Trinity: plural references to God in the Old Testament:
Plural nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs

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Click to ViewGrammatical Plurality & Yahweh

.Click here for a detailed discussion of plurals applied to God in the Old Testament

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Nouns: God - elohim, Lord - adonai
Pronouns: Us, Our
Adjectives: holy
Verbs: creates, makes, wanders, reveals, judges

God is one in unity, but three persons:
"Let US make man in OUR image". (Gen 1:26)
Click here for detailed outline of Gen 1:26


A. 5 key pieces of evidence of the trinity because of plural references to God:

  1. Two plural nouns are applied to God: God and Lord, are almost always plural when applied to God. These two plural nouns (God - elohim, Lord - adonai) are the two most frequently used nouns of God in the Old Testament.
  2. Three plural pronouns, (Us, Our) used 6 different times in four different passages: Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8. Click here for detailed outline of these passages
  3. Five plural verbs are applied to God: creates, makes, wanders, reveals, judges. In English, these plural verse do not indicate a plural persons, "God creates". But the plurality of Hebrew verbs follow the noun. This is not the case in English. This plurality of verbs associated with God, is most striking and unusual to those who read Hebrew.
  4. Plural adjectives that describe God: "holy". Again, this is a function of Hebrew grammar that does not exist in English. The plurality of adjectives is tagged to the associated noun, which in this case is God. It is most unusual to have a plural adjective describing God.
  5. Single verses that contain both singular and plural references to the same person.

B. Why this is proof of Trinity in the Old Testament:

  1. Anti-Trinitarians and Unitarians alike, try to explain away the plural references to God in the Old Testament: "Let US make man in OUR image". (Gen 1:26)
  2. While Trinitarians expect to find such plural pronouns and verbs used in reference to God at face value, anti-Trinitarians fall all over themselves trying to find a way to avoid the obvious truth that there are three persons in the one God.
  3. As we will see, all of the Anti-Trinitarian arguments are invalid leaving us with no other conclusion then the fact that God is a plurality of persons, just as the Biblical trinity teaches.
  4. The trinity was hidden in the Old Testament until Christ came and the earliest Christians began to "search the (Old Testament) scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11) to see if Paul's claim that Jesus of Nazareth, was the direct subject of prophecy. We have no doubt that Paul would point out the six passages where God is refereed to with plural pronouns. (Us, Our)
  5. God's oneness is conveyed by personal pronouns like He, Him, His, I, Myself, Me. The trinity is witnessed in the Old Testament by personal pronouns like Us, Ours.

C. The apostolic Fathers unanimously taught that the "Us" in Gen 1:26, refers to the trinity:

  1. 74 AD Epistle of Barnabas: "For the Scripture says concerning us, while He speaks to the Son, "Let Us make man after Our image, and after Our likeness" (Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter VI.—The Sufferings of Christ, and the New Covenant, Were Announced by the Prophets.)
  2. 150 AD Justin Martyr: Speaking of Jewish theologians Justin calls the Jewish teaching that God spoke to angels a hersey: "In saying, therefore, 'as one of us, '[Moses] has declared that [there is a certain] number of persons associated with one another, and that they are at least two. For I would not say that the dogma of that heresy which is said to be among you (The Jews had their own heresies which supplied many things to the Christian heresies) is true, or that the teachers of it can prove that [God] spoke to angels, or that the human frame was the workmanship of angels. But this Offspring, which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures." (Dialogue of Justin Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew: Chapter LXII.—The Words "Let Us Make Man")
  3. 180 AD Irenaeus "It was not angels, therefore, who made us, nor who formed us, neither had angels power to make an image of God, nor any one else, except the Word of the Lord, nor any Power remotely distant from the Father of all things. For God did not stand in need of these [beings], in order to the accomplishing of what He had Himself determined with Himself beforehand should be done, as if He did not possess His own hands. For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, "Let Us make man after Our image and likeness; " [Gen. 1:26]" (Against Heresies 4:20:1).
  4. 200 AD Tertullian: "If the number of the Trinity also offends you, as if it were not connected in the simple Unity, I ask you how it is possible for a Being who is merely and absolutely One and Singular, to speak in plural phrase, saying, "Let us make man in our own image, and after our own likeness; " whereas He ought to have said, "Let me make man in my own image, and after my own likeness," as being a unique and singular Being? In the following passage, however, "Behold the man is become as one of us," He is either deceiving or amusing us in speaking plurally, if He is One only and singular. Or was it to the angels that He spoke, as the Jews interpret the passage, because these also acknowledge not the Son? Or was it because He was at once the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, that He spoke to Himself in plural terms, making Himself plural on that very account? Nay, it was because He had already His Son close at His side, as a second Person, His own Word, and a third Person also, the Spirit in the Word, that He purposely adopted the plural phrase, "Let us make; "and, "in our image; "and, "become as one of us." (Tertullian, Against Praxeas, Chapter XII. Other Quotations from Holy Scripture Adduced in Proof of the Plurality of Persons in the Godhead.)
  5. 200 AD Tertullian: Tertullian rejects the idea that God was speaking to Angels because our head is the creator, not a creature: "Since then he is the image of the Creator (for He, when looking on Christ His Word, who was to become man, said, "Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness"), how can I possibly have another head but Him whose image I am? For if I am the image of the Creator there is no room in me for another head" (Tertullian, Book V, Elucidations, Chapter VIII.—Man the Image of the Creator, and Christ the Head of the Man.)
  6. 200 AD Tertullian: "In the first place, because all things were made by the Word of God, and without Him was nothing made. Now the flesh, too, had its existence from the Word of God, because of the principle, that here should be nothing without that Word. "Let us make man," said He, before He created him, and added, "with our hand," for the sake of his pre-eminence, that so he might not be compared with the rest of creation." (Tertullian: On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Elucidations, Chapter V.—Some Considerations in Reply Eulogistic of the Flesh. It Was Created by God.)
  7. Origen: "it was to Him that God said regarding the creation of man, "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness." (Origen Against Celsus, Book V, Chapter XXXVII)
  8. Novatian: "For who does not acknowledge that the person of the Son is second after the Father, when he reads that it was said by the Father, consequently to the Son, "Let us make man in our image and our likeness; " and that after this it was related, "And God made man, in the image of God made He him? "Or when he holds in his hands: "The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord from heaven? " (A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity, Chapter XXVI. Argument.—Moreover, Against the Sabellians He Proves that the Father is One, the Son Another.)
  9. Constitutions of the Holy Apostles: "the divine Scripture testifies that God said to Christ, His only-begotten, "Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness. And God made man: after the image of God made He him; male and female made He them."(Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Book V., VII)

I. Angels are not included in "Us" and "Our":

A. Anti-Trinitarians claim that when God said, "Let US make man in OUR image". (Gen 1:26) he was speaking to angels.

  1. Angels are not created in the image of God, only man.
  2. If angels are included in "Let US make", then angels AND God are equally our creator.
  3. Jehovah's Witnesses actually get this one right: The US includes (at least) the Father and Jesus in this creation. Jesus, being God, is the creator of all things: "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. " John 1:3
  4. Hebrews 1:5 proves Jehovah's Witnesses false teachers when they say Jesus is an angel: "For to which of the angels did He ever say, "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You"? And again, "I will be a Father to Him And He shall be a Son to Me"? " (Hebrews 1:5) Of course the answer is rhetorical: God never said to any angels "Today I have begotten You". But he did say this to Jesus. Therefore Jesus cannot be an angel, but we begotten at his resurrection as Acts 13:33 says, thereby fulfilling Ps 2:7.
  5. The self contradictory doctrine of the Watchtower has Jesus the creature, functioning as our co-creator (Jn 1:3; Col 1:16). But this violates Rom 1:25: "worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator". This passage teaches that if Jesus is the creator, as the Bible says he is, then he cannot be a creature. Jesus cannot be creator and creature at the same time!

B. Biblical examples of conversations between God and Angels never use the words We/US.

  1. Click to ViewThe very best example is in Gen 18 where Yahweh and two angels visit Abraham. Here is a case where God is consulting with two angels and DOES NOT USE US. Three went down to do joint work, but God uses the singular "I" over and over again when actually talking to the two angels! If ever there should be a precedent for US/OUR including God and angels, this would be it. But Anti-Trinitarians are most disappointed that the singular "I" is used. The power of this example proves the other US/OUR do not include angels: "Then the [three] men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. Yahweh said, "Shall I [not we] hide from Abraham what I am about to do, " Genesis 18:16-17 click for more on Gen 18 & 19
  2. "Micaiah said, "Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. "The Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said this while another said that. "Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, 'I will entice him.' "The Lord said to him, 'How?' And he said, 'I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' Then He said, 'You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.' " (1 Kings 22:19-22)
  3. "Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will." Psalm 103:20-21
  4. ""A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened. " Daniel 7:10
  5. The only example of a plural pronoun is one that includes God and men, never angels: ""Come now, and let us [God and man] reason together," Says the Lord, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow" Isaiah 1:18

II. Plural and singular nouns applied to God: "God, Lord"




God: El, Elohim

"El" Gen. 33:20, Num 23:19

Elohim: (used 4000 times)

Lord: Adonai

(Almost always plural)

Adonai: Gen 18:30; Ex 34:23; Deut 10:17; Joshua 3:11,13; Ps 45:11; 114:7; 135:5; Mal 1:6

  1. The two most frequently used words (God and Lord) that refer to God in the Old Testament are almost always plural!
  2. Singular nouns are quite rarely used: El:
    a. God (el - singular) is not a man, that He should lie (Numbers 23:19)
    b. Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel [God, the God of Israel]. (Gen. 33:20)
  3. We don't know of any examples of "Lord" applied to God in the singular.
  4. "And if I am a master [plural adonai], where is My respect? says the Lord of hosts" Mal 1:6

III. Both singular and plural pronouns used of God:


Singular pronouns

Plural pronouns


"I" Isa 6:8


Myself, Us

"Myself" Gen 9:9

"Us" Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8

Me, Our

"Me" Zech 12:10

"Our" Gen 1:26

There are four passages where God speaks for Himself and uses plural pronouns: Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8. (Us, Our)

  1. "Then God [plural elohim] said, "Let Us [plural pronoun] make man in Our [plural pronoun] image, according to Our [plural pronoun] likeness" Genesis 1:26
  2. "Then Yahweh God [plural elohim] said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us [plural pronoun], knowing good and evil" Genesis 3:22
  3. "Come, let Us [plural pronoun] go down and there confuse [plural form of balal] their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech." Genesis 11:7
  4. "Then I heard the voice of the Lord [plural elohim], saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us [plural pronoun]?"" Isaiah 6:8

IV. Plural and singular verbs applied to God: "create, make, wander, revealed, judges"




Creator: Bara

Isaiah 40:28

Ecclesiastes 12:1

Maker: Asah

Genesis 1:7

Gen 1:26; Ps 149:2; Job 35:10; Isa 54:5

Husband: Baal


Isa 54:5



Genesis 20:13



Genesis 35:7



Psalm 58:11

  1. Creator: Bara
    a. God is called Creator (singular of bara) Isaiah 40:28
    b. "Remember also your Creator [plural form of bara] in the days of your youth" Eccl 12:1
  2. Maker: Asah
    a. "Let Us [plural pronoun] make [plural of asah] man in Our [plural pronoun] image [singular], according to Our [plural pronoun] likeness [singular]" Genesis 1:26
    b. "Let Israel be glad in his Maker [plural form of asah]" Psalm 149:2
    c. "Where is God [plural, elohim] my Maker [plural form of asah]" Job 35:10
    d. "For your husband [plural, baal] is your Maker [plural form of asah]" Isaiah 54:5
  3. "God [plural, elohim] caused me to wander [hitau, plural form of taau] from my father's house" Genesis 20:13
  4. "He built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God [plural, elohim] had revealed [plural form of gla] Himself to him when he fled from his brother." Genesis 35:7
  5. "Surely there is a God [plural, elohim] who judges [plural form of shaphat] on earth!" Psalm 58:11

V. Plural adjectives that describe God: "holy"

  1. "You will not be able to serve Yahweh, for He is a holy [plural form of qadosh] God [plural, elohim]." Joshua 24:19
  2. "And the knowledge of the Holy [plural form of qadosh] One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10
  3. "Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy [plural form of qadosh] One. " Proverbs 30:3

VI. Single verses that contain both singular and plural references to the same being.



Singular refers to class of being

Plural refers to individuals within that class

Isaiah 6:8


Whom shall I send (Divine spokesman representing all)

for Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)

Gen 1:27


"created him" (mankind)

"created them" (male and female)

Mark 5:9


"My name is Legion" (demonic spokesman representing all)

"we are many" (A full Roman legion had 6,826 men. They were cast into 2000 swine. Perhaps multiple demons can inhabit both man and pig.)



A. The evidence that "Let US make man in OUR image". (Gen 1:26) refers to the Trinity is irrefutable.

  1. The unanimous interpretation of all the apostolic fathers from 100 - 300 AD was that the US of Gen 1:26 referred to the trinity. They all viewed the Father talking to the Son and the Holy Spirit. They specifically rejected the notion of God talking to the angels. Of course they never discuss the concept of plural of majesty, for it did not exist at this time.
  2. The Unitarians and Christadelphians are wrong because they say Us refers to God and the Angels. But man is not created in the image of angels, but of God. Jesus is not included in their view of US.
  3. The Jehovah's Witnesses do include Jesus and the Father in the US of Gen 1:26, but make Jesus the created arch-angel Michael. But Heb 1:5 proves Jesus cannot be, nor ever has been an angel. Further, in their self contradictory doctrine, they have Jesus the creature, as our co-creator (Jn 1:3). But this violates Rom 1:25: "worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator". This passage teaches that if Jesus is the creator, as the Bible says he is, then he cannot be a creature. Jesus cannot be creator and creature at the same time!

B. Such occasional usage's of plural, nouns, verbs and adjectives of God, man and material objects, are best explained as typical and normal for the Hebrew language. Its just they way they expressed things at times.

C. The plural nouns and pro-nouns applied to God, like US, OUR, Elohim, Adonai are powerful evidence of the Trinity hidden in the Old Testament, to be discovered after the coming of Christ. The almost exclusive use of the plural elohim for God and adonai for Lord, make a strong case that any honest seeker could see. This extensive pattern is irrefutable.

By Steve Rudd
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