Is Satan Called God in the New Testament?
I have been having an interesting dialogue with a JW who has argued with me that when Thomas called Jesus God in John 20:28, he didn’t say Jehovah, so when I questioned why Jesus being a rabbi didn’t rebuke Thomas for blasphemy, this person said it doesn’t apply here since he didn’t say Jehovah. When I pointed out that in the Greek the definite article was present (Ho Theos) they pointed out that Satan himself is called God. This argument is new to me. Have you ever come across this or heard of it? I then pointed out that Satan is a false god. They went on to say the definite article is used in 2 Corinthians 4:4 when referring to Satan. This was an unexpected response for me, because I always assumed that JW’s used the definite article or lack of it to support their theology (example being John 1:1). Do you have any suggestions?
Interesting, I had never heard that particular argument before. However, I think it can be resolved just by looking at the two texts in context. I’m no Greek expert by any means, so you might want to run this by someone who knows more than I do. But as I understand it, the “ho” in Greek functions in much the same way as the word “the” in English. Now Jehovah’s Witnesses do argue that the lack of the “ho” in the final instance of Theos in John 1:1 makes it indefinite, though Greek scholars would disagree. More about than in a minute.
But in 2 Cor. 4:4, the expression “the god” fits in nicely with the context, because it is modified by a prepositional phrase. Yes, Satan is called “the god,” but it is “the god” OF THIS WORLD, meaning the world separated from the true God. In John 20:28, on the other hand, Thomas acknowledges Jesus as “the God” OF ME (literally). So Satan is indeed the god of the evil world, but Jesus is the God of the apostle Thomas! So the question arises as to why Jehovah’s Witnesses worship a different God than the apostle did.
In John 1:1, the context is eternity. The Word was with “the God” and “God” was the Word. There is no modifying prepositional phrase with either reference to God (Theos), as in the other two verses we are discussing. So “the God” there clearly means the One God, the true God. The second “God,” according to scholars is a qualitative reference to the nature of the Word. To illustrate: if you were here with me, I might write, “You were with a human [me], and you were human.” The first “human” names what I am; it refers to a specific human, me. The second “human” is qualitative; it tells us what your nature is – not that you are “a human,” but that you have the quality of being human. Jesus was with the Person known as God, and He Himself has the quality of being God.