Contrary to the Church Fathers, Berkhof notes that “image” and “likeness” are synonyms in scripture and do not represent any sort of distinction. Gen. 1:26 uses both words whereas v. 27 uses only the first, making it clear that use of the one is sufficient to represent the other as well. Gen. 5:1 likewise refers only to the “likeness,” whereas v. 3 uses both. Gen. 9:6 has “image” as a complete expression of the idea, he says. Indeed, “Turning to the New Testament, we find “image” and “glory” used in I Cor. 11:7, “image” alone in Col. 3:10, and “likeness” only in Jas. 3:9. Evidently the two are used interchangeably in Scripture.”
Berkhof argues that the juxtaposition of “image” and “likeness” exists for the purpose of emphasis, in order to drive the point home that the imaging is perfect, such that the archetypal God produces a perfect ectype in man. This means that man is the very image of God, as Paul says in 1 Cor. 11:7, although it is also the case that humans “bear” the image of God (1 Cor. 15:49). This image investiture includes “original righteousness” (Gen. 1:31; Ecc. 7:29). In these two passages, man is described as having been made “very good” and “upright.” Indeed, being restored to the image of God entails being renewed in Christ, restored to true knowledge (Col. 3:10), righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). These three elements of original righteousness (knowledge, righteousness and holiness), which are lost in man’s fall into sin, are regained in Christ. Berkhof says that this “restricted” sense of the image of God refers to the moral image, but that this original righteousness does not exhaust what it means to have been made in the image of God.
Berkhof extends image investiture to natural affections, intellectual power and moral freedom. He argues that losing all components of the image of God would mean ceasing to be human.
“This part of the image of God has indeed been vitiated by sin, but still remains in man even after his fall in sin. Notice that man even after the fall, irrespective of his spiritual condition, is still represented as the image of God, Gen. 9;6; I Cor. 11:7; Jas. 3:9. The crime of murder owes its enormity to the fact that it is an attack on the image of God. In view of these passages of Scripture it is unwarranted to say that man has completely lost the image of God.”
Since man is made in the image of God, and God is spirit, it is unsurprising that there is a spiritual component of man. This spirituality finds expression, Berkhof notes, in the image of God. God breathes into man’s nostrils to cause him to become a living soul (Gen. 2:7), and this “breath of life” is the principle of life by which man becomes a living soul, which constitutes his essence. This soul is united to a body but can exist without it. It is in this respect that, although a psychophysical entity, man can be spoken of in a manner apart from his body. Thus, the destruction of the body does not entail the destruction of the soul (Matt. 10:28).
“The Bible says that man — not merely the soul of man — was created in the image of God, and man, the “living soul,” is not complete without the body. Moreover, the Bible represents murder as the destruction of the body, Matt. 10:28, and also as the destruction of the image of God in man, Gen. 9:6. We need not look for the image in the material substance of the body; it is found rather in the body as the fit instrument for the self-expression of the soul. Even the body is destined to become in the end a spiritual body, that is, a body which is completely spirit-controlled, a perfect instrument of the soul.”
Immortality also constitutes an element according to which man is made in the image of God. God alone is immortal (1 Tim. 6:16), yet humanity is also spoken of as immortal, and thus, God must have communicated this immortality to humanity. It was falling into sin which caused humanity to become capable of death, implying an original immortality which was only vitiated by original sin.
“Death was threatened as a punishment for sin, Gen. 2:17, and that this included bodily or physical death is evident from Gen. 3:19. Paul tells us that sin brought death into the world, Rom. 5:12; I Cor. 15:20,21; and that death must be regarded as the wages of sin, Rom. 6:23.”
Some consider dominion over nature a component of image investiture. Some say it is simply an office given to humanity. Nevertheless, man’s dominion over nature and his image investiture is spoken of in a single breath, Berkhof points out, implying that the two are related (Gen. 1:26; Ps. 8:5, 6).