Before I say anything else, I admit that this question, “Is there really only one god?” sounds both ridiculous and blasphemous. But you know me, I normally ask questions most people don’t ask. So, here we go: Does the Bible really present its audience with a monotheistic worldview (i.e. only one god exists)? The answer to this question is surprisingly – no.
In fact, the Bible reflects the ancient worldview of a god-congested universe. Here are just a few representative texts:
“God stands in the Divine Council; He renders judgment among the gods… I said, “You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.” (Ps. 82:1, 6)
“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” (ESV, Deut.32:8 following Qumran/LXX version of the Hebrew.)
“Ascribe to the Lord, sons of the mighty (literally from Hebrew sons of gods), ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.” (Ps. 29:1)
“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD?” (NASB, Ex. 15:11)
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God…” (ESV, Deut.10:17)
“You shall have no other gods before Me. (NASB, Ex.20:3)
The view of the divine world presented in the Bible is not monotheistic, but rather henotheistic (there exists a multiplicity of gods, but One Supreme God exists above them all). Apostle Paul, whose thinking was very much in line with this very idea (because of his pharisaic idea of the Shema), wrote the following:
“For although there are many that that are called gods in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many gods and many lords) – yet for us there is One God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist”. (1 Cor. 8:5-6)
There are other powerful heavenly beings (this is how in Biblical times gods were understood – any god is bigger than any human). Now we commonly refer to them as angels and demons (as well as principalities and powers), but in the Biblical times most people called them gods and/or sons of god/s. Clearly, Moses, Jesus and Paul presume this. They also are in agreement on an even more essential point. While there may be other “gods,” only God Most High, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is worthy to be worshiped, adored and obeyed! Reread the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the New Testament as it was first intended!
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