does "Godhead" mean?
The word "Godhead" is used three times in the King James
Version (KJV) of the Bible (Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, and Colossians
2:9). Although, the New King James Version only translates two of those
verses with the word "Godhead" as follows:
- "Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not
to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone,
something shaped by art and mans devising." Acts 17:29
- "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes
are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even
His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,"
Romans 1:20 (NKJV)
- For in Him dwells
the fullness of the Godhead bodily; Colossians 2:9 (NKJV).
However, most modern translations no longer used the word "Godhead."
Instead, the words deity, divine nature, and divine
being are used. It is helpful to understand the history of the word
and the underlying Greek words for which it is used.
The ending "-head", is not connected with the word "head".
John Wycliffe introduced the term godhed into English Bible versions
in two places, and, though somewhat archaic, the term survives in modern
English because of its use in three places of the Tyndale New Testament
(1525) and into the Authorized King James Version of the Bible (1611).
In that translation, the word was used to translate three different
divinity, divine nature
||G2320 theotes; deity
The terms "Godhead"
and "deity" were interchangeable a few centuries ago
"First of all, the
term godhead, as used in the 17th century simply meant
'deity', as a perusal of Puritan literature will reveal. Thus in his
Commentary on John, first published in 1657, George Hutcheson writes
that John's statement in John 1.3 that all things were made by Christ
is "a proof of Christ's godhead" (P. 11)....Matthew Poole
wrote in 1685 on the same text that The Divine nature and eternal
existence of the Lord Christ is evident from his efficiency in the
creation of the world. Also note that this is a comment on
the same passage as the earlier quote from Hutcheson, incidentally
showing that the old term Godhead is a (now obsolete in
this sense) synonym for Divine nature. Commenting on Colossians
2.9, Poole uses Godhead and Divine nature
interchangeably. Godhead is in fact derived from the
same root as the German Gottheit, Deity, that which makes
God God, the essence of God. The Puritans and the AV translators
use the word accordingly." --Highland
By the late 1800s the
term "Godhead" was already in dispute
In 1881, when the KJV was
in common use and the first English revision of its New Testament
was published, an article by H. V. Reed appeared in the magazine Restitution.
He wrote: "The word godhead is not good English: it means nothing
in itself and conveys no idea to the reader: What is a godhead?"
It is merely a bad translation. The Greek manuscript word should be
rendered 'divinity' or 'deity'. Many Bible scholars and translators
have realized that 'godhead' does not convey clear meaning. Weymouth,
Moffatt, Smith-Goodspeed, Farrar Fenton, RSV, Good News, NAS, Living
Bible, NIV, J. B. Phillips, Bible in Living English, Jerusalem Bible,
NWT, Emphatic Diaglott, and The Everyday Bible versions, all recognizing
its inadequacy, use some word or phrase other than 'godhead' seen
three times in the KJV, where, in Acts 17:29, Rom. 1:20, Col. 2:9,
it represents a different Greek word each time. --A
Bible study from Faithbuilders Fellowship.