Human beings constitute the crown of creation, the peak of the creative process of the Divine Trinity. Before creating Adam, the three Persons took counsel together: ‘Let Us make man in Our own image, after Our likeness’ (Gen 1:26). The ‘Pre-eternal Counsel’ of the Three was necessary first because humans were a higher creature with reason, will, and dominion over the visible world, and second, because, being free and independent, humanity would break the commandment and fall away from the bliss of Paradise. The Son’s sacrifice on the Cross would then be required to show humans the way back to God. In creating human beings God knew their subsequent destiny, for nothing is hidden from the gaze of God Who sees the future as much as He sees the present.
God formed Adam ‘of dust from the ground’, that is, from matter. Thus he was flesh of the flesh of the earth from which he was molded by the hands of God. Yet God also ‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being’ (Gen 2:7). Being material or earthly, Adam received a Divine principle, a pledge of his communion with the Divine being. ‘The breath of life’ can be taken to mean the Holy Spirit. The human person partakes of the divine nature by the very act of creation and is thereby utterly different from other living beings: he does not simply assume a higher position in the hierarchy of animals but is a ‘semi-god’ set over the animal kingdom. The church Fathers call the human being a ‘mediator’ between the visible and invisible worlds, a ‘mixture’ of both worlds.
As the heart of the created world, combining within himself both the spiritual and the corporeal, the human being in a certain sense surpasses the angels. It was not the angel but the human being who was created by God in His own image. And it was not angelic, but human nature that was assumed by God in the Incarnation.