God created the human body based on the design He used for angels.
Genesis 1:27 is a commonly mistranslated passage. Here are a few translations:
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:27 NIV)
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
(Genesis 1:27 NKJV)
27 And God prepareth the man in His image; in the image of God He prepared him, a male and a female He prepared them.
(Genesis 1:27 YLT)
Even the Greek Septuagint is translated into English in this manner:
27 So God made man; in the image of God He made him; male and female He made them.
(Genesis 1:27 OSB)
For centuries, people have hypothesized about what it means to be made in GOD's image. And, while it can be argued that man is indeed made in the image of GOD, this is not what Genesis 1:27 is communicating.
If we use the Hebrew Old Testament, the word translated as "God" in Genesis 1:27 is אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ (elohim). While elohim does often refer to GOD, the word actually simply means "a spirit being."
For instance, the word elohim was also used to describe:
- The Egyptian gods (see Exodus 12:12)
- Carved idols (see Genesis 31:30)
- Samuel's spirit when King Saul consulted the median in 1 Samuel 28:13.
As we have previously established, the angels are also referred to in Scripture as elohim (see Psalm 82:1, for example).
In the creation account, we have previously established that day 4 included the creation of all beings who dwelt in the heavens with GOD, including the angels (elohim).
Throughout the Bible, when angels appeared to humans, the Scripture describes them as "a man." (For example, see Genesis 18:1-2, 16-22; 19:1-11; Daniel 8:15; 9:25.)
(While it is true that GOD Himself also appeared to humans in the shape of a man prior to Jesus' birth, GOD is Spirit and He [the Godhead] cannot be limited to only a human body.)
Returning to the creation account:
- Angels were created on day 4
- Man was created on day 6
What Genesis 1:27 is communicating is that GOD created the human body according to the design that He had previously used for angels.
To the modern English-speaking Bible student, this may sound like heresy, as though we were somehow being sacrilegious, taking glory from GOD. A simple substitution of the word elohim (a spirit being) into Genesis 1:27 shows this is not so:
So elohim created man; in the image of elohim He made him; male and female He made them.