God: Let Us Make Man in Our Image?
There are differing views being taught in the Christian world today about Genesis 1:26-27, which states “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
Who is God speaking to in this passage? One teaching is that God is speaking to Himself. This view imagines the Father, Son and Holy Spirit conversing with each other. That's a dangerous assumption, considering the Hebrews of Israel NEVER ever split God into "persons". Another view is God is speaking Majestically, as did Ezra, a Levite priest and scribe of Israel. Look at Ezra 4:18 "The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me." A third view is that God very well could have been speaking to His heavenly host - His angels and magistrates.
If we consider the context of Gen 1:26-27, we know that angels were created to govern the heavenly realms. Look at how the Archangel Michael is the Prince over Israel (Dan 10:21; 12:1), and how the angel sent to answer Daniel was obstructed by the angel or Prince of Persia. This does not compromise the third view, in that God created man in His OWN image [singular] (vs.27), yet in the image and likeness of the heavenly host, when it comes to governance.
GOD SPEAKING TO HIMSELF
In my hub, "Let Me Tell You WHO GOD IS!" we see that God is not three separate entities or 'persons'. God is Spirit, the Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary and begat God in the flesh. Jesus was not God’s Son in the beginning for He was not yet begotten (born). God is a 'person' (singular) as shown in Job 13:8 and Heb 1:3 and His visible 'person' is His Christ.
For those of you who have been taught that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were speaking to each other, we should look at John 1:1-2 in the Greek: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God."
A mystery to note in this passage is that the word "with" is the Greek word pros, which literally means "to". This word is also used in John 16:10 when Jesus said, "because I go to [pros] the Father and you no longer see Me." It is not the same word as used in John 14:17: "you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you", which is the Greek word par, meaning "beside". Check out the next verse, 18 "I will not leave you as orphans [Fatherless]; I will come to [pros] you**."
So, if the Word wasn't beside God and God was the Word, how do we understand John 1:1-2? This passage would literally translate, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was to God [theon - object] and God [Theos - subject] was the Word Θεος ην ο λογος. He was in the beginning to God [theon - object]."
What about John 1:3? "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." Consider when we speak words, we breathe. “Spirit” is translated ruach (Hebrew) or pneuma (Greek) and means “breath or blast of air”. God, who is Spirit (John 4:24), spoke His Word by which everything was created. Even man was created by the Spirit of God: Job 33:4 states, "The Spirit [ruach] of God has made me, And the breath [neshamah] of the Almighty gives me life."
Speaking of creation, did three persons create all things?
- Isa 44:24 clearly tells us God created all things ALONE and BY HIMSELF. "Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;" (KJV)
The context of John 1 is that God, the Creator of all things, became flesh (vs. 14). God knew from the foundation of the world that He would save us, for the Old Testament prophesies His coming throughout.
Does God speak to God? Surely so, but the following passages are prophetic of the coming Messiah, God in the flesh (form of God = morphe; form of man = schema), Who would return to be God on the throne of judgment and righteousness.
Ps 45:6 states, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom." This prophecy is fulfilled in Heb 1:8 "But of the Son He says, 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.'"
Ps 110:1 states, "The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand [scepter - power] until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.'" This prophecy is fulfilled in Mat 26:64 "Jesus said to him, 'You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" It is important to understand that God, Who is Spirit, does not have a literal "right hand". This term is a reference to His power.
Surely, Jesus as God in the flesh spoke to God (the Holy Spirit), His Father (God speaking to God). Prior to this, He was God (John 1:1). It does not make sense that God would speak to Himself as “Us” or “Our” in the beginning, especially since He said His name is "I AM" (Ex 3:14; Ex 20:2; John 5:58). This personal prounoun, "I", is singular, and as we read earlier, His own image (tsalem) is singular, as well.
This brings us to examine more of the third viewpoint; that in the creation of man account, God was speaking to His angelic host (including His courts).
GOD SPEAKING TO ANGELIC HOST
Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This indicates He created the heavens and its host first, then the earth and life within it afterwards.
- Day 1: Light separated from darkness; morning and evening ~ the first “day”.
- Day 2: God separated the waters from the heavens and from the earth. God called the expanse, “sky”.
- Day 3: God caused the water to separate on the earth, bringing forth dry ground and called the waters, “seas”. Vegetation and plants were brought forth on the earth.
- Day 4: God made the sun, the moon and the stars to govern day from night.
- Day 5: God made the sea and air creatures.
- Day 6: God made the land creatures, then mankind.
- Day 7: God rested.
Nehemiah 9:6 states, "You alone are the LORD (YHVH). You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You."
Do you see angels being created on or after the sixth day (when man was created)? Because angels are called “stars” in the Bible, they might have been created on the fourth day. Or, consider this possibility: Genesis 1:2 states, "And the earth was without form, and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep; And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters". This indicates the planet earth was in existence before the first day.
If so, consider Job 38:4-7: "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Therefore, we can see that the angels of God were with [par] God when He created the earth, and certainly when He created man. Based on the following definition of God, we can also see His court magistrates were with [par] Him as well.
The Hebrew definition of "God" in Gen 1:26-27 is elohim (also spelled elohiym), meaning: Short Definition: Angels. Long Definition: angels, exceeding, God, very great, mighty; Plural of elowahh; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates [court]; and sometimes as a superlative -- angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty. Here, we can see that "elohim" includes angels and magistrates (court, judges).
The LORD God created the heavens and the earth and breathed into Adam's nostrils (Gen 2:4, 7). Again, Job 33:4 states. "The Spirit of God [El - singular] has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life."
Gen 1:27 states God (Elohim) created man in His own image (singular image). Just as Gen 2:4 confirms Gen 1:1, YHVH Himself [El - Job 33:4] created man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. While the LORD God created man, the angels and heavenly host were certainly present and are a part of elohim, which we will get into next. Thus far, it appears the Word was speaking to (pros) God (elohim/theos) in the beginning.
Consider the following two verses:
Mat 10:32 "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven."
Luke 12:8 "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God."
Now compare the KJV and NAS of Psalm 8:5:
KJV "For thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels [elohim], and hast crowned Him with glory and honour."
NAS "Yet You have made Him a little lower than God [elohim], And You crown Him with glory and majesty!"
See the clarity of the use of 'elohim' as shown in Psalm 82:1 "A Psalm of Asaph. God [Elohim] takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers [elohim]. Here's an example where 'elohim' is prefaced with a singular article, 'the' and is not speaking of "The God" (the Father). Furthermore, all the other examples given in Scripture where God uses the word "Us" witness Him speaking to His angels: Gen 3:22, 11:7 and Isa 6:8 (three witnesses).
Thus, the view held by Jews is this third one. John 1:1 would read "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was to the elohim (the angels) and God was the Word."
THE IMAGE OF GOD
So what exactly is the "image" of God? First of all, did God have a literal image in the beginning? The Bible tells us that God is Spirit (John 4:24). In the Old Testament, He manifested Himself in clouds by day and fire by night (Ex 13:21-22). We are told that God is invisible (Rom 1:20; Col 1:15; 1 Tim 1:17; Heb 11:27).
So, how can it be that God made man in His image, if He didn’t have an image?
Gen 1:27 states, “male and female He created them.” Is God both male and female? I don’t think this is what this means, for He is called “Father” and “Son”, let alone the fact His Spirit fathered Jesus Christ with a female. Yes, God, who is Spirit (John 4:24; 2 Cor 3:17), has both male and female attributes (Mat 23:37), but this does not mean He is both male and female 'persons'. So, there’s got to be more to this “image” in the beginning, and God gave me the understanding: All throughout the Bible we need to see the 'marriage' relationship of God to mankind. God is the Husband to Israel (Jer 31:32). Christ is the Husband of the Bride, the Church (Eph 5:23). The physical birth of children represents the spiritual birth of God's children. Creation began with a M/marriage and will end with a Marriage.
As covered earlier, the word “image” in this verse is the Hebrew word tselem and means: image, vain show; From an unused root meaning to shade; a phantom, i.e. (figuratively) illusion, resemblance; hence, a representative figure, especially an idol -- image, vain shew.
“Vain show" and "idol” would certainly not apply to Gen 1:27, so we must ponder the figurative meaning.
We know that man is spirit, soul and body (1 Thes 5:23), yet each man is a literal, singular individual. God is Spirit (John 4:24); God has a soul (Mat 12:18; Is 42:1); God has a body (in the Old Testament, the manifestation of His Christ; in the New Testament, the physical body of His Son, once again ~ His Christ). Now, consider you (your spirit) operate as both a parent and a child, but are the same individual. Isaiah 9:6 prophesies the Son as being the Father as well as the Comforter, but is yet the same God.
God has both an invisible and visible image; we need to grasp that tselem is speaking of God's spiritual image. To expound more on how each man (male or female) is made in the spiritual image (tsalem) of God, in respect to Elohim ~ in spirit, male and female (i.e. Adam and Eve), when joined together (consummated) are no longer two, but one flesh (Greek word fem. of heis = mia). Jesus, as a Man also referred to being one (heis) with the Father (Spirit). Likewise, all believers are one (heis) in Christ (Spirit) and each believer is being renewed into His image (Col 3:10)! Look back at the definition of elohim, which is also defined as multiplicity/greatness. Man was created to physically birth many children; the LORD God then gives spiritual birth to those children, multiplying elohim!
**Have you ever understood Ps 82:6 and John 10:34? "I said, 'You are gods [elohim], and all of you are sons of the Most High.'" BELIEVERS are part of elohim (God)! Now, think of John 1:1 also in a prophetic sense, in that "The Word was to elohim, the sons of the Most High ~ man". Timeless!
As I mentioned before, just as God's heaven includes a court or system of governance, so it is with man on earth. Now re-read Genesis 1:26-27 (translated as it is) with this full understanding: “Then God said, ‘...let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’
THE IMAGE OF MAN
It's time to go to the New Testament and start with Col 1:15 “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” The word “image” here is the Greek word eikon and means: image; From eiko; a likeness, i.e. (literally) statue, profile, or (figuratively) representation, resemblance -- image. Likewise, Col 3:10 (renewal of man to God's image) uses this word as well. It appears this is the Greek rendition of the Hebrew word tsalem. Just as "idol" did not apply in the Hebrew definition, "statue" would not apply in the Greek.
Jesus Christ was and is God’s spiritual and visible image, yet He also took on the form and likeness of created man. This is shown in Phil 2:6-7: “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
In this verse, “form of God” is the Greek word morphe meaning: form; Perhaps from the base of meros (through the idea of adjustment of parts); shape; figuratively, nature -- form. He was both the visible 'shape' and invisible, 'figurative nature' of God.
However, God also took on the form of a bond-servant (slave). This word “form” is the Greek word schema, meaning: outward appearance, form, shape; From the alternate of echo; a figure (as a mode or circumstance), i.e. (by implication) external condition -- fashion.
God was therefore a literal human being (Jesus), as He was made in the likeness of men. The word “likeness” is the Greek word homoioma, meaning: that which is made like something; likeness, form, appearance; From homoioo; a form; abstractly, resemblance -- made like to, likeness, shape, similitude.
Let's look at 1 Tim 3:16, which confirms: "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
Some who argue the Greek word 'God' is NOT used in the verse above, read the verse before (vs. 15) to confirm its proper usage.
There is only One LORD God (YHWH Elohim). Yet, now that we understand elohim includes the heavenly host (consider the 24 elders in Rev 4:4, etc.) and man, let’s look further into the word “angels” because you may be surprised to find out they can also be mankind.
The Hebrew word for angels is malak, meaning ambassador, angel, king, messenger. From an unused root meaning to dispatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically, of God, i.e. An angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher) -- ambassador, angel, king, messenger.
In Greek it is the word aggelos, which means angel, messenger. From aggello (probably derived from ago; compare agele) (to bring tidings); a messenger; especially an "angel"; by implication, a pastor -- angel, messenger.
So, at least you can see that "angels" are messengers and can be humans (kings, prophets, priests, teachers, pastors). This is why John is told to write to the “angels” of the seven churches in Rev 2:1, etc. Also refer to Malachi 2:7 (malak: messenger).
Though we are told in Mat 22:30 that we will be "as the angels in heaven", this is in regard to marriage and does not mean we are spiritual angels. 1 Cor 6:3 states "Do you not know that we will judge angels?"
I believe YHVH (Yehovah) the LORD is the Creator of and Authority over all things. He is the Holy Spirit and His only begotten Son is Yehovah, the Great "I AM" in the flesh. The Bible says many times that God is invisible and I believe, throughout eternity, His visible image was and is and always will be the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you believe Yeshua (Jesus) is YHWH (Yehovah), the LORD? Consider the Greek word for Yehovah is Kurios.
1 Cor 12:3 states, "no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord [Kurios/Yehovah],' except by the Holy Spirit."
Rom 10:9 states, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord [Kurios/Yehovah], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Did you know Jesus raised Himself from the dead? Read John 2:19 "in three days I will raise it up" (also see John 10:17-18).
In conclusion, we can see that the LORD God (Elohim) is exceedingly great and merciful to include His heavenly host and mankind (by faith in Him) into His body/family (elohim). This is simply amazing!
- Eph 3:14-15 "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name."
Hopefully, you can better understand why there are two teachings about who God was speaking to when He contemplated the creation of man. I believe the second teaching for the reasons given; however, both doctrinal teachings have been around for centuries and will, no doubt, continue to be.
For a beautiful rendition of how marvelously man is made in God's image (tselem/eikon), I invite you to read my hub Soul, Spirit, Mind and Heart. Be blessed!
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