The Image of God (4)Adam and Eve (Man, humanity) were made in the image of God to reflect God within the creation. Creation in general reflects the glory of God (Psalm 19) but something is uniquely true about humanity. Humans were given dominion over the earth and were to further and cultivate the harmony and fruitfulness of the creation in imitation of the Holy Father that made them. Humans (as a class of beings and not simply as a mass of isolated individuals) were to represent God by reflecting the character and nature of their Father (compare Ephesians 5:1, Luke 6:35-36 and Matthew 5:9).
It was this creative act and purpose of God that constitutes humanity "in the image of God." It is a relational matter and not some element that God built into humans (such as, rational ability, moral capacity or a non-biological feature such as a deathless spirit or soul).
The OT church (Israel) was and the NT church is called to reflect God in his holiness. "Be holy for I am holy." God’s glorious incomparability (his holiness) is found in a character which expresses itself in righteousness, in kindness to the ungrateful and generosity to the wayward. In this way God’s people are to image or reflect him (compare Acts 14:16-17, Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:35-36, 1 Peter 1:13-16).
All this God purposed in creation but creation as it is rehearsed in Genesis, true as it is, is not the full story of God’s creative purpose. Colossians 1:15-16 reveals that there was more in the heart and mind of God than humanity as revealed in Adam and Eve. The creation was to lead to and end in Jesus Christ for whom and by whom it was made. And in him, in whom the image of God is seen in cloudless perfection, a "new" humanity is to reflect God (Romans 8:29). The new humanity in Jesus Christ that God foreknew were, by God’s power and purpose, to be conformed to the likeness of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the creation of Man in the image of God is connected with dominion (Genesis 1:26-27 and Psalm 8). In was in Man that the reign of God was to be seen on the earth. It was the Lord Jesus himself who taught us that before we ask for bread or forgiveness or divine protection that we were to pray that his (God’s) will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-13). Nor is it any surprise that the entire NT and the Gospels in particular show us that the kingdom (reign) of God shows itself in the person and work of Jesus Christ who is the image of God (Colossians 1:15—eikon and Hebrews 1:3—charakter).