Creation In God's Image

by Benning L. Rentfrow

by Adolph E. Knoch

BLASPHEMY is often based on the Bible. The superiority of the human will over God's is deduced from the creation, which was "in our image, after our likeness" (Gen.1:26). As a result they are not equal, but man can maintain his will and God is impotent. God is able to save only those who allow Him to do so. Other men are not merely "like" Him in that they share this weakness with Him, but are superior to Him, and defy His desire and decision to become their Saviour. Hence God's express declaration that He is the Saviour of all is wrecked on the flinty firmness of human opposition. Is this deduction correct? Let us see if it is logical and scriptural.

The unreasonableness of this deduction should be apparent at a glance. Likeness is not identity. If the human race is like its Creator, this must be a limited similarity, or they, also, would be Gods. If we could deduce from this that we have all of the divine attributes, we would not be human. We would have His power, His wisdom, His knowledge--all of which we do not possess. The logic is ridiculous, and is itself evidence of a mental depravity utterly unlike God. If the human mind is so far from being Godlike, there is no reason to suppose that the will is any better. Man is not God's equal in the plenitude of His power. He cannot match his might with the Deity. And his will is as weak and worthless as all else in comparison with His Creator.

Wherein, then, does the likeness exist? The context speaks of man's relation to the animals of the earth. As God holds sway over man, so shall man hold sway over the creatures under him. That is the principal point of likeness here. It logically involves the very reverse of the usual deduction. In the sphere of the will, which is greater, man or beasts? Man imposes his will on them, like the way in which God makes man carry out His intention. If there were logical reasoning from this passage (though none is needed or allowed) it would come to a conclusion exactly contrary to the popular blasphemy!

Yet we have no desire to base anything on reasoning, but on the Scriptures alone. We will therefore show from the divine records that man is not the superior of the Deity in any sphere, for this reasoning does not simply give man a will equal to God's, but one able to overcome His decisions. The passage says nothing of the will, so it is sheer assumption to apply it to this function, and it is the height of unreasonableness to confine it to this point, as is usually done.

A close reading of the Hebrew will show that it is not a mere fact that man is like the Deity, but a process which was begun with his creation. It is continued throughout the eons. No part will be finished until we are transfigured, in accord with the operation which enables Christ to subject all to Him (Phil.3:21). He is God's Image. The saints in Israel also will be made like Him (1 John 3:2). At the consummation God will be All in all. Does this likeness consist in having independent wills? Just the reverse! Christ, the very effulgence of God's glory, cried out, "Not My will, but Thine!" At the consummation even He becomes subject to God. The great process, begun with man's creation, is finished when all are subjected to God, including the Son, His Image par excellence (1 Cor.15:25-28). A. E. K.

Creation In God's Image
by Benning L. Rentfrow

FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL it has been the generally accepted theological assumption that Adam, as a living soul (Gen.2:7), was the fruition of God's creative purpose as recorded before in the first chapter (verse 27), that he was in the image of God, that he was perfected. But there is much in the Sacred Scrolls to contradict this traditional tenet.

That Adam was perfectly constituted to serve the temporary purpose of God in bringing forth the human race there can be no question. The creation of humanity, carried out in Adam, will be finished in Christ. "For, even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, all shall be vivified" (1 Cor.15:22). Thus we have the old humanity, the soulish; and the new humanity, the spiritual. "If there is a soulish body, there is a spiritual also. Thus also it is written, The first man, Adam, `became a living soul;' the last Adam a vivifying spirit. But the spiritual is not first, but the soulish, thereupon the spiritual" (1 Cor.15:44- 46). The old humanity was created in Adam: the new in Christ (Eph.2:15).

The corrected time element of the verbs in the Concordant Version removes the veil cast over the truth by the incorrect renderings of the King James (or Authorized) Version, and of many other versions also. We give the AV and CV renderings of Genesis 1:27:

Authorized Version

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.

Concordant Version

And God is creating a human in His image. In the image of God He creates him. Male and female He creates them.

IS CREATING! This is the present participial form, showing progressive activity, or a process being carried on; instead of CREATED, the past form, showing past action. CREATES! This is the indefinite form, stating the mere fact apart from time, instead of the past form; CREATED indicates past action only. This form is usually called the "past" in Hebrew grammars, but it is used of the future also, showing that it is timeless. Neither Hebrew form limits the time, although the first one shows that the action was in progress.

In fixing false limitations here, at the beginning of God's creative operations with humanity, traditional theology has obscured much truth, and almost obliterated the why of evil in the cosmos.

Of Adam's creation, we read in Genesis 2:7: "And Jehovah God is forming the human being of soil from the ground, and He is blowing into his nostrils the breath of the living, and the human being is becoming a living soul."

Thus we see that Adam, by creation, became soulish: he was dominated, controlled, by his physical sensations, his feelings, his desires. He was not created a sinner, yet he could not do otherwise than crave the gratification of his senses, for God had made him so. When then, the trial came, Eve yielded to the dictates of her soul. Possibly this is included in the statement that creation was made subject to vanity. Adam was created soulish, subject to the behest of his own sensations. These desires are seductive, and may lead to corruption. He did not know that there can be no true happiness except in accord with the will of God.

Through the subtilty of the serpent, Eve was deluded into disbelieving God, on "seeing that the tree is good for food and that it is a yearning of the eyes, and is a tree desirable to make intelligent" (Gen.3:6). Thus, "the desire of the flesh, and the desire of the eyes, and the ostentation of living" (1 John 2:16), which "is not of the Father, but is of the world," caused Eve to disobey her Creator. It is written (1 John 2:17), that "the world is passing by, and its desire, yet he who is doing the will of God is remaining for the eon." The world as then constituted was doubtless suitable to the needs of the animal (soulish) creation, man included. Suitable provision had been made for the sustenance of the creation, and Adam had been told to bring all into subjection (Gen.1:28). Thus, no doubt, Adam and Eve could have lived on indefinitely in the then existing world (system), had they remained obedient to the one law which God placed over them. But both Adam and Eve were overcome of that "evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry" (Col.3:5), thus in their disobedience "offering divine service to the creature beside the Creator" (Rom.1:25). A yielding to "the desire of the flesh," self-will, on the part of any creature, as against the revealed will of God, is an offering to the creature of divine service which belongs only to God. All our service belongs to God.

For long it has been mistakenly assumed that Adam and Eve had freedom of choice, that they were "free moral agents." Possibly there might be justification for this thought were it not for the fact that Adam was placed under law, God's law, not to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and also the cosmic law of his being as he was then constituted, soulish. It seems from the record of the creation that Eve was also subject, as was Adam, to this cosmic law of her being, as well as to God's one prohibitive command. Eve aspired, though vainly, that she and Adam might "be as gods." She gave of the forbidden fruit to Adam, and he, though "not seduced" (1 Tim.2:14), took thereof and did eat. We are not told what passed through Adam's mind when he disobeyed God. But when we remember that he was created soulish, it seems that, being thus subject to the behest of his sensations, he could not but be self-centered. The power of his soulish desire was irresistible. It would thus seem that the circumstances in which Adam was placed precluded the possibility of his rendering obedience to his Creator. He lacked that spirit which "is giving life" (2 Cor.3:6), being actuated by "the disposition of the flesh," which is death (Rom.8:6). He, as well as Eve, had yet to learn that "the disposition of the spirit is life and peace:" that only in a God-centered course can life and peace be had. They had yet to learn of "the spirit's law of life in Christ Jesus." Thus "Sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death came through into all mankind, on which all sinned" (Rom.5:12). Can we not see in this the why of evil in the present cosmos: the necessity that humanity experience the vanity of their own way, before being entrusted with real life?

On the other hand, Christ, the last Adam, was dominated, controlled, by spirit. By the power of the spirit "He poured out His soul unto death" (Isaiah 53:12), thus opening up "a new and living way" for Adam and his race. Thus, as well as "carrying on" the old creation "by His powerful declaration," He came "in the likeness of sin's flesh," and became the Second Man, the Last Adam, "that in all He might be becoming first" (Col.1:18). Perhaps in the contrasts between the first Adam and the Last Adam we can best arrive at a true appraisal as to the truth or error of the time honored theory that man is a "free moral agent." The two Adams were sinless when their trial came. All others of humanity were born dying, thus were without ability to do otherwise than to sin, to make mistakes. The first Adam, as we have seen, was created soulish, sure to crave his own self-gratification; He lacked that realization which comes through the spirit, that power which enables the saint in Christ Jesus now to "crucify the flesh, together with its passions and desires." On the other hand, the Last Adam subjected Himself to the will of God. He was obedient, even unto the death of the cross. Many argue that He was "free" to obey or to disobey His God as He chose. Seemingly such are giving more consideration to the traditions of men than they are to the Word of God. As we glimpse the awful agony of Gethsemane's trial, and the still more terrible agony on the tree, when God turned His face away from the suffering Lamb, can we say that He was "free" to "come down from the cross and save Himself?" "By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many" (Isaiah 53:11). This works both ways, Godward, and manward. He is the "one Mediator of God and of mankind" (1 Tim. 2:5).

Perhaps some might think of James 3:9 (AV) as being a difficulty in the way of our subject: "Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men which are made after the similitude of God." The rendering of the Concordant Version removes the difficulty: "With it we are blessing the Lord and Father, and with it we are cursing men who have come to be in accord with God's likeness."

1 Corinthians 11:7 (AV) also might seem to be a difficulty: "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God." The rendering of the Concordant Version also removes the difficulty here: "For a man, indeed, possessing the image and glory of God, ought not to have the head covered." An examination of the context should convince anyone that headship is the chief subject of the passage under consideration. God is the Head of Christ, Christ is the Head of every man, the man is the head of the woman. (See verse 3). In contradistinction to woman gunee, man aneer, in headship is possessing the image of God. Thus we can see that this passage does not refer to humanity anthroopos, as being, or as created, in the image of God.

We give herewith a list of the occurrences in the Scriptures where the word image is used in relation to the creation.


Gen. 1:26   We shall make a human in our image, as our likeness,
:27   And God is creating a human in His image.
:27   In the image of God He creates him. Male and
9: 6   for in the image of God He makes humanity.
Rom. 8:29   to be conformed to the image of His Son,
1 Cor. 11:7   For a man, indeed, possessing the image and glory of God.
15:49   And according as we wear the image of the soilish,
:49   we should be wearing the image also of the celestial.
2 Cor. 3:18   3:18 are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory,
4: 4   of Christ, Who is the Image of the invisible God,
Col. 1:15   1:15 Who is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature
3:10   to accord with the Image of the One Who creates it,

We find in the above list, only three places where anyone is referred to as being the Image of God--Christ (2 Cor.4:4; Col.1:15; 3:10). Before His incarnation He subsisted in the form of God, but He took on Himself the form of a slave (Phil.2:6, 7). He Who, in His prehuman existence "was carrying on the universe," "humbled Himself," "came in the likeness of sin's flesh." Thus, as a Man, He came and was "perfected through sufferings" (Heb.2:10). Thus was "the Inaugurator of our salvation" "obedient unto the death of the cross" (Phil.2:8). "What you are sowing is not being vivified if it should not be dying" (1 Cor.15:36). Thus He became "Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first" (Col.1: 18). Now He, the Man Christ Jesus, the image of God, is "the Firstfruit" (1 Cor.15:23).

We also read of other fruit, those who are Christ's in His presence (1 Cor.15:23); these must be transformed into, created in, His image. It appears that this image into which we are being transformed, in which we are being created, is SPIRITUAL rather than that which is perceptible to the physical sense of sight, such as "Caesar's image and inscription" on the coin. As we follow the earthly course of our Lord, our Master, from the manger to the tomb, and from the tomb to His place in the heights, we see in Him the beauteous glory of the Father's Image.

It is written of Him: "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not" (Isaiah 53:2,3, AV). Thus "He came unto His own and His own received Him not." They saw "no beauty in Him." Yet He went steadfastly on "about His Father's business," always "doing the things that pleased Him". He was obedient to His Father's will, "even unto the death of the cross" (Phil.2:8). The first Adam obeyed the behest of his flesh, and thus became subject to death, and we in him (Rom.5:12). Thus, as we view the way of the flesh, it leads to death: and the Way of life in Him is through death to the flesh--God's will instead of self-will. "We all, with uncovered face, viewing the Lord's glory as in a mirror, are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the spirit" (2 Cor.3:18). Can we not see in all this, how God is now creating, in the spirits of His saints, the divine imprimatur?

As "we gaze at His glory," as He, "in the likeness of sin's flesh" trod in "faith obedience" the bitter path which led Him to the cross, is there not being created in our hearts an intense longing to be with and like Him Who is the Image of God? Is it not thus, in spirit, that we are being transformed into the same image, progressively, from glory to glory, from the Lord the spirit, as revealed through His Word? As the sublinear of the Concordant Version gives it: "we-ARE-beING-after-FORMED FROM esteem INTO esteem." Of old "they esteemed Him not" because they saw in Him those meek and humble qualities which have no appeal for the soulish man. They were looking for a great and mighty conqueror who would come and crush out all resistance to the establishment of their long hoped for kingdom. Thus they saw not that glory which is so pleasing in the Father's sight, that glory which, in due course of time, will cause "every knee to be bowing," and "every tongue to be acclaiming," in loving adoration, that "Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Thus the vivifying power of His blessed spirit illuminating His word in the hearts of believers is now operating, transforming them into His image. Thus, our esteem of the old (the soulish, the fleshly), is beING-after-FORMED INTO esteem of the new (the spiritual). Thus also, our apprehensions in Christ Jesus are ever ascending to greater heights, "from glory to glory." Paul writes in Ephesians 4:22-24, exhorting us "to put off, as regards our previous behavior, the old humanity which is being corrupted in accord with its seductive desires, yet to be rejuvenated in the spirit of our mind, and to put on the new humanity, which, in accord with God, is being created in righteousness and benignity of the truth." Similarly also, in Colossians 3:9,10, he exhorts us to be "stripping off the old humanity together with its practices, and putting on the young, which is being renewed into recognition, to accord with the Image, of the One Who creates it." Paul laid the foundation of this teaching in the sixth chapter of Romans. This is closely related with the above passages in Ephesians and Colossians, and is in practical accord with the third chapter of Philippians. Paul counted all of his previous life and standing in Judaism as "refuse," that he might "be gaining Christ, and might be found in Him, not having his righteousness, which is of law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God for faith: to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the participation of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if somehow he should be attaining to the resurrection out from among the dead" (Phil.3: 8-11). Thus we see how believers now are being transformed into, are being created in His image, through recognition of His sufferings and death, and conformity thereto. Their vivification awaits His presence (1 Cor.15:23).

We have seen how Christ Who is the Image of God, came "in the likeness of sin's flesh" and "was perfected through sufferings" and "was roused from among the dead," thus becoming "the Firstfruit." We have seen how believers "are being created in His image," and that they will be vivified "in His presence." But what of the vast legions of humanity who have died out of Christ, whom God has also declared that He will vivify (1 Cor.15: 23)? Is not God's purpose to create humanity in His image to be accomplished in these also? Most indubitably so, as His Word declares.

After God had created the first pair of humanity, Adam and Eve, He said to them: "Be ye fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and bring it into subjection, and hold sway over the fish of the sea, and over the flyers of the heavens, and over all living things crawling on the earth" (Gen.1:28). Yet Adam and Eve failed to keep themselves in subjection! They disobeyed God's one recorded prohibition, thus bringing sin and death upon themselves and their posterity. Is this heritage to be forever lost to them and to those of their posterity who do not come into Christ in this life? The Scriptures give abundant proof that it is not, that it will yet be brought into subjection --IN CHRIST.

Hebrews 2:6-11. reads: "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or a son of man, that Thou art visiting him? Thou makest him some whit inferior to the messengers, Thou wreathest him with glory and honor, and dost place him over the works of Thy hands. Thou dost subject all underneath his feet. For in the subjection of all to him, He leaves nothing unsubject to him. Yet now we are not as yet seeing all subjected to him. YET WE ARE OBSERVING JESUS, having been made some whit inferior to messengers (because of the suffering of death, wreathed with glory and honor), so that He should by the grace of God, be tasting death for the sake of all. For it behooved Him, because of Whom all is, and through Whom all is, in leading many sons into glory, to perfect the Inaugurator of their salvation through sufferings. For He Who is hallowing as well as those who are being hallowed are all of One, for which cause He is not ashamed to be calling them brethren." Again we read in Hebrews 10:12,13:" Yet This One, when offering one sacrifice for sins, is seated TO A FINALITY at the right hand of God, waiting furthermore TILL HIS ENEMIES MAY BE PLACED AS A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET." We also read in 1 Corinthians 15:25,26: "He must be reigning until He should be placing ALL HIS ENEMIES UNDER HIS FEET. The last enemy being abolished IS DEATH."

Can we not see in all this how God will finally, through the cross, bring all humanity into Christ, create them in His image, and give them life? Believers, both Circumcision and Uncircumcision, have eonian life. Unbelievers must come through an eonian experience of judgment which will bring them into a realization of God's righteousness at the cross. Then they also will worship the God of all grace and glory, "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Thus, at the consummation, will God's purpose to create humanity in His image be accomplished and realized in full. Then, all humanity will be reconciled to God, and not only all humanity, but all creation (Col.1:20), "that God may be All in all" (1 Cor.15:28).

[*The Intro was originally the untitled editorial of the same issue of Unsearchable Riches
in which as the article "Creation In God's Image" appeared (November 1937).]

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