|Russian icon of the Trinity by Andrey Rublev, between 1408 and 1425|
The use of the plural "us" and "our" in Genesis 1:26 suggests two things about God. First, like the "royal we" it reflects His greatness, His power and majesty. The plural noun Elohiim suggests this as well: there it is a plural of emphasis, not of number. But there is also a longstanding Christian tradition of seeing "us" and "our" as reflecting the Trinity: God the Creator is NOT alone. It gives us an intimation of communion, or community within the godhead, that will be developed further in the New Testament.Note on the icon above:
The New Testament reveals that Jesus was the "word" that God spoke "in the beginning." He was present as the Creative Word of God. In other words, His role was to create and to sustain the universe and life. "Through him all things were made" (John 1:3); "by him all things were created ... all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Col 1:16-17) From the very first words of Scripture, we are introduced to the Word of god Who will, throughout all the rest of its pages, slowly but magnificently be revealed. He will be fully manifested when He takes on human flesh in the womb of Mary, becoming the Incarnate Son of God.
Genesis 1:2 tells us that "the Spirit (lit. ruah, or "breath") of God was moving over the face of the waters." God's loving power, symbolized by his breath, was hovering expectantly over the unformed chaos of creation. This completes the description of creation of the natural order as an act of the Blessed Trinity.
I love this art so much, specifically because it is explained so well in Raniero Cantalamessa's book Contemplating the Trinity, which is where I first encountered the icon.
You may read some of his observations here: