The Imago Dei and Marriage

Relying on the imago Dei in creation, the apostle Paul unveils this eschatological restoration of this relational dimension of sonship with his marriage analogy: the union of the husband and wife is analogous to the union of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:21-33). Accordingly, in Ephesians 5, Paul's mind turns to God's creation and to the divine institution of marriage pictured in Genesis 2. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul assesses that the intimacy to be enjoyed in Christian marriage, with an admitted level of inscrutability (cf. Eph. 5:32), is explicated by analogy to the intimacy enjoyed in the union of the messianic Son of God and his bride, the church....

Returning to Paul's marriage metaphor, the first Adam, created in God's image, wed Eve-who was also created in God's image. As the first institution established by God the Creator, Edenic marriage reflected the nature of intra-Trinitarian fellowship; Adam and Eve's interpersonal relationship reflected the intimacy of the social Trinity. Through the fall, not only was the image of God grossly compromised, and the Father/son relationships tragically ruined, but further, human interrelationship-most agonizingly, the marriage relationship-became irreversibly non-intimate (Gen. 3: 12-13).

Hence, it is in view of the imago Dei that Paul is able to assert this marriage/church analogy. Since the restoration of the bride through redemption rested on the Son who was the perfect image, the marriage relationship in Genesis 2 must likewise rest on the original relational image of God imprinted on God's sons. The analogy of the precious and intimate relationship of the bride of Christ, the church, with the groom, Jesus Christ, is based on God's creation of the marriage institution as a reflection of himself. The re-created daughter of God is fit to wed the incarnate Son; the bride in whom his image is restored is thereby qualified to wed the perfect Image Son who gave up his life for her. Summarily, the relational makeup of humanity, as an aspect of the imago Dei, exists within the context of created and redeemed sonship. Just as the Father has fellowship with the Son, so, too, the children of God have fellowship with one another, by the restoration of relational purity in the messianic Son himself (see chart below). The relationship of Christ to his church attests to this analogy and to the ectypal sonship of created man.

  First Adam Second Adam Eve/Church
Creation Created Son Eternal Son Created Bride
Fall Alienated Son Eternal Son Alienated Bride
Redemption Restored Son Incarnate Son Restored Bride
Eschaton Realized Son Wedded Son Consummated Bride

Navigating between Scylla and Charybdis in Biblico-Systematic Theology

This implies that Reformed biblico-systematic theology operates both in constructive and polemical ways. The constructive task without the polemical function is blind; the polemical function without the constructive task is empty. Both aspects of biblico-systematic theology need all the emphasis we can give them, so that we avoid the Scylla of Post-Conservative Evangelicalism, which casts a contemptuous eye at confessional Reformed orthodoxy, on the one hand, and the Charybdis of Reformed traditionalism, resolute in polemics against heterodox innovations, yet resistant to authentic advancements within the Reformed tradition based on faithful biblical exegesis, on the other hand.


Why Two Wills? Two Intellects?

...if the human nature of Jesus, as finite, is incapable in itself of comprehending the infinite knowledge of the theologia archetypa, then any equation of the theologia unionis with archetypal theology must involve some alteration of the human nature of Jesus. For Jesus to be possessed of an infinite divine wisdom according to his humanity, there would have to be either a communication of divinity to humanity or a transference of divine attributes to Jesus’ humanity within the hypostatic union. But that union takes place without comixture or comingling, without a confusion of the natures, and thus without either a communication of divinity to humanity or a transference of the divine attributes to the human nature. Thus Jesus has two natures, two wills, two intellects—a divine and a human—and each has the knowledge that is proper to it. Christ has knowledge or wisdom, then, according to two modes, the divine and the human, the former being essential and incommunicable, the latter being habitual and communicable.


Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy; Volume 1: Prolegomena to Theology , 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 250.

Christ's Reliance on the Holy Spirit

At this point it is important to note that this activity of the Holy Spirit with respect to Christ’s human nature absolutely does not stand by itself. Though it began with the conception, it did not stop there. It continued throughout his entire life, even right into the state of exaltation. Generally speaking, the necessity of this activity can be inferred already from the fact that the Holy Spirit is the author of all creaturely life and specifically of the religious-ethical life in humans. The true human who bears God’s image is inconceivable even for a moment without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In addition, in Christ the human nature had to be prepared for union with the person of the Son, that is, to a union and communion with God as that to which no other creature had ever been dignified. If humans in general cannot have communion with God except by the Holy Spirit, then this applies even more powerfully to Christ’s human nature, which had to be unified with the Son in an entirely unique manner.


Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics V2, pg 292

The Holy Spirit in the Life of Christ

When certain Reformed pastors and theologians speak of Christ being “placed under a covenant of works” (as the second Adam), we might be tempted to think that Christ was left to his own abilities to obey the law of God for us. Without question, the obedience offered by Christ from the cradle to the grave was his obedience. But he was obedient in the power of the Holy Spirit. He never uttered a kind word, nor thought a good thought, except in reliance upon the Spirit of holiness. There was a perfect synergy involved in Jesus’ human obedience and the Holy Spirit’s influence as he “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). A careful analysis of Christ’s life reveals that at the most significant points in it (e.g., his conception, birth, baptism, preaching ministry, death, and resurrection) the Holy Spirit was present, enabling him in all that he was required to do.

...He, like us, relied upon the Holy Spirit for his holiness (Isa. 11:2)...


The Importance of Continual Repentance

He, however, who gave me the grace to repent, must also give me the power to persevere, lest by repeating my sins I should end up being worse than I was before. Woe to me then, repentant though I be, if he without whom I can do nothing should suddenly withdraw his supporting hand. I really mean nothing; of myself I can achieve neither repentance nor perseverance. . .. For these various reasons I must confess that I am not entirely satisfied with the first grace by which I am enabled to repent of my sins; I must have the second as well, and so bear fruits that befit repentance, that I may not return like the dog to its vomit.


Adam and the Promise of Eternal Life

...this is confirmed by the fact that Christ has merited eternal life for the elect by subjecting Himself to the law, satisfying it by bearing the punishment of the law and by perfect holiness in both nature and conduct. This is evident in Rom 8:4, where the apostle declared that by virtue of Christ's satisfaction "... the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us (the elect)." This is also stated in Gal 4:45: "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Notice that here reference is made to a law—the same law Adam had. To this law the Lord Jesus subjected Himself, and in doing so He merited redemption and adoption of sons for the elect. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ ... that we may be also glorified together" (Rom 8:17). Thus, eternal glory necessarily follows upon obedience to the law. Consequently, Adam, having the same law, had the promise of eternal felicity.