Q. I understand that man is created in God’s image, meaning that man has an eternal spirit. Wouldn’t that mean the angels were also created in God’s image? What is the difference then between man and angels if, after temporarily inhabiting physical bodies, man then becomes a spirit being? Or does man become a physical being again inhabiting a physical place?
A. I think there’s a sense in which the angels can be said to have been created in the image of God. In Hebrew they’re called B’nai ha Elohim, which means sons of God. Like the angels man was created with eternal life, intellect, and agency (the power of choice). Unlike them, redeemed man will spend eternity as a physical being, where the natural state of angels is spiritual. The New Jerusalem, where the Church will live eternally, is a physical location, visible from Earth, and designed for habitation by physical beings. The leaders of Earth, also physical beings, will bring their splendor into it (Rev. 21:24).
Jesus demonstrated this clearly. On His first post resurrection appearance to the disciples, they were all frightened, thinking they had seen a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:38-39). Then He showed them His hands and feet and asked for something to eat.
His example is all we understand about our next life, but believing in a bodily resurrection is one of the basic tenets of our faith. John explained it this way. “What we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2). Since He is a physical being, that means we’ll be physical beings.