Too many Gods

   When I read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, it seems to me that there’s a lot of Gods. The word ‘God’ seems to be overused a bit; however, the fact is that the way we understand this word now differs from how it is used in the Bible. This can easily result in a confusion about the matter. I’d try to write something about it to show the basic principles at least and to explain essential concepts.

   Let’s look at a typical example:

Psalms 82, 1 (ASV): God standeth in the congregation of God; He judgeth among the gods.

   So what do you make of it? It’s a mess, isn’t it? And at the first sight, we can find a similar ‘mess’ in the Hebrew original. I try to transcribe it translated:

   God (אלהים - elohim - plural = gods, deity) stood in the congregation of the mighty ones (אל = el = mighty), he judges among the gods (אלהים - elohim – plural = gods, deity).

   Five verses further on God continues, saying:

Psamls 82, 6-7 (ASV): I said, Ye are gods, And all of you sons of the Most High. Nevertheless ye shall die like men, And fall like one of the princes.

   This is the verse Jesus later refers to:

John 10, 33-36 (ASV): The Jews answered him, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

   Referring to God, the Hebrew of Old Testament often uses the plural - (אלהים - elohim – the plural = gods, deity), although the singular of elohim (אלהים) also exists. It is „eloah“ (אלוהּ). However, this singular form is used in the Old Testament only about 56 times.

   God’s word, the Bible, says in the vast majority of passages that there is only one God:

Isaiah 43, 10-11 (ASV): Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no saviour.

Isaiah 44, 6-8 (ASV): Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I established the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and that shall come to pass, let them declare. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have I not declared unto thee of old, and showed it? and ye are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? yea, there is no Rock; I know not any.

Deuteronomy 32, 39 (ASV): See now that I, even I, am he, And there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; And there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

   Let’s consult the New Testament on this issue:

James 2, 19 (ASV): Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder..

Ephesians 4, 4-6 (ASV): There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.

   The simplest and the most comprehensible explanation on God and gods is presented by the apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 8, 4-7 (ASV): Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many, and lords many; yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him. Howbeit there is not in all men that knowledge: but some, being used until now to the idol, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

1 Timothy 6, 13-16 (ASV): I charge thee in the sight of God, who giveth life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession; that thou keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal. Amen.

1 Timothy 2, 5 (ASV): For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus,


   This article is not a comprehensive biblical analysis. It would take many pages. I haven’t even mentioned that when an angel sent by God appeared to a person, they usually said that they had seen God, that God had appeared to them etc. We can read in the Bible that besides the true God and false idols and godlings, also spiritual beings endowed with power are called deities or gods (the Hebrew word "אל" „el“ means mighty, "אלהים" „elohim“ means deity, gods, powers). And to add to the mess, God says to Moses in Exodus 4, 16 that Aaron will be a mouth to Moses and Moses will be a God ("אלהים" „elohim“).

   Referring to God, Hebrew uses the word "אלהים" „elohim“, or, less frequently, the singular form "אלוהּ" „eloah“, both relating simply to might. However, the most frequent term denominating God is his personal name: "יהוה" - Yehowah (nearly 7000 occurrences). The New Testament doesn’t contain God’s name "יהוה" at all; God is referred to with the Greek word "θεος" „theos“ (God) or "κυριος" „kyrios“ (lord, ruler). According to Philippians 3, 19 even the belly can be a god ("θεος" - theos). The apostle Paul further says that the god ("θεος" - theos) of this world is Satan:

2 Corinthians 4, 4 (ASV): in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them.

   I almost failed to mention that the faith in the only God was the first commandment that God gave to the Israelites:

Exodus 20, 1-3: And God ("אלהים" - „elohim“) spake all these words, saying, I am יהוה (Yehowah) thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

   The overall message of the Bible is that though there are many gods (the mighty ones), there is only one God (with capital G) in the sense we usually use this word. He presents himself about 7,000 times as "יהוה" (Yehowah) in the Bible, called the Father of all, the only immortal one. Along a similar line, although there are many lords, for us there is only one lord, God’s Son, Lord Jesus.


Libor Diviš - author of this article and this website

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