Why are singular pronouns and plural pronouns used in reference to God?
In my discussion with the Unitarian Church, I used Genesis 1:26 to prove that God is not only one person. They ask me if God in Genesis 1:26 is in the plural form then why is it, in Genesis 1:27, there is only one God who created man? They used the verb created and the pronoun His being singular as proof.
I found some verses on the website bible.ca that it is possible to use a plural pronoun in a singular verb.
Genesis 1:1 God (plural) - created (singular)
Genesis 46:7 Sons, grandsons - brought(singular)
Judges 12:7 Cities(plural) - buried(singular)
Nehemiah 3:8 goldsmiths (plural) - repaired(singular)
I study these verses, but I think they are not referring to plural pronouns.
Do you have additional evidence?
Thank you so much
"Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:26-27).
The Hebrew word for "God" is elohim. The "im" ending in Hebrew serves a similar function to the "s" ending in English, indicating that the word refers to a plurality. Elohim is used 2249 times in the Old Testament.
In the case of God, elohim, also functions as a plural noun. In English, a plural noun is a singular word that by definition refers to a set with multiple elements. For example, a congregation is singular but is composed of multiple people. Consider the following:
"The congregation decided to change its evening service time to 5 pm. They debated the matter for over an hour and conclude the new time would best serve their needs."
While the first sentence is in the singular, the second is in the plural even though we are discussing the same congregation. The first sentence emphasizes the unity of decision by the entire congregation. The second sentence emphasizes the individuals coming to a conclusion.
The same thing happens in Genesis 1:26-27. The discussion is between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so the plural is used. The action that resulted in Genesis 1:27 was done as a unit so the singular form is used.
I agree that the examples used by the Unitarians are poor choices. Genesis 46:7 is talking about Jacob bringing his descendants with him. Nehemiah 3:8 says that one of the goldsmiths in a guild made repairs. Judges 12:7 says that Jephthah was buried somewhere in the cities of Gilead, but which one is not specified. Only Genesis 1:1, which is the same as Genesis 1:26-27, deals with a plural being treated as a singular.
Another example is when the Lord calls Isaiah. "Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" " (Isaiah 6:8). Notice that God said, "whom shall I (singular) send" and "who will go for us (plural)" in one sentence. It emphasizes God's plurality in being and unity in action.
In regards to something that is not God: "Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous" (Genesis 47:27). All of Jacob's descendants lived as a unit in Goshen so the singular is used for the first part of this verse. Individually they settled there and prospered. Since it was not all in the same way, the plural was used in the last part of the verse.
Another example: "Then Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they struck the Canaanites living in Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. So the name of the city was called Hormah" (Judges 1:17). Notice that Judah and Simeon are treated as singular ("his brother") even though we know we are talking about tribes with many people. It then says in the plural that they struck the Canaanites. "They" could refer to the plurality of tribes or the soldiers of the tribes. But also Canaanites is in the plural, but it (singular) was destroyed.
Thank you so much for the response. It is a very clear explanation.