Meredith G. Kline, “Creation in the Image of the Glory-Spirit” WTJ 39 (1976/77): 250-272.

When defining the imago Dei, dogmatic theology has traditionally tended to engage in an analysis of what constitutes humanness. But to answer the general question “What is man?” is not the same thing as answering the precise question “What is the image of God?”. If our objective is to discern what the biblical idea of the image of God is, it would appear necessary to abandon the traditional dogmatic wineskins, go back to the beginning of Genesis, and start afresh.

In the present chapter we will engage in some exegetical exploration and then outline the approach to the imago Dei concept that is suggested by our exegetical findings. A new key element will emerge in the exegetical picture — such will be our claim — the discovery that the theophanic Glory was present at the creation and was the specific divine model or referent in view in the creating of man in the image of God.

The Glory-Spirit at the Creation

After the declaration of the creation of things invisible and visible in the beginning (Gen. 1: 1), [1] the biblical record notes conditions in the visible world calling for divine action: the “earth” was in a state of unbounded deep-and-darkness (Gen. 1:2a). Then the presence of the Creator who would make light shine in the darkness and set bounds to the waters is affirmed in the remarkable statement: “The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2b).

The verb used in verse 2b (merahepet) occurs again in the Pentateuch [2] only in Deuteronomy 32:11. There, by the use of this verb, the divine activity in leading Israel through “the waste howling wilderness” (v. 10) on the way to Canaan is likened to that of an eagle hovering protectively over its young, spreading out its wings to support them, and so guiding them on to maturity. In Exodus 19:4 God similarly describes himself as bearing Israel on eagles’ wings.

It was actually by means of his Glory-Presence that God thus led his people at the time of the exodus. It was in the pillar of cloud and fire that he went before them in the way and afforded them overshadowing protection. [3] To describe the action of the Glory-cloud by the figure of outspread wings was natural, not simply because of the overshadowing function it performed, but because of the composition of this theophanic cloud. For when prophetic vision penetrates the thick darkness, the cloud is seen to be alive with winged creatures, with cherubim and seraphim. The sound of its coming is, in the prophetic idiom, the sound of their wings. [4]

That Moses in his use of the verb rhp in Deuteronomy 32:11 is instituting a comparison between God’s presence as Israel’s divine aegis in the wilderness and God’s presence over creation in Genesis 1:2b is put beyond doubt by the fact that he calls that wilderness a tohu (Deut. 32: 10). For this is the word he uses in Genesis 1:2a to describe the state of the earth over which the Spirit hovered at creation, and this noun tohu, like the verb rhp, is used by Moses nowhere else. The comparison drawn in Deuteronomy 32:10f. between the exodus event and the creation is extensively elaborated in the Mosaic historiography. Within the broad parallelism that emerges we find that at the exodus reenactment of creation history the divine pillar of cloud and fire was present, like the Spirit of God at the beginning, to bring light into the darkness (and indeed to regulate the day-night sequence), to divide the waters and make dry land appear in the midst of the deep, and to lead on to the Sabbath in the holy paradise land.

In the light of Moses’ own interpretive reuse of the unusual verbal imagery of Genesis 1:2b in Deuteronomy 32:11, the “Spirit of God” in the creation record is surely to be understood as a designation for the theophanic Glory-cloud. There is indeed a considerable amount of biblical data that identify the Glory-cloud as peculiarly a manifestation of the Spirit of God. Here we will cite only a few passages where the functions performed by the Glory-cloud are attributed to the Spirit — Nehemiah 9:19, 20; Isaiah 63:11-14; and Haggai 2:5 — and mention the correspondence of the work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to the functioning of the Glory-cloud at the exodus and at the erection of the tabernacles. [5]

Reflecting on Genesis 1:2, Psalm 104 envisages the Creator Spirit (ruah) as the one who makes the clouds his chariot and moves on the wings of the wind (ruah), making the winds his angel-messengers and flames his servants (vv. 3f.). When we recognize this theophanic cloud-and-wind form of the Spirit in Genesis 1:2, the literary connections between the original creation record and certain redemptive re- creation narratives become more luminous. [6] The flood episode, like the exodus salvation, is portrayed on an elaborate scale as a re-creation event, and the decisive initiating moment is God’s making a wind to move over the earth to subdue the waters (Gen. 8:1). In the exodus re-creation itself, the divine agency in dealing with the waters is de- noted as a strong, east wind (Exod. 14:21) and, more poetically, as the breath (ruah) of God’s nostrils blown upon the waters (Exod. 15:8, 10). [7]

What Genesis 1:2 identifies as Spirit, Hebrews 1:2, 3 identifies as Son; God is one. Hebrews 1:2b attributes to the Son the creation of the world. [8] Then, before the sustaining, directing role of the Son in divine providence is dealt with in Hebrews 1:3b, he is identified as the image and glory of God, “the effulgence of his glory and the very image (charakter) of his being” (v. 3a). This description of the likeness of the Son to the Father does not refer to the eternal ontological reality of God apart from creation but to the revelation of the Father by the Son in creation. Reasons for this conclusion are that historical revelation is the theme of this passage (cf. vv. 1, 2a), that the thought has already moved into the sphere of creation at verse 2b, and that the language of verse 3a itself is, of course, that of manifestation. Moreover, the location of this statement between affirmations concerning the Son’s role in creation and providence (vv. 2b and 3b) does not favor taking this divine manifestation as a reference to the incarnation. The only way to satisfy the contextual requirements then would seem to be to understand verse 3a in terms of pre-incarnation theophany, and, in particular, the Glory revelation of the Creator spoken of in Genesis 1:2b. The allusion to Genesis 1:2 in verse 3a would then account for the use of the verb “bearing” (phero) in verse 3b. [9]

From the beginning the Son participated in the majesty of the divine Glory so that his royal session on the right hand of God after he had dealt with our sins (Heb. 1:3c and d) was a glorifying of the Son with the glory he had with the Father before the world was [10] and which found its effulgence in the Spirit-Glory at creation. In creating all things, the Word of God who was in the beginning thus proceeded forth from the Spirit of God-as did also the incarnate Word and the inscripturated Word. We are confronted again with this mystery of the Son’s identity with the Spirit and his personal distinctiveness and his procession from the Spirit in the figure of that Angel associated with the Glory-cloud and called “the Angel of the Presence” (Isa. 63:9ff.; Exod. 32:2, 12-15). [11]

The Spirit of God hovered over the primeval tohu not only as a creating power but as a paradigm for creation. The theophanic Glory was an archetypal pattern for the cosmos and for man, the image of God. In order to perceive this archetypal working of the Spirit and appreciate its significance for the image-of-God idea, we must have a fairly distinct apprehension of the Bible’s representation of the multifaceted phenomenon of the Glory-Spirit that was present at the creation. [12]

When the inner reality veiled within the theophanic cloud is revealed, we behold God in his heaven. The world of the Glory theophany is a dimensional realm normally invisible to man, where God reveals his presence as the King of glory enthroned in the midst of myriads of heavenly beings. [13] It is the realm into which the glorified Christ, disappearing from human view, entered to assume his place on the throne of God. It is the invisible (or “third”) heaven brought into cloud-veiled visibility. Thus, the Spirit-Glory of Genesis 1:2b answers to the invisible heavens of Genesis 1:1 and represents a coming forth of the Lord of glory out of invisibility into a special earth oriented and adapted manifestation to create and consummate, to reveal himself in earth history as Alpha and Omega.

God’s theophanic glory is the glory of royal majesty. At the center of the heavens within the veil of the Glory-cloud is found a throne; the Glory is preeminently the place of God’s enthronement. It is, therefore, a royal palace, site of the divine council and court of judgment. [14] As royal house of a divine King, the dwelling or deity, it is a holy house, a temple. Yet the Glory is not a static structure, but mobile, for the throne is a chariot-throne, Spirit directed and propelled through the winged beings, a vehicle of divine judgment, moving with the swiftness of light to execute the sentence of the King.

So it was perceived by eyes supernaturally opened and so transcribed in prophetic words. Seen by the natural eye, it was a heavenly phenomenon of light and clouds. Adapting its form to its function, it appeared in the varied modes of the sky, now a clear firmament or sheltering canopy, now a whirlwind or thunderhead of terrifying trumpet and flashing arrow. [15]

The theophanic glory was expressed as light, at whatever dimensional level it was perceived or whatever guise the divine epiphany assumed in other respects. The appearance of the Glory was the appearance of light as of fire or the sun, the light of divine glory that no man can approach. [16] This theophanic light appeared at times as a rainbow radiance expressive of the holy beauty of the Lord in his temple; [17] at times, as the illuminating light of wisdom and truth, penetrating the darkness in the service of judicial righteousness to expose the works of darkness; [18] and again as an effective energy, executing judgment whether to bless or curse, whether as a sun of righteousness rising with healing in its wings or as a light like the blinding, searing glare of the burning oven. [19]

When most distinctly perceived, the divine figure enthroned in the Glory is seen as anthropomorphous. The Glory as such is also anthropomorphically denoted as the divine face and arm, or hand, or as parts thereof — eyes and finger. By these terms the Glory is identified as the personal presence of God and as the power of God stretched forth to act in the exercise of his sovereignty. [20] Also, the dual columnar formation assumed by the Glory-cloud as pillar of cloud and pillar of fire is conceptualized in the Bible as the feet of God standing as divine witness. [21]

Special interest attaches to the appearance of the Glory-Spirit in a witness role in historical episodes or visionary scenes of re-creation that are repetitive of the original creation as described in Genesis 1:2. For besides confirming our identification of the Glory-Presence in Genesis 1:2, such evidence of the presence of presence of God as a divine witness in Genesis 1:2 is an index of the covenantal cast of the whole creation narrative. Here we can simply suggest some of the data. In the exodus re-creation, the Glory-cloud, described by Moses by means of the imagery of Genesis 1:2, as we have seen, stood as pillar witness to the covenant that defined the legal nature of this redemptive action of God. [22] At the beginning of the new creation, at the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit descending over the waters in avian form, as in Genesis 1:2, was a divine testimony to the Son, [23] the Son who was given as God’s, covenant to the people. At the consummation of the new covenant with its new exodus-creation, the Glory-figure, apocalyptically revealed in Revelation 10:1ff., is seen clothed with a cloud, rainbow haloed, with face like the sun and feet like pillars of fire, standing astride creation with his hand raised in oath to heaven, swearing by him who on the seventh day finished his creating of the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all their hosts that in the days of the seventh trumpet the mystery of God will be finished. [24] In the interpretive light of such redemptive reproductions of the Genesis 1:2 scene, we see that the Spirit at the beginning overarched creation as a divine witness to the Covenant of Creation, as a sign that creation existed under the aegis of his covenant lordship. Here is the background for the later use of the rainbow as a sign of God’s covenant with the earth (Gen. 9:12ff.). And this appointment of the rainbow as covenant sign in turn corroborates the interpretation of the corresponding supernatural light-and-clouds phenomenon of the Glory (the rainbow character of which is explicit in some instances [25]) as a sign of the Covenant of Creation.

There are still other ways in which the Glory is conceptualized in the Scriptures, such as the name-banner and the gate of heaven. But the aspects of this vastly complex theophanic reality that have been mentioned may suffice for our immediate purposes as we now inquire into the significance of the archetypal function of the Glory-Spirit in creation, particularly, for the subject of the image of God.

The Glory-Spirit as Archetype

The Glory-Spirit was present at the beginning of creation as a sign of the telos of creation, as the Alpha-archetype of the Omega-Sabbath that was the goal of creation history.

As an initial step, the Glory functioning as a dynamic paradigm-power reproduced its own likeness at the mundane level, in the earth-cosmos. If one is first introduced to the Glory-cloud as it appears in the later history of God’s covenantal reign over Israel, he will probably identify it as a special, supernatural, localized version of the general heavenly phenomena of sky and clouds and luminaries. But that will be seen to be a reversal of the real situation if we recognize the presence of the Glory-cloud in Genesis 1:2, creatively poised over an earth-cosmos at a time when light of day and heavenly waters and firmament had not yet received their name-existence. If we are introduced to the Glory-cloud at Genesis 1:2 and behold the reproduction of its several features of light and firmament and clouds transpiring in the creative process, we will identify the general heavenly phenomena as a rendering in the medium of natural revelation of the supernatural Glory- heaven. The heavens declare the glory of God in the special sense that they are a copy of the archetypal Glory of God.

As a result of the creation of the earth-cosmos after the pattern of the Glory-temple, it has the character of a royal temple of God. Comparing Israel’s temple to his cosmic house, the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me?” (Isa. 66:1). [26] Similarly, the natural heavens consisting of heaven (the firmament) and the heaven of heavens (the cloud waters “above the heaven”) are regarded as God’s royal chambers and chariot. [27] In harmony with the identification of heaven and earth as a macrocosmic temple, the earthly tabernacle and temple that appear in redemptive re-creation symbolism are designed, as various architectural features show, to be a microcosmic representation of heaven and earth. [28]

A temple design beyond that realized at the mundane level of earth and sea and sky had been conceived by the Creator-Architect. The Glory was a Spirit-temple and the Creator foreknew a temple constructed in spirit-dimensions. As the Omega-point of the creative cloning of the archetypal Glory-temple, the divine design contemplated a living temple of created spirits. God created man in the likeness of the Glory to be a spirit-temple of God in the Spirit. Such is the setting in which the Scriptures introduce man’s identity as the earthling made in the image of God.

Once we have recognized the Spirit of the creation narrative as the Glory-Presence, we realize that it is not the case after all that the image-of-God idea appears in Genesis out of the blue, an unexplained riddle inviting nebulously abstract solutions. The statement in Genesis 1:27 that God created man in his own image instead finds a concretely specific and in fact a visible point of reference in the Glory-Spirit theophany of Genesis 1:2. This conclusion is enforced by the data in Genesis 1:26 and 2:7, which bring the Spirit of Genesis 1:2 into connection with the act of man’s creation.

According to the Genesis 2:7 account, man was made a living soul by a divine inbreathing. That this is to be understood in terms of the vitalizing breath of the Spirit is evident from the quickening function attributed to the Spirit in Scripture, sometimes in passages reflective of Genesis 2:7. According to Psalm 104:29-31, when God sends forth his Spirit-Glory-Face, the face of the earth is renewed and living creatures are created. In Lamentations 4:20, “the breath (ruah) of our nostrils” stands in appositional parallelism to “the (Spirit-) anointed of the Lord.” In the vision of Ezekiel 37, when God summons his Spirit-wind to breathe upon the lifeless in the valley, the valley comes to life with a host of living men (vv. 1-10, 14). [29] At the coming into the world of the second Adam, it was revealed to his mother: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the Power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). And when our Lord prophetically portrayed his creation of the new man(kind), he breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Clearly then we are to understand that it was the Spirit-Glory of Genesis 1:2 who had hovered over the lifeless deep-and-darkness, sovereignly blowing where he would to bring the world into life, who was the divine breath that fathered the living man-son in Genesis 2:7.

In Genesis 1:26 it is the plural form of the creative fiat that links the creation of man in the image of God to the Spirit-Glory of Genesis 1:2. The Glory-cloud curtains the heavenly enthronement of God in the midst of the judicial council of his celestial hosts. Here is the explanation of the “let us” and the “our image” in the Creator’s decree to make man. He was addressing himself to the angelic council of elders, taking them into his deliberative counsel.

This understanding of the first-person-plural fiat is supported by the fact that consistently where this usage occurs in divine speech it is in the context of the heavenly councilor at least of heavenly beings. Especially pertinent for Genesis 1:26 is the nearby instance in Genesis 3:22, a declaration concerned again with man’s image-likeness to God: “Man has become like one of us to know good and evil.” The cherubim mentioned in verse 24 were evidently being addressed. In the cases where God determines to descend and enter into judgment with a city like Babel or Sodom, and a plural form (like “Let us go down”) alternates with a singular, [30] the explanation of the plural is at hand in the angelic figures who accompany the Angel of the Lord on his judicial mission. [31] When, in Isaiah’s call experience, the Lord, enthroned in the Glory-cloud of his temple, asks, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” (Isa. 6:8), the plural is again readily accounted for by the seraphim attendants at the throne or (if the seraphim are to be distinguished from the heavenly elders, as are the winged creatures of the throne in Revelation 4) by the divine council, which in any case belongs to the scene. [32]

The use of the idiom of the divine council in the Genesis 1:26 fiat thus alerts us to the involvement of the Glory-Spirit in this episode. Those who have sought to explain the plural as a reflection of the trinitarian nature of God and in particular as an allusion to the Spirit of Genesis 1:2, though missing the proper explanation found in the council idiom, have been correct in finding the antecedent of the Genesis 1:26 usage in the Spirit of Genesis 1:2. The Glory theophany, in which God was present as Logos-Wisdom and Spirit-Power, stood as archetype at the creation of man as God’s image.

As Genesis 2:7 pictures it, the Spirit-Archetype actively fathered his human ectype. Image of God and son of God are thus twin concepts. This reading of that event in terms of a father-son model and the conceptual bond of the image and son ideas are put beyond doubt by the record of the birth of Seth in Genesis 5:1-3. There, a restatement of Adam’s creation in the likeness of God is juxtaposed to a statement that Adam begat a son in his own likeness. Unmistakably, the father-son relationship of Adam and Seth is presented as a proper analogue for understanding the Creator-man relationship [33] and clearly man’s likeness to the Creator-Spirit is thus identified as the likeness of a son derived from his father. [34]

Relating what has been said of the presence of the Son of God in the Glory theophany of Genesis 1 to the role of the Glory-Spirit in the creation of man as son-image, it appears that there was a specific divine archetypal referent for the sonship aspect of God’s image in man. The eternal, firstborn Son furnished a pattern for man as a royal glory-image of the Father. [35] It was in his creative action as the Son, present in the Glory-Spirit, making man in his own son-image that the Logos revealed himself as the One in whom was the life that is the light of men. [36] Not first as incarnate Word breathing on men the Spirit and re-creating them in his heavenly image, but at the very beginning he was quickening Spirit, creating man after his image and glory.

Indeed, the Son does do his creative work anew and consummatingly in redemptive history, and an introductory exploration of this will be relevant here. For to observe how Scripture portrays the re-creation as a process wherein the Glory-Son fashions the new man(kind) in his own Glory-likeness is surely to find biblical confirmation of the interpretation of the original creation as a making of man in the likeness of the Glory-Spirit.

This theme of the re-creation of the new man(kind) by the Lord of glory in his own likeness is prominent and, in fact, foundational in the Book of Revelation. [37] This book as a whole depicts the messianic redemptive re-creation in symbolism drawn from the Mosaic reenactment of creation in the exodus, but that layer of the Apocalyptic representation overlies a foundational conceptual structure derived from the original creation event. Inevitably so, since creation provides the basic mold filled by redemption.

The opening vision of the Book of Revelation reveals Christ as the archetypal Glory-image and the book closes with a prophetic view of the church as the ectypal image. In the Spirit, John saw Christ in the form of a theophanic blend of the Glory-Spirit and the Angel of the Presence with the anthropomorphic lineaments of the latter dominant and the Glory-cloud features adjectival. The theophanic figure was, further, a blend of the “ancient of days” as well as the “son of man” of Daniel 7:9ff., and thus fully trinitarian. Earlier, at the transfiguration, John had been witness to a proleptic apocalypse of Christ in his majestic glory. The resurrection marked Christ’s definitive assumption of his Spirit identity [38] and, in the vision of Revelation 1, John saw this risen, glorified Christ as the Spirit-Lord, present to re-create all things and particularly to impart his glory to his church, the new man re-created in his image.

This new work of creation is also a covenantal process, as are all God’s works. Accordingly, Christ the Creator, “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last” (Rev. 1:8) is introduced by John as “the faithful witness” (Rev. 1:5) and identifies himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14). [39] He appears in this vision of re-creation as the One who came to his church in the Spirit at Pentecost, standing as the Spirit-witness to the new covenant as earlier he stood witness to the old covenant in the Glory-cloud at Sinai, and still earlier to the creation covenant in the Glory-Spirit of Genesis 1:2.

John beheld the transfigured Lord as the light of the world, his countenance like the sun, in the midst of the derivative, reflective light of the seven golden lamps representative of the seven churches. These symbolic circumstances attested to the Lord’s covenantal purpose to fashion his church in the radiant image of his own glory. This prospect he articulated in his promises to the overcomers in his letters to the churches, for these promises describe just so many facets of the glory of the living Lord.

The covenanted hope of the creational process is seen in its sabbatical realization at the close of the Apocalypse. All the elements of the separate glory promises to the overcomers are gathered together and the symbolism fully elaborated in the closing vision(s) of the glorified church. It is not the new mankind alone that is in view; the vision is a panorama of cosmic re-creation. The depiction of this corresponds closely to the account of creation in Genesis 1. A new heaven and earth are seen, replacing the first (Rev. 21:1a; cf. Gen. 1:1). Then the deep-and-darkness condition, the not-yet-hospitable stage of Genesis 1:2a, has its negative reflection in the statement of Revelation 21:1a that there is no more sea in the new cosmos. And answering to the Spirit-cloud, the archetypal temple over the earth in Genesis 1:2b, is the temple-city of Revelation 21:2, seen descending out of the heavens.

New Jerusalem as portrayed in Revelation 21 and 22 is the ultimate likeness of the Spirit-Glory, for it is a city transfigured in light and its light is the glory of God (21:11; 23; 22:5); it is the tabernacle of God (21:3), the cuboid holy of holies where the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” who sits above the cherubim of the Glory-cloud, is seen enthroned (21:5, 6). In this New Jerusalem all the promises of the letters to the seven churches find their Amen in Christ. Here all is fulfilled. Christ, the archetypal Glory-image of the opening vision, has created the new mankind in his glory-likeness. Christ, the archetypal temple, has constructed the church into a temple for God’s presence. And in this new reality of the union of the new man, the church, with the new man, Christ, more is involved in the church’s likeness to the divine Glory than mere reflection of that Glory. There is a mysterious kind of identification with the Glory in the Spirit. The city-temple that shines with the glory of God is the Glory theophany with the church-body of Christ engrafted into it. For while the church is the temple where God dwells, God is the Spirit-Temple where the church dwells (Rev. 21:22).

Thus the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ interprets to us the apocalypse of Elohim in Genesis 1 and clarifies our view of the Spirit in Genesis 1 as the theophanic Glory, the divine archetype for the creation of man in the image of God. [40]

Toward a Reconstruction of the Image-of-God Concept

If, according to the Genesis creation narrative, the Glory theophany was the paradigm of the image of God borne by man, one would expect glory to be a prominent aspect of the image idea throughout the Bible. In checking this out, it will be useful to have before us a brief analytical review of the composition of the complex Glory theophany. Nuclear to the divine Glory is its official-functional aspect: it is the glory of royal-judicial office. In the Glory, God sits as King. This official royal glory comes to formal-physical expression in theophanic radiance; in the Glory, God is enthroned in majestic robes of light. There is also an ethical dimension to the Glory: the foundations of the cloud-veiled throne are justice and righteousness, and fidelity and truth go before it in royal procession. [41] It is a throne of holiness [42] and the enthroned King of glory is ever acclaimed as “holy, holy, holy” by the multitude of the heavenly host (Isa. 6:3).

Only a cursory survey of the more salient data will be necessary to show that these central aspects of the Glory theophany are indeed dominant in the biblical contexts in which the image-of-God theme emerges.

In the creative fiat addressed to the heavenly council, “Let us make man in our image,” angels are identified as sharing in the image-likeness to God. [43] The lines of likeness connect not only God and man but God and angels, and man and angels. Agreeably, in the reflection of Genesis 1:26ff. in Psalm 8:5ff., man’s likeness to God is expounded in a comparison of man and angels. [44] That man in his likeness to God is like members of the divine council suggests that to bear the image of God is to participate in the judicial function of the divine Glory. And it is this judicial role that is prominent when the image idea next appears in Genesis 3:22. There, man’s likeness to God is expressed in terms of his knowing good and evil, which has to do with the royal function of judicial discernment and decision rendering. The latter is elsewhere noted as a mark of likeness to both God and angels. [45]

Attention is drawn to the royal-office element in the image of God by the conjunction of references to the image and to man’s dominion over the world in both the fiat and fulfillment sections of the record of man’s creation in Genesis 1:26-28. Moreover, when commenting on this record and identifying man as one made a little lower than the angels, Psalm 8 reflects on the majestic splendor with which the Creator crowned man and the universal reign assigned to him.

Where the image-of-God idea again emerges in Genesis beyond the first three chapters, the kingly aspect continues to be prominent. In Genesis 5:1f., man’s creation as divine image-bearer is recalled by way of introducing a major section of the book (Gen. 5:1-6:8) that reaches its climax in the account of “the sons of God,” or “sons of the gods,” the tyrant kings whose evil reign precipitated the flood (Gen. 6:1 ff.). [46] The reference to the image-of-God idea in the formulaic
heading of Genesis 5:1 f. is then especially meaningful, in effect establishing in the general royal office that belongs to man by virtue of his creation in God’s image the foundation for the special office of king that arises in the subsequent history. [47] The same point is made in the other passage in the Book of Genesis where the divine image is mentioned. In Genesis 9:6, the fact that God created man in his image is cited as the reason that man is assigned the solemn judicial responsibility of discerning between good and evil in a case of murder and particularly of executing the guilty. As image of God, man is a royal son with the judicial function appertaining to kingly office.

Glory is again to the fore when the Scriptures speak of man’s re-creation in God’s image. The renewal of the divine image in men is an impartation to them of the likeness of the archetypal glory of Christ. We have observed this in the Book of Revelation. In II Corinthians 4:6, Christ, the glory-image of God (cf. II Cor. 4:4) is likened to the archetypal Glory-Spirit-Face of Genesis 1:2 as the apostle Paul draws the parallel between the light of God’s glory in the face of Christ, the light that now shines in our hearts, and the light that shone in the darkness over which the Spirit hovered at the creation (Gen. 1:3).

The mode of the impartation of Christ’s glory in image renewal is described according to various figurative models appropriate to Christ’s identity either as Spirit-Lord [48] or as second Adam. Man’s reception of the divine image from Christ, the Glory-Presence, is depicted as a transforming vision of the Glory and as an investiture with the Glory. Moses is the Old Testament model for the former and Aaron for the latter. [49] Beholding the Sinai revelation of the Glory-Face transformed the face of Moses so that he reflectively radiated the divine Glory. So we, beholding the glory of the Spirit-Lord, are transformed into the same image (II Cor. 3:7-18; 4:4-6). When the investiture figure is used, what is “put on” is the new man created in the image of God (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), or Christ the Lord (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27; cf. Eph. 2:15; 4:13), or the resurrection glory of immortality (I Cor. 15:53.; II Cor. 5:2ff.). An equivalency of the image and glory ideas is again indicated by this series of passages. To be noted also is the ethical characterization of the image in Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10 in terms of holiness, righteousness, and truth or knowledge, the characteristic qualities of the Glory throne of judgment.

In the vocabulary of Peter, “partakers of the divine nature” expresses renewal in the image of God (II Peter 1:4). [50] In the context of this expression in II Peter 1, the figures of reflective transformation and of investiture are both found, the former with reference to the transfiguration of Jesus into the radiant likeness of the overshadowing Glory (vv. 16ff.) and the latter in reference to Peter’s anticipated death, described as a divestiture, a negative counterpart to the resurrection investiture with glory (v. 14). But whatever mode of achieving participation in “the divine nature” is contemplated in verse 4, here too the divine image is identified with the divine glory. For this participation in the divine nature spoken of in verse 4 answers to the divine calling to God’s own glory and splendor [51] mentioned in verse 3.

When Christ’s identity as second Adam is in view, figures appropriate to the position and role of the, first Adam are used to explain transmission of the image of Christ (and thus of God). In I Corinthians 15 we are told that just as descent from the first Adam means for all mankind — as it did for Seth (Gen. 5:3) — to bear Adam’s earthly image, so “descent” from the second man means to bear his heavenly image (I Cor. 15:47-49). Shifting the angle of the family analogy, Christ is said to be the first-born of many brethren who are predestined to be conformed to his image, and therefore to be glorified (Rom. 8:29, 30; Heb. 2:8-12). In Philippians 3:21, Christ’s bestowing of the likeness of his glory-image on his people is interpreted in terms of the historical mandate given to the first Adam to exercise dominion over all things and subdue the earth. For Christ’s refashioning of our bodies into his heavenly glory-likeness is described as an exercise of his power whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself. [52]

In sum, what we find is that the biblical exposition of the image of God is consistently in terms of a glory like the Glory of God. The apostle Paul brings it all into focus when he describes men as “the image and glory of God” (I Cor. 11:7).

From the foregoing it appears that much of the traditional discussion of the image-of-God concept has been out of contact with a biblical base. What has traditionally been regarded as a broad, permanent layer of the image is not in immediate view at all when the Scriptures speak of the image of God. And the ethical conformitas, regarded as the narrower aspect of the image in the classical view, requires reorientation to take its place as one element in a doctrine of the image that seeks to build with components taken over unchanged, directly from their biblical source. Also, the traditional avoidance of the visible corporeal aspect of man in formulating the imago Dei doctrine (in deference to the noncorporeal, invisible nature of God) has not reckoned adequately with the fact of theophanic revelation and in particular has missed the theophanic referent of the image in the Genesis 1 context.

Image and glory appear as twin models in the Bible for expressing man’s likeness to the divine Original. If they are to be distinguished, the distinction might be that image-likeness is reproduction of the original and glory-likeness is reflection of the original. Or, that image is stative and expresses the fact of imageness, i.e., that man is secondary, not the original but different from it because of his createdness, while glory is active and expresses the content of the image, i.e., that man is similar to God in those features comprised by the concept of glory. To the extent that such distinctions are valid, the aspect of discontinuity connoted by image and the aspect of continuity suggested by glory are mutually conditioning, correlative aspects of man’s likeness to God. Both image and glory mean likeness. Moreover, such is their equivalency that where all that constitutes the glory is gone, no vestige of the image remains.

Though image-likeness is terminable, it is otherwise constant. The glory aspect of man’s God-likeness, on the other hand, is variable; it is subject to degrees of reduction as well as to termination and it also may undergo intensification and expansion in the historical-eschatological process.

Under the concept of man as the glory-image of God the Bible includes functional (or official), formal (or physical), and ethical components, corresponding to the composition of the archetypal Glory. Functional glory-likeness is man’s likeness to God in the possession of official authority and in the exercise of dominion. Ethical glory is reflection of the holiness, righteousness, and truth of the divine Judge (not just the presence of a moral faculty of any religious orientation whatsoever). And formal-physical glory-likeness is man’s bodily reflection of the theophanic and incarnate Glory.

Man as created was already crowned with glory and honor, for made in the likeness of the enthroned Glory, a little lower than the angels of the divine council, man was invested with official authority to exercise dominion as priest-king in God’s earthly courts. Yet, the glory of man’s royal functioning would be progressive as he increasingly fulfilled his historical task of subduing the earth, his ultimate attainment of functional glory awaiting the eschatological glorification of his whole nature after the image of the radiant Glory-Spirit. Ethical glory also belonged to man as created and in this respect man would have gone from glory to glory had he not sinned, moving on from a state of simple righteousness to one of confirmed righteousness.

Man in the Fall became destitute of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) — at least such was the effect of the Fall apart from the intervention of divine grace. Actually, by the common grace of God, a measure of the glory-image was preserved in spite of the Fall. Scriptural references to postlapsarian man as still the image of God (Gen. 9:6; James 3:9) show that man continues to be the image of God after the Fall and that he is so even without personal experience of redemptive renewal. According to Genesis 3:22, man had in the very course of the Fall manifested the official-functional glory he had been given by engaging in judicial action after the manner of the divine council. Of course, he did so in such a way as to be guilty of gross malfeasance and forfeited his right to continue in office. But by the common grace of God this official glory of man was perpetuated and constitutes the primary if not the total basis for the Bible’s attribution of image-of-God status to fallen man even apart from re-creation in Christ. By falling into sin, man lost his ethical glory. The covering of glory was replaced by the nakedness of shame. Though still possessed of an official glory by common grace, man was stripped of righteousness, holiness, and love of the truth. Whatever semblance of ethical glory was maintained by common grace, such does not clearly figure in the Bible’s identification of postlapsarian man as still the image of God. Fallen man is a naked Image.

Man re-created in the image of God is restored to the hope of the formal-physical image-glory of resurrection immortality and Spiritual existence. Meanwhile, God, who has prepared for the new man the covering of eternal glory, gives him the earnest of the Spirit (II Cor. 5:5). In his redemptive renewal man is re-created after the image of God in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3: 10) and with respect to this ethical glory-likeness to God man is transformed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (II Cor. 3:18; 4:16; Rom. 12:2). Beyond the official-functional glory the new man has in the realm of common grace, he has through his union with Christ in the Spirit a part in Christ’s enthronement in the heavenly sphere (Eph. 2:6). In this respect too there is movement from glory to glory, for the blessedness of Christian death is the “first resurrection,” the intermediate state, where the believer, perfect in righteousness, is present with Christ to live and reign with him (Rev. 20:4-6), [53] and beyond the second (i.e., bodily) resurrection the overcomers, possessed of the fulness of formal and ethical glory, participate with the enthroned Christ in the consummation of man’s official royal glory (Rev. 3:21).

Such is the historical-eschatological variableness of the image-glory of God in man. Concerning the reprobate, biblical warrant is lacking to ascribe to them in the condition of second death even the status of naked image. This is not to deny that they continue to be human beings, for image of God and humanness, it must be remembered, are not simple equivalents.

No more successful than the classical approach to the imago Dei is the view of Karl Barth. His position not only fails to account for the pervasive equation of the image and glory concepts throughout the Scriptures, but the primary exegetical argument for it, an appeal to Genesis 1:27 and 5:1f., is specious. From the fact that the declaration of man’s creation in God’s likeness is followed in these verses by the statement that man was created male and female (1:27c and 5:2a) the notion is drawn that it is human existence as male-female that constitutes man’s image-likeness to God, a human analogue to the fellowship within the plurality of God’s being. But even if Genesis 1:27c and 5:2a were taken with the preceding image statements in 1:27a and b and in 5:1b and c respectively, it could not be simply assumed that the intention was to define the content of the image idea. The purpose might rather be to identify men and women alike as being individually the image of God.

Actually, Genesis 1:27c and 5:2a are to be taken not (directly) with what precedes them, but with what follows. This is evident from considerations of structure, style, and sense. Structurally, the absence of the male-female statement from the fiat section of the fiat-fulfillment pattern in Genesis 1:26-28 speaks against taking it as the essential exposition of the image idea, especially since the dominion idea does find a place along with that of the image in the fiat as well as fulfillment section. Stylistically, Genesis 1:27a and b forms a complete synonymous parallelism apart from 1:27c, which is linked to what follows by the use of the third plural pronoun. In Genesis 5, the structural tie of verse 2a with the following word of blessing is, if anything, even more evident than in Genesis 1:27. And as for the sense, the observation that man was created male and female is obviously an apt introduction to the following procreation blessing in 1:28 and 5:2b. The latter would in fact be much too abrupt without the preparatory sexual identification of man. On the other hand, if the intent had been as the exegesis controverted here supposes, the choice of the biological terminology, “male and female,” would not have been happy; “man and woman” would have been more appropriate. It is only as (an introductory) part of the following statement of man’s cultural task of filling and subduing the earth (Gen. 1:28; 5:2b) that Genesis 1:27c and 5:2a refer back to 1:27a and band 5:1 respectively, so that not man’s male-female composition but his royal dominion is what explicates the image idea in these verses.

In I Corinthians 11:7ff., Paul does expound the man-woman relationship as an instance of the image-glory pattern. However, he interprets the man(husband)-woman(wife) relationship not as that which itself constitutes man(kind)’s image-likeness to God, but, on the contrary (and excluding that possibility), as simply containing an analogy to the image of God in man. It is not that the man-woman relationship is an image-likeness of intertrinitarian relationships, but that the man-woman relationship mirrors the glory-reflecting relationship of mankind to God in which the image of God in mankind actually does consist. [54]

The analogy to the image-of-God idea that is involved in the man-woman relationship is, according to the apostle’s teaching, that the woman, as one derived from the man in creational origin, is the glory of the man, just as mankind, both man and woman, as creational offspring of the Spirit-Glory, is God’s reflective glory-image. Womanhood is thus viewed in Scripture as another analogue, along with human sonship (cf. Gen. 5:1, 2), of mankind’s image status as derivative and consequently subject to authority. It is evident how far from the biblical data they have wandered who would find in a supposed appointment of an egalitarian marital relationship a reflection of interdivine relationships and would then identify that as the image of God. What we do find here in the Bible’s use of the womanhood analogy for the image-of-God nature of mankind is further confirmation of the equivalency of the ideas of image and glory.


1. For the interpretation of “the heavens” of Genesis 1:1 as the invisible heavens and their hosts, see Nehemiah 9:5ff.; (cf. Ps. 103:19f.); Psalm 148:1-4; Colossians 1:16. Note also that as the Genesis 1 account continues, the visible heavens emerge as a derivative of what is called “the earth” in verses 1 and 2.
2. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, only in Jeremiah 23:9. In the Ugaritic epic of Aqhat it refers to the soaring of an eagle.
3. Cf. Isaiah 63:9.
4. Cf., e.g., Ezekiel 1:24; 10:5. In the symbolic conceptualization of the ancient Near East, sovereign divine glory was depicted by a winged disk, which represented the canopy of heaven with associated phenomena like (storm)-clouds.
5. For a more comprehensive account of the evidence, see Meredith M. Kline, “The Holy Spirit as Covenant Witness” (Th.M. dissertation, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1972). Cf. my The Structure of Biblical Authority (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975; hereafter, SBA), pp. 201f. J. Luzarraga, Las tradiciones de la nube en la biblia y en el judaismo primitivo (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1973), pp. 234-45, cites evidence from the early Christian Fathers that they recognized the connection between the Holy Spirit and the cloud.
6. Also explained (as perversions of this feature in a pristine creation revelation) are similar representations in pagan creation traditions. In the Enuma Elish, the prelude to Marduk’s “creative” structuring of the carcass of Tiamat is his approach in the terrifying glory of wind and storm. And in the similar encounter of Baal with Yamm, the Ugaritic epic parallels the soaring eagle figure of Genesis 1:2 in its use of the imagery of swooping falcons to describe Baal’s powerful action.
7. Cf. also Daniel 7:2; Job 38:1, 4ff.
8. Cf. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16f.
9. In the Septuagint of Genesis 1:2, epiphero is used. Cf. Acts 2:2. Recurrent throughout the Book of Hebrews is this theme of the divine Glory bearing the covenant people to the Sabbath-land, to the heavenly Jerusalem on Mount Zion (corresponding to Glory-cloud covered Sinai), into the holy of holies and the awesome presence of their God, a consuming fire.
10. Cf. John 17:5.
11. Because this Angel was the Son, he enjoyed a name more excellent far than the other angels associated with the theophanic Glory (Heb. 1:4ff.). Significantly, the comparison of Jesus, the image of God’s glory, with angels leads to the topic of man as image of God, which also involves comparison with the angels (cf. Heb. 2:6ff.).
12. On this subject see J. Luzarraga, Las tradiciones.
13. Ezekiel’s visions of the divine Glory (Ezek. 1:1ff.; 3:12ff.; 10: 1ff.; 11:22ff.; 43:2ff.) are, of course, a good place to start, but once it is determined that the Glory is a revelational modality of heaven, every biblical unveiling of the scene of the heavenly throne and the divine council becomes a source for our envisaging of the divine presence within the cloud-theophany.
14. Cf. I Kings 22:19ff.; Job 1:6; 2:1ff.; Isaiah 6:1ff.; Daniel 7:10; Revelation 4:4.
15. Cf. Exodus 13:21; 14:24; 19:16ff.; 24:10ff.; Psalms 29; 97:2ff.; Job 38:1ff.
16. Cf. I Timothy 6:16.
17. Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:3; 10:1.
18. Daniel 7:9ff.; Psalm 139:7, 11f.
19. Malachi 4:1f. (3:19f.); Exodus 16:10; Leviticus 9:23; 16:2; Numbers 14:10, 16:19, 42; 20:6; Deuteronomy 31:15.
20. See further, Meredith M. Kline, “The Holy Spirit as Covenant Witness,” pp. 19ff., 132ff.
21. Cf. SBA, pp. 200f. The ark of the covenant located beneath the enthroned Glory is accordingly called God’s footstool (Isa. 60:13).
22. Haggai 2:5. Cf. SBA, pp. 201f.
23. Matthew 3:16f.; Luke 3:22; cf. Luke 1:35; 9:3Iff.
24. Cf. Revelation 4:2-11.
25. See note 17 above.
26. Cf. II Chronicles 6:18; Matthew 5:34f.
27. Cf. Psalms 11:4; 68:4(5); 93; 103:19; 104:1-3; 115:16; 148:1-4; Isaiah 40:21-23.
28. See further “Investiture with the Image of God,” WTJ 40 (1977), 39-62.
29. Cf. John 3:8.
30. Genesis 11:1 and 18:21.
31. Genesis 18:2 and 19:1.
32. A similar use of the first person plural is characteristic of address in the assembly of the gods as described in Canaanite texts of the Mosaic age.
33. Cf. Luke 3:38.
34. For the connection between the divine image and fatherhood-sonship see Romans 8:29; Hebrews 1:2f.; James 3:9; I John 3:2; cf. Luke 20:36. By setting the image-likeness formula in the context of sonship, Genesis 5:1-3 contradicts the suggestion that the image idea is a matter of representative status rather than of representational likeness or resemblance. For Seth was not Adam’s representative, but as Adam’s son he did resemble his father. The terminology “in his likeness” serves as the equivalent in human procreation of the phrase “after its kind” which is used for plant and animal reproduction and of course refers to resemblance.
35. It is not necessary to take charakter in Hebrews 1:3 in the sense of a seal-pattern used to impress something else with its own image in order to conclude that the Creator fashioned his human son in the likeness of the divine Son. In the analogue to man’s image-sonship found in the sonship of the divine Son, the correspondence consists simply in the idea of likeness, the resemblance of a son to a father, apart from any idea of derivation or subordination.
36. Cf. John 1:4.
37. A more textured picture of this will be found in the following chapters.
38. Cf. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., The Centrality of the Resurrection: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), p. 126.
39. Cf. Revelation 19:11, 13; 21:5; 22:6.
40. That the Apocalyptic symbolism is a treatment of precisely the image-of-God idea, as portrayed in the Old and New Testaments under the figures of priestly investiture and prophetic transfiguration, will be more fully demonstrated in the following chapters.
41. Psalms 89:14; 91:2.
42. Psalm 41:8.
43. Hence, too, a designation of angels found in council contexts is “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:1; Pss. 29:1; 89:6).
44. Cf. Hebrews 2:1.
45. I Kings 3:28, cf. 9; II Samuel 14:11.
46. See my “Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1-4,” The Westminster Theological Journal 24 (1962): 187-204.
47. See my “Oracular Origin of the State” in Biblical and Near Eastern Studies. ed. Gary A. Tuttle (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978): pp. 132-41.
48. Cf. Romans 1:3f.; I Corinthians 15:45; II Corinthians 3:17.
49. Future articles will develop at length these two symbolic models of the imago Dei the prophetic and the priestly.
50. Cf. James 3:9.
51. In I Peter 2:9, arete is used of Israel, chosen to declare the splendor of him who calls out of darkness into his wonder-light. In the Septuagint, it is used for the divine Glory (hod) in Habakkuk 3:3.
52. cf. I Corinthians 15:24f.
53. See my “The First Resurrection,” The Westminster Theological Journal 37 (1975): 366-75; and “The First Resurrection: A Reaffirmation,” The Westminster Theological Journal 39 (1976): 110-19.
54. Wherever the man(husband)-woman(wife) relationship is used in the Bible as a figure of a divine relationship, that relationship is always one between God and man; it is never used as an analogue of interdivine fellowship.

Scanned by Robert A. Lotzer on July 14, 2006.