Genesis 1:26-27  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.

How is humankind made in the likeness of God? Obviously it cannot be talking about man’s physical form. Elijah sarcastically berated the prophets of Baal:

1 Kings 18:27  And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

The idea that God has the same physical features as humans, and the implications of that when you consider the human digestive system, borders on blasphemous and is certainly ludicrous.

So what does it mean? Perhaps the next verse after Gen 1:26-27 provides a hint:

Genesis 1:28  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.”

The responsibility that God has delegated to humankind to dominate the globe means that we are like God. That is a possible meaning.

But it more likely means that God designed us with mental and moral features that are a weak reflection of God’s own mental and moral character. This idea is supported by the New Testament application of the image of God to Jesus Christ. For example:

Colossians 1:15  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Christ shows the moral attributes of God more fully than other humans. Nevertheless this suggests that the image Gen 1:25-26 is referring to humankind’s moral capacity.

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