Q. Doesn’t the word “God” refer to one singular divine being? If so, why do you say the Father and Son are separate beings? According to John 1:1, the Son too is God.
A. While many assume that the term “God” refers to a singular divine or supernatural being, this is not correct based on the Hebrew and Greek. The word god generally corresponds to the Hebrew elohim and Greek theos and both share similar definitions.
First, let’s consider the Hebrew elohim:
… plural of OT:433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative.
- rulers, judges
- divine ones
- (plural intensive – singular meaning)
- God, a god, a goddess
- god-like one
- works or special possessions of God
- the one true God
– Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon
Now, let’s consider theos:
…of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with NT:3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively, a magistrate; by Hebraism, very.
a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities
- the Godhead, the trinity
- God the Father, the first
- Person in the trinity
- Christ, the second Person of the trinity
- Holy Spirit, the third Person in the trinity
- spoken of the only and true God
- refers to the things of God
- His counsels, interests, things due to Him
- whatever can in any respect be likened unto God, or resemble Him in any way,
- God’s representative or viceregent of magistrates and judges
– Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
While these sources are not flawless and certainly add their own theological biases, as we see with Thayer’s reference to the Trinity, it’s important to note that neither elohim nor theos refers only to one singular divine being. While it can refer to Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, it also offers a multitude of other meanings, including gods or deities in general. In fact, while these terms are applied to the Father and Son, they are also used in reference to false deities (Exodus 22:20, 28; 23:13, 32-33; 34:15; Numbers 25:2; Deuteronomy 7:4, 25; 18:20; 20:18; 29:26; 30:17; 32:37; Judges 2:12; 10:6, 10, 13, 14, 16; Psalms 86:8; Acts 14:11), angels (Psalms 8:5), and even to mankind (Exodus 21:6; 22:8-9).
For this reason, when “God” appears in the Bible, it is not proper to assume that this is always in reference to Yahweh. This understanding is critically important, especially as it pertains to the doctrines of the Trinity or Oneness.
Regarding the Trinity, it’s irrational to believe that three beings can be separate, but the same singular entity. This statement is also incongruous with the Bible. Scripture confirms the following points:
- Only the Father has immortality, i.e., has always existed, 1Timothy 6:16.
- The Son was the first of the Father’s creation and therefore did not exist at some point in the past, Colossians 1:15 and Revelation 3:14 (see also Proverbs 8:22).
- The Father is greater than the Son, John 10:29; 14:28; and 1Corinthians 11:3.
- The Holy Spirit is not a person, but the power of Yahweh. This is why it’s often connected to the Father and never mentioned in Paul’s greetings (he consistently mentions both the Father and Son, but never does he include the Spirit).
As for Oneness, clearly the above points verify that the Father and Son are two distinctly separate beings, with the Father being greater. For this reason, while we honor the Son, formal worship should be directed to the Father, as Yahshua did in the New Testament.
For additional information on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, read our online booklet: Identifying Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Also, watch Pastor Folliard’s messages examining the Trinity doctrine: