Imago Dei [Genesis 1–2 Study]

Understanding that God made man in his image (imago dei), we can deduce why God made the universe, why God made man, and what is man's purpose.

Imago Dei [Genesis 1–2 Study]
Photo by Michael Kirsh / Unsplash

Review of Genesis 1:1–3

Introduction to Genesis

  • The gospel of Jesus Christ begins with Genesis.
  • The providence of God is illustrated in Genesis.
  • Moses is the likely substantial author who wrote Genesis and Torah around 1400 BC.

Genesis 1:1-3

  • Beginning, God, Created
    • There was a time when the universe did not exist, but God was self-existent.
    • God is the “ultimate reality” by whom we live, we move, and we have our being.
    • God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo)
  • God created the universe out of nothing by divine fiat (command, imperative)
  • How this begins the gospel of Jesus Christ is this:
    • God is the divine author of creation, and therefore he has authority over his creation
    • To attack and deny God’s authorship of creation is to attack and deny his authority.

Today we will discuss the purpose of God’s creation.

  1. Why did God make the universe?
  2. Why did God make man?
  3. What is our purpose?

Genesis 1:3-1:31

3 acts of forming

  • Light from darkness (v.3-5)
  • Sky and lower waters (v.6-8)
  • Dry land and vegetation (v.10-13)

3 acts of filling

  • Light givers (luminaries) - sun, moon and stars (v.14-19)
  • Birds and fish (v.20-23)
  • Land animals and man (v.24-31)


  1. Announcement - God said
  2. Command - Let there be
  3. Report - And it was so
  4. Evaluation - it was good
  5. Chronological framework - “the first day”

Other observations

  • darkness before light - evening and morning
  • naming signifies authority
  • God called the light day (v.5).

Genesis 1:26

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

  • Plurality of God
    • not God and angels
  • There is a conversation within the Godhead.
  • There is a thoughtful purposeful intention stated here.

The origin of the universe was not an accident, but it was intentionally created by God for a divine purpose.

Today, there is a crisis of purpose.

The alternative is that our existence is a cosmic accident. Our life is a fortuitous event. Even Albert Einstein understood the universe could not have come into existence by chance. Chance is nothing by mathematical probability. Chance has no power to create something out of nothing.

When there is no answer to why and purpose, suicide becomes a viable option.

  • To be or not to be, that is the question.

The ultimate question in life is this: “Is there a purpose for your existence?”

  • If there is no God, there is no purpose.
  • If there is no purpose, there is no God.
  • But if there is a God, there is a purpose.
  • If there is purpose, there is a God.
  • Aristotle understood this.

Who am I, and why am I here? The answer is found here in Genesis 1:26

Created in the image and likeness of God

  • created light, sky, sea, land, vegetation, trees, moon and stars, fish, birds, and land animals.
  • but nothing thus far has been created in the image and likeness of God.

Image and likeness

  • hendiadys - “grammatical structure in which two words both refer to the same thing.”

  • Romans 1:18

  • God cannot clone himself, but he decides to create a creature to reflect and mirror the glory of God.

    • to display God’s character to all of creation
    • to give this creation dominion and authority
  • So God creates us in the image and likeness of God (imago dei)

  • What about man makes him an image of God

    • intelligence and critical thinking, reflecting, deciding, reasoning
    • moral agents
      • The requirement of the fall in Genesis 3 is there must be a capacity of morality
      • the history of redemption requires a moral fall, but for there to be a moral fall requires a moral creature.
    • will and emotions to make decisions of a moral kind
    • personhood
      • personality
    • we can reflect and mirror the character and glory of God.
    • “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” - Hebrew 1:3
  • because we are made by God and in the image of God, we are something.

    • Our dignity is extrinsic
    • Extrinsic vs intrinsic dignity as defined by the world.
  • If God can create the new heavens and earth instantaneously, why not the first?

  • God creates instantaneously, but there is order.

    • creates light, then water, then soil, then plants, then animals, then man.
    • God is a God of provision for his creation.
    • The same God that provides for plants, animals, and man is the same God who later in Genesis 22 provides a sacrifice for Abraham as a substitute for Isaac.
  • Framework hypothesis

    • presents creation in a topical, non-sequential manner, rather than a literal sequential one.

Genesis 1:27

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

male and female

  • he creates “man” (mankind) in his own image and then distinguished as “male and female.”
  • shared humanness, shared participation in the divine image, and shared dignity.
  • clear equality in creation of dignity
  • Different tasks and responsibilities are given.
  • myth that subordination means inferiority.


  • We were created by God with a divine purpose.
  • We were created in the image and likeness of God to mirror and reflect his character for the glory of God alone.
  • By being created in the image of God, we have shared extrinsic dignity: male and female.
  • Benediction of creation in Genesis 1:31 - “It was very good.”
    • In contrast to evil or chaos being co-eternal force against God.

Genesis 2:1-3

Seventh day

  • the ultimate day is the 7th day

    • the seventh day is the Lord’s
  • the penultimate day is the 6th day

  • man is created on the 6th day

    • the ultimate purpose of man is not for man
    • the ultimate purpose of man is for God
  • One of the purposes that God created the sun, moon and stars is to create day, month, and year.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18)

The LORD said to Moses,“Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. (Exodus 34:1)

And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. (Deuteronomy 9:10)

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. (Isaiah 65:17)

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:8-10)

Genesis 2:4-25

  • Two separate Creation accounts with Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Genesis 2:4-25.
    • Documentary hypothesis suggests two authors with two accounts that have contradictions.
    • Genesis 2:4-25 uses a literary device of recapitulation. And the details that are emphasized are significant and add meaning.
  • Genesis 2:4-14 - God’s provision of water
  • Genesis 2:15-17
    • God placed Adam in the garden of Eden
    • God ordained Adam to work and maintain the garden
    • God prohibited Adam from eating the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
  • Historical Adam foundational to
    • God’s creative activity
    • history of the human race
    • nature of mankind
    • origin and nature of sin
    • existence and nature of death
    • reality of salvation from sin
    • account of historical events in book of Genesis
    • authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of Scripture
  • Genesis 2:18-20
    • The first malediction by God regarding his creation
    • Adam names the animals
    • No suitable helper for Adam
  • Genesis 2:21-25
    • God creates Eve
    • Adam names Eve
    • God ordains the institution of marriage