Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:26-27 (NASB)
How are you enjoying your visit to Eden so far? It sure is beautiful this time of year; quite a contrast to the snow and ice where I live. Well, let’s get back to work…
If we decide that humanity is made in God’s image, and we cite a text in which God speaks of Himself as “us” and “our”, which is to say in the plural, then we need to consider what this plurality refers to so as to ensure that our understanding of this “likeness” is correct. One way to work this out would be to look at the other “In the beginning” passage in Scripture, which is found in John 1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-5, 14
In John’s account, which actually begins before the Creation, it is clear that at least 2 Persons of the Godhead are present, for the Word that became flesh and was with God, and was God from before the beginning of Creation, is quite clearly a reference to the Son, Jesus. So it would seem that Father and Son were very much involved in Creation; I wonder if we can find the Spirit as well…
Returning to the Genesis text, I found this:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (1:1-2)
Thus, we find all three Persons of the Godhead present and at work in the Creation, and we humans are made in the fullness of the image of God; that appears to me to be the meaning of the “Us and the “our”.
The next lead found in our text (Genesis 1:26-27) is that of male and female:
in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
You can take this and interpret it in one of two ways: You can say that God made the man in His image, and God also created the woman, but only the man bears God’s image because, although God also created the woman, she was taken from the man, and must be in the man’s image. If you want to go this way, you can then cite 1 Corinthians 11 as your “proof text” and many have done this over the centuries, and even today some still do this. To be honest with you, as a man myself, I’d like to do this whenever my wife hands me a “honey do” list. However, I hesitate to try, for one simple little reason:
Do you see that little semicolon in the phrase? Do you see those two clauses on either side of the semicolon? They are parallel; this phrase is a Hebrew parallelism, like those you find throughout the Proverbs. In a Hebrew parallelism, the clauses on either side of our semicolon are equal; they mean the same thing. Thus, sorry guys, both male and female bear the image of God. In fact, we might begin to suspect that they bear the image of God in its completeness when they come together as “one flesh”.
Of course, at this point in our exploring, that is only a suspicion, a lead to follow before we are finished, but I don’t quite think we have gotten that far yet. I think, and I would be interested to see if you agree, that before we do that, we should have a quick look at 1 Corinthians 11 to make sure I haven’t missed something, and then look at what kind of an image God actually has. Next time, let’s step out of the Garden and pay a visit to the Church in Corinth. Be sure to dress modestly; ladies grab your hats and guys, you can leave your hats at home for this one…