Let Us Make Man in Our Image
By Brian Evans
In Psalm Eight, the writer contemplates a theological mystery, one that seems, at least at first, to have no answer.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4 ESV)
Here, the Psalmist considers man as a created being compared to the vastness and beauty of the created universe and is left pondering, what is it about man that would cause God to care for him the way He does?
I. Male and Female as Image Bearers of God
To answer the Psalmist’s question one must go back to the very beginning of creation. The answer is found in the text in which God speaks within the Trinity something never heard before. Rather than saying, Let there be…and it happens, God says something entirely different when approaching the creation of man, Let Us create man in our image…
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So 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 ESV)
The reason God cares for mankind the way He does is that man has been given God’s image and was created to display God’s likeness in a way that the rest of creation would not. He has created mankind in His image and in His likeness. Based on this passage the image of God has to do with ways in which mankind is like God. While we know that if there are any similarities between mankind and the infinite God, these similarities are but finite expressions of the infinite. Yet, at the same time, man was created to express or display God’s image to the created world. Wayne Grudem defines being made in God’s image, he writes, The fact that man is in the image of God means that man is like God and represents God.
From the definition given by Grudem, we must consider, in what ways is mankind like God and how does mankind represent God? Mankind, in his original created state, was righteous and without sin, he had true knowledge, and true holiness. Much has changes since the fall. Now man is left in a depraved state only partially fulfilling God’s commands to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with other godly people.
John Calvin very briefly explains that in general, being in the likeness of God speaks both of external being and the internal soul. Of the two, he highlights that the soul itself is the seat of God’s image. Calvin sees the soul as the foundation for all the different aspects of man being made in God’s image.
In addition, according to Louis Berkhof, spirituality is also to be added to the characteristics that display God’s image. He writes, another element usually included in the image of God is that of spirituality. God is Spirit, and it is but natural to expect that this element of spirituality also find expression in man as the image of God. Berkhof continues to explain that yet another aspect of the image of God includes man’s immortality. He notes that God alone is truly immortal in and of Himself, yet mankind possesses it as an endowment from God.
When God made man in His image, He gave man an immortal soul, which is the seat of morality, holiness, knowledge, and spirituality. These are some of the elements of the image of God.
Both man and woman are image bearers. Both are equal in their importance and personhood. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27 ESV). Both men and women are equally important, valuable and both reflect God’s image and character to others. Both are valuable to God and sought after in salvation. Both receive the Holy Spirit when saved. Both receive Spiritual gifts (Acts 2:17-18). Men and women are equal in their ability to receive the New Covenant To further highlight this fact, we should look to Paul’s words in Galatians,
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27-28 ESV)
Before sin entered the world, both men and women were a perfect finite picture God. Adam and Eve displayed many of God’s character traits flawlessly. They were given the command to fill the earth and subdue it. Mankind was an example of God in the dominion he was given over creation. Man was to have authority to govern and care for the created world. Man was also to display God in creation as he was given the charge to fill the earth. He was to procreate which pictured God’s creation. Filling the earth and subduing the earth were to work in cooperation with each other. Man was to be fruitful and multiply and as he became greater in number so his godly dominion would expand over the entire earth. He was to fill the earth with other godly people who would together have dominion over every aspect of the planet. In a real sense, the Garden of Eden was to cover the entire earth as Adam and Eve’s generations procreated and followed God.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 ESV)
II. Male and Female as God’s Perfect Design
Man was created in the image of God and as has been stated, man was also created male and female. In order for the image of the infinite God to be seen through the finite creatures, man was created male and female and given varying roles to express the authority and submission as seen expressed in the Trinity. The Trinity is perfect in every way. When God created mankind, male and female, This was the perfect design to best reflect Himself. Being made in the image of God and being made male and female have the greatest potential to bring glory to God.
It was mainly this image of God, namely man made male and female that was marred by the fall. The image of God is still present in humans but it has been distorted because of sin. In redemption through Jesus Christ, the created image of God in man will be regained and mankind will one day completely fulfill God’s purpose in creating them in His image and creating them male and female.
God is the Triune God. He is three distinct Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit under one divine Godhead. Each person of the Godhead is equally God, none more important that the other. Each Person, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, comes together to form one God. They are of one divine substance and coexist together perfectly. Yet, while each One is equally God and each as important as the other, there is authority and submission within their functioning roles. One great theologian simply states it like this: The one divine Being subsists in three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit
Consequently, one aspect of mankind being made in God’s image means that male and female, distinct person come together in marriage to form a one-flesh unit.
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 ESV)
It is in this marriage covenant that God intended to fill the earth and subdue it. As these little family units of one-flesh mergers began to spread out over the entire earth, the earth would have been one perfect Garden of Eden.
As part of God’s perfect design in making man in His image and also creating them male and female finds its fulfillment in marriage. It is vitally important that we understand that it is God’s perfect design for a man and a woman to come together as one in marriage. It is in the one-flesh union that God’s design is carried out. Filling the earth and having dominion over it springs forth from men and women entering into the marriage covenant.
God knew Adam needed someone suitable for him and someone to help him perform all the tasks given by God. Even though there were thousands of animals in varying sizes and shapes, none were suitable for Adam to be his lifelong companion and helper. Because of this void in Adam, God created Eve, one suitable in every way to be his helper. She was to complete Adam. She was to be not only Adam’s helper but also, Adam’s wife.
Adam and Eve came together in the first marriage ceremony. They became husband and wife, as it were, with God officiating. This marriage was a covenant between Adam and Eve with God looking on as Witness. This marriage would be the pattern for all marriages in the future. We have the brief outline in Genesis…
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)
This union was perfect in every way. Adam and Eve were in a perfect relationship with God and they were in a perfect relationship with each other. God blessed them (Genesis 1:28a), gave them their task (1:28b; 2:15-16), gave them everything they could ever need (Genesis 1:29-30), and finally, God saw everything He had made and all of it was very good (Genesis 1:31). In everything God was well pleased and His task of creating was finished. We are amazed at all God did and the fact that the entire universe was good, according to the Bible’s description. Everything was in perfect harmony and in perfect unity. All He created glorified God the Creator.
III. Male and Female After the Fall
To begin with, one must look at the initial boundaries in the Garden of Eden concerning Adam and Eve’s obedience. God had given them plenty of good food to eat. They had various trees which bore fruit good to eat and delightful to look at. There was one tree, however, in which God gave strict commands. This tree was off limits. It was the means by which Adam and Eve could further obey and bring glory to God. They were given the privilege to eat of all the fruit of the garden and they were given the prohibition to not eat of the one tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17 ESV)
God had laid out His desire very clearly, the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will surely die. This command is very intense and very clear. This command was given to Adam not Eve. He was in charge and the head of the human race. Robert Culver comments on the intense language God used in His instruction concerning the forbidden tree, he writes:
Much theological writing misses the especially sharp, intensive, grammatical modes and fierce tone of these two verses (Gen. 2:16, 17), viz.: (1) of all the words for God’s instructions to human beings, the word ‘commanded’ (Heb. Tsawah) is the strongest. It never occurs except in the intensive stem, either piel (act.) or pual (pass.). When, as here, followed by a preposition ‘al, above, over, upon, against, the phrase means to command strictly. We can almost visualize Elohim shaking the finger at Adam and saying ‘Do not!’
The serpent knew just how to attack. He “slithered” his way into the garden and immediately found Eve. His method proved effective make evil sound good, make God seem restrictive, and cause Eve to question God’s Word. He did just that. She was caught off guard without Adam standing in the gap for her. She was left vulnerable and the evil serpent capitalized on the situation. He began to explain to Eve the fruit was really there for her good, it would be good to eat, good to look at, and even go far in cause her to know things she does not currently know (Genesis 3:1-6).
Eve listened to the serpent and ate from the forbidden tree. She then turned and gave some to Adam who was with her. He also ate the fruit that God had strictly forbidden (Genesis 3:6). What really happened that day was that the serpent had corrupted Adam and Eve’s thinking and heart before they were corrupted physically. In other words, they entertained the thought of eating long before they ate. We read in the Book of James, what really happened.
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 ESV)
This is the flow chart for human sin. It happens the same way every time. Mankind will be lured into sin because of some lustful thought he entertains. When sin is what he secretly longs for, it does not take much temptation to cause him to commit the thing he longs to do anyway. Such is the sad story of Adam and Eve, and us.
IV. Male and Female Under the Curse
The immediate consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve (known as the Fall) is, as God promised, death (Genesis 2:17). Death now comes upon all men as a result of Adam’s sin. The sentence of death is the plague in which we all are subject. Even in this first act of utter rebellion, God shows compassion and mercy, man did not die immediately. Physical death, however, will claim each and every human given enough time.
Another aspect of the death Adam and Eve incurred is spiritual death. Spiritual death is seen as alienation from God (Ephesians 2:5; 4:18). This is the death that every person is born into. This is what Jesus spoke of when He interviewed Nicodemus. He explained to Nicodemus that he had to be born again to see God’s Kingdom (John 3). The new birth is critical because as a result of man’s first birth, all are born under our original head, namely, Adam. Spiritual death also means that our original parents suffered the consequence of the penalty of being separated from God. Their souls were now corrupt and this resulted in eternal death. A. A. Hodge writes, In the covenant relation which Adam sustained to God the penalty of the covenant of works was incurred, i. e., death, including, (1) mortality of the body, (2) corruption of the soul, (3) sentence of eternal death.
In addition to death, both physically and spiritually, Adam and Eve suffered other immediate curses by God for their disobedience. To Eve, God specifically announces two curses: First, He said that she would suffer in childbearing. Giving birth would now be a painful experience for her and all women who would follow. At the height of the woman’s self-fulfillment she will experience agony. Second, she would suffer a breach in the one-flesh union. No longer would her marriage relationship be one of harmony but it would now be a struggle. Her role of helper would be overtaken by her intense desire to rule over her husband and overthrow him and to place herself as the authority.
Adam also suffered because of his disobedience. God plainly tells Adam that because he listened to his wife and ate of the tree that God forbid cursed will be the ground. Harvesting food will no longer be easy, it will now be excruciating work and even involve pain (Genesis 3:17-19). Adam went from being a gardener, as it were, pruning to a farmer, preparing the ground, fighting off weeds, and praying to God for a harvest. Relief will only come to man when he dies. So here too we see that death has entered the world because of sin. Adam’s curse will last all the days of his life (Romans 5:12). No longer is the Garden of Eden a place of peace, comfort, and security, but a place of pain and toil. Victor Hamilton, in his commentary on Genesis writes, The penalty for Adam’s disobedience and Cain’s fratricide is not death but expulsion and wandering, i.e., removal from safety of the garden and exposure to a life of severity and uncertainty.
V. Male and Female Fallen Into Perversion
The curse Eve received from God was two-fold, first, pain in childbearing and second, her intense desire to rule over her husband. From Eve onward, every woman falls under these two penalties because of Eve’s sin. All women suffer pain in childbearing and yet, women are to still give birth, they are to be fruitful and multiply. All women desire to be equal to or in authority over men and yet, they are to still obey God’s commands and be in submission to their husbands. The penalties God gave to Eve, and all women, did not nullify His other commands such as be fruitful and multiply and be your husband’s helper.
Legalized abortion is one of women’s greatest perversions. Through abortion women disobey God’s order to be fruitful and multiply. They disregard that command and in essence make themselves like men. They are no longer bound by any sexual roles when abortion can be had on demand. They believe they are free from the supposed restraints of being female and are now able to compete and even surpass men in all walks of life. This is the real goal in legalized abortion.
Abortion advocating feminists, like Kate Michelman and Gloria Feldt, want women to participate more fully, as true partners, in the social and economic life of the nation. In fact, they advocate legal abortion for this reason, because they believe it facilitates women’s increasing entry into and active participation in the public culture. Abortion is a kind of compromise, a “necessary evil” accepted (or at least tolerated) for the sake of the cause’s goal.
This goal is also seen in other feminist’s groups such as the very degenerate Planned Parenthood and our modern liberal society. Here is an excerpt from the court’s ruling in 1992:
This classic abortion advocacy argument has found its way into the decisions of the highest court in the land. Consider the following excerpt from the Court’s opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992):
…for two decades [since Roe] of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.
Again we see the ultimate goal in destroying unborn babies is so women can be equal to men in all walks of society. This is exactly what the penalty of the curse was about. The perversion comes when women do not struggle to submit to their husbands and do not produce children through pain but refuse God’s ordained sexual role in lieu of their own self-centered goals. The perversion of feminism basically says, I will be like God in making a world where I can be in charge. I will throw off all restraints and am absolutely free to live as I please.
The perversion of homosexuality affects both men and women. God had perfectly designed His creation to glorify Him as they sought to be fruitful and multiply. In homosexuality man tells God that he would rather do things differently. Over and over God condemns the practice and those who engage in it. From the earliest writings continuing through even to the New Testament God condemns the practice.
22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22 ESV). Please see (Genesis 18:20-21; 19:1-29; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26; 1 Corinthians 6:9). All humans are to flee from this perversion of God’s perfect design (1 Corinthians 6:18). Again it is the same thing, I will do what I want and throw off all restraints. This is the plague of sin, deciding that what I want to do, is also best.
IV. Male and Female in Proper Relationship
As with any controversial topic, human opinion is not the plumb line by with truth is discovered. Only by delving into God’s Word can truth be seen. What does God’s Word tell us about how men and women are to relate to each other in a godly way? We’ve already determined that the Fall, while it brought a curse, it did not nullify God’s former commands. God still desires the marriage to make a one-flesh union whereby the Trinity is glorified. God still desires the woman to submit to her husband, even though it is made more difficult because her sin fuels her desire to lord over her husband. God still desires men to lead and have authority over their wives, even though now his sin encourages him to step back and not lead.
In light of these and other sinful difficulties which hinder the husband and wife’s obedience what help can we gain from God? Let’s turn our attention now to what His Word tells us concerning glorifying Him by overcoming our sinful tendencies toward disobedience.
To begin our discussion concerning what God requires from husbands and wives and how this can be accomplished in a fallen world, let us look together at 1 Peter 3:1-7…
1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—
4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,
6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:1-7 ESV).
In context, this entire section of Peter’s letter is concerned with proper submission to varying authorities in our lives (2:11-3:12). He writes we are subject to various governing authorities, servants to masters, children to parents, and wives to husbands. For our study, we will look to the verses dealing with the husband wife relationship (1 Peter 3:1-7).
One preliminary investigation we must make if we are going to understand how husbands and wives are to relate to one another is to discover exactly what is meant by the phrase in verse one, be subject. Alexander Strauch comments on the meaning of the Greek word, hypotasso, which is translated, submit to. He writes, The Greek verb for be submissive is hypotasso. It means submit to, be subject to, be subordinate to. The word always implies a relationship of submission to an authority.
When submission is called for, the very command infers that there is an authority over the one called in which to submit. In Peter’s letter, we have seen that everyone is to be subordinate to the governing body. We are to obey the laws passed by our government. God has determined that in order to have an orderly society all people must see their government as an authority and submit to it (Romans 13).
Likewise, in a well-ordered society there is a submission and authority relationship between workers and employers. Here, in ancient times, Peter uses the titles servants and masters (1 Peter 2:18-19). The principle is the same. A society must have various roles if it is to be God honoring. The same is true in the home. If God is to be honored in the home there must be a relationship between the husband and wife of authority and submission. Only in this way will Christ be honored and the mystery Paul refers to be clearly seen (Ephesians 5:32).
The key to this passage and others like it such as Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 is that husbands and wives must be fulfilling their God ordained roles regardless of their tendency to do just about everything but that. Men are to lead and wives are to follow regardless what we really desire to do. Sin is a great hindrance to our fulfillment of God’s commands but if we are in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin but have been set free, set free to follow and obey God (Romans 6).
So, the theological mystery that the writer of Psalm eight considers, what is it about man that would cause God to care for him the way He does? Man is made in the image of God. No other part of the vast creation is made in God’s image. Male and female He created them.
Beale, G. K. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. Downers Grove, Il.: Intervarsity Press, 2004
Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1976.
Calvin, John. Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. London: Westminster Press, 1960. Book 1, 15, 3 page 186
CLARK, RANDOLF C. FEMINISM AND ABORTION. http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/may/feminismabortion.htm
Culver, Robert. Systematic Theology: Biblical & Historical. Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publishing House, 2005.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House,
Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1990.
Hodge, A. A. Outlines of Theology. Chetham, Great Britain: Banner of Truth, 1991.
Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology Volume 1. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1975.
Scipione, George C. The Sword and the Shovel. Kerney, Ne.: Morris Publishing House, 2002
Strauch, Alexander. Men and Women: Equal Yet Different. Littleton, Colorado: Lewis and Roth Publishing House, 1999.
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House,
 John Calvin, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (London: Westminster Press, 1960) Book 1, 15, 3 page 186
 Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1976), 204
 ibid, 205
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000), 458
 G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission (Downers Grove: Il., 2004)
 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1975) Volume 1, 444
 George Scipione, The Sword and the Shovel (Kearney, Ne., Morris Publishing House, 2002)
 Robert Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical & Historical (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publishing House, 2005), 306
 A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (Chatham, Great Britain: Banner of Truth, 1991), 323
 Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1990), 204
 FEMINISM AND ABORTION by C. RANDOLPH CLARK http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/may/feminismabortion.htm
 FEMINISM AND ABORTION by C. RANDOLPH CLARK http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/may/feminismabortion.htm
 Alexander Strauch, Men and Women: Equal Yet Different (Littleton, Colorado: Lewis and Roth Publishing House, 1999), 44