“Then God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every creeping animal that is moving on the earth.’”—Genesis 1:26, New World Translation.
“And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’”—Genesis 1:26, King James Version.
Meaning of Genesis 1:26
Humans were created in God’s image, with the ability to cultivate and manifest qualities that God possesses, such as love, empathy, and justice. That explains why humans can actually imitate God’s personality.
“God said: ‘Let us make man in our image.’” Before Jehovah God a made anyone or anything else, he created a powerful spirit being who later became known as Jesus. By means of Jesus, “all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth.” (Colossians 1:16) Jesus reflects Jehovah’s personality—“he is the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15) Fittingly, then, God could say to Jesus: “Let us make man in our image.”
“Let them have in subjection . . . the domestic animals and all the earth.” Animals were not created in God’s image. They were not designed to display distinctive human characteristics such as love or to possess a conscience. Still, God cares about the welfare of his animal creatures. That is why he declared that humans were to have the animals “in subjection,” a declaration that can also be rendered “rule over” (New International Version) or “take charge of” (Common English Bible). Jehovah was thus entrusting humans with the responsibility to care for the animals. (Psalm 8:6-8; Proverbs 12:10) Jehovah expects mankind to be good stewards of the earth and all living things on it.
Context of Genesis 1:26
The opening two chapters of Genesis give an overview of the creation of the universe, our planet, and life on earth. Everything Jehovah created is masterful, but humans are his most remarkable earthly creation. When God finished his creative works, he “saw everything he had made, and look! it was very good.”—Genesis 1:31.
Watch this short video to learn more about the Genesis account of creation.
Misconceptions about Genesis 1:26
Misconception: Genesis 1:26 proves that Jesus is God.
Fact: God and Jesus have a close father-and-son relationship, but they are not the same person. Jesus taught that God is superior to him. (John 14:28) For more information, watch the video Is Jesus Christ God? or read the article “Why Is Jesus Called the Son of God?”
Watch this short video to see an overview of the book of Genesis.