"Let Us Make Man in Our Image" (Gen. 1:26)
Before we discuss the above-quoted use of plural pronouns by Jehovah at Gen. 1:26, we must fully understand the use of the word "through" (dia in NT Greek) and Jesus' role in the creation of man.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was the very first creation by Jehovah God (Jehovah became the Father at that point). Being the first (and only direct) creation by Jehovah makes Jesus "the firstborn of all creation" (Col. 1:15), and the beginning of the creation of God" (Rev. 3:14), and "the only-begotten Son" of God (1 John 4:9).
Furthermore, Jehovah made all the rest of creation through Jesus, his firstborn Son who is the Master Worker. The proper understanding of the NT Greek word dia ("through") clearly tells the whole story.
To illustrate: Suppose the one all-powerful ruler of the land decided to build a nice little palace out in the wilderness. He sends for his servant, the Master Worker, and commands him to build that palace. The King provides whatever materials are necessary for the Master Worker and tells him in great detail exactly how he wants it built.
The Master Worker sends for the chief stone mason, the chief carpenter, the chief artist, etc., tells them what their assignments are, and oversees their work.
It is clear that the king built the palace through his servant the Master Worker. It was at the command (and because of the will) of the King that the palace was created through the Master Worker (also through the stone mason, through the carpenter, etc.). This does not mean the King and his servant both together, somehow, make up a mysterious two-in-one King!
The fact that both the King and his servant, the Master Worker, built the palace can be clearly explained by the word "through." The King built the palace through his servant, the Master Worker. There is no mystery here. The King can properly say, "I built that palace;" the Master Worker can properly say, "I built that palace;" and even the stone mason can properly say, "I built that palace." The word "through" can clear up any possible confusion there might be from these apparently conflicting statements.
Certainly the carpenter, stone mason, and even the Master Worker would not, in any way, intend to hint that they were equally the King! That honor can go only to the one person whose command and will caused the palace to be built. Certainly the faithful Master Worker would say, "not by my will but by your will, O King." - Luke 22:42, John 4:34.
We can see that, in the ultimate sense of "source" or "originator," there is only one person whose will, command, design, and supply of building materials allow him to be called "the only one who created the palace." - See the Beginning - Wisdom - Firstborn study.
Notice how "through" solves any possible confusion in the following Scriptures. Even though the Law was spoken of as "the Law of Jehovah" - 1 Chron. 16:40, and "the law of the God of heaven" - Ezra 7:12, and we are specifically told "there is only one Lawgiver ..." - James 4:12, NASB, we still see another person "giving the law"! Is that person, then, also equally God?
Yes, the inspired scriptures also tell us, "Did not Moses give you the law?" - John 7:19 NASB. And the same "Law of Jehovah" is also called "the Law of Moses" - Malachi 4:4. Must we conclude then, trinitarian-style, that Moses is Jehovah the God of heaven? Of course not!
Even if we were unable to figure it out on our own, Scriptures such as John 1:17 ("The law was given [from God] through [dia] Moses") clearly explain it.
The Greek word dia is a "primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through"[see note at end] - Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, #1223. There should be no confusion when Paul says:
"I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through [dia] me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done" - Ro. 15:18 NIV.
Certainly no one is so dense as to say: "This Scripture shows that Christ has caused the Gentiles to obey God. And Paul, by his words and deeds, has caused those same Gentiles to obey God. Therefore, Paul IS Christ!" Even if we were gullible enough to fall for this type of dishonest argument, surely we would understand what was intended here by Paul simply by his use of the word dia ("through")!
Because of the many changes in the English language in the last 400 years, the English rendering for dia in the King James Version is frequently misleading in modern English. What was translated "of" in the Elizabethan English of the KJV may mean "by" in modern English. And what was translated "by" in the KJV may mean "through" today. (Of course "by" sometimes includes the meaning of "through.")
For example, the meaning intended by the KJV translators is shown in modern translations of Matt. 1:22 as "spoken by the Lord through the prophet." - NASB. However, in the English of 1611, that very same meaning was expressed by these words: "spoken of the Lord by the prophet." - KJV. This has a very different meaning in today's English. It sounds to us today as if the KJV were saying that something was spoken about the Lord by the prophet. This is not what was intended in the language of 1611. - see any modern translation.
Keeping in mind, then, the clear distinction shown by the word dia ("through" in modern English) and the example of the king whose will and spoken command caused the palace to be created, carefully analyze the following scriptures:
Ps. 33:6, 8, 9 - "By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made" "For he spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast." - ASV. Also see Ps. 103:20, 21.
Ps. 148:5 - "Let them praise the name of Jehovah; for he commanded, and they were created." - ASV.
Rev. 4:11 - "because of thy will [the will of the Lord God Almighty who is seated on the throne when Jesus, the Lamb, approaches him (5:6, 7)] they were, and were created." - ASV.
Malachi 2:10 - "Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us?"
Acts 4:27 - "Thy holy servant Jesus" - Jesus is the Father's servant.
Rev. 3:14 - "[Jesus] the beginning of the creation of God." - ASV.
Prov. 8:22-30 - "Yahweh [Jehovah] created me when his purpose first unfolded, before the oldest of his works." And, "I was by his side, a Master Craftsman ['Master Workman' - ASV], delighting him day after day." - Jerusalem Bible (JB). This scripture (Ps. 8:22-30) has been understood to represent "Wisdom" as the pre-existent Jesus Christ by the majority of Christians since (at least) the time of the Apostle Paul. - See the Beginning - Wisdom - Firstborn study.
Col. 1:15, 16 - "He is the image of the unseen God ['no man has ever seen God' - John 1:18] and the first-born of all creation ... all things were created through [dia] him and for him." - JB.
1 Cor. 8:6 - "yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through [dia] whom are all things and through whom we exist." - RSV
Even the trinitarian The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Zondervan, (which attempts to show that "Sometimes ... dia seems to express ... the sole cause" and "may be emphasizing the agency, rather than the mediator") has to admit: "On the other hand, in 1 Cor. 8:6 the function of God the Father as the source of creation is distinguished from Christ's role as mediator of creation." - p. 1182, Vol. 3.
John 1:3, 10 - "through [dia] him [the Word] all things came to be ..." and "He was in the world that had its being through [dia] him." - JB.
We see, then, that just as all things must go up to God (the head of Jesus - 1 Cor. 11:3) through Jesus (man's head - 1 Cor. 11:3), so too all things have come down from God through Jesus.
So how does Gen. 1:26 ("Let us make man in our image") provide any real evidence for a three-in-one God? (Does Is. 1:18 prove Jews are God?)
Isn't it obvious at Gen. 1:26 that Jehovah was speaking to his Master Worker, the first-born of all creation (and, possibly, to the rest of the angels also), who were also made in God's image, before commanding him to make man? It is still Jehovah God alone who created man through his Master Workman, Jesus!
Here’s what Thayer tells us about dia:
“III. …. 1. Of one who is the author of the action as well as its instrument, or of the efficient cause…, Ro. xi. 36; also Heb. ii. 10 …. 2. …. a. in passages where a subject expressly mentioned is said to do or to have done a thing by some person or by some thing: … Lk. i.70; Acts i.16 …. b. in passages in which the author or principal cause is not mentioned, but is easily understood from the nature of the case, or from context: …. Jn i.3; 1 Cor viii.6...Col. i.16 … cf. Heb. i.2 (Philo de cherub.” - p.133, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House, 1977.
There are scriptures stating that Jehovah (or the Father) created everything. In fact the very use of the title ‘Father’ indicates that He is the source. And, in addition, we see at 1 Cor. 8:6:
“yet for us [Christians] there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through [dia] whom are all things and through [dia] whom we exist.” - NRSV.
Heb. 1:2 - "but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through [dia] whom he also created the worlds." - NRSV.
For more, see:
Does Genesis 1:26 prove the Trinity? (Search For Bible Truths)
"Logically, it was to this firstborn Son that Jehovah said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.”' (Insight-2 pp. 52-72; Watchtower Online Library)
The Word (Insight-2 pp. 1200-1203; Watchtower Online Library)
"This Word, or Lo′gos, was God’s only direct creation, the only-begotten son of God, and evidently the close associate of God to whom God was speaking when he said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” (Ge 1:26) Hence John continued, saying: “This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.”—Joh 1:2, 3."