Skip to Content

How does God describe us in the Bible?

God uses a variety of descriptive words and imagery to portray human beings in the Bible. By looking at some of these key descriptions, we can gain insight into how God sees us and what attributes He has given us. In this article, we will explore some of the most significant ways God describes mankind in Scripture.

Made in God’s Image

One of the most fundamental descriptions of humans in the Bible is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. Genesis 1:26-27 declares: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Being made in the image of God means that humans share some of the divine attributes of God, such as the ability to think, reason, create, love, and experience relationships.

Though marred by sin, being made in God’s image distinguishes humans from the rest of creation. It gives human life sanctity and dignity. As image-bearers of God, we have the capacity to reflect His character and fulfill the purpose He has designed for us. Overall, being made in God’s image speaks to our identity, value, and potential as human beings.

Children of God

Another common description of human beings in Scripture is that we are children of God. Passages like Deuteronomy 14:1 and Hosea 1:10 refer to God as Father and depict His chosen people Israel as His children. The New Testament expands this theme to include followers of Christ as God’s spiritual children:

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Paul the Apostle also frequently refers to believers as “sons of God” and being adopted into God’s family through faith in Christ (Romans 8:14-17, Galatians 3:26). As God’s children, believers experience a new identity and intimacy with God as their heavenly Father.

Key implications of being God’s children:

  • We have a new identity and position in God’s family
  • We can relate to God as our perfect Father
  • We are heirs of God’s promises and spiritual blessings
  • We are set apart as God’s special possession and reflection of His character

Overall, the child of God description highlights our new status, privileges, and responsibilities as believers.

New Creations in Christ

When a person puts their faith in Christ, the Bible says they become a “new creation” or a “new creature”:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Through spiritual rebirth, God begins a transformative process of making individuals into new creations in Christ. Though still imperfect, new creations have a new heart, mindset, desires, and purpose oriented around pleasing God.

Key aspects of being a new creation include:

Old Self New Creation in Christ
Sinful nature New life by God’s Spirit
Enslaved to sin Freed from sin’s control
Hardened heart New heart of flesh
Living for self Living for God and others

In summary, new creations have a transformed identity, values, motivations, and purpose in life centered around Christ.

God’s Workmanship

Ephesians 2:10 declares that followers of Christ are “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The Greek word translated “handiwork” is poiema, which refers to God’s workmanship or masterpiece.

As God’s workmanship, believers are freshly made by God through spiritual rebirth to fulfill the good works He has planned for each one. We are not saved by good works; rather, we are saved for good works flowing out of a transformed life as God’s masterpiece creations.

The Body of Christ

The Bible frequently uses the metaphor of the church as the body of Christ. Like a human body with many members, the body of Christ consists of many believers with different gifts and roles, yet united under Christ the head (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Collectively, Christians make up the body of Christ on earth to continue His mission until He returns.

Key aspects of being the body of Christ include:

  • Unity in Christ despite differences
  • Interdependence on one another
  • Using gifts and talents to build up the Church
  • Revealing Christ’s nature corporately
  • Accomplishing God’s redemptive work

This description emphasizes our connection, coordination, and common purpose with other believers as part of something much greater than ourselves.

Friends of God

An incredible description and privilege conferred on believers is that we can be called friends of God. Abraham and Moses were considered friends of God in the Old Testament because of their close walk with Him. Jesus said to His disciples:

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

Through Christ, believers are no longer merely servants of God but friends who share intimacy and knowledge of God’s heart and ways. We are drawn into the deep friendship between the Father and the Son through the Spirit.

Saints/Holy Ones

Another common descriptor used in the New Testament for Christians is “saints” or “holy ones.” This reflects the sanctifying work of God to set believers apart from sin and set them apart for His purposes. Sainthood is not something only for a spiritual elite but is the calling and privilege of all in Christ. Though still imperfect, saints are declared holy by Christ’s imputed righteousness. They are empowered to grow in practical holiness as they cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s transforming work.

God’s Treasured Possession

The Lord describes His chosen people Israel as His “treasured possession” (Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6). In the New Testament, this language is expanded to include Gentile believers in Christ: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9).

Though God owns everything by virtue of being Creator, He highlights believers as His most precious possession and treasure. This indicates the great value He places on His children in Christ.

Partakers of the Divine Nature

Second Peter 1:4 reveals that through God’s promises, believers “may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” By being reconciled to God through Christ, we share in God’s holy, loving character and escape the corruption of the fallen world.

Though we remain imperfect due to residual sin, partaking of God’s nature demonstrates that we are set apart from the world and given power to progressively grow in grace and Christlikeness.

Citizens of Heaven

Although physically living on earth, spiritually believers are described as citizens of heaven. Our true home and citizenship is in heaven with Christ (Philippians 3:20). We live out heavenly values rather than earthly principles. Essentially, believers live as expatriates on mission representing another country—the kingdom of God.

Living Stones

First Peter 2:5 metaphorically describes believers as “living stones” being built into a spiritual house for God’s glory. Like stones in a temple, Christians compose the dwelling place of God by the Spirit. Individually and collectively, believers are the living stones that allow God’s presence to be manifest on earth. This indicates our role as God’s representatives carrying His life, holiness and purpose in our “temple” bodies.

Ambassadors for Christ

Second Corinthians 5:20 explains that believers are “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” As Christ’s ambassadors, we represent Him to the world and take His message of love and reconciliation to those around us. This adds gravity to how we conduct ourselves, since an ambassador represents the full authority of the king or country he serves.

The Bride of Christ

The Church corporate is called the bride of Christ that He will return for and be united with forever (Revelation 19:7). This paints an intimate, relational picture of Christ’s tender love for His people and our exclusive devotion to Him as our spiritual spouse.

The Light of the World

Matthew 5:14 describes believers as the “light of the world,” reflecting Christ who is the true Light. We are to shine with His love, truth, and good works that point others to God. Though we have no innate brilliance, the Holy Spirit works through us to radiate Christ’s illuminating presence that dispels spiritual darkness.

The Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13 calls believers “the salt of the earth.” As salt both flavors and preserves, Christians are to positively influence society and halt moral decay. This depicts our cleansing, purifying effects in the world by living out Christian morals and values.

Living Temples

First Corinthians 6:19 describes individual believers as “temples of the Holy Spirit.” Our bodies are spiritual temples in which God by His Spirit resides. Just as God’s presence dwelt in the Old Testament temple, now the Spirit makes His home within Christians. This demonstrates that God is intimately present with and within us as His sacred place of dwelling.

Sheep of His Flock

Believers are frequently called sheep who belong to Christ the Good Shepherd’s flock. Sheep are utterly dependent on the shepherd for provision, protection, and guidance. This paints a picture of our reliance on Christ and submission to His leadership as the sovereign Shepherd who lovingly cares for His sheep (Psalm 23; John 10:27).

Branches on the Vine

In John 15, Jesus describes Himself as the vine and believers as the branches attached to Him. Branches depend fully on the vine to receive nourishment, growth and vitality. Apart from the vine they can do nothing. This illustrates how our spiritual vitality, growth and fruitfulness flow entirely from our constant connection to Christ through dependence and obedience.

Christ’s Slaves/Servants

Despite being adopted into God’s family as sons and daughters, believers are also described as Christ’s slaves or servants. We owe Him total allegiance, submission and obedience as our Master. This indicates our primary purpose is to humbly serve God and others out of reverence for Christ (Romans 1:1, James 1:1).

The Apple of God’s Eye

God says Israel is the “apple of His eye” referring to the pupil, the most sensitive part protected by the eye (Deuteronomy 32:10). As those grafted into Israel spiritually, this special affection applies to believers as well. Out of all God’s vast creation, believers are most precious and dear to Him.

Chosen and Set Apart

Repeatedly Scripture describes believers as chosen by God, selected out of the world, and set apart for Himself. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Though not based on any merit of our own, God’s electing love gives us privilege, purpose and security.

Precious Jewels

God compares His chosen people to precious jewels that are His cherished possession (Isaiah 62:3, Malachi 3:17). Similarly, Christ’s bride is compared to a city of sparkling jewels (Revelation 21:11). This reveals how beautiful and extremely valuable we are in God’s eyes as those redeemed and sanctified by Him.

Fragrant Aroma

In the Old Testament sacrificial system, offerings given in righteousness were said to be a pleasing fragrance to the Lord (Leviticus 1:9). Similarly, the New Testament calls offerings and sacrificial service done out of love for God a fragrant aroma to Him (Ephesians 5:2). Our worship and service, though imperfect, is received as a beautiful fragrance to God.

Fellow Citizens with the Saints

Unlike society’s divisions based on race, class or gender, in Christ all believers are fellow citizens and members of God’s family (Ephesians 2:19). This depicts our equal standing before God as united brothers and sisters with the same privileges as God’s children.

Living Letters

Second Corinthians 3:2-3 describes believers as “living letters” through which Christ makes Himself known. Like an open letter publicly read, our changed lives become a personal message from Christ to the world. Our character and conduct reveal our faith and validate the transformative power of the gospel to others.

Good Soil

In the parable of the sower, the good soil represents those who hear God’s Word and readily receive it to produce spiritual fruit in their lives (Matthew 13:8, 23). Unlike hard or shallow soil, good soil depicts believers’ receptive hearts prepared and cultivated by the Spirit to flourish by God’s Word.

Restored Ruins

Though ruined and desolate through the fall, God promises His people they will be rebuilt and restored for His glory as a renewed display of beauty. “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated” (Isaiah 61:4). God delights to take broken and ruined lives and restore them into thriving testimonies for His praise.

Vessels of Mercy

God describes believers as “vessels of mercy” which He has prepared for glory (Romans 9:23). Though all deserve judgment, in love God pours His mercy into chosen ones to reveal His gracious character. Our lives become like containers overflowing with the mercy we have freely received and share.

God’s Handiwork

Reflecting imagery of being made by God as a craftsman, Ephesians 2:10 states that believers are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Even with differing gifts and backgrounds, every believer is specially fashioned by God as His unique handiwork.

Fellow Heirs with Christ

Since believers are adopted as God’s children, we also become “fellow heirs with Christ” inheriting all spiritual blessings along with Him (Romans 8:17). Though undeserved, this incredible privilege indicates believers gain an abundant inheritance fitting for those bearing God’s own Son’s status and privileges.

Ministers of Reconciliation

Second Corinthians 5:18-19 describes believers as “ministers of reconciliation” who proclaim Christ’s reconciling work to bring people back to God. Our mission is to center on restoring broken relationships starting with our relationship to God.


The many vivid descriptions of believers in the Bible provide insight into our new identity, position, and calling in Christ. Through Christ, we are adopted into God’s family to bear His image, share His holy nature, partner in His divine work in the world, and relate to Him intimately as a treasured possession. These powerful biblical descriptions demonstrate the exceedingly high value God places on those redeemed by Christ as His beloved children.