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THEOLOGY > Man > Dominion Mandate > Source of the Mandate 


The Creator of man gave the Dominion Mandate to man, therefore, the source of the Mandate is God; the announcement of the Dominion came from Him.

Then God said, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:26-28).

The word for “God” in the Hebrew text is Elohim, a word that appears thirty-two times in Chapter One of Genesis and over 2500 times in the Old Testament; the word speaks of God as “the Strong One,” or “the Mighty One.” Not only does He create the universe and then place man on the earth, but this “Strong One” informs the man on the earth of his duty in relationship to the earth (see: Elohim–The Creator).

Elohim (a plural word in the Hebrew taking a singular verb; example is Gen. 1:1) is an unmistakable reference—not obvious to all and rejected by many—to the three persons in the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And Elohim gave the command to have dominion. So it is the Trinitarian God who gives the Mandate to Adam. To affirm this is to accept that the Mandate came from the true God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (see: God is Tri-Unity).

Again, here is a poignant illustration of the principle that every single word of Scripture is interpreted by all of the words of Scripture; no word stands alone, but every word is conditioned by all the other words. Divine Revelation is not hopelessly segmented but is perfectly integrated.

Later revelations in the Scriptures justify this assertion regarding the essence of the Godhead that is found in this single word. This is over against those who would limit the plural to an indication of some sort of plural of majesty, refusing to allow a comprehensive approach to hermeneutics (see: Principles 8-11, especially #8; also see: Progressive and Comprehensive).

Further support for the Trinitarian belief is found in the words of God: “Let Us make man in Our image” (Gen. 1:26), words which are the declaration of God prior to His creation of man. “Us” and “Our” have raised much speculation as to their meaning and intent (“Our” is used twice in v. 26).

Several suggestions have been made:

* A vestige of polytheistic thinking—a suggestion totally unworthy of the text;

* God is addressing members of His royal court, the angels and other heavenly beings, collectively known as the “sons of God” (Job 1:6);

* The words speak of the fullness of Deity, a plural of majesty;

* The words reflect the deliberation of God within Himself;

* The words are an obvious reference to the Trinity, which is more fully revealed in later Scripture.

Of the above five suggestions, the only acceptable view is the latter which affirms that in the words, “Us” and “Our,” there is a reference to the Trinity. Of course the fullness of the Trinity is not revealed in this passage, nor is it suggested that Moses had a knowledge of the Godhead that is found in the New Testament, nor that he had the comprehension that the modern believer enjoys who has who access to all of the Scriptures. But such observations miss the point, which is that the context of any text is the total text, the Canon. Therefore, in light of the total Revelation from God, it is proper and even necessary to affirm the Trinity in Genesis 1:26, confessing that here is an indication of the plurality of the Persons in the Godhead.

Leupold’s observation is correct:

Though almost all commentators of our day reject the view that this is to be explained in connection with the truth of the Holy Trinity and treat this so-called Trinitarian view as a very negligible quantity, yet, rightly considered, this is the only view that can satisfy (Exposition of Genesis, 86).

Additional theological instruction is found in the two words, “His” and “Our,” a singular and a plural word. In the phrase, “God created man in His image” (1:27), the singular word “His” speaks of the unity and oneness of God—one God created. As believers we do not confess three Gods, but the one and only God, affirming the monotheism of Israel that is expressed in the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut. 6:4).

The plural, “Our,” in “Our image” of Genesis 1:26 (“Let us make man in Our image”) informs us of plurality in the Godhead, providing a foundation for the later revelations regarding Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Anticipation of the fullness and individuality within the Godhead is clearly seen in this one word.

These combinations—“His image” and “Our image”—are not merely grammatically interesting but are also theologically instructive. They teach us about the one God who exists in Trinity. The God of the Bible is the Trinitarian God, and there is no other (see: God is Tri-Unity).

Elohim in Genesis One must be allowed to anticipate, support, and incorporate later teachings of the Bible regarding God. The meaning of the text is not dependent upon the comprehension of Moses when he wrote. Rather, it is the entire Canon that determines the meaning of a particular word and guides the hermeneutics relative to that word.

The proper response to Elohim is faith! The believer affirms the first article of the Apostles’ Creed, which is an enlargement of the Old Roman Creed: “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” To refuse faith is to be left with doubt or denial, and either is ultimately a rejection of Elohim, a rejection involving condemnation (Jo. 3:18) and wrath (Jo. 3:36).

Elohim, the Triune God, is the Creator of man and the Giver of the Mandate to man (see: Elohim-The Creator).

God’s word to Adam and Eve regarding the Mandate was originally the word among the members of the Trinity: “Let them have dominion . . . over all the earth” (Gen. 1:26). When Adam heard the details of the Dominion, he was hearing the details of a communication that had taken place between the Persons of the Godhead prior to his creation. What God determined, He brought to pass. The exercise by God of His Sovereignty (see: God is Sovereign) is seen in His creation of man and in His determination of the place that man would occupy in the created order and the part that he would play with reference to the rest of creation.

Not only did God give the Mandate to Adam in the Garden, but He gave it to Noah after the Flood: “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (Gen. 9:2-3).  And it was attributed to God by David in Psalm 8: “For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (vs. 3-8). It is obvious that God gave the mandate to mankind, not just to Adam.

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