Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

Free The Church


In His Image

Posted on September 02, 2013 by Alexander
Jeus looking in mirror and seeing author as himself

How are we in the image of God?

One of the great mysteries of creation is the question, “How is man in the image of God?” Even though God became the man Jesus the Christ, and Jesus is fully man, He is a created being made from the eternal God.

The eternal God is a spirit, not a material entity.  It is for this reason the Church has traditionally said that what makes us in His image is our spirit.  The English word, “spirit,” means “breath” or “wind” as in respiration.  The Hebrew word translated into spirit is “ruach” which is used in the phrase, “Holy Spirit” as ruach ha qodeshRuach is also translated as “wind” or “breath” depending on the context.  The problem with saying that we have a spirit makes us into the image of God is that all animals have a spirit, too.   The Greek word for spirit is  pneuma, but since the Old Testament covers more topics, sample verses come from there. Consider these verses:

(Gen 6:17)  And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life [ruach], from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

(Psa 104:29)  Thou [God] hidest thy face, they [the animals and sea creatures] are troubled: thou takest away their breath [ruach, sea creatures don’t have breath], they die, and return to their dust.

(Ecc 3:21)  Who knoweth the spirit [ruach] of man that goeth upward, and the spirit [ruach] of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

In Genesis 6:17 the Flood killed all land creatures, man and beast, that have breath (ruach). In Psalms 104:29 the psalmist is speaking of animals and sea creatures that have a breath (ruach), and as pointed out in the verse, fish do not breathe air, but extract oxygen from water. And in Ecclesiastes 3:21 both man and beast are declared to have spirits.

It is contrary to the Bible  to say that what makes man in the image of God is having a spirit, for all living creatures (at least animals and sea creatures) have spirits, too.  This answer has been given for convenience by and for those who want a simple answer. But it is insufficient to say the least.

Nor can we say that it is our human souls that make us in the image of God neither.  The Hebrew translated into the English, “soul” is nephesh.  In English, the word, “soul” means that part which animates a person, or his personality. And in the Hebrew, nephesh, is variously translated as “creature”, “life”, “person”, “heart”, “mind”, “ghost”,  and other words as well as soul.  Once again we see that animals are described as souls in the Old Testament, too.  In Greek, for those who want to know, the word translated into soul is psuche, from which we derive the word, psychology.  Consider these verses:

(Gen 1:20)  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life [nephesh], and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

(Lev 17:11)  For the life [nephesh] of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls [nephesh]: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

(Lev 24:17)  And he that killeth any man [nephesh] shall surely be put to death.

(Lev 24:18)  And he that killeth a beast [nephesh] shall make it good; beast for beast.

In creation creatures and fowl are given life, that is souls in Genesis 1:20 and elsewhere. Blood sacrifice of animals atoned for our souls because the soul resides in the blood. A soul for a soul in Leviticus 17:11. Reiterated again in Leviticus 24:17 & 18 in the soul of a man for a man and the soul of a beast for a beast.  Since nephesh and psuche refer to the personality of creature, anyone who owns a pet can see they all have individual personalities.

Frankly, what makes us in the image of God is a multitude of things.  And I would say it is in the quality of those things.

Recently I realized there is one point that requires us to be in the image of God that is never addressed.  Reproduction.  According to Genesis 1, everything begets after its own kind.  The English word, “kind”, means family. We see the root in kin, kindred, and the understanding and implication in the word kindness, is that we care and are considerate of our own.

Although Adam and Eve were created by God, they are considered the son and daughter of God because they were in His image.  God began the process of reproducing Himself in this first creation.  Because of this, He was able to send His Word to become flesh in actual procreation through the Holy Spirit in Mary. Hence Jesus is called the only begotten Son of God. Jesus referred to himself as a seed that must die to bear fruit (John 12:24).  In becoming a seed, He enabled all of us to join Him in a new birth that makes us God’s children in Truth.

The Mosaic law forbid graven images of God as any kind of creature on Earth. Unlike the fictitious “gods” of the imagination of world religions, God can not become any other creature than man. He can not become a lion, as in the Chronicles of Narnia, for that matter.  This is bound to the integrity of His existence which limits Him.  He is Truth, and He cannot lie. He is eternal life and cannot die. His image is One, and He showed us Himself in us.

While saying He can reproduce Himself in us does not make understanding how we are in His image any clearer, it does say that it is proof that we are set apart from the animals and that human life has greater value to God (and therefore should be to us) than animal life. Of course, all life that God created is sacred and should not be devalued because they are not in the image of God.  Proverbs tells us that the righteous regards the life of his beast (Prov. 12:10).  But human life should be esteemed more highly.

When Noah arrived on dry land after the Flood, God said to Noah:

(Gen 9:5)  And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.  (Gen 9:6)  Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

The proof that we are in the image of God is that we can become His children.

 Post Script

After publishing this post this morning, two additional thoughts came to mind that may come to the minds of the readers as well.

First, we are told that the sons of God presented themselves before the Lord, and that Satan came amongst them in Job 1:6 that these are angels.  The reasons for thinking this are the presence of Satan, who is an angel, and the Hebrew word translated sons is ben which is a child of the family, but not a son of inheritance, which is bar, as in bar mitzvah, “son of inheritance of the commandments”.  We are never told in Job explicitly that these are angels, which in Hebrew is malawk, and like the Greek aggelos means “messenger”.

The assumption is made that this happened in heaven.  But there is nothing in the text that explicitly states that this is in heaven.  There is no reason that this could not be believers in Yahweh on Earth, which occurred before Abraham. There is plenty of biblical support that many people who were before and not part of the Abrahamic line, knew Yahweh.  Melchisadek and Balaam are just two examples of non-Abrahamic people who knew Yahweh. Satan coming before Yahweh while His believers were worshiping Him is just as possible. Therefore, it is not proven that the sons of God in Job were angels.

Another consideration on this point is what Jesus Himself said regarding angels:

Matthew 22:30(NKJV) For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

The implication of angels not marrying is that they do not procreate. Angels are called, servants of God in Hebrews 1, not sons of God. They are intelligent spirits who can inhabit humans in demon possession, but they also can inhabit pigs (Matt.8:31). Neither of these points suggest they are in the image of God, nor could God reproduce Himself in angels.

Second, this brings up the matter of the giants in Genesis 6.  Beginning with the assumption that the sons of God are angels, the doctrine (which dates back 2,500 years) is believed that angels procreated with beautiful women to create giants.  This doctrine is one that creates fear, and I reject it as a lie that better serves the father of lies than the Church.  As noted previously, Jesus implied that angels can not procreate. That means they can not fornicate with humans.  They can certainly demonically possess a man who could fornicate with a woman, but that would not create giants.

Furthermore the text does not say that giants were the offspring of the sons of God who fornicated with the beautiful women. This is what is written:

Gen 6:1  And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
Gen 6:2  That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
….
(Gen 6:4)  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Key words; men are multiplying with daughters born unto them (6:1): the sons of God saw the daughters and married them (not fornicated) (6:2).  The sons of God in Jewish literature refers to the righteous line of Seth. A distinction is made between wicked men and  righteous men. Paul makes a similar distinction in 1 Cor. 3:3 when he says the Corinthians are carnal and walk like men.

In Genesis 6:4 it does not say that giants were the offspring of these unions. Only that there were giants in those days. These giants were humans and descendants of Adam.  This false doctrine has been used to say that the giants of Canaan were also demonic offspring by some, but the Bible makes no such claim.  This passage is only speaking of unequally yoked marriages of believing men with unbelieving daughters of wicked men.  The children of the unequally yoked unions were “mighty men of old” and “men of renown”, not giants.  It is thoughtless reading that encourages this demonic doctrine amongst believers. It also misses the incredible grace of God who prospered these children just as He prospered Ishmael born of the impatience of Sarah through Abraham and Hagar the Egyptian hand maid.

 

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