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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 (9)

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.

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 believe the plural is used in this verse because Jesus was there with God the Father. In John 1:1-3, In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him……

I think Verse 26 uses a plural pronoun because God is speaking about himself in the plural form because he is three in one. We see evidence of the Trinity in God’s statement "let us make man in our image." God was saying he was going to make man plural like God is plural (three in one.)

By using a plural pronoun instead of a singular noun, some scholars believe God took counsel with the earth, the latter supplying the body and Elohim the soul. The Jewish interpreters generally think that the angels are meant.

Something else that I observe is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. That to me shows me that as His creation we are all His image bearers. This is so important because it reminds us that even in our sin, even in our hurt and pain, even in the conflict and unrest, we were called to bear the image of God at creation. This is why we should love each other no matter what and always remember that we are all creations of the Creator.

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