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On the Use of Theos (θεός) and
Theon (θεόν) in John 1:1 and
elsewhere in the Greek NT

Copyright©2020, 2023, 2024 by Daniel B. Sedory


καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν (kai ho logos ēn pros ton theon)
“...and the Word was with God,” (John 1:1b; ESV, NAU, ASV, KJV)

καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (kai theos ēn ho logos)
      “...and the Word was God.” (John 1:1c; ESV, NAU, ASV, KJV)


    Although this page was created mostly for those with no understanding of Greek (thus, the reason all Greek words have been transliterated by English characters), it should also be useful for those familiar with the language or even Greek scholars (which is why we’ve included the detailed statistics and footnotes).

    For some, upon seeing John 1:1 in the original Greek for the very first time, it is quite natural for them to wonder: "What is the difference between theon (θεόν) and theos (θεὸς)? Are these two different words with completely different meanings?" And they may have met someone who was eager to point out the difference solely to try keeping them from learning the full truth, saying something like: ‘Obviously they have different meanings, you can see they are spelled differently’ (which certainly has some validity). But then they will likely try to force us into the conclusion: "So the Word (in John 1:1) cannot be of the same nature as the God that the Word was with!" Since few know Greek, that seems to make sense to some. But think about this simple sentence: "The catcher and I were doing some practice pitches, and I hit him with the ball." Although it’s obviously true that "him" is not the same word as "catcher," does that mean the "him" in the second phrase cannot refer to "the catcher" in the first phrase? Of course not! And English grammar together with only the context of this sentence points directly to the opposite conclusion: That "him" and "the catcher" are highly likely the same person. The word him here is a pronoun and the direct object of the verb hit. Well, in Greek grammar, we’d say him was in the accusative case. And even though Greek does have pronouns (like 'he, she, it, him, her' etc.), there are also different ways to spell its nouns when they are the direct object or must be in the accusative case for some other reason. There are in fact many different ways to spell a Greek noun depending upon its grammatical case.

    Apart from usually distinguishing between singular and plural (e.g., player and players), English mostly relies upon word order in a sentence (such as whether a noun is before or after a verb) to determine if it’s the subject of a sentence or an object of the verb; whereas, a number of major languages, such as German and Russian, are similar to Greek in this regard: The word order can vary, because their nouns are often spelled slightly different to indicate whether they are the subject or an object in a sentence.

When it comes to pronouns though, English does decline them! That means its pronouns have different forms (are spelled differently) depending upon their grammatical usage. For example, you might say, 'John hit Peter' or 'He hit him,' but it's incorrect English grammar to say, 'He hit he' or 'Him hit him'. All of the following words refer to a male in the singular (but are spelled differently depending upon grammatical usage): He, his and him as well as these (which could also refer to a female): I, mine, me, and your and yours.


In John 1:1b, the Greek word theon (θεόν) is simply the accusative form (a different grammatical spelling) of the noun God. Why? Because in Greek, the preposition pros (πρὸς) requires its object(s) to be in the accusative case for it to have the meaning of "with" (as in being with someone). Various prepositions in Greek have different meanings depending upon which case the words following them are in. For example, if God here in John 1:1b had been in the genitive case, then pros (πρὸς) could have meant the Word was for or necessary for God, but not necessarily with (or in a relationship with) God. The following paragraphs and the table will provide you with all the different word forms of the noun God in the New Testament, along with some notes on selected passages:

    The exact spelling of the nominative, singular  form of the Greek word for God is:  θεός (theos), and this exact form is used 309 times in 287 verses of the NT;[1] 261 of those occurrences (in 243 verses) have the article[2] immediately preceding it:  ὁ θεός (ho theos).[*]     θεόν (theon); the accusative, singular  form for God, is used 148 times (in 142 verses), and with the article:  τὸν θεόν (ton theon), 112 times (in 111 verses).  But to complete the picture, we must also include the genitive and dative cases of θεός :

    The genitive form (θεοῦ; theou) is used 691 times (in 641 verses), so more often than the previous two forms combined! Why so many uses of the genitive case? Well, apart from special uses of this case (and the others as well), think about how often phrases such as "the kingdom of God" (used 63 times with various forms of the word kingdom), "the Son of God" (27 times with various forms of "son"), "the Spirit (or the Holy Spirit) of God" (used 24 times) and all the other phrases which use "of God" in the NT. In 501 of those occurrences (in 473 verses), the article is also used (τοῦ θεοῦ; tou theou).

    The dative form (θεῷ; theō) is used 159 times in 155 verses. In 118 of these occurrences (in 116 verses), the article is also used (τῷ θεῷ; tō theō). It should be noted that the article is rarely included in English translations, since we know from its context that most of Scripture is about the only God who created the Universe, so there’s usually no need for translators to use a phrase like "the God" (unless grammar requires it).

    Before continuing, I believe it would be very helpful to have a table to refer to for the forms of the masculine Greek noun θεός (theos); we've also added the Greek article as it would appear in front of each form. The numbers below the words [in brackets] indicate how many times that form occurs in the Greek NT, and they are displayed as follows, [ form with the article[3] / form without the article ]:

The Masculine Noun, θεός (God, or god)
CASE Singular Plural
Nominative ὁ θεός  (ho theos)
[ 261 / 48 ]
οἱ θεοὶ [5]
(hoi theoi)
  [ 1 / 5 ]
Accusative τὸν θεόν (ton theon)
[ 112 / 35 ] [4]
τοὺς θεούς [6]
(tous theous)
[ 0 / 2 ]
Genitive τοῦ θεοῦ (tou theou)
[ 501 / 190 ]
τῶν θεῶν [7]
(tōn theōn)
  [ 0 / 0 ]
Dative τῷ θεῷ (tō theō)
[ 118 / 41 ]
τοῖς θεοῖς [8]
(tois theois)
  [ 0 / 1 ]
Vocative θεέ (theé)
[ 2 ] (both in Mt. 27:46)
These give us a total of (309 + 147 + 691 + 159 + 8 + 2) = 1,316
occurrences for the masculine Greek forms of theos in the NT.[4]


Let’s take a quick look at all the plural forms for θεός (theos) in the NT before digging into John 1:1 and elsewhere:
First, note that the plural forms, θεοὶ (theoi), θεούς (theous) and θεοῖς (theois) are never used of the one true God in the NT:[9]

1) In John 10:34, we find theoi ("gods") and in verse 35 theous ("gods"). But both of these occurrences are references to humans in the context, and it appears Jesus was quoting from Psalm 82:6 (81:6 in the LXX), which begins with the phrase, "ἐγὼ εἶπα θεοί ἐστε" (literally: "I said gods you are") where the word was figuratively applied to those acting as judges in Israel.
2) Acts 7:40 contains the only other occurrence of theous in the NT, referring to idols ("gods") the people asked Aaron to make for them in Moses’ absence (see Exodus 32).
3) We already dealt with hoi theoi (in Acts 14:11) in
footnote 5.
4) The last phrase of Acts 19:26, “that gods made with hands are no gods [theoi ] at all. (NAU)” is another reference to idols by Paul.
5) And 1 Corinthians 8:5 uses theoi twice: “so-called gods” and “many ‘gods’.”
6) Lastly, the only occurrence of the dative, masculine, plural form of theos in the NT is found in Galatians 4:8b, where Paul tells the Galatian Christians they were once enslaved to beings that “by nature are not gods” (phusei mē ousin theois / φύσει μὴ οὖσιν θεοῖς) and that they were acting as if they wanted to be enslaved again!

One particular usage of theos in the nominative, singular form shows how important the context of a passage can be: In Philippians 3:19, Paul actually uses ὁ θεός (ho theos) to speak of one’s hunger controlling them like a god: "whose god" (ὧν ὁ θεὸς; hōn ho theos) "is their appetite" (ἡ κοιλία; hē koilia). So here we have an example where theos even with the article is used only figuratively of the human appetite; calling it a god, and reminding us how important the context is rather than only a word form!

Back to The Gospel of John

    Now looking at the Gospel of John, we find ὁ θεός (ho theos) 15 times in these 14 verses; all referring to the God of Israel: John 3:2, 16, 17, 33, 34; 4:24; 6:27; 8:42; 9:29, 31; 11:22; 13:31, 32(twice) and 20:28. And without the article only 3 times (in John 1:1, 18 and 8:54), so a total of 18 times for theos in John. And θεόν (theon) in: 1:1, 2, 18; 5:18; 8:41; 10:33; 11:22; 13:3; 14:1; 17:3; 20:17(twice) and 21:19, for a total of 13 occurrences.

In the first two occurrences of "God" in the Gospel of John (1:1, 2) and in Jn 13:3, we find the phrase pros ton theon (πρὸς τὸν θεόν).[10] This speaks of the Word as being "with God" in a figurative; not physical, sense of facing towards Him or being in a close relationship with Him (which we would assume is the person of the Father — or both the Father and the Spirit). In other verses, pros is often translated as "to" or "towards" as it is in John 13:3 (ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἐξῆλθεν καὶ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ὑπάγει; apo theou exēlthen kai pros ton theon hupagei " or "going back to God" after having come from Him).

John 1:18 in the ESV reads: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Or in the Greek, this is: Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο; theon oudeis heōraken pōpote; monogenēs theos ho ōn eis ton kolpon tou patros ekeinos exēgēsato which the NET Bible translates as: “No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.” [Note: The KJV and the Byzantine manuscripts its NT translation is based upon, have the word “Son” instead of “God” following the word monogenēs (μονογενὴς). But this makes no difference for those who attempt to label “the Word” as only "a god" instead of one who has the same exact nature as God the Father, since their NT Greek text for this verse is exactly the same as the one used by the ESV, NET and many others.]

This is a rather complex verse for those who know only English. Theon is the first word in the verse and it is without the article, but instead of translating it as "a god," the context, which includes “in the bosom of the Father(KJV, NKJ, ASV, NASB, or “who is at the Father’s side” [ESV] or “who is in closest fellowship with the Father” [NET] or ton kolpon tou patros in the Greek) in the very same verse, makes it clear that theon here refers to the God of Israel. It is in the accusative case because it is the direct object of the verb heōraken (the indicative perfect active, 3rd person, singular form of the verb horaō; to see) with oudeis (“No one”) as the subject. Likewise, monogenēs theos (μονογενὴς θεὸς) in the context of this verse and that of the first chapter of John and his whole book is not "an ... god," but rather “the only begotten (or “the only”) God.”

As with verses 1:1 and 2, John 5:18; 8:41; 11:22; 13:3 (which we’ve already covered); 14:1 and 21:19 all include ton (τὸν) as the article before God (θεόν) in the accusative case.

I hope to address many other passages in John, but first I'd like to discuss:


What We Can Learn from the Greek Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures

First, it's important to point out that the LXX is not God-breathed; theopneustos (θεόπνευστος) Scripture (see 2 Timothy 3:16); it's a translation of the Hebrew manuscripts they had around 200 BC. However, the Septuagint (the LXX) was in use for many centuries; both before and after the time of Jesus the Messiah, and used by many Christians as their Scriptures both before and after they gained access to the Greek letters and Gospels of the Apostles. It's value lies in showing us first how the Jewish teachers viewed certain passages of the Hebrew Scriptures by noting how they translated them into Greek, and then we can also compare it to the Greek words in the NT that we know to be quotes of Jesus and the Apostles from the Old Testament. Where those quoted passages fully agree with the Greek of the NT manuscripts (without any deviation), only then can we know for sure they're considered to be Scripture by Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit. As a simple example, when Jesus replied to some Pharisees, stating in Matthew 19:4, “arsen kai thēlu epoiēsen autous (ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς),” those words (literally, "male and female He made them") are exaclty the same as those found in the LXX in Genesis 1:27. And in Mark 10:7-8, Jesus is quoted as saying: “heneken toutou kataleipsei anthrōpos ton patera autou kai tēn mētera ... [kai proskollēthēsetai pros tēn gunaika autou], kai esontai hoi duo eis sarka mian (ἕνεκεν τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν μητέρα ... [καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ] καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν)” Those are exactly the same words found in Genesis 2:24 of the LXX; with the exception that the LXX has an autou where I put 3 dots (...). The words in brackets are not found in more reliable NT Greek Texts of Mark, but they are found in the parallel passage in Matthew 19:5 (copyists often harmonized Gospel verses by adding words from other Gospels that they thought someone had missed in what they were copying from). You can also see that Matthew did not use every word from the LXX passage; nor always the same exact spelling: “heneka toutou kataleipsei anthrōpos ton patera ... kai tēn mētera kai ...kollēthēsetai tē... gunaiki autou, kai esontai hoi duo eis sarka mian (ἕνεκα τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα ... καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ ...κολληθήσεται τῇ... γυναικ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν)” where the blue background shows where Matthew's Gospel is different from Mark's by leaving out an autou and changing some letters without changing any of the meaning!

Genesis 3:5 in the LXX

Chapter 3 of Genesis describes "the Fall" of mankind when Adam disobeyed God. It begins with a snake or serpent (nāchāsh נָחָשׁ in the Hebrew, and ophis ὄφις in the LXX; later identified as either a creature possessed by or satan himself) who got Eve to disobey the commandment of God by convincing her that not only would she not die, but adding in Genesis 3:5b, “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (ESV)” (wǝnipqǝḥû ʿênêkem wihyîtem kēʾlōhîm yōdǝʿê ṭôb wārāʿ  וְנִפְקְח֖וּ עֵֽינֵיכֶ֑ם וִהְיִיתֶם֙ כֵּֽאלֹהִ֔ים יֹדְעֵ֖י ט֥וֹב וָרָֽע׃) in the Hebrew, but in the LXX that was translated as: (esesthe hōs theoi ginōskontes kalon kai ponēron   ἔσεσθε ὡς θεοὶ γινώσκοντες καλὸν καὶ πονηρόν) or translated as: “and you would be like gods knowing good and evil”. In verse 22, Scripture does state that Adam (and Eve) had come to know what "good and evil" were, but the emphasis there was on that knowlege rather than how that might make them similar to God (or possibly the angels as well, since the words there are “like us”). They had sinned against God and their punishment included an eventual death; they would not live as sinful human beings forever.

I can’t help but think that the translators of the Hebrew Scriptures must have had Isaiah 46:9b (“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me.” All English translations being the same or very similar) in mind when they came to Genesis 3:5, and decided to make sure that no one might even think they could become like God by any means; in spite of the fact that the context clearly shows it was the serpent who was speaking. So, they used the Greek word theoi which they often used to refer to false “gods” instead of the word theos. And as was pointed out in Footnote 9, the translators of the Septuagint (LXX) never used a plural form of theos to refer to one true God.


The writers of the New Testament Gospels and Letters must have had the usage of theos in the LXX in mind when they used the plural forms of theos (θεὸς) to speak of those who were not truly like God (John 10:34-35; see our comments above on this), or of false gods and idols. Thus, if John had wanted to describe “the Word” as a being having less than the same nature as God, he could have used a plural form of theos rather than writing John 1:1 the way that he did.



Possibly more to follow at a later date!
However, if you have not yet done so, you should read these pages:

Problems People Have with the “Trinity”



* Transliteration Guide

[Return to Text] For those unfamiliar with Greek, here’s a quick guide to transliterating Greek words into English characters. First, if you see what looks like a little backwards (not normal) apostrophe over a Greek letter, that’s called a rough breathing mark, and it is transliterated as (and pronounced like) the English "h" at the beginning of a word. Thus, the reasonbecomes: ho. We’ve placed the vowels which are transliterated with a macron (a bar) over the English letters e and o at the top here, followed by the more difficult to discern (for English readers) Greek letters; such as those transliterated by two English characters. The ones at the bottom, should be the easiest for you to remember, since they’re so similar in appearance to their English characters:

  η  ->  ē       ω  ->  ō           θ  ->  th           φ  ->  ph       χ  ->  ch       ψ  ->  ps

  λ  ->  l         μ  ->  m         ν  ->  n           ζ  ->  z         ξ  ->  x         π  ->  p      
ρ  ->  r

β  ->  b         γ  ->  g         δ  ->  d             σ  ->  s       ς  ->  s

  ε  ->  e         α  ->  a           ο  ->  o           ι  ->  i       κ  ->  k         τ  ->  t       υ  ->  u

If you’d like to know more about the Greek alphabet for using the many tools online, see our page here: Learning New Testament Greek. (Note: This is not a course on learning the Greek language, but only some pages to help you learn the Greek alphabet which will enable you to use some great tools and understand what Greek words in the NT some scholar may refer to.)



1[Return to Text] All statistics here are based upon the Greek text of the Nestle-Aland 28th Edition of The Novum Testamentum Graece (Copyright © 2014 by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; the German Bible Society, Stuttgart, Germany).

2[Return to Text] Most Greek grammar books will call this word the Definite Article, but unlike English, which has both definite ("the") and indefinite ("a" or "an") articles, Greek has only one (which I’ve decided to refer to as "the Greek article" or simply "the article" in this work). Note: The Greek article is sometimes translated into English as "the" when necessary (though it’s often not translated at all), but it has a much wider meaning than the English "the" in many of its uses in the Greek Text.

3[Return to Text] This number does not include any phrases in which the article is separated from the noun form by an adjective, preposition or some other word(s). For example, we did not include the phrase τοῦ ἀφθάρτου θεοῦ ("of the incorruptible God"; Romans 1:23; NAU; ASV; GNV); only the occurrences where the noun immediately follows the article were counted. So, keep in mind that such phrases would increase the number of times that the article is used with the noun form.

4[Return to Text] Why only "35" for the number of times theon is used without the article? Well, one of its occurrences is actually a feminine form! In the Greek of Acts 19:37, you’ll find the phrase tēn theon (τὴν θεὸν), translated simply as "goddess" in reference to the idol of Artemis at Ephesus. So theon just happens to also be the accusative feminine singular form of theos which is being used here instead of thean (θεάν); the accusative singular form of the Greek word θεά (thea; goddess or female deity) — which is found in Acts 19:27 in its genitive, singular form in the phrase "of the great goddess" (tēs megalēs theas "τῆς μεγάλης θεᾶς"). Thus, the reason for only (112 + 35 = ) 147 times (instead of 148) for theon in the total occurrences at the bottom of the table.

5[Return to Text] hoi theoi occurs only once in the NT at Acts 14:11 where the phrase was applied to Paul and Barnabas by the Lycaonian crowd saying, "The gods [hoi theoi] have come down to us in the likeness of men! (ESV)" calling Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes. And to show just how fickle a mob is, soon after that, they allowed a group of Jews from Antioch and Iconium to stone Paul to death; though he was able to survive (it was not God’s plan for Paul to die yet, so He may have miraculously misguided a number of the stones from vital areas of Paul’s body and/or healed him after the disciples who gathered around him were praying for him and probably helping in other ways as well; see Acts 14:19). However, hoi theoi (οἱ θεοὶ) is used 15 times in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) at verses (using the order found in it): Exod. 32:4,8; Deut. 32:31,37; Jdg. 2:3; 1 Sam. 4:7,8; 2 Ki. 18:33; 19:12; 1 Chr. 16:26; Neh. 9:18; Ps. 95:5; Isa. 36:18; 37:12; Jer. 2:28 (1st occurrence). And without the article, theoi occurs an additional 19 times in the LXX (Gn. 3:5; Ex 20:3; Dt 5:7; 1 Ki 12:28; 2 Ki 19:18; 2 Chr 28:23; 32:13,17; Ps 81:6; Ho 14:4; Is 37:19; 41:23; 42:17; Je 2:11,28; 10:11; 11:13; 16:20; Dan. 4:37) for a total of 34 occurrences in 33 verses. The 5 occurrences in the NT of theoi without the article (John 10:34; Acts 14:11; 19:26 and 1 Corinthians 8:5; twice) are commented on in the body of the text above.

6[Return to Text] The phrase tous theous (τοὺς θεούς) does not occur in the NT, but is found 35 times in the LXX at: Gen. 31:30,32; 35:2,4; Exod. 18:11; Deut. 12:30; Jos. 24:14,23,33; Jdg. 6:10; 10:14,16; Ruth 1:15; 1 Sam. 7:3; 2 Sam. 5:21; 2 Ki. 19:18; 1 Chr. 14:12; 16:25; 2 Chr. 2:4; 25:14(1st occurrence),15,20; 28:23; 33:15; Est. 4:17; Ps. 94:3; 95:4; 96:9; 134:5; Zeph. 2:11; Isa. 19:3; Jer. 11:12; Dan. 5:1; 11:8,37. And theous without the article occurs an additional 27 times in 26 verses: Ex 20:23(twice); 22:27; 32:1,23,31; 34:17; Le 19:4; Dt 31:18,20; Jd 5:8; 1 Sa 28:13; 2 Ki 17:7,29,35,37,38; 2 Ch 13:8; 25:14(2nd occurrence); 32:19; Ps 81:1; Ho 3:1; Mal 2:11; Is 44:15; 45:20; Je 2:11; 16:20 (for a total of 62 occurrences in 60 verses). The 2 occurrences in the NT of theous without the article (John 10:35; Acts 7:40) are commented on above.

7[Return to Text] Theōn (θεῶν) does not occur in the NT. The phrase tōn theōn (τῶν θεῶν) does occur 26 times in these 25 LXX passages:
Exod. 34:13,15,16(twice); Deut. 6:14(2nd occurrence); 7:5,25; 9:26; 10:17; 12:3; 13:8; Jos. 23:7; Jdg. 2:12(2nd occurrence); 1 Sam. 4:8; 6:5; Est. 4:17; Ps. 83:8; 135:2; Isa. 36:20; Dan. 2:47; 3:90,93; 4:33,34,37; 11:36. And theōn without the article is found an additional 25 times in 23 more verses: Ex 23:13; Dt 6:14(1st occurrence); 8:19; 18:20; 28:14; 31:16; Jdg 2:12(1st occurrence),17,19; 1 Ki 9:9; 11:4,10; 18:24; 1 Ch 5:25; 2 Ch 7:22; Ps 49:1; 81:1; Je 7:6,9; 11:10; 13:10; 16:11; 25:6; 42:15; 50:12) for a total of 51 occurences in 48 verses.

8[Return to Text] There are no occurrences of the phrase tois theois (τοῖς θεοῖς) in the NT, but the phrase is found 28 times (in 22 verses) in the LXX:
Exod. 12:12; 23:24,32,33; 34:15; Num. 33:4; Deut. 7:16; 12:2,30,31(twice); 20:18; 29:17; Jos. 24:15(twice); Jdg. 2:2; 3:6; 10:6(five times); 1 Sam. 17:43; 2 Ki. 17:33; 18:35; 2 Chr. 32:14; Ezek. 20:28; Dan. 3:14. And theois without the article occurs an additional 44 times in the LXX (Ex 15:11; 22:19; Dt 4:28; 7:4; 11:16,28; 13:3,7,14; 17:3; 28:36,64; 29:25; 30:17; 32:17; Jos 23:16; 24:2,16,20; Jdg 10:13; 1 Sa 8:8; 26:19; 1 Ki 9:6; 2 Ki 5:17; 17:31; 22:17; 2 Ch 7:19; 28:25; 34:25; Ps 85:8; Je 1:16; 5:7,19; 7:18; 16:13; 19:4,13; 22:9; 31:35; 39:29; 51:3,5,8,15 for a total count of 72 in 66 verses. The single occurrence in the NT of theois without the article (Galatians 4:8) is commented on above.

9[Return to Text] It should be noted that within the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which we call the Septuagint Version (often abbreviated only as LXX), these plural Greek, just like in the NT, are used to speak of the false "gods" of Egypt (in Exodus 12:12, “all the gods of Egypt” is translated as: pasi tois theois tōn Aiguptiōn; πᾶσι τοῖς θεοῖς τῶν Αἰγυπτίων), idols (in Genesis 31:30, “Why did you steal my gods?” obviously referring to small man-made figures is translated in the LXX as: ti eklepsas tous theous mou; τί ἔκλεψας τοὺς θεούς μου) and later on of all the "gods" of the nations around and/or attacking Israel.

See footnotes 5, 6, 7 and 8 above for all the occurrences, both with and without the article, of these plural forms of theos in the LXX.

Before discussing the use of various Greek words or phrases for God or "gods" in the LXX, it must be pointed out that apart from the unique name of God; most often translated as LORD in English and simply as kurios in the LXX (sometimes as “Yahweh” or only as "YHWH" or in Hebrew, יהוה — for more on this, see the video The Divine Name), the Hebrew Scriptures often use what is technically a plural noun when speaking of the one and only true “God” and also of false gods: That word is ʼĕlôhîym (אֱלֹהִים where the -îym ending most often indicates a plural noun). Two other Hebrew words similar to ʼĕlôhîym in their usage are: ʼĕlôah (אֱלֹהַּ; for example in Isaiah 44:8, “Is there any God but me?” the word for God is ʼĕlôah) and simply ʼêl (אֵל; for example in Exodus 6:3, ʼêl shadday, God Almighty).

Due to the sheer number of occurrences of the words for God and gods in the Hebrew Scriptures and its Greek translation (the LXX), an exhuastive presentation of all the verses continaing them would be far beyond the scope of this paper. However, it is our conclusion after much study that the LXX translators always used the singular word theos (θεός); most often with the article ho (apparently 1,225 times, and 94 times without it), or one of its grammatical case forms (ton theon 212 times and 108 without the article, tou theou 541 times and 308 without the article, tō theō 183 times and 77 times without, and theé (θεέ) in: Jdg. 16:28; 21:3; 2 Sam. 7:25; 1 Ki. 14:28), that just as in the NT, the LXX never uses one of the plural forms of theos to translate any Hebrew words which refer to the God of Israel.

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10[Return to Text] That phrase, πρὸς τὸν θεόν (pros ton theon), is also used in Acts 4:24; 12:5; 24:16; Romans 5:1; 10:1; 15:17, 30; 2 Corinthians 3:4; 13:7; Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:8,9; Hebrews 2:17; 5:1; 1 John 3:21 and Revelation 12:5; 13:6.


First published on: June 16, 2020 (2020.06.16).
Revised on: June 20, 2020 (2020.06.20); June 26, 2020 (2020.06.26); rewrote and clarified many statements on September 14, 2023 (2023.09.14).
Updated on: March 26, 2024 (2024.03.26); added occurrences of all plural forms of theos in the LXX, March 30 2024 (2024.03.30); clarified some things, minor corrections and added much more material about the Septuagint (LXX).



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