Created in His Image

"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.’  And 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)

The first few chapters of Genesis contain probably some of the most important declarations made by God to man. Only the “red writing”, representing Jesus’ own words, can surpass these words in importance.  Genesis explains how we got to be here, what is the meaning of life on this planet, and most importantly, whywe need salvation. It contains the foundation for moral and ethical thought and standards of behaviour.  Genesis is the foundation for the Gospel message and without it, the Gospel is meaningless. At the same time, it is also probably the most disputed book of the Bible and the source of much animosity among those who disagree.  In it are some statements which are puzzling to most of us. One of those puzzles is examined here.

What does it mean to be created in His image?  The statement is so open to interpretation, that I think its actual meaning can only be established in consultation with the rest of the Bible in a holistic approach.  Even then, the opinions vary widely.  Many of them could have some merit. Others stray into heresy. 

A recent heresy has been doing the rounds, asserting that God is asexual, His gender neither male nor female, and some proponents of this heresy are claiming great revelation can sprout from this ‘enlightenment’. It is a new-age aberration, leading to apostasy. Possibly the only valid concession we can make is that man is masculine as a metaphorical model of God’s maleness, not the other way around.  God, being spiritual, does not evidence His maleness through genitalia, rather human maleness is an allegorical representation of God’s manhood.  We are created in His image, not the other way around.  So we need to see maleness not from an earthly perspective, but from a spiritual perspective. In the spiritual realm, maleness is equivalent to headship. 

Yet God is male in every part of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We are not told about God the Mother, or God the daughter. Even the Holy Spirit is referred to as He (John 14:26), although this could be argued to be an interpretation. The maleness of the Holy Spirit must be inferred from understanding of the eternal purpose. If God had already been in a satisfying male/female relationship of perfect unity, there would have been no reason for creation.

Verse 26 of Genesis says, “Let Us make man in Our image”, clearly a plural, in fact throughout these early chapters, the word for God (Elohim) is a plural, clearly the first indication that God is a Trinity.  How can we be created to represent three male persons in one God? And how could we be created male and female in His image? In addition, if God is Spirit (John 4), how could the physical male and female be His image?  How can a physical creation be the image of someone who has no physical substance?   These are perplexing questions, indeed. 
Even more confusing is the statement in Philippians 2:7, that Jesus was made inour image.  At the same time, Col.1:15 claims Christ is the image of the invisible God. The explanation is that the body of the physical and human Christ, God incarnate, is made in our image. But spiritually Christ also is the image of the Father and Holy Spirit; in fact, He is one third of the Trinity. The physical expression of God in Jesus is the commencement of God bringing Himself down to our level, humbling Himself to show He is personally willing to do as much as He is asking of us.  This humbling process culminates in God crucified, willingly carrying the just punishment for our sins, personally making right what is wrong in His eternity.

Matthew Henry believes man being created in God’s image refers to 1) man’s soul, in its three noble faculties: understanding, will and active power; 2) his free will (dominion over the creation); and 3) his purity and rectitude before the fall, reflecting God’s holiness. Certainly this is a plausible surmisal, as Adam and Eve were sinless when they started out.

Others believe the tripartite nature of man (body, soul and spirit) is a model representation of the Trinity. Others still think being God’s image is demonstrated by our creative nature, our ability to reason intelligently and our deep down, but often unspoken or even recognised, need to be the centre of the universe.

Henry Morris, in his marvellous commentary “The Genesis Record”, surmises that man’s senses and faculties are physical representations of God’s own spiritual abilities. God sees (Gen. 16:13), hears (Psalm 94:9), smells (Gen. 8:21), touches (Gen, 32:32), and speaks (2 Peter 1:18). God is capable of intense feeling and emotion, including anger and love and passion.

I looked at this long and hard.  I prayed for understanding. I tried to find a hidden meaning in words that are so plain.  And then it dawned on me that the answer was staring me in the face!  In revealing how and why we were created, why would God bother telling us something that is blatantly obvious and we all know already, unless it has special significance? We are hardly ignorant of the fact that the world’s population is roughly 50% male and 50% female. We don’t need to read the Bible to know this is so. God could have used the space to tell us a billion other things we didn’t already know. No, I think when He introduced the concept of male and female into the sixth day and related it to His image, He did it for a very significant reason.

I believe that God was telling us right up front that He is looking for a life-partner with whom to share eternity. The statement could possibly be classed as the first prophecy in the Bible, predicting the final outcome of His purpose for Creation. Knowing how much I personally long to meet my soul mate, that woman who shares my passion and wants to share her life with me, I identify with the longing in God's heart.  Nearly every whole and well-adjusted person on this earth has that same longing implanted in their heart, to meet that special ‘other half’, who will share their life with them and make it complete.  Why was that longing created there?   Just so we would be able to grasp His meaning.  Here is the real Gospel message in the first book of the Bible, a message also written on our hearts - God want's to spend eternity in the company of those who love Him and want to be with Him.  The image He created was a reflection of His heart's desire.  We are a picture of His Heart's desire, not the other way around. God created male and female as a picture of the type of relationship He is looking for in eternity!When you see that and start reading the rest of the Bible afresh, the pictures of a divine courtship are everywhere. God has been courting His creation from day six, when He created mankind and created him and her for that reason. It starts in Genesis 1 and comes to fruition in Revelation 21, when the New Jerusalem is finally presented to Jesus as a perfect Bride.

We are an illustration of His heart's desire so we would understand what He is looking for. He is the Groom. We are the Bride.  These are gender-specific pictures of the relationship He wants in the hereafter.

The image is only valid for earth time. In eternity, we will not marry or be given in marriage to each other (Mark 12:25). We will not desire each other in this way, and I wonder whether we will even remember that part of our nature.  If we do remember, I think it will be a purely academic recollection, devoid of any sense of abstinence, nostalgia or lust. Male and female Christians together will be the Bride of Christ. In eternity, He will be the male, the head, the husband, who loved us so much He was willing to lay down His life for us. We will be the female, the bride, the wife, who will be forever in submission to Him.  These concepts are beautifully illustrated in Ephesians 5.  

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy may well tell us the meaning of life, the universe and everything is forty-two.  In the movie, a massive computer takes millions of years to calculate this figure.  And it still got it wrong!  The real meaning to life, the universe and everything may be found in Colossians 1:16. It proclaims: “By Him and for Him were all things created!” The inferences drawn from this short sentence are threefold:  Jesus was present at Creation; Jesus was the reason for Creation; and thirdly, Jesus was (at the very least) part of the creative energy.


The trend of doing away with God’s maleness has been inspired by dissatisfaction with the worldly concept of maleness and its impact on the females amongst us. Yes, we males have got it wrong for a long, long time. We have asserted our 'superiority' through greater physical strength and tried to keep our women under the thumb. The scriptural message about submission is not about 'superiority', rather about acknowledging that we understand God's eternal purpose. So whilst the trend towards ‘affirmative action’ is commendably motivated by a desire to right a wrong, it also generates attitudes and fallacies which work against God’s purpose. We should never abolish God's maleness, only reinterpret it from a spiritual perspective. 

The new age trend to try to take away the male gender God has revealed for Himself, has implications too horrifying to contemplate:


1. A neutered God makes most of the Bible images of a male pursuing a female counterpart meaningless.  Adopt the heresy, and suddenly we find ourselves having to "explain away", and find excuses for, half of the Bible text, stumbling every time He calls Himself a He.  

2. The first unbiblical conclusion this heresy inevitably leads to, is a same-sex marriage in eternity. When we see that, surely the reasonably intelligent among us can recognise where the push is coming from.  However, the hidden agenda is not support for homosexuality, rather the wish to be equal with God.  

3. The second inevitable conclusion is an eternal bride (in whatever context the proponents of the heresy would try to explain that away), petulant in her 'equality' and demanding to be worshipped.


The first rebellion God had to deal with was Satan (Lucifer), in heaven, wanting to be equal to God and take His place.  The second rebellion was Adam and Eve in the garden, eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, tempted to become equal with God. The "Chosen People", the nation of Israel, rebelled over and over again.  The reason for their rebellion invariably was that they put their own perceived needs first, before God. Putting your own needs first is just a more subtle way of demonstrating a desire to be as important, if not more important, than God.  Today, the whole of Western Christianity is being encouraged to focus on self as the centre of the universe. Our own success, happiness and fulfilment is made out to be the ultimate goal of Christendom.  Surely we have not yet been blinded so totally that we cannot see where (or more accurately, who) this trend is coming from?


It was only recently that I looked at Genesis 1:27 with new eyes, and it dawned on me that the answer to the meaning of being created in His image was right there in front of my nose! It is amazing how many times you can read a scripture and yet miss some of its message.  We are created in His image to represent His heart’s desire!  Once that becomes clear, we discover the whole Bible, from beginning to end, is filled with images of a male God pursuing a female counterpart, to be united with her for eternity as husband and wife.  He is the groom, we are the bride. 

God's manhood is not an image of our human maleness, however the reverse is true: human masculinity is an image or picture of His. Taking away God's maleness leads inevitably to a totally unscriptural picture in eternity, of us in an equal relationship with God. Let me tell you now in no uncertain terms: We will never be God's equal. (1 Cor.15:23-28,  Ephesians 5,  Rev.21)


Ever since Adam and Eve first disobeyed God and were banished from the idyllic environment of Eden, man has inherited the same selfish nature that made Satan aspire to usurp God’s place. Man is cursed with an arrogance and high-mindedness that makes him think he can do better than God Himself, in areas of wisdom, creation, philosophy, and purpose. Man believes himself to be so good, worthy, and independent, that if the job of Creator were vacant, man thinks he could well have a valid claim to be the successful applicant. Surely by now we are at least smart enough to recognise the fallacy in that way of thinking.   All the great heresies of our time, from Evolution, Prosperity Doctrine and Abortion, to Homosexuality, Genetically modified food, Cloning, you name it, are inspired by the god-complex in man.

As far as God is concerned, the greatest sin is to have another God before Him.  That sin has made Him abandon His chosen people into slavery.  It has made Him destroy all of the human race, (bar eight), in a worldwide flood.  What we have failed to recognise is that our own agendas can become gods before Him.

God wants to spend eternity with you and me. But only if we genuinely love Him and want to be with Him. That’s why He made us. What an incredibly satisfying reason for living! And what a relief to finally ‘get it’, the meaning of life, the reason for the universe, the purpose of creation!

He made us male and female, in a simile of His heart’s desire, so we would understand that vital essence of the eternal mystery.