I'm not sure I understand what this means, neither in English nor my native language. "In his image", as I interpret it, means that God intends to create an entity identical in looks and powers to himself.

But that can't be it. Well, I have no idea in terms of the looks, but I certainly don't have God's powers. If so, I would, too, be able to create an identical copy of myself, and an entire world myself, and do all kinds of other supernatural things, which I sadly don't. So, what does the phrase mean? "In his image"?

I've heard this all my life but only recently started really wondering what these fundamental Bible words mean. I find the very beginning of the Bible to be by far the most interesting.


God has communicable attributes and incommunicable attributes. To be tautological, to be made in the image of God is to exhibit some or all of the communicable attributes of God.

An example of an incommunicable attribute is omniscience; people are finite and God is infinite, therefore we cannot possess all knowledge.

The list of communicable attributes is a matter of debate. It includes:

  • free will (with boundaries hotly debated)
  • the ability to love
  • a spiritual nature (soul)
  • intelligence (memory, language, logic, planning, etc)
  • creative ability (though not ex nihilo)
  • morality
  • authority (over lower creatures)
  • glory and honour

As one example, the Psalms support the idea that God has given man glory, honor and authority:

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:3-8)
  • Not to be critical; at it's core it is a very sensible answer, but isn't "glory and honour" merely a perceived thing, such as beauty? – Mr. Donutz Jan 23 at 3:27
  • "image of God" conveys the idea of visible or detectible attributes. Glory would seem to be the most visible attribute of all. Years ago I published a book, "The Endless Hunt", in which I argue that the Glory of God is the greatest of the heavenly treasures Jesus spoke of when he said "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven". Read the Bible, look for the word glory. It pops up everywhere. It is an easily overlooked but substantial thing, not a mere adjective. – Paul Chernoch Jan 23 at 13:50
  • 1
    See "The Weight of Glory", by C.S. Lewis. He also began with a low view of the idea of glory, but his mind was changed as he looked into it more. – Paul Chernoch Jan 23 at 15:47

[To be expanded]

One aspect that I found recently, has to do with how some groups see it, that Jesus was the only one creature directly created by God, and that the creation of all other physical and spirit things and entities, so to say, was a collaboration instead of work done by one person alone.

Now this new aspect I found is that, according to the Bible, Eve ("the woman") was basically taken (or made) directly out of Adam, whereas the existence of all other human beings is the result of the collaboration between Adam and Eve, which is how new people come into existence nowadays (i.e. babies are being born). This is perhaps one aspect of how the relationship of Adam and Eve reflects/mirrors the relationship between God and Jesus.

So "image" can mean a reflection of one or more personal qualities of an individual, but it may also mean a reflection of a relationship between two or more individuals.

  • 1
    some sources would improve this answer. – KorvinStarmast Jan 23 at 3:45

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