In the first chapter, however, is the introduction of God's magnum opus, the purpose for all of His effort. “Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1: 26, 27)
Some scholars suggest that the magnitude of the event puts it into the “Let Us” category, that God is using the plural of majesty, such as “We the Queen of England,” God speaking of Himself in a plural sense or in the third person. Others suggest the pre-incarnate Christ, or even angels. However, there is no Biblical evidence that angels ever created anything. Regardless of one's theology, it's the image in verses 26 and 27 which is the focus. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
The image and the likeness are one. The Bible uses a figure of speech (hendiadys) which expresses a single idea by using two nouns, or, in simple terms, two words used, one thing meant. It is a method of amplification that adds force. It could read, “Let us make man in the likeness of our image.” Other examples of this figure of speech can be found in 1 Corinthians 2:4, “...in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” or spiritual power, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, “...walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” or glorious kingdom.
In Genesis 1:27, the word “own” in “His own image” is italicized, indicating that it was added by those translating the King James Version, and should simply read “His image.” Other Biblical scholars suggest that Genesis 1:26 and 27 should read, “Let us make in man Our image,” and “ So God created in man His image.” There is no physical likeness of God described anywhere in the Bible.
“To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?” (Isaiah 40:18; 46:5) John 4:24 clearly states that “God is Spirit,” therefore it is logical that what God created in Adam and Eve was His Spirit. He formed man of the dust of the ground, breather into his nostrils and made him a living soul, and created in man His Spirit (formed, made and created - Isaiah 43:7; body, soul and spirit -1 Thessalonians 5:23). This was Adam and Eve's union with the heavenly realm.
God always strictly prohibited making any physical representations to be worshipped. “Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you. You shall not make for yourself a carved image -- any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Deuteronomy 4:23; 5:8)
God has not changed His mind about this, and physical images are still clearly condemned in Romans 1:22,23. “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man -- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
God told Adam that the results of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be death, yet Adam lived physically for 930 years. What died in Adam that day was the Spirit. Genesis 3:15 is the first prophetic promise of the redeemer, the One Who would re-establish man's broken connection with God. Today, when someone is born again, or born from above, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:3-7; Acts 2:38 and Romans 10:9) restoring what Adam lost in the garden, the image of God, His Spirit, “the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23)