Bible Question:

God made man in His image. What is God's image?

Bible Answer:

Genesis 1:26 tells us that God created man in God’s image, according to His likeness.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 (NASB)

What Is God's Image?

God’s Image

The Hebrew form of the English word “image” is selem. This word has the idea of representing someone or something. In the Old Testament the word refers to images of idols and men (Ezekiel 16:17; Daniel 2:31). In Psalm 39:6 the word has the idea of a phantom and in Psalm 73:20 it has the idea of “form.” It can also mean “shadow or shade.”

The English form of the Hebrew word for “likeness” is dmut. It means “pattern, shape, or form.” This word is very close to the concept of image. It seems to be more specific, but Genesis 1:26 does not tell us in what way. So image and likeness are very close, and they tell us that man is not like the animals.

All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 1 Corinthians 15:39 (NASB)

Adam was like God in some way. He was not another animal as our world teaches today. Men and women are very different from the animals.

What Does God’s Image  Mean

These words tell us that Adam was like God not in his outward appearance but internally. We must remember that God is spirit (John 4:24). He was a shadow of God. In the New Testament we read that Jesus was not “in the image of God” like Adam but “is the image of God.” Adam was made “in” the image of God. It does not say he “is” the image of God. This is only true of Jesus.

. . . in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NASB)

Adam had intellect, emotion, and will. These are characteristics that God has. Man and God are alike in many ways – our image and likeness. We share some of the same attributes or characteristics of God but to a lesser degree. For example, we both have spirits and we possess wisdom, knowledge, truthfulness, goodness, love, mercy, holiness, order, righteousness, jealousy, wrath, will, freedom, and power to different degrees. God has more of these attributes. For example, God has more knowledge and power than we do. So we say that He is omniscient and omnipotent, since He is infinite in every way. That means God cannot be and is not limited in any way.


We are like God in many ways, but we are not God in any way. But there are two major areas that will send men and women to eternal punishment. They are called holiness and righteousness. When Adam sinned he was no longer holy. As a result, every man and woman born into this world is going to an eternal punishment unless he or she repents of his or her sins and depends on Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Adam and Eve were perfectly holy and righteous until they chose to sin. Those who look to Jesus to forgive their sins will some day know what it was like for Adam and Eve. What a wonderful experience that will be. Thank you God.

Suggested Links:

Who was God talking to in Gen. 1:26?
Searching For God
The Rescue!