God’s final creation in the six-day creation was mankind. Of all of creation, there is only one that bears the image of God, His likeness. In Genesis 1:26 God says “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” In this verse, God is not referring to a physical body but immaterial characteristics and attributes. These attributes and characteristics may consist of God’s nature, spiritual ability and the ability to reason. Davis says, “He alone has the capacity for self-consciousness, speech and moral discernment” (81). We see that, mentally, we are made in God’s image. Man can reason and man can choose because God’s image encompasses intellect and freedom. Morally, man was created with innocence and in right standing with God. God looked upon His creation, mankind included, and called it “very good” (Gen 1:31) because of its perfection in its state at creation. We still have a remnant of a moral compass, only a remnant due to the fall of man, in discerning good from evil and it is acts when we see or hear of certain behaviors i.e. repulsed by murder or rape, feels guilt, praises/encourages good behavior: helping the poor, saving a life. Socially, we are made in God’s image. God encourages and enjoys fellowship. He created man for fellowship, and that is one reason He created Eve for Adam (Gen. 2:18). In Genesis 3:8, Kenneth Matthews, author of the New American Commentary: Genesis, says the Hebrew word for “walking” (mithallek) in the garden suggests the enjoyment of fellowship between Him and Adam and Eve (Matthews 239). It seems that being made in the image of God may be even more so about rule. Matthews suggests that this passage (Genesis 1:26-28) “concerns itself primarily with the consequence of this special creation, the rule of human life over the terrestrial order” (168-9). In discussing the Hebrew word demut being closely related to selem (image), William Mounce writes “a particular way this is manifested is in the function of dominion held by humankind” (411). It is this immaterial nature, bestowed upon mankind by God (His image) that separates us from the animal kingdom and in separating us; it in turn makes us fit to have dominion over the terrestrial kingdom. Davis writes “It is this image and likeness that completely distinguishes man from the animal kingdom” (81). We still bear God’s image today (James 3:9) but we must remember that the fall of man in the Garden of Eden crippled all of mankind in all of the aforementioned areas. The fall brought about spiritual, mental, moral, social and physical death for all men (Romans 5:12). Due sin there are certain abilities we cannot experience but by faith in Him, we can once again become partakers of His full divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and once again more accurately reflect His image.
Davis, John J. Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis . Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1975.
Mounce, William D. Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006.
Matthews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary: Genesis 1-11:26. Vol. 1A. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996.