The Significance of the Image of God in the Old Testament


       ​In the beginning, God created all things. God had one purpose behind His creation: to live in harmony with humanity. Humanity fell to sin and created an ugly note in the harmony that God intended to have with His people. The Old Testament is composed of many stories discussing how God recreated His desired harmony with His people through covenants. In these Old Testament stories, we see multiple descriptions of the image of God, all playing a vital role in describing a facet of who He is. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the descriptions of the image of God in the Old Testament and examine their significance to humanity.

The Image of God in the Old Testament

      ​There are many faces of God in the Old Testament, all of which speak to who He is. This spectrum of the images of God gives us methods of understanding Him better and His relationship with us as we seek to worship Him. The Bible does not give a physical description of God but rather what is truly important, who He is to us. God is described in the Old Testament as a Creator, a Lover, and a Father. He is called by many names in the Old Testament, which also speak to His image such as Yahweh (Lord), Jehovah-Raah (The Lord my Shepherd), and Jehovah Jireh (The Lord my Provider) to just name a few.

     ​Genesis 1 teaches us that God was and is the divine creator of all things. We are told through the holy text that Creator God, Elohim, spoke the universe into existence. God handcrafted every intricate and complex design, ranging from the stars in the universe to the cells within us in six days. Genesis 1:26 begins the description of the creation of humanity on the sixth day of creation. God does something different in the creation of humanity that He didn’t do with any other creation; God created man and woman in His image and likeness. The creation of man and woman is the momentous climax and fulfillment of God’s creative work in the creation account in Genesis 1:1-2:4. This fulfillment is shown through God living in harmony with Adam and Eve in Genesis. For example, we can see in Genesis 3:8 that God walked in the cool of the day with His creation through the Garden of Eden where they lived. Genesis 1:1-2:3, the creation story, describes God as Elohim which sets Him apart as the majestic, transcendent, and sovereign God above all things. But in Genesis 2:4-25, where the focal point of the narrative is on God and humanity, His name changes from Elohim to Yahweh, which is the most personal and intimate name the Old Testament gives to describe God. This adds to strengthen the fact that the purpose of creation was God’s desire for relationship with humanity. 

      ​The Bible describes God as love and that all He does is out of His love for us. This points to the significance of the image of love that is found in God. James G. Poulos describes the trueness of love beautifully, “love is not problem solving; love is not redistributive politics; love, strictly speaking, is not justice. This is because love is social only to the extent that it first is personal.” God’s intention was always to be personal and intimate with His people. Even after the fall of man we find God providing ways to having a relationship with humanity through covenants He created with His people. With everything pointing to Jesus in the New Testament, every covenant made between God and His people was in love and out of love. Exodus 34:6 explains that God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. Verse seven continues on to explain that God forgives the rebellious and sinful, which often described the Israelites in the Old Testament. On many occasions, the Israelites disobeyed God’s commands that were established through the covenants He made with them which resulted in the Israelites losing the favor and blessing of God and experiencing the consequences that follow their disobedience. But even through this discipline, we see the love of God. Proverbs 3:12 explains that God only disciplines who He loves just like a father disciplines his child. God is called several times in the Old Testament Jehovah-Raah, which means The Lord my Shepherd. Like a shepherd leads his flock to good pastures, protects them from harm, and keeps them in line with his staff, God provides blessings for His people, protects them from their enemies, and disciplines them to bring them back to a place of obedience, which is all done out of divine love.

     ​Lastly, God is described in the Bible as a Father. There are three themes in the Old Testament that show the image of a father in God: the giving of life and an inheritance, one who loves for and cares for his children, and one who is a figure of authority worthy of honor and obedience. Genesis 2:7 explains that God breathed His own breath into Adam, the first man, to give him life. He is the creator and giver of life. God gave Adam the inheritance of the Father’s work, which was the Garden of Eden. After the fall of man, God gave the Israelites the inheritance of a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8) that was promised to Abraham in Genesis 17:8. God shows His love and care for His people by responding to their prayers when they were in times of need. For example, the Israelites were held in slavery in Egypt and God told Moses in Exodus 3:7 that He has heard the cries of His people and was concerned about their suffering. He responded to their cries by delivering them from Egypt and leading them towards the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. Finally, God showed His authority, which demanded honor and obedience, by providing for His people. As mentioned, God delivered the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians. During their journey to the Promised Land, God showed His authority by providing manna from heaven every morning except on the Sabbath and providing water in miraculous ways like when He told Moses to strike a rock with his staff, which would allow water to flow from it in Exodus 17:6. God is called many times in the Old Testament Jehovah Jireh, which means The Lord my Provider because He provides for every need like a father does with his child.

The Significance of the Images of God

       ​Each of image of God has significance to mankind. A pious Jewish man from the late first century B.C.E. named Philo of Alexandria pointed out that God spent an entire day creating man and it was His breath that gave Him life. He goes on to explain that there is an immense difference between God creating, or fashioning together the physicality of man and the life force given to him. We find the images of God in us internally, given by the breath of life, not externally. As mentioned earlier, God made mankind in His image and likeness and we can see the images mentioned within us.

     ​When examining the image of Creator God, a parallel can be found between God and humanity. Douglas Groothuis explains in his book Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith that as the unique image bearers of God, we were created to discern, discover, and develop the goodness of creation. Therefore, our discoveries as humanity through the investigative nature we posses and the creation of the tools we have to explore the universe God created all trace back to the image of Creator God within us. 

      ​There is also a parallel found when examining God as Love and humanity. God’s love for humanity is shown through His loyalty and faithfulness to His people. He never gave up on the Israelites even when they disobeyed Him multiple times. In a similar way, our love as humans leads to loyalty and obedience or faithfulness to something or someone. For example, when a man and a woman get married, they are loyal and faithful to each other out of love. This loyalty and obedience connection is seen in the book of Deuteronomy. The Israelites express their love to God through loyalty and obedience to Him through adherence to the law.

     ​Finally, there is a parallel between the image of God as a Father and humanity. God is known as Jehovah Jireh, The Lord my Provider, and there are multiple references in the Bible showing how God loves His people like a father loves a child. The desire to provide and love in a fatherly, figurative way is found within the confines of a family, which is the most intimate of relationships. Similarly, God desires to have the most intimate relationships with His people in a way a father does with his family.


     ​To conclude, there is significance found in the image of God in the Old Testament. The parallels between God’s image of a Creator, a Lover, and a Father are found within humanity, the pinnacle of God’s creation. Understanding the significance of the images of God in the Old Testament help us understand the Bible deeper and the relationship God desires to have with us better. With this knowledge and understanding, our faith can grow deeper and stronger as we live in harmony with our God.


Green, Joel B. “The Promise of the Father: Jesus and God in the New Testament.” Interpretation 55, no. 3 (2001): 326. Accessed December 12, 2015.


Groothuis, Douglas. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011.


Krause, Deborah. “Keeping it Real: The Image of God in the New Testament.” Interpretation 59, no. 4 (2005): 358-368. Accessed December 12, 2015.


Lapsley, Jacqueline E. “Feeling our Way: Love for God in Deuteronomy.” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 65, no. 3 (2003): 350. Accessed December 13, 2015.


Towner, Sibley. “Clones of God: Genesis 1:26-28 and the Image of God in the Hebrew Bible.” Interpretation 59, no. 4 (2005): 340-356. Accessed December 10, 2015. This source should be last


Pate, C. Marvin. “Genesis 1-3: Creation and Adam in Context.” Criswell Theological Review 10, no. 2 (2013): 3-25. Accessed October 27, 2015.


Poulos, James G. “God is Love.” Perspectives on Political Science 35, no. 1 (2006): 60. Accessed December 11, 2015.


Check out the following:


Gardoski, Kenneth M., The Imago Dei Revisited,” Journal of Ministry and Theology 11.2 (2007).


Clines, D. J. A. The Image of God in Man. Tyndale Bulletin 19 (1968).


Piper, John. “The Image of God, An Approach from Biblical and Systematic Theology”, Studia ​Biblica et Theologica, (March 1971).


What I’ve Learned in Seminary

I love being a Seminary student, or a Seminoid as one of my professors calls us. Seminary has helped shape my theological convictions, taught me how to thoroughly study the Word of God, and taught me how to be a dynamic Pastor. But the most important thing I have learned in Seminary is all of the knowledge and training I gain is nothing in comparison to my relationship with Jesus.

I have heard throughout my studies that the nickname for Seminary is ‘cemetery’ because student’s faith begins to die as they 1) neglect their faith journey as they study their day’s away or 2) replace God with knowledge of God. I can see how both can become an issue while swimming through the waters of Seminary. As an academia junkie, I love learning, especially about theology and I will admit I struggle with the latter cause of death in Seminary. But I cannot escape the feeling of a relentless God calling me to a deeper relationship with Him as I prepare for the call on my life. I find myself literally craving to spend time with Jesus through prayer and studying the living, breathing Word of God. And as one who is preparing for vocational ministry, I would much rather sow into that than my studies.

As a Seminary student, I also observe Pastors who do the work of the ministry as I try to learn the behaviors and skills that I admire. I can almost see how the replacement of a relationship with God within Seminary can carry over into the work of the ministry. I have observed Pastors either knowingly or unknowingly replace their focus on relationship building with Almighty God with things that in comparison do not matter. My biggest fear is to retire after years of ministry and realize I have missed the whole point of being in ministry. I never want to find myself in a place where I have let my pride or desire for record attendance numbers replace my desire to see a community changed by the love of Jesus. I want to be a seasoned minister well in my years and still be moved emotionally when I think about the goodness of my God. Pastors and Pastors-to-be, let’s continuously gut check ourselves and our ministry and make sure we stay focused on what our calling is truly all about.

From Promise to My Princess

It was on June 28, 2005 that the course of my life would forever change. As a thirteen-year-old boy who responded to an altar call at a youth conference in Pensacola, Florida, I had little idea of the magnitude of what my step of faith would bring. Pastor Benny Perez made eye contact with me as I stood in the altar and pointed at me saying, “you young man, come up here.” Nervously, I walked onto the stage where I met the Pastor and he began to prophesy something over me that still rings in my mind today. He said, “You have a great call and a great purpose.” He went on to tell me that every generational curse is broken in the name of Jesus. I had no idea what the latter part of his prophetic word meant as I left that night but soon the meaning of his words would come to light.

It was the following year that my life took an unexpected twist as I found myself in one of the darkest times of my life thus far. I witnessed as an extramarital affair broke the sanctity of marriage and brought about a divorce. My father, who was a minister, stepped down from his position and as a child who longed to follow his footsteps it brought deep pain to watch. This life change came with depression and anger. But one thing I never let go of is that my God who touched my life in a summer’s day in Pensacola, Florida was still with me. His love delivered me at the same conference the following year and I will never forget the moment that I felt a peace come over me as if a wind came blowing through the room and hearing a still, small voice tell me, “I am the Father who will never leave you nor forsake you.” And that still, small voice was right.

Over ten years later, I reflect on the promise my God made to me, that every generational curse was broken in the name of Jesus. I have held onto that promise ever since the reality of what it meant showed itself to me in the midst of my darkest days. I am now married to a blessing from my God named Sabrina and our covenant of marriage brought forth the beginning of the fulfillment of a divine promise made to a young boy. It is with great joy that I wait for the birth of my daughter, Noa Brave. It is also with the most humble of hearts that I vow to be the best husband and father I can be. I long to be an example of how a husband should love his wife and set the standards through my actions of what separates boys from men when my little princess is old enough to begin dating. I cannot wait to pour my heart out for my little Noa as her father and introduce her to the Father who changed my life. I close by sharing Joshua 24:15 which is a verse that I continuously speak over my family: as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

How Charleston has changed me.

Six months ago, I packed up everything I owned into a 2003 Ford F-150 and a U-Haul trailer and moved to Charleston not knowing what to expect. As a recent college graduate and never have moving away before, this was a big chapter of my life and uncertainty was a common feeling. After a nine-hour drive, I finally reached my new home and began to settle in. As a Barista at Starbucks, I transferred within the company to Charleston and started my “first day” two days after moving in. My first observation of my new city was the people. They radiated a friendliness and peacefulness that I wasn’t used to in Naples, Florida. It made such an impact on me that it was the first thing I mentioned to my fiancé when she asked my how my first day went. I began to notice the love the people of this city had for its people, which they showed through a cultural chivalry you aren’t accustomed to. The people of this city created such an atmosphere of love and southern hospitality that it made foreigners such as myself want to join in their actions. Being in the heart of the Bible Belt, the people of Charleston publicly expressed their faith in God and even those who did not participate in the faith had a high regard for their morality.

Several weeks ago, my fiancé and I made the bittersweet decision to move back to Naples, Florida as we prepare for our future together. I came home a Charlestonian at heart and guarded the cultural chivalry I picked up closely as I didn’t want this beautiful flame to burn out. Last Wednesday night, I read the news and was grief-stricken by the horror that afflicted the city of Charleston. I thought of the wonderful people I met and wondered how they were handling this, wishing I was there to mourn with them. As the days began to pass, the attention switched from the horrific incident to the response of the people of Charleston. Not even in the face of hatred, the people of Charleston didn’t lose their unique and tender love. Instead, they chased the flames of hell out with forgiveness, unity and humility. Their actions showed me again what made the Holy City such a special place in our nation and challenged me to continue to fan the flame that Charleston left within me.