The claim is often made that the Bible speaks of one true God and false Gods, but that it is absurd to say that there in a big true God and a less true God. According to this reasoning, Jesus is either the only one true God or no God at all. They would further reason that since the words for "God" are applied to Jesus, that this must mean that Jesus is the only true God.
What this does is set up a false dichotomy while ignoring the Hebraic usage of the words for deity; it would refuse to acknowledge that the words for deity could be ascribed to anyone to whom the only true Might of Universe might give special power or authority. Such a dichotomy would mean that all of the angels are false gods (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7), and the sons of the Most High are false gods (Psalm 82:1,6), and that Jehovah made Moses a false god to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1), etc.
Forms of the Greek word usually transliterated as “theos” are based on forms of the Hebrew word often transliterated as “el” (including forms of ELOAH and ELOHIM, etc). The basic meaning is might, power, strength, etc. As such all power, all might, all strength in the world can only come from the only true Might of the Universe, the God and Father of Jesus. There is no might in the universe aside from the God of Israel.
An idol, formed by the hands of men, has no power to perform anything that might be attributed to that idol, and thus all such “gods” are by nature have no might, no power, thus are false gods, false proclaimed mighty ones.
But, in the Bible, the Hebrew word for deity, meaning might, strength, power, is used of many others besides the only Most High. And yet at the same time no one would think of applying the term false god to such usage. When considering forms of the Hebrew word *EL*, that this word is used to mean other than God Almighty or a false god may be readily seen by anyone who will carefully note the following texts from the King James Version*, in which English translations of the Hebrew word El are in denoted by *..*:
“It is in the *power* of my hand.” (Genesis 31:29) Should we think that this means either in the only true God of man, or in the false god of my hand? The Hebrew word that often translated as "god" or "God" cannot be here be understood as meaning a false god, or the Supreme Being. It is simply used to denote power or strength.
“There shall be no *might* in thine hand.” (Deuteronomy 28:32) Are we to think that this means no only true God in my hand, or that it means no false god in my hand?
“Neither is it in our *power*.” (Nehemiah 5:5) Again, are we to think that this should mean either "our only true God", or else, our false god? We do not know of any translator who would think, nor we do know of any translation that renders the Hebrew word in this verse as either "God" or "god".
“Like the *great* mountains.” (Psalm 36:6) Some translations do, in this verse, render the Hebrew form of EL with the word God, as does the World English: "the mountains of God." Most translations, however, do express with some word meaning either mighty, great, high, etc. Regardless, it still offers an example of how translators recognize that the word may, when applied to something other than Jehovah, be understood as meaning "great", "mighty", etc.
“In the *power* of thine hand to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27) Again, we do not know of any translation that renders the Hebrew word for "God" here as either "God" or "god". It should be apparent that the word is being used in a sense other than meaning the only true God or false god.
“Who among the sons of the *mighty*.” (Psalm 89:6) Here, the KJV uses the word "mighty" to express the Hebrew form for the word "God". Some do render it as "God" in this verse, thus as "sons of God"; many, however, argue that the context would indicate that it refers to sons of mighty human rulers or men of influence. Either way, however, the fact that many Bible scholars do recognize that word for "God" here may refer to other in some sense other than as the only true God or a false god.
“God standeth in the congregation of the *mighty*.” (Psalm 82:1) The King James Version here renders the word for "God' as 'mighty', denoting the body that is referred to in Psalm 82:6 as "sons of the Most High". Other translations render the word for "god" here in various ways, "gods", "divine", "judges", etc., a few render it as "God". Regardless, the KJV and some other translations recognize its use in a sense other than that of the only true God or as a false god. See the study: "Who Are the Gods?"
“Who is like unto thee, O Lord [Jehovah] among the *gods* [mighty ones or ruling ones]?” (Exodus 15:11) Here the word for "God" in the KJV is rendered with as "gods"; we include because the Complete Jewish Bible and the Jewish Publication Society translation render the word for "God" here as "mighty".
“Give unto the Lord [Jehovah] of ye *mighty*.” (Psalm 29:1) The word for "god" here in the KJV is rendered as "mighty". It should be obvious that the word for "god" here does not mean either false gods or the only true God. Some other translations render the word as "godly", "mighty ones", "heavenly beings", etc., but, as yet, we have not found one translation that renders the word for "God" as either "God" or in some way to denote a false god.
“The *mighty* God even the Lord [Jehovah].” (Psalm 50:1) The KJV renders one of the words for "God" in this verse as "mighty", not as "God" or a false god. This could be rendered as does Green's Literal: "God, Jehovah God", but most translators have rendered one of the words for "God" as meaning "mighty", or something similar.
“The *strong* among the mighty shall speak." -- Ezekiel 32:21) The KJV renders to the word for "God" in this verse as "strong". We know of no translation that renders the word for "God" in this verse as with "God" or in some way to denote a "false god." While it could be thought of as a reference to false gods, translators still provide us with thought that the word is used in the sense of "strong", or "powerful", without any thought of either it being a reference to the only true God or a false god.
In many of the scriptures presented above, it would be absurd to think in terms of “false god” or “the only true God.” Thus, the dichotomy presented concerning the application of the words for "God" toward Jesus is false.
Indeed, since all through the Scriptures, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is always presented as one person, and not once more than one person, and since the New Testament distinguishes Jesus from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 3:14,15; Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Acts 3:13-36; Hebrews 1:1,2), and since the Hebrews commonly recognized such usage as applied to others than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the default assumption should be that this is the kind of meaning should be given to the very, very few places where Jesus is referred to by means of the words for "God". Indeed, to think otherwise would result in circular thinking, that is, since we believe Jesus is the only true God, then, when we find the words for "God" applied to Jesus, we believe and offer this as proof that Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Addendum: Is Jesus Christ God, yes or no?
Although the above presents why the the question cannot be answered "yes" or "no", without leaving a misconception either way, many will insist on a yes or no answer to the question: Is Jesus Christ God?
We can answer, "No", if by the word "God" one means the only true Supreme Being, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is Jehovah. -- Exodus 3:14,15; Isaiah 61:1; John 17:1,3.
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See also our studies related to:
Not once, from Genesis to Revelation, is the one sent by the Lord Jehovah (Isaiah 61:1,2) ever said to be the Lord Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Any who claim otherwise do so by means of the spirit of human imagination, assumptions based on imagination, and by placing the imagined assumptions upon whatever scriptures they present to allegedly prove that Jesus is Jehovah.
There is absolutely nothing whatsoever in the Bible that offers any proof that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is more than one person, while the testimony of the Bible is always to distinguish the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from his messiah, his anointed one, the one whom He has anointed and sent. -- Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Isaiah 61:1,2; Acts 3:13-26; Hebrews 1:1,2.
This unipersonal God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by means of his holy spirit, reveals through the scriptures that He Himself (Jehovah/Yahweh) is the only true God, the unipersonal God and Father of the Lord Jesus. Jesus has One who is the Supreme Being over him; Jesus is not his Supreme Being whom he worships, prays to, and who sent him, and whose will he carried out in willful obedience. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 4:4 [Deuteronomy 8:3; Luke 4:4]; Matthew 4:7 [Deuteronomy 6:16]; Matthew 4:10 [Exodus 20:3-5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:13,14; 10:20; Luke 4:8]; Matthew 22:29-40; Matthew 26:42; Matthew 27:46; Mark 10:6 [Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:7,20-23]; Mark 14:36; 15:34; Luke 22:42; John 4:3; 5:30; 6:38; 17:1,3; 20:17; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3,17; Hebrews 1:9; 10:7; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 2:7; 3:2,12)
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by means of his holy spirit, reveals through the scriptures that Jesus was sent by Jehovah, speaks for Jehovah as his unipersonal God and Father, represents Jehovah, and was raised and glorified by the unipersonal God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus never claimed to be, nor do the scriptures ever present Jesus as, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whom Jesus represents and speaks for. — Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 22:32; 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; 12:26; Luke 13:35; 20:37; John 3:2,17,32-35; 4:34; 5:19,30,36,43; 6:57; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; 20:17; Acts 2:22,34-36; 3:13-26; 5:30; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 8:6; 11:31; Colossians 1:3,15; 2:9-12; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 1:1.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by means of his holy spirit, reveals through the scriptures that Jesus is anointed [made christ, the anointed one] by Jehovah, the unipersonal God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus is not Jehovah who anoints him. — Psalm 2:2; 45:7; Isaiah 61:1; Acts 2:36; 4:27; 10:38.
The Messiah is not the son of three persons, but he is the son of one person, the only true God who sent him. (John 17:3) In the expression "the son of God," the word "God" designates one person, not three persons. -- Matthew 14:33; 26:63; 27:43,54; Mark 1:1; 15:39; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; John 1:34,49; 3:18; 9:35; 10:36; 11:14,27; 20:31; Acts 9:20; Romans 1:4; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:13; Hebrews 4:14; 6:6; 7:3; 10:20; 1 John 3:8; 4:15; 5:5,10,12,13,20; Revelation 2:18.
God's holy spirit, figuratively mouth, ears, hand, and finger, is not the holy spirit of the three persons, but one person. Expressions like the "spirit of God" designates elohim as one person, not three persons. Those who claim that elohim means three persons would have this to mean "spirit of three persons" and at the same time claim that the spirit is one of the three persons, evidently without noticing the contradiction. -- Genesis 1:2; 41:38; Exodus 31:3; 35:31; Numbers 24:2; 1 Samuel 10:10; 11:6; 19:20; 2 Chronicles 15:1; 2 Chronicles 24:20; Job 26:13; Ezekiel 11:24; Matthew 3:16; 12:28; Romans 8:9,14,11; 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:11,14; 3:16; 6:11; 7:40; 12:3; Ephesians 3:16; 4:30; 1 John 4:2,13.
Expressions such as "spirit of Jehovah" depict "Jehovah", the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 3:14,15) -- not as three persons -- but one person, and His spirit as belonging to Him unipersonally. -- Genesis 6:3; Numbers 11:29; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6,19; 15:14; 1 Samuel 10:26; 16:13,14; 2 Samuel 23:2; 1 Kings 18:12; 22:24; 2 Kings 2:16; 18:23; 20:14; Isaiah 11:2; 40:13; 42:1; 44:3; 48:16; 59:21; 63:14; Ezekiel 11:5; 36:27; 37:1,14; 39:29; Joel 2:28,29; Micah 2:7,8; Haggai 2:5; Zechariah 4:6; 7:12; Matthew 12:18; Luke 4:18; Acts 2:17,18; 5:9; 2 Corinthians 3:17.
The expression "son of the Most High ("Highest" in many translations)" designates the "Most High" as one person in contrast with the son. -- Mark 5:7; Luke 1:32 (see Luke 1:35); 8:28.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by means of his holy spirit, reveals through the scriptures that Jesus is son of the unipersonal Most High, Jehovah. Jesus is never spoken of as the “Most High”; Jesus is not the only Most High Jehovah of whom he is the son. — Genesis 14:22; Psalm 7:17; 83:18; 92:1; Luke 1:32; John 13:16.
No scripture says that Jesus was God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, although possessing the mighty power of Jehovah as did Moses, he could be referred to as God (ELOHIM, THEOS) in a manner similar to Moses. (Exodus 7:1; Deuteronomy 18:15,18; Acts 3:18-22) Neither in the case of Moses nor Jesus does this make either of them into God Almighty who gives them their power and authority.
The question has again been presented, as stated above. "God" with a captial "G" in English usually means "Supreme Being." As we have shown in our studies on this site, Jesus is not the Supreme Being at all. He is a god, a mighty one, but he is not a Supreme Being.