Subsidiary post: God of Gods
The Scriptures speak of God, but they also speak of gods – that is, gods that are not God. Our use of upper and lower case letters helps us to distinguish the two categories. However, the ancient manuscripts did not make this distinction in letters. Therefore, the distinction can be also be made based on other factors. The easiest way to detect the difference is, of course, when the word is rendered in plural form.
The NASB website (www.lockman.org) indicates that there are 205 verses in which the plural form of “gods” occurs (198 of them in the OT; 7 of them in the NT).
When the word shows up in singular form but does not refer to the one true God, it is something in the context which is making this known to us. Examples can be seen in Deuteronomy 3:23-24 and Psalm 45:6-7 below.
You can also see in the list below that translators don’t always render “gods” as “gods.” That is, sometimes, depending on the context, they will translate the Hebrew as something else – such as “mighty ones” or “judges” – whether in a marginal note or in the text itself.
We also have references to Jesus as God or a god. For these, you can refer to Jesus as God, but I have also included some of these references below.
What makes this issue particularly complicated is that the Hebrew word for “gods” is “ELOHIM” (Hebrew denotes a plural with the “-im” ending). Elohim is most often translated “God” (2,326 times in the NASB); less often it is rendered as “gods” (204 times). Here is the entry from www.lockman.org, giving an account of all the ways the word is translated:
430 elohim (43b); pl. of 433; God, god:–divine(1), divine being(1), exceedingly(1), God(2326), god(45), God’s(14), goddess(2), godly(1), gods(204), great(2), judges(3), mighty(2), rulers(1), shrine*(1).
One of the most notable occurrences of the term “gods” was in John 10:34-36 below wherein Jesus says that God has called men “gods.”
Thus we have the Hebrew word “ELOHIM” being translated as God, gods, angels, and other terms – and even applying to men! This is a wide, wide range of usage and we can be thankful to the interpreters for helping us deal with the variety.
Here then are a few examples of references to gods besides God.
John 1:1, 2
John 10:34 (quoting Psalm 82:6 below)
1 Corinthians 8:4, 5, 6 – “…there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”
Hebrews 1:6 (quoting Psalm 97:7 below)
Hebrews 1:8, 9 (quoting Psalm 45:6-7 below)
Hebrews 2:6, 7, 8 (quoting Psalm 8:4-6 below) – “…YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS…” – See Psalm 8:4-6 and accompanying note below.
Deuteronomy 3:23, 24 – “…’O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours?'”
Joshua 24:14, 15
Judges 2:11, 12
1 Kings 12:28 – “So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.'”
Psalm 8:4, 5, 6 (quoted in Hebrews 2:6-8 above) – “…You have made him a little lower than God…” – The NASB has a marginal note on “God” that reads “Or the angels; Heb., Elohim.”
Psalm 45:6, 7 (quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9 above)
Psalm 58:1 – “Do you indeed speak righteousness, O gods? Do you judge uprightly, O sons of men?” – The NASB has a note in the margin for ” gods” which reads “Or, mighty ones, or judges.”
Psalm 82:1 – “God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers.” – The NASB has a note in the margin for “rulers” which reads “Lit., gods.”
Psalm 82:6 (quoted in John 10:34 above) – “I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.”
Psalm 97:7 (quoted in Hebrews 1:6 above)