Question #17: In your own words provide an expanded explanation of the expression, “image and likeness,” with regard to its use Genesis 1:26.

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen 1:27).
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27).

Answer: In an article entitled The Image of God, Feinberg recognizes and considers the vast wealth of wisdom beginning even with classical philosophers like Plato to the rabbinic greats of ancient and more recent times, to the apostolic fathers and to the reformation theologians.  (Of course, he filters them all through Scripture.)  Then he concludes that,

The image of God constitutes all that differentiates man from the lower creation. It does not refer to corporeality or immortality. It has in mind the will, freedom of choice, self-consciousness, self-transcendence, self- determination, rationality, morality, and spirituality of man.  The ability to know and love God must stand forth prominently in any attempt to ascertain precisely what the image of God is, (246).

In order to answer these questions properly, Feinberg recommends that, “The only method for arriving at a correct solution of the problems related to the image of God is to carry through a careful and accurate exegesis of the Scripture passages involved” (236).

Ryrie indicates that, “Though some have attempted to make a distinction between the two words to teach two aspects of the image of God, no sharp distinction between them can be sustained linguistically” (Basic Theology, 217).

I agree with Ryrie on this.  So “image of God” and “likeness of God” bear the same meaning.


One-Minute Theology with Chaplain T features the question and answer portions of the Systematic Theology courses that were part of my seminary work at Piedmont Baptist Graduate School. I will be posting one Q & A everyday until my ordination council meeting set for February 2014.

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