Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (KJV)

It is sometimes argued that since the word “God” or Elohim is in the plural form that therefore, God is a Trinity of persons, however, that is not how we should understand the usage of Elohim. Instead, we should understand that Elohim is the plural of majesty in Hebrew, meaning that the Jews would use the plural to magnify or exalt a singular individual, when the singular would not do justice.

1. The word “God” is Elohim, which is itself a plural form and, like most other words, has more than one definition, therefore, it should not always be understood in the plural or always understood in the singular because of the way the Hebrew language uses plural nouns such as Elohim. Context helps determine its usage.

It is used both in a plural sense of “gods” or “men with authority,” and in a singular sense for “God,” “god,” or “a man with authority, such as a judge.” The Hebrew lexicon by Brown, Driver and Briggs, considered to be one of the best available, has as its first usage for Elohim: “rulers, judges, either as divine representatives at sacred places or as reflecting divine majesty and power, divine ones, superhuman beings including God and angels, gods.” [1]

Elohim is translated “gods” in many verses. Genesis 35:2 reads, “Get rid of all the foreign gods you have with you,” and Exodus 18:11 says, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods.” It is translated “judges” in Exodus 21:6; 22:8-9. It is translated “angels” (KJV) or “heavenly beings” (NIV) in Psalm 8:5. These examples show that there are times when the plural form of Elohim should be understood as a normal plural.

However, Elohim is also translated as the singular “god” or “judge,” and there is no hint of any “compound nature” or plurality when it is translated that way. An example is Exodus 22:20, which reads, “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the lord must be destroyed.” Another example is Judges 6:31: “If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” In Exodus 7:1, God says that He has made Moses a “god” (Elohim) to Pharaoh. He did not make Moses a “gods” to Pharaoh. Again, in Judges 11:24, the pagan god Chemosh is called Elohim, and in 1 Samuel 5:7, the pagan god Dagon is called Elohim, yet Christians do not conclude that those gods were somehow composite or “uniplural,” or that the people who worshipped them thought they were. Therefore, to see the Trinity in the plural of Majesty in Elohim when it refers to the God of Israel but not in these other uses of Elohim is inconsistent.

2. Some teach that the word Elohim implies a compound unity when it refers to the true God. That would mean that the word Elohim somehow changes meaning when it is applied to the true God so that the true God can be a compound being. There is just no evidence of this. The first place we should go for confirmation of this is to the Jews themselves. When we study the history and the language of the Jews, we discover that they never understood Elohim to imply a plurality in God in any way. In fact, the Jews were staunchly opposed to people and nations who tried to introduce any hint of more than one God into their culture. Jewish rabbis have debated the Law to the point of tedium, and have recorded volume after volume of notes on the Law, yet in all of their debates there is no mention of a plurality in God. This fact in and of itself ought to close the argument.

No higher authority on the Hebrew language can be found than the great Hebrew scholar, Gesenius. He wrote that the plural nature of Elohim was for intensification, and was related to the plural of majesty and used for amplification. Gesenius states, “That the language has entirely rejected the idea of numerical plurality in Elohim (whenever it denotes one God) is proved especially by its being almost invariably joined with a singular attribute.” [2]

In Hebrew there are quite a few different examples in which the plural noun form is used in reference to a singular object:

  • Plural of extension: שָׁמַ֫יִם šāmayim (skyheavens), the plural is used because the heavens are composed of multiple parts, but it is not referring to multiple heavens
  • Plural of composition: דָּמִים dāmim (lit. “bloods“), the plural is used at times when we, in English, would only use the singular for “blood” [3]
  • Plural of majesty:
  1. אֱלֹהִים ‘ělōhim (lit. “Gods”) is used of non-Israelite gods or the Israelite God
  2. קְדֹשִים qəḏōšim (lit. “the Holy Ones”), yet, it is clear Proverbs 9:10 that it is referring to one individual, Yahweh.

Therefore, we must not see the plural Elohim, and immediately conclude that there are multiple persons in God, instead we must look at context to see if the author has multiple “gods” in mind, and look at the rest of scripture to see how God defines himself. Clearly, from Deuteronomy 6:4, he defines himself as one.

Perhaps one of the strongest reasons we should take Elohim in reference to the God of Israel to be referring to one person is because the singular pronoun is always used with the word Elohim. A study of the word will show what Gesenius stated, that the singular attribute (such as “He” or “I” not “They” or “We”) always follows Elohim when in reference to the true God, the Father. Furthermore, when the word Elohim is used to denote others beside the true God, it is understood as either singular or plural, never as “uniplural” as Trinitarians suggest. To us, the evidence is clear: God is not “compound” in any sense of the word. He is the “one God” of Israel.

4. Scripture contains no reproof for those who do not believe in a “Triune God.” Those who do not believe in God are called “fools” (Ps. 14:1). Those who reject Christ are condemned (John 3:18). Scripture testifies that it is for “doctrine, reproof, and correction” (2 Tim. 3:16 – KJV), and there are many verses that reprove believers for all kinds of erroneous beliefs and practices. Conspicuous in its absence is any kind of reproof for not believing in the Trinity.

Buzzard, pp. 13-15, 125-126

Morgridge, pp. 88-96

Snedeker, pp. 359-367

Back to the list of “Verses Used to Support the Doctrine of the Trinity”


1. Francis Brown, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Hendrickson Pub., Massachusetts, 1906), p. 43. Back to top

2. E. Kautzsch, ed., Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1910), p. 399. Back to top

3. Joüon & Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Rome: Gregorian & Biblical Press, 2006), p. 136. Back to top

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