You are here: Home >> Other >> Word and Topic Studies >> Image/Likeness of God TITLE Page



The Relationship between GOD, JESUS CHRIST and MAN

PART 3 - Man (humans)


A. Man as created in God's "image"


      1.   Man is the "image" of God.


              a.    Man in God's image.

1 Corinthians 11:7 - Man is the image [1A] and glory of God.

                                    (a)  The word "is" comes from Greek huparcho [1A-1] and focuses on humans as "existing" as God's "image." It does not seem to have quite the same emphasis as the word used to describe Jesus' ongoing existence as God's "image." Jesus "is" God's image from all eternity; people have "existed" as God's image (or an expression of it) only since the time of creation.


              b.    The Old Testament record: Created in God's image; made in God's likeness.

Genesis 1:26-27- God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 5:1-2 - When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female... When they were created, he called them "man."

                                    (a)  Contrast with verse 3, mentioned below.

Genesis 9:6 - "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God he made man.


      2.   How do Christ and man compare on this issue?


              a.    A look at the range of words used to describe each suggests a significant difference.

                                    (a)  Some words are used of Jesus, but never of man. Examples: Jesus is the "exact representation" of God's being (Hebrews 1:3); the "fullness of deity" resides bodily in him (Colossians 2:9).

                                    (b)  Some words are used of humans, but never of Jesus. Example: We are made in the "likeness" of God (James 3:9).


              b.    Even when the same word is used for both, there are directly stated or implied differences.

                                    (a)  The way the word "image" is used suggests a difference. (See "Section A-1," above.)

                                    (b)  This applies to other words, such as "offspring" [2B-4], "son," "begotten," etc. Examples: Though the word "son" is used for both, Jesus is "Son" by nature and we are "sons" by adoption (Romans 8:23). Both are "begotten," but Jesus is the "only begotten."


      3.   The effects of sin.


              a.    Sin has changed things. The "image" is marred, but it is not gone. Even now, we can still be called God's "offspring," etc.

                                    (a)  Adam's offspring experience the same "marred" consequences as did Adam. Some of these consequences of Adam's sin are described in Romans 5:12+ and 1 Corinthians 15.


              b.    In the Genesis account, the focus changes from being in "God's image" to being in "Adam's image."

Genesis 5:3 - When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image... (Verse 4: "... and then he died.")

                                    (a)  Contrast with verses 1-2, mentioned above.


              c.    We are now described as bearing "Adam's image" - and it's a marred image.

1 Corinthians 15:49a - We have borne the image [1A] of the "earthly man" (Adam)...

                                    (a)  This verse describes it in "past tense," because the apostle Paul is beginning to describe what happens when a person turns to Christ for salvation. (More about this is given below.)

                                    (b)  Note that this passage describes humans as being made in Adam's image - just as Genesis 5:3 does.


              d.    We still have enough "likeness," that it is contradictory for us to praise God and then to curse humans.

James 3:9 - Do we praise our Lord and Father, and also curse men, who are made [6D-1] in God's likeness [6E]? (This would be totally inconsistent!)

                                    (a)  Made - Greek "ginomai" - he "came to be" in the likeness of God (when man was created). This is an interesting contrast to what Paul says about Jesus (Philippians 2:7), who was made ("came to be") in the likeness of humans!

                                    (b)  Though James refers to the account of man's creation, he is applying it to sinful humans, thus showing that there is still a "likeness."


              e.    Through the work of Christ, changes begin to occur in the saved person - changes which restore that image to its original... and beyond it. (See the next section.)

                                    (a)  Through Christ, we can be "made new" - Colossians 3:10 (below).

                                    (b)  What we lost in Adam, we can gain in Christ... and more!

                                    (c)  Now we can become "like God" again!


B. Changes that occur when a person turns to Christ


      1.   Change is a fact of life for the genuine follower of Jesus.


              a.    Some of the changes are "past tense."

                                    (a)  They have already occurred - such as, changes which occurred when they were saved.


              b.    Some of the changes are "present tense."

                                    (a)  They occur like a process throughout life - such as, becoming more "Christ-like."


              c.    Some of the changes are "future tense."

                                    (a)  They won't occur until after this present life is over - such as, the changes that will occur when our bodies are resurrected.


      2.   This change will occur because of our "connection" with Jesus Christ.


              a.    There are many analogies used to teach us about our relationship to Jesus Christ. Some of these include:

                                    (a)  United with Christ - Philippians 2:1.

                                    (b)  Christ the "head" and we the "body" - Colossians 1:8.

                                    (c)  Us in Christ - Romans 8:1.

                                    (d)  Jesus our brother (all of the same family) - Hebrews 2:11+.

                                    (e)  (Many others exist, but not all are applicable to our present study.)


              b.    Some of the changes could be summarized by one of the goals the apostle Paul had for the Galatians: that Christ would be formed in them.

Galatians 4:19 - I (Paul) am in the pain of childbirth, until Christ is formed [3B] in you!

                                    (a)  This passage has a greater focus on the "present tense" changes.

                                    (b)  This is figurative for the greatness of Paul's desire for their spiritual growth and maturity.


              c.    Some of the changes are illustrated by the parallels between our union with Adam (as head of the whole human race) and our union with Christ (as head of the redeemed human race).

1 Corinthians 15:49 -Just as we bore the image / likeness [1A] of the "earthly" man [Adam], so also will we bear the image / likeness [1A] of the "heavenly" one [Christ].

                                    (a)  This passage has a greater focus on the "future tense" changes.


      3.   Some of the changes involve obligations we have.


              a.    These changes start with our willingness to associate with Christ in his death.

Philippians 3:10 - Paul: I want to know Christ and his power (etc.)... having first become like / conformed to [3F] him in his death... (and thus capable of experiencing resurrection, etc.).

                                    (a)  Many people like the idea of sharing in Christ's resurrection; few like the idea of sharing in his suffering and death. But sharing in his suffering and death is a prerequisite for sharing in his resurrection and glory!

Romans 6:5 - If we have been united with him in the likeness [6D] of his death [symbolically dying with him], so also we will be united with him in [the likeness of] his resurrection. (Most mss. do not have the second word "likeness," but the word is assumed by the context.)

                                    (a)  See also Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 4:13.


              b.    We must be willing to have (or develop) a total change in our perspective on "reality."

Romans 12:2 - Don't conform [4C] any longer to the ways of the world, but be transformed / changed [3D] by renewing your mind (= changing the way you think). Then you will be able to understand God's will.

                                    (a)  1 Peter 1:14 also reminds us to pursue holiness, rather than conforming [4C] to the evil desires we used to follow.


      4.   Some of the changes involve things that God does for (or in) us.


              a.    We now have a "new self," which is being made new in the image of the Creator.

Colossians 3:10 - (We have taken off the "old self" and put on the "new self.") This "new self" is being made new in the image [1A] of the Creator. (This results in a change in our perspective and conduct.)


              b.    We are being conformed into the image of the Son.

Romans 8:29 - God predestined us to be conformed [3E] to the image [1A] of his Son.


              c.    We are being transformed into the image of the Lord's glory (= becoming more like him).

2 Corinthians 3:18 - We, who are being exposed to the Lord's glory (like seeing it through a mirror) are being transformed / changed [3D] into that image [1A] of glory that we are viewing.

                                    (a)  Note the contrast - When Moses saw God's glory, its effects were temporary and fading; when we see God's glory (through Christ), it is permanent and increasing.


              d.    In the future, we will be "like him" (God/Christ).

1 John 3:2 - Right now, we are children of God. We don't yet know what we will be; but we know that when he appears, we will be like [6A] him, for we will see him as he is.

                                    (a)  When the passage mentions "seeing" God, it is referring to Jesus - the one who will be returning. Since Jesus is God, saying it this way is not a problem!


              e.    In the future, changes will even affect our physical bodies.

Philippians 3:21 - Jesus will change / transform [4B] our "lowly" bodies, so they will be conformed to / changed to be like [3E] his glorious body.

Dennis Hinks © 2006



Previous Page