When God created human beings he 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)

In saying “Let us”, he appears to be speaking to someone.

Later in Genesis, after Adam and Eve sinned, God says

“Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:22)

Again, God appears to be speaking with his heavenly angels who understood both good and evil.

The third example of this “us” usage is discussed in Who are the “us” in “let us go down” of Gen.11:7?

So the options are as follows:

1. Angels?

One traditional view among both Jews and Christians is that God is talking to his angels. The idea that there were there is supported by a few other passages in the Bible. A later passage which records the “sons of God” shouting for joy at creation (Job 38:7). However that verse only reflects the idea of angels watching, with no implication that there is any involvement in creation.

2. Divine council?

A more modern idea is that the passage refers to a divine council. But this is actually the same thing as saying ‘angels’, or maybe archangels, the idea that God has a court of divine ministers. Also the image of a divine council is only used in a handful of specific contexts in the Old Testament, and usually with some clear purpose in the story. It’s not clear what the idea of a council of angels adds to simply saying angels. Unless it is to offset the above idea (1) and make clear that the angels themselves were only spectators.

3. Rhetorical

Another view – and one with some support in Hebrew grammar – is that this plural is simply rhetorical. God speaking to himself and the cosmos. This is supported by the actual making of man being by God singular with no hint on any angels involved.

(note: although the Hebrew word is ‘Elohim’ – this is a noun in Hebrew which can be plural or singular depending on the verb, and the Hebrew grammar in 1:26 shows that here this is a singular noun (‘God’), not plural (‘gods’) since the Hebrew verb “made” is in the singular form, only allowing one actor, one creator doing the making of mankind.)


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23 Responses to Who is God speaking to in Genesis 1:26?

  1. Baynlevy says:

    very coherent and consistent. My very point.

    Thank you.


  2. collinhoke says:

    This is seemingly quite accurate. There is one problem with this line of thinking however. We know that GOD created everything. God did it. By himself. The angels were a creation, not creators. In saying “let us make“ we conclude that he is talking to someone else who is capable of creating things. The only possible answer for this is to say that by “us“ he means the trinity. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The angels did rejoice over creation, but they did not create.

    • Rob J Hyndman says:

      Two problems with what you say:

      1. The Bible doesn’t actually say that God did it entirely by himself. All it says is that “God said … and it was done”. How it was done is not explained. We can only speculate.

      2. There is no evidence at all that Jesus existed in any physical or conscious sense before his birth. Search for “Trinity” on this site for discussion of this.

  3. Tim says:

    The Bible does make reference to Jesus in exsistence at the beginning. It sats in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God…..(few scriptures later)And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory.

  4. Jeff Bramlett says:

    Compare on this site the notes on Gen 3:22.

    Jesus specifically says who made Adam and Eve.

    Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’

    Jesus did not say “we” nor did he say “the Father and I” he said “God made them”

  5. Jorge Alvarado says:

    Hi, Re # 6, Jeff wrote:
    “Jesus did not say “we” nor did he say “the Father and I” he said “God made them”
    I think Jesus here is speaking as 100% man, in that He is speaking to mere men. There was no need to be specific. He also never mentioned that the Holy Spirit is another person of the Trinity, but we know that is implied. (Don’t we?), later, Paul clarified it.( Acts 5:3-4).

    @ #5, Mr. Hyndman wrote;
    “The Word” is not Jesus.
    John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
    Doesn’t that clearly teach Jesus was “the Word” spoken of in Scripture?
    I understand “the Word became flesh” speaks only of Jesus becoming man, or being born; not implying that He did not exist prior to Him being born physically.

  6. Vincent Grant says:

    God is One when God said “let us make man in our image” He was referring to Himself. Speaking to Himself using the royal we. Or to the earth because man has a heavenly and earthly image.

  7. Steve says:

    Sorry, it can’t be the angels because of the “us” in “Let us make man”. The act of creation was God’s alone, as attested to by many verses including Isaiah 44:24, 45:12, 37:16, Job 9:8, etc. etc. Also, God is due glory because of his creation. He shares this glory with no other being.

  8. Ed says:

    The plural “us” was considered by the early church as an indication of the Godhead, not angels. All through the week of creation at least two members of the Godhead are mentioned: “…And the Spirit of God… (Holy Spirit) ” Gen 1:1 and “Then God said… (God the Father)” Gen 1:1. In the NT we read about Jesus as Creator: 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 were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Verse 10 says “…and the world was made through HIm..” Verse 14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The following texts show Christ, the second person of the Godhead, was associated with God the Father in the work of creatation: 1Cor. 8:6, Col. 1:16-17, Heb. 1:2.

    • ez says:

      Out of interest, historically the ‘Trinity’ was invented by man, not God. This theology was introduced to appease Constantine’s desire to amalgamate Rome’s ‘multitudinous gods’ into popular Christianity at the time. This pagan idea were born some 300 years after Christ’s literal ascension (Act 1:9-11 KJV) into heaven to sit/stand next to Gods right hand. (Mar 16:19 KJV) (Act 7:55-56 KJV) (Rom 8:34 KJV) (Eph 1:20 KJV) (Heb 12:2 KJV)

      ‘Us’ in Gen 1:26 is the ‘Elohiym’, which is the plural (multitudinous form) of the singular. There is no triune ‘Godhead’ introduced or either implied. The intention of the meaning can easily be grasped by its context, especially as this term is also used of other mortals throughout scripture. (Joh 10:34 KJV). Suffice to say those who represent Gods ‘message’(logos). Thus right here we also have the answer to what the ‘word’ means in John 1:1. Logos means the ‘idea or message’ (Grk). It is also used in an identical abstract form to personalize ‘wisdom’. This too was an ‘idea’(Logos) long before the earth was made. (Pro 8:23 KJV)

      (Gen 3:22 KJV)This verse relating to the use of ‘Us’ would seem to indicate the Hebrew word ‘from’. So in context the ‘elohim’ was concerned Adam/Eve had come ‘from’ them, now knowing ‘Good and Evil. That Adam and Eve might take from the tree of life and ‘save’ (chayay) their life and live forever. For this to be a problem to the ‘elohim’ there must have been something incongruent with ‘partaking’ in sin and eternal life. We can only surmise in this verse perhaps the elohim had previous experience with ‘sin’ but were now redeemed. I give no explanation as to how the ‘elohim’ came to this state of knowledge, just that they knew Adam and Eve could not be ‘partakers’ of this ‘sin’ and then choose to ‘live forever’.

      18 “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” (Joh 17:18 KJV)
      21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (Joh 17:21 KJV)
      24 “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (Joh 17:24 KJV)

      This personal prayer of Christ’s to his Father extends throughout the whole of John 17. This speaks of God’s Holy power by which all things are made, including those which do his bidding. But more importantly it speaks of Christ’s great desire for ‘US’ to become one with him as he is with God (in logos). We ‘individually’ try to bring our will to align with God’s, as Christ succeeded in doing in his life. That we can also become part of this perfect unity of ‘an idea’ born long before the earth was made.

  9. Peter says:

    The key to the answer would be found if you could also understand who this man, whom God was refering to is. Was it Adam? Who was it?????????

  10. KPM says:

    Daniel 3:25. Jesus came into the furnance to save
    the 3 Hebrew boys himself. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the “Us”.

    • Grahame Grieve says:

      Daniel 3:28: It was an angel. Or we could be rationale and accept that Nebuchadnezzar’s witness is worthless in this respect.

  11. JJB says:

    Since God is a spirit,he had to use a form to form man with. You noticed that he spoke everything into existence but when it comes to making the man he formed them from the dusts and breathed into them.He had to have a form because he came down in the cool of the day and walked with them.He had a form when he came to Abraham and Abraham was trying to get him to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if he could find at least 10 righteous.This form was the preincarnate Jesus Christ.He is a form of God you can say the very hand of God,he’s the power,the authority of the almighty.I dare say we where made in the blueprint of Jesus both by spirit and the actual body.I don’t believe God just made up a design for the body.God is one,and we know him as Jesus.Jesus is how God presents himself to mankind.God presents himself in different forms, offices, and roles never in persons because a person is separate and self aware, he may present himself in a different persona which in Latin it means in different mask.For example one person can in a play could play multiple parts by changing there mask
    Colossians 1:16-17 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

    In Jesus name I pray

  12. kingdom_son3 says:

    This is all well and good… if man AND angels were made in the image and likeness. When, in fact, just man was made in the image and likeness of God. If not we would be six winged people like the seraphim Isaiah describes in Is 6. The “Us” may very well be the Trinity. I believe that “The Word” was Christ and He was there in the creation process, but as a Son. Also, “The Spirit of God hovered over the waters”. Therefore The Trinity: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit were present at the time of the creation of man. But there were also more there. I believe Christ was present as one of the Sons of God whom “shouted for joy” when Yahweh, God of creation asks Job, “Where were you when…” in Job 38. Just a thought… This is one of those God level questions that cannot be proven one way or another. But the TRUTH lies within the inspiration of Holy Spirit whom inspired these words to be written the way they were for a reason. Get filled with the spirit and let Him reveal the mysteries from the foundation of the world. Maybe this is the “more” Christ spoke about and we just “Cannot contain it”… YET!!!!

    • Jonathan Morgan says:

      We do not know whether the seraphim were angels or not. Isaiah 6 is the only place they were mentioned. There are also the living creatures of Ezekiel which had four wings and their appearance is described as “a human likeness” (in spite of having four faces). It has also been wondered whether these were angels or not. However, what we can say clearly is that when angels appeared to people like Abraham and the judges, the people who saw them did not immediately know from their six wings that they were angels. Instead, they only realised it when the angel did something unusual like going up to heaven with a flame, or delivering a clear message from God. From this, I think we can assume that angels look like humans (at least when they are revealed to humans).

      Christ was the word made flesh, not the word in the beginning.

  13. Vikki Schmitt says:

    Jesus was referred to in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The original Hebrew text here was the word “Elohim” for God. When you research Elohim you find that the word has a plural meaning. It is the plural sense of the word God.

  14. Famous James says:

    Everyone, take a moment to gather our thoughts not in the flesh but in the true essence of the Holy Spirit. Which will give us the revelation of God word. Those that have ears to hear let him hear. In KJV Genesis 1:26 God said let us make man in our image. God is talking to someone. KJV 1 John 5:7 There are three that bare record in heaven. The Father, The Word, The Holy Ghost. Also note that Wisdom was from the begining of the foundation read KJV Proverbs 8:22-29. The question ? Was Jesus there. read Jonh 1:1-14. read KJV Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created that are in heaven and things created in earth, visible and invisible. KJV Colossians 1:15 Jesus is the image of the invisible God. read KJV Hebrew 1:1,2,3 read KJV Philippians 2:6 Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God. read KJV Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the begining of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. Remember if you Error in Scripture you Error in Knowledge. Jesus was There.

    • Jonathan Morgan says:

      I’m curious to see that you are always quoting from the KJV. Is there any particular reason for this?

      I think that the “us” is merely referring to the plural of majesty. God’s very title is plural, but God is one. The title suggests his greatness. In the same way, when Queen Victoria says “We are not amused” she doesn’t have to talk with anyone or consult anyone else’s opinion on whether they were amused. It is just a sign of how important she is.

      1 John 5:7 is omitted from most Bibles because there are very few manuscripts that include it and those manuscripts are very late (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_Johanneum). This means it is almost certainly not part of the original text.

      The reference to Wisdom is a personification. I don’t believe that there was a literal woman called wisdom at creation who worked with God and rejoiced at his work. It is merely saying that wisdom has been shown by God from the beginning, and so it is a valuable thing for humans if they want to follow God.

      John 1 speaks about God’s word being with him at creation (he spoke, and it was created). It only speaks about Jesus being God’s word become flesh, and that happened at a fixed time long after creation.

      Colossians 1 speaks about Jesus showing God in his ministry, by choosing to follow God and be like him. I think that the creation it speaks of is not the physical creation, but the new creation of the kingdom of God and the body of Christ. This makes sense of the sayings that he was head of the body, the church, and the firstborn from the dead, since these are the events in which he was first and he was the founder.

      Philippians 2 speaks about Jesus’ humility, how he humbled himself and was obedient to God and we should act like this as well.

      My version of Ephesians 3:9 says that God created all things and makes no mention of Jesus Christ.

    • david rocha says:

      And there you go.

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