Genesis 1:26-31 The Capacity to be Godlike

In his commentary on Genesis 1:14-31, John H. Walton writes:

Our capacity to be godlike impacts our view of ourselves and of what should characterize our lives as we seek to deepen our relationship with God.  While an ethical system that is above reproach should typify Christians, it cannot represent the sum total of the faith.  In the end, our Christianity can not be defined by a a set of rules that we live by.  Nor can we punch in and punch out by the clock.  Our aspiration is to be godlike, and in that goal we find our purpose.

We live in a goal-oriented society that attempt to delineate everything, reducing it to a list so that we can assess the achievement of our goals.  Employees are anxious to know precisely by what criteria their job performance will be evaluated.  Education is encumbered with outcome assessments and the setting and meeting of measurable objectives.  Students want to know what they will be tested on so they can target particular skills or knowledge.  College applicants know that attractiveness to the institution of their choice is going to be encapsulated in their performance on standardized tests.  Teachers know that principals are going to evaluate them on the basis of the scores of their students, so they teach with an eye toward those tests.  Principals know their school is going to be judged by the state on the basis of the scores of the students, so they pressure the teachers.  This is the reductionism that drives every aspect of our society, and it has become part and parcel of Christianity.  The good news is that we are free from the law and its potential for reductionism.

When educators talk about measurable outcomes, I get a knot in my stomach, for I firmly believe that there are many important outcomes that can not be measured. But if they can not be measured, they get left off the list of targeted outcomes. just as being educated means more than acquiring certain skills and knowledge, being Christian means more than living by a certain set of rules.  God tells his people Israel, “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2).  Paul encourages the Philippians, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5), and admonishes the Ephesians “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:23-24) and to be “imitators of God” (5:1).

The laws of Israel gave them illustrations of what their faith should look like, but their faith was not circumscribed by the law.  Lists like the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12) and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) illustrate some of the outcomes of our faith, but no list is comprehensive. we aspire to attain the godlikeness that the image of God has made possible in us.

Genesis 1:26-31

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.”29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

On Image-Bearers of God | airō

Prayer

Let us be an outworking of who you are.  Let us be so united with you that we live out your life on the face of this planet.  May people see you when they look closely at us.

Questions

  1. How many times is the image of God emphasized in Genesis 1:26-31?
  2. What is mankind’s relationship to the rest of creation?
  3. How does John H. Walton challenge common Christian rule-keeping in light of people being image-bearers?
  4. How does being an image-bearer apply to the field of education?
  5. How might you need to change your attitude to more fully reflect God?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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16 Responses to Genesis 1:26-31 The Capacity to be Godlike

  1. Jung Kim says:

    1.How many times is the image of God emphasized in Genesis 1:26-31? 3 times
    2.What is mankind’s relationship to the rest of creation? Mankind has dominion over the rest of creation.
    3.How does John H. Walton challenge common Christian rule-keeping in light of people being image-bearers? In his commentary, he writes, “Our capacity to be godlike impacts our view of ourselves and of what should characterize our lives as we seek to deepen our relationship with God. While an ethical system that is above reproach should typify Christians, it cannot represent the sum total of the faith. In the end, our Christianity can not be defined by a a set of rules that we live by. Nor can we punch in and punch out by the clock. Our aspiration is to be godlike, and in that goal we find our purpose.”
    4.How does being an image-bearer apply to the field of education? Teachers must be good stewards of Christ as they are the ones who model who Christ is in the field of education.
    5.How might you need to change your attitude to more fully reflect God? I tend to say that God is probably not listening to my prayer and be complaining over that. At this time, adamently this is not a mature attitude to have as a future teacher. Instead, I must constantly be asking for God’s wisdom and help to become more mature spiritually as well as personally (in person).

  2. 1. three times in the first 2 verses.
    2. He has dominion over all creation and he is to subdue it.
    3. Being ethical is not everything for the Christian-it should not define who we are. First we are image bearers of God, then we live out the life God intended for us to live in light of our image/new self.
    4. Since we are God image bearers, we are Christ on display in everything we do. We have the responsibility to be Christ-like in the way we teach and live.
    5. I’m very pessimistic and feel like everyone is out to get me. When in reality if I changed my attitude to reflect Christ, I would love on everyone, so that even if everyone is out to “get me”, it won’t affect my attitude. I desire to be more optimistic.

  3. Michael McCardle says:

    How many times is the image of God emphasized in Genesis 1:26-31?
    3
    What is mankind’s relationship to the rest of creation?
    To rule over it, to care for it.
    How does John H. Walton challenge common Christian rule-keeping in light of people being image-bearers?
    We need to first live our lives as image bearers of God.
    How does being an image-bearer apply to the field of education?
    It changes how we view, manage and discipline our students. it changes how we pursue relationships and discipleship.
    How might you need to change your attitude to more fully reflect God?
    To live my life for others. not myself

  4. 1. Between verse 26 and 27 the image of God is emphasized three times, two of which are right in a row.
    2. God placed man over all of creation, intending for him to tend and use its resources.
    3. He points out that we are made in the image of God and those who are saved have been made into a new creation. Our purpose is not to live up to a code or ethical system. Our purpose is to be being made continually more and more into the likeness of Christ, glorifying God. These things are not always or rarely are accurately measurable.
    4. Because both we as teachers and our students are all image bearers, each one of us has incredible worth and responsibility towards each other. When we harm or break down another person, we are disregarding and maiming the image of God in that person or ourselves.
    5. I need to not be as worried, but trust God more fully with those I love and myself. This extends to my trust in others or my willingness to be more vulnerable or open with them. If this was different, I think His peace would be more present and visible in my life and I think I would be better equipped to help others who are struggling.

  5. Molly says:

    1.) How many times is the image of God emphasized in Genesis 1:26-31?
    Three times
    2.) What is mankind’s relationship to the rest of creation?
    God placed him over it, to care for it and tend to it.
    3.) How does John H. Walton challenge common Christian rule-keeping in light of people being image-bearers?
    The reality that we are image bearers should be a truth that changes our focus to not just be rule keepers who are ethical.
    4.) How does being an image-bearer apply to the field of education?
    It violently challenges how we treat our students, how we view them, and how we care for them as God would have us. Our students, just like us have such a depth of worth and value that has been placed on us by God the Father.
    5.) How might you need to change your attitude to more fully reflect God?
    To view things in light of eternity and not on the passing world. Realizing that we are going to spend all of eternity with God so we should attempt to get to know him now.

  6. Olyn says:

    How many times is the image of God emphasized in Genesis 1:26-31?
    3 times, 4 if you count “likeness”
    What is mankind’s relationship to the rest of creation?
    They are put above it-to use it and care for it.
    How does John H. Walton challenge common Christian rule-keeping in light of people being image-bearers?
    We are creative beings who should not be limited to tests only.
    How does being an image-bearer apply to the field of education?
    Kids need to think outside the box, to be stretched and challenged and use their God-given imagination and critical thinking skills
    How might you need to change your attitude to more fully reflect God?
    To have peace and joy in the fact that He has me in the palm of His hand and that as long as I am fully submitting to His will and seeking to follow His commands, I am living a life to glorify Him.

  7. Christina W. says:

    1. 3 times
    2. Man is to subdue and have dominion over it.
    3. He challenges Christians to pursue godlikeness and not merely to be rule followers. The goal and purpose is for us to become more godlike not to become more ethical.
    4. Being an image-bearer can apply to education because it will cause us as teachers to see our students differently, it will cause us to see discipline and discipleship differently, and it will cause us to evaluate the outcomes and goals that we have set differently.
    5. In order to more fully reflect God, I need to be more consumed with being godly and less consumed with being a rule follower and someone who sees the outcome as being a checklist to be completed.

  8. The image of God is emphasized 3 times in Genesis 1:26-31. Man is put over creation to rule and subdue the earth. Walton challenges us to first be image bearers of God and then to live like Christ lived, but not in a task oriented kind of way. Being image bearers should affect the way that we set outcomes for students because we shouldn’t prioritize only outcomes that can be measured, but also outcomes that can’t be assessed. In order to more fully reflect God, I need to be in Scripture more than I currently am, and make prayer a constant part of my life.

  9. Maria T. says:

    1. How many times is the image of God emphasized in Genesis 1:26-31? The word “image” is used 3 times. It holds significance as is evidenced by the repetition.
    2. What is mankind’s relationship to the rest of creation? To rule over it and to subdue it.
    3. How does John H. Walton challenge common Christian rule-keeping in light of people being image-bearers? There are outcomes that are not measurable that mean far more to the character of an image bearer than not.
    4. How does being an image-bearer apply to the field of education? Being educated means more than having knowledge because people are image-bearers. God does more than just follow a set of rules or know a list of facts. As people who image Him, we also ought to educate the heart.
    5. How might you need to change your attitude to more fully reflect God? I need to be more focused on others rather than on myself.

  10. Megumi says:

    1. 4
    2.Man has dominion over the rest of the created Earth
    3.John H. Walton asserts that Christian ethics is about becoming more Christ-like, not keeping a list of rule.
    4. We model Christ-likeness for our students we don’t just tell them about it.
    5. I need to be reminded of awe, and in awe to remember humility

  11. Maelynn says:

    1. 4 times or so.
    2. Being in authority over it.
    3. He thinks it is immeasurable. He thinks we are to go above and beyond.
    4. Well, are goals shouldn’t be the minimum standard.
    5. Not to look at Christ-likeness as a check list.

  12. Andrew Moore says:

    1. 3 Times
    2. Mankind is given authority over creation.
    3. He encourages people to more than simply ethical but to seek to be show God’s presence in their lives as image bearers.
    4.Teachers must not only teach their students, but their teaching much reflect in their lives.
    5. My attitude is never where it needs to be and can always be improved to greater reflect my relationship with God.

  13. Christa says:

    1. How many times is the image of God emphasized in Genesis 1:26-31? At least four times
    2. What is mankind’s relationship to the rest of creation? He rules over it and subdues it
    3. How does John H. Walton challenge common Christian rule-keeping in light of people being image-bearers? He believes that it is more than a measurable outcome, more than simply keeping a list of rules; being image bearers means becoming more like God Himself
    4. How does being an image-bearer apply to the field of education? Every person involved in education, from the principal to the teacher to the student to the parent are all made in the image and likeness of God and therefore should be treated so
    5. How might you need to change your attitude to more fully reflect God? I often look down on people for various reasons but if I was to reflect God I would treasure and value people

  14. Emmy R says:

    1. 3 different times.
    2. We are to rule over it and subdue it.
    3. He challenges us to think beyond the expected outcomes, and to simply strive to be more like Christ (which some of those things cannot me measured).
    4. Every person we come into contact with should see Christ through us. Therefore we should be seeking to teach students to follow that same mentality, and not simply just strive for good grades.
    5. I need to humble myself, so that God can be known more clearly.

  15. 1. The image of God is mentioned three different times.
    2. Mankind was placed above the rest of God’s creation. God intends for us to take care of it and rule over it.
    3. John H. Walton points out that we should first be Christ-like image bearers before we try to measure up to certain standards.
    4. In education, we need to keep in mind that Christ-likeness cannot necessarily be measured and that we shouldn’t focus on meeting certain standards, rather we should focus on becoming more like Christ.
    5. I need to understand that being like Christ is a multi-faceted target to try to achieve. There is not a step-by-step process to becoming more like Him.

  16. Nate Silvieus says:

    1. Thrice
    2. He is ruler over it.
    3. There are lists in the bible which describe what outcomes a true, Christian faith looks like, but no list is fully comprehensive, and the ultimate goal of the Christian life is be like Christ, who in no way can be described in a list, for true holiness is not measured by rules that are kept but through conforming to the image of God, which we have in us.
    4. We model Christ to our students. We are not merely words to a student, we are a living, moving, and speaking example to the next generation of what a life submitted to Christ looks like.
    5. I need to love on others more, with a true Christlike love of humility, patience and never ending.

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