Tag Archives: image of God

Genesis 2:4-25 – Part 6 – Male and Female Imaging

It’s important that we take a slight detour.

  • We need to explore the relationship between Genesis 1-2 and 1 Corinthians 11 and male and female imaging.
  • To do that, however, we need to review a few things.


Review of Gen 1 & 2:

Genesis 1:26–27 (ESV) — 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”


From Genesis 1 we learned the following about “man”:

  • “Man” was made male and female.
  • “Man”, both male and female, was made in the image and likeness of God.
  • “Man”, both male and female, was given dominion over creation.
  • “Man”, both male and female, was blessed.
  • “Man”, both male and female, were to multiply.


We saw that image-bearing’s meaning was functional:

  • Our function as image-bearers is to represent God on earth.
  • This is played out by “having dominion over God’s creation” – TWOT.
  • Mathews sums it up this way, “Mankind is appointed as God’s royal representatives (i.e., sonship) to rule the earth in his place.”


We also found that the text does not reveal what aspect of humanity is physically made in the image of God.

  • “Selem” as representative “merely describes the function or the consequences of the divine image; it does not pinpoint what the image is in itself” – Gordon Wenham.
  • “Although Genesis tells who is created in the ‘image of God,’ both man and woman (1:27; 1 Cor 11:7; Jas 3:9), it does not describe the contents of the ‘image.’” – Kenneth Mathews.
  • Hamilton says, “It is clear that v. 26 is not interested in defining what is the image of God in man. The verse simply states the fact, which is repeated in the following verse.”


We then saw in Genesis 2, providing more details for humanity’s creation, that the creation story came to a screeching halt after the creation of the male “man”.

  • Genesis 2:18 tells us that “It is not good that the man should be alone”.


And then curiously, to show the male “man” how necessary a female of his same kind was, God paraded various animals before male “man”.

  • We are told that among the animals none were found that were suitable for Adam – of his kind.
  • God’s solution was to “build” the female “man” from the “sela” of the male “man”.
  • Adam immediately recognized that the woman was  a female “man” to his male “man” – “issa” to “is”.


From this review, we can summarize the differences/similarities between man and woman.

  • In Common – Both are “man”; are image-bearers; have dominion; are to multiply; and are blessed.
  • Difference – Man is made first; made of dust (by extension and death woman is also); alone; and “not good” without woman.
  • Difference – Woman is made second; made from living creature (man); and helper.



Paul’s Take on Gen 1 & 2:

Keeping these things in mind, we now need to look at Paul’s take on Genesis 1 and 2.

  • 1 Corinthians 11:3 & 7–12 (ESV) — 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.


Head Covering:

There was cultural issue at play here.

  • We need to take this into account.


“Women’s hair was a prime object of lust in the ancient Mediterranean world” – DPL & DNTB.

  • So frequently, women in public with uncovered heads were seen as licentious and “sexually revealing”.
  • Therefore, it was typical for Palestinian women, Jewish women, and Roman women (& men – vs. 7) to cover their heads in worship as well (apparently Greek women didn’t?) – DPL.

Interestingly, “exposed hair became rare enough that on one occasion women with exposed hair reportedly threw guards into a panic, because the guards thought them night spirits” – DNTB.


There were also differences among classes about this taboo.

  • The upper classes (where most house churches met) were more tolerant of uncovered heads.
  • Lower class women, who embraced the taboo, were also attending these house churches.
  • Tension was bound to exist, and it did so in Corinth (vss. 21-22 show this) – DPL.


Paul and Genesis:

So what is Paul not saying?

  • He is not contradicting Genesis.
  • He is not saying women are not made in the image of God.
  • He is not saying that women are not the glory of God.


So what is Paul saying?

  • He is using creation order to make a rhetorical point.
  • Therefore, Paul basically is saying, “Adam was created before Eve, therefore women should wear head coverings” – DPL.
    • It is a little more complicated than that – but that is the gist.
  • This is in agreement with Gen 1 & 2 – Adam first and then Eve.


So most commentators see Paul’s words as a form of rhetoric to address the tension and restore unity.

  • To restore unity, his view was that women should cover their heads in Church at Corinth.
  • Women were not men; apparently the head coverings were a cultural way to honor the difference.
  • And they also were a way to alleviate sexual tension and lust (perhaps similar to short skirts, etc. today).


Fascinatingly, after making his point about head coverings and man as the head=source, look what he says in verse 11.

  • Nevertheless…
  • Woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
  • After making his point with Gen 1 & 2’s creation order, “he takes it back” – DPL.



  • “He uses this [creation order] only as an ad hoc argument for head coverings, not for everything one might extrapolate from it” – DPL.
  • In other words, a patriarchal view of husband and wife as some are prone to do.

“Paul nowhere in this text subordinates the woman (making her less than man), failing even to touch on that issue” – DPL.


BTW – It must be noted that in Ephesians 5, Paul is clearly speaking of husband as the head=authority over the wife.

  • Importantly, this is a functional difference not a qualitative difference.
  • And taking it up a notch, the husband is to sacrificially love her as Christ loved the Church.
  • Have fun with that!


Paul’s teaching (despite what it seems to moderns) would have been scandalous.

  • He was operating in a context that already belittled women.
  • But with his words he upsets the apple cart and “and modifies it in a more progressive direction” – DPL.


BTW 2 – There are a few competing ways to play out Paul’s teaching on man and woman.

  • (1) An egalitarian view of marriage.
  • (2) A patriarchal view of marriage.
    • Spanking of wives; women educated for homemaking (no college); Dad picks daughters husband; etc.
  • (3) A complementarian view of marriage.


Quick Summary of Complementarian view:

  • This view holds that image-bearing is not just functional (as we reviewed above) but is also a physical  (Bruce Ware).
  • Therefore, male and female are not only “different ways…of being human” but also are physically different ways of image-bearing – Bruce Ware.


This view uses the temporal priority of Adam (as pointed out by Paul) as a basis for this view.

  • “While both are fully and equally the image of God, there is a built-in priority given to the male that reflects God’s design of male headship in the created order” – Bruce Ware.
    • (I think this point is not needed to support this view).
  • Female image-bearing includes acknowledging that God gave man the function of head in his image-bearing.


BTW 3 – Interestingly, “Women may have also been shaving their heads (or cutting their hair short) to prevent men from thinking about them sexually. A woman who shaved her head would have frustrated her husband, since it would have stripped her of her sensuality. Thus, head coverings were the best option” – Mike Heiser.



Why We Misread 1 Corinthians 11 (and Ephesians 5) as Patriarchy:

Hannah Anderson, in “Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image”, makes the following observation.

  • She suggests that our core identity as man/woman, and husband/wife has been derailed by cultural gender roles.
  • Moreover, these gender roles have been divorced from the Bible.
  • She says Genesis 1 makes clear that “our core identity is to be an image-bearer”.
  • It is not found in fulfilling gender roles.


In other words, there is no doubt that men and women image God differently.

  • However, women do so informed by Biblical standards not by informed by June Cleaver.
  • Likewise, men do so informed by Biblical standards not informed by Ward Cleaver.
  • She says the 50’s was “not a fully formed expression of humanity” for men nor for women.
  • A fully formed expression is to be found in the Bible.


Recently, Andreas Kostenberger was asked about this very issue on The Gospel Coalition.

  • “In what ways can evangelical Christians be in danger of confusing conservative cultural expectations [gender roles] with biblical complementarity?”


His answer:

“Scripture doesn’t give a lot of detail as to how God’s design for man and woman is to be worked out, so a traditional division of labor (women in the kitchen, changing diapers; men at work letting women do all household chores) doesn’t square with the biblical design (we’ve discussed the inadequacy of labels here)…There is flexibility within the basic framework, and each couple has unique circumstances in which to work out God’s design and plan for them personally, both leader and partner. The biblical pattern is loving, self-sacrificial complementarity where the couple partners in conscious pursuit of God’s mission. Marriage is part of God’s larger purpose of reuniting all of humanity under one head, the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10).”


He goes on to say:

“Succinctly put, the overarching model that many have implicitly understood in recent years has been male leadership and female submission…we believe that this approach may unduly constrain the woman’s role and contribution in marriage and the church. We might rather categorize the biblical teaching in these terms: male leadership and female partnership.”


I would say a more literal Genesis 1 & 2 way to put his term would be…

  • “male image-bearer” and “female image-bearer helper”



Where We Are Headed – Genesis 3:

The Fall presents us with far more questions than answers.

  • We have to be patient and humble as we dig in.


And with respect to our male/female discussion, there are some interesting things to consider going forward.

  • Man was given the sacred priestly duties of obeying and worshiping (priestly tabernacle language).
  • We saw that part of this responsibility was guarding the sacred space.
  • Question…according to Genesis 2, was Eve around when God gave the commandment to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
  • Based on the text in Gen. 3, from who did Eve first learn about the prohibition?
    • Don’t know – presumably Adam.
  • Was Adam there when the Serpent tempted Eve?


Genesis 1:24-31 – Sixth Day of Creation – Part 2


What was created on day six?

Does the use of “livestock” imply that God created some animals already domesticated?

Or does this word indicate the phenomenological perspective we discussed last week?


What is the “elohim” and “us” business?

What is “made in our image” and “likeness” stuff?

Why is God’s word “asah” and Moses’ word “bara” for the creation of man?


Why would the creation of image bearers be on the same day as land animals?


Is it significant that male and female are specified for mankind?


Why point out the disbursement of food for both the land animals and mankind?



Two Events:

First Event – Verses 24-25 give us the first event of day six.

  • Land animals make their appearance.
  • Three types are mentioned – “livestock”, “creeping things”, and “beasts of the earth”.
  • Moses confirms that it was God that “asah’d” these animals.
  • Like all life, God is their source of being.
  • Much of what can be said here has been said in previous lessons.


Second Event – Verses 28-31 give us the second event of day six.

  • Here we encounter the appearance of mankind – “adam”.
  • As we saw last week, there are a number of textual things going on that significantly set this event apart from the other 7.
  • Today we will deal with a number of these.
  • Next week we will contend with Walton and Sailhamer’s view of day six.



Let Us – “Elohim”:

“Elohim” is used throughout Genesis 1, but here we encounter the first plural pronoun – “us” and “our”.

  • As would be expected, there is disagreement about what this means.
  • There are at least 4 common views.


(1) Plurality within God

  • It “may point to plurality within God” or the Godhead – Heiser.
  • But not in the Trinitarian sense formulated by the Church Fathers.
  • Wenham tell us, “It is now universally admitted that this was not what the plural meant to the original author” – Gordon Wenham.
  • Heiser agrees, “an ancient Israelite or Jew would never have presumed this”.
  • He points out that there is nothing in the context that would limit the plural to just three.
  • And, that taking “Elohim” this way would cause serious problems in Psalm 82, for example.
  • Kenneth Mathews says, “Although the Christian Trinity cannot be derived solely from the use of the plural, a plurality within the unity of the Godhead may be derived from the passage”.
  • Trinitarian Christians read Trinity into the text anachronistically.


(2) Plural of Majesty

  • This is a “grammatical use of the plural that points to a fullness of attributes and powers” ascribed to God.
  • However, there are Hebrew textual reasons why this “does not represent a coherent explanation” – Michael Heiser.
  • Wenham agrees, “‘we’ as a plural of majesty is not used with verbs has led to the rejection of this interpretation”.


(3) God’s Self-Deliberation

  • “This interpretation sees the plurality only in rhetorical terms; it describes the way someone might deliberate within him or herself over some decision” – Heiser.
  • Another example of this appears in Isaiah.
  • Isaiah 6:8 (ESV) — 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
  • The idea is that we are seeing God “in contemplation” – Mathews.


(4) “An Announcement to the Divine Council/Heavenly Host” – Heiser.

“The plural language in Gen 1:26 is God announcing the decision to His angelic imagers that, as things are in the heavenly realm, so they will be on earth” – Michael Heiser.

  • Wenham says this has been the traditional view for the last 2000 years.


Where do our scholars come down?


Three for the Divine Council/Heavenly Host.

  • Michael Heiser – “The most likely explanation for the plurality in Gen 1:26 is that God—the lone speaker—is announcing His intention to create humankind to the members of His heavenly host (Psa 82; 89:5–8).”
  • Bruce Waltke – “The explanation that better satisfies all such uses of the pronoun is that God is addressing the angels or heavenly court (cf. 1 Kings 22:19–22; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Ps. 29:1–3; 89:5–6; Isa. 6:8; 40:1–6; Dan. 10:12–13; Luke 2:8–14)”.

Gordon Wenham – “‘Let us create man’ should therefore be regarded as a divine announcement to the heavenly court, drawing the angelic host’s attention to the master stroke of creation, man. As Job 38:4, 7 puts it: “When I laid the foundation of the earth … all the sons of God shouted for joy” (cf. Luke 2:13–14).”


Two for the Plurality within God.

Victor Hamilton – “According to Clines [another scholar], God here speaks to the Spirit, mentioned back in v. 2, who now becomes God’s partner in creation. It is one thing to say that the author of Gen. 1 was not schooled in the intricacies of Christian dogma. It is another thing to say he was theologically too primitive or naive to handle such ideas as plurality within unity.”

  • Kenneth Mathews – “Here the unity and plurality of God are in view.”




“In Our Image”:

What does it mean to that we are created in the image of God?

  • Why is it so significant?


Historically, there have been a number of views.

  • But as of late, most seem to be coalescing around one.
  • “During this latter half of our century the dominant interpretation, though not new (e.g., Chrysostom), has become the ‘functional’ one, that the ‘image’ is humanity’s divinely ordained role to rule over the lower orders” – Mathews.


BTW – We need to make one quick note on “after our likeness” to explain why we aren’t dealing with it.

  • Because Wenham says that “likeness” means “according to or after the pattern of” our image…
    • It is most likely that no distinction is being made.
    • Significantly, many suggest that “likeness” is important because it may operate to show we are not the exact image of God – like Jesus, for example.
    • Whatever the case, image is where we need to hang out.


Some common, but out of vogue views are as follows:

  • Our ability to reason or other physical attributes.
  • Our spiritual attributes – body/soul/spirit.
  • Our ability to be in relationship with God.


Image Bearer as Representative/Vice-Regent:

The “functional” view that has come to dominate is simply this…

  • Image means that we are God’s representative or vice-regent.
  • The TWOT simply says, “having dominion over God’s creation as vice-regent.”
  • Mathews says, “Mankind is appointed as God’s royal representatives (i.e., sonship) to rule the earth in his place.”
  • Wenham says, “the divine image makes man God’s vice-regent on earth”.


Heiser also says “selem” (image) is a status or function – to represent God on earth.

  • For this reason, he thinks it is best to think of “selem” as a verb.


This is for one simple reason.

  • Nobody has a clue as to what aspect of humanity is the image of God – what the old definitions attempted to define.
  • “Selem” as representative “merely describes the function or the consequences of the divine image; it does not pinpoint what the image is in itself” – Gordon Wenham.
  • “Although Genesis tells who is created in the ‘image of God,’ both man and woman (1:27; 1 Cor 11:7; Jas 3:9), it does not describe the contents of the ‘image.’” – Kenneth Mathews.

In fact, Hamilton says, “It is clear that v. 26 is not interested in defining what is the image of God in man. The verse simply states the fact, which is repeated in the following verse.”


Our ignorance on this matter is similar to our understanding of a born again heart.

  • Scripture is clear (Ezekiel 36 and John 3) that our hearts are remade and transformed.
  • The exact nature of this change from stone to flesh eludes us.
  • However, we know that life in Christ is impossible without this event.


So what does it mean to be God’s representative/vice-regent?


Mathews puts it simply…

  • “Mankind is appointed as God’s royal representatives (i.e., sonship) to rule the earth in his place.”


The text itself makes this clear.

  • Genesis 1:26 (ESV) — 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”


Psalm 8, most agree, also captures this view and alludes to Genesis.

  • Psalm 8:5–8 (ESV) — 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
  • The writer of Hebrews identifies Psalm 8 with Jesus’ incarnation to emphasize His humanity.


The idea of representative/vice-regent may also contain the following.

  • If God’s “us” refers to an announcement to the Heavenly Host/Divine Council an interesting parallel may be in view.
  • “In speaking of men being made in God’s image, [Genesis 1:26] is comparing man to the angels who worship in heaven” – Wenham on Mettinger.
  • The Heavenly Host are the spiritual creatures that function to serve/worship/represent God.
  • Mankind are the physical creatures that function to serve/worship/represent God.
  • In this way we are the material analog of the spiritual Heavenly Host.
  • However, it must be noted that nowhere does Scripture say the Heavenly Host are created in the image of God.


Victor Hamilton also wants to point out the following concerning our dominion:

“Man’s divinely given commission to rule over all other living creatures is tempered, or better, brought into sharp relief, by the fact that such dominion does not allow him to kill these creatures or to use their flesh as food. Only much later (9:3, post-Flood) is domination extended to include consumption.” – Hamilton.


Why is being made in God’s image so significant?


1) Gordon Wenham gives us a great answer.

  • “Because man is God’s representative, his life is sacred: every assault on man is an affront to the creator and merits the ultimate penalty (Gen 9:5–6)” – Gordon Wenham.
  • So because every human is born with the image status/function, the significance of “image” is not just vertical.
  • It is also horizontal.


What does this say about our obligations to other “adams”?

  • What does this say about the meaning of life?


2) Michael Heiser points out the following significance.

  • He says that as we “image” God we become more like Him.
  • How do we know this?
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) — 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


3) That “adam” is made in the image of God says something about Jesus as “adam”.

  • Thought it must be said that Christ’s image is distinct from ours.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) — 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
  • Colossians 1:15 (ESV) — 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
  • Jesus is the ultimate imager, the apex imager.


4) Because of this, those that are in Union with Christ “image” in a different way.

  • Romans 8:29 (ESV) — 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
  • By our Union with Christ, we participate in the Trinity and thus the “image” in profoundly different ways from unbelievers.
  • This “imaging” will be fully consummated at our resurrection.


5) There is a parallel between man and the tabernacle.

  • “It must be observed that man is made ‘in the divine image,’ just as the tabernacle was made ‘in the pattern’” – Wenham.
  • We may flesh this out in a later lesson.


Another ANE Polemic:

Bruce Waltke says this of the image polemic.

“In ancient Near Eastern texts only the king is in the image of God. But in the Hebrew perspective this is democratized to all humanity. ‘The text is saying that exercising royal dominion over the earth as God’s representative is the basic purpose for which God created man,’ explains Hart. He adds, ‘man is appointed king over creation, responsible to God the ultimate king, and as such expected to manage and develop and care for creation, this task to include actual physical work.’ Finally, in the context of Genesis, the image refers to the plurality of male and female within the unity of humanity. This concept is also distinct from the ancient Near Eastern perspective” – Bruce Waltke.


Victor Hamilton points out another polemic.

  • In ANE creation stories, “Man is created as an afterthought, and when he is created he is predestined to be a servant of the gods. There is nothing of the regal and the noble about him such as we find in Gen. 1” – Hamilton.
  • As we have said before, Genesis 1 is in many ways anthropocentric.
  • We are the point of creation, not an afterthought.