Wisdom-A Lesson on the Godhead

The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God (Mark 12:29-30, John 17:1-3, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:4-6); and when Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “the Lord our God is one Lord”, it means that Jehovah is one in every sense of the word.  Occasionally, however, Trinitarian Christians (who believe that God is multiple persons) will appeal to places in the scripture that seem to make God appear plural.  Genesis 1:26 where God says, “Let us make man in our image” is just one such place.  At other times they will use the Hebrew word for God (Elohim אֱלֹהִים) to say that God is plural.  But it is important to remember that we must search the scriptures.

Just because something looks plural doesn’t mean that it is.  And I will be the first to admit that at times, if we are not considering the scriptures carefully, it can look like there is multiplicity in the Godhead.  That is why we must remember the clear teaching of scripture, that God is by nature one.  We must look at how things are, not how they seem.  Sometimes things in scripture, not just the Godhead, look plural when they are actually singular.

Take, for example, Proverbs 1:20, “Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets”.  In English, wisdom in this verse is singular.  But if someone compared their English translation to the original Hebrew, they would realize that the word for wisdom is plural in this verse.

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets
חָכְמֹות בַּחוּץ תָּרֹנָּה בָּרְחֹבֹות תִּתֵּן קֹולָֽהּ

The Hebrew word is definitely plural here.  So why is it translated as “wisdom” instead of “wisdoms” in this verse?  Why do we have it as singular when it definitely looks plural?

In English we have only two categories: singular and plural.  If something is only one, it is singular; and if something is more than one, it is plural.  There is no in between.  But Hebrew grammar is slightly different.  In Hebrew there is a third category called the Intensive Plural.  Intensive Plurals make the meaning of the word more intense; and this construction is very common in the Bible.

When a word is used under an Intensive Plural, the word has a plural form (so it looks plural) but it is numerically singular.  We can recognize an intensive plural when we see a plural noun being used with singular verbs and modifiers.  Even though the Hebrew word “wisdom” is plural, the Hebrew verbs and modefiers “crieth”, “uttereth” and “her” are all singuar.

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets
חָכְמֹות בַּחוּץ תָּרֹנָּה בָּרְחֹבֹות תִּתֵּן קֹולָֽהּ

So, upon further examination, the word “wisdom” looks plural, but it is not numerically more than one.  It is plural only to intensify the meaning, not in any way to denote plurality; a note in the margin of my Bible says, “Excellent wisdom” at this verse.

I submit that this is exactly how our understanding of the Godhead can be sometimes.  Occasionally, if we do not dig deeper and if we isolate words and verses from their context, God can be made to look plural.  But on further consideration we will come to see that God is one, just like the scriptures plainly teach us.

We need to use God’s wisdom, the “excellent wisdom” we just finished discussing, when we approach the topic of the Godhead.  God is one!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s