1:26 Let us . . . our . . . our. The use of the plural here is variously interpreted. Some view this as an indication of plurality within the divine unity, hinting at the later New Testament revelation of the one God as Father, Son, and Spirit. Others explain this usage grammatically—either as a plural of majesty (cf. v. 1 note) or as a deliberative plural (in which God directs the statement to Himself). Finally, some argue that God and His heavenly angelic court are in view (Is. 6:8 note).
image . . . likeness. Humans in their whole being—body and soul—adequately and faithfully represent God (Ps. 94:10), possess life from Him and therefore potential intimacy with Him (2:7 and note), and serve on earth as His administrators (Ps. 8). The image is passed on to every human, giving each person dignity (5:3; 9:6; Prov. 22:2 and notes).
Medieval theologians strongly distinguished “image” and “likeness,” with “image” viewed as a reference to natural reason, and “likeness” as a reference to the original righteousness lost in the Fall. More recent scholarship notes that the two Hebrew terms are used synonymously in Scripture (v. 27; 5:1, 3; 9:6).
have dominion. God gave humans the cultural mandate to rule the creation as benevolent kings (9:2; Ps. 8:5–8; Heb. 2:5–9). Natural man can rule the animal (v. 28) and plant (v. 29) kingdoms, but he cannot rule the heavenly powers, especially Satan (ch. 3; Eph. 6:10–12). Only the Last Adam, the very image of God’s Person (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3) and those united with Him can do that (3:15; Matt. 4:1–11; Col. 3:10).