HOUSMAIL HM#134 - Is God Plural in Greek? February 2012
In the Old Testament, the most common Hebrew word for “God” is “elohim”. (Strongs 0430 Myhla ‘elohiym el-o-heem’)
It is (sometimes) used as the plural form of the singular noun (strongs 0433) hwla ‘eloah.
Trinitarians commonly make the mistake of claiming that this plural appearance of the word is “proof” of their Trinitarian doctrine.
However this claim is seriously wrong! It is an abuse of the Hebrew Grammar. We must NOT ignore the fact that although “elohim” looks plural because of its suffix “IM”, it is most often singular in its own right. To distinguish between the singular and plural uses of “elohim” you have to be able to read Hebrew and know a little bit of Hebrew grammar. (or know someone who does!) When it is mean to be understood as singular, it is accompanied by SINGULAR verbs and pronouns. And when it is meant to be understood as plural it is accompanied by PLURAL verbs and pronouns. (Hebrew is a complicated language. There are a very few instances where this rule does not apply. However these relatively rare cases do not affect our main conclusions here)
When ELOHIM is used as a proper name, or when referring to Israel's ONE God, it is treated as a singular noun.
WHEN ELOHIM IS TRANSLATED INTO GREEK
It helps to look at how “elohim” is translated into the Greek language
The Greek language doesn’t have this same “singular/plural appearance” problem.
In the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, and the Greek New Testament, when OT references to “elohim” as the ONE God of Israel are translated into Greek the word "theos" is used. “Theos" is always a SINGULAR noun. You can’t ever mistake it for plural!!
When plural “elohim” meaning (idol) “gods” is translated into Greek the plural form "thea" or "theoi" is easy to distinguish. And when elohim refers to “goddess” or goddesses”, the singular is translated by “thea”. and the plural by “theai”.
The same happens in the Latin translations. When “elohim” refers to plural (idol) “gods” (note the lower case) the term “deus” (singular) or “dei” (plural) is used, When it means “goddesses, “dea” (singular) or “deai” (plural) is used, while for the Christian God the Latin uses simply “Deus” (singular).
From this it ought to be clear that when the OT Hebrew “elohim” refers to the ONE God of Israel, BOTH the Greek and the Latin recognise that it is a singular noun.
There is no possible justification for claiming that it supports the doctrine of the trinity.