In the English language the word "god" means:
- one of several deities, especially a male deity, presiding over some portion of worldly affairs.
- an image of a deity; an idol.
- any deified person or object.
- a nebulous powerful force imagined to be responsible for one's fate: The god of poker dealt me two aces.
However, the word "God" in the Bible which is translated from the Hebrew word ("elohim") could have a different meaning depending on the context:
- ’ĕ·lō·hîm or אֱלֹהִ֖ים
- translated as "God" but refers to Moses (Exodus 7:1)
- translated as "god" but refers to Samuel (1 Samuel 28:13)
- translated as "gods" but refers to human kings who "judge as gods" but "shall die as men" (Psalm 82:1; Psalm 82:6)
- translated as "God" but possibly refers to Jesus who would "inherit the nations" (Psalm 82:1, Psalm 82:8)
- translated as "God" but refers to the Supreme God (Genesis 1:27)
- hā·’ĕ·lō·hîm or הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙
- lā·’ĕ·lō·hîm or לָאֱלֹהִ֖ים
- translated as "god" but refers to an idol (Exodus 22:20))
- mê·’ĕ·lō·hîm or מֵאֱלֹהִ֑ים
The word "God" in the Bible is also translated from the Hebrew word ("el"):
- ’êl or אֵ֥ל
- translated as "god" (Deuteronomy 32:12) but refers to an idol
- translated as "God" (Job 33:4) but refers to God's Spirit
- translated as "God" (Job 34:10) but possibly refers to the Son as he is the judge according to John 5:22 and "the Almighty" is addressed separately
- translated as "God" (Isaiah 9:6) but refers to "a prince" which probably refers to Jesus
- translated as "God" (Genesis 14:19-22) but refers to the "God Most High"
The Greek uses the same words ("theos" or "theou"), which both translates to "God", to refer to any type of god because in the pagan religions there are multiple gods and having only one God does not make sense to them:
- theos or θεὸς:
- theou or Θεοῦ:
There may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” — yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. -- 1 Corinthians 8:5-7 (ESV)
In the Hebrew language, the word "elohim" usually means multiple gods. The Trinitarians claim that this refers to the multiple personalities God have or the unity of multiple persons in the godhead. To support their view, they often quote Genesis 1:1,26, 3:22, 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16; Matthew 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 13:14 where God says "us" or "we".
However, in the Bible, the word "elohim" could also technically be considered a singular God for example both Genesis and Exodus (or Shemoth as it is called in The Scriptures) was written by the same author, Moses, who also wrote:
So יהוה said to Mosheh, “See, I have made you an elohim to Pharaoh, and Aharon your brother is your prophet. -- Shemoth/Exodus 7:1 (TS2009)
“He who slaughters to an elohim, except to יהוה only, is put under the ban. -- Shemoth/Exodus 22:20 (TS2009)
This style of writing was not limited to Moses only. In the book of Judges we read that both Baal and Chemosh were also considered "elohim", yet none of them were composite gods.
But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god (elohim, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” -- Judges 6:31 (ESV)
And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God (elohim) of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god (elohim).” -- 1 Samuel 5:7 (ESV))
Yet, no one claimed that Dagon was a composite or "uniplural" god or that the people who worshipped Dagon thought that he was one.
However, Mike Leake from Bible Study Tools explains:
The term "Elohim" means “supreme one” or “mighty one.” It is not only used of the one true God but is also used on occasion to refer to human rulers, judges, and even angels. If you saw one exhibiting supreme rule and expressed mighty power, the word you would use would be Elohim.
In the Ancient Near East, it was common to refer to the deity in the compound plural, and when speaking of an owner or master, it was often the rule to speak of him in such terms.
To give you just a few examples,
- Abraham’s servant speaks of his master in the plural in Genesis 24 (ʾadonim, literally, “lords”),
- Joseph speaks of his master Potiphar in the plural in Genesis 39, and
- David the king is spoken of as “lords” in 1 Kings 1:11.
- In Exodus 21, to translate literally and incorrectly, the law speaks of a slave and his masters (ʾadonim, referring to just one master),
- in Isaiah 19:4, the prophet tells Israel that God will hand them over to a cruel lord (Hebrew, ʾadonim qasheh, a plural noun with a singular adjective), and
- Isaiah 1:3 tells us that a donkey knows the feeding crib of its masters (baʾalim, referring to just one person; cf. the first half of the verse in which reference is made to an ox’s owner—in the singular).
These examples, which are really very common, show clearly that compound plurals were often used to speak of leaders, owners, masters, or kings. How much more then could similar expressions be used to speak of the Lord, the Master, the King, and the God."