Genesis 1:26 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 1:26, NIV: "Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'"

Genesis 1:26, ESV: "Then God 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 ea"

Genesis 1:26, KJV: "And God 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

Genesis 1:26, NASB: "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.'"

Genesis 1:26, NLT: "Then God said, 'Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.'"

Genesis 1:26, CSB: "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.""

What does Genesis 1:26 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The creation week now reaches its climax with the creation of human beings. This verse is breathtaking in its implications and puzzling in the questions it raises.

God decrees, "Let us make man in our image," using a Hebrew word—ē'nu—which is unmistakably plural. Why does God speak of Himself as more than one person? Scholars have offered a wide variety of ideas over the centuries. Three explanations are offered more often than any others.

First, God may be referring to Himself and the angels. This seems unlikely given the rest of Scripture's depiction of angels. These beings are presented as servants and messengers, not creators or rulers.

Second, this could be what scholars call a plural of self-exhortation or self-encouragement, meaning He is referring only to Himself. This would also be referred to as "the royal 'we,'" something we see used by human kings and rulers when making proclamations or decrees.

The third possibility is that God is speaking as a Trinity, of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. According to Scripture as a whole, the full Trinity was present at creation. Genesis 1:2 describes the Spirit of God hovering over the waters, and John 1:1–3 reveals that the Word, Christ, was active in the creation of all things.

Next, this verse raises the question of what it means to be made in God's image, or in His likeness. Without question, this statement does not mean that God created humans to resemble Him physically (John 4:24). Rather, this seems to support the idea that God endowed humans with a certain kind of awareness, one which animals and birds and fish were not given. In other words, humans would possess the capacity for reason, morality, language, personality, and purpose. In particular, the ability to use morality and spirituality are unique to human beings among God's creations on earth. Like God, we would possess the capacity to experience and understand love, truth, and beauty.

Humans are made in God's image in another way: as a model, or a representative. God is the Maker, and all of creation belongs to Him. He is Lord over it. However, in the moment of creation, God gives mankind the responsibility to rule over all other life He has made on the earth. In that sense, humans would stand as God's image, God's representatives, on earth as we rule over and manage all the rest of His creation.