Can we disprove that Elohim has any Trinitarian suggestions?
1. Many Hebrew words are plural in construction but singular in usage, such as "face", "life", "water" and "heaven". Even so, the meaning of these words and the verbs that are used with them are singular.
2. Elohim (when applied to God) is always used with a singular verb: words such as "is" and "created" (Gen 1:1) are used with it only in singular constructions. But Elohim, when applied to pagan deities, is always used with a plural verb.
3. In these cases, individual gods are called Elohim:
5. Elohim wrestled with Jacob, yet there was only one being wrestling with him (Gen 32:24-28).
6. The Bible applies "Elohim" to Moses (Ex 7:1), but no one suggests that there were three persons in Moses.
7. The Bible applies "Elohim" to Jesus Christ (Ps 45:6, Zech 12:8-10; 14:5), but no one suggests there are three persons in Christ.
8. Elohim is called our "father" in Mal 2:10: "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? ..."
9. Eloah (the singular for Elohim) is also used for God in verses such as Neh 9:17. El is also used for God in places such as Gen 14:18. If Elohim means three persons, then El means one person.
10. The largest Hebrew-English lexicon ever produced says that Elohim is an example of a "plural intensive" (Brown, Driver, Briggs; Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament.)
11. Jewish scholars argue that "Elohim is a plural form which is often used in Hebrew to denote plenitude of might" (Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs). Others say, "The form of the word, Elohim, is plural. The Hebrews pluralized nouns to express greatness or majesty" (Flanders, Cresson; Introduction to the Bible). And again, "The idea that Elohim referred to a plurality of persons in the Godhead when referring to the living God hardly finds now a supporter among scholars" (Smith's Bible Dictionary).
12. John Calvin, who was the chief prosecutor of Michael Servetus, had Servetus put to death on the basis that he denied three persons in the Godhead. Yet Calvin, who knew Hebrew, ridiculed any attempt to find a Trinity using anything from the Old Testament (Robert Brent Graves, The God of Two Testaments.)
13. If "Elohim" is a plural word referring to three persons, then "El" must refer to only one of those three persons. This would mean a Trinitarian would have a massive job explaining which instances of "El" in the scriptures referred to which Triune Person in Elohim.
In summary, any use of the word Elohim must be kept totally in a singular context. In many ways, the Bible shows that the word "Elohim" in entirely singular in concept, despite its grammatical plurality. There was only one golden calf called Elohim, only one being called Elohim wrestled with Jacob, and only one being, Jesus Christ, called Elohim.
Written by Don Peters (a Christian)