Are women made in God’s image?
Published: 4 August 2013 (GMT+10)
Jason C. asks:
Re: Gen 1:27—Are man and women both really made in the image of God?
‘So God created man in His own image; He created Him in the image of God; He created them male and female".
It seems the first part is the main statement with the next 2 pieces more descriptive. Image is related to ‘man’ first and then further explained as ‘him’ (singular) and when female is introduced, it just says He created ‘them’—no word image with female. Also, undoubtedly related, In 1 Cor, Paul also says that man was created in God’s image but women are the glory (reads as if he’s saying image) of man… Am I missing something out of the original languages?
At the end of the day, it really won’t change my view on equality—but it might help with understanding roles better. tks
CMI’s Keaton Halley responds:
Thanks for the question.
Yes, the Bible teaches that both men and women were created in God’s image. Consider the following passages.
Gen. 1:26—Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion…”
The Hebrew word for “man” in this verse is adam, which can sometimes refer to a single male individual (or to Adam as a proper name) but frequently refers to mankind as a whole. In this case, it must refer to all of mankind since the next sentence uses the plural pronoun “them”. In the next verse, which you cited, it does switch to the singular pronoun “him”, but I think this is still referring to mankind collectively. Verse 26 tells us what God planned to do and then vv. 27 ff. tell us how he carried this out, so we should understand “man” to be the same in both cases.
Although it uses a different word for “man”, Psalm 8:4 ff. does the same sort of thing when it says, “What is man that you are mindful of him.” All of humanity is in view even though it uses the singular.
Gen. 5:1–2—This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.
Here again, we see that male and female are together called “man”, so when the author uses the singular pronoun in v. 1, he is thinking of mankind as a singular collective body, not as an individual or as a group of only males.
Gen. 9:6—Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
Surely this verse does not apply only to males. The idea is that all human beings are made in God’s image, and therefore God instituted a punishment for murderers.
James 3:9—With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
Here, the Greek word for “people” is a plural form of anthropos. The term can refer to just males, but is the usual New Testament word for a mixed group of men and women. In this context, James is clearly talking about cursing people in general, not only males. So, according to James, all people are made in God’s image.
With all these passages in mind, then, what about 1 Cor. 11:7? Well, without trying to get into a detailed interpretation, this chapter highlights some differences in gender roles. Paul does not say that women were not created in God’s image, but in vv. 8–9 he does highlight the fact that Eve, as the prototypical woman/wife, was created as a helper for Adam, not vice versa. This is the reason Paul gives for saying what he says in v. 7. He is no more denying that each woman is made in the image of God in v. 7 than he is denying that Christ is in authority over every woman in v. 3.
I hope that clears it up for you. You might also be interested in these articles:
The Bible’s high view of women grounded in the creation account
London Times reports that the Bible is not anti-female: is this news?
Made in the image of God