How Many Gods Are There?

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Paidion
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How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Paidion » Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:52 pm

How Many Gods Are There?

Every Christian I have encountered believes that there is one God only.
Many believe that this one God exists as a Trinity of persons. However, all instances in the New Testament of the word θεος (god) preceded by the article (the God) and with no other modifiers, has as its referent the Father alone, and NEVER a Trinity.

Jesus in His prayer to the Father, called Him “the only true God” and in the same sentence referred to Himself as someone other than the only true God.

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3 ESV)

If Jesus had said, "that they know You, Me, and the Holy Spirit as the only true God," then it would be clear that He believed in the Trinity of which He would have been a part.

However what Jesus did say, indicates that He believed in only one true God.

Clearly, the apostle Paul also believed that there was only one God—the Father, and did not indicate Jesus as being that one God or part of that one God, but as someone other than that one God:

... 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. (1 Corinthians 8:6 ESV)

(There is) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:6 ESV)

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
(1 Timothy 2:5 ESV)


Elohiym is a plural noun in Hebrew, the singular of which is “Elowahh.” The word “God” frequently appears in the Old Testament in the singular form “Elowahh.” Here is one example:

They refused to obey, And they were not mindful of Your wonders That You did among them. But they hardened their necks, And in their rebellion They appointed a leader To return to their bondage. But You are God (Elowahh), Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them. (Nehemiah 9:17)

But strangely, the plural form of the word also appears to have been applied to God. Perhaps the most unusual example is found in Psalm 82:1. Here is the Douay translation (A Catholic translation that was published in 1609-1610)

God hath stood in the congregation of gods: and being in the midst of them he judgeth gods.

However, the word “he” doesn't occur in the Hebrew. Without it, the verse would read:

God hath stood in the congregation of gods: and being in the midst of them judgeth gods.

Now the peculiar matter is that in this verse both the first word and the last word is the plural “elohiym.” The second occurrence was translated “gods” in the Douay, whereas the first is translated “God.” Is there any justification in translating the word in these two different ways?
By the way, in the phrase “congregations of gods” a different Hebrew is used for “gods.” It is “el ale.” This is said to mean “god-like ones.”

You may be interested in the way the words appear in the Septuagint, a translation of the Hebrew into Greek around 300 B.C.

ο θεος εστη εν συναγωγη θεων εν μεσω δε θεους διακρινει

Literally in English this would read:

The God is in [the] synagogue of gods and judges gods.

So the translators of the Septuagint, obviously took the first “elohiym” to mean THE God, and the second to mean “gods,” that is, if they were translating from the same Hebrew text. However, they may have been translating from an older form of Hebrew such as was found in cave 4 of the Dead Sea scrolls, and the first word may have been the singular Hebrew word “elowahh.”
Paidion

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Homer
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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Homer » Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:31 pm

Hi Paidion,

Seems to me your thinking, if what you posted is yours, is just as confusing, or more so, than that of Trinitarians.

You have insisted that Jesus is not God but is composed of "God stuff", whatever that means. You say Jesus is divine. I am at a loss to understand how that does not make Him God #2. In your mind, is the difference, since they are both the same stuff, one of office? In the scriptures you posted we see Jesus is Lord. Over and over in the OT God is Lord. Is God no longer Lord? If not, what does that mean? If God the Father is no longer Lord why did Jesus teach us to pray to the Father.....yet prayer is addressed to Jesus twice in the NT that I know of.


In Jude 4:5 God is referred to as theau, then Jesus is kurion, followed by God as kurios:

Jude 4-5 (NASB)
4. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
5. Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.


Are the Father and Son both Lord?

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Paidion
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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Paidion » Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:08 pm

To avoid taking God's name in vain, the Israelites decided not to use His name "Yahweh" at all. So they substituted "the LORD" for His name. So in translalting the Hebrew writings into English, whenever the tetragrammaton YHWH was written, they substituted "The LORD" for it. And so you find it in many of today's translations of the Old Testament, and in some translations of the New Testament as well. Jesus is the Lord. But NEVER is "LORD" all in capitals used when referring to Jesus.

However, to answer your question, both the Father and the Son are "Lord" in the ordinary sense of the word.
Paidion

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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Homer » Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:02 am

But what is your answer to this question:
You have insisted that Jesus is not God but is composed of "God stuff", whatever that means. You say Jesus is divine. I am at a loss to understand how that does not make Him God #2. In your mind, is the difference, since they are both the same stuff, one of office?

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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Paidion » Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:23 pm

Hi Homer, you wrote:You have insisted that Jesus is not God...

Jesus Himself insisted the same in His prayer to His Father. He addressed His Father as "the only true God."

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

Notice that Jesus indicated that there were TWO Individuals that need to be known: (1)The Father, the only true God AND (2) Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
If the Father and the Son were the same divine Individual Person, He would have said:
"And this is eternal life, that they might know You and Jesus Christ whom you have sent—the only true God." But how could the Father and the Son be the same Individual? Was Jesus praying to Himself?
but is composed of "God stuff", whatever that means.
There is no profound, difficult-to-understand meaning here. Aren't you and I composed of "human stuff"? Yet we are two different individuals. Perhaps a better word than "stuff" would be "essence." You and I are of human essence. The Father and the Son are of divine essence. There are no others who are of divine essence. That's why Jesus is called "the only begotten Son." Indeed, in the earliest extant manuscripts of John 1:18 (papyrus 66 and papyrus 75), Jesus is called "the only-begotten God." God the Father is unbegotten.
You say Jesus is divine. I am at a loss to understand how that does not make Him God #2.John 17:3
Well... I have already addressed John 17:3 in which Jesus recognized the Father as "the only true God" and added Himself as something other than "the only true God."
The fact that the Father is the "only true God" is what makes the Son NOT God#2. Though perhaps you could say that since He is divine, He is God, but not "true God."

In your mind, is the difference, since they are both the same stuff, one of office?
Perhaps not in office, but certainly in divine essence—and yet two different Individuals.
You and I are one is essence—in human essence, and yet are two different individuals.
Paidion

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Homer
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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Homer » Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:44 am

Paidion,
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
It seems to me this statement of Jesus could be understood as Him speaking from His human point of view. At that point in time he had "emptied himself" of his state prior to His incarnation.
In your mind, is the difference, since they are both the same stuff, one of office?
Perhaps not in office, but certainly in divine essence—and yet two different Individuals.
You and I are one is essence—in human essence, and yet are two different individuals.
You and I are of the same essence, both human, and both individuals. By your same argument, God the Father and Jesus are the same essence and are two individuals. How then can you say both are not God? You seem to shoot yourself in the foot with that argument.

And what is your explanation of the following statement about Jesus where he is theos preceded by the definite article:

Hebrews 1:8 (NASB)
8. But of the Son He says,
“Your throne, O God (ho Theos), is forever and ever,
And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.


And how do you exegete this one:

1 John 5:20 (NASB)
20. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Paidion » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:36 pm

Hi Homer, you wrote:You and I are of the same essence, both human, and both individuals. By your same argument, God the Father and Jesus are the same essence and are two individuals.
Correct.
How then can you say both are not God? You seem to shoot yourself in the foot with that argument.
They are both divine, but not both God (in the Trinitarian sense). As I understand Trinitarianism, Trinitarians believe that God is a single compound entity consisting of three divine individuals who together make up one God and that Jesus is thought to be "God" because He is one of the three divine Individuals that make up this one God . This I do not believe. Likewise, I don't believe that there is one compound "man" consisting of all people who dwell on earth. Yet we can say that an individual is "man" because he is human. Similarly we can correctly say that Jesus is God because He is divine. Indeed this is done in John 1:1. "The Logos was with the God (the Father) and the Logos was God." But the lack of an article in the second "God" plus placing it before the word "was" indicates that "God" is a quality in the phrase. Exactly the same word order is used where it is said, "God is love." The word "love" is placed before the verb "is" which shows that it is a quality or the essence of God. This grammatical construction is also used in the sentence, "Your word is truth." Again "truth is placed before the verb "is" showing that it is a quality of His word. Martin Luther explained this very succinctly. Whatever else Luther was, he was a good Greek scholar. He wrote, "The lack of an article is against Sabellianism; the word order is against Arianism." Sabellius taught that God is one divine Individual who expresses Himself in three modes: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Today, this view is called "Modalism." The United Pentecostal Church holds this view. Also some people who think they are Trinitarians hold this view. Indeed, from some of the things you have written, it seems that you yourself hold it. Luther thought that Arians held that Jesus was a second inferior god. I think that is a mistake. Arius himself wrote to Eusebius, "But what we say and think we both have taught and continue to teach, that the Son is not unbegotten, nor part of the unbegotten in any way, nor is he derived from any substance; but that by his own will and counsel he existed before times and ages, fully God, only-begotten, unchangeable." So it seems that I believe Jesus is God in the same sense that Arius did. That fact does not imply that I am an Arian. There are other factors in Arianism with which I disagree.

So, in checking my feet, I see that both are healthy and that neither one is wounded.
And what is your explanation of the following statement about Jesus where he is theos preceded by the definite article:

Hebrews 1:8 (NASB)
8. But of the Son He says,
“Your throne, O God (ho Theos), is forever and ever,
And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.
The Greek phrase is, "ὁ θρονος σου ὁ θεος" There are two possibilities here.

1.Assuming both occurrences of "ὁ" are articles, the words in English are literally "the throne of you the God."
Greek sentences often are not in natural order, and there is no Greek word for "am", "is", and "are." Rather there is a single word in Greek for each of "I am" and "he is" and "we are" etc. With nouns the "is" is often simply omitted. So grammatically, the sentence could be "God (or "the God) is your throne into the age of ages" (some translate the last 5 words as "forever and ever." However, I know of only one translation that renders it as "God is your throne," and that is the New World Translation.

2. The majority of translators presume that "ὁ θεος" is in the vocative case, although as far as I know there is no other occurence of the vocative in this way. So they translate it as "Your throne, O God..." If these translators are right, then the ὁ (ho) in "ὁ θεος" is NOT the article so that "ὁ θεος" would NOT refer to "the God" but would be the vocative case in addressing the Son. If these translators are right, then the Son IS being addressed as "God" but not as "THE God."

And how do you exegete this one:

1 John 5:20 (NASB)
20. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (ESV)

It is simple. You assume that the final "He" refers to the Son. But if it refers to the Son, calling Him "the true God" that would be contrary to Jesus own prayer to the Father addressing the Father as "the only true God." Of course, it wouldn't be contrary if you presume that the Father and the Son are the same Person.

However, I assume that the final "He" refers back to Father. I believe that Jesus was right in addressing the Father as the only true God:

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)


Notice that after addressing the Father as "the only true God," He then adds "AND Jesus Christ whom you have sent." With that little conjunction "and" Jesus seems to indicate that He is Someone other than "the only true God.
Paidion

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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Homer » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:15 pm

Hi Padion,

Good to hear your feet are healthy. Perhaps you are a poor shot. ;)

You wrote:

Quote from Arius:
"But what we say and think we both have taught and continue to teach, that the Son is not unbegotten, nor part of the unbegotten in any way, nor is he derived from any substance; but that by his own will and counsel he existed before times and ages, fully God, only-begotten, unchangeable."

You wrote:
So it seems that I believe Jesus is God in the same sense that Arius did. That fact does not imply that I am an Arian.
I have no concern about whether you are Arian or not. But if Jesus is God, as you "seem" to believe, how is it that you can say there is only one God? I don't get it. Is He simply a lesser God?

And again:
If these translators are right, then the Son IS being addressed as "God" but not as "THE God."
I'm having great difficulty understanding your position.

Regarding "ho" in ho theos, Hebrews 1:8, my analytical Greek New Testament says: "determiner (definite article)-vocative-masculine-singular".

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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Paidion » Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:53 pm

To put it as succinctly as possible, the word "God" is used in two distinct ways:

(1) the heavenly Father, whom Jesus called "the only true God." When used in this way, it is usually preceded by the article. The Father is "The God."
(2) As a divine quality. Jesus is "God" in the sense of being of the essence of God—that is, the divine essence. He is divine because He was begotten by the Father as the Father's first act.

One can make a partial analogy with mankind. Because each of us was begotten by a man, each of us has the same essence— that is, the human essence. But we cannot complete the analogy, because there are trillions of individuals, each of which is a human. Yet each of us is also "man" (no article). Every woman is "man" (or mankind) but no woman is "a man." The Son of God is "God"(or Godkind), but He not "a God."
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Homer » Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:05 am

Paidion,

I have to say your answer makes no sense to me. You wrote:
One can make a partial analogy with mankind. Because each of us was begotten by a man, each of us has the same essence— that is, the human essence.
And we are each a man or woman of the same kind as that which has begotten us.
But we cannot complete the analogy, because there are trillions of individuals, each of which is a human. Yet each of us is also "man" (no article). Every woman is "man" (or mankind) but no woman is "a man." The Son of God is "God"(or Godkind), but He not "a God."
The Son is God but not a God? There is God, there are angels, and there are humans. All in some sort of relation to the other (animals are excluded from any relation to the other three). Angels worship Jesus. He is (was?) not just a man. Which of the three categories is Jesus in? If He is in the God category, how is it you say there are not two Gods apart from a "binitarian" or "triune" understanding?


A God that we can comprehend is an idol - a thing unworthy of adoration. (Alexander Campbell)

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