Tag Archive | Names of God

Who is Elohim? Part 2.

Continued from Who is Elohim? Part 1.

Are you ready for this?

Last post, we learned about how Elohim is used to describe human beings exhibiting supernatural, or divine, characteristics. But that is just one way that the word, “Elohim”, is used. Today, we’ll continue our exploration with this rather mind-boggling verse:  IMG_4056

Psalms 82:1-6. Let’s break it down a little bit:

God takes His stand in His own congregations; He judges in the midst of the rulers… I said, “You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.”

Now, mentally replace every underlined word with “Elohim”. Wow.

What is going on?

Okay, tricky, tricky, tricky Scripture. So let’s break it down. The first mention of Elohim is used as the name of God. Easy. But then, it is used again with “rulers”. What is this? First of all, let’s make a side note that this is a plural usage of the word, “Elohim”. Besides that, it’s pretty clear from the context that the author of this passage is referencing someone who is in charge and has authority to pass judgement. So judge and/or ruler is a great word to use here.

But what about the third usage of Elohim? This might seem to go two possible ways. It could be continuing the same frame of usage and the Bible is simply saying, “You are rulers…” BUT, the verse continues with “…And all of you are sons of the Most High”. Huh. Soooo…is this another way of saying, “child of God”? Then it would read, “…You are children of God. And all of you are sons of the Most High”. It seems like an unnecessary repetition. So, I’m not sure “children of God” is the best substitute. In fact, it is probably for this very level of confusion that Bible translators just left it as “god”.

But, well, full steam ahead. Let’s dig deeper. Jesus actually quotes this particular verse in John 10:34. It takes most of the chapter to understand the context, so I’ll summarize:

Starting in John 10:22, Jesus is walking in the temple in Jerusalem. The Jews basically ambush him and demand to know if He is the Christ of Old Testament prophesy. And they want a plain answer. Jesus is super unimpressed and basically says that His works testify of His identity, that He has the power to give eternal life, and He is one with the Father. This puts the Jews in an outrage and they prepare to stone Him. Jesus demands to know why. They accuse Him of the “blasphemy” of claiming to be God.

This is the answer:

“Jesus answered them, ‘Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? …believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.'” (John 10:34-38 NASB)

Wow. What to make of that? The translation is actually in the passage. In John 10:30, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews interpret this to be a claim of being God. Jesus does not correct this interpretation so it’s most likely accurate. Then, in verse 36, after He quotes “you are gods” (John 10:34), He interprets His earlier statement in John 10:30 (“…I and the Father are one”) to be “…I am the Son of God”(John 10:36), and then He continues to expand with “…the Father is in Me, and I in the Father”. (John 10:38).

What? Jesus…I…who…Father…one…wha?

Jesus is directly relating the phrase “you are gods” to being a child of God.

Now that our brains have officially spontaneously combusted, we can put the pieces together. As previously discussed; Elohim is used as a name of God. It is also used to describe human beings exhibiting divine characteristics. It is used to describe a judge or ruler. And it is used to describe children of God.

Next time, in Part 3, we will take a look at exactly what it may mean to be a “son of God” and how this relates to Elohim.


Who is Elohim? Part 1

imageTo start our exploration of God and faith, I decided to take us to the very beginning. God introduces Himself in the very first verse of the very first book of the Bible. “In the beginning, God…” (Gen. 1:1 NASB). The Hebrew word used here is Elohim. Therefore, Elohim is our first name for God.

But what does it mean? What is the original meaning of “Elohim”?

I decided to ask Scholar Joe-Bob. Joe-who? Scholar Joe-Bob is the multiple commentaries that I snore through…I mean!… give my full, fascinated, and undivided attention to every-single-word in order to bring Faithful Reader the most accurate information possible. So what does Scholar Joe-Bob think Elohim originally meant?

He. Has. No. Idea.

I’m serious. Scholars do not agree. They do not know for sure. But! Despair not, Faithful Reader, because the Bible gives us clues. First. Elohim is an interesting word because it is used singularly but it is a plural word. “El” is singular, while “Elohim” is plural.

Why use a plural word in a singular context? Oh, the theories abound. But for sanity’s sake, let’s take a look at Genesis 41 before we start talking about the Trinity.

“Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?” (Genesis 41:38 NASB)

Well, quite frankly, Pharaoh, probably not. Stick with Joseph; he’s a great choice for 2nd-in-charge. I would hire him myself if I could.

Where were we? Ah yes. Elohim. Pharaoh. Joseph. In the passage, the word “divine” in the Greek is…wait for it…Elohim! From the context, a modern interpretation of the phrase might be “…in whom is a supernatural spirit…”. But in ancient Egypt, there was no “supernatural”, there were only gods. And so Pharaoh is basically attributing a form of deity to Joseph. As the Bible interprets, he is calling him “divine”.

So we can take three clues from this passage’s usage of Elohim:

  • It’s used in reference to a supernatural occurrence (unexplainable by natural law).
  • It’s describing the traditional concept of “deity”
    It’s used in a singular context.
  • Thus, Elohim can be used singularly and can be used to describe something supernatural or in Bible days; divine.

For confirmation, we see Elohim used in basically the same way in the following verse:

“The king said to her, ‘do not be afraid; but what do you see?’ And the woman said to Saul, ‘I see a divine being coming up out of the earth’.” (1 Samuel 28:13 NASB)

Naughty King Saul! Summoning the spirit of Samuel the Prophet? Don’t think he appreciated that.

So! Part 1 of our study of Elohim reveals a plural word used in singular contexts (but it is used in plural contexts as well – more on that to come) and in reference to human beings that are exhibiting some form of supernatural reality and are therefore being referred to as divine. Hmm…what does that remind me of? A divine human being…could this be a foreshadowing…a teeny, tiny hint of Jesus? (Honestly, I have no idea. Scholar Joe-Bob has nothing to say. In fact, I believe he is taking a nap.) But it’s an interesting thought.

Come back next week for Who is Elohim? Part 2.