Breaking Down Genesis 1:26 – Is it Trinitarian?

Genesis 1:26 states: “And God said, Let us make man in our image.”

Some people suppose that we can find the Trinity doctrine in the first chapter of the Bible. They make this claim because the Hebrew word elohim, which is translated “God,” they understand to be plural.

But it says “God said, Let US make Man.” Who is God? And who is He talking to here? What is the verse really saying? Is God talking to Himself in a three person conference? Letting the Bible interpret itself we find much insight on this verse that gives clarity to who God truly is in this verse. And it may be very different than what many have preached from the pulpit for centuries. The Bible is of no private interpretation, so lets allow the Bible to interpret itself.

Eph 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in GOD, who CREATED all things by JESUS CHRIST:”

So in creation GOD said to JESUS “LET US” CREATE “MAN IN OUR IMAGE”. So who is God in this verse concerning the creation? Is it “God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”? It looks like God and Jesus are distinct in this passage. Let’s look at some more scripture. Speaking of the creation Paul wrote this:

1Co 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

So God the Father created man by Jesus Christ in His own image. The term “God” refers alone to “the Father”. Therefore Genesis 1:26 could read:

And God (the Father) said (to Jesus), Let us make man in our image.” (Genesis 1:26)

That is the way it should be read. The term “God” in this passage is being misread by many to refer to “the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” or the “Trinity.” But there is not a single passage from the front of the Bible to the back of it that ever uses the term “God” to refer to all three at the same time.  Especially when referring to the creation, we can find numerous verses, and they always refer to God and Christ as distinct individuals. Here are a couple more.

Hebrews 1:1-3 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;

God spoke through His Son. Therefore He is is the Father. And God created the worlds through His Son, therefore God said to His Son “Let us make man in our image”. Jesus isn’t sitting on the right hand of himself. He is sitting at the right hand of the Father. This is why the Bible calls it “the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Rev 22:1) Two distinct individuals.

Here is another verse that refers to the creation.

Colossians 1:15-16 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (16) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

He is the express image or copy of God. And God created all things by Him. This is why Paul tells us we have “One God the Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ BY WHOM are all things.” (1 Cor 8:6)

God the Father is the God of Genesis 1:26. Now some may be thinking “Why does it say Jesus is God in John 1:1?” That is an excellent question. “The word was God…The word was made flesh” (John 1:1, 14) This verse refers to his nature. What he was. He “was in the form of God…” then “took the form of a servant…made in the likeness of men” (Phi 2:5-8)

For more on this verse see the page about John 1:1

James White once wrote the following concerning Genesis 1:26 “The inexplicable Trinity that makes the Godhead three in one and one in three, is bad enough; but that ultra Unitarianism that makes Christ inferior to the Father is worse. Did God say to an inferior, “Let us make man in our image?”” (James White, November 29, 1877, Review & Herald)

-Commenting on Genesis 1:26, Ellen White wrote:

“After the earth was created, and the beasts upon it, the Father and Son carried out their purpose, which was designed before the fall of Satan, to make man in their own image. They had wrought together in the creation of the earth and every living thing upon it. And now God says to his Son, ‘Let us make man in our image.” (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 24, 25).’

Feel free comment, or ask more questions. If you have a verse that seems hard to understand feel free to ask. Maybe there is something already written on it, or we can do our best to answer it for you.

Truth about God

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  • Ray Foucher

    Good summary. I have thought of it like this. God the Father created kind of like a producer produces a movie. The producer has the idea, initiates the whole project, perhaps has the funds, and brings together a team including a director – the one who does the hands on work of turning the idea into a movie. That may not be a really accurate analogy but it has helped me. So both the Father and the Son created all that is.

    • Amen Ray… God created all things through His Son. That is what the Bible says. It was their project.

      • Synickel

        If Jesus wasn’t fully God, He couldn’t create.

  • Sharon Dollosa

    So, who did Jesus claim to be? Who does the Bible say He is? First, let’s look at Jesus’ words in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” At first glance, this might not seem to be a claim to be God. However, look at the Jews’ reaction to His statement, “‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’” (John 10:33). The Jews understood Jesus’ statement as a claim to be God. In the following verses, Jesus never corrects the Jews by saying, “I did not claim to be God.” That indicates Jesus was truly saying He was God by declaring, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). John 8:58 is another example: “‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’” Again, in response, the Jews took up stones in an attempt to stone Jesus (John 8:59). Jesus’ announcing His identity as “I am” is a direct application of the Old Testament name for God (Exodus 3:14). Why would the Jews again want to stone Jesus if He had not said something they believed to be blasphemous, namely, a claim to be God?

    John 1:1 says “the Word was God.” John 1:14 says “the Word became flesh.” This clearly indicates that Jesus is God in the flesh. Thomas the disciple declared to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus does not correct him. The apostle Paul describes Him as, “…our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The apostle Peter says the same, “…our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). God the Father is witness of Jesus’ full identity as well, “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” Old Testament prophecies of Christ announce His deity, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

    So, as C.S. Lewis argued, believing Jesus to be only a good teacher is not an option. Jesus clearly and undeniably claimed to be God. If He is not God, then He is a liar, and therefore not a prophet, good teacher, or godly man. In attempts to explain away the words of Jesus, modern “scholars” claim the “true historical Jesus” did not say many of the things the Bible attributes to Him. Who are we to argue with God’s Word concerning what Jesus did or did not say? How can a “scholar” two thousand years removed from Jesus have better insight into what Jesus did or did not say than those who lived with, served with, and were taught by Jesus Himself (John 14:26)?

    Why is the question over Jesus’ true identity so important? Why does it matter whether or not Jesus is God? The most important reason that Jesus has to be God is that if He is not God, His death would not have been sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Only God could pay such an infinite penalty (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus had to be God so that He could pay our debt. Jesus had to be man so He could die. Salvation is available only through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ deity is why He is the only way of salvation. Jesus’ deity is why He proclaimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

    • Jesus came in his Father’s Name… Title… He was God in form, but not in regards to personality or identity. According to the Bible “there is but one God the Father”. Christ is not the Father himself.

      Also see this study on Isaiah 9:6.

      It explains the context. Study it carefully, because if you misunderstand this doctrine, you may misunderstand wha the Father really gave for you. Jesus is God, in nature. And he came in Father’s name. But that has to be harmonized and we should be careful to look at what it means as there is much more to how he is God than meets the eye.

      • Sharon Dollosa

        What is important is that Jesus is God eternal.

      • Sharon Dollosa

        The Bible is very clear that Jesus is the eternal God,self-existent, in personality and identity. My comment explained everything that could convince one of the true identity of Jesus Christ. When you reason that Jesus is not God in personality and identity, you are referring to Him as only one of us which is very subtle and cunning and leading to the corruption of the truth that Jesus is the only Savior. He could never be the savior if He is not God in totality . It seems to me that you are using the writings of E.G.W if it only fits to your own agenda and that is to destroy the truth given to God’s bride,His church, the Seventh-Day Adventist.

        • Synickel

          Sharon, stay firm. You are right on.

      • Sharon Dollosa

        I truly appreciate some of your articles here and even printed them but on this point, I would say that you got the truth 99% but 1 percent wrong.

        • Thanks Sharon Dollosa for the comment. I’m always open to hearing where I could be wrong. Appreciate your thoughts as well, and pray that the Spirit can lead us into harmony on this issue. David.

          • Sharon, did you get a chance to read this?
            Does that say “God and the SON” in that quote? Is it making a distinguishment between the two personalities?

            Is Jesus God? Yes and No. Notice:

            “The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, is truly God in infinity, but not in personality.” (Ellen White UL 367 )

            Yes, “he is God in infinity”. That is regarding his infinite nature which he possesses by inheritance.

            No. He is not God “in personality” God is the Father, and as Ellen said God and Christ are distinct individuals and personalities.

            “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one.” (Ellen White SDA Bible Commentary, vol.5 p.1129)

            “Christ and God are two distinct personages”(RH June 1, 1905)

            “The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each. [Hebrews 1:1-5 quoted.] God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son.” (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, page 268)

            God….is the Father of Christ when it comes to the individuality and PERSONALITY OF GOD.

            A very well worth your time study if you want a deeper understanding of God’s love.

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