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Saturday, March 01 2008

I have been recently asked about Genesis 1:26...

Genesis 1:26 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.

It is interesting the debate that a scripture can create, and it is simply because it is used differently depending on your belief.  Although, I caution all that read and study the Bible to understand the following...

2Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

2Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

In doing a google search, I came across several concepts for the reasons the Bible uses the plural in God referring to Himself.  Of course, there are those that believe that the Father was speaking to some other deity and this would support the Trinitarian doctrine.  This idea cannot be backed by other scriptures for the Word states...

Isaiah 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

The writers of the scripture were monotheistic.  According to the thefreedictionary.com, monotheism is defined as the doctrine or belief that there is only one God. (The Trinitarian doctrine would be considered polytheistic).  I know of their strict belief of monotheism from the following...

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

In studying Genesis 1:26, those that understand Hebrew spoke of this scripture as a grammar issue and in no way was referring to more than one God. I found the writer in israelofgod.org to be consistent with the others and this is what he wrote...

Trinitarians and others claim that the Hebrew noun 'Elohim', rendered 'God' (Strong's #430) in the first clause of Genesis 1:26, denotes more than one God Person (typically thought of or explained as "3 in 1" or "2 in 1" as in "one" family).  In support they point to the second clause of verse 26, "Let us make man in our image", being plural.  It is true that in both English and Hebrew this second clause contains the plural subject 'us' and that this governs the plural verb 'make'- But these are not governed by 'Elohim' (God) of the first clause.  What is not realized, or otherwise mentioned in this issue is that in the first clause, "And God said", 'Elohim' governs the singular Hebrew verb 'amer' (Strong's # 559), which is rendered 'said' in English.  So linguistically there is no basis for claiming that 'Elohim' denotes, represents, or contains more than one God Person (entity).

It is also claimed that the Hebrew 'Elohim' is a uniplural or collective noun and that such nouns (e.g. the English noun 'crowd') often govern singular verbs.  This claim contradicts leading Hebrew grammars, which claim that throughout the OT and when referring to the true God, the Hebrew noun 'Elohim' behaves as a singular noun, and governs only singular verbs, singular adjectives and singular pronouns.  And only when 'elohim' refers to a number of pagan gods or humans (e.g. judges), that it behaves as a plural noun; and then governs plural verbs, plural adjectives and plural pronouns.  So grammatically 'Elohim' is never a collective (uniplural) noun.  That in reference to the true God, the noun 'Elohim' is singular, is well illustrated in Genesis 1:29, where this noun governs the singular pronoun 'I'.

Here follows a selection of Hebrew grammars from which these claims may be further verified: Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar edited and enlarged by E. Kautzsch, 2nd English edition by A.E. Cowley, paragraph 124 (g); Weingreen's Hebrew Grammar under 'God' in its English-Hebrew vocabulary; C.L Seow's A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, 1992 printing, the vocabulary on page 19; James D Martin's Davidson's Introductory Grammar, 27th edition, 1995 reprint, page 52.

So grammatically, too, there is no justification for claiming that in Genesis 1:26 'God' (Elohim) denotes more than one God Person.  Indeed throughout the OT Elohim' always denotes just one God Person. 

In my continued studies, I was curious of what mainstream Christianity thought of Genesis 1:26.  The NIV Study Bible gives the following commentary...

God speaks as the Creator-King, announcing His crowning work to the members of His heavenly court.

This commentary gives no support to the doctrine of the Trinity, but we can turn to the New Testament on what was for insight into what God was speaking...

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

We know that Adam was modeled after the man Christ Jesus and that God had a plan for salvation from before creation...

1Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

1Peter 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

1Peter 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

1Peter 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

If you would like more information on the Godhead, please visit our online bookstore and order the book The Oneness of God by Rev. David Bernard.

Posted by: AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email