Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hebrews 1:8 - Why is Jesus called "Elohim" and "Theos"? Psalm 45:6,7

Hebrews 1:8 but of the Son he says, "Your throne, God [elohim, theos -- god], is forever and ever; The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
Hebrews 1:9 You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; Therefore God, your God [ELOHIM, that is, Jehovah -- Isaiah 61:1], has anointed you With the oil of gladness above your fellows." -- Psalm 45:6,7.
Some have claimed "he" in the phrase "he says" refers to the Psalmist who wrote the words in Psalm 45:6,7. Actually, however, "he" is a continuing reference in verses 5 through 13 that applies to the universonal God of Hebrews 1:1,2. The unipersonal "God" is at the center working through "his Son." In Hebrews 1:5, "he" has to be referring the unipersonal God of Hebrews 1:1, since "he" says to the Messiah, "You are my son," as spoken of in Hebrews 1:2. In Hebrews 1:6, "he" who brings his firstborn again into the world has to be the unipersonal "God" of Hebrews 1:1. Likewise In Hebrews 1:7,8, we have no reason to think that "he" does not refer to the unipersonal "God" of Hebrews 1:1.

Thus, the Psalmist is evidently quoting God, at least in Psalm 45:6,7, and he prophetically speaks of the Anointed One, and the God of the Anointed One. Forms of the Hebrew word often transliterated as Elohim are used of both, but it is evident from the context that the same meaning is not to applied to both. The One who does the anointing is spoken of the as the God of the One being anointed, thus the One doing the anointing is the Supreme Being of the One being anointed. This is shown in Psalm 45:7 and Hebrews 1:9. One anoints the other with the oil of gladness. The one being anointed has companions. These companions are probably the angels mentioned earlier, or his "brothers" mentioned in Hebrews 2:11; one does not normally think of God Almighty as having "brothers".

Like many of the Psalms, many believe that there is an original minor typical application as well as the major antitypical application of Psalm 45. Some scholars say that the original application of this Psalm was to Solomon. (see New American Standard footnote) We read that Solomon "sat on the throne of Jehovah." (2 Chronicles 29:23; see also: 1 Kings 1:13) Likewise, Jesus' throne is also God's throne (Revelation 3:21), which he receives from his Father, the only true God. -- Psalm 2:4-6; Daniel 7:13,14; Acts 2:29-31; John 17:1,3.

Jehovah is the God [Supreme Being] of Jesus. Jesus was anointed by his God. Who is the Supreme Being over the Anointed One that is spoken of in Psalm 45:7 and Hebrews 1:9? The scriptures provide the answer in other scriptures. Another prophecy, provides the answer, in Isaiah 61:1, which has the Messiah prophetically saying: "Jehovah has anointed me." It is the Supreme Being -- Jehovah -- the God [Supreme Being] of Jesus, who did the anointing, and who called Jesus theos (translated from elohim -- Psalm 45:6,7; See also Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34; John 17:1,3; 20:17; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3,17; 5:20; Colossians 1:3; Hebrews 1:9; 1 Peter 1:3 Revelation 2:7; 3:2,13). Thus elohim who received the anointing is not the Supreme Being, since Jehovah is referred to as his Supreme Being. Thus, we should realize that elohim as being applied to the One Anointed does not carry the same meaning as it does for the One who did the anointing.

Jesus is prefigured by Moses, who is also called elohim, as well as "as" elohim. "And you [Moses] shall speak to him [Aaron], and you [Moses] shall put the words in his [Aaron's] mouth. And I [Jehovah] will be with your mouth, and with his mouth, and I will teach you wht you shall do. And he shall speak for you to the people. And it shall be, he shall be a mouth for you, and you shall be a god [elohim] for him." (Exodus 4:16, Jay Green's A Literal Translation of the Bible, 1985) "And Jehovah said to Moses, Come, see I have made you a god [elohim] to Pharaoh." (Exodus 7:1, Jay Green's A Literal Translation of the Bible, 1985) -- Deuteronomy 18:18,19; Acts 3:19-23.

From this and other usages of the Hebrew words for "god", we determine that its meaning does not always mean the restriction of "Supreme Being", or the Almighty; nor does its usage of others mean that the others to whom it is applied are necessarily "false gods". Remembering that the basic meaning of Hebrew words for God is "strength" or "power"*, we need to note that Elohim is applied to Moses in this sense, that is, that God gave to Moses power, or strength, over Aaron and Pharaoh. Only Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus, is God as the Supreme Being, or the exclusive Source of All Power. Moses was not this exclusive source of power, thus it would be false to refer to him as "God" with the restricted meaning of "the Supreme Being", but he was called elohim, since Jehovah gave him special powers.
*See our document:
Hebraic Usage of the Titles for "God"

Indeed, the spirit that impersonated Samuel is also called elohim. "The king said to her, Don't be afraid: for what do you see? The woman said to Saul, I see a god [Hebrew, elohim] coming up out of the earth." (1 Samuel 28:13, World English) However, it should be apparent that elohim here applied to this spirit is not in the same manner as it is applied to Jehovah. This spirit does have power granted by God, even though he is misusing the power as a spirit being. Recognizing this some translations render elohim here as:

  • *divine being* (New American Standard; New Revised Standard Version)
  • *spirit* (New King James Version; Good News Translation; New Century Translation; The Message translation; Contemporary English Version)
  • *godlike being* (Jewish Publication Society Bible).
Others render it as "a god" and some render it as plural "gods"; "gods", however, does not actually fit the context. Of course, how it is rendered in English does not change the word used in the Hebrew.

Likewise, the word is used in the plural sense as applied to the angels. It should be apparent that elohim applied to the angels is not in the same manner as applied to Jehovah. -- Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7.
See our study:

The sons of God to whom the Word of God came likewise are also called elohim, but again we can see that they are not elohim in the same manner as the word is applied to Jehovah. (Psalm 82:6) Jesus, in quoting this Psalm, used the plural form of the Greek word THEOS, thus showing that he considered the Greek word THEOS in the same manner as the Hebraic usage of EL and ELOHIM when applied to others than the only true God.
See our study: Who Are the Gods?

Likewise, it should be apparent that in Hebrews 1:1,5,8 (Psalm 45:6) that theos (elohim) applied to the Son is with a different meaning than applied to Jehovah. Paul definitely identifies one person who speaks of his Son, thus the Son to whom "God" speaks is not "God" who does the speaking. There is definitely nothing in either Hebrews 1 or Psalm 45 about three persons in one God. The word *elohim* in the Old Testament usually refers to Jehovah, but as a general descriptive word it is often applied to others, which would include Jesus, the Son of Jehovah. In giving all power to Jesus, it is evident that the One who gave this power to Jesus is excepted. (1 Corinthians 15:27) The very fact that this power over his fellows is given to Jesus by Jehovah's anointing shows that Jesus is not equal to Jehovah, and thus that Elohim, as applied to Jesus, is not in the exclusive meaning as it is applied to Jehovah, for only Jehovah is the source of all power.

In the above scriptures we see three individual beings who are called elohim: Jehovah, Jesus and Moses. Only Jehovah has the position of Supreme Being, however, since both Moses and Jesus receive their power from Jehovah. We have no reason to believe that the author of Hebrews chapter one understood Psalm 45 in any other way than it had been viewed at the time it was written. The wording of the psalm draws a clear distinction between the one and only Ultimate Power, the Father (Creator) Who is the Majesty On High, -- and the secondary "Power", the son who was sent by Jehovah and to whom learned to obey though what he suffered. (Hebrews 1:1,2; 3:2; 5:8) Therefore, the Ultimate Power, the Creator of the first-born of creation, has anointed His obedient son (who offered up both petitions and entreaties to the One able to save him from death -- Hebrews 5:7) above his peers.

Alternatively, we might also note how some translations render Hebrews 1:8 and Psalm 45:6:

Hebrews 1:8

  • Today's English Version: Your kingdom, O God,will last forever! You will rule over your people with justice.
  • Revised Standard Version, margin: God is thy throne for ever and ever.  as obtained from:
  • Moffatt translation (1922): he says of the Son, "God is Thy throne for ever and ever."
  • Daniel Mace New Testament (1729): but to the son he saith, "God is thy throne for ever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of equity.
  • Twentieth Century translation: while of the Son he said--'God is thy throne for ever and ever

Psalm 45:6

  • Revised Standard Version: Your divine throne endures for ever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity.
  • Good News translation: The kingdom that God has given you will last forever and ever. You rule over your people with justice.
  • New Jerusalem Bible - Your throne is from God, forever and ever.
  • The Message translation: "Your throne is God's throne, ever and always; The scepter of your royal rule measures right living."
  • JPS Version: Thy throne given of God is for ever and ever; a sceptre of equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
  • New English Bible translation: Your throne is like God's throne
Either way, however, there is nothing in Hebrews 1:8 or Psalm 45:6,7 that would lead us to think that Jesus is Jehovah. There is certainly nothing about three persons in one God.

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