Word Study on "image and likeness."


A. The Godhead designed and created man in His own image.

1. Gen. 1:26 - AsAh = the design (create out of something, make)
2. Gen. 1:27 - bArA = the act of creation (create out of nothing)

B. The words, "image and likeness" are used to indicate two different factors concerning the "image" of God.

1. Image is the word, tselem and always indicates a "physical" or structural image of some kind.

2. Likeness is the word, demuth. The root, DMH, usually refers to some kind of "functional" image, likeness or expression.

a. A few times it is used to indicate a "physical" form.

b. This has led some to claim that there is no distinction between the two words, tselem and demuth, and one should not be made.

c. However, when all the uses are observed, there is a discernable difference which certainly needs to be preserved especially when the two words are used together as they are at Gen. 1:26.



A. tsAlam: no occurrences of the verb in the Bible.

B. tselem: Noun = image. It means "something cut out." (17 times)

1. Gen. 1:26 states the design of man's creation: "And the Godhead said, let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness (pattern)."

a. The meaning here will depend on the usage in the remaining 16 occurrences.

b. I suggest there is a clear distinction between the two words tselem and demuth as used in the Bible.

c. tselem indicates a "physical" image or structure and would refer to the "structural" image of the Godhead which constitutes 3 separate and distinct personages which function in perfect EQUALITY and UNITY of essence so as to be ONE.

d. "Our image," then refers to the 3-fold structural image of the Godhead which is reflected in the 3-fold "structural" image of Adam on the day that he was created at Gen. 2:7.

e. The structural image of the Godhead is:

1. God Most High: The authority function in the Godhead.
The planner or designer of the Godhead.

2. God the Word: The administrator of the Godhead.
(communication with creatures and visible manifestations)

3. God the Spirit: The executor of the Godhead, The "power" function of the Godhead.

f. The structural image of Adam is:

1. Soul: the authority function of the structure.
Contains essence of mentality and emotion.
(corresponds with God Most High)

2. Spirit: the reflector of the soul. The "doer" of the soul.
Reflects the intellect & emotion of the soul as personality.
(corresponds with God the Spirit)

3. Body: The physical expression of the structure.
The vehicle for communication and visibility.
(corresponds with God the Word)

2. Gen. 1:27 states the fact of creation: "And the Godhead created (bArA) man in His own image, in the image of The Godhead He created him; male and female He created them.

a. The emphasis here is on the whole structural image which was created "ex nihilo" (out of nothing).

b. The "functional" image (pattern) or essence is not in view. In fact, "likeness" (demuth) is only used one more time for mankind. At Gen. 5:1, we have a statement of the creative act with the "likeness" in view.
"In the day when the Godhead (elohim) created (bArA) man,
He made (AsAh) him in the (functional) likeness (demuth) of the Godhead."

c. Thus we have 3 things:

1. The statement of design and intent at Gen. 1:26 where both

"image" and "likeness" are used.

2. The act of creation at Gen. 1:27 where only "image" is used

3. The act of creation at Gen.5:1 where only "likeness" is used

d. In addition to the 3-fold structural image of mankind, it is clarified that a further division will be "male and female."

3. Gen. 5:3, "Adam . . .became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image."

a. Here, through procreation, Adam begets a son who possesses the very same "structural" and "functional" characteristics.

b. That means that this son possesses:

1. The image (tselem) of God: structural image of God which in man is reflected via body, soul and spirit.

2. The likeness (demuth) of God: functional likeness of God which entails the 7 character expressions of God.

3. In addition, this son has a sin nature which came directly from Adam and Eve (Psalm 51:5) and which resides in the physical body (Rom. 7:14-23).

c. The use of tselem corresponds with a "physical" image and is different from the demuth which is also included.

4. Gen. 9:6, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed. For in the image (tselem) of God He made man."

a. The mandate against murder is given with a reason attached.

b. The reason why one should not kill a person is because that person, as with all people, was "made" in the image of God.

c. The point being that man at the present time, AFTER the fall, is still viewed as possessing the image of God.

d. Accordingly, the "image of God" was NOT lost at the fall.

e. Now this usage does not "prove" that tselem deals with the structural image of God. The use of the word in general will provide that proof. Once that is established, we can simply apply the conclusion to tselem as it refers to God.

5. The next several occurrences of tselem all clearly refer to a "physical" idol image and indicates that the word refers to a physical image.

Num. 33:52, and destroy all their molten images
1Sam. 6:5, you shall make likenesses of your tumors & likenesses
1Sam. 6:5, likenesses of your tumors and likenesses of your mice
1Sam. 6:11, the golden mice and the likenesses of their tumors.
2Kgs. 11:18, his images they broke in pieces thoroughly
2Chr. 23:17, pieces his altars and his images,
Ezek. 7:20, and they made the images of their abominations
Ezek. 16:17, and made for yourself male images
Ezek. 23:14, portrayed on the wall, images of the Chaldeans
Amos 5:26, and Kiyyun, your images,

6. Ps. 39:6, man walks about as a PHANTOM (image);
Perhaps, as an idol that has no breath or life (Jer. 10:14; Ps. 115:4-8)

7. Ps. 73:20, Lord, when aroused, Thou wilt despise their form.
Clearly a reference to the physical body.


C. tselem and tselām (Chaldean): 17 times all in Daniel.

1. 16 times for a physical statue.

2. Dan. 3:19, "and the image of his face(s) was changed."
Even here, the idea is clearly that of a physical image.


A. Verb: dAmAh, To be like, resemble - with emphasis on FUNCTION.
However, at two places in the Song of Solomon, the focus seems to be more on a physical resemblance (S/S. 1:9 and 7:7) and one time at Ezekiel 1:28.

1. Numbers 33:56, And it will come about that as I have planned to do to them . . . Piel perfect = patterned to do. (made an image in the mind)

There is a design in the soul, both character and intention.
God makes a "plan" in His soul according to His own standards and then performs that plan.
This is a "functional" or character issue rather than a "physical" issue.

2. Judges 20:5, they planned to kill me: piel perfect.
They "patterned" a course of action. (image in the mind)

3. 2 Sam. 21:5, the man . . .who planned to exterminate us:
piel perfect = They patterned (image in the soul).

4. Esther 4:13, do not imagine that . . .you can escape.
piel imperfect = do not "make an image" (in your mind)

5. Psalm 48:9, We have thought on your grace provision.
piel perfect = made an image (in the mind).

6. Psalm 50:21, you thought that I was just like you.
piel perfect = made an image (in the mind)

7. Psalm 89:6, who among the sons of the mighty is like Yahweh?
qal imperfect = "functions" like

8. Psalm 102:6, I resembled a pelican of the wilderness
qal perfect = was in the "functional" likeness of

9. Psalm 144:4, man is like a breath.
qal perfect = "functions" like (here and then quickly leaves)

10. Song/S 1:9, I have likened you to my mare among the chariots.
piel perfect = seems to indicate a physical resemblance.
Two different physical structures - but both beautiful.

11. Song/S 2:9, my beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
qal participle = a "functional" similarity - as the verse continues, it discusses the "actions" of the gazelle or stag.

12. Song/S 2:17, Turn my beloved, be like a gazelle

13. Song/S 8:14, Quick, my beloved and be like a gazelle
qal imperative = act like (be swift as) a gazelle.

14. Song/S 7:7, your stature (body) is like a palm tree.
qal perfect = similar physical characteristics (straight, tall).

15. Isaiah 1:9, we would be like Gomorrah.
qal perfect = resemble the experiential condition of the city.
Not look "physically" like it.

16. Isaiah 10:7, (Assyria) does not so intend.
piel imperfect = make an image (in the mind) to do something.

17. Isaiah 14:24, (God says) surely, just as I have intended.
piel perfect = made an image (in the mind)

18. Isaiah 40:18, To whom would you liken God? (used with noun - demuth)

19. Isaiah 40:25, To whom would you liken God?

20. Isaiah 46:5, To whom would you liken God? (make equal & compare)
piel imperfect = the issue is "functional" equality

21. Isaiah 46:5, that we should be alike.
qal imperfect = equality of "essence" or character

22. Isaiah 14:14, Make myself like the Most High.
Hithpael imperfect = "function" like God

23. Lamentations 2:13, to what shall I liken you?
piel imperfect = who are you like (function, actions, character)

24. Ezekiel 31:2, Whom are you like in your greatness
qal perfect = character and action likeness

25. Ezekiel 31:8, and the plane tree was not like you as to branches.
qal perfect = physical characteristics but "functional" issues.

26. Ezekiel 31:18, to which of the trees of Eden are you thus like in glory and greatness?
qal perfect = likeness as to character and expression

27. Ezekiel 32:2, you made yourself like a young lion of the nations.
niphal perfect = function

28. Hosea 12:10, and through the prophets I gave parables.
piel imperfect = made likenesses (illustrations).

B. Noun: demuth, Likeness, similitude - the idea of "acts like."

1. Genesis 1:26, According to our likeness.
Context of usage suggests a "functional" or character likeness.

2. Genesis 5:1, He made him in the likeness of God
(only two places where demuth is used of God)

3. Genesis 5:3, Adam became the father of a son in his own likeness.
Emphasis on the fallen nature of man (possessing a sin nature) rather than the created image of God.

4. 2 Kings 16:10, the pattern (likeness) of the altar and its model.
"general" likeness vs. "specific" model (tabniyth)

5. 2 Chron. 4:3, now a pattern (singular) of oxen was under it.
Indicates the "physical" appearance.

6. Ps. 58:4, they have venom according to the likeness of a serpent,
A physical factor - but functional in emphasis.

7. Isaiah 13:4, a sound of tumult on the mountains, a similarity to that of many people. The likeness is in the "sound" that is heard.

8. Isaiah 40:18, (God) what likeness will you compare with Him?
Used with the verb, dAmAh. The LXX uses eikōn for demuth.
(context indicates not just a physical image, but function)

9-13. Ezekiel 1:5, 10-13 (2 times), 16, 22, 26 (3 times): all refer to a "physical" structure (or appearance) of some kind, such as - man, lion, expanse, throne, sons of man (Dan. 10:16).

14. Ezekiel 1:28, the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness (demuth) of the glory of God.
Physical manifestation of God - expression of His glory.

15. Ezekiel 10:10, as for their appearance, they had the same likeness.

16. Ezekiel 10:21, beneath their wings was the form of human hands.

17. Ezekiel 10:22, as for the likeness of their faces -

18. Daniel 10:16, as a likeness of sons of man.
Physical appearance is the issue here in numbers 15-18.

C. Noun: dimyōn, 1 time at Psalm 17:12 - the idea of "acts like." his likeness is as (ke) a lion


III. Greek:

A. homoios = adjective = like. (depends on the context)

B. homoiōsis = noun (one time) James 3:9, "men, who have been made (ginomai) in the likeness of God."
Indicates the present status of mankind. They were created originally and all men are presently "in" the image of God.

1. At Gen. 1:26, the LXX translates demuth with homoiōsis.

2. However, at 1 Cor. 11:7, eikōn is used for the image of God and at Gen. 1:26, it translates tselem.

3. But at other places, the New Testament uses eikōn for the "functional" image of God (Col. 3:10; 2 Cor. 3:18).

4. It appears that there is no distinction in what eikōn references regarding the two aspects of God's image. But since homoiōsis is only used one time, we should probably interpret James as focusing on the fact that men have all been created IN the "functional" image of God, that is with the PURPOSE of bringing glory to Him. However, the only way that any member of the human race can fulfill that "created" purpose, is through regeneration.

C. eidos: used only one time for God and refers to His "physical" shape, John 5:37, "you have neither . . .nor seen His form."

D. eikōn: noun = image

1. Romans 8:29, "predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."

a. Jesus is the "firstborn" via resurrection.
b. The conformity to Him then is in regard to resurrection.
c. Thus, the sharing in His resurrection body, Philip. 3:21

2. 1 Cor. 11:7, "man . . . since he is the image and glory of God."
Reference to the present "created" status of man.

a. Created in the "structural" image of God.
b. designed to be the reflection of God's glory.
c. At Gen. 1:26, eikōn translates tselem, structural image of God.

3. 1 Cor. 15:49, image of the earthy vs. image of the heavenly.
The image of the heavenly is resurrection body.

4. 2 Cor. 3:18, "being transformed into the same image (glory). ."

a. Reference to the growth process which produces in the believer a reflection of God's glory (His "integrity" attributes).

b. This then is not a reference to either the original "structural" image of God, nor to the original "functional" image of God.

c. It refers to character reflection through knowledge and application of Bible truth.

5. 2 Cor. 4:4, "the light of the gospel of Christ, who is the image of God."

a. Reference to Christ as the exact reflection of the character of God as evidenced throughout His life.

b. Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3; John 1:18; Philip. 2:6

6. Col. 1:15, "and He is the image of the invisible God."
The very idea of John 1:18, "He has fully revealed Him."

7. Col. 3:10, "the new man, who is being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of the One who created him."

a. The "new man" is the new position in Christ and the new quality of life that "should" result from consistency of fellowship.

b. The "old man" is the old position which was discarded at the moment of salvation, & it refers to the old way of life, which "should" through application of Bible truth be left behind.

c. Concerning this "new man," it is "being" renewed. The present tense is used to indicate a process of "getting dressed" through consistency in spiritual growth.

d. according to the image: the character image

e. of the One who created him: The one who created the "new man" is God the Father (1 Cor. 1:30).

f. The character reflection is of the Father's integrity as it was demonstrated in the life of Christ.

g. Thus the imitation of Christ is the imitation of the Father.




İRon Wallace, Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.


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