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The term “one God,” is found in three of Paul’s letters:

one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:6)
εἷς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
(1 Timothy 2:5)
εἷς γὰρ θεός εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων ἄνθρωπος Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς

since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
(Romans 3:30)
εἴπερ εἷς ὁ θεός ὃς δικαιώσει περιτομὴν ἐκ πίστεως καὶ ἀκροβυστίαν διὰ τῆς πίστεως

To whom does the term "one God" refer in Paul?

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One God
The Shema as found in Deuteronomy is the primary text for "one God:"

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[b] (Deuteronomy 6:4) [ESV]

b. Or The LORD our God is one LORD; or The LORD is our God, the LORD is one; or The LORD is our God, the LORD alone

About 200 years before the Christian Era, the Old Testament was translated and so the Shema was rendered into Greek (Septuagint or LXX):

And these are the statutes and the judgments which the Lord commanded to the sons of Israel in the wilderness as they were coming out from the land of Egypt. Hear O, Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord. (LXX NETS)

καὶ ταῦτα τὰ δικαιώματα καὶ τὰ κρίματα ὅσα ἐνετείλατο κύριος τοῗς υἱοῗς Ισραηλ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἐξελθόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου ἄκουε Ισραηλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν

When asked which was the most important commandment, Jesus began with the Shema:

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
(Mark 12:29)

ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι πρώτη ἐστίν ἄκουε Ἰσραήλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν [mGNT]

"κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν," follows the LXX verbatim. Therefore, understanding Paul's use of "one God" should be consistent with the Shema.

Convention From the LXX
The Hebrew for “God” in the Shema is אלהים which is plural and the rendering is not always the singular θεός. However, for a monotheistic Hebrew scholar, wherever אלהים means “God” it would be rendered as singular. This may not always be grammatically correct, but a technically correct translation might fail to accurately communicate the meaning (at least for a Jewish translator).

Consider how the LXX translator(s) handled the first verses of Genesis:

In the beginning, God (אלהים) created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God (אלהים) was hovering over the face of the waters. (1:1-2)

ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished, and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the water.

Where, the meaning is understood as "God" the LXX has the convention of rendering אלהים as ὁ θεὸς, the God. So, "In the beginning the God created the heaven and the earth." Since the concept of capitalization did not yet exist, the definite article was used to demonstrate what in English is "God." Obviously, in the Greek world, θεὸς does not necessarily convey monotheism. Zeus was θεὸς. However, the LXX translator(s) would argue Zeus was not ὁ θεὸς.

The next verse deviates from the convention. "God" is the same "God" as in verse 1; yet it is written without the definite article. So for the person who would understand "Spirit of God" from the position of the Trinity, they see when writing about a singular aspect of the Trinity, "God" was written without the definite article.

Then a general convention derived from the LXX is "God" as in the Godhead was written with a definite article and "God" when used in conjunction with the Spirit (or Father or Son) would be written without the definite article.

Paul's Different Uses

one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:6)
εἷς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
(1 Timothy 2:5)
εἷς γὰρ θεός εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων ἄνθρωπος Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς

since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
(Romans 3:30)
εἴπερ εἷς ὁ θεός ὃς δικαιώσει περιτομὴν ἐκ πίστεως καὶ ἀκροβυστίαν διὰ τῆς πίστεως

The English translations obscure what is obvious in the Greek: Paul only uses the definite article in Romans indicating he is following the LXX pattern from Genesis. The purposeful omission of the definite article indicates the reader is to understand there is a difference between ὁ θεός and simply θεός. In fact, as writing at that time did not include spaces between words, it is possible ὁ θεός was pronounced “ὁθεός.”

Regardless, it is clear from Paul’s varied uses, “one Father” is not ὁ θεός and the only reason for ignoring the distinction in the texts is the theological position “One Father” is “The God.” On the other hand, Paul’s omission of the definite article when used with "Father" is consistent with the LXX translator(s) treatment of "Spirit" in Genesis 1:2.

Conclusion
When Paul wrote "one God" in a passage which spoke of Father, he omitted the definite article, showing "Father" is not ὁ θεὸς. When he wrote "one God" in the passage in which there was no separate mention of the Spirit and Son, he included the definite article. Thus, Paul is following a Trinitarian's understanding of the LXX Genesis.

As Paul made a clear distinction in both the letter to the Ephesians and to Timothy (who was at Ephesus at the time), there is no linguistic support to consider those passages equivalent to the one in Romans or the Shema. Rather, by omitting the definite article he was following the LXX which omitted the definite article when writing about a singular aspect of the Trinity.

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    What do you mean he doesn’t include references? He is quoting the Bible that is a reference and sound authority. No recent commentary/reference trumps Scripture. And the Hebrew is clear God in the plural is echad and not yachid nor bad. Even the Greek choice for one, hen and monos comes across in different passages. Let the text say what it says and stop insisting it should read what it’s not plainly saying, namely, that Jesus is not God in the eternal sense. Notice how much inconsistent twisting of Greek you need to force your bias into the text? Even if you don’t, it’s blatantly obvious. – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 22 at 15:23
  • (+1) This is interesting. Do you have this (and more) documented or published ? – Nigel J Jan 22 at 15:29
  • @ThomasPearne I will add to my answer, but the text speaks for itself: ὁ θεὸς and θεὸς are not synonymous. If you maintain they are, you should offer evidence for that assertion. Fundamentally, you must acknowledge the failure to use the definite article ("θεὸς") is more likely to be understood by a first century reader as "god" rather than "God." There is no linguistic or syntax which automatically means εἷς θεὸς is speaking of "God." You entire premise ignores the literal texts. – Revelation Lad Jan 22 at 21:17
  • @NigelJ I will add to my answer, but nothing published...I'm just looking at the texts and asking for the inspired truth therein. – Revelation Lad Jan 22 at 21:22
  • @RevelationLad I have been going through your contributions and they are impressive. You have a talent with the classical languages which I respect. I am endeavouring to learn from you. – Nigel J Jan 22 at 21:32
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One God = one Godhead

The term "one God" is used to the Father alone in the New Testament. It refers to the Father being the "only God" (compare eis theos with monos theos) (1 Cor 8:9, Jude 1:25).

On the other hand, John 17:3 (monos alethinos theos) points to the Father having true Godhead ( = essence of deity).

In Scripture, the Father alone is ascribed the designation "one God". However, there are other Jewish monotheistic names (O Kyrios/Monos Kyrios/etc.) (Isaiah 42:8) which were ascribed to others (e.g. Jesus as the "only Lord", Jude 1:4). This is explained in Paul: Jesus had in him all of what makes God God (Greek: theotetos), that is, Jesus is deity (Colossians 2:9).

The Bible teaches monotheism which means that in English Bible versions, the term "one God" and "God" are equivalent in meaning. (one God = God, and so, God =/= god)

Trinity

Post-easter, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit were revealed to be in unity with the Father in one Godhead i.e. The Trinity (cf. Deut 6:4 Lxx, Matthew 28:19). Thus, the term "one God" where "God" functions predicatively/adjectivally shows the concept of the Trinity as 'one God' by nature.

  • In English Bible versions, anyone called "God" is the "one God". On the other hand, those who are called 'god'/"gods" are not – Radz C. Brown Jan 22 at 16:05
  • In Greek, there is no distinction. Theos is a divine person whether it be angelic, human or YHWH himself. In English, every instance of 'theos' that refers to YHWH is used as a proper name "God" instead of the generic "god". – Radz C. Brown Jan 22 at 16:31
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    The Greek has many examples where God is not μονος which would indicate one only and numerically one ex.Matt24:36. The text uses εις in such cases where it’s a unified one, such as 1Cor8:4, Eph4:6 and John10:30 makes this very clear that it’s not referring to a single numeric one. This would be like a Hebrew equivalent of the echad. – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 22 at 17:44
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    Being in the form, God Philippians 2:6 refers to Jesus Christ. And he is equal God. But the Father is called The God and the Father of Jesus Christ. And he is 'One God' in that he is the same person who is the God of Jesus Christ and the God of those who believe in Jesus Cjrist. – Nigel J Jan 22 at 20:20
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Paul uses the term “one God” three times. In two of them he explicitly identifies the Father as the one God [1] and in one the Father can be identified contextually. [2,3]. There are no OT or NT verses that identifies anyone lean as the One God. [4]

What about the one Lord?

1 Co 8:6 calles Jesus the “one Lord.” Does this mean the Father is not Lord? No, but he is not the “One Lord” in the same sense as Jesus.

Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich Greek lexicon (BDAG) gives various senses for κύριος in Paul. [5] There when found in OT quotes he is “the Lord of the new community.” “That ‘Jesus is κύριος’ (perh. ‘our κύριος is Jesus’) is the confession of the (Pauline) Christian church.” [6]

To Paul, Jesus is the Lord or “owner” who bought Christians with his blood, a sense that does not apply to the Farther. [7]

However, the sense of the “one God” is clearly a use of θεός in a highly monotheistic sense.[8]

So, the term “one God” in Paul cannot to anyone but the Father.


What about the Shema?

The Shema is not a text for identifying the "One God" as there is no way to get "one God" from the Hebrew or Greek text.


[1] Eph 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (KJV)

1 Co 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (KJV)

[2] 1 Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;(KJV)

[3] Romans 3:30 “God is one,” ASV

[4] James 2:19; Malachi 2:10; Mark 12:32

[5] BDAG κύριος γ. κύριος is also used in ref. to Jesus:

א In OT quotations, where it is understood of the Lord of the new community ἡ ὁδὸς κ. (Is 40:3) Mt 3:3; Mk 1:3; Lk 3:4; J 1:23. εἶπεν κύριος τ. κυρίῳ μου (Ps 109:1: the first κ. is God, the second Christ; s. Billerb. IV 452-65: Der 110. Ps. in d. altrabb. Lit.; βασιλεὺς αὐτῶν χριστὸς κ. [or κυρίου; s. 2bα] PsSol 17:32) Mt 22:44 (cp. vss. 43, 45); Mk 12:36 (cp. vs. 37); Lk 20:42 (cp. vs. 44); Ac 2:34. ὁ καυχώμενος ἐν κυρίῳ καυχάσθω 1 Cor 1:31 (cp. Jer 9:22f). τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου Ro 10:13 (cp. Jo 3:5 ). σὺ κατ᾿ ἀρχάς, κύριε, τὴν γῆν ἐθεμελίωσας Hb 1:10 (cp. Ps 101:26). εἰ ἐγεύσασθε ὅτι χρηστὸς ὁ κύριος 1 Pt 2:3 (cp. Ps 33:9). 1 Pt 3:15 adds Χριστόν to κύριον ἁγιάσατε Is 8:13. ...

[6] BDAG κύριος ג .Even in the passages already mentioned the use of the word κ. raises Jesus above the human level … —That ‘Jesus is κύριος’ (perh. ‘our κύριος is Jesus’) is the confession of the (Pauline) Christian church: Ro 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3; cp. 8:6; Phil 2:11

[7] In Jude and Peter and Paul, Jesus is the Lord-owner of Christians who bought Christians with his blood. (Cp. Jude 4, 2 Pe 2:1; 1 Co 7:22-23)

[8] BDAG θεός *3. God in Israelite/Christian monotheistic persp.

d. used w. πατήρ (s. πατήρ 6a) ὁ θ. καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ Ro 15:6; 2 Cor 1:3; Eph 1:3; Col 1:3; 1 Pt 1:3. ὁ θ. καὶ πατὴρ ἡμῶν Gal 1:4; Phil 4:20; 1 Th 1:3; 3:11, 13. ὁ θ. καὶ πατήρ 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 5:20; Js 1:27. θ. πατήρ Phil 2:11; 1 Pt 1:2; cp. 1 Cor 8:6. ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ro 1:7b; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; Phlm 3; ἀπὸ θ. π. Gal 1:3 v.l.; Eph 6:23; 2 Th 1:2; 2 Ti 1:2; Tit 1:4; παρὰ θεοῦ π. 2 Pt 1:17; 2J 3.

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