Genesis 1:26-30 God Gives Us a Purpose

Gen. 1:26   Then God said, “Let us make man* in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Gen. 1:27  So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Gen. 1:28   And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

This passage has started lots of discussion over what the words “in the image of God” actually mean. And while this is a good thing, I personally believe that can detract from what God is actually saying in the passage.

In my opinion these verses are about the dominion (power) given to us by God and it’s purpose for His Glory.

The word “image” in verses twenty-six and twenty-seven being translated as resemblance (looking like God) [1] and it’s root Hebrew word being interpreted as a representative figure or idol[2]. The word “likeness” can refer to external appearance, or having the same qualities as someone else [3]

This is obviously confusing since we don’t look like God, and while Adam and Eve were perfect, they didn’t have the power of God either.

Because of this most Bible scholars take the view that being in the Image of God means that we are His “representative figures” or ones who rule in His place.

This idea is strengthened by the fact that we see the word “dominion” twice in this passage (three times if you include “subdue”) and it’s explained further in 1:29–30.

Here the word dominion clearly means power over all the rest of creation (animals, plants, trees) but I believe the idea goes much deeper than this.

You see God has given us (humans) abilities that no other creation can claim:

  1. A soul that dwell for eternity in Heaven or Hell
  2. Emotions [4]
  3. An intellect that can rationally deal with problems
  4. And above all other things the freedom to choose whether we will obey or disobey God

We will get into this tomorrow with Genesis 2:15–17, but the Lord always gives us a choice in life whether to accept or reject Him, and the freedom to choose the way we view as best. This is because He desires individuals who will choose Him WILLINGLY instead of obeying just because something bad may happen to them.

It’s important to understand this dominion (ability to choose, intellect, emotions) is given to us for a very specific reason. It’s so that we can represent God’s rule in Heaven with our use of power on the earth.

Of course it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out we don’t use our dominion to represent God:

  1. We use it to control others
  2. We use it to gain the approval of others
  3. We use it to emphasize our own needs and completely ignore others
  4. And above all we use it to choose our own way

The strange thing is no matter what we invest our dominion or choices in it still doesn’t bring satisfaction. Oh at first it brings happiness,but before long we find ourselves looking for another “fix.”

There’s a good reason for that

My dominion isn’t about me

It’s about glorifying God

So until the day I give control of my mind and will over to the Lord life will just be one empty purpose after another.

The good news is there’s more to this life than your own desires…and it’s as we embrace God’s purpose for us that we can truly know what it’s like to be fulfilled.


  1. A Hebrew Definition is image, likeness, of resemblance, of God’s making man in his own image.  ↩
    1. MRlRx tselem, tseh´-lem; from an unused root meaning to shade; a phantom, i.e. (figuratively) illusion, resemblance; hence, a representative figure,
  2. t…wmV;d n.f. likeness, similitude (mostly late) —
    1. likeness, similitude, of external appearance (likeness, i.e. something that appeared like).
    2. adverbially, in likeness of, like as.  ↩
  3. animals can show basic emotions, but they definitely don’t go as deep as ours  ↩

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