Vol.XV No.I Pg.6
March 1978

Study Of The Word "God"

Robert F. Turner

Our quote this month is from "Getting Acquainted with God," by Hugo McCord; Dehoff Publications, 1965.


"The first O.T. description of deity is in Gen. 1:1: In the beginning Elohim, God, created the heavens and the earth... Some have thought that the words "God" and "good" are related. Certainly in their English spelling, the words are quite similar... When one is thinking of the God of the Bible, it is understandable how the word "God" might be equated with goodness, for the Bible God is the essence of goodness.... But the word which Moses employed in Genesis 1:1, Elohim, has no relation to the word for "good." The latter is from the Hebrew word tobh, as found in Gen. 1:4; Elohim, God, saw the light, that it was tobh, good.

The word "god" means an object of worship. The English dictionary trace word "god" to a root meaning to invoke, to worship; a god, then, is an object of worship. Similarly, the most probable derivation of Elohim is the verb 'alah (cf. Islam's "Allah"), which means to go to and fro in fear, and came to mean worship.

The fright originally contained in the word "fear" disappeared in the feeling of awe and reverence toward the great worshipful being, with the result that in context to say that one fears God is to say that one worships God. Moses wrote, "Thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God" (Deut. 6:13), but when Jesus quoted Moses' statement, he interpreted the word "fear" with its proper contextual meaning, saying, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God" (Matt. 4:10). Since the word "God" is derived from the word for fear, and since the word "fear" was used in the sense of worship, a definite relation therefore exists between the word "God" and the idea of worship. (Ft. note ... the word came to be used also of angels (Ps. 8:5; Heb. 2: 7), of human judges (Ex. 22:8,9,28; 1 Sam. 28:13), and of human beings (Ps. 82:6; Jn. 10:34).) ....

As used in Gen. 1:1, the word refers not merely to a worshipful being, but to the only one to be worshipped. The exclusiveness of the special deity referred to in Gen. 1:1 as the only being to be worshipped was later written out in the first of the ten commandments: "Thou shalt have no other gods besides me" (Ex. 20:3). In the statement of Moses, "Thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God; and him shalt thou serve," Jesus considered that the word "only" was understood, and he supplied that which was implied, saying, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." ... (Beginning with Gen. 1:1 only one God is considered as the creator and controller of the whole universe and of all men (Gen. 14:19; 18:25; 24:3). Monotheism is taken for granted, just as theism is taken for granted; neither one is argued.... Hundreds of years later, when idolatry was popular, the carefully written record specifies that Enoch walked with haElohim, the one true and living God (Gen. 5:22,24), thus setting Enoch apart from those who served many gods. But the use of haElohim in Gen. 1:1 would have been belaboring a point not in question."