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Question 2

Since God is spirit (John 4:24), and in His essential being does not have a physical body, in what sense do people bear the image of God?

God created humanity in His image, according to His likeness, bestowing on humanity immense dignity, worth, and value (Gen. 1:26–27; Psalm 8). The specifics of what constitutes the image are not explained in Scripture, however. Since God in His essential being does not have a physical body, some interpreters have limited the image of God in people to merely the immaterial and artistic aspects of humanity: our ability to reason, our aspirations for God, our longing for permanence, our capacity to create, and so on.

While all of the above may be constituent elements of the image of God, Genesis 1:26–27 does not restrict the image of God to merely the spiritual or artistic side of people. Instead, the emphasis in Gen. 1:26 is on the embodied unity of humankind. As originally created, human beings in the totality of their embodied life represent God. God does not have a physical body, but He created humanity to express and represent Him in the totality of their embodied life. Our physical and embodied lives matter!

BY Dr. Winfred O. Neely

Dr. Winfred Neely is Vice President and Dean of Moody Theological Seminary and Graduate School. An ordained minister, Winfred has served churches across the city of Chicago, the near west suburbs, and Senegal, West Africa. He is the author of How to Overcome Worry (Moody Publishers) and a contributor to the Moody Bible Commentary and Moody Handbook of Preaching. Winfred and his wife Stephne have been married for forty years and have four adult children and nine grandchildren.

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