Questions From Readers
To whom was Jehovah referring as “one of us” at Genesis 3:22?
Jehovah God was apparently referring to himself and his only-begotten Son when he said: “The man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad.” (Genesis 3:22) Let us consider why.
Jehovah said these words after pronouncing sentence upon the first human couple. Some have taken the expression “one of us” as the plural of majesty, just as a human king might say “we are not pleased” when referring only to himself. With regard to Genesis 1:26 and 3:22, however, Bible scholar Donald E. Gowan says: “There is no support in the O[ld] T[estament] for most of the proposed explanations: the royal ‘we,’ the deliberative ‘we,’ the plural of fullness, or an indication of a plurality of persons in the Godhead. . . . None of these explanations makes much sense in 3:22, which speaks of ‘one of us.’”
Could Jehovah have been referring to Satan the Devil, who had come to decide “good and bad” on his own and who had influenced the first humans to do the same? That is not reasonable. Here Jehovah used the expression “one of us.” Satan was no longer among the throng of Jehovah’s faithful angels, so he could not have been included with those who were on Jehovah’s side.
Was God referring to the faithful angels? We cannot say definitely. However, the similarity of the expressions at Genesis 1:26 and 3:22 gives us a clue. At Genesis 1:26, we read that Jehovah said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” To whom was he addressing these words? Referring to the spirit creature who became the perfect man Jesus, the apostle Paul said: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth.” (Colossians 1:15, 16) Yes, it seems logical that at Genesis 1:26, Jehovah was speaking to his only-begotten Son, the “master worker,” who was at his side during the creation of the heavens and the earth. (Proverbs 8:22-31) The similarity of the expression at Genesis 3:22 suggests that Jehovah was again speaking to the one closest to him, his only-begotten Son.
God’s only-begotten Son apparently had knowledge of “good and bad.” From his long and intimate experience with Jehovah, he certainly learned well his Father’s thinking, principles, and standards. Convinced of his Son’s acquaintance with these and loyalty to them, Jehovah may have granted him some latitude in handling matters without direct consultation with Him in each instance. So the Son would to this extent be able and authorized to determine what was good and bad. However, unlike Satan, Adam, and Eve, he did not set up a standard that conflicted with Jehovah’s.