This study is based upon the New City Catechism.

Text

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Exposition

As the opening narrative of Scripture, Genesis 1 establishes a context for all that follows. This literary beginning is also an historical beginning, where all creation originates from. All things – material or immaterial, animate or inanimate – trace their lineage back to the generation of matter and energy by the Word of Almighty God (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3). As the historical beginning of creation, Genesis 1 teaches us not only the fact but also the purpose of creation. This purpose is seen most of all in explicit statements of purpose (e.g. why God made celestial beings vv.17-18) and the functionality of it all operating pre-Fall (3:7). In other words: God tells us why He creates and we can’t attribute that purpose to sin.

Of His many creations, mankind is the crown.[1] How imperative is it, then, that we make ourselves serious about the task of seeing this chapter correctly? God has placed His special attention on us, therefore we are obligated to honor this grace. God has made us in a certain fashion, therefore we are obligated to learn this design and abide in it with gladness. God has made us for certain ends, therefore we are obligated to learn these ends and work towards them. To begin to understand ourselves, we must ask the One Who made us, who drew the blueprints and knit us together Himself. And when such inquiries are made, our Maker first directs us to Genesis 1: the first passage inspired and preserved for us, the place of all beginnings, the context of all Scripture and life.

The creation of man is recorded in verses 26-28.[2] We learn man is created in God’s image (v.26a), he is blessed of God (v.28), and he is given two objectives: to fill (v.28) and subdue (vv.26, 28) the earth. The clearest summary of who man is might be verse 27, in which we learn three things about how and why God created us: man is male and female, man is in the image of God, man is for the glory of God.

To begin to understand ourselves, we must ask the One Who made us, who drew the blueprints and knit us together Himself.

First, consider the duality of man. God created man “male and female,” of two sexes. The male was created first (2:18-22) and commissioned to subdue the earth and make it fruitful (v.15; cf. 3:17-19). The female was created second and she was made for the male, to help him in his work (2:15, 18). This God-ordained design remains true and relevant today: males are oriented towards the task, females are oriented towards the males as a help-meet. This distinction between the sexes is manifested in the respective responsibilities each possesses in home, church, and society. We should take great care to accept and delight in what God says about us, though some may tempt us otherwise. We maintain that holiness in a male looks masculine – in a female it appears feminine.

Second, consider the singularity of man. The singularity is this: male and female are represented together as “man” and as such created in God’s image. Male and female are not simply human, they are man. This signifies the headship of man over woman (1 Corinthians 11:3), especially visible in marriage (Ephesians 5:23) and Original Sin (Romans 5:12-21). Male and female are also created in God’s image. This image may be solitarily displayed, but it is most full when male and female come together, for man bears the image (Genesis 1:27) but man is not suitable before God as only male (2:18). Now this image consists of divine likeness, whereas God Himself is visible in man. The likeness is not equality: man reflects the divine but is not divine himself. The likeness is not volitional: man reflects God by nature of who he is, not by choice.[3] In these careful clarifications, we find cause to honor all men while worshiping no man. All men are worthy of honor, being truly made in God’s likeness. This should compel us to degnify ourselves and show certain respect even to our enemies. When we honor men in such manner, we honor the God we see in them. All men are unworthy of worship, being only made in God’s likeness. Our respect for men must never delve into worship, as if the reflection were the substance itself. When we refuse men worship, we direct their hearts to the glory after which their souls were fashioned.

Third, consider the function of man. Limited to Genesis 1:27, we know that man was created to glorify God, because he is designed in His likeness. Everywhere man goes God is glorified, for in man’s mere existence God images Himself. Elsewhere it is made plain that man is also called to glorify God (e.g. Psalm 96; Isaiah 43:6-7). The design and the calling belong together: for man to live according to his design, he must volitionally glorify God. Otherwise, he lives in perpetual friction: operating against the purpose of his design. We may notice this friction in all those who refuse God the praise He is due. Such men hate God, therefore they hate themselves and the very fabric of the cosmos, for it all proclaims God’s glory. In our conversations with such men, let us search for this dissonance which will make itself plain in time. Yet even for the Christian, this third point is surely not taken to heart enough. Do you realize that all you have and are is for Him? Your breath and sustenance, your luxury and blessing – it is all given by God in order that it might be given back to Him in praise. If the great end of our life is to glorify God, then let us set ourselves happily about the task.


Question: How and why Did God create us?
Answer: God created us male and female in His own image to glorify Him.


[1] Only man receives the image of God and subsequent redemptive covenants (e.g. Abrahamic Covenant [12, 15, 17]). Heavenly beings receive no such covenant of grace when they fall (1 Peter 1:12).

[2] Verses 29-30 consider what food God made to sustain both man and beast, therefore it is not particular to mankind.

[3] The Imago Dei (image of God in man) was therefore not abandoned in the Fall.

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