Men and Women in the Image of God
by John M. Frame
The idea that we are made in the image of God has given comfort and moral stimulus to many. But what does it mean? The basic idea is simple. An “image” is a picture or statue. Israel was forbidden to worship images, but, perhaps surprisingly, Scripture teaches that there is a true image of God, ourselves.
An image resembles and represents the one it pictures. Let us look at each of these functions in turn.
To say that we are God’s image is to say that we are like God. To be sure, in many ways God is very different from us (Isaiah 46:5; 55:8ff.). But Scripture often compares God to human beings, even deducing from our physical make-up what God must be like (Psalm 94:9). How are we like God?II. Representation
A. Human Nature As Such
First, everything we are is like God. We are the image of God (1 Corinthians 11:7). To say we are “in” God’s image is to say that we are made “to be” the image of God.
I would infer that everything we are reflects God in some way, though of course everything we are is also different from God! Our souls, bodies, reason, will, goodness are like God, but also unlike Him, for He is the Creator, paradigm and infinite exemplar of these qualities. Even sin images God in perverse sorts of ways. In sinning, Eve sought to be like God (Genesis 3:5), not by imitating His goodness, but by coveting His prerogatives. And all sin is moral decision, a faculty that we share uniquely with God and the angels.
So human nature itself is the image of God. But more must be said. The fact that we image God in the totality of our being does not discourage but rather encourages us to find more specific kinds of correspondence. So we move ahead.
B. Moral Excellence
When Scripture mentions specific ways in which people resemble God or Jesus Christ, it usually focuses on moral qualities like righteousness (Ephesians 4:24), ethical perfection (Matthew 5:48), purity (1 John 3:2ff., 9), love (John 13:14, 35ff.; Titus 3:4; 1 John 3:10, 16-18; 4:7-20), forgiveness (Matthew 6:14ff.; Colossians 3:13), humility (Philippians 2:3-11), holiness (Ephesians 4:24; Leviticus 19:1), and knowledge (Colossians 3:10). Following John Murray, I call these qualities of “moral excellence,” thereby distinguishing them from the mere fact (see below, C) that we are capable of making moral decisions. Moral qualities are important in Scripture, because Scripture is the story of how God restores His righteousness in the world.
God renews His people. And that renewal is a renewal in the image of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:49; 1 John 3:2ff.). Christian love is defined as the imitation of Jesus, especially His atonement (John 13:34ff.; 15:12; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 2:5-11; 3:21; 1 John 3:11-16; 4:10ff.). Christ is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3, cf. John 1:18; 12:45; 14:9). Adam defaced the image of God in which he was made, but Jesus honored and glorified the God whom He supremely pictured and represented. Salvation transfers us from the old humanity dead in Adam to a new humanity alive in Christ (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45-49). As Adam begat sons in his defaced image of God (Genesis 5:1ff.), so Christ’s children bear His pure image. Thus the Lord removes from us the distortions of the image due to sin and leads us toward a perfect likeness to God.
Illustration: In photocopying, you can make copies from another copy as long as the latter is perfect. If you try to copy from a defaced copy, you will get defaced images. The only recourse is to go back to the original or to a perfect copy. To be restored in God’s image, God must turn us away from our fallen nature in Adam and re-create us in Jesus Christ, who is both the original (John 1:1) and a perfect copy (Hebrews 1:3).
The Old Testament writers never said explicitly that the image of God was defaced by sin and required divine renewal. That theme emerges clearly for the first time in the New Testament, for the New Testament writers saw in Jesus what the image of God was really supposed to be.
C. Moral Agency
Some theologians have argued that since God’s image involves righteousness and holiness, Adam must have lost the image altogether when he fell into sin. The unredeemed sinner, surely, is bereft of ethical knowledge, righteousness and holiness (Genesis 6:5; 8:21; Romans 3:10-18; 8:5-8). Scripture, however, does speak of man after the fall as bearing the image of God (see Genesis 5:1ff.; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9). We should expect that from the foregoing; had we lost the image of God after the fall, we would have lost our very humanity.
If that is so, then evidently the image does not consist only in the qualities of moral excellence discussed in the last section, though, as we have seen, Scripture has important reasons for stressing them. In what other ways do we reflect God? Well, certainly our reasoning power, creativity, ability to use language, ability to sense moral distinctions and to make moral choices, and above all our religious capacity distinguish us from the animals (Genesis 1:27-30) and make us like God. But beyond these, remember the fundamental principle: everything we are images God.
Sin disrupts and defaces the image, but it does not destroy our humanity. It is edifying (and appropriate to this volume!) to compare the God-human relationship with the man-woman relationship. As Scripture emphasizes the likeness between God and man, it also emphasizes the likeness between man and woman (Genesis 2:23). Human beings are to help God (1:28); woman is to help man (2:20; cf. my later discussion of 1 Corinthians 11:7). Both relationships are hurt by sin, but the fundamental likeness on which they are based remains.
D. The Body
Our fundamental principle, that everything human images God, requires us to hold that the human body, also, images God. Some theologians have denied that the body bears God’s image, first because God has no body, and second because the commandment against idolatry seems to assume that God has no physical image. But the prohibition of idolatry is not based on the lack of a divine image, but on God’s jealousy (Exodus 20:5).
As to the objection that God has no body: True enough, but there are ways in which a body can picture a spirit. Psalm 94:9 asks, “Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?” God does not have literal ears or eyes, but our ears and eyes image His ability to hear and see.
The body is an important aspect of human nature. We (not just our bodies) are made of dust (Genesis 2:7; 3:19). Sin pertains to the body as much as to the spirit (Romans 6:6). Even a dead body is a person, considered from his physical side (Matthew 28:6; John 5:28; 11:11ff., 43; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.). It is we ourselves who “return” to the dust (Genesis 3:19). The incarnate Son of God is both body and spirit, and His physical presence on earth was essential to His saving work (1 John 1:1-3; 4:1-3). So was His physical resurrection, which serves as the pattern for our resurrection (Romans 8:11, 23; Philippians 3:21). The division between soul and body on a person’s death is something unnatural, a result of the fall.
E. Sexual Differentiation
As is appropriate to this volume on Biblical manhood and womanhood, I have of course been laying a foundation to investigate how our sexual differences relate to the image of God. Our fundamental principle is that everything we are images God. Therefore (especially since the body itself participates in the image), we would expect that our sexual and social diversity, also, would picture God in some way.1. The first thing that must be said is that both men and women are made in God’s image (see especially Genesis 1:27; 2:20, 23; 5:1ff.).Hurley points out that man in 1:26 and 27 is a collective noun (adam =“mankind”). The plural membership of that collectivity is indicated by the phrase “male and female” in verse 27, and then to both male and female is given the task appropriate to those created in the image of God (verse 28). Any limitation of the image of God based on sexuality would also contradict the thrust of Genesis 9:6 and James 3:9: such limitation would imply that only males are protected against murder and slander because only they are in God’s image. Re-creation in God’s image also applies without sexual distinction (Colossians 3:9-11; and compare Galatians 3:26 with verse 28).
2. Are men and women equally in the image of God?Some have answered in the negative because of Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 11:7, “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”
I agree with C. K. Barrett that “in this context Paul values the term image only as leading to the term glory.” The reference to image is incidental to Paul’s purpose, and therefore not mentioned with respect to woman; but it notifies his readers of the Old Testament basis for saying that man is the glory of God, “glory” and “image” being roughly, but not entirely, synonymous.
“Glory” in this context is the honor that one person brings to another. Man, Paul says, was made to honor God. Of course, woman was also made to honor God; but in addition, she is also made for a second purpose: to honor man. God made her specifically to be a helper for Adam (Genesis 2:18, 20; cf. Proverbs 12:4; Ephesians 5:25-29). Man honors or glorifies God by uncovering his head, for covering the head connoted subservience to another creature. Such subservience to men is especially inappropriate for a male prophet, whose whole function is to speak for God, or for one leading in public prayer, whose whole function is to lead the people to God’s own throne. Woman, however, even when prophesying or praying in public, must not only honor God, but also honor man. Indeed, she honors God when she honors the specific task of “helper” for which God made her. Unlike the man, then, she honors God best by displaying a symbol by which she honors her fellow-creature.
Does such subordination itself detract from her capacity to image God? That is an important question for us to ask at this point. But the answer must surely be negative: (a) Men too are always placed in relations of subordination to other people (Exodus 20:12; Romans 13:1; Hebrews 13:17), but that does not prejudice their being the image of God.
(b) Jesus Himself became subordinate to His Father, even subordinate to human authority structures, in order to redeem us. Human authority, therefore, imaging Jesus, is to be a servant-authority (Matthew 20:20-28). A willingness to subordinate oneself to others for God’s sake is, indeed, itself a component of the image, not a compromise thereof. Even submission to unjust authority shows a special likeness to Christ (1 Peter 2:12, 19-25; 3:14-18).
(c) It is often by submitting to others that we best display the ethical components of the divine image. How better to demonstrate God’s love, His patience, His gentleness, His self-control, than by submitting to others?3. Is sexual difference itself the image of God?Karl Barth’s famous discussion says that it is. Genesis 1:27 may be divided into three parts: (a) “So God created man in his own image,” (b) “In the image of God he created him,” (c) “Male and female he created them.” Barth argues that (b) and (c) form a “synonymous parallelism,” typical of Hebrew poetry. Therefore, says Barth, the writer believed that the difference between male and female is the image of God. Some problems, however, attach to this idea:
(a) If this is the proper reading of Genesis 1:27, it would seem odd that this concept of the image is not found, suggested, or even alluded to elsewhere in the Bible. Indeed, as we have seen, Scripture elsewhere describes the image in other ways that, to say the least, would be hard to integrate with Barth’s definition, should we adopt it.
(b) Although there is a corporate aspect of the image (see F below), the image also pertains to individual human beings. That is evident in Genesis 5:3, where Adam transmits his “image” (the image of God, according to verse 1) to his son Seth. That is also evident in Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9; Colossians 3:10, and elsewhere. But individual human beings are either male or female, not “male and female,” as in Genesis 1:27c. Therefore, the bearer of the image need not be “male and female” as Barth suggests.
(c) Scripture never represents God as sexually differentiated or as entering into marriage with Himself, although to be sure there are trinitarian pluralities within the one divine nature. It would therefore be odd to claim that sexuality is the essence of the divine image, though I do believe that it (together with everything else we are) is a component thereof.
(d) Meredith G. Kline presents a devastating exegetical critique of Barth’s position. He argues that the reference to “male and female” in Genesis 1:27 cannot state the essence of the image of God, because (i) it is not found in the statement of the divine intention in verse 26; (ii) sections (a) and (b) of verse 27 form a complete synonymous parallelism without 27c; so 27c serves, not as an additional parallel, but as a further description of how man is created in God’s image. The point is simply that the image of God extends to both men and women (same in 5:1ff.); (iii) In Kline’s view, 27c and 5:2a also point ahead to the following contexts. The “male and female” in 27c describes a prerequisite for the subduing of the earth in 28ff. In 5:2a, it presents the scope of the divine blessing in 5:2b.
(e) Barth does not stop with saying that the image is human sexual differentiation. Perhaps realizing the implausibility of that notion, he says that the sexual difference is only the original concrete form of social relationships that are more properly the content of the divine image. There is some truth in this idea (see F below), but: (i) Though social differentiation is an aspect of the image, it is not the essence or definition of the image (see below). (ii) This move increases the exegetical implausibility of Barth’s proposal. If it is unlikely that the writer of Genesis identified the image with sexual difference, it is even less likely that he was using that sexual difference as a kind of stand-in for social differentiation in general. Nothing else in Scripture suggests such an idea.4. Is sexual differentiation an aspect of the image?Yes, for everything we are images God. The point is not that God is male, female, or both. To say that our eyes image God, remember, is not to say that God has eyes; it is rather to say that our eyes picture something divine. Similarly, our sexuality pictures God’s attributes and capacities:
(a) It mirrors God’s creativity, by which He brings forth sons and daughters (John 1:12; Romans 8:14ff.; etc.).
(b) The love of a husband for his wife pictures God’s love for His people (Ezekiel 16; Hosea 1-3; Ephesians 5:25-33).
(c) Scripture describes God both in male and in female terms, though the overwhelming preponderance of imagery is male. The reason, I think, is basically that Scripture wants us to think of God as Lord (Exodus 3:14; 6:3, 7; 33:19; 34:5ff.; Deuteronomy 6:4ff.; cf. Romans 10:9f; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:11), and lordship, in Scripture, always connotes authority. Since in the Biblical view women are subject to male authority in the home and the church, there is some awkwardness in speaking of God in female terms. Our need today, in my opinion, is for a far greater appreciation of the Lordship of God and of Christ. Therefore, in my view, the movement to use unisex or female language in referring to God is fundamentally wrongheaded from a Biblical perspective.
(d) Nevertheless, the very submission of the woman also images God. See E(2) above. God the Lord is not too proud to be our “helper.” Christ the Lord is not unwilling to be a servant. Godly women stand as models, often as rebukes, to all who would be leaders (Matthew 20:20-28).
F. Social Differentiation
As we saw earlier, Barth regards the “sexual image” as a kind of stand-in for a “social image.” We image God, he thinks, in social relationships. For reasons noted, I reject the identification of the image with such relationships. Individuals, not just corporate groups, are in the image of God. On the other hand, there is a social aspect of the image, for the image contains everything human. In the Old Testament, God speaks as a plurality (Genesis 1:26; 3:5, 22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8), which may reflect His trinitarian nature or, perhaps more likely, a heavenly “society” or “council” that God shares with His angels (Psalm 89:7). The New Testament reveals God Himself as a Trinity, a society of Father, Son and Spirit. The task associated with the image (Genesis 1:28) is one that no one can perform fully as an individual. Through Scripture, God calls to Himself as his children not only individuals, but also families, nations, churches. Like godly individuals, godly families image God (Ephesians 5:22-6:4, noting 5:1; 1 Peter 3:1-7, noting 2:21-25; 4:1, 13-16). Godly nations also display the Lord’s righteousness, peace, and glory. Preeminently, however, the corporate image of Christ in the world today is His body, the church. Note Romans 12:4ff.; 1 Corinthians 12:12ff.; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:18, which show the corporateness of the body figure in the New Testament.
Does a group image God better than an individual? Well, groups do resemble God in ways that individuals cannot by themselves, e.g., in taking counsel together or in displaying love for one another. Even the unity of God is imaged by the corporate body: note how in John 17 the unity of believers pictures the oneness of God the Father and God the Son. However, individuals in Scripture often image God precisely as they stand against the group, the crowd. Individuals, as we have seen, do bear the image of God (Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Colossians 3:10; James 3:9). There is not much value, I think, in such comparisons. God is one and many and is properly imaged both by groups and by individuals.
We have been discussing the image as resemblance; now we look at the image as representation. The distinction between resemblance and representation corresponds to the differences between structure and function and between nature and task.
Like the image of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:1-6), images in the ancient world often represented those whose images they bore. Loyalty to the image was a form of loyalty to the one whose image it bore. Similarly, Adam represents God in the world. He does God’s work, but under God: the task of ruling and filling the earth (Genesis 1:28). God is Lord, and Adam is God’s assistant or vassal lord.
Elsewhere I have defined God’s Lordship in terms of control, authority, presence. “Control” is His working out “everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). “Authority” means that He is the supreme lawgiver of the universe, the One whom all people and things ought to obey. “Presence” is God’s will to be “with” His creatures, in various ways. He takes Abraham’s family to be His people. He dwells with them in the tabernacle and the temple. Indeed, He dwells throughout His whole creation, so that we can never escape His presence (Psalm 139:7).
As vassal lord, Adam is to extend God’s control over the world (“subdue” in Genesis 1:28). He has the right to name the animals, an exercise of authority in ancient thinking (Genesis 2:19ff.; cf. 2:23; 3:20, where he also names his wife!). And he is to “fill” the earth with his presence.
This dominion mandate continues after the fall (Genesis 9:1-3). But human beings apart from God’s grace are unable to accomplish God’s original purpose to subdue and fill the earth to God’s glory. Hence Jesus proclaimed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19ff.), also a command about filling and subduing, but in this case by the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. As evangelists, we are in a special sense God’s representatives on earth (Matthew 5:14; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Philippians 2:14ff.).
Hence Scripture emphasizes the doctrines of sonship, adoption, and inheritance (John 1:12; Romans 8:14ff.; Galatians 3:26ff.; Hebrews 2:10; 1 John 3:1ff.). In these respects, man and woman share equally-Scripture makes no sexual distinction in such things. Indeed, Galatians 3:26 (“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”) precedes by two verses the famous “There is neither … male [n]or female… .” And, as we have seen, “male and female” equally are given the original dominion mandate (Genesis 1:27ff.).
Men and women, then, both have authority. But they are also under authority. There is no inconsistency there. Jesus Himself is both Lord and servant. A man rules his family, but he is subordinate to his employer and to the civil magistrate. A woman may have legitimate authority over her children (Exodus 20:12), her household (presumably including both children and servants, 1 Timothy 5:14), other women (Titus 2:4), a business (Proverbs 31:10-31), and the earth as part of Christ’s body (Genesis 1:28; 1 Corinthians 3:21), even (in some sense) over everyone in her ministry as a prophet of God (Judges 4:4; Acts 2:17; 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5, 10). But these facts do not conflict with the rule that a wife must be subject to her husband in the home and to male elders in the church (cf. above, I.E.2).
Citing Matthew 8:9, Stephen B. Clark well observes that one’s own authority often finds its basis in submission to another. Even the authority of prophets, priests, and kings in Scripture is based on their submission to God’s higher authority. Thus the head covering of the woman (1 Corinthians 11:3-16), a sign of submission, also enables her to pray and prophesy in public.
Summary and Conclusion
Women and men equally image God, even in their sexual differences, even in their differences with regard to authority and submission. The reason is that the image of God embraces everything that is human. Both men and women, therefore, resemble God and are called to represent Him throughout the creation, exercising control, authority, and presence in His name. This doctrine is not at all inconsistent with the subordination of women to men in the home and in the church. All human beings are under authority, both divine and human. Their submission to authority, as well as their authority itself, images God.
Note: Will We Be Male and Female in Heaven?
Scripture doesn’t explicitly address this question, so we should not be dogmatic in trying to answer it. But some broad Biblical principles may lead us in one direction or another.
We might be inclined to answer “no” to this question because of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:30 that resurrected saints will neither marry nor give in marriage. In the resurrection, earthly families will be overshadowed by the great family of God (cf. Luke 20:36).
I am, however, inclined toward an affirmative answer: (1) Those who appear after death in Scripture always appear similar to their earthly forms (1 Samuel 28:11-15; Matthew 17:1-13; 27:52ff.; Revelation 11:1-12). I would assume that the men continued to appear as bearded (if they wore beards on earth), speaking with masculine voices. This fact seems to yield some presumption, at least, that we retain our sexual characteristics after death.
(2) Even angels (whom Jesus says we will resemble in the resurrection) tend to appear in Scripture as men, rather than as women or as asexual beings (Genesis 18:2, 16, 22; Joshua 5:13; Hebrews 13:2).
(3) Jesus’ resurrection body also resembled the form He bore on earth, even down to the wounds in His hands and side (John 20:25, 27), although His new existence is mysterious in many ways. At the resurrection appearances, I have no doubt that the disciples saw a male figure.
(4) Sexuality, as we have seen, is part of the image of God, part of what it now means to be human. It is possible that this resemblance might in the next life be replaced with other kinds of resemblance. (“Image of God,” we will recall, covers much territory.) But if we lose our sexuality, why should we not also lose our arms, eyes, and brains?
(5) Our sex organs and secondary sexual characteristics have functions other than procreation. They also image different attributes of God and express the variety of human personality. Sex, after all, is not just reproductive capacity. Stereotypes aside, men and women do differ in personality and in the distribution of their spiritual gifts. The body of a godly woman often serves as an appropriate accompaniment to her personality, reinforcing our impression of her inner meekness and quiet strength. Similarly for men, mutatis mutandis. We would, I think, sense something odd if Mother Teresa’s personality were found in the body of, say, Sylvester Stallone, or vice versa.
So here’s a weak vote in favor of the affirmative: I rather suspect that we will still be male and female in the resurrection.
Copyright 1997 John M. Frame. All rights reserved - John M. Frame is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary in California.
1. Neither in Genesis nor anywhere else in Scripture can we find an attempt to define the meaning of “image of God.” Evidently the author of Genesis was using a concept familiar to his readers. Certainly the basic Hebrew terms for “image” and “likeness” were well known, as other contexts indicate.[back]
2. Compare the distinction in Anthony C. Hoekema, Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986), pp. 65ff.[back]
3. D. J. A. Clines, in “The Image of God in Man,” Tyndale Bulletin 19 (1968): 53. The Hebrew preposition beth, often translated “in,” is a “beth of essence.”[back]
4. Contrary to G. C. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God, trans. Dirk W. Jellema (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), pp. 56ff.[back]
5. Knowledge is a moral quality in Scripture. Sinners reject the true knowledge of God (Romans 1:21-25; 1 Corinthians 2:14). That knowledge is restored through the renewing work of the Spirit. Such knowledge is inseparable from obedience to God’s commands, 1 John 2:3-6.[back]
6. John Murray, Collected Writings, II (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977), p. 40.[back]
7. All Christians bear the image of Christ from the beginning of their lives in Him (Ephesians 4:24). There is also a process of renewal by which God gradually and increasingly brings about more and more conformity to Jesus’ image (2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:10). The fulfillment of this process, the perfection of the image, takes place at Jesus’ return (1 Corinthians 15:49, in context).[back]
8. Thanks to my colleague Robert B. Strimple, who makes this point in unpublished lecture notes.[back]
9. This is the usual position of Lutheran theologians and that of G. C. Berkouwer. See Murray, Collected Writings, for a survey of views on this subject.[back]
10. See note 5 on knowledge as an ethical quality. Unbelievers continue to know that God exists, who He is (Romans 1:18-21) and what He requires (Romans 1:32); but they utterly lack that knowledge (= friendship with God) that produces obedience (1 John 2:3-5). To have that they must be renewed by grace (Colossians 3:10).[back]
11. What has been called “common grace” does produce even in unbelievers various degrees of external conformity to God’s standards. However, unbelievers always fall short of that heart-righteousness by which alone God is pleased (Romans 8:8); thus God does not give them credit for having any righteousness or holiness. See Murray, “Common Grace,” in Collected Writings, pp. 93-119.[back]
12. Murray’s exegetical observations on these passages are useful; Collected Writings, pp. 35-41.[back]
13. In one sense, of course, God needs no help. But He has chosen to accomplish His great purposes (here and in Matthew 28:18-20) by means of human agents, thereby establishing a pattern that can be, and should be, imaged on the human level.[back]
14. Thanks again to my colleague Robert B. Strimple (via his unpublished lecture notes) for this insight.[back]
15. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God, pp. 67ff.[back]
16. In this paragraph I am summarizing Murray’s argument (pp. 14-18). For other interesting suggestions about a physical aspect to the divine image, see Meredith G. Kline’s Images of the Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1980).[back]
17. James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1981), p. 172.[back]
18. A Commentary on the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), p. 252.[back]
19. I agree with those who say that “helper” does not in itself connote any subordination. God is Himself the helper of Israel (Psalm 30:10, etc.). It is, however, significant that Eve was made after Adam, for the specific purpose of helping him. That cannot be said of God’s relationship to Israel (or of Adam’s relationship to Eve). That fact, I believe, lies behind Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 and in 1 Timothy 2:13. Note also that in 1 Corinthians 11:9 Paul does not base his argument on the word helper but on the fact that Eve was made for Adam.[back]
20. Leon Morris, The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1958), on 11:4. Also James B. Hurley, “Did Paul Require Veils or the Silence of Women?” Westminster Theological Journal 35:2 (Winter 1973): 205.[back]
21. Even kings are usually answerable to someone, and even “absolute” monarchs get toppled if they do not succeed in pleasing other powerful members of society.[back]
22. Noel Weeks wisely chides many in the feminist movement for confusing worth with ruling power. See his remarkable book, The Sufficiency of Scripture (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1988), p. 137. The reader might also usefully peruse Royce Gruenler’s The Trinity in the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), in which he explores the relations of “mutual deference” within the Trinity. I don’t agree with some of his points, but there is much stimulus here.[back]
23. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, trans. J. W. Edwards et al. (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1958), III/1, pp. 184ff.[back]
24. Kline, Images of the Spirit, pp. 30ff.[back]
25. Barth, Church Dogmatics, p. 185.[back]
26. I agree with Stephen B. Clark that “the notion is a modern preoccupation and is to be found neither in Christian tradition nor in the New Testament.” See Clark, Man and Woman in Christ (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1980), p. 14n.[back]
27. Scripture also, of course, emphasizes God’s masculinity over against the polytheism and degradation of pagan goddess-worship.[back]
28. See other essays in this volume.[back]
29. Hence the title of my series of theology books, A Theology of Lordship.[back]
30. For this reason I disagree with Hurley’s statement that according to 1 Corinthians 11:7 “The woman is not called to image God or Christ in the relation which she sustains to her husband” (Man and Woman, p. 173). The imaging is not precise, but, as we have seen, imaging never is. I think there are better ways to handle the problem of 1 Corinthians 11:7; see my earlier discussion.[back]
31. A complete account of Barth’s view cannot stop with his identification of the image with sexual, or even of social, relationships. Barth’s ultimate view is, like all his theology, Christological: the image of God is the creation of man “in Christ” (see Barth, Church Dogmatics, III/1, 203ff.). He moves, then, from image as a reflection of the Trinity to image as our participation in Christ. As indicated earlier, I agree that there is a Christological aspect to the image: in salvation, God re-creates His people in Christ’s image. Barth’s view, however, regards all human beings as “in Christ” apart from their faith or unbelief. That position is in my view contrary to Scripture and certainly not to be found in Genesis 1:27 or other Biblical passages dealing with the image.[back]
32. Kline sees the “image of God” as a reflection of that council on earth; Images of the Spirit, pp. 27ff.[back]
33. The related figure of the temple is both corporate (1 Corinthians 3:16ff.; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21) and (I think) individual (1 Corinthians 6:19).[back]
34. Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1987), pp. 15-18.[back]
35. There are different views as to the authority of New Testament prophecy. See Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988). I seek here only to establish that (a) there were women prophets in both testaments and (b) the authority of prophecy, whatever it may be in various historical circumstances, attaches equally to male and female prophets.[back]
36. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, p. 171.[back]