God’s relationship with humanity—out of all creation—is unique. in all of creation. And therefore at every opportunity, Scripture vividly portrays God’s personal involvement in the creation of man. “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
In Genesis 1:26, for the first time in the Bible, God introduces Himself with personal pronouns. Significantly, they are plural pronouns. Not, “Let Me . . .”; but, “Let Us make man in Our image,” and thus we are introduced to a plurality of relationships in the Godhead. Here is the first major, unmistakable evidence of the Trinity. The fact of multiple persons in the Godhead has been hinted at in the Hebrew word for God that is used in twenty–one of the first twenty–five verses of Scripture, because elohim takes the form of a plural noun in Hebrew. But the plural pronouns of verse 26 make the point even more forcefully. It is by no means a full revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity, but it is an unmistakable reference to plurality within the Godhead, and it begins to lay the groundwork for what we later learn of the Trinity from the New Testament.
There is at least one other, earlier hint at the Trinity, when we are told that the Spirit of God “was moving over the surface of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). But now we see even more clearly that there is a sort of divine executive committee—a council in the Godhead.
The same truth is unfolded with even more clarity in the first chapter of John’s gospel, which begins with an echo of Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1–3). That, of course, refers to the second member of the Trinity, Jesus Christ (cf. John 1:14)—who was with God at creation and is Himself God.
By putting all of those passages together, we see that all three members of the Trinity were active in Creation. The Father was overseeing and decreeing the work. The eternal Word was “with God” and involved in every aspect of the creative process. And the Spirit was moving over the waters, which also suggests the most intimate kind of hands–on involvement in the process. So with the light of the New Testament shining on this passage, the plural pronouns of Genesis 1:26 take on a rich depth of meaning.
This is one of many Old Testament passages that indicate communication between the members of the Trinity. In Psalm 2:7, for example, we read, “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” There the speaker is the second member of the Trinity—the Son—and He is quoting words spoken by the first member of the Trinity—the Father. This is the eternal decree that defines the intra–Trinitarian relationship between Father and Son.
Then in Psalm 45:7 the Father speaks to the Son: “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of joy above Your fellows.” (That verse is cited in Hebrews 1:9, where the speaker is clearly identified as the Father, and the one being spoken to is shown to be Christ the Son.)
In Psalm 110:1 the psalmist writes, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” There again the Father (“the Lord”) speaks to the Son (“my Lord”) and promises Him eternal dominion.
Isaiah 48 includes an even more remarkable passage. In verse 12 the speaker is plainly identified as “the first, [and] also the last.” (This is a reference to Christ—cf. Revelation 22:13.) And in verse 16, He says, “I have not spoken in secret, from the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.” So the speaker is God the Son, and He quite plainly speaks of “the Lord God” and “His Spirit” as different persons in the Godhead.
Such references are found throughout the Old Testament. By themselves, they were not enough to give the typical Old Testament reader a full understanding of Trinitarian doctrine, but they were conspicuous hints of what would later be clearly revealed through the incarnation of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They were clues showing a plurality in the Godhead.
Here in Genesis 1 the expression suggests both communion and consultation among the members of the Trinity. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). It also signifies perfect agreement and a clear purpose. It is, as a matter of fact, a crucial step toward the fulfillment of a promise made “before time began” (Titus 1:2, NKJV)—a promise made in eternity past among the Members of the Trinity. Wrapped up in that promise was the entire redemptive plan of God. In short, the Father had promised the Son a redeemed people for His bride. And the Son had promised to die in order to redeem them. All of this occurred in eternity past, before creation was begun.
So “God created man” (Genesis 1:27). Man became “a living being [Hebrew, nephesh]” (Genesis 2:7). Like the animals, he moved and breathed and was a conscious life–form. But there the similarity ended. This was a creature who was unlike any other created being. Lower life–forms could never evolve into this. And the distinctiveness of this creature is perfectly reflected in the purposes for which God created him. We’ll consider that purpose that next time.
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