What does it mean to be in "the image of God?"
C Mc Posts: 4,452
The Bible speaks about human origin: “God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him” (Gen. 1:27, NIV).
Is this an accurate translation of the Hebrew?
What does it all means? Are we "gods"? Help me drill down on this one. CM
This scripture hits me on different levels. But I think in the forefront I believe God created Adam in His image as a sovereign with a free will.
I believe God created Adam as a sovereign ruler over creation. In God's image 6754. צֶלֶם tselem, tseh´-lem; from an unused root mean. to shade; a phantom, i.e. (fig.) illusion, resemblance; hence a representative figure, espec. an idol:—image, vain shew.
Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 2, p. 99). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
And this included included being able to do what he wanted and not doing what he did not want to do - free will.
Now there is a twisteroo: a God who does not have free will creates a sovereign who does have free will and rules creation. Mind bending.
How about applying Scripture to determine what absurdities cannot exist and work back from there to determine meaning?
Let's focus on the OP. Rabbit holes are multiple on the biblical prairie. CM
Thanks for catching this apparent contradiction. But I always said God and people freely act according to their nature and are not free to act apart from it.
I know what you always said, but am not sure how that helps. Can you connect some dots for me?
I think we are straying off topic. Maybe we should begin a new thread?
You are right. Back to the meaning of "the image of God."
I would love very much if we could invest some time in maybe answering these questions in the OP ("image of God):
What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
This is an excerpt from questions and answers based on Michael Heiser's "Unseen Realm". Available in Logos, or Hard Copy & Kindle. It is an excellent book if you are interested in an in depth study.
Question 43. What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
The image of God means that God created humans to be his representative (his image) on earth.48 As such, human life is sacred and has an exalted status over the rest of creation. In order to represent God, humans must share God’s communicable attributes. Before the Fall, Adam represented God’s freedom, holiness, knowledge, and authority, as God designed. The perfect image of God is seen in Jesus Christ, the second Adam.
2 Cor 4:4. Christ, who is the image of God.
Col 1:15. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Heb 1:3. [Christ] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.
Van Dorn, D. (2015). The Unseen Realm: A Question & Answer Companion. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
From a Jewish perspective we have:
"Our body forms its likeness on the earth by the shadow it casts, so do we, by our activity, form the eternal God to our likeness: If we act well, we form thereby the right hand of the God-Man. If we resist evil, we form the left hand of the God-Man. If we do not look at ugly things, we form His eyes. If we do not allow our ears to hear lies, we form His ears and so on. God asks this of us and we have always to be conscious of it, so that we can always do right and not sin, AMEN" (Jiri Langer, Nine Gates to the Chassidic Mysteries [New York: David McKay Company, 1961], p. 170).
Hillel says: "The entire human body is the image of God, which gives reason to uphold mundane activities of caring for the body. The text has a political charge as well: while a foreign king may claim to be a god, the sage asserts that the Jewish God’s deity is greater than any king and that all people are in the Divine image."
I don't think our physical bodies are necessarily included in that "image," though there might be something there too. Scriptures might indicate that a body is not necessary to bear the image of God (I am thinking of the transfiguration (Mt 17:1-3). Rather I suggest that the image of God that we bear is related to our beingness, life, spirit, our nature, our relational character with God and others.
However, those definitions are not complete and seem to focus on "we are what we do," or "we are what we eat (a body--ontological)." What we do is the outcome of being an image bearer and not the definition. Our bodies may somehow reflect the meaning of the image of God, but are no more the fullness of the meaning than the body of Jesus was the fullness of the meaning of being God.
What the_ image of God_ must surely include is our nature to value what God values, goodness and justice--even the heathen recognize and value these things, whether or not they choose to do them. The nature of God is to love, be gracious, be just. All people (or most) seem to value these attributes. God is good because He chooses good and grants us the capacity and ability to do the same. In those ways, we are created in the image of God. _ Yet there are elements of _the image of God which we do not share such as omnipotence, omniscience (although some seem to think they have this).
We distort the image of God when we choose evil over holiness and reject God's rule/Lordship over our life.
The Bible does not exactly define "the image of God," so we are left with some speculation, though in context of the various passages, we have little to misunderstand about the intent of the messages. In one passage we are told that because we bear the divine image, we are to have dominion over the creatures of the earth. In the second passage, we are told that as image bearers we shall not take human life, such as abortion. In another we are told to guard our tongues and not to curse people because something about their very being is holy.
We cannot comprehend the fullness of God and thus do not know the fullness of "the image of God." Some matters we may just need to slow down, bow our heads in awe and reverence and know something awesome is happening. At such a time we might best lay down our analytical tool bag and just bask in the voice and presence of God and whatever exactly his image is. In that regard, we will reverence ourselves, each other and human life, because every person is somehow, someway, that amazing thing--_the image of God. _
Thanks, Dave for this focused beginning. Blessings to you!
The texts above are, attributed Jesus. Are there any to attributable to man being in God's image? CM
Thanks, GaoLu, This was sermonic, scholarly, philosophical, food for thought and profoundly demands consideration. CM
What follows is a quick answer or opinion:
The NIV is an interpretation of the Hebrew text and one that in my opinion misses or ignores the poetic parallelism of the stanza. The technical Hebrew words that we would expect to underline the English translation man are אִישׁ (ish) or אֱנוֹשׁ (Enosh) both terms that are not used at the moment but אִישׁ (ish) is used later in creation. The term אָדָם (adam) that is used in our text came to be used as a proper name, but originally it comes from or is related to the word אֲדָמָה (adamah /ground). In our text, however, Adam takes the definite article making it unlikely that it is a personal name and the context makes it unlikely that is talking about a man as in simply a male.This classical Hebrew word אָדָם is, therefore, in my opinion, closer to the English word human/humanity.
In Gen.1:27 God אֱלֹהִ֤ים (Elohim masculine plural) created הָֽאָדָם֙ (Ha-Adam /the Adam 'singular') in his image (singular) both male & female he created אֹתָֽם ( 'Atam' hims/it/them particle direct with masculine plural suffix). 'Adam' and 'Atam' or puns(wordplay) as those terms sound and look very similar. Our poetic text starts and ends with a masculine plural. furthermore the word for 'image' is directly parallel with terms 'male and female' at least according to the Masoretic text. In the same way that God אֱלֹהִ֤ים is somehow morphologically plural yet syntactical singular so is the Ha-Adam morphologically singular yet both male and female followed by the direct object mark in that is grammatically plural. Thus Hebrew text that lays before has left some to conjecture that either one 'the Adam' refers to the humanity collectively or two 'the Adam' was one individual who was somehow male and female or had aspects of both.
No, we are finite mortal creatures the text that lays before us never hits that we nor for that matter Ha-Adam are in some way "gods".
Thanks, Mitch. Great understanding of man. However, how much of "'the Adam' refers to the humanity collectively or two 'the Adam' was one individual who was somehow male and female or had aspects of both" is reflective of the characteristics God? Is this the deepest, in the Hebrew, can we drill down when it comes to the "the image of God"?
Thanks. I know the answer is a given. It was more rhetorical than inquiry. You would be surprised, some people think they are "gods". Let truth flow. Blessings Mitch. CM
Happily no it isn't the deepest at all, it is only figuratively speaking the icing on the cake. The question you asked of this text are great questions that have been asked before throughout history. Jewish and Christian exegetes alike have written much on this verse and the concept of the image of God. Christians writing in Latin and or using Latin terms discuss this under the heading_ Imago Dei_. Classical Jewish commentaries on the Torah and Jewish philosophers spent much time concept. As I have time I will re-visit and link to or post other sources/references.
Mitch, thanks for your timely response.
Wonderful! I would do what I can as well. It may not be as profound as your search, but I will do what I can. Continue your scholarly ways. Peace...CM
Thanks for the compliment, **But **profundity is matter of perspective
And, make no mistake! what you are doing or what you being lead to do may be just as or even more profound. I might be taking John 14:12 way out of context to apply it here, however, I do think this verse is one of those socking, mind-blowing, awesome verse that just might apply here.
The Many of the questions you ask and much of input have given has been profound, insightful, challenging, and very helpful in my opinion.
I look forward to coming to these forums to fellowship (so to speak) with other Christians because I believe that God has gifted and inspired all Christians in different ways.
So, Just as I might have something you lack, REMEMBER You have somethings and insights that I and others lack. We, all have different blind spots, and something you have that may be mundane to you may be profound, eye-opening or life-changing for someone else!
“So the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.You are to speak everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh that he must release the Israelites from his land.” (Exodus 7:1–2)
The word “like” is added for clarity, making explicit the implied comparison in the statement “I have made you God to Pharaoh.” The word ’elohim is used a few times in the Bible for humans (e.g., Pss 45:6; 82:1), and always clearly in the sense of a subordinate to GOD—they are his representatives on earth. The explanation here goes back to 4:16. If Moses is like God in that Aaron is his prophet, then Moses is certainly like God to Pharaoh. Only Moses, then, is able to speak to Pharaoh with such authority, giving him commands.
Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
Check the quality of the translation and context. Later, got to run.CM
In my continuous search, I found that at creation the imago Dei was conferred (first act of grace):
This should not be confused with the renewed-image. The Holy Spirit starts a progressive restoration of the divine image in human beings (The second act of grace):
Packer further states: "Structurally, God's image in us is a natural given fact, consisting of the rational powers of the human self, as such. Substantively, however, God's image in us is an ongoing moral process, the fruit, and expression of a supernatural character change. . . . The true and full image of God is precisely godliness." Thus, _"living in God's image means becoming Christlike".
What a mighty God we serve? We are wonderfully made. CM
Packer, Concise Theology, 158, 170.
Packer, Knowing and Doing the Will of God, 2
Packer, "An Introduction to Systematic Spirituality" 4.
I agree. The question that started this thread was a great question and hearing how other Christians understand this passage has been refreshing and helpful.
Another view of the "image of God."
The "image of God" expresses the Highest Virtue of Man: "A man displays the majesty of his creation in the image of God when he forgives". Proverbs 19:11 says, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”
In Gen. 1:26-27, the Hebrew word adam is to be noted. This generic word is translated both collectively, as mankind or people, and individually, as a single man or person.
In Gen 1:27 it is recorded that "God created man [ha- edam] in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." This text expresses that "man and woman together make ha-adam (man)."
This points to the equality of man and woman. It is appropriate here to quote the striking words of Victor P. Hamilton: "Both man and woman are made in the image of God. Sexual identification is irrelevant, certainly not a qualifying factor. Thus the command to rule and have dominion is directed to both male and female."
One may ask, why is man made in the image of God? Lucas comments that humans were created in the image of God to have dominion over creation as God’s representatives. However, when they exercise that dominion without reference to God and for their own ends, they tend to become subhuman, and even bestial in their behavior.
The aforementioned concepts maintain the idea of social unity and brotherhood among the Hebrew people. The true meaning of life can only be found by the members of the community in their relationship to each other. CM
--[William L. Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (1971), s.v. "edam."
-- Leonard J. Coppes, "dm," Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody, 1980), 1:10-11].
--Johannes Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture, vol. 1-2 (London: Oxford University Press, 1926; Copenhagen: Branner og Korch, 1926), 61.
-- Victor P. Hamilton, Handbook on the Pentateuch (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982), 28]. [Jacques B. Doukhan, Hebrew for Theologians: A Textbook for the Study of Biblical Hebrew in Relation to Hebrew Thinking (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1993), 211].
-- Ernest Lucas, Decoding Daniel: Reclaiming the Visions of Daniel 7-11 (Cambridge: Grove, 2000), 8.
Great topic C_M_. I've appreciated everyone's reflectons so far on it, I know Dave has already touched on what Mike Heiser says briefly about the image of God but thought I add the following quote from his book Supernatural: "A better translation of Genesis 1:26 would be that God created humans as his image."
He is suggesting is "image of God is a status we have rather than a quality we are to be be God's representatives, steward-kings on earth.
Mike Heiser explained this view on what "in the image of God" means on an episode of Faithlife today so best to let him share it rather than me bumble through it.
Thanks for joining in. Welcome to the forum! I like much of what I've read from Mike Heiser. And also use his site Miqlat every so often to check myself against. https://www.miqlat.org/
We look forward to your sharing and insights on the various topics. Feel free to chime in on any of the threads (past/or present). You will find a treasure-trove of truth, perspectives, and opinions on spiritual matters and current events. Don't be afraid to disagree or to start a new thread under the various categories. All sober thoughts and inquiries for a deeper relationship with Christ are welcome. Enjoy! CM
DOC, below are a few more texts on the matter:
Human beings collectively are the image of YHWH (Ezek 1:5, 5, 10, 13, 16, 22, 26, 26, 26, 28). Genesis 1:26; 5:1, 3; Isa 40:40:18.
Also notes means, “to compare, liken” (Isa 40:18, 25; 46:5, 5) and “image” (Gen 1:26, 27; 5:3; 9:6).
?? how do these scriptures say what you claim they say? where is there anything about "human beings collectively" ?
I should have said more. Some view Ezekiel works within a tradition of imago dei language, found also in the priestly materials of Genesis and in Deutero-Isaiah, to challenge the Mesopotamian ideology of king and idol as the image of the deity. Human beings collectively are the image of YHWH (Ezek 1:5, 5, 10, 13, 16, 22, 26, 26, 26, 28;8:2).
Citing a scholar who argues that the language of “form” and “appearance” in Ezekiel 1 attempts to express, with caution, both the incomparability of YHWH and the concrete likeness that YHWH and human beings share.
Idols, crafted images are nothing but the images of human beings (Ezek 16:17; 23:14; cf. 7:19-20). When Ezekiel undercuts the divinity of Mesopotamian idols he challenges as well the political ideology that exalts the monarch, the image of those gods, who has controlled the people of Israel.
Thanks, Wolfgang. You may or may not agree. CM
Kutsko, John F. “Ezekiel’s Anthropology and Its Ethical Implications.” In The Book of Ezekiel: Theological and Anthropological Perspectives, ed. Margaret S. Odell and John T. Strong, 119-41. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000. pp 129-34.