“Does Christ confer the Image of God upon man?”
I want to piggy back off a series that Sam is posting on “Gordon H. Clark: The Definition of Man” and most importantly to the Biblical definition of man as regards the Image of God. I want to differentiate that a Biblical understanding of the “Image of God” in lieu of how it is to be understood through a philosophical application is helpful in understanding a primary theme of scripture.
The definition of Image of God starts in Genesis 1:26 with this profound statement.
Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
I have attempted to establish beforehand that Genesis 1’s week of Days is a prophetic prologue describing the big picture view of the beginning and end of the First Heavens and Earth. The misapplication that most make concerning the Image and likeness of God to covenant man is that many believe that “The Image of God” was first established with Adam when it was not. Genesis 5:1 clearly demonstrates that the “Likeness” of God attribute was the first installment upon the First Covenant man. The accompanying “Image of God” was not established and confirmed until the time of the Parousia and the ultimate Sabbath rest when Christ the second Adam inferred the Spiritual Image of God upon the New Covenant man and thus completed that work through that consummation.
When does the NT scripture say that man was fully finished and created in God's Image? Let’s explore what the scriptures tell us about the details of the Image of God.
Gen 1:26 ..Then God said, "LET US make man in our image,
Col 1:15 He (Christ nv) is THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD, the firstborn of all creation.
Rom 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON,
1Co 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust,
WE SHALL ALSO BEAR THE IMAGE of the MAN OF HEAVEN.
2Co 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, … And WE ALL, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, ARE BEING TRANSFORMED INTO THE SAME IMAGE
2Co 4:4 …. of the glory of Christ, WHO IS THE IMAGE OF GOD.
Col 3:10 and have put on THE NEW SELF, which is being renewed in knowledge AFTER THE IMAGE OF ITS CREATOR.
Now how does this late addition of the Image of God tie in with Adam’s original Likeness? Let’s consider what Paul has to say about the difference between Adam’s covenant attribute of “Likeness” and the second Adam’s (Christ) attribute of the Spiritual.
1Co 15:46-49 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. (47) The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. (48) As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. (49) Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust,
we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
In other words it is not the Image that is first but just as Gen 5:1 state it was the “Likeness” attribute (natural) that was first established and then the finishing “Spiritual” Image of God.
Sam quoted Augustine in discussing the Image of Man so let’s take another look at how Augustine contextualized this discussion of the Image of God upon man. . From his following excerpt it becomes clear that Augustine saw the six Days as Six ages in which Christ is renewing our mind after the Image of HE who created us.
“…the sixth, from John the Baptist to the end of the world. Moreover, God made man after His own image on the sixth day, because in this sixth age is manifested the renewing of our mind through the gospel, after the image of Him who created us; Colossians 3:10 …”
Augustine is not the only early church Father who perceived that Gen 1:26 was speaking of the Image of God as being the works of Christ the Son. Take a look at how the Barnabas Epistle from circa AD70 follows or actually precedes the same observation as did Augustine. Notice that Barnabas flat out says that the Gen 1:26 works of creating man is the finishing works of Christ.
Forasmuch then as He renewed us in the remission of sins, HE MADE US
TO BE A NEW TYPE, so that we should have the soul of children, as if
He were recreating us.
12 For the scripture saith concerning us, how He saith to the Son; Let
us make man after our image and after our likeness, and let them
rule over the beasts of the earth and the fowls of the heaven and
the fishes of the sea. And the Lord said when He saw the fair
creation of us men; Increase and multiply and fill the earth.
THESE WORDS REFER TO THE SON.
13 Again I will shew thee how the Lord speaketh concerning us. He made
a second creation at the last; and the Lord saith; Behold I make
the last things as the first. In reference to this then the
prophet preached; Enter into a land flowing with milk and honey,
and be lords over it.
14 Behold then WE HAVE BEEN CREATED ANEW, as He saith again in another
prophet; Behold, saith the Lord, I will take out from these, that
is to say, from those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw, their
stony hearts, and will put into them hearts of flesh; for HE
HIMSELF WAS TO BE MANIFESTED IN THE FLESH AND TO DWELL IN US.
Barnabas parallels Paul’s understanding of the first creation of Adam with the “stony heart” to be replaced with the new heart through Christ.
It’s disapointing that these early understandings of Christ and the Image of God have been lost through antiquity but we Preterist understand full well how the original understandings were often usurped over time to be replaced by misguided ones.
We embrace the Image of God when we embrace Christ and live in the New Heavens and Earth through His Spirit led life.
Read previous discussions at this link