Pluralis Majestatis

Studies in Genesis 1

And God saw that it was good. 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Genesis 1:25-26 ESV)

Though God declares what He has created thus far on day six “good” He is not finished. All is created except for His highest creation. All is in place and ready for the penultimate creation. He will now create Man. Scripture, history and hindsight tells us Man is His highest creation. But, Man’s recreation after the fall into sin and separation from God, the reconciliation of a broken relationship, is His ultimate act of creation.

“Let us make.” To whom is He speaking? Has there been another present during creation, helping Him accomplish that which He determined? His words are plural, referring to more than one. Is there more than one god?

Scripture is adamant there is only One God. “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5 ESV). Is He speaking about angels? Angels have had no input into creation and are themselves created. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16 ESV). Is He speaking about the animals, birds and fish? This is absurd. That which is life created cannot create life. Like the created angels, creating life is completely outside their created nature.

God must be speaking to and about Himself. Is this then the “royal we,” the pluralis majestatis, where He is both the subject of the declaration and the object of the declarations purpose. If this is true at its most basic level then the phrase is hollow and does not follow the tenor of what He has been saying and doing. He would have said “I will make” not “let us make.”

God is speaking to Himself. He is a Trinity, one God in three divine persons. Nowhere in Scripture is the term “Trinity” used for God. Yet, throughout Scripture God reveals the truth of Himself as Three in One. Nor is this doctrine an Old Testament teaching. Genesis 1 looks forward to the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2 ESV).

“Let us make” tells us the full being of God is wholly involved in all of creation and especially the creation, and ultimately the recreation, of Man.

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