- Category: Do we know What we worship?
1) Is there a Trinity mentioned in the Scriptures?
Surprisingly the word Trinity is not found in the Scriptures. Okay, how about the titles widely used by the Trinitarian Creed - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? When we search the Bible, we find only one of these terms - ‘God the Father’. It appears 18 times in the New Testament. But the terms ‘God the Son’ and ‘God the Holy Spirit’ don’t seem to be found anywhere.
2) Are there other Gods/gods mentioned in the Bible?
The Bible has 3500+ instances of the word ‘god’. Obviously, almost all those refer to God himself.
Nevertheless, we notice places where ‘god’ has other applications too. Yes, as Paul says, ‘indeed there are many gods and many lords’ (1Corinthians 8:5 NASB). So where do we see other gods in the Bible?
Mighty gods - Elohim and Theos
The Old Testament Hebrew word ‘elohim’ (god) can refer to any high dignitary (e.g. Abraham, Genesis 23:6).
In English Bibles, it’s translated in different places as God, god, great, mighty.
- Elohim (god) is used to refer not just to God, but also judges, angels, sons of God and prophets.
Elohim’s New Testament Greek counterpart is ‘theos’ (god). Whenever New Testament quotes the Old, theos is used to render elohim. Strong's Concordance defines it as: ‘a deity…fig. a magistrate’.
- Theos (god) is actually used in John 10:35 to denote the worshippers (sons) of God.
- It’s used six times to describe Jesus - John 1:1, 18, 20:28, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 2Peter 1:1.
- It’s used even for Satan! - 2 Corinthians 4:4.
What we learn is that any mighty being can be referred to as god (elohim/theos) in the Bible.
3) How do we know whether an elohim/theos occurrence refers to just a god and not the God Almighty?
English Bibles render them mostly as ‘god’ in such places, but in a few instances as ‘God’ (some confusion indeed!). In such cases, the article ‘the’ helps differentiate and so does the context. (We’ll delve into this when we study John 1:1 later).
An interesting side note - Not even one time do these words refer to the Holy Spirit.
God Almighty – The LORD
4) If there are many such gods (mighty beings), who really is the God Almighty?
Scripturally, there seems to be no confusion on who is unequivocally identified ‘The God’, the Most High (Sovereign). For instance, Apostle Paul declares it plainly –
‘There are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father (1Corinthians 8:5-6 NASB).
And the term ‘God the Father’ always shows up in the Bible not as a title, but as an expression denoting that God is the Father.
Jesus actually expressly states that the Father is the one true God Almighty -
Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed, 'Father, glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him...that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent' (John 17:1-3).
5) Who really is the Father?
Hebrews 1:5 says, ‘For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’.
Here, Paul is quoting the Old Testament - ‘I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father’ (Psalms 2:7).
So, we see that the LORD of the Old Testament is indeed the Father of the New Testament.
- ‘The NIV Bible’s Concordance says, ‘LORD (in all capital letters) is used in this Bible to refer to the personal name of God. The Hebrew word for this name is Yahweh’.
This is true for most other Bibles as well. God’s Name was considered too holy to be used frequently. So, substitute words (popular choice in English being the LORD) were used.
Note: ‘LORD’ (all capitals) should not be confused with ‘Lord’ (Hebrew:Adonai/Greek:Kurios). ‘LORD’ denotes Yahweh alone, whereas ‘Lord’ means Master and can refer to any master based on the context.
Yahweh means the Self-existent, or Eternal One (Source - Dr. James Strong). In the Bible it’s used exclusively to denote the Creator, the Almighty. Very remarkably, the name Yahweh is never applied to anyone else.
6) So what’s so unique about the LORD (Yahweh)?
The LORD our God, the LORD is one’ is the foundational doctrine of the Bible’s Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:4). It reads better as, ‘Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one’.
‘Know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD [Yahweh]’ (Isaiah 43:10-11).
When asked what the greatest commandment was, ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Yahweh] our God, the LORD [Yahweh] is one. Love the LORD [Yahweh] your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:29-30).
7) What was Jesus’ point when he said Yahweh is one?
He was quoting Deut 6:4 reinforcing the faith of the Jewish fathers that God was a singular being. The Jewish people worshipped Yahweh, his singularity enforced by prophets for thousands of years.
As the Scriptures consistently portray Yahweh as singular, the Jewish faith was known for its fierce loyalty to its singular God even as ancient pagan religions promoted Triads and Trinities.
Yahweh was believed to be singular, unequalled, unchanging, everlasting to everlasting, self-sustaining, the Most High. And Jesus taught the same to his followers. He called it the most important commandment.
And we don’t find anything anywhere in his teachings about a multi-person God.
8) What about verses those are oft-quoted to promote a Non-singular Trinitarian Almighty?
Texts often cited to support a trinity are: John 1:1 (let’s study that in a bit), and John 20:28. (To get clarity on a couple of other verses, please refer to this study).
In John 20:28, seeing the resurrected Jesus, Thomas exclaims, ‘My Lord and my God!’ This word God (theos/mighty being) is a term of respect and awe that Thomas attributes to his Lord (Master).
- Indeed, in the very same chapter, Jesus explains to Mary Magdalene that he has not yet ascended ‘to my Father, and your Father, to my God, and your God’ (John 20:17).
Jesus clearly recognizes the Father as his God, someone distinct from himself.
To summarize, as Paul said, God is the Father. He is Yahweh, the Almighty (Gen. 17:1, Rev. 1:8). And Jesus too worshipped Him and declared Him to be the one true God Almighty.