By Dr. G. Reckart
Apostolic Theological Bible College
11731 N. 15th Street, Tampa, Florida 33612
Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved
"In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
Elohim is translated into English as God.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"
To the Jews and early Christians, the name "God" meant a single Deity. To explain this God, Jews believed He was uncreated, He was eternal. He was a Divine Holy Spirit. He possessed a spiritual body form like that of man. He is self existent. He is all knowing. He possesses all power in heaven and upon earth. He is the creator of all existing things including man. He was a singular Deity that proved his Being behind the veil and in the holy of hollies. This God is the focus of the Shema:
"Hear O Israel, the LORD our GOD is one LORD" (Deuteronomy 6:4).
In the original Hebrew this was written:
"Hear O Israel, the ADONAI our ELOHIM is one ADONAI." (Note, some translations substitute YHVH for ADONAI which appears to be an interpolation into the text after the Babylonian captivity). We know God is called Adonai because Abraham called God this in Genesis 18:3. To speak of the Lord or God of Abraham was to speak of this same ADONAI and ELOHIM).
This is additionally supported by the first Commandment:
"Thou shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).
"Thou shall have no other elohim before me."
It is understood clearly, that when Moses wrote other "gods" as "elohim", he was not and did not mean each of these gods was a trinity or that they consisted of three personalities. This is a fact no Trinitarian has ever refuted. Elohim then does not and will never mean the true God is a multiplicity of Divine Beings as falsely claimed by Rome, Protestants, and other Trinitarian groups.
It is without necessity of proof that Abraham and Noah, together with all other ancient patriarchs had only one God as the focus of their beliefs and worship. When I say one God, I mean they did not perceive or worship God in any way except he was one Divine holy Being with his one Holy Spirit. This oneness of God is the keystone of the religious worship and practices of the Jewish people. To them, to speak of God as Elohim did not turn him into more than one God.
Elohim is the plural form of the Hebrew singular Eloah ( DEU 32:15 DEU 32:17 2CH 32:15 NEH 9:17 JOB 3:4 JOB 3:23 JOB 4:9 JOB 4:17 JOB 5:17 JOB 6:4 JOB 6:8-9 JOB 9:13 JOB 10:2 JOB 11:5-7 JOB 12:4 JOB 12:6 JOB 15:8 JOB 16:20-21 JOB 19:6 JOB 19:21 JOB 19:26 JOB 21:9 JOB 21:19 JOB 22:12 JOB 22:26 JOB 24:12 JOB 27:3 JOB 27:8 JOB 27:10 JOB 29:2 JOB 29:4 JOB 31:2 JOB 31:6 JOB 33:12 JOB 33:26 JOB 35:10 JOB 36:2 JOB 37:15 JOB 37:22 JOB 39:17 JOB 40:2 PSA 18:31 PSA 50:22 PSA 114:7 PSA 139:19 PRO 30:5 ISA 44:8 DAN 11:37-39 HAB 3:3).
These texts prove God is one.
The text containing Elohim prove God has more than one attribute.
In the Hebrew text, Elohim is a plural noun. It is because of this, trinitarians try to claim God is more than one. In defining this One, they attempt to divide God into three. But how is this one three? Trinitarians claim the one is three consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the three scheme, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God and separate from each other. What has been created is three separate Gods. But trinitarians claim this is not what they believe. Some claim there is one God who has one Spirit and who has three personalities. Some claim that each personality has its own Spirit separate from the other two. This again results in three separate Gods. Trinitarians claim the plural Elohim proves God is not numerically one. This again means God is a numerical three. This continues the three separate Gods doctrine within trinitarianism. Does Elohim mean more than one God?
In Hebrew, the plural noun receives a plural suffix. It receives a plural verb. And it receives a plural adjective. Does Elohim have a plural verb and adjective in Genesis 1:1? The answer is no. The verb is singular "created". This means Elohim is speaking of one God not a multiplicity of Gods or Beings doing the creating. Elohim in the plural is showing God in the attributes of his power and creativity in the creation miracles. God had to be multi-intellectual and quite a Creator to do the many things necessary for the creation to exist and function in unity. Plurality in unity does not demand God to be a unity of three gods.
When Jews read the Hebrew Elohim in the Bible they inject into the reading (He). For instance:
"In the beginning Elohim (He) created the heavens and the earth." This is proof Jews do not believe God is more than one.
To give this testimony of one God additional and final testimony, Oneness Jews and Oneness Christians will point to the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. They take all who seek God behind the veil. Lifting up the veil they point to one presence of God between the cherubs and say, there is the one God of Israel. No trinitarian has yet to debunk this witness to the oneness of God.
What then would Elohim being plural mean? It does not mean a multiplicity of gods created the heavens and the earth. If trinitarians demand Elohim means three, then they must mean three Gods because that is how they make one into three with their division of God into the three separate Beings of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have asked trinitarians of great theological learning if the trinity is three separate Beings each having their own Spirit and each having their own body; which would mean three separate gods, not one God. I have not yet found a trinitarian to admit there are three gods in heaven or that three gods created the heavens and the earth. This, in spite of their continued false use of "us" and "our" scriptures such as in Genesis 1:26, 11:7; and Isaiah 6:8.
Elohim, according to Welhim Gesenius in his Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, 49a, says it is a plural of majesty. Trinitarians have tried to attack this Jewish interpretation but have failed the ultimate test of proving Elohim means a multiplicity of gods. To say Elohim means a multiplicity of personalities and then say: "one God" is not one Being and one Spirit, is contradictory.
If as Gesenius claims, Elohim means a plural of majesty, then we ask ourselves how this majesty is demonstrated? Some think the plural "we" as used by rulers in speaking of themselves is the answer. I do not accept this as being the Jewish meaning of the plural of majesty. I see the plural of majesty or the plural of excellence as being the attributes of God. God is one Being, possessing one Body and one Spirit. But his attributes are many. His attributes are the inherent characteristics of all that he is. What are some of the known attributes of God?
Thus, when we speak of God as to his attributes we can call him "The Elohim." And when we speak of only his Divine Being with no emphasis on his attributes we call him "Eloah."
It is our faith and we believe also the faith of the Jews and the patriarchs, that when "El" is contracted from Eloah and placed in names, it refers to the one and only God. There are hundreds of names beginning and ending with "El" that refer to the single, numerical one Eloah-God. None of these uses of "El" refer to a multiplicity of gods or Divine Beings existing within what was believed to be God. Here is a short list:
El-ishah, El-am, El-Paran, El-iezer, Bethu-El, El-daah, El-on, El-el-ohe, El-beth-el, El-iphaz, El-isheba, El-kanah, El-im, El-zaphan, El-izur, El-iab, El-ishama, El-iasaph, El-dad, El-onites, El-ealeh, El-ath, El-tolad, El-tekon, El-eph, Jiphthah-El, Migdal-El, El-tekeh, El-imelech, El-ihu, El-i, Samu-El, El-ishua, El-iada, El-iphalet, El-ika, El-ihoreph, El-bethhanan, El-ijah, El-isha, Micha-El.
All of these names and many more prove one God, one Divine Being. Not in a single case of these names is it understood the "El" refers to a plurality of Divine Beings. There is not a single case of the use of 'El" in names that Trinitarians can claim the intent of the name means the person was named after a multiplicity of gods or Divine Beings.
We can see how the use of Elohim refers to the plural attributes of God and not that there are at least three or more of them.
Right from the beginning we see God holding different offices or different identities as he makes manifest his glorious powers.
Our first knowledge of God's attributes is he is the Creator.
God is the giver of life, thus in this attribute he is life giver and sustainer.
God is a law Creator in regard to created beings and the physical elements and bodies of the universe.
God is the magistrate of all beings, and as judge he manifests his wisdom and knowledge (two other attributes).
God gives his love, mercy, and grace: all of which are attributes.
God is an artist and puts color into the creation to give it balance and beauty.
God is an engineer and places all things to function within certain laws.
God is a botanist, knowing all plants and establishing their life cycles.
God is a scientist, knowing all elements, their function, inter-relationships, and how they can combine to form tangible objects.
These are only a small portion of God's attributes. They are many more. My point here is to show how Elohim in its plural from speaks of the attributes of God and has nothing to do with a multiplicity of Beings in the trinity. To even assume Elohim means a trinity of gods or separate person beings, goes outside of the Bible and completely away from the intent of the writers.
We can look at the examples of a cluster of grapes, a stalk of bananas, an almond cluster, and the Menorah to better understand how one can be spoke of singular and also a plural.
Here a cluster of grapes is both singular "cluster" and "grapes" plural. There is one cluster but many grapes. Each grape is an attribute of the cluster. In addition, each cluster is an attribute of one vine. The one vine is not the one cluster and not the attributes grapes. But the cluster and the grapes are the attributes of the vine. A vine does not need clusters or grapes to exist in its oneness. But, each cluster and the grapes being attributes shows us how Elohim is to be understood as a name for God that describes his plurality of majesty and excellence.
Here we can see another example. There is one banana tree. There is one stalk. There are manny bananas on the stalk. Each banana is an attribute of the one stalk. Each stalk is an attribute of the banana tree. The banana is not the stalk and the stalk is not the banana tree. The banana tree does not need the stalk or the bananas to be a banana tree. But each stalk and each banana is an attribute of the banana tree. This again shows us how Elohim is to be understood as a name for God that describes his plural of majesty and excellence.
Here is a small cluster of almonds. there is one almond tree. There are many almonds on the branches of the almond tree. But, each almond is only an attribute of the almond branch and almond tree. An almond tree does not need the almonds to be an almond tree. The almonds are an attribute of the almond tree. This is another example of how Elohim is used to describe the attributes of God and has nothing to do with a secret or hidden meaning that there is more than one God. Trinitarian use of the plural form of Elohim to prove there are three separate God Beings in heaven goes completely away from common Biblical sense and Truth.
The menorah is a representative of God. The seven candlesticks represent seven attributes of God. We do not know what these attributes represent. I take them to all represent the holiness and purity of God. Some have compared them to the attributes of God in Isaiah 11:2:
ISA 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
Some see the seven attributes as:
God the holy Creator;
God the holy Law giver;
God the holy Judge;
God the holy Forgiver by his grace and mercy;
God the holy Covenant maker;
God the holy Redeemer
When we think of Elohim (plural) we bring all the attributes into our mind. When we speak of God as Eloah (singular) we think of God as to his singular Being and Divinity.
Trinitarians may continue to pervert the plural Elohim into three separate and distinct beings, and call them each God separate from the others. But to do so they must confess there are three Gods not one. To say they believe in one God and yet speak of three gods is enough for any person of rational mind to reject the trinity theory because it is confusing, contradictory, and extra-biblical.
God is one God. He is one Being. He is one Spirit. He has one spiritual Body and one earthy image body. God is Father in creation in his spirit body. God is the Redeemer in the human body of Jesus: making Jesus God with us in human form (Emmanuel, God with us: Matthew 1:23). God is the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, in regeneration. God does appear in different modes. Trinitarians mock about our use of the word "mode" and call us "Modalist" as if this name created by the Catholic church is supposed to make us ashamed. We are not ashamed of being called Modalist, because with it comes the name Monarchian as well as Jewish.
Yes, just as the Jews reject there being more than one God and see different "modes" of God in many theophanies, so do the Apostolic modalist. And yes, we Apostolic Messianics hold to these Jewish teachings because God has already authenticated them.
So, to summarize Elohim, it is a plural form of majesty and excellence and speaks of God's attributes. It does not and never has meant there is a multiplicity of gods which the plural form would demand if the trinitarian perversion is allowed to be correct.
Finally, when a trinitarian tries to use Elohim to prove a trinity, you have a perverter and a distorter at work trying out thimblerigging to see if you can guess if there is one thimble or three. Do not accept the Catholic riddle that one is three.
Dr. G. Reckart
Apostolic Theological Bible College
(Copy right 2002, All RIghts Reserved)