The word elohim can refer to the true God, to a false god, to angels, and to human beings. In its wide application, this name is unusual and difficult to translate into English. The ability of this word to refer correctly to God, angels, humans, and false gods can be understood only if the root of the word is kept in mind. The root means somewhat like the “powers that be,” whether they are human or divine, singular or plural.
References to: Trinity
In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us make man in our image.” “Let us....” Does this mean that there is more than one God? Some say yes. They say that the Hebrew word elohim is a plural noun, showing that there is more than one God. Yet the Hebrew Bible plainly quotes God as saying that there is only one God. “I am God,” he says, “and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22). God does not say, “we are God.”
So what does the Hebrew word elohim mean? Is it plural? Does it prove there is one God or many? If we can’t read Hebrew, how can we find out?
People will occasionally read statements to the effect that the Hebrew word elohim is plural, as can be seen from the ending -im. The thought behind this claim is that this plural form indicates that there is plurality in the Godhead. Some conclude that the biblical references to a Father and a Son are a biblical way of supporting the idea that God is a family of divine beings headed by the Father.
Scriptures that show there is only one God
Some Bible passages are difficult to understand. Others are easy. The Bible has many plain, simple, straightforward, unambiguous verses, and these are the verses we should study first when we want to understand what the Bible teaches. Understanding the plain, straightforward verses then becomes our basis for understanding the more difficult verses. The plain verses become the foundation for the rest of our biblical understanding. We build on those.
Some people who reject the Trinity doctrine claim that the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture. Of course, there is no verse that says “God is three Persons” or “God is a Trinity.” This is evident and true, but it proves nothing. There are many words and phrases that Christians use but are nevertheless not found in the Bible. For example, the word “Bible” is not found in the Bible.
It Just Doesn't Add Up
The Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but there is only one God. “Wait a minute,” some people say. “One plus one plus one equals one? This can’t be right. It just doesn’t add up.”
Some people take issue with the use of the word “Person” in the doctrine of the Trinity when the word is applied to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They wrongly assume that the doctrine of the Trinity inadvertently teaches that three Gods exist. Their reasoning goes something like this: If God the Father is a “Person,” then he is a God in his own right (having the characteristics of being divine). He would count as “one” God. The same could be said about the Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, there would be three separate Gods.
The first Christian missionaries preached the gospel in a pagan, polytheistic world. They preached that there was only one God, and they also preached Jesus Christ as God. It was not long before people wondered how these ideas could both be true.
Is God a nice old man in the sky? A cranky being who wants to dish out “justice” on you? Is he like a human father or mother?
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was England’s best-known preacher for most of the second half of the 19th century. In a sermon he gave when he was only 20, Spurgeon declared that the proper study for a Christian is the Godhead. Here is a quote from that sermon—it’s one of my favorites: