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What do you Observe?

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26
What do you Observe? Book Cover

On days four and five of each week, we’re going to pull a passage from the books we’ve covered and walk through one method of studying that passage. As we talked about in week one, if we know all these facts about the Bible, but never apply the truth of it to our lives, we have missed the point. Let’s use the steps we learned in week one, day five to study Genesis 1:26–28 today: Pray, Observe, Interpret, Apply (Note: We’ll do the “Apply” step tomorrow).

Studying the Pentateuch

When we play the game of Clue, we gather as many facts as we can to arrive at the right conclusion. Who committed the crime? In what room? What weapon did they use? No doubt, there is usually a player who tries to prematurely guess these answers without gathering all clues.

As later readers of the Bible, we realize that we are centuries removed from the languages, cultures, and backgrounds of its writers and original readers. Through inductive Bible study, we want to use Scripture to interpret Scripture. However, Bible study resources like commentaries will provide us with clues that will help bridge those cultural and language gaps. With these resources, we can more accurately understand the author’s intended meaning rather than inserting our own assumptions and ideas into the text.

Observe: Genesis 1:26–28

Placing these verses in the context of the chapter, we are in day six of the creation narrative. What information do our practice verses give us? Here are a few observations:

  • Verse 26: God is speaking, choosing to create humans in his image and giving them dominion over the birds in the air, the beasts on the Earth, and the creatures in the sea. God uses a plural pronoun to refer to himself instead of a singular. In addition, God uses a plural pronoun when referring to humans instead of a singular pronoun. “Let us make man in our image . . . and let them . . .”
  • Verse 27: God followed his statement with an action. He created male and female in his image. A singular pronoun for “man” is used versus the plural pronoun used in verse 26.
  • Verse 28: God blessed them. “Them” refers to the male and female he created. He also spoke to them, giving them instructions to be fruitful and multiply and to have dominion over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, and every living thing on the Earth.

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Old Testament: The Pentateuch

Daily Question

As we move towards interpretation, how do we understand these verses in the context of Genesis 1? Remember the singular and plural pronouns that we noted in verse 26? Let’s investigate why the pronouns seem mismatched. Why do you think verse 26 uses a plural pronoun instead of a singular one? Read the notes in your study Bible or look up commentary on this verse (there are resources listed at the end of this book) to find out what scholars have said about this passage.

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Comments (12)

Verse 26 seems to be referring to mankind as he envisages the earth being looked after by us all, whereas the singular pronoun in verse 27 refers to Adam alone, and once Eve is created it’s "them". Looked at several online commentaries and found no reference to this matter of singular and plural.

I had never caught on before about the differences in the plural and singular pronouns being used between verses. Love it!

When looking up Genesis 1:26, my study Bible notes the plural could be in reference to the Trinity (my initial thought) or could be used to denote majesty or kingship. Furthering the idea of the Trinity are references to Job 33:4 & Psalm 104:30, which point to the Holy Spirit being present at creation, as well as Colossians 1:16, which point to Christ being present at the creation.

In verse 26 I believe God is speaking to the Trinity of Himself (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He is explaining that He wants to make humans in the image of His deity. In verse 27, He himself, Father God, creates man in His image (including the Son and Holy Spirit). In verse 28, He speaks directly to the humans, blessing them and instructing them to reign and govern the animal life of Earth.

I think why they used a plural pronoun is because God is talking about himself because he is three in one.
And maybe God was saying that man is made in His own image so that means that man would be plural just like God is plural. Maybe????? Plz comment if you have something to add!

I had never paid attention the "us" before. It was a cool realization to His reference to the Trinity (or at least what I think it is referencing there).

I had never caught the use of singular versus plural until I taught VBS several years ago. As part of the weekly teaching, we taught the kids about Christophany. I had never heard of it before but God used that season to saw and teach me how Jesus has always been. In my human mind I always just imagined Jesus beginning at his birth rather than always being part of the Godhead. After learning about it, I had a new found appreciation for verses like 26 where I understand it to be God speaking to his Son in heaven and laying out his plan for Jesus to one day come. Then it transitions to God making Adam because Jesus only has the power as appointed to him from God. And then He makes Eve.

My study Bible and other commentaries suggest that this use of plural pronouns declare the full Godhead at work. Wherein mankind was beginning and can be addressed that way or also the possibility of an individual man – as in Adam or woman – Eve, these verses present the Trinity as the designer and author of creation of man – even somewhat distinguished from the other elements of creation.

God uses plural bc he is speaking oh the Holy Trinity. I read in the Zondervan study bible, it could be His angels. I don’t read the pronouns as being mismatched bc IMO the Holy Trinity is who He is always speaking of.

The plural indicates that God the Father. Son & Holy Spirit were present at creation. The trinity has always existed even before humans were created in the image of God. Genesis 1 sets the foundation for the rest of the story of the whole Bible. We were created for a purpose but quickly deviated from it by doing our ‘own’ thing.

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