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Does the Greek Word “Theos” and the Hebrew Word “Elohim” Prove the Trinity? Is Jesus the Great “I AM?”

There is no scripture in the Bible that says that God is composed of three persons. We know that Jehovah/Yahweh is the one true God and this was clearly taught in the Old Testament to distinguish the True God from false gods. This does not mean that Yahweh is the only “elohim” or “theos” (Hebrew and Greek words translated god).

Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield, The Person and Work of Christ, p. 53.“As a word, “god” has a variety of applications. For example the Old Testament Hebrew word “elohim” (god) can describe any high dignitary (e.g. Abraham, Genesis 23:6). In the King James translation it is rendered variously: angels, God, gods, great, mighty, judges. Its Greek counterpart “theos” likewise has a broad usage. Strong’s Concordance defines it as: “a deity, especially … the supreme Divinity; fig. a magistrate.” If this word can describe a magistrate, then it can certainly describe Jesus, and it is so used six times in the New Testament (John 1:1, 18, 20:28, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1). It is used in John 10:35 of the worshippers of Jehovah. Once it even refers to Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4).”

THEOS

It is simply a fact that the Greek word for “god,(” Strong’s 2316 “theos”), does not exclusively apply to Jehovah in the Bible” 

For example:

1.  “Theos” is applied to Satan in 2 Cor 4:4 (ASV), “the god [“theos”] of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving.”

2.  The Jewish people called Herod “theos” in Acts 12:22 (ASV), “And the people kept crying out, “The voice of a god (“theos”) and not of a man!”

3.  In John 10:34, Jesus quoting from Psa 82:6 said, “Is it not written in your law, `I said, You are gods’(“theos”)?”  Jesus did not quote Psa 82:6, using “theos” as if it were referring to false gods.  The Jews wanted to stone Jesus, because they claimed, “You, being a man, make Yourself out to be god (“theos,” John 10:33).  Jesus defends himself by quoting Psa 82:6, “you are gods.”  If Jesus thought this was referring to false gods, he would have never quoted it to show that he was a false god.  This verse actually prophetically applies to Christ’s Bride, earths future judges, priests and kings (Rev 1:6; 20:6; 1 Cor 6:2) 

ELOHIM

As a matter of fact the Hebrew word for gods in Psa 82:6 is elohiym, a variation of ELOHIM.  So Jesus is using “theos” as a translation of “elohiym.”  We know that angels, Abraham, the judges, etc. were called ELOHIM.  So we can conclude that “theos” as a translation of Psa 82:6 does not apply to false gods.

This Hebrew word ELOHIM is found in Ex 7:1 where Jehovah told Moses, “I have made you a god (elohim) to Pharaoh.”  Here the word “god” does not mean false god.

The assertion by Trinitarians that, because Jesus and the Father are both called elohim, they are, therefore, the same Being, is a very poor argument, displaying only the weakness of the position they are trying to defend. Notice the usage of this word in Scripture:

ANGELS CALLED ELOHIM 
You have: made him a little lower than the angels (elohim), and have crowned him with glory and honor.—Ps 8:5

ABRAHAM CALLED ELOHIM 
And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, Hear us, my lord: you are a mighty (elohim) prince among us.—Ge 23:5,6

MOSES CALLED ELOHIM 
I have made you a god (elohim) to Pharaoh.—Ex 7:1

JUDGES CALLED ELOHIM 
His master shall bring him to the judges ( elohim ).—Ex 21:6

GODS (JESUS & ANGESLS) CALLED ELOHIM
Deut. 10:17, “For Jehovah your God, he is God of gods [elohim), and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty, and the awesome, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh bribes.”
Note: This cannot mean that Jehovah (Yahweh) is the God of false gods.

 

IS JESUS THE GREAT “I AM?”

John 8:58 (World English Bible), “Jesus said to them, “Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM.”

Many Christians have been deceived by modern translators who dishonestly place the words “I am” in capital letters.  Included in these are, World English Bible (above), The New King James Version, The Amplified Bible, and The New Living Translation. This is done in an attempt to make it appear that Jesus was quoting from Exodus 3:14 when Jehovah appeared to Moses at the burning bush, saying “I AM who I AM.”

Below are the Strong #s for the Greek expression “I am” from John 8:58. 

I <1473> am <1510> (5748).”

The Septuagint is the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament.  The Greek words for “I AM” in Exodus 3:14 are very different from the Greek words for “I am” in John 8:58.  Hence Jesus was not quoting Exodus 3:14 and using the words “I am” as a title for Jehovah and Himself. 

Notice Acts 21:39 (AV), says, “But Paul said, I <1473> am <1510> (5748) a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia.”  Paul used the exact same Greek words as Jesus to say “I am.”  Should we then take this to mean that the Apostle Paul too is Jehovah, the great “I AM?”  Of course not.  Even John the Baptist’s father said, “I am an old man” (Luke 1:18).  Nor is he Jehovah.  So the expression “I am” is used in Greek that same way as we use it in English.  For example, if you were to say, “I am going to the store.”  That doesn’t mean that you believe that you are Jehovah.  “I am” simply describes that it is you who is going to the store.

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The following comments are contributed by Dupin:

 

Fiest, in the case of the New Testament “I am” it is by noi means clear that εγο ειμι can be taken as “I am.” There is something in Greek referred to by linguists as the “Perfect Indicative” tense which is used when an action began in the past and is continuing. This is acknowledged in a backhand way in the definition available at http://biblelexicon.org/john/8-58.htm, where the definitions include “have been” and “was.” The Peshitta interlinear, which you can go to here: http://www.peshitta.org/ , translates the Aramaic literally as “I was.” so if Jesus spoke in Aramaic on the occasion, as some believe and certainly was possible, then we see Jesus only made a claim of a prior existence, something the Pharisees considered blasphemous anyway.

The verse in Exodus is mistranslated, many believe, because there is no present indicative tense in Hebrew for the verb “to be.” It is either inferred by the context of sometimes in God’s word supplied with the particle “yesh bo,” which enjoys more use and currency in modern Hebrew.

Those who study the issue deeply believe the word “ehyeh” in the clause “ehyeh asher ehyeh” means something more akin to the way the NWT translates it “I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be.” That form of the verb is considered causative with many several translators along the way favoring “I will be” ove I am.”

What is so interesting is the point you brought up, the use in the LXX of ο ων. What is happening here is the use of a verb as a noun instead of it’s usual use. The implication of this is that the translators understood God to be declaring that he is the existing one, the only one who owes his existence to no one as he has life unto himself. That, my friends is a really loaded claim with lots of implications as to God and his power.

As you pointed out, John had access to the LXX and probably knew this verse well. So the fact he didn’t use the same words in reporting Jesus’ words is very significant and seems to be carefully done to make it clear Jesus’ was not claiming to be God, as the context of the story clearly indicatesif one reads it objectively.

 

29 comments to Does the Greek Word “Theos” and the Hebrew Word “Elohim” Prove the Trinity? Is Jesus the Great “I AM?”

  • Jeff

    We have evidence that shows us exactly how 1st century Rabbinic scholars interpreted Jesus’, “I am,” statements because every time Jesus said it the highly educated leaders of the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus because in their mind Jesus was claiming to be God.

    The JW can read their own “translation” of the Judges 13 where it still clearly says that Minoah expected to die, as per God’s statement to Moses that, “no man can see my face and live,” because he had seen the face of Elohim.

    • Anon JC

      We also have the Pharisees believing that he wasn’t the messiah shall we take their word as well?

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Hi jeff, thanks for commenting. Nicodemus recognized that Jesus was the Messiah and he was educated. The legalistic Sanhedrin wasn’t really concerned with Jesus claims to being God’s son he did correct them but they ignored him. They wanted this great teacher to disappear because he was taking followers away from them. Their position of authority was threatened. You can’t go by them. They got him killed.
      I can’t really follow your thought on seeing God’s face as a connection. They were far removed from scripture. They had a system of their own in place. Much like the sanhedrin like governing body of the witness organization. Maybe you can elaborate a little more. BTW we are not Jehovah witnesses and use different Bible translations. I will wait for your additional thoughts and feel free to speak, do to the fact you are commenting you are our brother.Take Care, Jacqueline

    • greg (Bible Student)

      Warm Greetings Jeff,

      I want to confess that when I first read your post, for some reason I heard it differently than when I slowed down and re-read it carefully. After having read Judges 13:22, 23, and then after re-reading your comment a couple more times, I started to grasp your reasoning and expression, and I started to see your expression NOT as argumentative (regrettably, I did at first glance), but as supportive.

      So while I was initially inclined to hold my tongue (I’m glad I did) I’m wondering if I can check in with you, please, to see if I’m now hearing you more accurately?

      If I’m hearing you clearly, you’re saying that even back in the first century, the Pharisees thought it highly objectionable and totally contrary to logic and reasoning to think of Jesus as though he was God himself. Yes?

      If I’m hearing you the way you intend, then I agree with you.

      And as for Judges 13, that one throws me just a bit. Even if I’m hearing you accurately, I’m having trouble putting into words (as I suspect you might have been finding, too) the point that Manoah knew he was seeing an angel, and not actually God himself (for that’s how the scripture reads to me) and yet Manoah’s reaction isn’t really proof that God and Christ are one and same either, or else it would suggest that we would need to open up the God-head even wider and admit that angels are also part of that God-head, which of course, would be obviously quite silly to do.

      How did I do? Did I manage to catch the flavour of what you were trying to express? I really do hope I didn’t come across as trying to twist or change your words.

      Warmly, sincerely, and appreciatively,
      -greg

      • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

        Greg, Jeff’s post struck me because I was listening to the sermon on the mount at Matt.5:8 where Jesus says you will see God. So as Jeff stated no one can see God if human and live. Moses caught a glance of his glory and his face lite up!.Jesus was teaching something new,a chance to be a new creature (2Cor 5:17) that could behold his face in heaven and live.
        It also shows he was not God, Jehovah, for he would have phrased it differently. Like you I see that Jeff said a lot in so few words. Hopefully he will feel welcome and continue this conversation on Jesus and God without the trinity view but about the two of them.

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