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Thread: Other 'gods'

  1. #1

    Other 'gods'

    English-speaking Christians often think of the God of the Bible as the one and only 'god' there is. Within the English-speaking world, this is more or less true, because the English-speaking world uses a particular definition of the word 'god'.

    To English-speakers, the word 'god' almost always carries the meaning of 'omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent', and since most English-speakers are raised in a world where Christian (or Jewish, or Muslim, or deist, or Christian-ish) monotheism is the standard concept of 'god', it is generally thought that 'god' can only refer to the God of the Bible, Yahweh (though most simply know him as 'God' and not 'Yahweh', or 'Jehovah', or 'YHWH'), and hence, the God of the Bible is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

    In ancient Hebrew (and hence, within the world of the ancient writers of Scripture), this is not what 'god' meant.

    Their word for 'god' (elohim) most literally means something like 'mighty one', and is regularly applied to entities who are not Yahweh. And, regularly, these applications are not intended to be ironic or facetious. In Scripture: pagan deities are called 'elohim'; Yahweh's angels are called 'elohim'; humans rulers are called 'elohim'; spirits of dead humans are called 'elohim'. Only idols seem to be called 'gods' in an ironic tone, but this is primarily because of their nature as being inanimate objects (e.g. clay, wood, stone, or metal). Their inanimateness is what qualifies them as being 'false' gods, not because they are not Yahweh.

    Carrying on into the New Testament, the Greek word for 'god' (theos) picks up where the Hebrew word left off. It is, again, occasionally used ironically of idols. The one time where the New Testament (apparently) specifically derides these other gods as false gods is when Paul speaks of 'those who are called gods'. But he then follows this up with 'there are many gods and many lords'. His exact meaning is unclear, and could really go either way.

    The Scriptural concept of 'gods' (elohim or theos) referred to a wide range of things, but the thing that they have in common is not that they were worshiped. Yahweh, pagan deities, angels, and spirits of dead men belonged, in some way, to a 'world' beyond this one. Human rulers are sometimes called 'elohim' because they were either seen to be physically descended from gods (a very pagan concept) or had been divinely appointed by the gods (Israel's judges were said to be 'gods' because they had been appointed under Yahweh's authority).

    Within the Scriptural usage of the word 'god' (elohim or theos), there are many gods, and their existence was beyond question. But whether these other gods exist as real deities (I personally find this doubtful), or are simply 'fallen' angels (maybe), or humans with great power and authority, is not determined within Scripture.

    But what is to ultimately be taken away is that within the Scriptural usage of the word 'god' (elohim or theos), while 'there are many gods and many lords', there is only one true, absolutely supreme God, which is Yahweh, revealed through Jesus. He is not the one and only true God because he is simply called 'god', but because he demonstrates his absolute superiority to all other gods (real or not) through his actions, as particularly shown and emphasized in Scripture.

  2. #2

    Re: Other 'gods'

    What I find from this is that while scripture might refer to "other gods", it does not validate them as actual "gods". In reality, there are no gods other than the true God we know in the bible.



    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    English-speaking Christians often think of the God of the Bible as the one and only 'god' there is. Within the English-speaking world, this is more or less true, because the English-speaking world uses a particular definition of the word 'god'.

    To English-speakers, the word 'god' almost always carries the meaning of 'omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent', and since most English-speakers are raised in a world where Christian (or Jewish, or Muslim, or deist, or Christian-ish) monotheism is the standard concept of 'god', it is generally thought that 'god' can only refer to the God of the Bible, Yahweh (though most simply know him as 'God' and not 'Yahweh', or 'Jehovah', or 'YHWH'), and hence, the God of the Bible is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

    In ancient Hebrew (and hence, within the world of the ancient writers of Scripture), this is not what 'god' meant.

    Their word for 'god' (elohim) most literally means something like 'mighty one', and is regularly applied to entities who are not Yahweh. And, regularly, these applications are not intended to be ironic or facetious. In Scripture: pagan deities are called 'elohim'; Yahweh's angels are called 'elohim'; humans rulers are called 'elohim'; spirits of dead humans are called 'elohim'. Only idols seem to be called 'gods' in an ironic tone, but this is primarily because of their nature as being inanimate objects (e.g. clay, wood, stone, or metal). Their inanimateness is what qualifies them as being 'false' gods, not because they are not Yahweh.

    Carrying on into the New Testament, the Greek word for 'god' (theos) picks up where the Hebrew word left off. It is, again, occasionally used ironically of idols. The one time where the New Testament (apparently) specifically derides these other gods as false gods is when Paul speaks of 'those who are called gods'. But he then follows this up with 'there are many gods and many lords'. His exact meaning is unclear, and could really go either way.

    The Scriptural concept of 'gods' (elohim or theos) referred to a wide range of things, but the thing that they have in common is not that they were worshiped. Yahweh, pagan deities, angels, and spirits of dead men belonged, in some way, to a 'world' beyond this one. Human rulers are sometimes called 'elohim' because they were either seen to be physically descended from gods (a very pagan concept) or had been divinely appointed by the gods (Israel's judges were said to be 'gods' because they had been appointed under Yahweh's authority).

    Within the Scriptural usage of the word 'god' (elohim or theos), there are many gods, and their existence was beyond question. But whether these other gods exist as real deities (I personally find this doubtful), or are simply 'fallen' angels (maybe), or humans with great power and authority, is not determined within Scripture.

    But what is to ultimately be taken away is that within the Scriptural usage of the word 'god' (elohim or theos), while 'there are many gods and many lords', there is only one true, absolutely supreme God, which is Yahweh, revealed through Jesus. He is not the one and only true God because he is simply called 'god', but because he demonstrates his absolute superiority to all other gods (real or not) through his actions, as particularly shown and emphasized in Scripture.

  3. #3
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    Re: Other 'gods'

    There are numerous texts, especially within the OT, where Yahweh goes out to battle foreign gods. There are even some NT ones involving Jesus. Are you aware of such a thing? It'd be fun to go through a few of these here!
    analyze. synthesize. repeat.

    *It is the next chapter of my life, whether I'm ready or not. My time here in these forums has come to its close. I bless you as I go!*

  4. #4

    Re: Other 'gods'

    Quote Originally Posted by Nihil Obstat View Post
    There are numerous texts, especially within the OT, where Yahweh goes out to battle foreign gods. There are even some NT ones involving Jesus. Are you aware of such a thing? It'd be fun to go through a few of these here!
    Please share them.

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    Re: Other 'gods'

    There's a bunch, but I don't want to bog down the thread. (Not to mention with Thanksgiving I have all my family coming tomorrow, and I'll be working a lot - on top of that my wife and I are expecting our twin boys any day now!) Recently I've been hovering over Habakkuk 3, where Yahweh declares Himself greater than Marduk. There's a few in the psalms as well: off the top of my head I remember 74 being one of them, where He is pictured victorious over Leviathan in conjunction with creation language. It's been awhile since I studied this, but I think if you research "combat myths" or "creation myths" you'll run into some great (and some not so great) material. As for Jesus, Col. 2:15 and Phil. 2:10 both seem to be of this vein, where other gods are seen to be in submission to Him. Blessings!
    analyze. synthesize. repeat.

    *It is the next chapter of my life, whether I'm ready or not. My time here in these forums has come to its close. I bless you as I go!*

  6. #6

    Re: Other 'gods'

    Quote Originally Posted by Nihil Obstat View Post
    There's a bunch, but I don't want to bog down the thread. (Not to mention with Thanksgiving I have all my family coming tomorrow, and I'll be working a lot - on top of that my wife and I are expecting our twin boys any day now!) Recently I've been hovering over Habakkuk 3, where Yahweh declares Himself greater than Marduk. There's a few in the psalms as well: off the top of my head I remember 74 being one of them, where He is pictured victorious over Leviathan in conjunction with creation language. It's been awhile since I studied this, but I think if you research "combat myths" or "creation myths" you'll run into some great (and some not so great) material. As for Jesus, Col. 2:15 and Phil. 2:10 both seem to be of this vein, where other gods are seen to be in submission to Him. Blessings!
    Good luck with Thanksgiving and all the family visiting. Having twins will be super easy in comparison LOL (j/k)

    Please continue this in detail when you have the time.

  7. #7
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    Re: Other 'gods'

    Here's a question I have to ask. These other gods, no one would think they're uncreated beings, or that God didn't create them, right? I would think that they would be of satan's army, his angels, if they're real. And then we have passages like the following.

    Deuteronomy 4:28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.


    Here it implies that these gods are not even real. And if we back up a bit, we see this.

    Exodus 20:23 Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

    So the question then is, what would they be basing these gods made with their own hands on? Real gods?
    Last edited by divaD; Nov 23rd 2011 at 08:53 PM. Reason: typos

  8. #8

    Re: Other 'gods'

    Quote Originally Posted by divaD
    Here's a question I have to ask. These other gods, no one would think they're uncreated beings, or that God didn't create them, right? I would think that they would be of satan's army, his angels, if they're real. And then we have passages like the following.
    This could be a possible explanation for what other gods are, but (a) this explanation is not offered by Scripture, and (b) even then, Scripture applies the word 'gods' (elohim) to angels, so it is not technically inaccurate (from a Biblical perspective) to call angels 'gods' without the qualification that they are 'false' gods.

    As stated in the OP, within Scripture, the words for 'god' (elohim and theos) carry broader meanings than we give to the English word 'god'.

    In English, 'god' carries the meaning of something like: a one and only supernatural entity who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Because of this English meaning of 'god', only Yahweh qualifies to be called 'god'.

    In Hebrew (and NT Greek), 'god' (elohim and theos) carries the meaning of something like: an entity who belongs to or derives authority from the spiritual world. Because of this broader meaning of 'god', Yahweh, pagan deities (real or not), angels, human rulers, and spirits of dead men are each qualified to be called 'gods'.

    But with this, I emphasize: just because Scripture calls them 'gods' (and leaves open whether they actually exist, as regarding the pagan deities), the mere fact that they are called 'gods' does not mean they are inherently equal to each other or that they are equal to Yahweh.

    Although Scripture leaves open the question about whether pagan deities actually exist, it demonstrates the adamant belief that (whether they do or don't exist) Yahweh is the absolutely supreme god, because he alone created all things (e.g. Isaiah 44.24), he consistently disarms enemy nations and their gods (Exodus 12.12), etc.

    Here it implies that these gods are not even real. And if we back up a bit, we see this.
    From the OP: 'Only idols seem to be called "gods" in an ironic tone, but this is primarily because of their nature as being inanimate objects (e.g. clay, wood, stone, or metal). Their inanimateness is what qualifies them as being "false" gods, not because they are not Yahweh.'

  9. #9
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    Re: Other 'gods'

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    This could be a possible explanation for what other gods are, but (a) this explanation is not offered by Scripture, and (b) even then, Scripture applies the word 'gods' (elohim) to angels, so it is not technically inaccurate (from a Biblical perspective) to call angels 'gods' without the qualification that they are 'false' gods.

    As stated in the OP, within Scripture, the words for 'god' (elohim and theos) carry broader meanings than we give to the English word 'god'.

    In English, 'god' carries the meaning of something like: a one and only supernatural entity who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Because of this English meaning of 'god', only Yahweh qualifies to be called 'god'.
    I'm not so sure of that. English makes a clear distinction between "god(s)" the noun and "God" the proper noun. There is a distinction made when God is being referenced, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkEdward
    In Hebrew (and NT Greek), 'god' (elohim and theos) carries the meaning of something like: an entity who belongs to or derives authority from the spiritual world. Because of this broader meaning of 'god', Yahweh, pagan deities (real or not), angels, human rulers, and spirits of dead men are each qualified to be called 'gods'.

    But with this, I emphasize: just because Scripture calls them 'gods' (and leaves open whether they actually exist, as regarding the pagan deities), the mere fact that they are called 'gods' does not mean they are inherently equal to each other or that they are equal to Yahweh.
    Depends I guess. The Jews believed that Jesus' doctrine made the claim of making Him equal to God. That was not a fault of English for sure.
    Watchinginawe

    I Samuel 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

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    Re: Other 'gods'

    2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
    2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
    3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
    4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
    5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
    6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


    I don't think there is a limitation of the English language in understanding that "the god of this world" is not a false god but a real entity or even potentially (though not for me) an abstract love for this world. Perhaps, in the case of it representing an entity, it could be said that English does denote more power to Satan then should be, but we don't have any problem distinguishing a difference between him and "God" in the passage.
    Watchinginawe

    I Samuel 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

  11. #11

    Re: Other 'gods'

    Quote Originally Posted by watchinginawe View Post
    2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
    2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
    3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
    4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
    5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
    6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


    I don't think there is a limitation of the English language in understanding that "the god of this world" is not a false god but a real entity. Perhaps it could be said that English does denote more power to Satan then should be, but we don't have any problem distinguishing a difference between him and "God" in the passage.
    That's not a reference to satan. satan is not the "god of the world" but is called "the prince of the world".

    The one who blinds people from the truth is the one and only God:

    John 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.


    The HE here is God and this is very similar language. God blinded them so they could not convert and be healed! Isn't that what the other verse is saying?

    Romans 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh
    for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
    Romans 11:8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the
    spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day.

  12. #12
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    Re: Other 'gods'

    Quote Originally Posted by ewq1938 View Post
    That's not a reference to satan. satan is not the "god of the world" but is called "the prince of the world".

    The one who blinds people from the truth is the one and only God:

    John 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.


    The HE here is God and this is very similar language. God blinded them so they could not convert and be healed! Isn't that what the other verse is saying?

    Romans 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh
    for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
    Romans 11:8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the
    spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day.
    I am certainly aware of how some see it that way, but it doesn't fit the passage well at all IMO. Even from a reformed perspective, one needn't get all worked up in saying the god of this world is Satan. Sin is what separates man from God and thus the veil, or "blinding", by which God does not remove the condition in election. However, it doesn't have to mean the God Himself blinds them, only that God Himself does not remove the blindness. Regardless, I have a hard time putting my mind in that paradigm.
    Watchinginawe

    I Samuel 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

  13. #13

    Re: Other 'gods'

    Quote Originally Posted by watchinginawe View Post
    I am certainly aware of how some see it that way, but it doesn't fit the passage well at all IMO.
    Scripture interprets scripture right? Does God an satan work in some odd harmony both blinding people?



    However, it doesn't have to mean the God Himself blinds them, only that God Himself does not remove the blindness.
    That's not what God says:

    John 12:40 He (God) hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

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    Re: Other 'gods'

    Quote Originally Posted by ewq1938 View Post
    Scripture interprets scripture right? Does God an satan work in some odd harmony both blinding people?
    ...
    That's not what God says:

    John 12:40 He (God) hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
    Oh, OK. That settles it then. If Paul meant God, why does he add the limiter "of this age", this time of the existence of this "god" in this world?

    Let me stay on topic then and reword it so as to not offend you. When, as ewq1938 accuses, the KJV uses the "small g" incorrectly in verse 4 of 2 Corinthians 4, the English language has the capability of deceiving someone into thinking the verse is speaking of someone or something else besides the "big G" God. In any event, the limitation would not be the English language.

    I'm not sure I understand the point of the thread really. What English specific doctrines do we have as a result of the proposition?
    Watchinginawe

    I Samuel 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

  15. #15

    Re: Other 'gods'

    Quote Originally Posted by watchinginawe View Post
    Oh, OK. That settles it then. If Paul meant God, why does he add the limiter "of this age", this time of the existence of this "god" in this world?

    2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the
    minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious
    gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

    Age


    165

    165 aion {ahee-ohn'}

    from the same as 104; TDNT - 1:197,31; n m

    AV - ever 71, world 38, never + 3364 + 1519 + 3588 6, evermore 4,
    age 2, eternal 2, misc 5; 128

    1) for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity
    2) the worlds, universe
    3) period of time, age



    forever, eternal, or eternity are proper definitions of this word.


    2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this ETERNITY hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.





    John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world [ 2889 kosmos {kos'-mos}]
    now shall the prince of this world[ 2889 kosmos {kos'-mos}]
    be cast out.

    John 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of
    this world [ 2889 kosmos {kos'-mos}]cometh, and hath nothing in me.

    John 16:11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world [ 2889 kosmos {kos'-mos}] is judged

    John 8:23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. [ 2889 kosmos {kos'-mos}]

    ok, so Christ says he is not of this "kosmos"


    ok, so [ 2889 kosmos {kos'-mos}] is the bad "world" that satan is the prince of, and whom Christ is not part of. satan is not even the god of
    this "kosmos" but only a prince.

    so, we have satan as the prince of the kosmos/world
    but not god of the aion/eternity "world".



    Let me stay on topic then and reword it so as to not offend you. When, as ewq1938 accuses, the KJV uses the "small g" incorrectly in verse 4 of 2 Corinthians 4, the English language has the capability of deceiving someone into thinking the verse is speaking of someone or something else besides the "big G" God. In any event, the limitation would not be the English language.
    There are no capitals in the manuscripts. Someone was mistaken that it wasn't speaking of God and decided not to cap it. If they had capped it I doubt we'd be having this discussion lol But scripture interprets scripture and we know who is doing the blinding in this "age".

    2Co 4:4 In whom the God of this age (eternity) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

    Which is the same thing as what is said here:

    John 12:40 He (God) hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.Exod 4:11-12
    11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?



    Exod 4:11-12

    11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

    Rom 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.

    God blinded them, not satan.

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