Q&A: God's Image and Likeness

God's Image and Likeness

What does the Bible mean when it says that human beings were created in God's image and likeness?

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Answer

In Genesis 1 where it talks about God creating humanity, he says that he created male and female in the image of God, and then it says in the likeness of God. There's been a lot of debate amongst theologians about what this actually means, but scholars in the Old Testament are aware of a find at Tell Fakhariyeh in Syria, where they found a statue of a ruler in that region, and it calls the statue the image and likeness of that particular ruler. So what this shines light upon Genesis 1 is that how humans, as God's image bearers, are those who are to be, if you will, like statues for God or representatives for God being the real king of this world. So, when I think image bearers, I think those who are called to represent or to reflect God in this world as they care for creation. Now, a scholar recently, Catherine McDowell, has importantly noted how also image is linked to kinship. That's why you could say that Adam had children and they were born in Adam's image in Genesis 5. So, there's also a sense that we, being created in God's image, are in a sense part of God's family. We are kin, and we are God's children. So, I would call to mind this view of us that to be created image of God means we're called to represent and reflect God and to do so mindful that we are God's children.