The Creation of Mankind

How God Did it

One of the principles by which God governs his universe is the law “like begets like,” as seen in the verse “after his kind” (Gen. 1:12, 21, 24, 25). God created various forms of animal and plant life, commanding them to reproduce themselves after their own kind. When God created man he continued the same principle. God highlighted his creation with a representation and analogy of himself (Gen. 1:26).

In a very real sense, man was not just another catalog selection of possible life forms in the mind of God, but rather, man is a representation of God himself. This is what Luke communicated when he called “Adam., the son of God” (Luke 3:38).

The Image of God

The Word

“image” appears only thirty-four times in the Old Testament and twenty-three times in the New. The expression “image of God” is used primarily in reference to man, but it is also used to speak of idols, statues, and portraits. An image is a representation or replica of one person or thing by another. When Jesus asked his listeners whose “image” was on the coin (Matt. 22:20), they all understood him. When one looks at an image in the mirror, he sees an optical counterpart of himself. An image is something that is similar, with the same properties, but not necessarily identical.

The Use of Image in Scripture

  1. Of man in the image of God -1 Cor. 11:7
  2. Of Christ in the image of God – 2 Cor. 4:4
  3. Of man in the image of Christ – Rom. 8:20
  4. Of idols as images of God – Rom. 1:23

The Likeness of God

While some theologians do not distinguish between the terms “image” and “likeness,” we think that words are important in Scripture and there is a distinction between them. The term “likeness” is used throughout Scripture in the sense of comparison or analogy. In our English language we may use the word “like” to make comparisons, as a child may look or act like his parent. A scene in one city may look like a similar scene in another city.

This idea of comparison is seen in the way 13 bible translators have translated the word in the original language. It is translated “likeness” twenty-two times, and also on occasion translated “fashion,” “manner,” “similitude,” “like,” “like as,” “shape,” and “made like to.” The following chart identifies three truths in the New Testament concerning likeness.

The Use of Likeness in the New Testament

  1. Of Adam’s sin – Rom. 5:14
  2. Of the death, burial, and, resurrection of Christ – Rom. 6:5
  3. Of Christ in human flesh – Phil. 2:7

The Freedom of Man

The best way to describe the original freedom of man at creation would be “freedom minus one”-he was free to do everything except that he could not eat of the fruit of certain trees in the garden. The idea of unlimited freedom is a misnomer. If everyone was completely free to accomplish his own desire, without any restrictions, he could not maintain his liberty because of his incomplete wisdom, power, or self-restraint.

At creation, Adam was given the fewest restrictions possible. For his positive restrictions, man was placed in a garden and commanded to keep it (Gen. 2:15). He was told to name the animals (Gen. 2:19). Because man was created in the image and likeness of God, he was also given dominion over the rest of creation (Gen. 1:26). Man was given only one negative restriction, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:16, 17).

The only other direction God gave man was to reproduce and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28). This is as close to “unlimited freedom” as anyone can have. Always, when man accepts personal liberty, he accepts personal responsibility. Adam had liberty to eat of the garden, but he also had responsibility to care for it. He was given both the responsibility of naming the animals and also dominion over them. This balance of personal liberty and responsibility was perfectly characterized in Adam before the Fall.

Man’s Intellect & Soul

The term, “brain” is not used in Scripture, although its intellectual function is surely there. The word “heart” is the immaterial term that conveys the intellectual activities of man. The brain is the physical organ through which this phenomenon operates.

A number of specific intellectual activities are identified as belonging to the heart. The absence of one or more of these activities or even the severe limitation of any of these, as in the case of a retarded individual, does not make a person less of a person. Each person has some intellectual ability to a greater or lesser degree than another.

The tremendous intellectual capacity is part of God’s design for the uniqueness of every individual because man is created in the image of God who has all wisdom. The following chart identifies some of these intellectual activities ascribed to the heart in Scriptures.

Intellectual Activities Conveyed Through the Heart

Thinking – Heb. 8:10

Thinking is a mental process by which we evaluate and interpret what we have seen, heard, experienced, or otherwise learned. When Paul promised the Philippians, “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7), he attached a key list of eight attributes by which they were to evaluate the content of their thinking (Phil.. 4:8).

God promised in the new covenant, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts” (Jer. 31:;33; cf. Heb. 8:1o). The writer of Hebrews also ascribed thought patterns to the heart (Heb. 4:12).

Planning – Heb. 4:12

The ability to plan grows out of dreams and desires, and at other times out of necessity or self-preservation. Planning is one of the greatest abilities of mean because it involves the immaterial man. Planning involves the ability to develop a strategy by which to accomplish the perceived goals that may arise from emotions, self-perception, or self-preservation.

Since plans would be useless unless man had ability to decide to carry them out, they are based on the total inner man. It is again the writer to the Hebrews who teaches us the heart is the instrument for planning: “For the word of God is quick … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

Memory – Luke 2:19

The ability to recall the past is an intellectual activity springing from the intellect or heart. A number of unusual things occurred at the birth of Christ. While most people only observed them, “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Memory is a reconsideration of a matter on a more personal and perhaps more practical level after it has occurred.

David identified the heart in connection with Scripture memory. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11). When we obey the command to meditate on the Scriptures (Josh. 1:8), we are reflecting on a portion of Scripture seeking to apply it in various ways to different parts of our life. This is an activity of the heart of man.

Perception – Matt. 13:14

Sometimes we will meet a special person who sees many things we fail to see. We may listen to a lecture, but when that special person listens to the same things, he picks up much more than we do. We may be looking across a meadow and see little but grass while the! one standing next to us sees a groundhog, some birds, or a stick trapped in the creek. This ability to see and understand is called perception.

Perception is the power to discern or interpret what we hear, see, or read, to see the connection between things. The lack of perception by religious leaders who listened to Jesus was a result of a darkened heart (Matt. 13:14).

Reasoning – Mark 2-8

Finally, the ability to weigh the evidence and make a rational and reasonable decision is an intellectual activity of the heart. When Jesus forgave the sins of a sick man, some listeners responded by thinking he was doing wrong. They knew that only God could forgive sins and therefore they reasoned that Jesus must be a blasphemer: “And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8).

Jesus was not critical here of the reasoning process but rather recognized it, and their ability to reason became the basis by which he condemned them. The ability to reason is a God-given ability. Used properly, God is glorified, but used falsely, man harms himself.


Often we speak of the heart as the emotional seat of man. When two people fall in love, they might say, “I love you with all my heart.” A valentine hears: is the symbol of persons who are emotionally involved. Most people have no problem understanding the use of the word “heart” to reflect the emotional part of man.

Man is an emotional being and these emotions spring from the heart. When Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” (Matt. 22:37), he identified the source of love, and later identified the opposite-hate-as springing from the heart (Matt. 15:19). When he said, “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1), he recognized fear as an emotion of the heart.

In the same conversation with his disciples Jesus observed, “And ye now, therefore, have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:22, also v. 6). The Bible identifies several emotions springing from the heart.

Emotions in Scripture

  • Love Matt. – 22:37
  • Hate Matt. – 15:19
  • Confidence –  John 14:1
  • Fear –  John 14:27
  • Joy –  John 16:6
  • Sorrow –  John 16:16
  • Peace –  Phil. 4:7
  • Frustration –  Ps. 131
  • Unity & Gladness –  Acts 2:46
  • Division & Strife –  1 Cor. 1:10; 3:3

Creation Celebrates God’s Glory

Man was created to demonstrate the glory of God and to fellowship with the God of glory (John 17:5-24; Proverbs 8:22-30; Revelation 14:10). (THE DOCTRINE OF MAN, by Dr. H. L. Willmington, p. 39)

The creation of man “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) was for the express purpose of fellowship with God. “Man” (Adam, Hebrew) is from the same root as the word “ground” which shows that the body of man is from the earth, i.e., “of the dust.” “Image” and “likeness” are basically the same in intent. This says nothing about man’s physical nature but points to his spiritual and moral nature, i.e., mind, emotion, and will.

The body is designed for giving expression to this spiritual and moral selfhood. God created man so that man would be capable of fellowship with Him. Man alone has the qualities of intellect, emotion, and volition to equip him for ruling (“dominion”) the created order. Man is now a unique being; he is like his Creator… in essence as a spiritual being. That is what it means to be “in the image of God.” (CRISWELL STUDY BIBLE, p. 5)

God placed man in the garden of Eden (perfect environment) with complete freedom (moral freedom to choose) with only one prohibition — But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it (Genesis 2:17). Since man was yet in a state of unconfirmed holiness, God chose to test the moral constitution of His creation by placing him in a perfect environment, with but one restriction.

As God had created him, man was able not to sin. If he had not sinned, he would have been confirmed in righteousness and would subsequently not have been able to sin. Instead, he disobeyed God, died spiritually, and fell into a state that made him not able not to sin. (LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Vol. I, p. 17)

Man freely chose to disobey God, and freely exercised his mental, moral, and spiritual attributes against the direct commandment of God (Genesis 3). Man was separated from his Creator by a deliberate act of sin by man himself. Although man had broken away from God, God did not leave him to his lost condition. . . . God made coats of skins, and clothed them (Genesis 3:21b). This was His way of demonstrating that fellowship was restored. (Ibid., p. 24)

The animals slain to provide covering for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21b) was the first sacrifice in atonement for man’s sin, prefiguring the ultimate sin sacrifice, the death of Christ on the cross for a “covering” or propitiation of man’s sins (Romans 3:25). The Lord furnished the skins, fashioned the garments, and clothed Adam and Eve. God did it all; they did nothing. After divine condemnation and judgment for this first sin, God acted in mercy to provide a way of salvation (purpose for Christ’s death) and demonstrated His grace to cover the shame of man. (CRISWELL STUDY BIBLE, p. 10)

God is an all-caring God full of love and mercy and is not willing that any should die and go to Hell (I Timothy 2:4; II Peter 3:9; John 6:4).

What is the “Gap Theory”?

In the far distant, dateless past God created a perfect heaven and perfect earth. Satan was ruler of the earth which was peopled by a race of ‘men’ without any souls. Eventually, Satan, who dwelled in a garden of Eden composed of minerals (see Ezekiel 28:13), rebelled by desiring to become like God (Isaiah 14).

Because of Satan’s fall, sin entered the universe and brought on the earth God’s judgement in the form of a flood (indicated by the water of Genesis 1:2), and then a global ice-age when the light and heat from the sun were somehow removed. All the plant, animal, and human fossils upon the earth today date from this “Lucifer’s Flood” and do not bear any genetic relationship with the plants, animals, and fossils living upon the earth today. (LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Vol. I, pp. 9-10)

The Gap Theory locates the fall of Satan between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. In Genesis 1:1 God created a perfect and complete universe. Between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 Satan’s rebellion marred this perfect universe. From Genesis 1:2 on, God remolds this sin-marred creation. (WILLMINGTON’S GUIDE TO THE BIBLE, pp. 4,5)

If a gap is allowed between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, there is ample time for the geological ages postulated by scientists either in the eons of cosmic history encompassed by Genesis 1:1 or in the chaotic state into which the cosmos was plunged in the satanic rebellion. (CRISWELL STUDY BIBLE, p. 3)

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847, Free Church of Scotland) popularized the Gap Theory; it was elaborated by George H. Pember in the 1870’s, and then canonized by C. I. Scofield in the SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE 1917 edition.

Threefold Problem Of The Gap Theory

It is Unscientific

The Gap Theory was (in part) a Christian attempt to reconcile the Creation account with the long periods of time in the Theory of Evolution. But evolution itself as a theory is totally unscientific, defying the second Law of Thermodynamics.

It is Unscriptural

The Gap Theory would describe Adam walking atop a gigantic fossilized animal graveyard. Paul, however, in Romans 5:12 and 8:20-22 states that man’s sin brought about death, even of animals.

It is Unnecessary

The most natural interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 is taking it at face value, without addition or subtraction.

Genesis 1:1 thus becomes a summary statement of creation.

  • In the first verse God tells us What He did.
  • In the remaining verses He tells us How He did it.


This ministry rejects the Gap Theory as being erroneous based on the type of Hebrew clauses (circumstantial) found in Genesis 1:2. This means that verse 2 is a description of the earth as it was created originally (main clause of Genesis 1:1), not how it became at a time subsequent to creation. The circumstantial noun clause and the Hebrew word waw disjunctive demonstrate this point.

The Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) indicates the disjunctive by the Greek word de in Genesis 1:2; 2:6,10 and 12. In all four cases it describes the preceding conditions. In other words, the initial creation was formless and empty, a condition soon remedied. The phrase means that at this point in God’s creative activity the earth was yet unfashioned and uninhabited (note Isaiah 45:18 where it says, … he created it not in vain [tohu], he formed it to be inhabited). (LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Vol. 1, p. 10)

The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

Latest posts by Dr. Elmer Towns (see all)