destiny. That is why we were made in the image of God in the first place. True Christians are destined to join the Father and the Son in that great family as “brethren” of Jesus Christ.

Great and abundant will be the rewards of the righteous! But what will happen to the wicked who refuse to repent?

   

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