"In Beginning Elohim"
Within the pages of Scripture we find it clearly stated that there is indeed, only one God.1 This is a fundamental belief of Judaism and Christianity. However, there are indications in the very first verse of Genesis that God is a plural Being.
"In the beginning God, created the heavens and the earth" Genesis 1:1
The word used for God in Genesis 1:1 is "Elohim," which is a form of the word "El." In the context of Genesis 1:1, there can certainly be no doubt as to who is doing the creating. In the Hebrew language the "im" ending imputes plurality. Therefore, "Elohim" is the plural from of the word "El."
It is interesting to note that each usage of this word throughout the Bible is grammatically incorrect. It is a plural noun used with singular verbs. According to Genesis 1:1, the Creator of the Universe, Elohim, exists as a plural being.
If this were not so then the word "El" or perhaps Yahweh would have been used. However, the Holy Spirit chose to use the word "Elohim," the plural form of the name of God in the very first place where the name of God is proclaimed.
"Let Us Make Man in Our Image"
"And God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'" Genesis 1:26, (Jewish Publication Society version, 1917)
The plurality of God is also discovered in the creation of man. According to this fascinating verse, man was created by God in his own image. However, there is something provocative and unexpected in this verse. Prior to the creation of man we find a conversation between God (Elohim) and an unidentified being ("let Us make man in Our image"). Who is this person with whom God is speaking?
This person, or intelligent being, has some attributes that we can glean from the text. First, the personage is able to speak with God "on His turf", that is, in the realm of timeless eternity.
Secondly, this being apparently has the same kind of creative ability as God ("Let US make"). This describes a cooperative effort between Elohim and the person with whom He is speaking.
Finally, the likeness or image of this being is comparable to God's ("In Our image, after Our likeness").
When confronted with this passage, modern rabbis often claim that God is speaking to the angels. However, this explanation fails to recognize a number of problems.
First, there is no indication in the Bible that angels can create life. Secondly, nowhere is it indicated that angels are made in the image of God. Finally, there is no indication that mankind was made in the image of angels either!
We may conclude that the person with whom Elohim is conversing lives in the eternal realm, has His creative power and exists in the image or likeness of God. No angel, no man, no created being in heaven or on earth could possibly fit these criteria.
The plurality of God is also seen in Genesis 3:22. After Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden we find a fascinating conversation:
"The LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of US, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'" Genesis 3:22 (NKJ).
"Man has become like one of US." To whom is the LORD talking?
Again in Genesis 11:7, God is discussing His solution to the whole earth having one language at the time of the Tower of Babel:
"Come, let US go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Genesis 11:7 (NKJ).
The fact that the LORD (Yahweh) refers to Himself in these passages as "Us," is indeed a fascinating hint to the plurality of God.2
The plurality of the Creator seen in Genesis 1:1 has been dismissed by some as simply a description of God's plural majesty. However, the plurality of the Creator is also seen in a number of very provocative verses.
In Ecclesiates 12:1 we read:
"Remember also thy Creators in the days of thy youth, While that the evil days come not, Nor the years have arrived, that thou sayest, 'I have no pleasure in them.'" (Young's Literal Translation, 1898)
The word Creators is a plural form of the word "bara," which means to create out of nothing.3,4
The notion of plural Creator is also seen in Isaiah 54:5, where the prophet states:
"For thy Maker is thy husband, Jehovah of Hosts is His name, And thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, 'God of all the earth,' He is called.'" (Young's Literal Translation, 1898)
In this verse the word "Maker" is the plural form of the word "asa," which means to form or make.
These verses present a remarkable paradox. The Bible clearly teaches that there is but one God and one Creator. Yet this one God is a plurality of more than one personage, each of which has the attributes of God and performs the works of God.
Surprisingly, the solution to this paradox may be found in one of the strongest monotheistic passages in the entire Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one LORD!" Deuteronomy 6:4 (KJV)
In this verse we are told that God is One. However, when we examine the word "echad," translated "one," we discover an interesting meaning. This word, "echad," comes from a Hebrew root which means "to unify" or "to collect together," a "united one."
We can get a better feel for it's usage by examining a couple of additional verses. After the creation of man we find the establishment of the marriage relationship:
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one (echad) flesh" Genesis 2:24, (Jewish Publication Society version, 1917)
Regarding the people of the earth after the flood we read:
"And the LORD said: They are one (echad) people, and they have all one language." Genesis 11:6, (Jewish Publication Society version, 1917)
In each of these verses we see the idea of separate persons viewed as a unified "one." The man and woman become "one flesh." The people of the earth become unified together as "one people." This unification in these verses obviously does not mean that they physically unite into a single being. The individuals still retain their personal identity and distinct personage. The word "one" here implies a "compound unity."
It is in this sense that we can understand the "One of God" in Deuteronomy 6:4 - He is clearly One God, yet He manifests Himself in more than on distinct personage - something totally compatible with the Christian concept of the Trinity.
The word "yachiyd" (pronounced "yaw-kheed") is used to indicate "one and only one." This word is frequently translated into the English word "only." However, it literally means "only one" or "solitary one." It is a word which suggests an indivisible one as opposed to the compound unity implied by the word "echad."
If God was an indivisible unity, as opposed to the compound unity implied by "echad," then surely the Holy Spirit would have inspired Moses to use the word "Yachiyd."
The problem was recognized by the great Maimonides, a twelfth-century Hebrew Sage. Maimonides, a Jewish rabbi who denies the messiahship and deity of Jesus, recognized that the word "echad" in Deuteronomy 6:4 implies a compound unity - a plurality of personages in Yahweh. Consequently, Maimonides stated the Moses used the wrong word when he wrote the book of Deuteronomy!.5
Finally, we see a hint of the Trinity, the three in One, in a number of provocative verses which declare the holiness of God. In Isaiah 6:1-3 we read:
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!'" Isaiah 6:1-3 (NKJ)
In Revelation, chapter four, John is given a view of the four living creatures around the throne of God;
"And the four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!'" Revelation 4:8 (NKJ)
Why "Holy, holy, holy?" This is just another hint of the plurality of God and the three in one seen throughout the Scripture.6,7
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Missler, Chuck, Eastman, Mark, M.D."The Creator Beyond Time and Space", The Word for Today 1996, p.183-187
Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman M.D. references:
-1. Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 45:5-6
-2. See also Isaiah 6:8
-3. This is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 "Elohim created (bara)."
-4. In most English translations this plurality is not carried through. However, it is there in the original Hebrew text.
-5. In Moses Maimonides' work "Articles of Faith" (12th century A.D.) he wrote that Moses should have written, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, The LORD is one (Yachid)."
-6. See also Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 15:26
-7. For a detailed discussion of the Trinity see the two tape brifing package, "The Trinity", by Chuck Missler, available at 1-800-KHOUSE1