What does the phrase “the image of God” mean? Theologians have wrestled long and hard with this question, because the answer impacts how we think about Christ’s saving work, Christian ethics, and other important spiritual matters. Some have argued that image refers to humanity’s capacity to rule, because ruling is mentioned in connection with the image in Genesis 1:26. Some have argued that the image relates to personal knowledge of God or to humanity’s capacity for an intimate relationship with God. Still others argue that it relates to morality, righteousness, and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
While the truth does lie in a combination of these elements, the New Testament use of the phrase “the image of God” offers another perspective that serves to broaden our concept of being made in the image of God. Second Corinthians 4:4 presents an often unconsidered aspect of God’s image. Paul stated that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Paul identifies the image of God with Jesus Christ, so as we think about what it means for us to reflect God’s image, we should turn our attention to Jesus, doing our best to embody His ideals in every aspect of our lives.