THE TRINITY PART TWO: ELOHIM
The doctrine of the Trinity states that God is three Persons in One. In my paper on this site The Trinity: Is God Three Persons In One? I give my reasons for believing that God is not three Persons in One. God is one God with many titles, or offices. Jehovah is God’s Name. “Eloah”, “El”, all ten of the Jehovah titles, “Elohim”, etc. are titles of Jehovah. That is to say they are titles of the various offices that Jehovah fulfills. For example, “Elohim” is Jehovah’s title as creator.
Let us consider the title, “Elohim”. Gen. 1:1 reads, “in the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth”. “Elohim” is a plural noun. Combining that fact with Gen. 1:26 where Elohim says, “Let us make man in our own image”, many people interpret the plurality of the title “Elohim” as indicating the three Persons of the Trinity. I believe that it refers to the several offices involved in creation, but it can not refer to the office of “Father” or to the office of “Holy Spirit”. Let us examine that thought.
In Gen. 32:24-30 we read of Jacob’s physical struggle with “a Man”. And then in verse 30 we read, “…. I have seen Elohim face to face and my life is preserved”. If the title “Elohim” includes three Persons, including, of course, the Father, then we have a rather glaring contradiction in the Word of God as we read in John 6:46, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He Which is of God. He hath seen the Father”. Jacob saw Elohim. If “Elohim” implies the three Persons of the Trinity, then Jacob would have seen the Father. But no man has ever seen the Father, except for Christ. Therein, lies the contradiction in seeing three Persons implied in the plurality of “Elohim”.
There are of course, no contradictions in God’s perfect Word, but until we see that “Elohim” is a title of Jehovah and does not imply three Persons of a supposed Trinity we have a contradiction. One might object that Jacob saw only Christ because only Christ was in physical form. (Please see the paper on this web-site Jesus Christ Is Both Jehovah And The Manifestation of Jehovah for the scriptural evidence that Christ was in physical form of a man in Old Testament times). But that still nullifies the argument that because “Elohim” is plural it implies more than one Person. That is to say, if the plurality itself of the title “Elohim” implies three Persons, then the title “Elohim” can not at the same time refer to only one Person.
If, on the other hand, we accept that “Elohim” is but one of the many titles, or offices of Jehovah, then all is clear. That is to say, Jehovah in His office/title of “Elohim” created. When Jacob physically wrestled with Elohim, Jacob wrestled with Jehovah as creator.
In the interest of thoroughness we should consider Hosea 12:4-5, “Yea he (Jacob) had power over the Angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: He found him in Beth-el, and there He spake with us, 5) even the Jehovah, Elohim of hosts, Jehovah is His memorial”, i.e. His Name (see Ex. 3:15). This is an obvious reference to the very wrestling that we have considered in Gen. 32 between Jacob and Elohim. But why do we read that Jacob had “power over the Angel“? Verse 5 explains Who this Angel was that wrestled with Jacob, “Even Jehovah Elohim of Hosts”, (“Elohim of hosts” is yet another title of Jehovah). So did Jacob wrestle with Elohim or with an Angel? The Hebrew word translated “angel” in this verse is “malach” and while it is usually translated “angel” it is sometimes translated “messenger”. In other words, an angel is a messenger of Jehovah. In this case then, Jacob wrestled with Elohim in the Person of Christ, Who was sent as a messenger to Jacob.
Now that we understand that “Elohim” Who was seen by Jacob cannot refer to three Persons, at least one of Whom has never been seen, except by Christ, let us consider the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew “ruach” is the word used in the title “Holy Spirit”. The definition of “ruach” as given in the Appendix No. 9 in the Companion Bible is excellent. “The meaning of the word is to be deduced only from its usage. The one root idea running through all the passages is invisible force. As this force may be exerted in varying forms, and may be manifested in divers ways, so various renderings are necessitated, corresponding thereto. Ruach, in whatever sense it is used always represents that which is invisible except by its manifestations”.*
As mentioned above, Jacob saw Elohim “face to face”. Just as Jacob could not have seen the Father, so also Jacob could not have seen the Holy Spirit, Who is invisible. Therefore, neither the office of Father or the office of Holy Spirit are included in the title “Elohim”. If “Elohim” can not include the office of Father or the office of Holy Spirit in this passage, there is no reason to assume that it must include those offices in any other passage. Again, I suggest that “Elohim” is one of the titles of Jehovah and represents His office as creator.
Bearing in mind that “Elohim” is a plural noun indicating many offices of Jehovah, let us consider one other passage that limits “Elohim” to One Person in several offices. Zech. 14:4, “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives….”. Verse 5, “And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains…. And Jehovah my Elohim shall come and all the saints with Thee”. These verses have to do with the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Once again we have a passage that speaks of One Person, Jesus Christ. “Father” and “Holy Spirit” can not be included in the title “Elohim” when referring to the second coming of Christ. Therefore, again we can not say that the plurality of the title “Elohim” proves three Persons in the Godhead when in this, and in the other passages mentioned above, only One Person is implied, Jehovah/Christ.
We might ask, if the second coming refers to one Person, why is the title in the plural? Again, the second coming of Christ is the coming of Jehovah in the form of man, but in several offices. As the creator of all things He has the right to come as King of Israel, as the Redeemer of His people, as the righteous judge, etc.. A paper on this web-site answers the question of why “Elohim” is plural. in more detail.
Please see all the papers of this series on the Trinity doctrine for more Scriptural evidence that it is not Biblical.
*The bold type used in quotations were added.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org