Let Us – Elohim – Echad – Godhead – Trinitarian or Oneness?

Posted: March 12, 2012 in Deity of Jesus Christ, Shared Thoughts
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This is not intended to be a debate or a refutation of anything per se; it is simply an effort to share some facts about certain points of scripture that are aggressively used in debates regarding the nature of God and the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is a long post, but still one I feel worthy of the consideration of others who are prayerfully laboring through these issues. However, before getting into the topics, I would like to start by sharing a quote by John H. Leith, who compiled a book concerning Christian doctrine from the Bible days to the present entitled “Creeds of the Churches”

 “. . . the nature of man is an intelligent being. Just because of intelligence the Christian, of all men, has to learn to discern with agonizing clarity what is conceivable by him about God Himself. What cannot be thought through critically and expressed with reasonable clarity cannot demand the allegiance of man’s whole being. Understanding is necessary for man’s full commitment. Hence faith must be spoken and made intelligible. That is not to say faith must be enclosed within the limits of reason, but it does mean that faith must never require neither the closing of the mind nor the sacrifice of the integrity of the mind.”

This statement is one that has probably influenced me more than any other man’s words of wisdom, compelling me to always try my best to understand every man’s profession of faith and in turn to share mine as simply and clearly as possible. That is why before I present the following information; I would like to clarify that I am not what most Trinitarians would readily call an “Oneness” believer, at least not in the sense that they would define it. For those who do not understand what “Oneness” supposedly is according to the Trinitarian definition, it is the heretical belief where one denies the coexistence of three “persons” of the “Godhead.” Be assured, I absolutely believe we all have but one Creator and Father who sent His only begotten Son Jesus, The Christ, as a sin-offering for the sins of the world. Who having returned back to heaven has sent to His Church the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of Truth to guide them into all truth . . . if they would but follow.

There are those on the Oneness side who aggressively assert the biblical truth that there is only one God as expressed in the verse below to the point of denying any distinction between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.

Some oneness believers even go so far trying to defend and explain their position to the point of saying that when the voice from heaven came testifying that Jesus was in fact God’s Son in whom He was well pleased that Jesus was actually throwing His voice back up into heaven. I would quickly assert they “do err not knowing,” as Jesus said “the scriptures or the power of God.

However, the degree of error concerning the Doctrine of Christ that extends from Oneness into Trinitarianism is like a pendulum which swings long past center both ways. There isn’t just error in the camp of Oneness belief, but the pendulum also swings equally far into the camp of Trinitarians. For some Trinitarians will assert that each “person” of the Godhead not only have their own distinct personality, mind, spirit, but there are some even say they have separate definable bodies. “Their” being “one” is explained by many Trinitarian’s is in a unified sense, all sharing same affections, purpose and essence, will each separately are beings of deity, or deities. But there is the problem, because if there are three such persons in the Godhead according to that definition, then what is actually being defined is polytheism; Gods . . . and not a God.

Regarding this proverbial swing of this pendulum which momentum is maintained by the constant debate between the two camps, I often find myself settling plumb between both. Always ready to acknowledge the greatness of the mystery of godliness, of how God was manifested in the flesh, and justified in the spirit. Therefore I am always willing to engage those seeking to understand this mystery and labor in love to help clarify how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are working for the salvation of men’s souls via the humanity of Jesus dying on the cross as man’s only sin-offering provided by our Father and our ever needing His Spirit which was sent to both empower and guide us.

For while we have all heard the following phrase “God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, blessed Trinity,” we haven’t read it so simple in the scriptures. Certainly many would immediately protest and say “Maybe not that way, but it’s in there.” Perhaps, but all must acknowledge it is nowhere presented in scriptures as they clearly and simply state “God is one Lord.”

Sadly, what tends to happen in both camps is believers quickly lose their ability to  reason the scriptures, and instead of endeavoring to stand rooted and grounded in truth and love, they dig themselves deeper into their little doctrinal foxholes. From that point forward they aggressively defend their positions while calling everyone else and their beliefs heretics and cultish. The adversary has gained a measurable victory by dividing believers on both sides of this mystery (God manifested in the flesh), who have habitually learned to only debate their perspective from a posture of defense and many have lost the virtue needed to engage open and honest reasoning coupled with charity and respect for other’s convictions.

But therein lies the problem, too many will only debate and won’t reason, or even consider the scriptural foundation for the convictions of the other side in fear they would be compromising. It is as if they think their own integrity is greater than the other side, because their side has all the truth. At best they will debate, but that will never accomplish anything since debate is nothing more than a work of the flesh that comes from a pride of knowledge . . . or at least a pride of what someone thinks they know. And this is to be expected, because God’s word tells us that knowledge puffs up. That is why we need more than knowledge, we need illumination and understanding as well.

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding.

Proverbs 16:16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

Understanding is what keeps believers from getting “puffed up” and feeling like they need to lead a crusade against all the heretics who don’t believe like they do. It should be enough for them to simply trust the surety of God’s word and His Spirit to open the eyes of those truly hungering and thirsting for truth. Then there would be more of a coming together instead of contention and division. After all, the gifts are given to bring us all into a unity of the faith that we might speak the same thing. The two greatest enemies of the Body of Christ’s unity is the devil and our own pride.

Perhaps one of the greatest strategies the adversary has is to “categorize” the body of believers into doctrinal camps so as to pit them against each other by inflaming their religious pride of “We know the truth!” Have we all forgotten the admonition that if any of us thinks we know anything, we know nothing as we ought? Paul’s admonition against the Church of Corinth is still sharply applicable against many churches nowadays –

I Corinthians 3:1-3  And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;  for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

I know many believers immediately start to categorize things they read and people they meet, me too. However, what is our motive? Is it to give out our approval upon determining what category we think other’s fall into, or to reject a thought or person based upon how we’ve categorized them by our limited perspective and understanding? Or do we then labor seeking a mutual understanding of each other that we might reason together God’s scriptures; using speech seasoned with grace in hopes of both equally converging towards a greater appreciating and understanding of God’s truths? After all, it is a biblical truth that we all believers only “know it part.”

I Corinthians 13:8-13  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

This habit of hasty “categorization” is too often nothing more than unbiblical judging of another believer. Therefore it can easily be used as a subtle tool of the adversary to divide true brothers in Christ if we aren’t walking in charity, and constant in our endeavors to be studious workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing and applying the word of truth. For no one will ever rightly divide the truth if they will not first apply its fundamental tenet of love. We’d all do well to consider how much mileage the word “cult” gets when it is used defining any particular group . . . and then remember how Christianity was first identified as a cult when it was called the “Sect of the Nazarene.”

Be assured that there are precious and sound biblical truths that our adversary has willfully allowed to be forefront beliefs of various denominations and religions of the world who are clearly off on many other doctrinal areas. The strategy being that other believers would then reject such particular truths as false doctrines simply because their own denomination or pastor cries out “cultish!” Admittedly, the way some these other religious institutions may hold and exercise these truths can render them null; for any truth tainted with falsehood becomes a lie just as Jesus and Paul warned, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” But still nonetheless there are fragments of truths in most religions and cults.

So for what it is worth, I just wish to clarify that I am no more Oneness or Trinitarian than I am a Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, Calvinist, Arminian or part of any other such division or categorization of the Christian faith, even though many continually insist on categorizing me into one or the other. I try to accept all believers as brothers until they prove to me they are not by exhibiting fruit contrary to truth of the Gospel. Till then I am to “believe all things and hope all things” when it comes to charity towards others professing faith in Christ Jesus my Lord. There are many aspects of these various religious divisions that we would do well to recognize as truths, not only because they are confirmable by the scriptures, but oftentimes more importantly because they cannot be disqualified by such. For there are volumes of beliefs and doctrines held by churches which they would boast are on a solid foundation of scriptures; yet when such are thoroughly examined are found to be in conflict with other passages scriptures and refute the very positions that are being asserted as scriptural truth.

After years of studying, I could convincingly preach many of the various false doctrines out there to the simple and ignorant, having had to untangle myself from much of it. Again, it is not what we can preach and support from scripture, but rather recognizing what does not conflict with the whole of scripture and history. That all being said, I am simply a believer in Jesus Christ who is endeavoring to be a good disciple of Jesus by proving all things and holding fast to that which I am presently persuaded to be the soundest and therefore worthy of open acknowledgement and observation as a witness to my love for my Redeemer. While there are many enlightening precepts from the Word of God that guide the exercising of my faith, for now I would like to share only two. First, Jesus tells me through His word that if I love Him then I will keep His words –

John 14:21-24 He that has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me: and he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. Judas said unto him, not Iscariot, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself unto us, and not unto the world?” Jesus answered and said unto him, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.”

Therefore, I find it vital to the integrity of my faith that I give myself wholeheartedly to the things I am presently persuaded of, even if what I may currently believe is deficient or even wrong concerning the word of God. For this I believe is intent of the admonition of the Apostle Paul –

Romans 14:5, 6 One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regards the day, regards it unto the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he does not regard it. He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks.

Therefore the things I share on Gates of the City are not intended as a statement that I am right and others are wrong, or to bring condemnation on others for being true to their convictions. I share because I believe them. I willingly submit them to the scrutiny of other believers so that if they care to so labor in love with me as a brother they may understand the basis for how and why I exercise my faith in taking the stands and positions I do while endeavoring to love and labor for the souls of the lost. Believe me, the labor of love is in fact a labor. It is easier to dismiss those we disagree with and to group ourselves into camps of likeminded people . . . but that miserably falls short of God’s desire for His children.

The Apostle Paul was very clear when he warned us not to quickly “judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way . . . for we all must stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Paul wasn’t saying don’t reason to prove the object of your faith here, rather do so and exercise it in such a manner so as not to condemn or damage another in their own growth of faith while we labor towards unity. My second point, if are ever to come to a unity of understanding, we all must be faithful to whatever we believe without sacrificing persistence in love for others, for without either it is impossible to please God.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

Growth of true faith in our lives is not something we create or muster up alone; it is a gift of God. It comes freely to those who honestly pray while having ears to hear, for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. “Freely” I say, because it is the gracious reward for their diligence in seeking God. For we all must be diligent, for I have yet to find a scriptural promise by God to the half-hearted other than disappointment.

In our ministering we need to remember that to every man, saved or unsaved, God has given a measure of faith, which is the ability to receive and respond accordingly to the truth of the Gospel upon hearing it. It is only when our hearts are polluted with other affections, fears or even deadlier, pride, which prevents us from receiving a love for it. It is therefore my prayer that others consider the following with the same prayerful attitude in which I submit it. Let each seek to be fully persuaded in their own hearts, but above all maintain fervent charity towards others till we all come to a unity of the faith.

Let’s now look at a few fundamental things in scripture concerning God’s self professed oneness, the first being two Hebrew words.

Elohim and Echad

  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God <elohim> is one <echad> LORD.

First let’s look at the word elohim

<elohim> – plural of (elowahh- a deity or the Deity:–God); gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:–angels,  exceeding, God (gods).

While “Elohim” is in fact plural, it is not necessarily always plural in the same way we understand plurality in the English sense. Hebrew has more than one kind of “plural,” and Elohim is a “plural of intensity.” The English language does not have this kind of plural. For example, in Hebrew if you wanted to say there was blood on the floor, you would use the term “dahm” for “blood.” If you wanted to say there was a lot of “blood” on the floor, you would say “dahmim.” In the English, if we applied our concept of plurality it would look like “bloods.” If we were to translate it that way in the English, such a rendering would create the idea that there were mixtures of blood types on the floor and not just one type.
It is therefore important to recognize these differences if we are to appreciate how the Jews understand the language God gave them; for they would interpret Elohim as a “plural of intensity,” a great singular. Therefore, even though Elohim can and has been translated “gods,” it does not normally translate as such. It is first to be understood in the Hebrew sense of intensity and not plurality, signifying first “the God” of “us all,” whether it is used as referring to the true God or a pagan god. This is what is understood by “plural of intensity.” Therefore in some Hebrew prayer books, this verse is recited as, “Hear O Yisrael! The Lord our God, the Lord alone.” Clearly the Jewish people have always seen Deuteronomy 6:4 as a clear and irrefutable statement of monotheism.

Nevertheless, to the contrary the use of “elohim” in Deuteronomy 6:4 is constantly pointed to as an effort to prove the Trinity, but it can not really stand on its own for that purpose. Deuteronomy 6:4 is establishing that God “alone” is “one Lord” over and against the multiplicity of gods in the surrounding pagan cultures.

1 Ki 11:33 Because that they have forsaken Me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess <‘elohim> of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god <‘elohim> of the Moabites, and Milcom the god <‘elohim> of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways, to do that which is right in Mine eyes, and to keep My statutes and My judgments, as did David his father.

These were all single god figures, no plurality in nature, yet God speaking here referred to them as “elohim.” I cannot believe God used the word “elohim” incorrectly, for if anyone knows how to handle language properly, certainly the Logos would.

We also see “elohim” being used for the Philistines’ god, Dagon

Jg 16:23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god [singular] <‘elohim>, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god [singular] <‘elohim> hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.

1Sa 5:7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god [singular] <‘elohim>.

We can also see how the golden calf made by Aaron was called “elohim,” even though he only made the one. Depending on your translation the word may be translated god or gods.

Ex 32:4 (KJV) And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods <‘elohim>, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 

4 (NKJV) And he received [the gold] from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This [is] your god <‘elohim>, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”

4 (NIV) He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods <‘elohim>, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

4 (NASB) And he took [this] from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god <‘elohim>, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 

But if we let the NT interpret the OT, in the Book of Acts we see how Stephen assures us there was but one calf . . . even though it was called “elohim” in the Hebrew-

Acts 7:41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

Likewise, Ezra in his prayer refers to the one golden calf as “elohim” as recorded in Nehemiah –

Ne 9:18 Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy god <‘elohim> that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations.

If God uses the word “elohim” to refer to single heathen gods then certainly He is correct when using it in reference to Himself when He is alone is God.

Isa 43:10 Ye are My witnesses, saith the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. 11 I, even [only] I, am the LORD; and beside Me there is no saviour. 14 Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer [singular], the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.

Isa 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer [singular] the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside Me there is no God.

Isa 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even My witnesses. Is there a God beside Me? yea, there is no God; know not any. 

Isa 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside MeI girded thee, though thou hast not known Me:
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside MeI am the LORD, and there is none else.

Isa 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside Mea just God and aSaviour; there is none beside Me.

Zec 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name One.

If “elohim” implies a corporate head of deified personalities in God, then we must satisfactorily answer why then would God refer to Moses, a single individual as “elohim?”

Exodus 7:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god <elohim> to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

Let’s also look briefly at the Hebrew word echad  –

<echad> –  a numeral; properly one, united as one, i.e. one; or (as an ordinal) first:–a, alike, alone, altogether, and, any(-thing), apiece, a certain, (dai-)ly, each (one), + eleven, every, few, first, + highway, a man, once, one, only, other, some, together.

It is a fact that “echad” is used more times to denote absolute numerical singularity in scriptures than it is used to denote unified-oneness: a fact which lends much more credibility to Elohim being an absolute numerical singular deity who has been progressively revealed, than it does to supporting the idea of a corporate head of deified personalities.

Seeing how Elohim and Echad have been used, let’s look at some verses where holy men of God under the “unction of the Holy Spirit” used “elohim” in undeniably clear and irrefutable references to a single heathen god.

Let’s look at how Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-

Mr 12:29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one <heis> Lord.

The Greek word <heis> translated “one” is a primary numeral; one:– (an, any, a certain) man, one (another), only, other, someone.

Jesus could have used the word <henotes> if He meant there was a compound unity, or “oneness” of the “godhead” as such a word is used in scriptures –

henotes,  –  oneness, i.e. (figuratively) unanimity:–unity

Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity <henotes> of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ

In all the history of Jewish writings (not converted Jews) can it indeed be found where does it simply and clearly refer to Jehovah as “Our gods are one?” They never have because “elohim” is simply god, singular to them. Any use of the word towards the English sense of plural is a lending use of the word and not the primary intent of the word. For those interested here is a partial list from over 700 OT scriptures where echad has been used meaning absolute one, not a unified one.

Let Us . . .

Ge 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…

These two words in Genesis 1:26 have caused an equal amount of contentious debate between the two camps of thoughts. To many on the Trinitarian side it is undeniable proof, seemingly as plain as the nose on one’s face. But let’s look some references to see if what they believe be is as irrefutable as many think.

Perhaps first should be what is written in the NIV study Bible. This translation was written by those with a Trinitarian mindset and is accepted by many as an accurate translation. Nonetheless, here is what the translators had to say about the use of the nouns “us” and “our” in their commentary on Gen 1:26 –

“us…our…our. God speaks as the Creator-king,   announcing his crowning work to the members of his heavenly court. (see 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8; see also I Ki 22:19-23; Job 15:8; Jer 23:18)” (NIV Study Bible, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985, p. 7).

In the Ryrie Study Bible (another Trinitarian Bible) there is a marginal note about Genesis 1:26 –

“Us…Our. Plurals of majesty” (Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible (Dallas Theological Seminary), Chicago: Moody Press, 1978, p. 9).

Though all this is readily available to any honest seeker desiring to prove all things and not just trying to support their own theological position, it is still refreshing to see the honesty of men of God acknowledging the original intent of a passage and not giving way to the temptation of assigning their own opinion to it. Even the well know Trinitarian Baptist minister Jerry Falwell who was the executive editor of the Liberty Annotated Study Bible had this comment regarding the verse –

“The plural pronoun us is most likely a majestic plural from the standpoint of Hebrew grammar and syntax” (Liberty Annotated Study Bible, Lynchburg: Liberty University, 1988, p. 8).

Likewise it has come to be acknowledge in an extensive commentary by Keil and Delitzsch that the author of Genesis (Moses under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) referred to the “plural majestatis” –

“The plural ‘We’ was regarded by the fathers and earlier theologians almost unanimously as indicative of the Trinity: modern commentators, on the contrary, regard it either as pluralis majestatis…No other explanation is left, therefore, than to regard it as pluralis majestatis”  (Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Peabody: Hendric., 1989, Vol. I, p. 62).

So what is this “plural majestatis?” Those truly interested can begin their study here  and here. But regardless what all the outside source say, whether they are the volumes of quotations from early church fathers or the determinations by those who have every theological reason in the world to view a text in light of their doctrinal persuasion but won’t twist God’s word or handle it deceitfully out of honest integrity, we still must allow scripture to interpret scripture.

Perhaps one of the significant passages of scripture where the majestic plural is seen is with God speaking to the angelic host is in Isaiah –

Isa 6:1  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5  So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” 8 Also 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.”

Another source, though admittedly not one which should be called divinely inspired anymore than any of the modern translations, is ancient  Aramaic Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch in which verse 26  is interpreted from Hebrew into Aramaic this way –

“And the Lord said to the angels who ministered before Him, who had been created in the second day of the creation of the world, Let us make man in Our image, in Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl which are in the atmosphere of heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every reptile creeping upon the earth.”

It is clear that the understanding of Genesis 1:26 in this translation views God using “Us” as a majestic plural while speaking to the angelic host as it is so recorded in Isaiah 6. Remember, we are required to let scripture interpret scripture, which means it all needs to agree and harmonize. Just because we can find verses and debate our point against another view does not mean our view is correct. Truth is not established by who can win a debate or out-wit an opponent. Truth is a reality which stands regardless of any man’s knowledge or ignorance or acceptance. Nevertheless to the pure in heart and the diligent seeker it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

For those interested, here is some added information on why we need to understand the Cohortative Mood,  such when we utilize the phrase “let’s” or “let us.”

The “Godhead”

Let’s look at the Greek words “theios” and “theotes” which have been translated into English as “godhead.” We should look into these words because many people have come to use the scriptural word “godhead” interchangeably with the unscriptural word “Trinity.”

Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead <theios> is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead <theiotes>; so that they are without excuse:

Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead <theiotes> bodily.

<theios> – godlike (neuter as noun, divinity): – divine, godhead.

<theiotes> – divinity (abstractly):–godhead.

It is clear from Colossians 2:9 that “the fullness of the godhead” dwelt in Christ’s literal body of flesh and blood. The Greek word translated “godhead” contains no implication whatsoever of plurality, be it either of multiple identities or a compounding of nature. It simply means “deity,” the essence of being a god. Yet it is continually misused to denote a divine board of directors to the point it has even been improperly defined as “the Trinity” because of its common acceptance. Many Trinitarian believers view the word godhead the same they would the word “government,” as in the government of God. While the word government may not be plural, it still represents many branches and levels of authorities, yet still overseen by a governor and not governors.

Let’s examine how the first word used in Acts 17:29, <theios>, is used in other verses –

2Pe 1:3 According as His divine <theios> power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine <theios> nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

As we can see in the verses above there is no indication of plurality. Let’s see how the word is understood by other sources –

Wikipedia-

Godhead is the English-language term which in contemporary Jewish scholarship (and theology in general) is used to refer to “God-as-He-is-in-Himself. This is the aspect or substratum of God that lies behind His actions or properties, i.e., the essence of God, and its nature has been the subject of long debate in every major religion.

BibleStudyTools.Com (New Testament Greek lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary)

deity, the state of being God, Godhead

Thayer – 

Godhead (theiotes) means, “divinity, divine nature,” It is essential that we also understand the term inspired writers used to designate the Creator – “God.” “God” is from the Greek theios which means “divine, deity.” The Godhead, then, is divinity, divine nature, and the essence of God, simply stated. (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 285).

Vine  –

“Theiotes, the attributes of God, His Divine nature and properties; theotes indicates the Divine essence of Godhood, the personality of God.”  “Divine” (from theos, “God”), is used of the power of God, 2 Pet. 1:3, and of His nature, ver. 4, in each place, as that which proceeds from Himself. In Acts 17:29 it is used as a noun with the definite article, to denote “the Godhead,” the Deity (i.e., the one true God). This word, instead of theos, was purposely used by the Apostle in speaking to Greeks on Mars Hill, as in accordance with Greek usage. Cp. DIVINITY. In the Sept., Exod. 31:3; 35:31; Job 27:3; 33:4; Prov. 2:17.(W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

Easton Bible Dictionary –

“Godhead – the essential being or the nature of God,”

International Bible Stand Encyclopedia –

“The fundamental meaning of “Godhead” is, nevertheless, no less than that of “Godhood,” the state, dignity, condition, quality, of a god, or, as monotheists would say, of God. As manhood is that which makes a man a man, and childhood that which makes a child a child, so Godhead is that which makes God, God. When we ascribe Godhead to a being, therefore, we affirm that all that enters into the idea of God belongs to Him. “Godhead” is thus the Saxon equivalent of the Latin “Divinity,” or, as it is now becoming more usual to say, “Deity.” Like these terms it is rendered concrete by prefixing the article to it. As “the Divinity,” “the Deity,” so also “the Godhead” is only another way of saying “God,” except that when we say “the Divinity,” “the Deity,” “the Godhead,” we are saying “God” more abstractly and more qualitatively, that is with more emphasis, or at least with a more lively consciousness, of the constitutive qualities which make God the kind of being we call “God.”

Below are the initial three verses as interpreted in other translations so we can compare how other translators interpreted the word Godhead to see if any plurality is ever implied –
American Standard Version 

Ro 1:20 For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. 

Ac 17:29 Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man.

Col 2:9 for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Bible in Basic English

Ro 1:20 For from the first making of the world, those things of God which the eye is unable to see, that is, His eternal power and existence, are fully made clear, He having given the knowledge of them through the things which He has made, so that men have no reason for wrongdoing. 

Ac 17:29 Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man. 

Col 2:9 For in Him all the wealth of God’s being has a living form.

Darby Translation

Ro 1:20 –for from [the] world’s creation the invisible things of Him are perceived, being apprehended by the mind through the things that are made, both His eternal power and divinity, –so as to render them inexcusable.

Ac 17:29 Being therefore [the] offspring of God, we ought not to think that which is divine to be like gold or silver or stone, [the] graven form of man’s art and imagination.

Col 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Montgomery Translation

Ro 1:20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, even His everlasting power and divinity, has been clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made. So they have no excuse.

Ac 17:29 “Since then we are God’s offspring, we ought not to imagine that the Godhead is like to gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man.

Col 2:9 For in Him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily.

Revised Standard Version

Ro 1:20 Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 

Ac 17:29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man.

Col 2:9 For in Him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily.

Twentieth Century New Testament

Ro 1:20 For ever since the creation of the universe God’s invisible attributes-His everlasting power and divinity-are to be seen and studied in his works, so that men have no excuse.

Ac 17:29 Therefore, as the offspring of God, we must not think that the Deity has any resemblance to anything made of gold, or silver, or stone–a work of human art and imagination.

Col 2:9 For in Christ the Godhead in all its fulness dwells incarnate.

World English Bible

Ro 1:20 For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.

Ac 17:29 Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, engraved by art and design of man.

Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily.

Weymouth’s New Testament

Ro 1:20 For, from the very creation of the world, His invisible perfections–namely His eternal power and divine nature–have been rendered intelligible and clearly visible by His works, so that these men are without excuse.

Ac 17:29 Since then we are God’s offspring, we ought not to imagine that His nature resembles gold or silver or marble, or anything sculptured by the art and inventive faculty of man.

Col 2:9 For it is in Christ that the fulness of God’s nature dwells embodied, and in Him you are made complete.

For those wanting a presentation of my understanding of the Doctrine of Christ, please read my Justified in the Spirit post.

Peace.

Comments
  1. I would not be considered to be either a Trinitarian or a Oneness believer, at least not as you define those words in the beginning of your post. Nonetheless, in the quotations from 2 Peter we are said to share in the divine nature and be planned for glory–the focus does not appear to be on numbers, but at the same time it suggests that the argument over the precise current configuration of the Godhead obscures larger questions about our future destiny as believers.

    • William E. Males says:

      I agree Nathan.

      There have been endless debates over the essence of God and the progressive revelation of His being through scriptures, crowned wondrously with brightness of His glory revealed in the expressed image of His person through His incarnation as the Son of Man. At best such futile debates have been historically used by the adversary only to stir up pride and contention. It is part of Satan’s conspiracy to thwart God’s desire to bring all believers not only to a unity of faith, a faith that must be established upon the surety of Jesus being the prophesied and “only begotten Son of God” sent to quicken and save all who believe in His death for their sins and His resurrection from the dead.

      As you stated, more importantly than our accepting these things as true, is our yielding to the Logos which became flesh in order to bring the humble to the realization of that same nature of Christ being formed in them with all His attributes (fruits of the Spirit) by His Spirit of Holiness sent to them into all truth. If we are to live in the Spirit, then let us also walk in the Spirit.

      Peace,

      William

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