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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 (B.A., D.Min. Trinity International University; M.A. Wheaton) is currently working towards an advanced research degree in Old Testament at the University of Bristol, England. He is an ordained minister of the Gospel and a full-time professor of hermeneutics, homiletics, and pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Prior to joining the faculty at Moody, Winfred served churches in the City of Chicago and is currently interim pastor of the Judson Baptist Church in Oak Park, IL. He brings to his ministry a global perspective, having served as a missionary/pastor in Senegal, West Africa for nine years. He is also involved in a global equipping ministry, speaking and conducting workshops and training events at churches and conferences in the US and abroad. He and his wife Stephne have been married for forty years and have four adult children and nine grandchildren. He takes acting classes from time to time and is an ardent fan of science fiction films such as Star Wars and Star Trek.

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