Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A #10


Q: How did God create man?
A: God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.
Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Here we see mankind as being set apart from the rest of creation. We are given a special value in that we are created in the image of God. The catechism defines what we mean when we talk about man being created in God's image. We know from Scripture that God is a spirit, and, as the Children's Catechism would remind us, “does not have a body like man” (Jn 4:24, 2 Cor. 3:17, 1 Tim 1:17). Therefore, the divine image is not referencing our physical bodies. Rather, as Alexander Whyte puts it in his commentary on the catechism, it is “in his soul, in his mind and conscience and heart.”

We can see the divine image in man most perfectly, not from looking at Adam, but rather, at Jesus Christ who is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). In Christ, we see the knowledge of truth, knowledge of the Father, and knowledge of the law of God. We see in Christ righteousness as not only did Jesus know the law, but he obeyed and kept it perfectly. He knew his Father and knew his will, and submitted in perfect obedience.  We see holiness, and while it may be difficult to distinguish between righteousness and holiness, Whyte is helpful in clarifying this by saying that “his holiness was, and was to be, the hidden root of his outward righteousness”. Christ lived righteously because inwardly, he was holy. All of his affections were turned toward his Father. And in Jesus Christ, we see the power and authority of God as Christ shows his own dominion, not merely over the “creatures” of the world, but also over demons, over disease, over worldly powers, and even over sin and death. 

Whyte would go on to write that, “The doctrine of the divine image in man cannot now be fully and thoroughly studied in Adam: we must see it preserved and exhibited in a 'yet greater than he', if we would understand it even as it originally existed in him. We must go above Adam to Him who made him, to Him who is eternally 'the express image of the Father's person.' Indeed, most that we know of Adam's state before the fall, we learn afterwards from the provision made in the 'second Adam' to restore and reinstate man in his lost knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion.” If we want to understand the “image of God”, let us fix our eyes on Jesus Christ. Here, in the person of Jesus, can we fully understand what it means to be image bearers. 

Posted on March 10, 2015 and filed under Teaching.