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The Biblical View of Man


Lars Wilhelmsson



God, by His Word created the world out of nothing. He made man in His own image and likeness for His glory, asthe crown of creation, that man might havefellowshipwith Him and worship and serve Him.

Man was created by the direct, personal act of God, apart from any organic evolutionary process (Ge 1:27; 2:7,21-22; 5:1,2; 9:6; Ps 100:3; Ecc 7:29; Mt 19:4). This creative work was the joint action of the three persons of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Ge 1:26-27).

Adam and Eve are spoken of in the Bible as two human beings, each being endowed by God with a soul (2:7). The Genesis record gives good evidence that this first pair were moral beings, that is, they are equipped with the powers of right and wrong choice as seen in the probation under which they are placed by God (vv. 16-17). They possessed an immaterial nature that was capable of communication with God (1:28-30).

The Bible as a whole supports the view that man was created by God both as to material and immaterial natures (5:1-2, 6:7; Dt 4:32; Ps 104:30; Isa 45:12; 1 Co 11:9). He was "made" and "formed" out of the dust of the ground (Ge 1:26; 2:22; 3:19; 6:6-7, Job 4:19; 33:6; Ps 100:3; 103:14; Ecc 3:20; 12:7; 1 Ti 2:3). Then God breathed into Adam's nostrils "the breath of life" and man "became a living soul" (Ge 1:20-21,24; 2:19). God animated man's body by imparting a human spirit (6:17; 7:21-22; Ps 104:29) and soul (Ge 2:15; 4:4; 5:24; 6:9).

The two accounts of man's creation in Genesis emphasize different aspects. The account of chapter one presents the creation of man in his relationship to his environment whereas the account in chapter two presents the creation of man in his relation to his Creator. Also, the second account (2:7) completes the first (1:26-27).

Unity

The Scriptures clearly teach thatthe whole human race is descended froma single pair(1:27-28; 2:7,22; 3:20; 9:19). All are children of a common parent and have a common nature. Paul takes this truth for granted in his doctrine of the organic unity of mankind in the first transgression and of the provision of salvation for those in Christ (Ro 5:12,19; 1 Co 15:21-22; Heb. 2:16). This truth also constitutes the ground of man's responsibility toward his fellow-man (Ge 4:9; Ac 17:26).

The unity of man should also be seen in the context of his sexual nature. The two statements in which God says: "Let us make man" (Ge 1:26) and "Male and female He made them" (v. 27) implies that the idea of man is incomplete in that neither the male nor the female should be considered by itself in isolation from the other. The two together constitute the human species. A solitary male or female individual, therefore, would not constitute the species of man.

Genesis 2:21-23 backs this up in that God did not make Eve out of the dust of the ground, but out of a bone taken out of Adam. Neither did God breathe into Eve's nostrils. Rather shewas taken out of Adam as to her immaterial nature as truly as with regard to her physical nature (1 Co 11:8).

The Material Part: The Body

The body was originally made fromdust of the ground(Ge 2:7; 3:19). "Adam" means "red arable soil." Because man was made of dust his body needs elements that are found in soil for its sustenance. We ingest these elements through food. When a person dies, his body returns to dust in its natural state to await its resurrection (Ge 3:19; Jn 5:28-29).

Although Paul distinguished between human flesh and animal flesh (1 Co 15:39), both areanimatedby the same means: by thesoul(Ge 35:18; Mt 26:38; Lk 12:20) and by thespirit(Ge 7:22; Ps 104:29; Lk 8:55; Jas 2:26). Thus when it is abandoned by these animating principles, the body dies and returns to dust and the soul or spirit of the person returns to God (in the Old Testament literallysheol—the place of the departed dead and since the New Testament times Paradise—where God dwells) who imparted it in the beginning (Ge 2:7; Ecc 12:7; Job 34:14-15).

Since Adam's sin, human bodies have beeninherently corrupt and mortal(Ro 8:10; 1 Co 15:53). This means these bodies are subject to aging, weakness, degeneration, disease, and eventually death (vv. 42-44). Paul explains that the sin-principle resides in the flesh of the body and energizes it as well as the other parts of human nature for its evil expressions (Ro 7:17-18,23; 3:9; Gal 5:19-21). The sin-principle dominates the life of unsaved people and uses their total human nature for its evil expressions (Jn 8:34; Ro 3:9; 6:16; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 2:2-3; 1 Jn 3:8).

Since the body is theonly means people have through which they can express themselves, those who are indwelt by God's Spirit are to glorify God through their bodies in this world (1 Co 10:31). Even though the body still awaits its final redemption (glorification—Ro 8:23), the bodies of those who have been indwelt by God's Spirit (v. 16) are not to be used as tools for the expression of sin. Even in unredeemed bodies, Christians can live a life of holiness as they have died to sin and to its claim upon them (6:2) and yielded them as instruments of God and of righteousness (vv. 6-7,11-13; 12:1-2). Because believers are indwelt by the Spirit of God, their bodies are called "the temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Co 6:19). Therefore, says Paul, "honor God with your body" (v. 20).

Because the body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit" it should not be regarded as our enemy as pagan philosophy teaches. Rather, we should carefullycarefor our body as we nourish, discipline, and yield it to God for His holy purposes (Ro 6:16,19; 13:14; 1 Co 9:26-27; Eph 5:28-29; 1 Th 4:3-7).

Since our physical well-being directly affects the quality of our life and ministry, it is vital that we maintain our physical health and vitality as we eat properly and get the rest we need (Mt 6:31; Lk 8:55; Ac 27:33-35). Self-mortification through the punishment of the body (affliction and denial) as practiced in the Dark Ages is a distortion of self-discipline as taught in Scripture. Rather it rises from pagan thought which considers the body to be inherently evil and thus a threat to the well-being of the soul. Yet Scripture is clear that there are times when the spiritual duty or crisis requires that our physical needs are transcended (Mt 4:1-4; Ac 13:2-3).

These bodies will be delivered from their inherent corruption and the resident sin-principle when Jesus Christ returns for His church (Php 3:20-21). At that time these bodies will be transformed into "spiritual" or "glorified" bodies as they then will be prepared for the eternal state (1 Co 15:44-55; 1 Th 4:16-17; Rev 21-22). Thus they will be like the glorified body of Jesus (Php 3:20-21) which means they will be without weakness, sin, or any kind of limitation. At that point, as we have His kind of body "we shallbe like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 Jn 3:2).

In the meantime our bodies are like fallen Adam's body and thus express qualities of Adam's sinful state and the genetic features of our ancestors.

MAN AS MALE AND FEMALE

In the first chapter of Genesis we have a brief, yet magnificent, comment on the meaning of human sexuality. The narrative opens majestically as God brings the universe into existence by speaking the creative word. And this universe that God created is "good, very good" (Ge 1:31).

Imago-Dei--Relationship

Human beings are theapexof God's creation. Human creation is set apart from all others, for it is in theimago dei, the image of God. Notice how closely related our human sexuality is to God's image:

"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female. He created them" (v. 27).

Strange as it may seem, our sexuality, our maleness and femaleness, is somehow related to our creation in the image of God. At its essence, sex is not something we do as much as something weare. God made us sexual creatures.

Karl Barth, the Swiss theologian, was the first major theologian to help us see the implications of this confession of Scripture that human sexuality is grounded in the image of God. What he has helped us understand is thatrelationshipis at the heart of what it means to be "in the image of God" and that the relationship between male and female is the human expression of our relationship with God.

Our human sexuality—our maleness and femaleness—is not just an accidental arrangement of the human species, not just a convenient way to keep the human race going. Rather it is at the center, at the heart, of our true humanity. We exist as male and female in relationship. Our sexualness, our capacity to love and be loved, is intimately related to our creation in the image of God. What a high view of human sexuality!

THE CREATION OF MAN

God spoke all of the creation into existenceexcept for human beings. To create Adam, God took the dust of the earth and breathed life into it:"And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground andbreathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being [soul]" (Ge 2:7).

Man is made up of dust and God's breath: Dust & God's Breath=Man. Man is described by Moses (v. 7) as a "living being" (NIV), "living creature" (ESV) or "soul" (KJV). Solomon in describing man’s death says, "andthe dust [the body] returns to the groundit came from, andthe spirit returns to Godwho gave it" (Ecc 12:7). This implies the immortality of man’s spirit.

Man as "living being" or "soul" includes his whole person. This means that his body is part of who he is rather than just something he has (as the Greeks taught). Man does not, therefore,havea body, heisa body. In the same way man does nothavea spirit, heisa spirit. Man does nothavea soul, heisa soul.Man is a unified being: body and soul (if spirit is included as part of soul as it is in Hebrew thought), or body, soul and spirit (to emphasize the distinctive makeup of man). Thus what affects the body deeply affects the soul as well, and vice versa.

Interdependence

Thatunion of earthly dust and divine breathgives us one of the most insightful descriptions of human nature. As in the case of Adam, God did not speak Eve into existence as the rest of the creation as though she were a part of nonhuman reality. And because she was not breathed into dust as Adam was, she was not a creation unrelated to man. Her very creation shows her related-ness to man—for she was made from a part of him. God used the rib of Adam to underscore theirinterdependence.

Moses points out that "the man said,""This is nowbone of my bonesandflesh of my flesh;she shall be called 'woman,'for she wastaken out of man"(Ge 2:23). Instead of independent autonomy, the two of them are interwoven, interdependent, interlaced. Notice Adam's need for a partner: "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. It will make ahelper suitable for him" (v. 18).

Communion

We see here that sex was originally designed to end isolation and aloneness. This reflects something that exists in the persons of the Triune God—communionof Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Even though there is no physical or sexual expression of the persons of the Godhead, since they are spirits (except for God the Son who is both God and man: God-Man), they relate to each other in a loving way (Jn 17). This lack of sexual expression on the part of the Godheadshows that genital expression of sexuality is not inherently necessary for fullness and completeness. After all, in heaven, which is perfect, there will be no genital expression of sexuality. But there will be perfect communion.

Special Creation

The Bible points out that a helper for Adam was not to be found in what God had already created:"Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field andall the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would namethem; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. Sothe man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts ofthe field.But for Adamno suitable helperwas found" (Ge 2:19-20).Then we are given the account of the special creation of the woman, Eve:"So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He tookone of the man's ribsand closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord Godmade a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He broughtherto the man" (vv. 21-22).The man, Adam, at that point affirms God's gift to him:"The man said, 'This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall becalled 'woman,' for she was taken out of man'" (v. 23).

In Sumerian, one of the languages of Mesopotamia, the word for "rib" also means "life." Something of that concept is intended here: the woman comes into being out of the very life of the man. Life begets life. And then it is the woman who becomes the lifegiver as she is given the gift to give birth.

The word "helpmate" in Hebrew means "suitable helper" (literally "as against him"). The idea is that this "suitable helper" will bring balance to the male. It is best understood by the ancient method of using counterweights to attain a balance. One weight without the counterweight is imbalanced. Only as the weights are used "against each other" is balance synthesized. Man was created imbalanced even before the Fall. He needed the woman to bring the balance God intended. Augustine, in order to show the interdependence of the man and the woman, stated: "The woman was not made from one of the bones in the man's head in order to make it possible for her to lord it over him, nor was she made from one of the bones in the foot in order to enable him to trample and crush her. Rather, she was made from one of the bones in his side, so that they might share life together in mutual protection, concern, love and care."

THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN

Man's Psychological Constitution

All are agreed that man has both a material and an immaterial nature. His material nature is his body; his immaterial nature is his soul and spirit. The question arises, Is man a two-fold or a three-fold being? Are soul and spirit one and the same thing, or are we to distinguish between them? Those who believe that soul and spirit are one and the same are called dichotomists; those who hold that they are not the same are called trichotomists.

The Dichotomous Theory

Theologian A. H. Strong claims:

"The immaterial part of man, viewed as an individual and conscious life, capable of possessing and animating a physical organism, is called psuche; viewed as a rational and moral agent, susceptible of divine influence and indwelling, this same immaterial part is calledpneuma. Thepneuma, then, is man's nature looking Godward, and capable of receiving and manifesting the Holy Spirit, thepsucheis man's nature looking earthward, and touching the world of sense. Thepneumais man's higher part, as related to spiritual realities or as capable of such relation:psucheis man's higher part as related to the body, or as capable of such relation. Man's being is therefore not trichotomous but dichotomous, and his immaterial part, while possessing duality of powers, has unity of substance."1

(1) God breathed into man but one principle, the living soul (Ge 2:7). In Job 27:3 and 33:18 "life" and "spirit" seem to be used interchangeably (33:18). At times the word "soul" is used in such a way as to be synonymous with one's self or life (Mt 16:26).

(2) The term "soul" and "spirit" seem to be used interchangeably in some references (Ge 41:8 and 42:6; Jn 12:27 and 13:21; Mt 6:25; 20:28 and 27:50; Lk 1:46-47; Heb 12:23 and Rev 6:10).

Death is described as giving up the soul (Ge 35:18; I Ki 17:21; Ac 15:26) and as giving up the spirit (Ps 31:5; Lk 23:46).

(3) "Spirit" as well as "soul" is ascribed to brute creation (Ecc 3:21; Rev 16:3). However the living principle is beasts (soul or spirit) is believed to be irrational and mortal; in man, rational and immortal.

(4) "Soul" is ascribed to Jehovah (Am 6:8; Jer. 9:9; Isa 42:1; 53:10-12; Heb 10:38).

(5) The highest place in religion is ascribed to the soul.

(Mk 12:30; Lk 1:46; Heb 6:18-19; Jas 1:21)

(6) Body and soul (or spirit) are spoken of as constituting the whole of man (Mt 10:28;

1 Co 5:3; 2 Jn 2) and that to lose the "soul" is to lose all (Mt 16:26; Mk 8:36-37).

Consciousness testifies that there are two elements in man's being: a material part and an immaterial part. But the consciousness of no one can discriminate between soul and spirit.

The Trichotomous Theory

This theory holds that man consists of three distinct elements,body,soul, andspirit. The body is the material part of our constitution; the soul is the principle of animal life; and the spirit is the principle of our rational life. Some add to this last statement "and immortal" life. This can, however, not be made an essential part of the theory. Those who take this extreme view hold that at the death the body returns to the earth; the soul ceases to exist, and the spirit alone remains to be reunited with the body at the resurrection.

(1) In the first place, Genesis 2:7 does not absolutely declare that God made man a two- fold being. The Hebrew text is in the plural: "And Jehovah God formed of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;and man became a living soul." It does not state that man became spirit and soul; but rather, that God "inbreathed spirit, and man became a living soul." God's life took possession of clay, and as a result, man became a soul.

(2) Paul seems to think of body, soul, and spirit as three distinct parts of man's nature

(1 Th 5:23). The same thing seems to be indicated in the Word is said to pierce "even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow" (Heb 4:12).

(3) Such a threefold organization of man's nature seem also to be implied in the classification of men as "natural, "carnal," and "spiritual" (1 Co 2:14-3:4). These Scriptures seems to point to trichotomy. But is it not possible that they are merely intended to include the whole man? Jesus said to the young man, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mk 12:3); but no one would build a fourfold division of human nature on this statement. Hebrews 4:12 does not speak of the separation of the soulfromthe spirit, but of the separation itself extending to that point.

It is probable, however, that we are to think of man's immaterial nature as composed of a lower and a higher portion (Heb 4:12). To the soul would belong man's imagination, memory, understanding; to the spirit, his powers of reason, conscience, and free will. This variation from the traditional trichotomous view makes it possible to conserve the arguments for the dichotomous view, and yet explain how some Christians are "carnal" and others "spiritual." It also agrees with, the teaching that the present body a "soul-body" and that the resurrection body will be the "spiritual body" (1 Co 15:44). In other words, man's immaterial nature is looked upon as one nature, but as composed as two parts. Sometimes the parts are sharply distinguished; at other times, by metonymy, they are used for the whole being.

Man's Moral Constitution

Man'smoral constitutionrefers to those powers which fit him for right or wrong action. These powers are intellect, sensibility or emotion and will, together with that peculiar power of discrimination and impulsion, which we call conscience.

Intellect

Intellect enables man to discern between what is right and what is wrong; it is that faculty that can be impressed with a course of action or the choice of several courses of action.

Emotion or Sensibility

The emotions appeal to him to do the same or the other; they set value on the course of action.

Will

The term "will" is used in a twofold sense:

Inclination

The will is referred to in the sense of inclination or disposition of mind. We speak now of the particular bent, tendency or proclivity that a person may follow. They, of course, involve individual acts but this has to do mainly with the general trend or practice of which one is inclined.

Volition

Volition is the exercise of that power to act in given situations. It is the actual choosing, the termination of a course of action in the mind of the person.

Man does not commit a moral act without the function of thewill. The intellect may be impressed with a certain course of action, the emotions will set value on pursuing one course or another but the transaction is not complete until the will has acted. This distinguishes man from animals. Man can think objectively, weigh circumstances, obey his conscience and act in the light of revealed circumstances. This makes a moral creature.

Heart

The word "heart" is the most comprehensive term in Scripture in describing the nonphysical parts and functions of man. It is used to represent soul, spirit, mind, conscience--man's total inner being. There are very few references where the word describes the physical organ (2 Sa 18:14; 2 Ki 9:24; Ps 45:5).

This word (Hebrewleborlebab) is used 850 times in the Old Testament with the following connotations:

• the seat of physical energy (Ps 22:14; Isa 1:5).

• the seat of desire (Pr 6:25).

• the seat of one's disposition or mood.

(Ex 4:21; 2 Sa 17:10; 1 Ki 8:23; 11:3; 12:27; Eze 21:7)

• the seat of the will (2 Sa 7:27; 2 Ki 12:4).

• the seat of reasoning (Ge 6:5).

• the seat of perception (Dt 29:4).

• the seat of understanding (1 Ki 3:9; Pr 28:26).

• the seat of the self (Ge 17:17; 1 Ki 8:47, or "themselves"—Ecc 2:1).

• the seat of the conscience (1 Sa 24:5; 2 Sa 24:10).

In the New Testament the word "heart" (Gk. kardia) occurs about 155 times and has functions or meanings similar to its Old Testament usage:

• the seat of physical life and energy (Jas 5:5).

• the seat of the emotions (Jn 14:1; 16:6; Ac 2:26; 2 Co 2:4).

• the seat of the will (Ac 11:23; 2 Co 9:7).

• the seat of desires (Ro 10:1).

• the seat of the disposition (Mt 11:29; 13:15; 1 Pe 1:22).

• the seat of reasoning (Lk 12:45).

• the seat of the mind (Ac 7:23; 1 Co 2:9).

• the self (Mt 15:8; Ro 6:17; 10:10).

• the conscience (1 Jn 3:20-21).

The heart often pictured as the control center of a person's life (Pr 4:23; Mt 6:21; 12:35; Mk 7:21-23). Whatever principle (whether God, Satan, or sin) governs the heart also expresses itself in one's life. The heart itself has no active moral qualities.

• Being inherently corrupted, the heart of unsaved people is inclined toward sin (Je 17:9; 18:12).

• Being purified by Christ's blood, the heart of the saved person is inclined toward righteousness (Ac 15:9; 2 Ti 2:22; Heb 10:22; 1 Pe 1:22).

• From the heart springs both good and evil conscience.

(Ps 119:11; Ac 5:3; Ro 5:5; Col 3:15,16; Eph 3:17; Rev 17:17)

• The heart is dominated by sin (Mt 12:34-35; Mk 7:21-23; Lk 8:15).

When the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as being "given to our heart" (2 Co 1:22; Gal 4:6) this means that He was given to us at salvation and now indwells us (Jn 14:16-17; 1 Jn 3:24). The fact that God is referred to as being "the searcher of hearts" indicates that He knows all about us, especially our inner thoughts, purposes, motivations, desires and feelings (Ro 8:27). His "trying our hearts" means that He examines our inner life (1 Th 2:4). To "believe with the heart" is to exercise salvific faith with our total inner being--our reasoning, emotions, and will (Mt 15:8; Ro 6:17; 10:10). Also to "act with the heart" means to act with one's whole being (Col 3:23; Mk 12:30; Mt 15:8).

Belly

In addition to its physcial meaning, the word "belly" (Heb. beten) in the Old Testament represents the seat of the emotions (Job. 20:20; Ps 31:9) and thought (Job 15:35), and one's self (v. 2). In the New Testament the word (Gkkoilia) means one's inner being (Jn 7:38) or self (Ro 16:18). Generally, it refers to the physical organ (Lk 15:16).

Bowels

Sometimes, this refers to the physical organ, but more often it has psychical or spiritual functions. In the Old Testament the bowels (Heb. meim) are the seat of the emotions

(Isa 16:11; Jer 31:20; SS 5:4; La 1:20). In the New Testament the word (Gk. splagchna) represents the seat of the emotions (2 Co 6:12; Php 1:8; 2:1; Col 3:12; Philemon 7) and the self (Phm 12,20).

Reins or Kidneys

In the Old Testament "reins" (Heb. keylayoth) refers to the seat of the emotions (Pr 23:16); the mind (Ps 16:7); the inner self with its thoughts, purposes, motivations (Ps 7:9; 25:2; Jer 11:20; 12:2; 20:12); and the conscience (Ps 73:21). In the New Testament the word (Gk.nephros) occurs only as the inner self with its thoughts, purposes, and motivations (Rev 2:23).

Moral Action

Man by his intellect reasons what should be done in a given situation. His will, however, must be put into action to accomplish such an act. Many times man's powers of reason are not sufficient alone to move the will, thus man's emotions or feelings come into play. He will not only reason what should be done but will begin to love one course of action and dislike the other.

Therefore, the emotions, which are so closely tied to the will, serve as a force to cause the will to act. It is possible in some cases for the emotions to play such a large part in the transaction that actually the reasoning powers have been left out and the will have been "overpowered" by theemotions. In such cases the man has done what he hasdesired, not necessarily what he reasoned to be the best course of action. When the will acts in conjunction with the intellect and the emotions then a moral act is accomplished.

Conscience

The term "conscience" (Gr.suneidesis) never occurs in the Old Testament, but it appears thirty times in the New Testament. It comes from the Greek meaning "an accompanying knowledge" or "co-knowledge" (with oneself). It is the witness borne to one’s conduct by conscience, that faculty by which we apprehend the will of God, as that which is designed to govern our lives. It is moral monitor which knows of our attitudes and moral acts in connection with some moral standard or law which is conceived of as our true self, and therefore as having authority over us. Therefore it is the sense of innocence (2 Co 4:2; 5:11) or guiltiness before God (e.g. Heb 10:2). It is the conscience that commends the good and condemns the bad thus prompting us to do the former and avoid the latter (Ro 2:15; 9:1; 10:25,27; 13:5; 2 Co 1:12).

Functions of Conscience

Discrimination

The primary work of conscience isdiscriminatoryin that it is involved in declaring whether or not a man's acts and states conform to the standard.

The standard is that law or rule of conduct which man has adopted for himself. The conscience merely judges whether or not man conforms to it. It will always decide correctly as to man's conforming; in that sense the conscience is uniform and infallible. The conscience has the power of discrimination and will always render its decision in the light of the standard given it.

Impulsion

Conscience is alsoimpulsivein that it declares those acts and states which conform to be obligatory. That is, the conscience impresses upon the consciousness of the individual that he has either acted correctly or should have acted correctly after it has renders a certain decision.

The conscience judges according to the standard given to it. If the moral standard accepted by the intellect is imperfect, the decisions of conscience, though relatively just, may be wholly unjust.

Theonly true standard for the conscience is the Word of God as interpreted by the Holy Spirit. When it judges according to other standards its decision is not certainly infallible; but when it judges according to the divinely inspired Scriptures, its verdict is absolutely infallible.

THE ORIGINAL STATE OF MAN

The Scriptures represent man's original condition by the phrase, "in the image and likeness of God" (Ge 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Co 11:7; Jas 3:9). There does not seem to be any difference between the Hebrew words for "image" and "likeness." Hebrews scholars Brown, Driver, and Briggs define the former as "image, likeness," and the latter as "likeness, similitude."2

Image

Image means "the shadow or outline of a figure, whilelikenessdenoted the resemblance of that shadow to the figure" but that also makes the two mean practically the same thing. Of what does that "image and likeness" consist?

It was aSpiritualLikeness

Spirituallyman is like God in that God who is Spirit communicates to man’s spirit (Ro 8:15-16; 1 Co 2:10-16). Theologian Charles Hodge explains:

"God is a Spirit, the human soul is a spirit. The essential attributes of a spirit are reason,conscience, and will. A spirit is a rational, moral, and therefore also, a free agent. Inmaking man after his own image, therefore, God endowed him with those attributeswhich belong to his own nature as a spirit. Man is thereby distinguished from all otherinhabitants of this world, and raised immeasurably above them. He belongs to the sameorder of being as God Himself, and is therefore capable of communion with his maker.This conformity of nature between man and God . . . is also the necessary condition ofour capacity to know God, and therefore the foundation of our religious nature. If wewere not like God, we could not know Him. We should be as the beasts which perish."3

In sanctification man is "being renewed to knowledge after the image of Him who created him" (Col 3:10). This renewal begins in regeneration; but it is continued in sanctification. This likeness to God is inalienable, and since it constitutes man's capacity for redemption, it gives value to the life even of the unregenerated (Ge 9:61; 1 Co 11:7; Jas 3:9). The evolutionist however, thinks of the first man as only a step above the brute.

It was aMoralLikeness

This "likeness of God" was moral conformity to God. That is, man was fitted with powers for right and wrong action.

That man had such a likeness to God is clear form the Scriptures. If in regeneration the new man "after God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth" (Eph 4:24), it is reasonable to infer that originally man had both righteousness and holiness. The context in Genesis 1 and 2 bears this out. Only on this ground was it possible for man to have communion with God—the Holy One, Who cannot look upon evil (Hab 1:13). Ecclesiastes 7:29 confirms this by stating that "God made man upright." From this we may also infer from the statement in Genesis 1:31, that "God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." This includes man, and would not be true if man had been morally imperfect.

Holiness is more than innocence. It is not enough to say that man was created in a state of innocence. It would be true, if he had been destitute of a moral disposition. But man was made not only negatively innocent, He was positively holy. Man's regenerate condition is a restoration of his primitive state. His righteousness as "regenerate" is described in Ephesians 4:21 and as "true holiness" in Ephesians 4:24. This is positive character, and not mere—innocence.

This original holiness may be defined as a tendency of man's affections and will which is accompanied by the power of choice. It is distinguished from the experiential holiness of the saints, as instinctive affection and childlike innocence differ from the holiness which has developed and been confirmed by temptation.

It was aSocialLikeness

As God has a social nature, so He has endowed man with a social nature. Consequently man seeks companionship.

In the first place, He found this fellowship in God Himself. Man "heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Ge 3:8), and held conversation with His Maker. God had made man for Himself, and man found supreme satisfaction in communion with his Lord.

Secondly, God provided also human fellowship. He created the woman, for, He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a suitable helper for him" (2:18). To make this a very intimate fellowship, He made the woman out of a bone taken from the man. Adam recognized that Eve was bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, and so he called her "woman." Because of this intimate relation between the two, "therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh" (vv. 23-24).

It is evident, therefore, that God has made man with a social nature, even as He has a social nature. It is clear that God provided for man's social nature. Human love and social interests spring directly from this element in man's nature, which he had not entirely lost in the fall (although it has been marred or distorted).

SUMMARY

We have seen that man is the apex of God’s creation "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14). Because mankind is made in the image and likeness of God, there is a sense in which we are like God. The image of God in humanity comprises those characteristics of God which make worship, personal interaction, and work possible. Part of the image includes mankind’s call to rule the earth and to have dominion over it. We are called to fill the earth and tend to it as we reflect the character of God who righteously rules over the universe in justice and kindness.

Spirituallyman is like God in that God who is Spirit communicates to man’s spirit (Ro 8:15-16; 1 Co 2:10-16). There ismorallikeness in that man, like God, makes moral decisions. There is arationallikeness in that man, like God, thinks and reasons. There isemotionallikeness in that, like God, man experiences the whole range of emotional feelings. There isvolitionallikeness in that man, like God, exercises his will by making decisions and choices. There issociallikeness in that, like God, man is a social creature who lives in relationship. There isphysicallikeness in that when God the Word became flesh He took on a human body (Col 2:9; Heb 10:5,10) "in the likeness of man" (Php 2:7).

Man is depraved in his very nature at birth even before he commits acts of sin (Ps 51:5) because of the disobedience of Adam who represents all mankind (Ro 5:12-16; 1 Co 15:21,11). Because we are all sons of Adam’s race, we are estranged from our Creator and have incurred divine wrath (Eph 2:3) with the result of spiritual and physical death. It is our sin which has separated us from God who cannot look upon sin or have fellowship with sinful creatures (Isa 59:2; Heb 12:14).Being inwardly depraved, man is dead in transgressions and sins (Eph 2:1-5; Col 2:13) and, apart from grace, incapable of returning to God (1 Co 2:14; Gal 2:16; 3:10-11,22; Eph 2:4-9).

Salvation has been provided through Jesus Christ for all people. Those who repent and believe in Him are justified on the ground of His shed blood, are born again of the Holy Spirit, and become children of God. Salvation is by grace alone through faith which is manifested in good works. We are not saved by grace plus good works (works-righteousness), but by the kind of faith (living faith) that expresses itself through good works (Eph 2:10; Gal 5:6).

NOTES

1

A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, Vol. I (Philadelphia, PA; The Judson Press, 1958).

2

Francis Brown, C. Driver, Charles Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon(Hendrickson Publishers, 1996).

3

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. I (Grand Rapids: W. M. B. Eerdmans, 1940). 15

 
 
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