The Bible asserts that “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:26-27). What this means seems clear, but the Christian world has varying ideas about it. This document provides an analysis and a conclusion about what the Bible actually says on this assertion.
Body Was Created; Spirit Given by God
Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
The only thing that was created is man’s body from the dust of the ground. Therefore, man’s body is at least part of what was created in God’s image. This body was given the “breath of life” from God. What was this breath of life that is mentioned?
Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
The body of man returns to the earth when he dies. While his spirit returns to God who gave it. So, the “breath of life” is man’s spirit.
Example of Being in the Image
An example of being in the image of another is provided in the same book of Genesis as the initial assertion:
Genesis 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; 2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. 3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
It is noteworthy that the Bible goes this extra mile to define what is meant by being in the image of God. In this case Adam had a son in his own likeness and image just as God created Adam in his own image.
One is left to wonder how Seth came to be possessed of his spirit. It seems clear that God did not give him his “breath of life” like he did with Adam, but there is not information on this or otherwise on how Seth came to have a spirit. So, it is left as a question.
Even After the Fall Man Is In God’s Image
Even after the fall man is still in the image of God. The Apostle Paul taught:
1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
Man Identified; Woman Not Identified
Note in the above verse 1 Cor 11:7 woman is not said to be in the image of God. Instead she is said to be the glory of the man. The following verse in Genesis specifically says that man, was create in the image of God.
Genesis 1:26 And 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 creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
It appears from verse 27 above that it is man that was created in the image of God, but it is not clear about the woman.
While woman is not specifically mentioned as having been created in the image of God, this does not necessarily mean that she is not. However, it does open the door for speculation. Men and women are very similar, but they are different. Certainly, they have different roles in life. Paul above points specifically to this. Perhaps this is the differentiating factor. In any case, this is an open question.
The conclusion from the Bible is that man, both body and spirit, is in the image of God. His body was created from the dust of the earth and his spirit came from God. When man dies, his body returns to the earth and his spirit returns to God.
Note that when the spirit returns to God, it is not at that point in the image of God, since it is not in a body. However, man will receive a resurrected body at some point. Then he will be like Christ, who also has a resurrected body and is like God the Father.