What Is the Image of God?

"The image of God in humanity is critical to our understanding of what makes us human." Genesis 1:26–28 is the key passage of Scripture whereby foundational teaching on the image of God begins. The Hebrew language of verse 27 makes it clear that God’s image in mankind depicts humanity as distinct from animals.2

"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27, emphasis added)

The Hebrew word for "man" in this text is adam (אדם). Depending on context, the word can mean "man," "mankind," or the name "Adam." The sub-categories of humanity are used with different words and the distinction is visible in both Hebrew and English. These sub-categories of mankind are "male" (zakar זכר) and "female" (neqebah נקבה). The language usage is profound and makes a significant point that the image of God distinction is made between mankind and all other creatures, not between the sub-categories of male and female.

It is only regarding the creation of mankind that God says, "Let us make man in our own image," and God only directly breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 1:26, 2:7). Everything in the text of Genesis 1 and 2 denotes the intimate actions of God in creating mankind (both the first man and the first woman) compared to the general nature of creating everything else.

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