09 June, 2019

Genesis 9:6—“… for in the image of God made he man …”

And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. (Gen. 9:5-6)

Genesis 9:6 is often referred to as proof that fallen man is still God’s image-bearer.

“Murderers are to be killed because they shed the blood of a man who was created after God’s image” (so it is interpreted).

What has all this to do with common grace? Well, if fallen man retains the image of God, even in a measure, he remains like God in certain respects, even though fallen. And it is easy to make the jump from saying that man, even in his fallen state, because he is still image-bearer, is still under grace, is less than as bad as he can be, and is capable of doing good things. And so the retention of the image becomes the avenue to introduce common grace as a restraining inner influence in fallen and unregenerate man.
But if the image is truly lost in the fall, in its entirety—as Scripture teaches—then man is truly depraved, incapable of doing any good and inclined to all evil. Then he is not the object of grace, but of wrath. And grace comes to him only through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Another Look at Common Grace (2019 edition), p. 159]

[A careful] scrutiny of the [text], and the [context] in which [it is] found, will clearly show that the reference is to the original creation of man by God. Man is unique in God’s world. He alone, among all creatures, was originally created as image-bearer of God. That unique character of man remains even though he fell. The image does not remain in the sense that man still bears the image, but it remains in the sense that he is still unique and still capable of being an image-bearer, because he is rational and moral.



John Owen (1616-1683)

[Source: The Works of John Owen, vol. 12, p. 162]

They cannot prove that man, in the condition and state of sin, doth retain any thing of the image of God. The places mentioned, as Gen. ix. 6, and James iii. 9, testify only that he was made in the image of God at first, but that he doth still retain the image they intimate not; nor is the inference used in the places taken from what man is, but what he was created.



Homer C. Hoeksema (1923-1989)

Man was made after God’s image. Notice that the text does not say that fallen man still possesses that image of God. This is not true. He has lost it and has become the image-bearer of the devil. But God made man in his image in the beginning. God made man so as to resemble himself. God made him in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. In man’s whole nature, with heart and mind and will and all his strength, when God breathed into man the breath of life, he so formed him that man would resemble God and reflect his perfection in a creaturely measure. Such, briefly, is the idea of the image of God.



More to come! (DV)

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