26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
The Hebrew word for God in v. 26 and v. 27 is ELOHIM.
This is a plural word, but the plurality applies to the DOMAIN of God and not to the ESSENCE of God.
In other words, He is God OVER ALL.
This plurality of ELOHIM, however, is really not the reason why God says “let US make man” in v. 26.
(Bear in mind that the OT of our Bible is the entire Hebrew Bible, and while a large percentage of modern “Christianity” has fallen for the false doctrine of the “Trinity”, the Hebrew people–whose religion is Judaism–have never succumbed to this insidious heresy. Remember the SHEMA: YHWH our ELOHIM, YHWH is ECHAD [ONE]. And Gen. 1:26 has always been in their Bible since Moses first wrote it down.)
The Hebrew rabbis have traditionally dealt with this verse in three ways.
(1) God was talking to the angels and taking counsel from them, asking for their input. Why did an infinite God require anyone else’s advice? The commentator Rashi explains based on the Midrash that it was an act of humility. Since man in some ways resembles the angels, they might feel jealous that such a lofty creature resides upon Earth. God thus took their opinion into account and conferred with them beforehand. As Rashi continues, this teaches an important lesson in humility – that the superior should always seek the advice of his underlings before making a decision which impacts upon them (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 8:7, Rashi, Targum Yonatan).
(2) God was addressing the earth – instructing it to bring forth man’s body. “Let us” implies that both God and the earth would create man – the earth would produce man’s body (in a process obviously controlled by God), and God would directly breathe in man’s soul (Nachmanides).
(3) God was addressing all of creation, asking each part to contribute its various strengths and qualities to man’s creation – for man is the pinnacle of God’s creation and contains the elements of everything within him (Vilna Gaon).
Personally, I tend to lean toward the third explanation: God was addressing all of creation — Let US make man — since all creation sprang from God. He is the FATHER or SOURCE of all things, and to this fact the scriptures attest many times.
However, Gen. 1:27 leaves NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER as to the “number” essence of ELOHIM:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
“IN HIS OWN IMAGE” — this speaks of a SINGULAR ELOHIM! God is ONE and He has but ONE IMAGE!
We learn from the NT that Jesus Christ is in fact the IMAGE of the INVISIBLE GOD….
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
The SINGULARITY of ELOHIM is further born out by the fact that ADAM was ONLY ONE PERSON.
Genesis 1:26-27 in no way indicates a PLURALITY of PERSONS in ELOHIM. Rather, it confirms the SINGULARITY of ELOHIM, and is in perfect agreement with the SHEMA of Deuteronomy 6:4.
Hear, O Israel! YHWH our ELOHIM, YHWH is ONE!
Pastor Tim D. Cormier