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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What is the "image of God?" Matthew Henry

The first post on this subject quoted what the Bible says about it. The second quoted from John Calvin's commentary on Genesis 1:27, and its context. The third did the same for John Wesley. In this post, I do the same for Matthew Henry. It is my understanding that this material is public domain, so I quote at length. I thank those who have placed this material on the Internet.

from Matthew Henry's An Exposition, With Practical Observations, of The First Book of Moses, Called Genesis

Chapter 1

III. That man was made in God’s image and after his likeness, two words to express the same thing and making each other the more expressive; image and likeness denote the likest image, the nearest resemblance of any of the visible creatures. Man was not made in the likeness of any creature that went before him, but in the likeness of his Creator; yet still between God and man there is an infinite distance. Christ only is the express image of God’s person, as the Son of his Father, having the same nature. It is only some of God’s honour that is put upon man, who is God’s image only as the shadow in the glass, or the king’s impress upon the coin. God’s image upon man consists in these three things:-1. In his nature and constitution, not those of his body (for God has not a body), but those of his soul. This honour indeed God has put upon the body of man, that the Word was made flesh, the Son of God was clothed with a body like ours and will shortly clothe ours with a glory like that of his. And this we may safely say, That he by whom God made the worlds, not only the great world, but man the little world, formed the human body, at the first, according to the platform he designed for himself in the fulness of time. But it is the soul, the great soul, of man, that does especially bear God’s image. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent immortal spirit, an influencing active spirit, herein resembling God, the Father of Spirits, and the soul of the world. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. The soul of man, considered in its three noble faculties, understanding, will, and active power, is perhaps the brightest clearest looking-glass in nature, wherein to see God. 2. In his place and authority: Let us make man in our image, and let him have dominion. As he has the government of the inferior creatures, he is, as it were, God’s representative, or viceroy, upon earth; they are not capable of fearing and serving God, therefore God has appointed them to fear and serve man. Yet his government of himself by the freedom of his will has in it more of God’s image than his government of the creatures. 3. In his purity and rectitude. God’s image upon man consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10. He was upright, Eccl. 7:29. He had an habitual conformity of all his natural powers to the whole will of God. His understanding saw divine things clearly and truly, and there were no errors nor mistakes in his knowledge. His will complied readily and universally with the will of God, without reluctancy or resistance. His affections were all regular, and he had no inordinate appetites or passions. His thoughts were easily brought and fixed to the best subjects, and there was no vanity nor ungovernableness in them. All the inferior powers were subject to the dictates and directions of the superior, without any mutiny or rebellion. Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents, in having the image of God upon them. And this honour, put upon man at first, is a good reason why we should not speak ill one of another (Jam. 3:9), nor do ill one to another (Gen. 9:6), and a good reason why we should not debase ourselves to the service of sin, and why we should devote ourselves to God’s service. But how art thou fallen, O son of the morning! How is this image of God upon man defaced! How small are the remains of it, and how great the ruins of it! The Lord renew it upon our souls by his sanctifying grace!

I am aware that these posts haven't really my musings, but those of three great scholars of the past, thoughts by a scholar from the present, and, most importantly, what the Bible says about the subject. These are more important than anything I could say, of course. If anyone is aware of any other public domain commentaries by recognized scholars on this passage, I'd appreciate knowing about it.

I expect to continue, in due course, by presenting thoughts of current thinkers, including my own.

Thanks for reading.

Note: The Christian Carnival won't appear until tomorrow. God willing, I'll post "Sunspots" then, not, as usual, on Wednesday.

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