Before we can answer the question as to why God made man we must clarify the question. The “man” in the question we are going to answer here is not referring to mankind or humanity. The question we are going to answer is why did God make male human beings?
Some might answer right away “for the glory of God”. And that is absolutely true. God created all things for his honor, glory and pleasure according the Scriptures.
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.“
Revelation 4:11 (KJV)
But all things do not glorify God in the same way. Does a deer eating grass glorify God in the same way that a human being does in praying to God? The answer is no. Does a bear eating honey from a bee’s nest glorify God in the same way that someone sharing the Gospel with another person does? The answer is no.
So yes all of God’s creation was created for his honor, glory and pleasure but all of his creation was not made to honor in him the same way. Each thing he made was designed to bring him glory in a particular way. And male human beings are no exception to this. Male human beings were made to bring God glory in a very special way.
The Creation of Man
Before we continue on to the creation account we need to once again come back to the word “man” to clarify its use in the Bible.
In the Bible the word “man” can be talking about four different things. The first way it is used is to refer to the first man, Adam. A second way it is used is refer to mankind or all humanity. A third way it is used is to refer to male human beings in general. And a fourth way it is used is to refer to a particular man but not Adam.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and many times when we see the Hebrew word for “man” it literally is the word “adam”. So when you see Adam or man in the OT, it may be the same Hebrew word in the sentence. The context of the sentence determines whether we translate it as “Adam” (using it as a name) versus “man” meaning either mankind or male human beings. The Old Testament also uses another word for man – (iysh), and woman (ishshah).
With all that as an introduction, let’s look through some of the most popular passages in the Bible describing God’s purpose for making man:
“26 And God said, Let us make man [adam] in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man [adam] in his own image, in the image of God created he him [eth haa-‘adam]; male and female created he them.”
Genesis 1:26-27 (KJV)
In the quote above from Genesis I have added in brackets with the Hebrew words that the English words are translating.
So in verse 26 we see that God says let us(a reference to the trinity) make man or “adam” in our image, after our likeness” and then in verse 27 it tells us God created man, again “adam” in his own image.
Remember that we just said adam can refer to the first man Adam, to male human beings, to all of humanity or to a particular man but not Adam. The popular interpretation of man in these three verses has been that it is referring to all mankind.
So the popular reading understanding of Genesis 1:27 is as follows:
“So God created humans in his image, in image of God made he them, and he made two variations of humans – male and female“.
But the phrase “in the image of God made he him” contradicts this interpretation of the word adam in Genesis 1:27. The exact Hebrew phrase here is eth haa-‘adam. “eth” means “this same”, and “haa” is similar to our English word “the”. Literally this phrase means “this same man”. It refers very particularly to Adam, not mankind in general. This is why it is correct that that translators accurately add the phrase “created he him”. The “him” here, refers to a particular person – to Adam.
The phrase “eth haa-‘adam” determines for us how adam is being used when it comes to God creating man in his image. It refers particularly to adam and more generally to male human beings as we will point out from other Scripture passages.
So the correct interpretation of this passage would be:
“So God created Adam in his image, in the image of God create he the same man, male and female created he them.”
So it was Adam and not Eve what was created in the image of God.
Now I know that what I just showed you goes against what most people have heard and been taught from the Bible. We are taught in our culture that God created man and woman equally in his image to be his image bearers. And those who teach that man and woman were equally created in God’s image to be his image bearers base their belief on the word “them” as we will now discuss.
But what about “them” in Genesis 1:26-28?
Let’s look at this same passage from Genesis 1 and now we will highlight a different portion of it:
26 And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:26-28 (KJV)
Those Christian teachers who reject the fact that God only made male human beings as his image bearers will use the word “them” in these three verses to say God was saying he made “them” – both man and woman – in his image.
I do not dispute that the word “them” in these verses refers to both Adam and Eve and all mankind by extension. But what is God saying about “them”?
He is saying two things:
1. “male and female” – he created “them” both. But that does not mean he created in them in the same way or created them both in his image. In fact we know from Genesis chapter 2 that God did not even create them at the same time or even in the same ways. Man was created from the dust of the ground and woman was created from the rib of man.
2. God gave “them”, male and female, all humans dominion over all the living things on earth.
And giving both men and women dominion over all living things did not make them equals either in nature or in position. Let’s look at parents. The Bible is clear that both the father and mother have authority over their children.
20 My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Proverbs 6:20 (KJV)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
Ephesians 6:1-3 (KJV)
So there is no question that parents are both given authority and dominion over their children, and they are both to be obeyed and honored by their children.
But while both have dominion over the children, the father is the one who retains ownership of them and the mother’s authority over the children operates under her husband’s authority over her.
Bringing this back around to the Genesis account – yes man and woman are both given dominion over creation, but we must remember Genesis 1 is a summary of the creation account, not the detail. Genesis 2 tells us the detail of how God gave man dominion over nature. God gave Adam the primary dominion and he exercised this authority by naming the animals according to their kinds:
19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the earth; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Genesis 2:19-20 (KJV)
Adam even exercised his authority over woman by naming her type as well:
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Genesis 2:23 (KJV)
So on this issue of the dominion that was given to “them” we agree that it was given to both men and women. But we see based on Genesis 2 that Adam was given the primary dominion over nature and Eve’s dominion was given only under the authority of Adam in the same way that both parents (a father and mother) have dominion over their children, but the father retains primary authority.
But in NO WAY does the fact that all human beings (both men and women) having dominion over nature take away from the order that God established with man being the head of woman. It also does not support the claim that both man and woman are equally made in God’s image.
Paul’s Divine Commentary on the Creation Account
One of the most neglected Scripture passages in all of Christianity today is found in 2 Corinthians 11:3-11:
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 11:7-11 (KJV)
After reading this passage it is obvious why this passage is completely left out of the teachings of most Christian ministries today. Because it directly conflicts with our equality obsessed culture.
Americans are obsessed with equality in every way. We worship it. Everything we believe in must bow to this American idol. And unfortunately most Christian churches today have changed their Christian faith by neglecting these portions of the Scriptures which don’t fit with our culture.
The Scriptures tell us this regarding our culture:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.“
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
How many Christians today are obeying Romans 12:2? How many Christians seek to conform the Bible to our culture instead of seeking to conform our culture to the Bible? I would argue that most Christians in our time are doing the former rather than the latter.
Now let’s return to 1 Corinthians 11:7-11. This passage teaches us five important truths:
- Man is to be head over woman in all things, just as Christ is always head of man in all things. This includes in the home, the church and all other places of society. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
- The reason man is to be head over woman in all things is because he is the image and glory of God but woman is the glory of man. God made man to image him and thereby bring him glory. (1 Corinthians 11:7)
- Man was not created for woman, but the woman for the man. (1 Corinthians 11:9)
- Woman is to wear a head covering for worship, prayer and teaching other women spiritual things to show the fact that God has placed a spiritual authority between himself and woman and that is man. (1 Corinthians 11:5 & 10, Titus 2:3-5)
- Although God made woman for man and from man, God also designed an interdependence between man and woman so that they would need each other. (1 Corinthians 11:11)
Is Woman Less Human than Man?
When we reveal the truth of God’s Word that it was man and not also woman that was made in God’s image charge will immediately be brought. “You think women are less human then men”. But that is not what God’s Word is teaching it all.
Men and women are equally human because God took woman from the man. But we must realize that God’s nature is not some unisex human nature or a blending of the male and female natures as so many Christian teachers falsely teach today.
But rather God’s nature is most directly reflected in the masculine form of the human nature. Male human beings are God’s image bearers and female human beings are not. This is why God is referred to as in the male form throughout the Bible as a king, father, husband and son. This is why the priests in the Old Testament had to be male and why Pastors and Deacons in the New Testament must be male. It is why Jesus picked 12 men as his Apostles and even the Apostle Paul who was chosen after his ascension was male. It is why God made men the heads of their homes.
So the correct view of the comparison of men to women would be this. While man and woman are equally human they do not equally image God. Only man is the image bearer of God.
Why Men and Women Both Have Attributes of God
Woman in her shared humanity with man has many of the attributes of God. But the most important thing we must understand regarding the shared attributes between God, man and woman is WHY men and women have the attributes they have.
Man was given his core human attributes as part of his purpose to image God with his life. He was of course given additional attributes, masculine attributes, to further help him reflect the image of God.
Woman on the other hand, was not given her shared attributes with God for the purpose of being his image bearer. She was given her shared attributes with God so that she could be a companion to man as God’s image bearer. Remember what God said:
“ And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.“
Genesis 2:20 (KJV)
No animal had a human nature. God saw that man needed a companion with a similar, yet different nature than his own. And so he created woman.
But woman was not just given her shared attributes with man and God for companionship with man. She was given these shared attributes for a much greater spiritual purpose to help man image God as a husband and as a father.
Throughout the Bible, the woman is symbolic of mankind, and the man is symbolic of God. This is why in the Old Testament and the New Testament God’s relationship with man is pictured as that of a husband to his wife, or father to his children.
The New Testament confirms this symbolism:
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.…31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
Ephesians 5:23 & 31 (KJV)
The eternal and spiritual reason why God made man was to make an image of himself for his glory and honor and the woman was made for man to help him fulfill his purpose to image God with his life. God wants man and woman to marry to symbolize the relationship between him and his people. The husband symbolizes him, and the wife symbolizes his people. He not only wants them to marry, but he also gave them his first command to “Be fruitful, and multiply“(Genesis 1:28) so that man can have children and image God as a father. It really is that simple.
The temporal reasons and roles for which God has made man
This brings us to some other reasons why God made man. As we said previously, the eternal and spiritual reason why God made man was for man to image God in his life and thereby bring him glory. But there are some temporal reasons why God made man as well, that actually tie back into his more eternal reason for making man. In order to symbolize God’s leadership of his people, his provision for his people, and his protection of his people, God has given man these roles during this life.
When I talk about temporal reasons, I mean before God does away with this earth and makes a new heaven and new earth. For the short time that we are born and live on this earth, God has placed us in temporary bodies and given us temporary roles to fulfill during this life. In many ways it is like a test. If you are born in a man’s body, you have a man’s test to take. If you are born in a woman’s body, you have a woman’s test to take.
Men Are to Image God By Being Leaders
God designed men to lead in society, the church and the home. Some men may be able to exercise leadership in all three of these areas. Some men may or may not exercise leadership in society and the church. But all men are called to exercise leadership in the home.
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
1 Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Ephesians 5:23-24 (KJV)
One note on I Corinthians 11:3. Some have tried to argue that the phrase “the head of the woman is man” could also be translated as “the head of the wife is the husband“. This is because the Greek word for “woman”, Gune, can also be translated as “wife” and the Greek word for “man”, Aner, can also be translated as “husband” as they appear in Ephesians 5:22-33.
The problem is that the context of I Corinthians 11:3 is very different than the context of Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5:22-33 is specifically speaking about marriage and the relationship between a husband and wife. I Corinthians 11 is speaking of the reasons for a woman to wear a head covering during worship. Paul begins his discussion by showing that woman is under the authority of man, just as man is under the authority of Christ, and Christ is under the authority of God the Father. He goes into creation to show that woman was made for man, not man for woman, and that because she is under the authority of man, a woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.
There was absolutely no distinction made by Paul between married and unmarried women in regards to head coverings. All women are under the general authority of men, and need to wear head coverings for worship, prayer or teaching other women.
Men Are to Image God By Being Protectors
God designed men to protect in society and in the family. Men are uniquely built and qualified for law enforcement and military service. But even if a man does not serve in these types of roles, all men are called to protect their family. Men are called to sacrifice themselves for those who are under their protection.
14 …Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.
Nehemiah 4:14b (KJV)
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Ephesians 5:25 & 28-30 (KJV)
In modern times we look at the word “cherish” as a more romantic word. A lot of faulty Christian marriage advice has been poured into this old English word “cherish”. But the English word “cherish” is actually translating the Greek word Thalpo that has the idea of protection and care, the way a mother hen would sit on her eggs to warm them and protect them.
Men Are to Image God By Being Providers
God designed men to provide for their society, church and family. Men are designed to work and produce to help society (through payment of taxes or public service), provide offerings to their church, and most importantly to provide food, clothing and shelter for their family.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Ephesians 5:29-30 (KJV)
The word for “nourisheth” has the idea of providing food for one’s wife (and by extension family).
The Old Testament speaks of this provision that a man is responsible to his wife for:
10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. 11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.
Exodus 21:10 (KJV)
God expects men to provide their wives with food, clothing and sexual relations which is what “duty of marriage” refers to.
But men do not just image God by leading, providing for and protecting their wives and children. They also image God by other ways that we will discuss next.
Men Are to Image God By Washing their Wives With the Word of God
Many churches today have no problem preaching on the following verse:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;“
Ephesians 5:25 (KJV)
Most churches today teach that this verse means husbands should not live for themselves, but instead they should live to please their wives and make them happy. This is how many Christian churches teach this passage.
But this is a false interpretation of this passage. Look at that same verse again within its full context:
“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)
Now we get a very different picture than the one given in most churches today. How did Christ love his church and what was the reason for his sacrifice? Was it to make his church happy? No! It was to make her HOLY. Christian husbands should not live for themselves or their wives. They should live to glorify God by imaging him with their lives. And part of a man imaging God as a husband is to wash his wife’s spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God as Christ does his church to help make her holy.
This passage reveals a fundamental truth of the Scriptures that not only is a husband a spiritual authority in his wife’s life, but he is also used by God to help her in her progressive sanctification.
But what does this washing with the Word by a husband toward his wife look like? The answers are found in the following two passages of the Scriptures:
“And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.“
1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.“
Revelation 3:19 (KJV)
I Corinthians 14:35 tells us that men are to teach their wives the Word of God. It is during this teaching process that they begin to wash their wives with the Word. But teaching his wife is not the only way a husband washes her with the Word. Revelation 3:19 shows that some types of spiritual washing by husbands toward their wives requires some scrubbing so speak. That scrubbing comes in the form of a husband having to sometimes rebuke and discipline his wife for her sinful actions towards him or others.
So husbands are called by God to image him in the lives of their wives by teaching them, rebuking them and disciplining them.
Men Are to Image God by Training Their Children
The Scriptures give men these admonitions to instruct and discipline their children:
“4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.“
Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)
“For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.“
Proverbs 3:12 (KJV)
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.“
Proverbs 13:24 (KJV)
Men Are to Image God in Grace, Mercy and Compassion
Not only are men to image God by leading, provide for, protecting, teaching, correcting and disciplining their wives and children but they also have another very important area that they are called to image God in the lives of their family.
The Scripture tell us this about God:
“But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.“
Psalm 86:15 (KJV)
As men we image God in the lives of our wives and children by showing them compassion, being gracious toward them, being patient with them and showing them mercy while all the time speaking the truth in love toward them.
Men Are to Image God In their Work
Men are not just called to image God as husbands and fathers. They are also called to image God as as workers. God loves to work. God loves to make his mark on the World and so should men. The Scriptures tell us the following things about a man and his work:
“Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.“
Psalm 104:23 (KJV)
“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.“
Proverbs 22:29 (KJV)
“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.“
Ecclesiastes 2:24 (KJV)
“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.“
John 5:17 (KJV)
Men are to Image God in their Sexuality
Probably the two biggest errors of the modern church are in the areas of equality which we have already mentioned and then this area of male sexuality. And really the church’s condemnation of physically based sexuality is a very old error going back to just after the Apostles died.
The male sexual nature which is more visually and physically based is regularly condemned while the female sexual nature which is more emotionally and relationally driven is often uplifted as the better sexual nature.
But the Bible tells us that God desires beauty and pleasure just as men do.
“So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.”
Psalm 45:11 (KJV)
“ For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.”
Psalm 149:4 (KJV)
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Revelation 4:11 (KJV)
God compares a man’s desire for the sexual pleasure woman to his desire for water:
“15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.
18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.”
Proverbs 5:15-19 (KJV)
Part of the issue is the demonization of seeking any kind of pleasure by churches. The Bible condemns lasciviousness which we call today sensuality. But lasciviousness is not simply seeking out things that bring us pleasure but instead it is when we make pleasure the central focus of our life. As long as we are doing our duties that are required as husbands, fathers and workers there is no reason that we as man cannot nor should not seek out sexual pleasure in our wives. In fact God commands us to do so.
Men should not be embarrassed or ashamed of the pleasure they seek or get from female beauty. They should not be ashamed of their desire to feel the pleasures of a woman’s body. These desires in them as men reflect the very image of God and his desire for beauty and pleasure.
We have shown from the Scriptures the answer to why God made man. He made man to image him and thereby bring him glory. Man images God by being the kind of husband and father that God is and also by leaving his mark on the world by being a diligent worker. He also images God as a lover of the beauty and pleasures of women.
Finally I would like to leave you with a list of interesting traits about men that help them to image God as husbands, fathers and workers.
- Testosterone causes men to have a lot more muscle mass on average than women, where men have 50% or more upper body strength than women most of the time. The typical man is much more suited to physical labor, athletics and combat than the typical woman.
- Men have a higher red blood cell count than women, which gives men far better physical endurance than women.
- Men have thicker and tougher skin than women (about 25% thicker) and more hair on their skin. A man’s extra body hair (including facial hair), in addition to the thickness and toughness of his skin, makes him better suited to brave the elements than a woman. Also because of the thickness and toughness of his skin, he is better suited for combat than a woman.
- Most studies show that men and women have the same average intelligence. However, they also show that men have much more variation in intelligence than women. What this means is there are more below average-intelligence men than women, but at the same time there are more highly intelligent and genius-level men than highly intelligent and genius-level women.
- Men are generally much bigger risk takers than women, which is why men often do better in the business world, in science and in war than women do.
- Men are often better able to compartmentalize their emotions, which oftentimes makes them better in leadership positions, or in high-stress situations.
- Men tend to be more left-brain dominated, which makes them more task-oriented. Together with their other qualities of higher endurance, more muscle mass, and thicker skin this makes a man well suited to work, protect and lead as God has designed him to.
This article has undergone a major rewrite since I first published it in April of 2014. Doctrinally it is essentially the same. The vast majority of changes have just been in wording and style.