Let Us Make Man in Our Image
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.
The Trinitarian Question
This is a favorite of the trinitarians when looking for something to show their doctrine of multiple persons in the Godhead. To prove the existence of multiple persons is something they cannot do. The trinitarians use this verse in an attempt to prove that there is a distinction of persons in the Godhead, but nowhere in the verse does it say so.
The question that is presented to oneness believers is: "If God is only one numerically, then who is He talking to in this verse?" God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." (Gen. 1:26) According to the trinitarian, this is an obvious reference to the three persons of the Godhead; Father speaking to the other two persons, Son and Holy Spirit.
There are a number of ways that people answer this question, each having their share of validity, but there is one answer that trumps them all. Before we look at the actual answer to the question, let us examine all of the possibilities, starting with the least likely.
The trinitarians say the answer to this question is that God was speaking to the other members of the trinity. The first problem with that is that no other scriptures support this doctrine. The bible itself says that every word should be established out of the mouth of two or three witnesses (Mt. 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1). If this is the trinity then we have one witness to testify of this fact; Moses, the writer of Genesis. Who are the other witnesses? No other witnesses stand up and declare in scripture that one person of the trinity is speaking to the other persons in this verse. There is simply no other scriptural proof to back the claim of the trinitarians.
If this verse is such an obvious reference to the three persons, why does it not speak of any of the other persons in the verse? It says, "And God said..." According to the doctrine of the trinity where all three persons are co-existent and co-equal, this verse is contradictory. It does not say that the Father speaks these words; it says that God speaks these words. The word God is supposed to represent all three persons; Father, Son and Spirit. The obvious question then is, "did all three persons speak simultaneously?" It says that God said, let us make man. It does not say that a specific person spoke to the other persons, it is very clear that God spoke. God, meaning all of God. All that God is, the very being of God spoke these words.
If all of God (the three persons) spoke these words, who were they speaking to? Were they all simultaneously speaking to each other in a confusion of everyone speaking at the same time? Even more interestingly, if all three were talking then none of them could be the person who the statement is directed at. Who then is the statement directed at? Were all three persons speaking to the angels or to the stars, or maybe the animals? If all three spoke, the question is, who were they speaking to? It seems pretty obvious that all three persons could not have been making the declaration all at once.
Since we know that all three persons did not speak, we must assume that trinitarians will say that the Father is the one speaking and the other two persons are the ones He is speaking to. This is what almost all trinitarians will say, because they know it is foolish to say that all three were speaking at the same time. They will say this even though the bible says that God (three persons by their definition) made the statement. If the Father is the one doing the talking, who was He talking to? It couldn't have been the Son, for He had not yet been born until 4,000 years later in Bethlehem. It would be very hard for Him to be speaking to a Son who He had not yet begotten.
With all of this information in mind, it is very difficult for one to see the trinity in this verse of scripture. Are there words being spoken by God? Yes. Are those words being spoken from one person to another? I think the answer is quite obvious.
Many oneness proponents will use the argument that was speaking to His holy angels. This is a very easy answer to lean on because there are other places where God uses the word "us" to include Him and His angels (Gen. 3:22-24, Gen. 11:7, Gen. 18:1-2, 22; 19:1-2, Is. 6:8). We also know that the holy angels were present at the creation (Job 38:4-7), so this would seem like a perfect fit.
In Genesis 3, God uses the "us" to include Him and the Cherubim. We know this when we look at verse 24 where God places those Cherubim at the east of the garden, to keep the way to the tree of life. Further, we know this could include the angels because they too had knowledge of good and evil. Lucifer's rebellion is proof of that.
In Genesis 11 and 18, we see God take the angels with Him to visit and inspect the cities of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah. The angels had a purpose in being there. God uses His angels throughout the bible to execute judgment upon the land of the wicked and idolatrous. We know He was definitely talking to angels in these instances.
We see in Isaiah 6:8 that the Lord, in Isaiah's vision of the throne, asks the Seraphim "Whom shall I send, who will go for us?" God is speaking and including His angels in that He is sending a representative for the kingdom as a whole. This is another scripture that they will try to show multiple persons in. The problem is the first part of God's question. "Whom shall I send?" Not, "Whom shall WE send?" He is speaking to His angels because they were included in His kingdom, but did not give them the authority to do the sending. This is where Genesis 1:26 comes in.
"And God said; Let us make man, in our image, after our likeness..." In all of the other verses that have been referenced, the angels are in attendance and either have a job to do or were precluded from actually fulfilling any purpose. While the angels were definitely present during the creation, they lack having a purpose in creation beyond rejoicing over the handiwork of God Almighty (Job 38:4-7). The angels did not take part in the process of creating mankind. God reserved this task for himself alone (Is. 45:12, 18). So while angels were in attendance, they did not create man.
While it is easy to see the angels present at the event of creation, they surely did not have the authority from God to themselves create. This is the problem with the belief that God was talking to His angels in this verse, the angels would have to have been makers of man. This, they are not.
Foreknowledge of Christ
This position holds that God was speaking to Christ in His foreknowledge. We know that God is omnipresent. This means that He is not bound by space or time. He fills the universe with His presence. We know God is everywhere, because David even said if he ascended to heaven God would be there, even if he made his bed in hell God would also be there. God is everywhere. Looking at omnipresence we need to see the other and more commonly overlooked aspect of the quality. Not being bound by time. God is not only everywhere, but He is always everywhere. This means that God has no past, or future. He is eternally in the present. His time is always now. Our past and future is His now. He knows no limitation concerning time.
This is why some will teach that God is talking to a present Christ prior to Him ever being born. In other words, in God's omnipresence He was already in the future at Christ's birth so He was talking to Jesus in a timeless statement.
While we can all agree that God is omnipresent, and I that Christ did exist in the foreknowledge of God as the Word or Logos, I do not see how Christ created anything as a human. We see in the first chapter of John where everything that was made was made by Christ, but this is a reference to His divine nature. This is not saying that the man Jesus Christ was in heaven creating the world. Further, how would a begotten man create more begotten men? As a man, Jesus could not have created men, but as God, Jesus created everything. This is because the Father dwelt in Him doing the works (Jn. 14:10). Jesus' human nature did not take part in the Creation of the world or the men in it. God speaking to the man Jesus in His timeless omnipresence cannot be the answer to the question because Jesus' human nature did not create.
The Real Answer
To know the answer to whom God was talking to when He made man, we must see who He was talking to when He created everything else. God has a strict process of how He does things. Notice in every day of creation before He created the life itself; He created the sustainable atmosphere for the life to dwell in. Before He made trees He made earth; before He made fish He made water; before He made birds He made sky and trees; before He made man He completed the earth for man to dwell upon. God creates the occupancy before He creates the occupants.
When we watch God as He creates all of creation He uses a very powerful phrase in every step of the creation process. In Genesis 1:3 we see the creative phrase for the first time. "And God said, let..." He created light by speaking to something that was not yet formed and causing it to be so. "And God, said, let there be light: and there was light." He did not say "Let us make light." If this is the three persons talking and conversing, why were the other persons involved in creating man, but not light?
This phrase "And God said, let" is used several times throughout the creation process (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11,14, 20, 24). j In fact, every single act of creation was done using this vital four-word phrase "And God said, let." Why in none of these occasions does the word "us" occur? Why did the other two persons not get included until the creation of man?
Keeping in mind that God always created the habitat for the creation to dwell in prior to actually creating the created being themselves; we can easily see why God all of a sudden added a word to the creative phrase. The stage was set; all was in place for God to bring out His final and greatest masterpiece. He created everything and now it was time for Him to make man. Man had an earth and all he needed on it to occupy sustainably.
Ask yourself, what is man made from? The dust of the earth, of course. If God were to say, "Let us make man" at this point, of all that was created and in existence, what is the only thing that could rightfully say it had a part in the making? The earth and its substance, dirt.
On the first day, God spoke to the formless earth. "And God said, let there be light..." There was light at His command. No need to say us, because the void did not have the substance to produce light. On the second day, God spoke to the earth again and commanded that there be firmament to divide the waters. "And God said, let there be a firmament..." No need for the word us because the earth did not have the substance to bring forth the firmament.
On the third day, God created dry land by forming the waters into bodies. "And God said, let the waters be gathered... and let the dry land appear..." No need for the word us because the earth had no land to bring forth yet. He then created the grass and trees, etc... "And God said, let the earth bring forth..." Again, no need for the word us because the earth had not yet been seeded to bring the grass forth, so God did this by creation.
On the fourth day, God created the sun, moon and stars. "And God said, let there be lights..." This is another case of God using no substance of the earth, so again, no "us". On the fifth day, God created the life to occupy the land and sea. "And God said, let waters bring forth..." Notice that God didn't make the fish out of water or animals out of land, no again, no need for the word us.
Something happens on the sixth day that is different from every other day of creation. God adds the word "us" to the creative phrase used in every other creative act. It becomes, "And God said, let us..." Now there is an "us". All of a sudden something else has a part in the process of making. Who did God speak to in every other day of creation? The earth. This is exactly what He was doing again, only this time it was different. All of the other times, the earth just obeyed and had no part in the making, but now, this new creation, man, would be made of the substance of the earth; its dust.
Notice it does not say "let us create man in our image". He already created the substance, now it was time to make or form man. To create is to use nothing and end up with something, but to make is to use something that already exists and form something out of it. This is why the earth could be involved, because it had no need to create, it just needs to be part of the making process by being the created substance that man was made from.
The earth could fulfill the words of God at this creative stage. "And God said, let us make man, in our image, after our likeness..." The earth had part in making because man is made of earth. How much more of an image could a person be of the earth then to be made from the very substance of the earth itself? To be after its likeness is to be fruitful and multiply just like the other creation was to do. We follow the order of nature and reproduce after our own kind. We are made of and in the image of earth after its likeness. This is obviously who God was talking to in Genesis 1:26.
Further, the very law of reproduction, according to that which God has set up for mankind, is for the seed of a man to impregnate and bring life into the womb of a woman creating life. Surely, God would not break His own law concerning man. We see this beautiful picture in place as God proceeds with making man.
Genesis 2:7 - "And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
Notice that man was not complete until the process of birth happened. God breathed the breath of life into the substance of the earth and it became alive. It was when the Masculine seed (God's breath) entered into the substance of the woman (dust of the earth) that man became a living soul. Maybe this is where we get the idea of Father God and Mother Nature?
Genesis 1:26 - "And God said, let us (God and earth) make man, in our image, after our likeness..."
Of all of the answers that have been presented to the question, the trinitarian answer is the one that makes the least sense. Arguments can be made for the other views, but the thing that makes the most sense is that God sets in order His own laws and establishes a pattern that creation would follow forever.
God spoke to the earth every day during the creation and that did not change on day six during the creation of man. We literally come from the dust of the earth and have been made into the most complex creature on all the face of the earth. What a testament to the power and infinite nature of God.
Taken from the book, “Any More Questions” by Pastor Joe M. Guinta, Sr. Used with Permission.