Biblical Theological Seminary

Dr. Robert C. Newman


                                         IMAGING GOD IN HUMAN ACTIVITY*




            Mankind was created in the image of God

                        Gen 1:26-27

            Evidently this image was not destroyed by the Fall

                        Gen 9:6; Jas 3:9

            Yet it was sufficiently distorted that it must be restored or renewed in regeneration and sanctification

                        Col 3:10; Eph 4:24

            Though the explicit "image" passages in Scripture are only a handful, there are hundreds of passages in which God pic­tures himself as a human involved in some activity or rela­tionship, thereby suggesting that we image God in various of our relationships and activities


God as Potter, Mankind as Clay


            As potter makes clay pots, so God made us.

                        Isa 64:8; 29:15-16; 45:9

            As clay pots are fragile, so are we.

                        Job 10:8-9; 33:6-7; Jer 19:1-13; Ps 2:9

            As potter makes pots for various purposes, so God makes us.

                        Rom 9:19-24; Jer 18:1-12; Acts 9:15; 2 Tim 2:20-21


God as Farmer, Mankind as Plant


            The righteous pictured as healthy tree.

                        Ps 1:3; 92:12-14; Jer 17:7-8

            The wicked pictured as endangered plants.

                        Ps 1:4; Isa 5:1-7; Ezk 15:1-8; Lk 13:6-9; Mt 3:8-10

            God's grace to Gentiles pictured as grafting.

                        Rom 11:17-24; cp Jn 15:1-9


God as Shepherd, Mankind as Sheep


            Shepherd seeks/finds sheep.

                        Isa 53:6; Lk 15:4-7; Jer 50:6-7,17-20; Ezk 34:11-16

            Shepherd leads his flock.

                        Ps 23:2-3; 80:1; 78:52-54; Jn 10:1-5

            Shepherd feeds his sheep.

                        Ps 23:1-2; Ezk 34:12-15

            Shepherd protects from predators.

                        Ps 23:4; Jer 50:18-19; Ezk 34:12-16

            Shepherd will even die for his sheep.

                        Zec 13:7; Jn 10:11-12; Mt 26:31

            Slaughter of sheep

                        Ezk 34:16-24; see also Mt 25:32-33


God as King, Mankind as Subjects


            King has/deserves prestige.

                        Mal 1:6-14

            King rules.

                        Ps 29:1-11; Ps 47; Dan 4:17,25,37; 1 Tim 6:15

            King protects his subjects.

                        Ps 10:12-18; 74:12; Isa 33:22

            Insult against king is rebellion.

                        Lk 19:11-27; Mt 22:1-14


God  as Master, Mankind as Slaves


            So common a picture as to be a "dead" metaphor.

                        Lord, servant

            Master deserves honor/respect.

                        Mal 1:6

            Reflected in human master/slave relationships.

                        Eph 6:5-9; Col 3:22-4:1


God as Father/Parent, Mankind as Children


            Replacement for mother & father.

                        Ps 27:10


                        Ps 131:2; Dt 32:11; Mt 23:37

            God's natural children

                        Jn 1:12-13; 1 Pet 1:3

            God's adopted children

                        Gal 4:4-7; Rom 8:14-19

            We have a family resemblance.

                        1 Jn 3:1-10; Mt 5:43-48; Jn 8:36-47

            God provides as a good father does.

                        Mt 7:7-11

            God disciplines.

                        Heb 12:5-11

            God loves and forgives.

                        Lk 15:11-32


God as Husband, Mankind as Wife


            Is this the point of 1 Cor 11:7?


1Cor 11:7 (NIV) A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.


            Marriage covenant parallel to that with God.

                        Jer 31:32; Isa 54:10; Ps 45:10; Eph 5:26-27; 2 Cor 11:2-3

            Mutual love and joy

                        Ps 45:11,15; Isa 62:5; Eph 5:25

            Wife's submission

                        Ps 45:11; Eph 5:24

            Bearing of children

                        Isa 54:1; Ps 45:16

            Husband provides, protects.

                        Eph 5:23; Isa 54:14-17

            Breaking of marriage cp to apostasy

                        Hos 1-3; Jer 3:1,8; Isa 54:6-8; 62:4


Rebellion and SatanŐs Image


            Family resemblance

                        Jn 8:44; 1 Jn 3:8,10; Mt 3:7

            God despises this image.

                        Ps 73:20

            Rebellion as a result of the Fall

                        Gen 3:16-17; Gen 9:2-3; Rom 8:19-22

            Distortion introduced into imaging relations

                        From upper side:

                                    mistreatment of environment

                                    tyrrany by rulers, employers

                                    abuse of children, wife

                        From lower side:

                                    environment resists

                                    citizens disobey

                                    employees goof-off

                                    chidren disobey

                                    wife not subject




            These images can help us understand God better, esp through experiencing what it feels like to act as God.

            These images can help us understand how we should act as potters, farmers, parents, etc.


            These images can help unsaved to see God for first time.







*for more detail, see Robert C. Newman, "Some Perspectives on the Image of God in Man from Biblical Theology," IBRI Research Report 21 (1984).