One God, or several gods? - BibelCenter [apparent] contradictions
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One God, or several gods?
von Wolfgang Schneider

1Co 8:4 — … there is none other God but one.
Gen 1:26 — And God said, Let us make man …

These two passages are sometimes quoted by critics as an example of a contradiction in the Bible about the number of gods; they usually claim that the Bible speaks in one place of one God, but on another place and already at the time of creation speaks of more than one God being involved. How can this apparent contradiciton be resolved?

Both statements in these verses are actually clear, and they both do state that there is really only one God. Both in 1Co 8:4 as well as in Gen 1:26 the word "God" is used in the singular: "there is none other God but one" and "And God said …". Recognizing this, there is already not really a contradiction between these two verses.

A contradiction only comes into play when the plural pronoun "us" which is used in Gen 1:26 is interpreted to mean several "gods" who supposedly were working together here to make man. But this is obviously a wrong interpretation which ignores the word "God" used there and many other places in the Bible in the singular which all speak of a singular God, of one God. The plural pronoun "us" is used here in form of a figure of speech in the place of the singular pronoun, in order to emphasize the great majesty of the one God (plural of majesty). For the same reason, by the way, the Hebrew word for "God" [elohim] is also in the plural, and it was obviously clear to the translators that this did not mean "gods", but the one true God Who is above all and reigns above all.

This apparent contradiciton is resolved easily when we recognize that the plural form of the word for "God" and the plural pronoun do not speak of "many gods", but are emphatic references in form of a figure of speech to the one true God.



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