“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’ … God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26-27).
“Image” (Hebrew word is “selem”) means shadowing forth anything; likeness (William Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, p. 225).
“Image” means “representation” (Lawrence Richard’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 350).
“Image” is used figuratively here in Gen. 1:26-27, for God does not have a human form. Being in God’s image means that humans share, though imperfectly and finitely, in God’s nature, that is, in His communicable attributes (personality, truth, wisdom, love, holiness, justice), and so have the capacity for spiritual fellowship with Him (J. Walvoord and R. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, p. 29).
“Likeness” (Hebrew word is “demuth”) signifies the original after which a thing is patterned (Vine, Unger and White, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Old Testament, p. 223).
“Likeness” means “resemblance,” a synonym of “image” (Walvoord and Zuck, p. 35).
“Likeness” is a word of comparison. It is used to attempt to explain something by referring to something else that it is like. We can understand the nature of man by comparing human beings with the Lord (Lawrence Richard’s, p. 350).
The creation story makes it clear that the likeness-image is not of physical form: material for creation was taken from the earth. It is the inner nature of human beings that reflects something vital in the nature of God. The likeness is rooted in all that is required to make a human being a person: in intellect, emotion, and moral likeness to God, Who has revealed Himself to us as a personal being. It is this likeness-image that sets human beings apart from (the rest of) the animal creation (Lawrence Richard’s, p. 351).
The double expression “image” and “likeness” is for the purpose of giving strength and emphasis to the idea of godliness in man. Likeness added to image tells us that the divine image which man bears is one corresponding to the original pattern (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 516).
The Scriptures proclaim resemblance of some important character between the constitution of man and the divine nature. This image survived the fall of man (when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden) and though blurred, still exists (Gen. 9:6). The contents of the divine image may be summarized as follows:
- Man’s life is in-breathed from God (Gen. 2:7; Job 32:8); he has an immortal nature and destiny (Matt. 25:46) as distinguished from the rest of creation (Gen. 1).
- Like God, man is self-conscious and endowed with intelligence, rationality and freedom.
- Man was created pure, without sin.
- Love. Selfless. (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 517).
In the image and likeness of God means to be immortal and to have spiritual communing abilities (Charles Pfeiffer and E. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 4).
In the image and likeness of God means in the moral dispositions of his soul or original righteousness (Eccles. 7:29). And this righteousness and holiness is restored positionally at conversion/ salvation (Eph. 4:24), along with the ability of a true knowledge of God and His Will (Col. 3:10) – Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 18.
H.C. Leupold’s Exposition of Genesis, vol. 1, p. 90 states that the inner side of the divine image is man’s immortality, self-consciousness, ability to discern good and evil, and conscience.
The two words “image” and “likeness” are synonymous and are merely combined to add intensity to the thought. The “likeness” to God is not bodily form since God has no body (Jn. 4:24; Lk. 24:39) but is Spirit. Man is the image of God by virtue of his spiritual nature, of the breath of God by which the being became a living soul. It includes man’s self-conscious personality and a copy of the holiness of the divine life (C. Keil & F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1, pp. 63, 64).