Tha nature of humankind and the image of God

In my understanding God created us in “his image” whatever that means to represent him on this earth. In revelation says only a few will go up to heaven. Jesus came here representing the perfect “human” sinless and graced how we were supposed to be. As a misanthrope myself I see this as an absolute contradiction to human nature.

Place any human being in a position of power amongst his fellow species and he will not only act for his own benefit but against his morals as well. Any Christian in a seat of power is as corrupt as everyone else from a different faith .

So how we were supposed to be heralds of creation before sin entered but yet our nature seems to be evil considering different circumstances?

Maybe it is time that we re-evaluate ourselves and our human spirit. That maybe we didn’t turned out good as God intended?

That maybe God deciding to destroy human kind with a flood it’s not just a hyperbole to a mythical story

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Growing up Catholic I was taught to understand that God creating humanity “in His image” meant that we were built as facsimiles of God Himself; perfect and inerrant, but corrupted by an unknowable force that we as mortals could never apprehend, let alone define. I could never reconcile this contradiction. How could we simultaneously represent divine perfection yet also be susceptible to corruption by a force that is initially external to our being?

I believe that “in His image” really means “according to His ideal”. We are His children, and as such we have been set forth on a quest to attain knowledge of ourselves and to fulfil of our potentiality. The beating heart of Christianity is its soteriology, so to resign ourselves to never knowing the fundamental source of our corrupt nature is foolish and dangerous. We haven’t turned out as good as God intended because the process is ongoing. It is our duty to seek the true nature of our sin, to identify it and to bring it into form and then to ultimately destroy it.

I believe created in God’s image means several things:

  1. Creating in ones own image means creating children.
  2. We have infinite potentiality reflecting God’s infinite actuality.
  3. Combined these mean there is no end to what God has to give to us and no end to what we can receive from Him. This is the essence of eternal life - a never-ending parent-child relationship with God.

The key phrase in this verse is “b’tzelem Elohim,” which means “in the image of God.” The verse conveys the idea that humanity was created in the image or likeness of God, highlighting the sacred nature and dignity of human beings in the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religions, emphasizing the intrinsic worth and value of every individual.


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‘Image of God’ is an interesting phrase. It is evident that we cannot be physical pictures of God because God is a spirit. I assume that God came in the form of human (Jesus born as human), instead of human made in the physical form of God. What did the expression mean and are we still images of God, possibly corrupted but anyhow images?

I feel that, in front of this phrase, I am still a young student trying to learn all the depths of the matter. The ‘image’ tells that something in us resembled or resembles what God is. When we speak of the ‘image of God’, we should know both what God is and looks like, and how we are similar to God.

@NickolaosPappas, I think you are at least partly correct in your negative picture of humans. The ugly behavior of humans does not reflect what God is, at least if we think that God is not evil. It seems both good and bad intentions fight in humans and we have at least some degree of free will to choose the bad. Bad decisions often lead to even worse decisions, driving the person towards darkness. Is it the fault of the Creator that he gave us free will? Is that a mistake or a flaw in the creation?

I believe that the Holy Spirit works in believers to cleans the person from the bad habits and consequences of our earlier life. The work of the Holy Spirit happens in cooperation with the person, so the work may halt if we are not willing to cooperate. Anyhow, I have seen much positive change in the life of the believers around me. The change may be slow but it happens. Such persons can be placed in the position of power and they have the drive to act for the benefit of others, even if they are not perfect in their decisions. That tells to me that we are not hopeless cases and perhaps there is still something of the image of God in us, or at least something God can shape into a picture reflecting the image of God.

This thread demonstrates how critical a consistent biblical theology really is to our sense of belief.

  1. I believe that God created us sinless…with full mental capacity and also with the physical capability to live for ever. We know from the creation account that immortality was conditional on obedience to the law of God (his law of love) For God is love…this was the point of his creating in the first place. He intimately and carefully came down close and physically molded his creation to be like himself…in his own image. He then brought that being to life by breathing the breath of life into his nostrils.

  2. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost the perfection with which mankind was were created and with that came a corruption. This corruption changed not only Adam and Eve, but also their perception and the world as they knew it.
    The above were not instantaneous, but the change began immediately (note Adam and Eve hid from God because they were naked)
    The interesting thing about Christs ministry on earth is that he healed people both physically and spiritually. He physically touched many who he healed and others he simply spoke the words and they were healed. These miracles are an example of how the salvation process works. We are saved from the wages of sin both physically and spiritually…it is not merely spiritual salvation any more than the consequences of sin are only spiritual. Sin and Salvation require both physical and spiritual and that is a key point in bible theology that cannot be ignored or explained away.

  3. The aim of Salvation is to save us from sin. The bible specifically demonstrates through the sanctuary service and then the death of christ on the cross that salvation required a physical atonement…ie Christ died physically for sin. When God said “unto the dust you shall return” this is a physical consequence he was talking about in Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death.

  4. Redemption also includes Restoration. These are not some arbitrary use of words…they have physical meaning as well. Christ dies physically so he could physically raise himself from the dead. He ascended physically into heaven…these demonstrate and point to the second coming…they show exactly how we are also physically restored back to our originally created state before sin enterred the world and corrupted us.

  5. The final outcome of the above is the complete erasing of all evil and sin and the rebuilding of the earth as illustrated in Revelation 21.
    John’s vision is the fulfillment of the vision given to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 2…the rock cut without hands that destroys the statue and fills the whole earth is the culmination of the same promise given to Eve in Genesis 3.

We know from the book of Job that Satan has the power to physically interact with and influence this world and its environment

God said
Job 1: 12“Very well,” said the LORD to Satan. “Everything he has is in your hands, but you must not lay a hand on the man himself.”

First Satan influences men to attack and carry off all of Job’s sheep and donkeys

14](Job 1:14 a messenger came and reported to Job: "While the oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby,)a messenger came and reported to Job: “While the oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15the Sabeans swooped down and took them away. They put the servants to the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

Then satan calls fire down from heaven which kills Job’s sheep and his servants

16While he was still speaking, another messenger came and reported: “The fire of God fell from heaven. It burned and consumed the sheep and the servants, and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

'Satan influences men again and they attack and carry off all of Job’s camels

17While he was still speaking, another messenger came and reported: “The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels, and took them away. They put the servants to the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

Satan causes a mighty storm to destroy the house Job’s children were in, killing them all

18While he was still speaking, another messenger came and reported: “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on the young people and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

The point is, all of the above form the essence of the bible. If one refuses to believe any one of the above, then one is destroying the consistency of the bible theme for the plan of salvation…its very core is destroyed and it becomes pointless. That is the real concern for Christianity… that is why people are lost.

Oh by the way…the limit to the number who can be saved is no fixed. Jesus said anyone who believes on him would be saved.

For example, Jesus said “If I be lifted up i will draw all men unto me”. This is a direct fulfillment of the narrative of the salvation of those dying from being biten by the snakes in the desert. The serpent lifted up on the pole saved those Israelites from death who believed and looked upon it. Any individual in the camp (including the mixed multitude who were not Israelites) were immediately healed. The Jew and Gentil distinction was not unique to the New Testament times…salvation was also offered to others outside the jews in the sinai desert after the Exodus from Egypt.

It is true, we like a good story to find some orientation.

As @Michael pointed out above

This is my problem as well. From the beginning we are destined to be sinless. Like God. He cannot sin whatever whatsoever. And he seems to have free will. So how come can we sin? Did something went wrong in the creation /evolution process?

And my point still stands.

Put any of your Christian friends as you’ve said who are good people in a place of power and see how they will get corrupt. We’ve seen it all the time. Again and again in the bible as well. Kings ,ordinary people everyone.

How can our true nature be good when we can’t stop doing bad despite how Christ like we might seem? I don’t get it.

From the pope to the Patriarch of the Eastern church to the apostles everyone abused power in some way or another when the times come.

I just can’t reconcile this for now. It seems like a huge contradiction to human nature and “created in his image”

In no case did God simply create copies of Himself.

He created angels who are very much like Himself. One was named “Mich a El” = who is like God.

Genesis 1:26 And He created man in His own image/likeness.

We see our image/likeness in a reflection or a photograph. It is like us but it is not the same as us. This is confirmed in other passages.

Psalm 8:5 made him a little lower (less) than the angels.

Hebrews 2:7 made him for a little while lower (less) than the angels.

So are we more like God than the angels or less like God than the angels? From the above, both seems to be the case. And the first chapter of Hebrews explains this. It is the difference between a servant and a child. The servant has all the powers given to Him by the master, but the child must grow into his power to become more than the servant in the end.

So God made the angels more like Himself than we are but by being something which must grow and become like God we are more than the angels. Why is this more in the likeness of God? Was God at sometime less than the angels? I know of nobody who thinks anything like that. This is why I think created in the image of God means we have an infinite potentiality reflecting God’s infinite actually. The angels have a finite actuality which is more like God in the moment, but we have more of God’s essence in this capacity to become more than we are. This is only in a relationship with Him as is the case with children learning from their parent.

But Michael answers this question if you continue reading what He wrote.

I would only add that this is not something we do on our own by our own power and ability but only with God’s help in a relationship with Him.

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This is a good podcast with Richard Middleton, who wrote what is often considered the authoritative book on the image of God in Christian circles.

Richard wrote the preface to a recently released book on the image of God by Carmen Joy Imes, Being God’s Image, which has very well-received.

You can listen to an interview with her about it in the second half of this Holy Post episode:

Most scholars agree that in the ancient Near East, “image” meant a visible representative of authority. Images of gods and kings (who were considered the embodiment or representatives of gods) were placed in temples and other public places to remind everyone who ruled the region. With the idea of humanity bearing God’s image and God resting in Genesis 1 there are allusions to the idea that the whole world is God’s temple/domain and that he has placed his image (humans) in it to represent him and remind people of his reign. It does speak to the intrinsic worth of humans, because in the ancient context, if someone disrespects or mistreats an image, it is the equivalent of disrespecting or mistreating the god or king. (See the story of Nebuchudnezzar’s image in Daniel, for example)


Do you not believe that Lucifer was an angel created perfect however also with freewill?

How is it that Satan was originally an angel who ministered at the highest seat in heaven next to that of Christ, he sinned and was cast out of heaven and yet you have a problem with Adam and Eve supposedly being created perfect and being decieved by an angel who was once the second most powerful being in heaven next to the triune God?

Btw…i would love to hear a TEist explannation with biblical references for the origins of angels…did they evolve or were they created?

If evolved, how is that process going to work given satan has fallen and his demise is eternal…so we do not evolve out of corruption and sin…we do not get bettrr, it is only through faith in the.physical death of Christs atonement for sin that corrupted beings may be saved. This is not consistent with the claim that we started primative and then developed the mental capacity to reason through evolutionary processes.

The Bible doesn’t say anything about evolution because it is a theory from biology that didn’t exist until 2000+ years after most of the Bible was written. Biological evolution only applies to entities that have DNA and reproduce. Angels aren’t biological entities, nor do they reproduce.


One thing that I’m sure of is that it entails personhood and agency (although the latter might be redundant? ; - ).

how then do you explain the Nephilim? Were they not according to many Christian denominations a result of “fallen angels” who procreated with daughters of men?

I think that is what a lot say, but with little to back that interpretation. Sort of an interesting rabbit hole to explore: Nephilim - Wikipedia

It is sort of interesting how much we sometimes think is mainstream theology, when it is in fact folk religion, and lacks much of a foundation in scripture.


Actually we learn the opposite: Satan can only “physically interact with and influence this world and its environment” when he has explicit permission from God to do so.

I’ve observed the opposite, specifically a university friend who got put in the top position with an organization and by his mere example reduced corruption to near-zero – no orders, policies, or anything else changed, just his example.


Yeah, and it’s really too bad about Francis Collins. :grin:

Easy, I don’t explain them as angels who procreated with humans.

I think they were mythological heroes in a culture’s historical story-telling tradition.

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Recently I read this in Tremper Longman’s commentary on Genesis, and I think you may like it

Many readers are misled by the idea that angels were incapable of having sex. Indeed, according to Jesus, angels neither marry nor are given in marriage (Luke 20:34 – 36). However, the heavenly beings in Genesis 6 are not obedient but rebellious angels. They aren’t acting according to their divinely given nature. As for their supposed inability, no Israelite/Jewish reader would have thought of the angels as incapable of sexual intercourse. Yes, they are spiritual beings, but they are capable of taking on human appearance (see Gen 18 – 19; Mark 16:5). The opposite idea is not a biblical one, but one produced by a faulty view on angels developed during the Middle Ages when Christians thinkers were influenced by a neo-Platonic philosophy that radically separated the spiritual from the physical.

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