(From the RDB Files)
(DEFINITIONS OF “GOD”)
“And only one [day] for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!”
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t - till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,’” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.” - Ch. 6, Through the Looking-Glass
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When the ancient Hebrews used the word elohim, they meant only one of two things: (1) a single person who was considered “a god,” a mighty person in a higher sense of the word or (2) “gods” (by which they meant more than one mighty person - each being a “god” in its own right). The word elohim is plural and that plurality could be understood as either in number (“gods”) or excellence, majesty (“God”) - see the ELOHIM study.
Elohim was used to refer to (1) pagan gods (plural in number) - Judges 10:6; (2) a pagan god (a single person considered to be of major importance - plural of majesty) - Judges 11:24; (3) the one true God of Israel (a single person, the Father, Most High over all - plural of excellence) - Deut. 6:4; Exod. 3:15; (4) angels of God (“gods” - plural in number) - Ps. 8:5; Heb. 2:7; (5) judges of Israel (“gods” - plural in number) - Ps. 82:1, 6; John 10:33, 34; (6) human king of Israel (“god” - plural of majesty) - footnotes for Ps. 82:1; 45:6 in the NIVSB. - See the BOWGOD study.
However, it was never used in the Hebrew scriptures to mean “more than one person in one god”! Instead, when elohim was used for one God (or “god”), it invariably was intended as one person! And when it was used in its numerically plural sense, it invariably referred to a number of persons, each of whom was a single god! There simply was no thought of a multiple-person God!
When the famous 70 Jewish scholars began translating the Hebrew OT scriptures into the Greek Septuagint (around 200 B. C.), they translated elohim into the singular theos (God/god) whenever the “plural of majesty” had been intended by elohim. And they used the Greek theoi (gods) whenever the “plural of number” had been intended by elohim. And when we examine the Septuagint, we find that when the God of Israel, Jehovah, is being described, it always has elohim translated into the singular theos.
There is no clear, honest evidence that the Jews (including all the inspired prophets) ever considered their one (echad) elohim as a “multiple person” one God - see ISRAEL study. For us to even consider such a concept, we must have some clear-cut, honest proof (scriptural and historical). We must not come up with our own definition of “God” when we find it in the Bible so that it fits our desired meanings. It must be the intended original meaning.
Deut. 6:4 literally says (in both the ancient Hebrew scriptures and the Septuagint): “Hear Israel, Jehovah the God [elohim, theos] of us, Jehovah is one [echad, heis].” The Jews never considered “Jehovah Elohim” as anything but a single person. The singular personal name (Jehovah) shows this. The Jews’ usage of the word elohim shows this. The statement “Jehovah is one” shows this. The Jews’ teachings, writings, traditions, etc. for thousands of years show this. The writings of men of other nations (both friends and enemies) over thousands of years show this.
If, somehow, Deut. 6:4 really meant “Jehovah is one” in a figurative sense (different persons composing this “one person” are all united in purpose), it would be made clear from context as all other such figurative uses are - e.g. John 17:22; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:14. And it’s entirely incredible that Moses himself, and all the many inspired prophets down to the time of the Apostle John, never clearly revealed such vital information. That it had to be “revealed” hundreds of years after the completion of the inspired scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16, 17, RSV) by men who were already actively adding other non-scriptural apostasies to Church doctrines (1 Tim. 4:1-3; see HIST study) makes it virtually certain that it is terribly wrong.
The only way trinitarians can overcome clear scriptural statements that the Messiah is not God (and is not Jehovah) is to construct a conveniently variable definition for “God” and “Jehovah.” “It means just what I choose it to mean [whenever I want it to mean that] - neither more nor less.”
They have to define some uses of “God” (and the singular personal name “Jehovah”) as meaning “the Father alone.” Other uses they will tell you mean “the Son alone.” And still other uses mean “all three persons of the Godhead (or some other combination that fits their doctrine)”! There are no contextual clues for such interpretations. Surely, if the doctrine were true, the inspired Bible writers would frequently give some clue as to their intended meaning: “God the Son said to Abraham ....”; “God the Holy Spirit brought Paul to ...”; “Jesus God [or God the Messiah] was sitting at the right hand of Jehovah God [or God the Father].” We should see “God” (without identifying modifiers) only when “all three persons” are being spoken of. Otherwise there should usually be modifiers to explain what is being intended. Unless, of course, God (and Jehovah) is truly only one person - the Father alone.
Imagine, for example, how ridiculous it would be if we had a number of persons named Mary and never specified them (or only identified one of them): “Mary washed Peter’s feet while Mary was in the kitchen cooking. But Mary, unfortunately, couldn’t be there since she was traveling to Bethany with Mary.” Instead, the Bible writers frequently specify which Mary is being referred to: “Mary the Magdalene,” “Mary, the mother of Jesus,” “Mary the sister of Lazarus,” “Mary the mother of James and Joses,” etc.
Yes, look up all the uses of “Mary” in Young’s Concordance. Notice how many are specifically identified even in the short descriptions found in Young’s. If you look up the scriptures listed there, you’ll find that nearly all are specifically identified. - See the TC study: ‘Unitized Title’ and endnote.)
If we can expect such concern for identifying the right person (among those sharing the same name) in the case of those named “Mary,” we should surely expect at least as much concern for those “sharing” the personal name of God!!
Do we really accept the claim that in the 7000 times “Jehovah” is used it is applied to one or another (or sometimes all) of the 3 persons of a "trinity,' but is never specifically identified (other than “the Father,” of course)? And do we really believe the claim that of the thousands of uses of “God” it is never specified just which person of the "trinity" it is (except for “the Father,” of course)?
“Yea, let them be confounded and perish; That they may know that thou [singular personal pronoun] alone, whose name is Jehovah [singular masculine personal name], art the Most High over all the earth.” - Ps. 83:17,18, ASV.
If the trinity doctrine were true, it would be entirely incredible that God is so often called “God the Father,” but Jesus is never called “God the Son,” and the Holy Spirit is never called “God the Holy Spirit”! Why is the one so often specifically identified while the others are not? (Because God is the Father only - “Who alone art truly God” - John 17:1, 3, NEB.) - There is no trinity!
I have seen a trinitarian booklet claim that a few times plural verbs are found with elohim. This is supposed to be evidence that elohim is one God composed of multiple persons. This booklet lists 4 places where this is supposed to occur in the Bible: Gen. 20:13 (“they caused me to wander”); Genesis 35:7 (“they appeared to him”); 2 Sam. 7:23 (“they went”); and Psalm 58:11 (“they judge”).
But there are thousands of places where “God” has a singular verb and pronouns! What is the significance of only four examples that seem to make a different statement?
And are these 4 examples really exceptions? I have three Hebrew Interlinears: (1)The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, John R. Kohlenberger (JRK), Zondervan, 1980; (2) The Interlinear Bible, Green, Baker Book House, 1982; and (3) The Interlineary Hebrew and English Psalter (Psalms only), Bagster, Zondervan, 1979 printing - all are trinitarian publishing companies.
Gen. 20:13 “HE make wander” - JRK; “had made me wander” - Green.
Gen. 35:7 “THEY appeared to him” - JRK; “revealed HIMSELF” - Green.
2 Sam. 7:23 “THEY went” - JRK; “went out” - Green.
Ps. 58:11 (12) “ones judging” - JRK; “judging” - Green; “judging” - Bagster.
It’s not surprising that trinitarian-published interlinears would support a trinitarian interpretation. But notice that at least one trinitarian interlinear (two for Gen. 20:13 and Ps. 58:11) in each of the above four examples has not given such an interpretation!
It’s certainly possible that in only four verses (out of thousands) the Hebrew manuscript is ambiguous enough or simply not clearly understood well enough so that a trinitarian interpretation can be one possibility. This is not proof nor even good evidence. For example, at 2 Sam. 13:39 it says of King David “she longed” to go to Absalom. Proof positive that King David is actually the Holy Spirit (which is always feminine in Hebrew), right? No, we know from thousands of other scriptures that David nearly always has masculine verbs just as we would expect. But if I wanted King David to be God, I could make my own definitions of “David” and “God” which would “prove” my case! (See the DAVID study.) No matter what straightforward scriptural statement anyone could find proving that David is not God, my variable definitions for “God” and “David” would invalidate them. Is this the kind of “proof” we should find acceptable?
However, it appears that a trinitarian interpretation in these four verses is not even an honest possibility. When I examined a number of trinitarian Bible translations, I found that not even the most avid (nor the ones which were most “free” in their translating - such as GNB and LB) translated any one of these four scriptures in any way resembling a trinitarian interpretation. This simply would not be if there were the slightest chance that this might be an honest interpretation. Not only did GNB, LB, RSV, KJV, NIV, The Amplified Bible, the Septuagint, and Lamsa’s translation from the ancient Syriac not give any indication of a plural verb in these scriptures, but many of them indicated a singular verb and pronoun instead.
For example, GNB, RSV, AB, NIV say “revealed himself” at Gen. 35:7. And NIV, Sept., and Lamsa have “went out to redeem as a people for himself” at 2 Sam. 7:23. And at Ps. 58:11 GNB, NIV, KJV, Septuagint, and Lamsa all say “A God who judges [’judgeth’ - KJV],” and “judges” [”judgeth”] is strictly a singular verb.
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Witness: “Christ cannot be Jehovah. He is described in the Bible as sitting at the right hand of Jehovah.” Ps. 110:1.
Trinitarian: “But ‘Jehovah’ in this scripture means the Father only (or, possibly the Father and the Holy Spirit).”
Witness: But you said ‘Jehovah’ means the Father, Holy Spirit, and the Son at Deut. 6:4.”
Trinitarian: “Yes, that is what it means in many scriptures.”
Witness: “But the Bible never identifies Jehovah in different ways in the thousands of instances it uses the Only Personal Name of God. When he is identified, it is always “the Father” alone. How do you know the many variations in meaning of that name when the Bible never distinguishes them?”
Trinitarian: “Because we know Christ is equally God. Therefore, ‘Jehovah’ must have these meanings.” [Such fallacious reasoning is known as ‘Circular Reasoning.’]
Witness: “Trinitarians say Jesus was fully God at the time the Bible describes him as being with God and when he called God ‘my God’.”
Trinitarian: “Sometimes ‘God’ means the Father only; sometimes it means the Son only; sometimes....” [Such fallacious reasoning comes from ‘Unsupported Pre-suppositions’ (or just plain wishful thinking).]
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“When I use a word, it means just what I want it to mean - neither more nor less.” (I.e., “I make the rules: Heads I win; tails you lose.”)
Such an approach to logic and reasoning is often identified under the category of “stacking the deck” and is, for obvious reasons, considered an improper method.