Genesis 1:24-31 – Sixth Day of Creation – Part 2


What was created on day six?

Does the use of “livestock” imply that God created some animals already domesticated?

Or does this word indicate the phenomenological perspective we discussed last week?


What is the “elohim” and “us” business?

What is “made in our image” and “likeness” stuff?

Why is God’s word “asah” and Moses’ word “bara” for the creation of man?


Why would the creation of image bearers be on the same day as land animals?


Is it significant that male and female are specified for mankind?


Why point out the disbursement of food for both the land animals and mankind?



Two Events:

First Event – Verses 24-25 give us the first event of day six.

  • Land animals make their appearance.
  • Three types are mentioned – “livestock”, “creeping things”, and “beasts of the earth”.
  • Moses confirms that it was God that “asah’d” these animals.
  • Like all life, God is their source of being.
  • Much of what can be said here has been said in previous lessons.


Second Event – Verses 28-31 give us the second event of day six.

  • Here we encounter the appearance of mankind – “adam”.
  • As we saw last week, there are a number of textual things going on that significantly set this event apart from the other 7.
  • Today we will deal with a number of these.
  • Next week we will contend with Walton and Sailhamer’s view of day six.



Let Us – “Elohim”:

“Elohim” is used throughout Genesis 1, but here we encounter the first plural pronoun – “us” and “our”.

  • As would be expected, there is disagreement about what this means.
  • There are at least 4 common views.


(1) Plurality within God

  • It “may point to plurality within God” or the Godhead – Heiser.
  • But not in the Trinitarian sense formulated by the Church Fathers.
  • Wenham tell us, “It is now universally admitted that this was not what the plural meant to the original author” – Gordon Wenham.
  • Heiser agrees, “an ancient Israelite or Jew would never have presumed this”.
  • He points out that there is nothing in the context that would limit the plural to just three.
  • And, that taking “Elohim” this way would cause serious problems in Psalm 82, for example.
  • Kenneth Mathews says, “Although the Christian Trinity cannot be derived solely from the use of the plural, a plurality within the unity of the Godhead may be derived from the passage”.
  • Trinitarian Christians read Trinity into the text anachronistically.


(2) Plural of Majesty

  • This is a “grammatical use of the plural that points to a fullness of attributes and powers” ascribed to God.
  • However, there are Hebrew textual reasons why this “does not represent a coherent explanation” – Michael Heiser.
  • Wenham agrees, “‘we’ as a plural of majesty is not used with verbs has led to the rejection of this interpretation”.


(3) God’s Self-Deliberation

  • “This interpretation sees the plurality only in rhetorical terms; it describes the way someone might deliberate within him or herself over some decision” – Heiser.
  • Another example of this appears in Isaiah.
  • Isaiah 6:8 (ESV) — 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
  • The idea is that we are seeing God “in contemplation” – Mathews.


(4) “An Announcement to the Divine Council/Heavenly Host” – Heiser.

“The plural language in Gen 1:26 is God announcing the decision to His angelic imagers that, as things are in the heavenly realm, so they will be on earth” – Michael Heiser.

  • Wenham says this has been the traditional view for the last 2000 years.


Where do our scholars come down?


Three for the Divine Council/Heavenly Host.

  • Michael Heiser – “The most likely explanation for the plurality in Gen 1:26 is that God—the lone speaker—is announcing His intention to create humankind to the members of His heavenly host (Psa 82; 89:5–8).”
  • Bruce Waltke – “The explanation that better satisfies all such uses of the pronoun is that God is addressing the angels or heavenly court (cf. 1 Kings 22:19–22; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Ps. 29:1–3; 89:5–6; Isa. 6:8; 40:1–6; Dan. 10:12–13; Luke 2:8–14)”.

Gordon Wenham – “‘Let us create man’ should therefore be regarded as a divine announcement to the heavenly court, drawing the angelic host’s attention to the master stroke of creation, man. As Job 38:4, 7 puts it: “When I laid the foundation of the earth … all the sons of God shouted for joy” (cf. Luke 2:13–14).”


Two for the Plurality within God.

Victor Hamilton – “According to Clines [another scholar], God here speaks to the Spirit, mentioned back in v. 2, who now becomes God’s partner in creation. It is one thing to say that the author of Gen. 1 was not schooled in the intricacies of Christian dogma. It is another thing to say he was theologically too primitive or naive to handle such ideas as plurality within unity.”

  • Kenneth Mathews – “Here the unity and plurality of God are in view.”




“In Our Image”:

What does it mean to that we are created in the image of God?

  • Why is it so significant?


Historically, there have been a number of views.

  • But as of late, most seem to be coalescing around one.
  • “During this latter half of our century the dominant interpretation, though not new (e.g., Chrysostom), has become the ‘functional’ one, that the ‘image’ is humanity’s divinely ordained role to rule over the lower orders” – Mathews.


BTW – We need to make one quick note on “after our likeness” to explain why we aren’t dealing with it.

  • Because Wenham says that “likeness” means “according to or after the pattern of” our image…
    • It is most likely that no distinction is being made.
    • Significantly, many suggest that “likeness” is important because it may operate to show we are not the exact image of God – like Jesus, for example.
    • Whatever the case, image is where we need to hang out.


Some common, but out of vogue views are as follows:

  • Our ability to reason or other physical attributes.
  • Our spiritual attributes – body/soul/spirit.
  • Our ability to be in relationship with God.


Image Bearer as Representative/Vice-Regent:

The “functional” view that has come to dominate is simply this…

  • Image means that we are God’s representative or vice-regent.
  • The TWOT simply says, “having dominion over God’s creation as vice-regent.”
  • Mathews says, “Mankind is appointed as God’s royal representatives (i.e., sonship) to rule the earth in his place.”
  • Wenham says, “the divine image makes man God’s vice-regent on earth”.


Heiser also says “selem” (image) is a status or function – to represent God on earth.

  • For this reason, he thinks it is best to think of “selem” as a verb.


This is for one simple reason.

  • Nobody has a clue as to what aspect of humanity is the image of God – what the old definitions attempted to define.
  • “Selem” as representative “merely describes the function or the consequences of the divine image; it does not pinpoint what the image is in itself” – Gordon Wenham.
  • “Although Genesis tells who is created in the ‘image of God,’ both man and woman (1:27; 1 Cor 11:7; Jas 3:9), it does not describe the contents of the ‘image.’” – Kenneth Mathews.

In fact, Hamilton says, “It is clear that v. 26 is not interested in defining what is the image of God in man. The verse simply states the fact, which is repeated in the following verse.”


Our ignorance on this matter is similar to our understanding of a born again heart.

  • Scripture is clear (Ezekiel 36 and John 3) that our hearts are remade and transformed.
  • The exact nature of this change from stone to flesh eludes us.
  • However, we know that life in Christ is impossible without this event.


So what does it mean to be God’s representative/vice-regent?


Mathews puts it simply…

  • “Mankind is appointed as God’s royal representatives (i.e., sonship) to rule the earth in his place.”


The text itself makes this clear.

  • Genesis 1:26 (ESV) — 26 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 earth.”


Psalm 8, most agree, also captures this view and alludes to Genesis.

  • Psalm 8:5–8 (ESV) — 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
  • The writer of Hebrews identifies Psalm 8 with Jesus’ incarnation to emphasize His humanity.


The idea of representative/vice-regent may also contain the following.

  • If God’s “us” refers to an announcement to the Heavenly Host/Divine Council an interesting parallel may be in view.
  • “In speaking of men being made in God’s image, [Genesis 1:26] is comparing man to the angels who worship in heaven” – Wenham on Mettinger.
  • The Heavenly Host are the spiritual creatures that function to serve/worship/represent God.
  • Mankind are the physical creatures that function to serve/worship/represent God.
  • In this way we are the material analog of the spiritual Heavenly Host.
  • However, it must be noted that nowhere does Scripture say the Heavenly Host are created in the image of God.


Victor Hamilton also wants to point out the following concerning our dominion:

“Man’s divinely given commission to rule over all other living creatures is tempered, or better, brought into sharp relief, by the fact that such dominion does not allow him to kill these creatures or to use their flesh as food. Only much later (9:3, post-Flood) is domination extended to include consumption.” – Hamilton.


Why is being made in God’s image so significant?


1) Gordon Wenham gives us a great answer.

  • “Because man is God’s representative, his life is sacred: every assault on man is an affront to the creator and merits the ultimate penalty (Gen 9:5–6)” – Gordon Wenham.
  • So because every human is born with the image status/function, the significance of “image” is not just vertical.
  • It is also horizontal.


What does this say about our obligations to other “adams”?

  • What does this say about the meaning of life?


2) Michael Heiser points out the following significance.

  • He says that as we “image” God we become more like Him.
  • How do we know this?
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) — 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


3) That “adam” is made in the image of God says something about Jesus as “adam”.

  • Thought it must be said that Christ’s image is distinct from ours.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) — 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
  • Colossians 1:15 (ESV) — 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
  • Jesus is the ultimate imager, the apex imager.


4) Because of this, those that are in Union with Christ “image” in a different way.

  • Romans 8:29 (ESV) — 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
  • By our Union with Christ, we participate in the Trinity and thus the “image” in profoundly different ways from unbelievers.
  • This “imaging” will be fully consummated at our resurrection.


5) There is a parallel between man and the tabernacle.

  • “It must be observed that man is made ‘in the divine image,’ just as the tabernacle was made ‘in the pattern’” – Wenham.
  • We may flesh this out in a later lesson.


Another ANE Polemic:

Bruce Waltke says this of the image polemic.

“In ancient Near Eastern texts only the king is in the image of God. But in the Hebrew perspective this is democratized to all humanity. ‘The text is saying that exercising royal dominion over the earth as God’s representative is the basic purpose for which God created man,’ explains Hart. He adds, ‘man is appointed king over creation, responsible to God the ultimate king, and as such expected to manage and develop and care for creation, this task to include actual physical work.’ Finally, in the context of Genesis, the image refers to the plurality of male and female within the unity of humanity. This concept is also distinct from the ancient Near Eastern perspective” – Bruce Waltke.


Victor Hamilton points out another polemic.

  • In ANE creation stories, “Man is created as an afterthought, and when he is created he is predestined to be a servant of the gods. There is nothing of the regal and the noble about him such as we find in Gen. 1” – Hamilton.
  • As we have said before, Genesis 1 is in many ways anthropocentric.
  • We are the point of creation, not an afterthought.