Angels created in the image of God?

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Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sorry if this is a no brainier, because I know I should have given this more thought than I previously have.

Ever since I have been a Christian I have only hear that we were created in the image of God. Also I have never heard anything about Angels having a soul/spirit. And I was asked a lot of questions recently about angels and have realized that my angel theology is seriously lacking.

Then this morning I cracked open a book and it said this :

"God is Spirit (John 4:24)
Angles are called sons of God (Job 1:6;Gen 6:2;Psalm 89:6;Job 38:7)
Angels have no physical frame, they are not like men and women,and they are not manifested after this order of things; since, however, they are called sons of God, the inference is clear that they bear the image of God. "

1) are angels spirit? Do they have a spirit? If they are only spirit, then what about the visions of John, Isaiah, and what about the angel Mary saw?

2) are they in the image of God?

3) what exactly does this "image of God"? I have head many things, but I am curious to what you guys think.

4) I'm sorry if this sounds selfish or arrogant , but I am only trying to work out different things that I have been taught. So here goes...do we have more worth than angels? Are we a higher rank than them? Again I'm sorry about that question seeming arrogant.

I'd love your help brothers, please be easy on me!
 

Jash Comstock

Puritan Board Freshman
I will respond to point 3, as to what the image of God entails with a quote from the WCF (4:2) The LBCF is nearly identical here.

After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

This is what entails the image of God, " He created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls... after His own image". This is what sets us above the creatures, including angels. They do not have this image imprint of God upon them.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Man is Scripture's designated "image of God." I don't know of any Scripture that tells us explicitly the angels are (also) that image, or bear that image in the same way that man does.

Angels were not given dominion over creation, the way man was. In this capacity, man exercises a kingly function, thus uniquely imaging God in this way (and there may be many others).

Heb.1:1-14 demonstrates a clean distinction between the angels and the Son. In other words, "son/s" is a term that has a wide interpretive range, depending on what else is said in connection.

Nor are there a great many references to angels as "sons;" half those proposed in your quote would be disputed, some quite vigorously. Most such are located in poetic literature, which calls for extra interpretive care since figurative language is part-and-parcel of that genre.

Nor should it be said, that since the Son is the "express image" (Heb.1:3; Col.1:15), and man (who is a little lower than the angels, Heb.2:7) is made in the image (Col.3:10), that angels being somewhere "in between" must likewise be image-bearers.

True it may be that angels have certain characteristics of image-bearers. But perhaps the reason why Scripture does not describe them as such is because there are important ways in which they are not properly thought of in those terms.

It would appear that kingly dominion is one very important way in which angels are not created in God's image, and perhaps Satan's fall stands in connection to his assertion of such a claim.

Addressing your specific points:
1) Angels are spirits, so it is plainly said Heb.1:7,14; Ps.104:4. That they have been at times given appearances and visible, tangible guises is no argument that they are not essentially spirit (or spiritual). They do not have bodies as ours, which is evidenced by their manifold forms, their apparent indifference to space and physical barriers, and their occasionally exhibited glory. Whether man possessing a glorified and spiritual body (1Cor.15:44) will be more comparable to holy angels is impossible to judge.

2) Angels may show characteristics of their Creator, and make some sort of image in that way. But then, so may a winged bird specifically represent a certain aspect of God's character, Ps.91:4, without properly being called the image of God. In some way, man is the image of God in a more complete way than any other creature. All the while, man may still fall beneath angels in terms of dignity and glory, simply because of the special service they perform for God.

3) Man is partly the image of God by what he is, and partly by what he does. I once wrote a lengthy paper on the subject, so I can attest that the matter may be explored quite deeply. But perhaps the Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 10 will suffice shortly:
Question 10. How did God create man?
Answer. God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

4) I'm not sure "image" is precisely where we would want to establish the ground of "worth." Certainly God has made some investment in man whom he has designated his image. But his imputation of value does not derive from the intrinsic worth of man as image. God imputes value to the creature by making man in his image.

It pleased God to ordain salvation for man in his fall, whereas he was pleased NOT to ordain salvation for the angels who fell. But I do not think that we can therefore determine whether man or angels has greater worth, simply due to the manner in which God willed to deal with the rebellion of each order. Consider the following story:

A king has two sons; and he has a gatekeeper who has a servant-boy. In time, one son commits treason against the throne; and he enlists the servant-boy as an accomplice of sorts. The gatekeeper himself is sympathetic to the rebel, a fact that later comes to light once the rebellion is suppressed.

The king--who has a very well ordered hierarchy of values--decides that though his rebel son is worth a king's ransom, he must be banished forever for the sake of the greatest lesson on impartiality for the masses. At the same time, he allows his remaining loyal son to undergo a life threatening donation of a kidney to the gatekeeper's servant-boy, whom he also does not banish.​

Now, does this choice of action by the king mean that the servant-boy (and the gatekeeper) has more "worth" than the forever banished rebel son? Or the donor son, given the risks? I think the answer depends very much on the way the question is framed. The issues involved are complex, far from a single dimension. In one sense the banished son has great intrinsic worth, though he has been sent away forever. In another sense, the donor son is irreplaceable. In another sense, the gatekeeper of questionable loyalty is being treated as having the greatest worth (assuming he has some affection for the servant-boy). And in another sense, the negligible servant-boy is being treated as a king, because of the merciful gift lavished on him.

In terms of the created order, man in his present state (and perhaps always, even in heaven) has a lower "rank" than angels. Christ alone has been elevated (returned) above all creation, to his rightful station. He has raised the image of God to its highest conceivable place, him who now bears our nature (man's) in himself. The angels may always outshine man in terms of sheer glory and the raw power at their command. What is that to us, who in happy occupation of our designated station fulfill our roles; even as we contemplate Christ our elder brother, who elevated our shared humanity beyond imagination?

Hope this is helpful.
 
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