<13019E> 232 Likeness and Image

I do not know that I should trouble you with any remarks on the words "likeness" and "image," though evidently of importance, had I not found, in searching the scriptures as to them, the opening out of a good deal of truth precious to my own soul. But I shall be very brief, only suggesting matter for your readers' research into scripture.

I pass by many words translated image and likeness, (as "temunah" , which is more the bright revelation of God, Himself invisible,* or the attempt to reproduce it; "tabnith, pesel, semel" , or others which speak of images, statues, etc ), to speak of the words employed of man, likeness; and image.

{*Hence query as to the true force of this word in Psalm 17:15.}

First, I reject entirely the thought of righteousness and holiness of truth; that is positively declared to be the new creation, and is not the old. Christ and Adam are not the same. Righteousness and holiness suppose the knowledge of good and evil, which it is absolutely certain by scripture Adam before the fall had not. This point is not without importance as to what our redemption involves. Is it a restoration to the state of the first Adam, or an introduction into the state of the Second? Unquestionably the latter. "As is the earthy such are they also that are earthy; as is the heavenly such are they also that are heavenly: and as we have borne the image of the earthy we shall also of the heavenly;" conformed to the image of God's Son that He may be the firstborn among many brethren: blessed privilege! There is no return to the image of the first Adam, no loss of the knowledge of good and evil; but conformity to, as partakers of, the divine nature, which is above evil in holiness; the flesh down here remaining the same. You must alike exalt Adam above scripture, and depreciate Christ, to make our conformity to the latter a return to the former. And this is pretty much what the professing church has done.

This, then, God's likeness and image in Adam was not; but what was it? I reject anthropomorphism; that is, its being in the form of his body. It is lowering God Himself and even Adam's position, and is confusion only, though an early error; though it be true that, as incarnate and anticipating manifestations, God took this form. That is a blessed mystery, but refutes the idea as to Adam. For it is incarnation — and this the creation of Adam was not, though doubtless in view of it. What was then this likeness and image, and what the difference of the two? We are renewed in (into) knowledge after the image of Him that created us. This itself shews it was not Adam's. It is the ὁ νέος, the wholly new man which is this. And it is a καινὸς ἄνθρωπος, a new kind of man too.

233 "Likeness" is a simple word for all of us; it is being like. "Image" is somewhat different: an image represents, be it like or unlike. The image of Jupiter presents him to men. One like another has the same traits and features. Now Adam was like God, and he was His image. He was absolutely without evil. No sin, no evil, was, or could be found, in him. This was a capital point in the likeness, though it was not holiness; in one sense more important, more intrinsic. Holiness is relative; it supposes evil, though being above and hating it. Absence of evil is in the nature itself. God is light; pure, besides revealing all else; but holy, not holiness. He cannot be what is relative; nor does His being suppose evil, as holiness does. It is good, absolute purity, though this is an imperfect and relative word; but I shall be understood. Adam was very good, no evil or sin was there. But there was more: he was made the centre of all affections and reverence in the sphere in which he was placed. No angel was made a centre of any sphere. Man was made one, and amiable and good; loving in kindness surely (had he so remained) all around him; the centre of a sphere of created good. And I mean now of a character which could be so; for his being so in fact was more his being the image of God. How gloriously this will be fulfilled in Christ in the whole creation, I need not say. He is the true image of the invisible God. Adam was His image. But Adam was fit to be so by his likeness to God — not to deal with evil, for this he had not to say to; nor would have had, had he not fallen; but pure, no evil of any kind in him, and good; a blessed happy centre of happiness, looking down on all; fit to be looked up to by all. If Eve was created too, she was to be before him (kenegdo). But this runs into the image, and they are meant to run into one another. Adam stood there from God and to represent Him on the earth. He stood as such to all around and below him. Had he not been from, and for, and like, God, he would not have been fit to be His image on the earth. But he was; and so Christ will be in the highest and an infinite way in the whole creation.

234 I think we shall find these meanings of likeness and image everywhere. The first point in God's mind was setting man in His image (Gen. 1:26). And this consequently is insisted on in verse 27. He set him to be like Him, to represent Him to their minds, before others; but it was also in making him like Him. It was not like a stone image, merely to recall, but not like; but to be before others as His image, being really like Him. Hence dominion also was given to him over the creation he was in. Hence, in Genesis 9, the grievousness of the fault of putting him to death was not that he was like God, for indeed he now was not at all like Him, but that God had set him in this place. If I deface the king's image, the question is not if it be like him but my defacing his image. In James 3:9, on the contrary, we bless God and curse what was made like Him: what sense is there in that? It is not the evil come in, surely, we curse; but we curse what was made in God's likeness. On the other hand, we read (1 Cor. 11:7) "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God" — holds thus his place and dignity where he is. "The woman is the glory of the man." Then Adam begets a son in his own likeness. Alas! yes; like him; upon him were the signs of what he was; not like the beasts that perish, surely, but fallen and sinful, and after his image, holding the public place in the world he did; its head no doubt, but fallen head. The image tends to make us suppose that of which it is the image to be like it. See Acts 17:29; Psalm 50:21. The "likeness" has there the simple force of the word; the "image" is the representing, to his glorifying before others, Him whose image we are. Now, if we look into Ephesians and Colossians, we shall find God holding a place in the one which Christ does in the other; and the former occupied with our likeness to God, the latter with His image, which Christ is perfectly.

Remark here, that Christ is never said to be like God, or the likeness of God, because He is God; but He is said to be the image of God, for He does represent and glorify Him and God will be displayed in Him in the millennial glory.

Thus, in the Ephesians, we are to be holy and without blame before Him in love. This is His likeness, and it is before Him, not for display. We are to be imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrifice and an offering to God. So God is all; and we are in Christ, a man raised from the dead by God. And if He be in us, it is to be filled unto all the fulness of God. We are to forgive as God in Christ has forgiven us. Hence, when speaking of the new man, our having put off the old man, and put on the new,* there is a difference in Ephesians and Colossians. In Ephesians, "the truth in Jesus" is … "and to have put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness of truth." The spirit of our mind is to be a wholly new one, one we had not before (νέος), and the καινὸς ἄνθρωπος, put on new in kind and nature. It is created after God, like Him in righteousness and true holiness, what He is as knowing good and evil. Such is the new man as characterized in Ephesians.

{*Allow me here to correct the new translation of this verse, which, though not incorrect, is not clear. "The truth is in Jesus [namely] your having put off according to the former conversation … and being renewed … and having put on the new man." As it stands, it might seem to be presented as a duty. The truth in Jesus is the having put off, etc.}

235 In Colossians, on the other hand, we have put on the new man, a new one (νέος) we had not before, which is renewed, new in character (καινός), after the image of Him that created us. Here Christ is in all; and the image, not the likeness, is brought out. No doubt it is like; still, what is made prominent is the image, what is to represent and glorify God; and, as we have seen, Christ is all and in all. So it is forgiving one another; as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. Hence, in chapter 1, we have Christ the image of the invisible God; and His place in creation, the Firstborn of every creature. Yet, see how carefully His divine nature and title is guarded. Not only is He the Creator, but all the fulness was pleased to dwell in Him; and in Him, in fact, dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. In Ephesians 1, you have "holy and without blame before him in love," which is likeness to God in His presence.

I do not go farther here than to suggest these thoughts. That the second man, the Lord from heaven, is the true image of God, is clearly taught; but, I think, with other precious truth, from which I have no wish to divert the attention of the reader of these precious Epistles, this difference will be found to pervade them. Our conformity to Christ in this respect, and our progressive conformity to Him, is taught in many passages, as Romans 8:29; 1  Corinthians 15:48-49; 1 John 3:1-3;  2 Corinthians 3:18. But it gives a wonderful testimony to what the Christian is, and ought to be; his place in Christ.