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Elohim and the Creator in John 1


This post is from Joseph, one of our frequent commenters…

Trinitarians bring up the argument that the Hebrew word for God “elohim” supports a Triune God in the Genesis account, citing the “us” and “our” in Gen 1:26 means more than one was Creator. They believe this further supports their claim in John 1:3 that Christ being the “word” in the beginning had part in being the elohim of Genesis.   I simply want to explain in a different light as to why this is a serious error in interpretation.

Firstly, we need to give a proper explanation of the Hebrew text.  Elohim is not a name, it is a title.  There are many names that are given to God.  YHVH (יהוה) is strictly the personal name that is ascribed to God, not elohim.  The title elohim is ascribed to other entities within the Bible.  So, when we read in Genesis “elohim” we must identify with the contextual language to properly interpret how this title is applied.

In Genesis 1:26, the “us” and “our” is irrelevant to “whom” is doing the creating.  I must also point out the importance of the text saying, “let us make,” not, “let us create.”  In the very next verse, Genesis 1:27, we read…

“27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

“God created.”  The Hebrew word used for created is “bara” (masculine-singular). If there was more than one, or a “collective one” doing the creating the text would logically read “elohim baroo” (masculine-plural).   The “us” and “our” were never engaged in the Creating and could very much be God addressing his heavenly Angels.  The language defines “elohim.”  Remember, elohim is not a name, it is a title, therefore the language must define what the title implies. In the case of Gen 1:27, only one God created (bara). Anything said on the Trinitarian side as to elohim being a compound or collective noun contradicts the language. If one wants to say that elohim is the defining name of God or Jesus, then they must also believe that Satan, Moses, Angels, Human rulers, ect., are also God, because the title is also applied to them.  Now, if the text said something in the manner of “YHVH baroo”, then we Unitarians have a problem because now a singular name (not title) is being defined by a plural verb, and this would break the “law” of the language as set in Scripture.

Second, in the New Testament, Messiah Jesus affirms that it was God that created man in the beginning as stated in Mark 10:6 signifying that there was only one as Creator, and further proving the context of elohim to be incompatible to a Triune God…

“6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.”

Jesus declared affirmation to the one he considers as “the only one who is truly God (John 17:3)” as being the Creator in the beginning.  This establishes that Christ has excluded himself from being the Creator of Genesis.  Let us not forget the many times in Scripture that affirm it was only YHVH that was the Creator in Genesis.  This leaves us with the certainty that God (YHVH) was the only Creator in John 1.

How should this reflect on us in how we interpret John 1:14?  The “word” BECAME flesh, not the “Son” became flesh. What a verse!  The word was instilled in Messiah Jesus because, he, being our mediator on behalf of God (1 Tim 2:5), was giving God’s word, which he received from God, as stated in the book of John Chapter 17:14…

14 “I have given them Your word; [THE WORD MADE FLESH!!!] and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Please respond if you have any thoughts.   This topic goes into much more detail.

14 Responses to “Elohim and the Creator in John 1”

  1. on 02 Mar 2009 at 1:10 pmRay

    I once said to a friend of mine, “Let’s (Let us) go get a cup of coffee.” It was good. Starbucks I think it was. Now I was not him
    and he was not me, but we both were there and we both had

    I don’t know about other languages, only a little about english
    and that only because that’s what I learned to speak from the
    time I was a child.

    As Jesus gave God glory for who he is, (the maker of all that is)
    that does not mean that Jesus was not with God in the beginning
    in glory doing the works of God, doing what he saw God himself
    do, for the scripture says that God created all through Jesus Christ
    his Son.

    I believe Jesus was indeed with God from everlasting as the scripture says, and that without Jesus nothing was made that was

    I am certain that God could have been the only one involved in
    his work of creation if he had wanted to do it that way, but it seems to me that he decided on involving his Son, whom we know
    now as Jesus, in that work.

    God did it all for Jesus. Jesus did all for God. God gave the kingdom
    to Jesus. Jesus will deliver it all to God. That kingdom we are all a
    part of if we believe in Jesus.

    The kingdom of God is the word of Christ.

    The Joy of God is Jesus.

  2. on 02 Mar 2009 at 2:50 pmJoseph

    Ray, first I want to say thank you for your thoughts. A couple of points I want to make…

    I once said to a friend of mine, “Let’s (Let us) go get a cup of coffee.” It was good. Starbucks I think it was. Now I was not him
    and he was not me, but we both were there and we both had

    We must be exact in what the text says.

    Firstly, “let us make man in our image.”

    and then, “God created man in his own image.”

    So, in accordance to Genesis and your coffee analogy, you would say to your friend, “let us go get a cup of coffee.” and then the next verse would be, “and Ray drank a cup of coffee.” This is how the Hebrew puts it. There is nothing there to signify that both Ray and his friend drank a cup of coffee. As I pointed out, “elohim” is a title that is defined by the context of the language that surrounds it. In the case of who created, we are told by a singular verb that it was only one who was doing the creating, that one according to Christ in Mark 10:6 is his God, the Father.

    As Jesus gave God glory for who he is, (the maker of all that is)
    that does not mean that Jesus was not with God in the beginning
    in glory doing the works of God, doing what he saw God himself
    do, for the scripture says that God created all through Jesus Christ
    his Son.

    I believe Jesus was indeed with God from everlasting as the scripture says, and that without Jesus nothing was made that was

    I would ask, who has made eternal life possible? Messiah has always been a part of God’s plan. The Messiah is our mediator and the one who will represent us. Since the falling away in the garden of eden (Genesis), prophesy has told us of a Messiah that would redeem God’s creation. This is what is meant by “through” his Son. Also, it is with God’s acceptance of Messiah that he is a sufficient means for the redemption of the Creation. We must, as Messiah did, give all credit to God.

    The kingdom of God is the word of Christ.

    The Joy of God is Jesus.

    The word of God as spoken by Messiah is the knowledge to the Kingdom (eternal life). Remember, Messiah will hand over the Kingdom to God and submit to his authority after the 1000 years.

  3. on 02 Mar 2009 at 4:13 pmRay

    When my friend and I had coffee together, I did not say that he
    also had coffee as I did, that is so, yet it’s entirely likely that he
    did have coffee as I did, and in fact such was the case. In such
    a witness that I give of my life, I am not under obligation to give
    all the facts involved, but may leave it to the reader to decide for
    himself what happened. Later on I might reveal more detail of our
    time together in the coffee shop.

    As a carpenter, I might carry a 2″x 4″ through a doorway.

    Did I carry it in conjunction with a plan of a doorway, or did I actually use the doorway as a means of my going?

    That is for the reader to decide for himself I suppose.

    I am one who believes God created all that we see and all that we
    do not see through his Son Jesus who was with him in the beginning. God made all through Jesus, all except for God himself,
    for he is the beginning of all, as Jesus is. In so many ways, as God
    is, so is Jesus. That’s what I believe.

    I believe Jesus was in the world but many in this world did not receive him, for he was in the spiritual realm and before his being
    born of Mary, he was not seen by men unless he appeared unto
    them by the power of God in a vision, dream or by taking on a temporary form so that they might see something of the heavenly
    realm, and receive a visit by God’s eternal plan of salvation himself.

    I’ve heard men say that Jesus appeared uhto Joshua as the Captain of the host. That may very well be so in my opinion.

    I also wonder if he whose name is Wonderful, who appeared unto
    Manoah, was the Lord Jesus. It may have been some other messenger of God. In seeing this manifestation of heaven, Manoah
    talked about how he encountered “God”.

    God can be seen through all of his creation.

    I suppose if we were to take what Manoah said and saw with some
    restricted sense, we might conclude that God is The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit, and The Angel of the Lord called Wonderful.
    I wonder if that’s why some men say it was Jesus.

    I’ve never heard anyone say that this angel of the Lord whose name is wonderful was the Holy Spirit, the 3’rd person of the trinity.

    I don’t really know who this person was but I think it may have been Jesus who appeared unto Manoah. No matter what our views
    on this subject we are members of one another as long as we believe in Jesus.

  4. on 02 Mar 2009 at 6:45 pmXavier

    “7.2. The Meaning of the Event. The significance of this event should not be minimized. It indicates not merely that Jesus was God’s Son through the Holy Spirit (Brown, 1973), but that Jesus was a unique person who was the product of both the divine and the human in a manner unlike any others before or since. To be sure, our two authors do not try to address the relationship of a virginal conception to the doctrine of the incarnation of a pre-existent Son, but it may be that the author of John 1 later saw that the two concepts were connected (cf. Jn 1:13).

    In terms of its theological significance, the virginal conception explains how the incarnation transpired, though Matthew and Luke do not speak of the event in terms of the incarnation of a pre-existent being (Fuller). Later theological reflection was also to see in the virginal conception the explanation of how Jesus could be born with a human nature not tainted with original sin. The doctrine of the virginal conception also stresses that Jesus was fully human, participating in the whole human life cycle from womb to tomb.

    But perhaps most significantly of all, this concept conveys the fact that Jesus is a miraculous gift to humanity, not initially the product of any normal human activity or process. He is a gift that comes ultimately from God, but comes through Mary in a way that allows one to say that Jesus’ origins are both human and divine.” Green, Joel B. ; McKnight, Scot ; Marshall, I. Howard: Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 1992, S. 72

  5. on 03 Mar 2009 at 12:36 pmRay

    Isn’t Jesus the Spirit of God that moved upon the face of the waters
    in Genesis 1:2?

  6. on 03 Mar 2009 at 2:11 pmTim


    I hate to state the obvious, but I think that the “Spirit of God” in Genesis 1:2 is … the Spirit of God.

    I would think that if the writer meant to say “Jesus”, he would have said so.

    Wouldn’t you agree?


  7. on 03 Mar 2009 at 5:07 pmRay

    Tim, I was thinking that God may have wanted to keep hidden
    a mystery.

  8. on 03 Mar 2009 at 5:51 pmFrank D

    Ray, This is a dangerously slippery slope in biblical interpretation. To base an opinion on what God didn’t write in His word can lead to all sorts of mishandeling. A person could craft any theological position based on this style of interpretation. It’s challenging enough to determin truth from error on just what is written.

    God identifies His mysteries and their meaning:

    Mark 4:11:
    And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

    Romans 11:25:
    For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

    Romans 16:25:
    Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

    1 Corinthians 2: 7-10
    7But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

    1 Corinthian 15:

    51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

    Ephesians 1:
    9Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. 15Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

    Ephesians 3:
    1For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

    Ephesians 5:
    30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

    Colossians 1:
    25Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

    There are more verses but the mystery I see in the word is Gentiles who accept the Messiah Jesus being included in the age to come.

    Just my humble opinion.

  9. on 03 Mar 2009 at 5:51 pmTim

    How do we discern what is hidden and what is not hidden when reading the OT (or the NT for that matter)?


  10. on 04 Mar 2009 at 10:46 amFrank D

    God has revealed everything we need for a godly life:

    II Peter 1:3:
    According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

    What else is hidden?

  11. on 04 Mar 2009 at 10:47 amRay

    There’s so much in common with Jesus and the Holy Spirit isn’t
    there, but there is a distinction.

    Both Jesus and the Spirit of God are gifts, yet there is a distinction
    between them, a difference without differences.

    Could God refer to Jesus as his Spirit back in Genesis 1:2?

    That is the question. If God were to do that, would he still be true?
    Could it be done?

    We can only know the hidden things of God by his Spirit revealing
    them to us, because of Jesus.

    When God asked Satan a question about the moral and spiritual
    condition of Job, could he have been keeping something hidden,
    even though Job was a very good man in the sight of many?

    In this life there are many slippery slopes. If we walk carefully we
    shouldn’t fall, yet there are times we need to find ourselves in the
    valley of humility. Many have been found rejoicing in that valley giving their praise to God.

  12. on 04 Mar 2009 at 11:56 amTim


    What you are saying is pure speculation to support your interpretation … “Could God …” “Could it be done …” “could he have been …”

    I might as well say “could the prohibition against fornication be a first century prohibition only” to rationalize a fornicating lifestyle! This is, after all, a very slippery slope. What is fornication, really?

    I am being absurd to illustrate the absurdity of your speculative arguments.

    Keep to the Bible text and you will find things a lot simpler.


  13. on 04 Mar 2009 at 7:07 pmRay

    I believe the word that God gives lasts to all generations. Fornication is what fornication has always been. Nothing
    has changed that.

    I still believe that Jesus is the Son of God that was
    with him in the beginning and I still wonder if he is that Spirit of
    God that Genesis 1:2 talks about.

    It’s a mystery isn’t it?

  14. on 05 Mar 2009 at 7:14 amTim

    My point, and the point of other responses, is that we can “believe” anything we want to and “wonder” all we want if we can claim “mysteries” that are only revealed to the select few. To make the claim that Genesis 1:2 really meant to say “Jesus” because this is a “mysterious” makes any interpretation possible.

    -God Bless-


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