Who is “us” in Genesis 1:26?

In Genesis 1:26 it says, “Then God said, Let us make man in our image . . . .” Who is “us?” Was God talking to himself or someone else?

The context is the creation of man. God’s creation of the rest of the natural world was complete and now He turns His hand to the creation of His grandest work upon the earth. We read in Psalm 8:5 that man was made “a little lower than the angels.” Man is, therefore, the highest work of the physical creation and God in attending to this creation wants to ensure that it is done properly. So there is a pause between the creation of the rest of the natural world and the now higher work of creating man. During this pause, God states these words, “Let us make man in our image.”

Some have suggested that God was speaking to His spiritual creation–the hosts of heavenly beings that surround His throne. Several passages in the Old Testament refer to these beings such as 1 Kings 22:19, Psalm 89:8, Daniel 10, and in the book of Ezekiel. The Ark of the Covenant itself was topped with two spiritual beings referred to as cherubim and Isaiah talks about beings called seraphim in Isaiah 6. Was God speaking to these of His spiritual creation? Not likely. God says that He wanted to make man in “our image” and then in verse 27 we read, “in the image of God created he him.” So, it can’t be that God was speaking to the heavenly hosts of creation.

A second suggestion has been made that God was speaking of himself in plural number such as members of the royal family do. If you have ever heard the Queen of England speak, she never says, “I” and “me” but always, “we” and “us.” Certainly it can be said of God that he is royal. He is described in Isaiah as the King of the nation of Israel (Isaiah 44:6). When the children of Israel desired a king, God told Samuel that they had not rejected him but “Me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7). The implication is that God was acting as their King. So certainly God could use “we” in this sense if He wanted to. However, the word for God in Hebrew is “elohim” which in and of itself has a plural ending, but is singular in understanding. Additionally, we see that the first chapter of Genesis talks about God creating, but His Spirit moving upon the face of the deep. How could God be everywhere in the creation and His Spirit be in one particular place? It appears as if there is more than one divine person working in the creation and when we look at John 1:1, it is confirmed.

In John 1:1-3 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” So here, we see that the “Word” was instrumental in the creation–that all things were made by him. That would certainly include the creation of man. We see in verse 14 that the word became flesh and dwelt among us. Who is the “Word?” He is the only begotten of the Father. So we have involved in creation three personalities, the Spirit of God, the Son of God, and God the Father. This is the “us” of Genesis 1:26. God the Father was speaking to both the Spirit and the one who would become the Son.

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Matthew 18:10 Talking about Guardian Angels?

In Matthew 18:10, we read, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” What does “that in heaven their (the child’s) angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” mean? Please explain this verse.

In this context, Jesus is addressing the disciples regarding their question of who is the greatest. Jesus answers their question in saying that the one who is like this little child is the greatest. He goes further to speak of what he means by the character of the little child in verses 3-5. He says 1) to enter the kingdom one must convert and become as a little child, 2) the one who humbles himself as a child is humble is the greatest in the kingdom, 3) to receive a little child is to receive Jesus. He has thus far spoken of positive behavior as related to the little children. In verses 6-10 he now discusses negative behavior toward these children. He says 1) the one who offends one of these little ones is in a lost condition, 2) those who commit offenses are in a condition of woe, 3) we should cut off occasions of offense from ourselves lest we fall. Then Jesus sums up both the negative and positive in verse 10. Great care should be given not to despise the little ones on account of their status with God. What is that status? Their angels are always before the face of God. How does this fit in with the context?

First, Jesus praises the character of the little child. Second, Jesus condemns the character of the one who causes offense toward the little child. On the one hand you have the innocent. On the other hand you have the guilty. The phrase “their angels do always behold the face of my Father” must refer to the innocence of the child. But this begs some additional explanation.

In Hebrews 1:14, we see that angels are “ministering spirits.” And that they minister to those who will inherit salvation. What are their responsibilities in this regard? What are their duties? We just do not know all of the things that they do. However, we do get a glimpse in a few passages. In Genesis 28:10 we read about a dream that Jacob had. This dream showed a ladder. Upon that ladder, the angels of God were ascending and descending upon it. So God’s angels go up to heaven and come down to earth in their service to Him. In what way would an angel be of service to God?

The Greek word for angel is “angelos” and it literally means “a messenger.” The translators of the Bible thought that there was a special being that God called a messenger, so they transliterated the word “angelos” into our English word, “angel.” Having this in mind, let’s look at Revelation 8:3,4. In this context we see an angel mixing incense with the prayers of the saints. It is a context of worship before God. Given that angels are “messengers” and given that they are to minister to the saints going back and forth from earth to heaven, and given that they appear before God in the context of worship, it may be that they in some capacity serve to carry the prayers or worship of the saints before the throne of God. This is my opinion and I could be entirely wrong about this. But this fits well with the idea of a child’s angel always being before the face of the Father. That is, the child has no sin; there is no need for the child to pray for forgiveness of sins; so there is no need for their messenger to go back and forth from the earth to heaven to carry the messages of the child to God. Therefore, they are always before the face of the Father in that they are not going back and forth to the earth to carry these messages. Again, this is just my opinion as to what I think this passage means.

Some cite this passage and say that each child has a “guardian” angel. The passage does NOT teach this. In fact, it teaches just the opposite. If the angel is always before the face of the Father, then it cannot be following the child around making sure that it doesn’t get hurt or anything like that. A child’s guardians are his parents and when parents fail to raise their children appropriately, children get hurt.

So to conclude, we can definitely say that whatever this means, it is in regard to the innocence of the child. On that there is no doubt. As to the way God uses angels in the world today, there is just too much that we don’t know and I know of no better explanation for the meaning of this passage than the one I have given.

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Must a Christian Widow Marry A Christians

In 1 Corinthians 7:39, Paul writes, ” The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” Does “in the Lord” in this verse mean that the wife, who is free to marry, must marry only a Christian man?

The phrase “in the Lord” occurs forty-seven times in the New Testament. Sometimes it does refer to people who are “in the Lord” where the phrase means that they are in the body of Christ–members of the church–Christians. One such example is in Romans 16:8 and 11. Here Paul is saluting members of the church and he describes them with short epithets. In verse 8 he says that Amplias is his beloved, in the Lord. In verse 11 he says that the house of Narcissus are in the Lord. These references certainly refer to individuals who are Christians and the phrase “in the Lord” here means “a Christian.” This is pretty much the case when the phrase is being used to describe a noun, pronoun, or relative pronoun to describe the location of the person or to answer the question, “Where does this person reside?”

However when a phrase is used with a verb it can mean that the action that is being referred to is to be authorized by Christ or that the action should be done within the confines of the teaching of Christ. Take the following passages as examples. In 2 Corinthians 10:17, Paul writes, “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Here the prepositional phrase is referring to the verb “glory.” Instead of referring to location, it describes the instrument by which the main verb is to be accomplished. So in 2 Corinthians 10:17 Paul writes, “But he that glorieth, let him glory.” How? “In the Lord.” By the authority of the Lord; according to the instructions of the Lord; only as the Lord dictates. The idea is that the phrase answers the question, “How should I accomplish the main verb?” Another outstanding example of this kind of usage would be in Ephesians 6:1. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” This passage is not saying that children may be disobedient to parents who are not Christians, but rather, that children are to obey their parents as they instruct them by the authority of the Lord.

Now when we get to 1 Corinthians 7:39, the context is a little ambiguous. Is the phrase, “In the Lord” used in the sense of answering the question “Where” or in other words, “To whom the widow shall marry?” Or, is the phrase used in the sense of “How” or in what manner is she to be married?

Those who argue that this means that she can only marry a Christian say that it would not be necessary for Paul to say that she can only marry by the authority of the Lord–that should be obvious! However, given that Paul has been discussing all of these different marriage situations and now he comes down to this last final situation, he wants to make it clear that he is not authorizing a widow to just go out and marry whomever she pleases regardless of the potential spouses previous marriage situation. Rather, Paul wants her to make sure that she abides by the Lord’s instructions regarding who may marry. So she may only marry someone whom the Lord has authorized to marry.

Does this person have to be a Christian? I don’t think this is what the passage means. However, if you are in this situation, my advice to you is that if you are NOT SURE, then choose the safe course. Marry a Christian. It is not worth taking the chance and losing your soul.

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