The pinnacle of creation is humanity. Humans (both male and female) are made in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:26 and Gen. 5:1–2). They therefore have life that is sacred (cf. Gen. 9:6), and they are to resemble God in character, speech, and actions so that they might have relationships of fellowship and worship with him and with one another. Their calling was, in short, to be fruitful so that the glory and goodness of God would multiply through them (Gen. 1:28). That is, they were to be agents of God’s dominion on earth, and the blessing of fruitfulness would enable them to fill the earth with God’s image-bearers. As God’s kingdom extends to the whole world, so his rule was to extend to every corner of the earth by his direct influence and by his image-bearers—which we are privileged to be.
People failed by their sin (Gen. 3), corruption (Gen. 6:5–6), and rebelliousness to fulfill their image-bearing responsibilities (Gen. 11:1–9; cf. Ps. 2:1–2). Yet the Lord renewed the mandate of fruitful multiplication to Noah (Gen. 9:1, 7) and to Abraham (Gen. 12:2; 17:2, 6, 8). He similarly blessed Israel (Ex. 1:7) and promised to bless her as she humbly obeyed (Lev. 26:9). Yet, again and again, Israel failed.
Jesus Christ, however, as the second Adam, fulfills God’s image-bearing purposes and enables God’s people to do the same. The apostle Paul speaks of “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4; cf. Col. 1:15). Jesus is the image of God that we were intended to be. And as we are united to him by faith, God sees us as his children, clothed in the righteousness of his Son, to whom we are conformed (Rom. 8:29) in righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). Through his living a perfect life and suffering the penalty for our sin as the perfect God-man, Jesus provided for humans to be renewed in the image of God through faith in him (2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 2:6–7; Col. 3:10). Thus, those united to Christ again become God’s image-bearing participants in his rule over the earth, fulfilling the original mandate to multiply and make manifest God’s goodness and glory in all the places that his people dwell (Col. 1:13–20).
In short, God’s original goal of spreading his righteous rule throughout the earth is being realized by the proclamation of the gospel of grace throughout the world (see Col. 1:6, 10). Just as Adam and Eve were to reproduce and multiply, so the early church is spoken of as reproducing and multiplying (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20; Col. 1:8–15).
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible.