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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Additional Resources
• Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Likeness, similitude
• Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
Likeness of God
• International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Like, Liken, Likeness, Liking
Greek - likeness
Greek - likeness
Greek - in the likeness of
Greek - likeness
Greek - likeness
Hebrew - likeness
Hebrew - likeness
Hebrew - likeness

Quality or state of being like; resemblance. Old Testament passages center around two truths: (1) that God is wholly other and cannot be properly compared to any likeness (Isaiah 40:18) and (2) that humanity is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). The first truth forms the basis for the prohibition of making any graven images (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16-18; see Idols) and perhaps explains Ezekiel's reluctance to speak of elements in his vision in concrete terms (Ezekiel 1:5,Ezekiel 1:10,Ezekiel 1:16,Ezekiel 1:22,Ezekiel 1:26,Ezekiel 1:28). The likeness of God in humanity (Genesis 1:26) has been interpreted variously. Likeness has sometimes been distinguished from image, though the terms are best regarded as synonyms. See Image of God. Interpreters have identified the divine likeness with the ability to think rationally, to form relationships with other humans and with God, or with the exercise of dominion over creation (cf. Psalms 8:5-8). The divine likeness is sometimes thought to have been lost in the Fall, though its passing to Seth (Genesis 5:3) argues against the popular form of this argument. Though the likeness of God was not lost with Adam's sin, neither Adam nor subsequent humanity fulfilled God's purpose. God's purpose for humanity was fulfilled in Jesus Christ who is in a unique sense the likeness of God (2 Corinthians 4:4; compare John 1:14,John 1:18; John 14:9; Hebrews 1:3). Paul's statement that Christ came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3) parallels “born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7), testifying that the incarnate Christ was truly human. The Christian life is characterized as a new creation in the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:24; compare 2 Corinthians 4:4).

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'LIKENESS'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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