This, together with my next post on One-ness and Three-ness, is a detour from my series on mission, evangelism and social action.
The point I'm seeking to secure in this detour is that God is known only in the Gospel. He is a Gospel-Alone God and thus His church has a Gospel-Alone mission. There is not a God to be known apart from Jesus - not "God the Creator", not "The one God", not "The Unmoved Mover", not "The First Cause" - if we do not know the Father in the Son and by the Spirit we do not know God full-stop. (This being the case it makes no sense to honour "God" apart from the Gospel - that is to take upon ourselves a mission that is not itself the gospel).
Now very quickly the question will come: Isn't the Old Testament just such a revelation? That is, don't the Law, Prophets and Writings reveal the living God yet not in this trinitarian (gospel) way? My answer is no. The Hebrew Scriptures do reveal the very deepest things of God because they are themselves a trinitarian revelation of the trinitarian God.
In asserting this people may accuse me of being driven simply by systematic (christocentric) concerns. These are strongly present I cannot deny it. But my purpose in this post is to show that the Hebrew Scriptures on their own terms and in their own context must be understood from a trinitarian framework.
My point is not that the OT betrays hints, shapes and shadows of triune structure
My point is not that NT eyes can see trinitarian themes in the OT
My point is not that we go back as Christians and now retrospectively read the trinity into the OT
My point is not that the OT gives us partial suggestions of trinitarian life that are then developed by NT fulfillment
My point is that these texts read on their own terms and in their own context (as the Jewish, Hebrew Scriptures that they are) demand to be understood as the revelation of a multi-Personal God. The only proper way to understand these texts is as trinitarian revelation. These texts are either to be understood triunely or they are mis-understood - on their own terms or any others! What I am setting out to do is to simply open up the OT and show what is actually there. I have already acknowledged that I have a dogmatic commitment to christocentric revelation, but I hope to show that the OT texts themselves bear this out.
Just before we dive into the texts I would simply ask the reader to question their own dogmatic commitments. I may be expecting to see a multi-Personal God in the OT, but I assure you - you are expecting to see a certain kind of God also. What is it? Are you expecting to see a revelation of the one God? A uni-Personal God? Are you accustomed to thinking of the OT God as equivalent to the God of the modern Jew? Unitarian? Perhaps not, perhaps you recoil at the idea (I hope so). But it's worth all of us asking ourselves 'What are our pre-suppositions?' as we read 'In the Beginning.' The "God" of Genesis 1:1 is a certain kind of God. What do we assume about His being? What will we allow Him to be, do and say as we read chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3...? Do we think it's "obvious" that the God of Genesis 1 is the uncreated Creator? Do we assume that the God being revealed by Moses is basically the God of the modern Jew? The philosophical theist? Something like the Muslim 'God'? Perhaps we think (as so many Christians do) that "the One God" is a foundational doctrine to which trinitarian concepts are added? Perhaps then we see the OT as portraying this basic 'God' before trinitarian nuances are added?
I have often had the experience of being criticised for bringing trinitarian assumptions to the OT text when, at the same time, my Christian friend was bringing equally strong and equally controlling assumptions to bear themselves - assumptions that God (or His revelation) must progress from primitive unitarianism to developed trinitarianism. Pre-suppositions are inevitable. The issue is not 'Who has purged themselves of all dogmatic bias and is a pure biblical scholar!' The issue is 'Which pre-suppositions can actually handle what's on the page and which do damage to the text?' My contention is that the trinitarian pre-supposition is the only one that makes sense of the OT data.
Ok. Here we go - 24 Scriptures to consider:
- Genesis 1. Verse 1: "In the beginning Elohiym... " Here is the God to Whom we're introduced. A plural noun! One that takes a singular verb. The grammatical oddity is meant to make us sit up and take notice. Our plural God acts as one. And His plural counsel (v26) "Let us..." gives rise to a united creation of a plural humanity - male and female to image His own life.
- Genesis 3. The Voice of the LORD God (v8) who comes to walk with Adam and Eve is also the LORD God (v9)
- Genesis 16. The Angel of the LORD (v9) is also LORD and God (v13)
- Genesis 18&19. The LORD who appears to Abraham (18:1) is Judge of all the earth (18:25), yet He excercises His divine prerogative in union with "the LORD out of the heavens." (19:24)
- Genesis 32. Jacob wrestles with the Man (v24) who is the Angel (Hosea 12:4) who is God (Gen 32:28,30)
- Genesis 48. The God who is God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is Shepherd and the source of blessing (v15) is the Angel of God (v16).
- Exodus 3. The God of the burning bush is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (v6) and the great I AM (v14). He is also the Angel of the LORD (v2) and will bring the people to worship God on the mountain (v12).
- Exodus 19. The LORD on the mountain (v10) warns Moses that in three days the LORD will come to the mountain (v11) and things will be very different then. Sure enough, three days later, the LORD descends on the mountain (v18) and then the LORD descends on the mountain (v20)!
- Exodus 33. Moses meets face to face with the LORD in the tent of meeting (v11) but the LORD on the top of the mountain he must never see (v20-22).
- Joshua 5&6. The Commander of the LORD's army (5:14) who fights for Israel to deliver her is also the LORD who is worthy of worship (5:15; 6:2)
- Judges 2. The Angel of the LORD brought them out of Egypt and established His covenant with them. (v1-4)
- Judges 6. The Angel of the LORD (v11-12) brings the LORD's blessing (one who is Sovereign LORD, v22). Yet the Angel, as another Person is Himself the LORD (v14) with the same divine majesty (v22-24).
- Judges 13. God sends the Angel of the LORD (e.g. v9) who is Himself God (e.g. v22). And the Spirit fills Samson (v25)
- Psalm 2. The Son Whom we are to kiss and find refuge in (v12) is the Anointed Son of the Father through Whom is exercised all divine rule and authority.
- Psalm 45. The most excellent of men who rules the nations as Champion and King is called 'Lord' by His bride and 'God' by His God. (v6,7)
- Psalm 110. David knows two Lords who converse in their rule of the nations. There is the LORD and there is the Kingly Priest who is David's Lord.
- Proverbs. The Wisdom of God who creates (8:30) and gives new life (8:35) through granting the Spirit (1:23) is also possessed by the LORD (8:22)
- Isaiah 9. The government of God's righteous kingdom will be on the shoulders of the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (v6). Yet He is One who is born and through Whom the zeal of the LORD will accomplish His work (v7)
- Isaiah 48. The great I AM, the first and the last who created the heavens and the earth and who called Israel (v12,13) is One who is sent from the Lord GOD along with His Spirit (v16)
- Isaiah 63. The Saviour sends the Angel to save, yet they grieve His Holy Spirit (v9-10)
- Ezekiel 34. The Shepherd of Ezekiel's prophesy will be the LORD Himself (v12-22), yet this loving, kingly rule is exercised through the Prince, His Servant David (v23-24) who does all that the LORD is said to do as Shepherd and who rules for the LORD.
- Daniel 7. The Possessor and rightful Ruler of the Kingdom that shall never pass away is the Son of Man (v13,14) who inherits the kingdom from the Ancient of Days (v9-12).
- Micah 2. The Shepherd who will gather the remnant of Israel is the LORD (v12) who will set at their head a King who is also called 'LORD' (v13)
- Zechariah 2. The One Sent from the LORD Almighty (v7,9,11) is the LORD Himself to live among the Israelites as the gentle, righteous, saving King of 9:9 (compare with 2:10)!
In all this my argument is not that these are hints of trinity but that they are texts that can only ever be understood from the perspective of a multi-Personal God. When two Persons called LORD are interacting in the text (when we see plainly "true God from true God") then an understanding of God as uni-Personal is just dead wrong. It must always have been dead wrong for it could never account for the Hebrew Scriptures as written.
The only God there is is trinitarian and His revelation has always been such.
36 thoughts on “The Trinitarian Old Testament”
Glen, while I’m in no position to critique I still consider that this, as well as the one on your website title, “The God who is... proclaimed by Moses“, are both wonderful articles. They clearly illustrate the triune nature of God from the scripture as well as the fact that men can only relate to and/or with God in and/or through Christ Jesus.
I must confess that I still have a problem perceiving that the Israelites were offered the same knowledge of God that we, the Church, are offered today. This is not to say that that what knowledge was available to them was mediated through any other means but Christ the Lord but rather that the knowledge they were offered was limited in scope, not by the Word, but by how they related to Him.
I believe there are numerous aspects to man’s relationship with God but one that seems critical to our discussion pertains to the function of the High Priest. I think the article at your website gave a wonderful illustration of the Tabernacle. When we consider the fact that only the High Priest could approach the Mercy Seat behind the Veil under a very specific circumstance we can see that the Israelites were necessarily limited by and totally dependant on their High Priest for maintaining their relationship with God. I won’t expound on all the details, as I’m confident you know that the Tabernacle and the function of the Priest only foreshadowed the method through which God relates with men today. The Israelites could only relate to God through the Law of sin and death but today we have a new and living way. Our High Priest is Christ the Lord and we can now relate directly with God in Him. The Veil has been removed.
One other aspect I wanted to ask you about concerns the function of the Holy Spirit. My perception of your position may be somewhat prejudiced by my experience but it seems that many consider that the Holy Spirit only works from within the heart of a man. Every manifestation of the Holy Spirit is then attributed as an outworking from indwelling. While I consider that it is truly the heart of a man that the Holy Spirit addresses I don’t find this is always performed from an indwelling position. Do you find a distinction between filling and indwelling? I consider this is another difference in the way that the Israelites related with God and the way we relate today.
I continue to look forward to your series on Mission but I had to take advantage of this opportunity you presented here. ;-)
Awesome post! I've been considering this topic for a while; however, other concerns have managed to keep me from tackling it myself. You have managed to provide a wonderful spring board for my future meditations on the topic, and I appreciate that greatly. Thanks!
Isn't it brilliant to see the cross, resurrection, ascension etc in the light of the tabernacle?! Christ our great High Priest, and Lamb and Temple! I don't think you can spend too much time/energy investigating the details of the tabernacle - they always repay your efforts.
Absolutely these things are shadows - the further question is whether the Israelites saw, through the shadows/types, the substance of Christ. I say they did. Notice that the tabernacle is expressly set up as "according to the pattern" shown on the mountain (Ex 25:40 - this is repeated time and again). The whole thing is established as typological. Then notice verses like Deut 32:43; Psalm 130:8 or Ezekiel 16:63 - it is the LORD Himself who will make the ultimate atonement. And notice in Psalms like 40; 50; 51 how the temple arrangement was not the ultimate reality. Also the temple system can only deal with unintentional sins (and with skin diseases and mildew problems) In short, it's all very surface level. And this in the face of a very deep understanding of the nature of sin and curse. The cult was only ever set up as a surface level reflection of deeper truths. The OT itself warned people away from trusting in the cult itself - they were always to trust the *LORD*.
I find it similar today. the NT speaks in staggering terms of the sacraments. Peter says "Repent and be baptised for the forgiveness of sins." Yet we know that faith in baptism never saved anyone, only faith in Christ. Yet through the powerful shadow/type of baptism I am confronted with the reality of Christ. For believing Israel I think the experience was similar.
I would also say that the Scriptures never say that God 'deems' faith in the sign to *be* faith in the Person. Therefore I don't want to have a system of interpretation which says people trusted *savingly* in anything other than the *Person* of Christ.
On the issue of the Holy Spirit, I think it's possible to over-exegete John 14:17. I'm not sure I'd want to build a whole distinction of indwelling / filling from this, or from any other verse for that matter. This is a bigger issue than I can deal with here... perhaps I'll do a post on it later.
Good to make your acquaintance! If you're looking for other stimulating 'springboards' on the issue let me recommend two mp3s by Paul Blackham:
Genesis 3:15 – Sermon by Paul Blackham
Faith in Christ in the OT - lecture by Paul Blackham
You'll have to sign in but it's free.
Also the paper KC mentions above goes into more detail for Genesis and Exodus.
Anyway, thanks for the encouragement!
Glen, I suppose then that pointing at John 14:20 as further evidence of my case would do no good (grin).
I agree that the question is whether they saw beyond the shadows and though I remain unconvinced I will remain open to a better understanding and I continue to look forward to learning from you. ;-)
Good article Glen. kc, I (and I'm sure Glen) would recommend the article 'The Messiah and the Hebrew Scriptures' by John Sailhamer. It's an old article from the Journal of ETS, and used to be available at:
but is no longer :( In fact, I can't find the online articles at all! I've e-mailed to find out if access to them is still available. Anyway, he argues from the OT that the OT believers had a true messianic faith. Let me quote from his conclusion:
"Let me conclude with a bold, but sincere, claim: What I have tried to suggest is that it can be argued that the books of the OT are messianic in the full NT sense of the word. The OT is the light that points the way to the NT. The NT is not only to cast its light back on the Old, but more importantly, the light of the OT is to be cast on the New. The books of the OT were written as the embodiment of a real, messianic hope—a hope in a future miraculous work of God in sending a promised Redeemer. This was not an afterthought in the Hebrew Bible. This was not the work of final redactors.
I believe the messianic thrust of the OT was the whole reason the books of the Hebrew Bible were written."
It's a fantastic article. The focus isn't the Trinity in the OT but on the promises of the Christ.
Thanks Tim, Sailhamer's article is very good. I did happen to find it again the other day.
It's not in the most convenient format but it's a brilliant read.
KC, good verse. The resurrection is absolutely key you're right. My contention is that the vindication of Jesus as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36) is *the* revelation of the Person of Christ. Yet of course people know Jesus as Lord and Christ prior to this (e.g. Ps 110; Ps 2!!). And they also know that Christ is in the Father prior to this (John 10:38). Yet the public demonstration of this awaits Easter Sunday. Christ becomes who He always has been in resurrection and always is who He became that morning. I think this is the only way to make sense of all the data regarding His resurrection.
Must go. I'll think further on this...
Thanks for the follow up Glen and for your thoughts as well Tim.
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You trinitarians believe that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate persons? Okay. Here is a simple test for you. What is the name of the Father? (God, Elohim, Jehova... etc) What is the name of the Son? (Jesus) What is the name of the Holy Spirit? This you cannot answer me. How then can it be true, when God himself is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent that the Holy Spirit is a being all to itself? Jesus said himself "before Abraham was, I AM."
I am sure that you all will at least agree with me when I say that Jesus is God. So how then will one God, being Jesus, become three? The truth is that it is not so. The scriptures provided to back this concept are not clear. The inference that "Let us make man in our image" refers to the plurality of God is refuted by the subsequent verse, which relates the creation of man to a singular God, "And God created man in His image." In this verse the Hebrew verb "created" appears in the singular form. If "let us make man" indicates a numerical plurality, it would be followed in the next verse by, "And they created man in their image." Obviously, the plural form is used in the same way as in the divine appellation, Elohim, to indicate the all- inclusiveness of God's attributes of authority and power, the plurality of majesty. It is customary for one in authority to speak of himself as if he were a plurality. Hence, Absalom said to Ahithophel, "Give your counsel what we shall do" (2 Samuel 16:20). The context shows that he was seeking advice for himself yet he refers to himself as "we" (see also Ezra 4:16-19). This is not substantial proof of the trinity.
The word trinity is simply nowhere in the Holy Bible, and God does not bring revelation of this trinity to His truly born again children because its origins are pagan. Let us go back to the story of Noah. As we know, he had a number of sons, including Ham. This Ham became the father of a number of sons and amongst them was Cush. Cush became father of Nimrod. This Nimrod was an Ethiopian with a black skin; the bible refers to him as a mighty hunter before the Lord . Nimrod was also the one that drove the people away from God. Together with his wife, Semiramis, and child, Tammuz he would become a model for the pagan three-in-one sun god and the following Holy Trinity. It was Roman Emperor Constantinus that sent a platoon of soldiers to fundamental and biblical Christian leaders that did not want to adopt the trinity. Because of this, Constantinus wiped out the Christian resistance and exiled them for a number of years. In that same year, 325 AD, Constantinus led the Council of Nicaea in which he introduced the basics of the Babylonian Trinity as a Christian fundament.
In Revelation 17:1-5, the Bible gives ample warning to beware of the Apostasy which would emanate from Babylon: ". . . I will show you the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with fold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
The Pagan idea of a Trinity of three personal gods clearly originated in ancient Babylon. It was from ancient Babylon that all Pagan Religions had their original source. When God dispersed the ancients at the tower of Babel, they settled throughout the world with their concept of a metaphysical trinity firmly entrenched. It was from this source that Christianity has been infiltrated. Babylon is the Mother of all false religion.
Revelation 17:9 states "And here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits." It is no coincidence that the city of Rome has been known from ancient times as "the city of seven hills." Ancient Roman coins plainly record inscriptions referring to the Roman Capital as "THE CITY OF SEVEN HILLS." What more convincing proof do we need? Since the Vatican sits on the seven hills of the ancient city of Rome she must be the whore spoken of in the Biblical Book of Revelation. God plainly calls the Roman Catholic Church who sits on the seven hills of Rome, "Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots." Why would God call the Catholic Church "Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots? She is called "Babylon The Great," because the historical evidence proves that the Roman Catholic Church has promulgated ancient pagan teachings which had their original roots stemming from ancient Babylon. She is called "The Mother Of Harlots because this pseudo-Christian Religion has birthed many Protestant Daughters who continue to practice the central teaching of their Mother. The central teaching of the Harlot Church is clearly the false doctrine of the Trinity and a false Christian Baptism into the Trinity rather than in the Biblical way, "in the name of Jesus Christ."
What's sad is that most of our denominations today have adopted many concepts and practices from the Catholic church. The fact of the matter is that the doctrine of the trinity is simply man-made. The real revelation is in God's Son Jesus Christ, who is equal to the Father. The Holy Spirit comes into play as part of the salvation process. It is a gift from our Lord Jesus Christ, promised it to us through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This doesn't make it a being all to itself. Furthermore, the paganistic practices in most of our churches today will not go unnoticed by our Lord at the time of the second coming. The time is getting closer and closer. I pray that this message would open the minds of those who read it. It is a harsh truth to grasp, but it is the truth nonetheless.
I'm not sure I understand your objection about the Holy Spirit's name?
The Holy Spirit's name is 'Holy Spirit' or 'Spirit of Yahweh' or even "Spirit of Christ.' Just like the Father's name is 'the Father' and so on.
If you meant, what is his name in relation to the OT names you mentioned for the Father (Yahweh, Elohim), well, it's certainly true that the Holy Spirit is Yahweh, and Elohim, and 'God.'
In fact, Matthew 28 does something really quite interesting, commanding for believers to be baptised in the name (singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Given the whole Name/ Yahweh thing, I think that's at least highly suggestive of 'Yahweh' being a trinitarian name. The one God of the shema is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. One God and yet three persons.
How does believing in a triune God (that happens to be completely "other" and beyond total human comprehension) constitute pagan worship?
It seems to me that perhaps the "three god" pagan formation could have been deliberately introduced into human thinking as a mockery of the true "Three that are One".
The resulting confusion could easily cause anyone who will not simply accept what God says about Himself to rely on human intellect and never find what is True.
Additionally, the pagan religious system involves goddess worship. Nowhere in the Bible does God refer to any aspect of Himself as "she". God is "He" and the introduction of female deity is a reflection of humanity's adulterous decision to try to become "as god".
Oh. Got distracted.
I've been thinking a lot lately about Jesus' words in John 5:39-40
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life. And they are the ones witnessing of Me,
and you will not come to Me that you might have life.
And I think the post helps me to see better what He was saying.
In response to the name of the Holy Spirit what I meant is that God Himself has many different and specific names, as does Jesus. However, the Holy Spirit does not. The Holy Spirit is indeed refered to as the Spirit of Yahweh, or the Spirit of Christ, or even Counselor. This does not make it a seperate deity, but a manifestation of Christ during His physical absence on earth. When we put the trinitarian formula of baptism into play according to their names and meanings, then it is as follows: In the name of Yahweh (translating into I am who I am) and Hamashiach Yeshua (translating into Jesus the Messiah) and the Spirit of Christ (translating into Spirit of the Messiah). All the glory here is given unto Christ alone. The Holy Spirit was given unto us after the ascension of Christ and it was to be as a Representative of Him until His Second Coming.
Matthew 28:19 states "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..." Notice that Jesus said "in the name" as opposed to "in the names." It is clear that because the word "name" is singular and not plural, Jesus is suggesting that only one name, not three, is being spoken of. We have apparently lost sight of the proper use and interpretation of the common prepositional phrase. In the latter half of our verse, there are three prepositional phrases: 1) of the Father, 2) of the Son, and 3) of the Holy Ghost. The parallel structure allows the noun "name" to refer to all of the succeeding prepositional phrases. Therefore our verse would mean exactly the same thing if it were written the following way: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Ghost." There is no difference between the actual wording of Matthew 28:19 and the above illustration. If I were to ask you to take your Sunday School attendance sheet and give me the name of the teacher, the secretary and the substitute you would not think for a moment that I was speaking of just one name. It would be clear that I wanted three names, even though I used the word "name" in singular form. Furthermore, if the verse actually did say "names" instead of "name" it would imply two or more names for each prepositional phrase that follows. We would be potentially speaking of several names of the Father, several of the Son, and several of the Holy Ghost, though not one specific name as Jesus had. This is not a matter of interpretation or even application. This is simply a matter of properly understanding the grammar of the text. The witness of scripture is clear. From the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost and throughout the book of Acts, baptism was consistently preached and administered by the apostles in the name of Jesus Christ sometimes recorded simply as, "in the name of the Lord, or Lord Jesus". The most commonly known scripture that proves this is Acts 2:38. Baptism in the name of Jesus is likened to our identification and personalization of the death and burial of Christ. (Romans 6:1-4 and Colossians 2:12). It is how we ‘put on’ Christ (Galatians 3:27). It is called the ‘circumcision of Christ,’ and reflects our ‘putting off’ of the man of sin, thus becoming a ‘new creature in Christ Jesus.’ (Col. 2:11-12, 2 Cor. 5:17). Baptism in the name of Jesus expresses faith in the Incarnation, the authentic human life of Jesus, the death of the Son of God on the cross for our sins, and the remission of sins through His name. Baptism which invokes the threefold name misses the point of Jesus' command, and can be said only to express faith in the trinitarian doctrine itself, an idea never associated with baptism anywhere in the Scriptures. Many of the events and teaching of Jesus are repeated in two, three and sometimes all four of the Gospel records. And while the Bible does not contradict itself, it often reveals very different perspectives based on the writer, the audience and the leading of the Holy Ghost. We would do well not to try and discredit one version in order to approve of another.
In response to what was said about Yahweh being a trinitarian name I don't understand what you meant about that. The translation is I AM WHO I AM. What is trinitarian about that? The name you probably meant to say is Elohim.
"In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
Elohim is translated into English as God.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"
To the Jews and early Christians, the name "God" meant a single Deity. To explain this God, Jews believed He was uncreated, He was eternal. He was a Divine Holy Spirit. He possessed a spiritual body form like that of man. He is self existent. He is all knowing. He possesses all power in heaven and upon earth. He is the creator of all existing things including man. He was a singular Deity that proved his Being behind the veil and in the holy of hollies. This God is the focus of the Shema:
"Hear O Israel, the LORD our GOD is one LORD" (Deuteronomy 6:4).
In the original Hebrew this was written:
"Hear O Israel, the ADONAI our ELOHIM is one ADONAI." (Note, some translations substitute YHVH for ADONAI which appears to be an interpolation into the text after the Babylonian captivity). We know God is called Adonai because Abraham called God this in Genesis 18:3. To speak of the Lord or God of Abraham was to speak of this same ADONAI and ELOHIM).
This is additionally supported by the first Commandment:
"Thou shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).
"Thou shall have no other elohim before me."
It is understood clearly, that when Moses wrote other "gods" as "elohim", he was not and did not mean each of these gods was a trinity or that they consisted of three personalities. This is a fact no Trinitarian has ever refuted. Elohim then does not and will never mean the true God is a multiplicity of Divine Beings as falsely claimed by Rome, Protestants, and other Trinitarian groups.
It is without necessity of proof that Abraham and Noah, together with all other ancient patriarchs had only one God as the focus of their beliefs and worship. When I say one God, I mean they did not perceive or worship God in any way except he was one Divine holy Being with his one Holy Spirit. This oneness of God is the keystone of the religious worship and practices of the Jewish people. To them, to speak of God as Elohim did not turn him into more than one God.
Elohim is the plural form of the Hebrew singular Eloah ( DEU 32:15 DEU 32:17 2CH 32:15 NEH 9:17 JOB 3:4 JOB 3:23 JOB 4:9 JOB 4:17 JOB 5:17 JOB 6:4 JOB 6:8-9 JOB 9:13 JOB 10:2 JOB 11:5-7 JOB 12:4 JOB 12:6 JOB 15:8 JOB 16:20-21 JOB 19:6 JOB 19:21 JOB 19:26 JOB 21:9 JOB 21:19 JOB 22:12 JOB 22:26 JOB 24:12 JOB 27:3 JOB 27:8 JOB 27:10 JOB 29:2 JOB 29:4 JOB 31:2 JOB 31:6 JOB 33:12 JOB 33:26 JOB 35:10 JOB 36:2 JOB 37:15 JOB 37:22 JOB 39:17 JOB 40:2 PSA 18:31 PSA 50:22 PSA 114:7 PSA 139:19 PRO 30:5 ISA 44:8 DAN 11:37-39 HAB 3:3).
These texts prove God is one.
The text containing Elohim prove God has more than one attribute.
In the Hebrew text, Elohim is a plural noun. It is because of this, trinitarians try to claim God is more than one. In defining this One, they attempt to divide God into three. But how is this one three? Trinitarians claim the one is three consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the three scheme, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God and separate from each other. What has been created is three separate Gods. But trinitarians claim this is not what they believe. Some claim there is one God who has one Spirit and who has three personalities. Some claim that each personality has its own Spirit separate from the other two. This again results in three separate Gods. Trinitarians claim the plural Elohim proves God is not numerically one. This again means God is a numerical three. This continues the three separate Gods doctrine within trinitarianism. Does Elohim mean more than one God?
In Hebrew, the plural noun receives a plural suffix. It receives a plural verb. And it receives a plural adjective. Does Elohim have a plural verb and adjective in Genesis 1:1? The answer is no. The verb is singular "created". This means Elohim is speaking of one God not a multiplicity of Gods or Beings doing the creating. Elohim in the plural is showing God in the attributes of his power and creativity in the creation miracles. God had to be multi-intellectual and quite a Creator to do the many things necessary for the creation to exist and function in unity. Plurality in unity does not demand God to be a unity of three gods.
When Jews read the Hebrew Elohim in the Bible they inject into the reading (He). For instance:
"In the beginning Elohim (He) created the heavens and the earth." This is proof Jews do not believe God is more than one.
To give this testimony of one God additional and final testimony, Oneness Jews and Oneness Christians will point to the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. They take all who seek God behind the veil. Lifting up the veil they point to one presence of God between the cherubs and say, there is the one God of Israel. No trinitarian has yet to debunk this witness to the oneness of God.
What then would Elohim being plural mean? It does not mean a multiplicity of gods created the heavens and the earth. If trinitarians demand Elohim means three, then they must mean three Gods because that is how they make one into three with their division of God into the three separate Beings of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have asked trinitarians of great theological learning if the trinity is three separate Beings each having their own Spirit and each having their own body; which would mean three separate gods, not one God. I have not yet found a trinitarian to admit there are three gods in heaven or that three gods created the heavens and the earth. This, in spite of their continued false use of "us" and "our" scriptures such as in Genesis 1:26, 11:7; and Isaiah 6:8.
Elohim, according to Welhim Gesenius in his Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, 49a, says it is a plural of majesty. Trinitarians have tried to attack this Jewish interpretation but have failed the ultimate test of proving Elohim means a multiplicity of gods. To say Elohim means a multiplicity of personalities and then say: "one God" is not one Being and one Spirit, is contradictory.
If as Gesenius claims, Elohim means a plural of majesty, then we ask ourselves how this majesty is demonstrated? Some think the plural "we" as used by rulers in speaking of themselves is the answer. I do not accept this as being the Jewish meaning of the plural of majesty. I see the plural of majesty or the plural of excellence as being the attributes of God. God is one Being, possessing one Body and one Spirit. But his attributes are many. His attributes are the inherent characteristics of all that he is. What are some of the known attributes of God?
Thus, when we speak of God as to his attributes we can call him "The Elohim." And when we speak of only his Divine Being with no emphasis on his attributes we call him "Eloah."
It is our faith and we believe also the faith of the Jews and the patriarchs, that when "El" is contracted from Eloah and placed in names, it refers to the one and only God. There are hundreds of names beginning and ending with "El" that refer to the single, numerical one Eloah-God. None of these uses of "El" refer to a multiplicity of gods or Divine Beings existing within what was believed to be God. Here is a short list:
El-ishah, El-am, El-Paran, El-iezer, Bethu-El, El-daah, El-on, El-el-ohe, El-beth-el, El-iphaz, El-isheba, El-kanah, El-im, El-zaphan, El-izur, El-iab, El-ishama, El-iasaph, El-dad, El-onites, El-ealeh, El-ath, El-tolad, El-tekon, El-eph, Jiphthah-El, Migdal-El, El-tekeh, El-imelech, El-ihu, El-i, Samu-El, El-ishua, El-iada, El-iphalet, El-ika, El-ihoreph, El-bethhanan, El-ijah, El-isha, Micha-El.
All of these names and many more prove one God, one Divine Being. Not in a single case of these names is it understood the "El" refers to a plurality of Divine Beings. There is not a single case of the use of 'El" in names that Trinitarians can claim the intent of the name means the person was named after a multiplicity of gods or Divine Beings.
We can see how the use of Elohim refers to the plural attributes of God and not that there are at least three or more of them.
Right from the beginning we see God holding different offices or different identities as he makes manifest his glorious powers.
Our first knowledge of God's attributes is he is the Creator.
God is the giver of life, thus in this attribute he is life giver and sustainer.
God is a law Creator in regard to created beings and the physical elements and bodies of the universe.
God is the magistrate of all beings, and as judge he manifests his wisdom and knowledge (two other attributes).
God gives his love, mercy, and grace: all of which are attributes.
God is an artist and puts color into the creation to give it balance and beauty.
God is an engineer and places all things to function within certain laws.
God is a botanist, knowing all plants and establishing their life cycles.
God is a scientist, knowing all elements, their function, inter-relationships, and how they can combine to form tangible objects.
These are only a small portion of God's attributes. They are many more. My point here is to show how Elohim in its plural from speaks of the attributes of God and has nothing to do with a multiplicity of Beings in the trinity. To even assume Elohim means a trinity of gods or separate person beings, goes outside of the Bible and completely away from the intent of the writers.
We can look at the examples of a cluster of grapes, a stalk of bananas, an almond cluster, and the Menorah to better understand how one can be spoke of singular and also a plural.
Here a cluster of grapes is both singular "cluster" and "grapes" plural. There is one cluster but many grapes. Each grape is an attribute of the cluster. In addition, each cluster is an attribute of one vine. The one vine is not the one cluster and not the attributes grapes. But the cluster and the grapes are the attributes of the vine. A vine does not need clusters or grapes to exist in its oneness. But, each cluster and the grapes being attributes shows us how Elohim is to be understood as a name for God that describes his plurality of majesty and excellence.
Here we can see another example. There is one banana tree. There is one stalk. There are manny bananas on the stalk. Each banana is an attribute of the one stalk. Each stalk is an attribute of the banana tree. The banana is not the stalk and the stalk is not the banana tree. The banana tree does not need the stalk or the bananas to be a banana tree. But each stalk and each banana is an attribute of the banana tree. This again shows us how Elohim is to be understood as a name for God that describes his plural of majesty and excellence.
Here is a small cluster of almonds. there is one almond tree. There are many almonds on the branches of the almond tree. But, each almond is only an attribute of the almond branch and almond tree. An almond tree does not need the almonds to be an almond tree. The almonds are an attribute of the almond tree. This is another example of how Elohim is used to describe the attributes of God and has nothing to do with a secret or hidden meaning that there is more than one God. Trinitarian use of the plural form of Elohim to prove there are three separate God Beings in heaven goes completely away from common Biblical sense and Truth.
The menorah is a representative of God. The seven candlesticks represent seven attributes of God. We do not know what these attributes represent. I take them to all represent the holiness and purity of God. Some have compared them to the attributes of God in Isaiah 11:2:
ISA 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
Some see the seven attributes as:
God the holy Creator;
God the holy Law giver;
God the holy Judge;
God the holy Forgiver by his grace and mercy;
God the holy Covenant maker;
God the holy Redeemer
When we think of Elohim (plural) we bring all the attributes into our mind. When we speak of God as Eloah (singular) we think of God as to his singular Being and Divinity.
Trinitarians may continue to pervert the plural Elohim into three separate and distinct beings, and call them each God separate from the others. But to do so they must confess there are three Gods not one. To say they believe in one God and yet speak of three gods is enough for any person of rational mind to reject the trinity theory because it is confusing, contradictory, and extra-biblical.
God is one God. He is one Being. He is one Spirit. He has one spiritual Body and one earthy image body. God is Father in creation in his spirit body. God is the Redeemer in the human body of Jesus: making Jesus God with us in human form (Emmanuel, God with us: Matthew 1:23). God is the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, in regeneration. God does appear in different modes. Trinitarians mock about our use of the word "mode" and call us "Modalist" as if this name created by the Catholic church is supposed to make us ashamed. We are not ashamed of being called Modalist, because with it comes the name Monarchian as well as Jewish.
Yes, just as the Jews reject there being more than one God and see different "modes" of God in many theophanies, so do the Apostolic modalist. And yes, we Apostolic Messianics hold to these Jewish teachings because God has already authenticated them.
So, to summarize Elohim, it is a plural form of majesty and excellence and speaks of God's attributes. It does not and never has meant there is a multiplicity of gods which the plural form would demand if the trinitarian perversion is allowed to be correct.
Finally, when a trinitarian tries to use Elohim to prove a trinity, you have a perverter and a distorter at work trying out thimblerigging to see if you can guess if there is one thimble or three. Do not accept the Catholic riddle that one is three.
The part in my above post concerning Elohim by me is accredited to Dr. Gary Reckart. I put this same teaching into my own words on another file, but accidentally pulled the original text by him that I saved and posted it instead. My views on this topic are the same. However, I myself am not an Apostolic Messianic, but Apostolic Pentecostal. Which is a big difference. His interpretation on the meaning of Elohim is by far the best I have seen. My apologies for any confusion.
Please read my article above.
On 'Elohim' as a 'plural of majesty,' I dispute whether this is the 'Jewish' interpretation (rather than a 19th century unitarian one!) - but really 'Elohim' forms a tiny part of the post and nothing hangs on it for me. You still have at least another 23 verses to deal with from that article!
I'd be very interested to know how you cope with those verses in which one Person called 'LORD' interacts with another called 'LORD'.
I don't think you've understood the trinitarian position at all if you keep on talking about three 'beings'. Whoever has told you about trinitarian theology has lied to you in the most monstrous way. Honesty this paragraph doesn't even come close to describing trinitarian theology:
"Trinitarians may continue to pervert the plural Elohim into three separate and distinct beings, and call them each God separate from the others. But to do so they must confess there are three Gods not one. To say they believe in one God and yet speak of three gods is enough for any person of rational mind to reject the trinity theory because it is confusing, contradictory, and extra-biblical."
"Separate and distinct beings"?
"each God separate from the others"?
Athanasius would be mortified!!
All trinitarians confess that God is one being. The big question is - what kind of oneness? It is not at all obvious that we should say His oneness is a mathematical singularity. The Hebrew for one (ehad) in the shema (Deut 6:4) is the same as for Genesis 2:24 "and the two shall become one". Adam and Eve are one. How? Mathematically? No. Relationally.
There are many other instances of 'one' (ehad) as a relational oneness in the OT (eg Ezra 6:24 or 2 Chronicles 30:12; Ex 26:6, 11; 2 Samuel 2:25; Gen 34:16; Joshua 9.2; Josh 10.42; Ex 24.3; 2 Chr 5.12; Gen 11.6)
When we come into the NT we see Jesus speak of the oneness of the church as the same oneness as that which He shares with His Father (John 17:11). How is the church one? We are not one person! We are a united community of persons. Same as God.
I wonder how you understand John 17 by the way? Jesus is addressing His Father as another Person. In fact throughout John Jesus keeps saying He refuses to glorify *Himself* but instead He speaks of "another" who glorifies Him. Clearly the Father is a separate Person or else the entire Gospel narrative becomes impossible to read. A separate Person but nonetheless they are One (John 10:30). How are they One? Well Jesus keeps saying He won't do His own will but the will of the One who sent Him - He loves His Father and is committed to the one work of salvation. They are separate Persons (*not* separate beings) united in love. They, with the Spirit, are a comm-unity. That is their oneness.
Cameron - if you would like to interact further perhaps you could address the OT verses in the post or some of my questions here? (Not too many words please - I'm a slow reader!)
I'll pray for you - I think this is a huge and fatal error you've fallen into.
yours in Jesus,
In response to why Jesus was praying to the Father, the answer to this is simple: Jesus wasn’t just God, but He was both God and man. This is why he was referred to as the Son of God and the Son of Man. Now we know that God Himself cannot be tempted. Then why was Jesus tempted in the wilderness? It was because He was man as well as well as God. Jesus prayed to the Father because His flesh was tempted, but His spirit was never tempted. A clear example of this was in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He prayed that the cup would pass. His flesh was not willing to die, but His spirit was. His flesh prayed to the spirit that was within Him because the sins of the entire world were about to be imputed on a God that never sinned one time. When He said that He was not willing to give glory unto Himself, but to the Father who sent Me, He was showing the people that He did not glorify Himself as man, but as God. I have a simple question for you. Is Jesus in the Godhead, or is the Godhead in Jesus? I think Colossians 2:8 and 9 will answer this for you.
If God created the entire universe, is it not logical to say that He is bigger than that? And if all things hold together in Him (Colossians 1:17), why is it absurd to believe that God the Son could manifest Himself within that creation while God the Father did not?
That is not a belief in three separate gods. It is belief in one God that is bigger and more complex than I can fathom.
Thanks for the long reply.
As Glen said, I'm not sure you've been given a proper handle on the doctrine of the trinity as taught in the scriptures, defined in the ancient creeds, and believed on all over the world in the church. It would be a very crass, crude, careless description of the Trinity to talk about each personal as a separate being. The one God is a tri-personal being.
Yahweh is a trinitarian name because each of the three persons is given that name. So, the scriptures themselves call on us to understand the fact that Yahweh is one in the light of the fact that Yahweh is also three. His oneness is a tri-personal oneness.
The Son is *in* the Father, and the Father is *in* the Son - these mutually indwelling relations are absolutely crucial to trinitarian theology. And it's why Paul can say that the fullness of deity dwells bodily in Christ. (Col 2:9). Human philosophy (Col 2:8) always pits physicality against divinity, but Paul insists that the incarnate Son is fully God. His deity (which consists in His eternally mutually-indwelling relationships) is not found apart from the flesh - but *in* His physical life He is fully God.
Now your answers to my questions on the incarnate life of Christ are very understandable given your prior commitment to modalism. All modalists must become Nestorians - that is, you must drive a massive wedge between Christ's humanity and divinity and basically erect two Persons within the one Christ. You have Him talking to Himself as though His Father is another Person - but really His Father is just His divine nature. The Father speaks of His Son as another Person (at baptism, trnasfiguration etc) but really its His divinity talking to His humanity. The Son speaks of His Father as 'another' but you would have this mean that His divinity is a distinct and personal 'other' besides His humanity. He expresses a will different to His Father's in Gethsemane but again, you will say that this will belongs to His divine nature and not His flesh.
And so you've posited two centres of personal consciousness within the one Christ. At best this is multiple personality disorder, at worst we have a double-headed monster.
Now trinitarians have a name for 'distinct centres of personal consciousness'. We call them 'Persons'. And we say there is a Person of the Son who is addressing the Person of the Father. Now *no-one* can deny that this is the plain and obvious meaning of the Gospel narratives! No-one can deny that when John wrote his gospel he meant to communicate that Jesus and the One He called 'Father' were two distinct Persons. If you're worried that we are positing different 'beings' I assure you we are not. The Father and the Son do not have separate or separable existences - the Father cannot be Father without the Son and the Son cannot be Son without the Father and they so love and indwell one another that they can be said to be 'one' (John 10:30). But - as the Gospel narratives make irrefutably clear - this is a oneness between two Persons with distinct centres of personal consciousness. And the only reason you cannot see this obvious truth is that you have come to the bible with a set of very distorting spectacles. You have a pre-determined philosophy of one-ness. You demand that one-ness means a mathematical singularity and that therefore there can be no distinction whatsoever between 'Persons'. This is an assumption. The bible does not teach it. The bible teaches a 'multi-Personal' one-ness (eg John 17:21). But you come with your pre-determined philosophy and as you read the Scriptures you are dashed on the rocks of absurdity.
Do you see how the gospel events necessitate one thing - distinct centres of personal consciousness - but your philosophical pre-commitments necessitate something else - one divine Person. You simply cannot have both.
If you want to be consistent with your philosophical definition of oneness then you must abandon Jesus - he makes no sense on your assumptions.
If you want to be consistent with Jesus as He is revealed in the gospel then you must abandon your philosophical definition of oneness.
I pray you will take the latter route.
yours in Christ,
"which consists in His eternally mutually-indwelling relationships"
another baseless argument using philosophical terms..
"I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or
wisdom" (1 Cor. 2:1, RSV)
"Turn away from godless philosophical discussions and the opposing ideas
of what is falsely called knowledge , which some have professed
and in so doing have wandered from the faith." (1 Tim. 6:20, NIV and NJB)
'mutual indwelling' is just another way of saying "I am in the Father, and the Father is in me" (John 14:10).
Do you believe in the trinity?
What do you think of the article?
I totally agree Lito! Good choice of words and scripture. Seems like there is a lot of contention and attacking going on here in this blog concerning something that's not very hard to grasp. LORD use me to help out...
It was Greek philosophers who created the trinity, and now it has engulfed most of Christianity. The only words that trinitarians can quote are from Tertullian, Athanasius, Justin Martyr and St. Alexander. Most of them were converts from Greek paganism, so we all know that they were polytheistic. Apparently none of them followed steadfast in the apostle's doctrine, so they mistook the Word of God for paganism and created the concept of a triune God. Since they formerly worshipped many Gods, they were still stuck in that polytheistic way of thinking and thus the concept of a "triune" God was coined.
A basic encyclopedia will tell you that there was no trinity prior to the third century and that baptism was only administered in Jesus name under full immersion. How did the apostles baptize in the book of Acts? In Jesus name! They baptized Jews and Gentiles alike in the lovely name of Jesus. Were they wrong for doing this? Absolutely not. They didn't seem to have a hard time understanding the Godhead. Why do we? The simple fact is that Jesus is the Father, Jesus is Jehovah, Jesus is the Son of God (not God the Son), and Jesus is the Holy Ghost. Isaiah didn't have a hard time admitting that Jesus would be the EVERLASTING FATHER. Why do we?
It was at the Council of Nicea that the trinity was created. Trinitarians will dispute this and say otherwise, but where do you think the Nicene Creed comes from? The Athanasian Creed? That's right! The Council of Nicea. The Nicene Creed became the profession of faith for the Catholic church! Through it the church became nothing more than a cult. History tells us of all who burned at the stake and killed for simply carrying a bible or speaking out against the church. Not a church I want to go to, and definitely not a doctrine I want to follow! God is not an author of confusion!!! History does not lie, nor the Word of God. As a former trinitarian, it eventually became clear to me that I was nothing more than a confused Christian. The simple fact is that if we lay aside our own understanding and those of Tertullian and Athanasius we will find Jesus right there with His arms wide open!!! To anyone who reads this, do not bother trying to explain the trinity to me because I was a trinitarian scholar and Charasmatic for 27 years. An Apostolic preacher ministered to me on a long plane ride from Israel back in 1989 and by the time the plane landed I had the biggest breakthrough of my life!! God is definitely able to give understanding to those who lack, trust me! The simple fact is that we have to be willing -even for a moment- that we are wrong in our understanding of the Godhead, or of a certain verse, or of the Bible period! Simply raise your hands in a sign of surrender Jehovah-elyon, the LORD Most High and give up your understanding and ask that He will give you His understanding!!! If you do this with all your heart and lay down all pride, I guarantee He won't be telling you about a godsquad of three! He will be saying "Wow, why was it so hard for you to grasp that I alone am GOD and I change not!"
God bless you precious folks!!
Dear Jerry (and Lito (and Cameron)),
None of you have dealt with the 24 OT Scriptures of the original article. If you take the time to address these verses you will see that they are devastating for your case.
Trinity is not a 3rd century invention or a NT innovation- it is simply a description of the way "Yahweh-Elohenu-Yahweh" has always been one (Deut 6:4).
If we are to continue this discussion it can only be on the basis of the Scriptures already raised and which stand in total opposition to you.
As for Isaiah 9 - of course Jesus is a father. Isaiah 8:18 says:
"Here I am and the children the LORD has given me." (cf Hebrews 2:13)
The One who has children (and is therefore a father) has been given them by *Another* Person called LORD.
The Hebrew Scriptures repeatedly reveal multiple divine Persons united in love and common purpose. That's what this article is about. And it's what none of the unitarians in this comments thread have touched with a barge pole.
If you're serious about being biblical, drop the disingenuous accusations of philosophizing and deal with the Scriptures.
I have read all 24 verses provide here and all do nothing for the trinitarian doctrine. I see nothing that states both in word and literal meaning that there are three persons in the Godhead who are all three equally to be worshipped.
I will not take the time to talk about all three scriptures in detail right now. I will however talk about the most crucial ones that you clearly have misinterpretted.
First of all, your take on the title Elohim is all wrong. The name does nothing in your quest to prove a plurality of persons in the Godhead. Other Gods in the bible were called Elohim as well. Does that make them the one true God of Israel? It is not the true name of God. It is one of the 18 titles that God used in the Old Testament to tell of who he is and what he is. It is simply a Hebrew word for god, just as god is the english word for god. Nothing more or nothing less.
Exodus 33. Moses meets face to face with the LORD in the tent of meeting (v11) but the LORD on the top of the mountain he must never see (v20-22).
Here we see body parts to symbolize God. John 4:24 tells us that God is a spirit, so He is not a man with actual body parts... Not until He manifested Himself in the flesh at an appointed time as the begotten Son. Moses talked to God face to face, and Moses was blessed. The face of God represents the future and prosperity. When Moses went up Mt. Sinai, God showed him His back. The back of God represents the past. Hence Moses wrote the Pentateuch which told of the past. What Moses saw was such an illuminating beam of holiness that it turned His hair white. I believe the white hair stands for wisdom. Scripture does not tell us that He could literally make out the features of the face of God. It was a clear theophany of God, just as with Jacob wrestling with the man, and Manoah with the Angel of the LORD.
As far as Psalm 110:1 goes... you have a lot to learn about that. You were taught that it was God talking to another God. You are badly mistaken, Glen.
In our English Bibles, the same word "lord" translates several distinct Hebrew words. A long established "translators' convention" uses different combinations of upper and lower case letters ("LORD," "Lord," and "lord") to differentiate between the original Hebrew words. When we see "Lord" written with an upper case "L," those of us who don't read Hebrew rely on the established convention that it is, most often, a translation of "Adonai." The problem is that in this verse the original Hebrew word is not "adonai"! In this one verse, the KJV has clouded the issue by assigning an upper case "L" to the quite different word "ADONI." In all other places where this word is translated as "lord" in the KJV, it appears with a lower case "l." Many have incorrectly assumed that the original Hebrew word in Psalm 110:1 is ADONAI (which always refers to God). This has led to the further incorrect assumption that the verse is a "proof text" for the doctrine of the Trinity. However, we have seen that the actual Hebrew word used is ADONI. This word refers to human lords. It speaks of the HUMANITY of Jesus -- not Deity. Psalm 110:1 should be studied in the context of the many New Testament quotations which use it. Viewed properly, it is clearly Messianic -- NOT Trinitarian. In the 22 places where it is quoted in the NT, the overwhelming conclusion is that the early Church relied very heavily on Psalm 110:1 to prove that the MAN Jesus, who now sits at the right hand of God, is indeed both Messiah and Son of God. As David's descendant, Jesus would normally be considered by Jewish tradition to be INFERIOR in rank to David. But through His miraculous Divine paternity, the impossible has happened! Although Jesus is both totally Human, and descended from David, He nevertheless OUTRANKS him by right of birth. As "Son of David," Jesus has inherited David's throne (Luke 1:32-33). But as "Son of God," Jesus has also been "highly exalted to receive the name which is above every name" (Philippians 2:9-11). In accordance with the Scriptures, Jesus is forever both man and Messiah. His throne is for ever. His name is above David's name for ever.He is David's King for ever! THAT is why David calls Him "lord"!
Glen, you really need to re-study your theology. You have the gall to sit there and call me a Unitarian or modalist when you don't even know the slightest thing about what they are. Modern day Oneness is way different than modalism. Modalists believe that God takes different modes at different times. I reject that teaching. And about being called a Unitarian... Unitarians believe that Jesus was not God and that he was merely a man led by the Spirit of God who taught true religion. I reject that as well and label it as nonsense. I believe that Jesus is God and that God is Jesus. I take no offense to your accusations, however. You seem like a smart young man.
God bless you,
Hi Jerry, thanks for getting back to me.
You say that the Angel of the LORD is a theophany. I agree. But then, doesn't that mean that 'the One Sent from the LORD' is also called 'God'? (e.g. Gen 16:7ff - or indeed *every* appearance of the Angel!)
And if that's true then don't we have at least two divine Persons?
While I do believe that the Angel of the LORD is sometimes a clear theophany of God, there are scriptures that make it clear it is just an angel. The Hebrew meaning for angel as we know is "messenger".
The angel of the LORD could literally be God in an angelic form, an angel speaking with God present in spirit, or just an angel delivering a message. I am sure you are aware that there are many different views on this subject. All are different and some are undeniably confusing. I always prefer to stick with the route that is least confusing and stays consistent with the Scriptures!
The example you gave in parentheses with Gen. 16:7 about Hagar's encounter with the Angel of the LORD tells of El Roi, the God who sees. It seems as if the angel of the LORD was indeed God in angelic form during this encounter due to the fact that Hagar called the LORD who spoke to her El Roi. However, it could also mean that the angel was there in physical form speaking with the presence of God undeniably there in spirit form. If we were in Hagar's sandals and saw an angel speaking to us, feeling the presence of God behind it we would say the same thing to the angel! One thing is for sure... in this particular passage we can definitely rule out the assertion that it is just an angel delivering a message on behalf of God.
When I read the various accounts of the angel of the LORD I see one LORD and one angel, or just the angel depending on which account. As I said earlier... in some of the accounts it is clear that there is just an angel in scripture acting of behalf of the LORD (e.g. Genesis 22:11-18 Numbers 22:22-35 ). Then again, the Bible says the angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in the burning bush, but then says God talked to Moses on that occasion (Exodus 3; Acts 7:30-38). Exodus 13:21 says the LORD went before Israel in a pillar of cloud, while Exodus 14:19 says the angel of God was with the pillar of cloud. The angel of the LORD appeared to Israel in Judges 2:1-5 and spoke as God. Judges 6:11-24 describes the appearance of the angel of the LORD to Gideon and then says the LORD looked on Gideon. Again, the angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah and his wife, and they believed they had seen God (Judges 13:2-23).
In summary, it is evident that the angel of the LORD in the Old Testament was not always God Himself. A person can plausibly argue that the angel of the LORD was never an actual theophany, but he cannot seriously contend that the angel of the LORD was always a theophany. The most simple explanation is that the phrase, "The angel of the LORD," sometimes refers to a theophany of God but at other times denotes nothing more than an ordinary angel.
Thanks for the reply... I look forward to the next one. We should start up a separate blog one of these days if our schedules permit it! One which we are able to stray from topic to topic!! LOL
This is a topic I'm never far from straying into :)
You've clearly done some thinking on the Angel. Let me tell you where I think the Scriptures are clearly pointing.
I think 'The Angel of the LORD' is an OT title for the pre-incarnate Son. "Angel" comes to mean 'messenger' that's for sure, but literally "malaak" is the participial form of the verb 'lak' meaning "to go". Most literally it means "Sent One". Saying "angel" need not imply anything about the physical ontology of the messenger. It needn't imply anything about 'createdness' or belonging to this order of creatures or that (just as King need not imply creatureliness etc, etc). "Angel" simply tells us that this One is sent (very likely with a message).
It is something that Jesus is always saying "This is why I was sent..." etc.
Now the fact that the Angel is divine seems to me to be devastating for the kind of oneness you are arguing for.
Here is a *sent* deity! He is called LORD (not just by those who see Him but by Scripture (eg Gen 16:13) and by His own extraordinary claims (eg Ex 3; Judges 2).
In His sent-ness He is divine - He is "God from God" as the Nicene creed puts it.
And even in those places where He (or Scripture) makes audacious claims about His divine identity, He speaks of *Another* as LORD. (Gen 16:11; 22:12; Zech 1:12-13; all of Zech 2!).
Let me just quote some words of the Angel from Zechariah 2:
"10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you."
There is no getting around this. The Angel is *from* the LORD and He *is* the LORD. He is the LORD sent from the LORD. He is God-from-God.
"I always prefer to stick with the route that is least confusing and stays consistent with the Scriptures!"
I submit that only the trinitarian route can fulfil that desire.
I hope you like reading because I have a lot to say about this topic! I will probably take multiple breaks during this session! I hope to finish by supper! Matter of fact I might even just split it up in to two posts if it exceeds a character limit.
Interesting view about the Angel of the LORD. It cleary ties in with co-existence. I just got through reading Zechariah 2 (Zechariah is one of my favorite books) and I do not see anything here that would compel me to believe in the theory of the angel being LORD sent from another LORD.
Allow me to express why...
Zechariah 1:7-17 describes a vision seen by the prophet. In the vision, he saw a man on a red horse standing among myrtle trees. An angel then began to talk to Zechariah. The man among the myrtle trees was identified as the angel of the LORD. Presumably he was the angel talking to Zechariah, although some think two angels were present. In any case, the angel of the LORD spoke to the LORD and the LORD answered him (verses 12-13), thus proving the angel of the LORD was not the LORD, at least in this passage. Then, the angel talking to Zechariah proclaimed what the LORD said (verses 14-17). Thus, the angel was not the LORD; rather, he simply acted as a messenger and repeated what the LORD had said. Zechariah called the angel lord (verse 9, Hebrew adon, meaning master or ruler), but he did not call him Lord (Adonai) or LORD (Yahweh or Jehovah). Of course, lord is not a term reserved for God alone, as Lord and LORD are; for one properly can address even a man by the title lord (Genesis 24:18).
Zechariah 1:18-21 describes two other visions. In his vision of four horns, Zechariah asked a question, the angel answered it, and the LORD gave a vision of four carpenters (verses 18-20). Then Zechariah asked a second question and "he" answered (verse 21). The "he" of verse 21 was the same angel that had been talking all along - the same "he" of verse 19. If "he" in verse 21 was actually the LORD, then the LORD was speaking in that verse by using the angel. So, in this passage, the LORD gave the visions and the angel did the actual explaining. This does not require the angel to be God.
In Zechariah 2:1-13 we find a second angel who declared the word of the LORD in Zechariah's hearing to the first angel. Again, this does not mean the second angel was God but only that he was transmitting God's message. This indicates that the first angel definitely was not God or he would have already known what God's message was.
Zechariah 3:1-10 presents a new situation. First, Joshua the high priest stood before the angel of the LORD and Satan (verse 1). "And the LORD said unto Satan, the LORD rebuke thee" (verse 2). The easiest way to explain this is to say the prophet wrote "the LORD said" meaning that the LORD said it through the angel. This is why the spoken words were "the LORD rebukes thee" instead of "I rebuke thee." Next, the angel began to speak to Joshua as if he were God (verses 3-4). Perhaps the easiest explanation is that the angel was a messenger transmitting God's word.
Finally, the passage more clearly portrays the angel as a messenger for God and not God Himself, because the angel began to use the phrase "saith the LORD" (verses 6-10).
The most logical explanation of the angels in Zechariah can be summarized as follows. Throughout the Book of Zechariah, the angel of the LORD was not the LORD but a messenger of the LORD. Sometimes this is obvious from the angel's use of phrases such as "thus saith the LORD," while other verses omit this qualifying or explanatory phrase. The LORD spoke in all these passages by using His angel. There are other possible explanations, such as the following three: The angel was not the LORD but had the name of the LORD invested in him; the angel was not the LORD in chapters 1 and 2 but was the LORD in chapter 3; or the LORD spoke directly in Zechariah 3:2 and 3:4 while the angel stood by silently. In sum, we do not need to accept two persons of God to explain the "angel of the LORD" passages. Certainly the Jews have no problem in reconciling the angel of the LORD with their belief in absolute monotheism.
Now to address your belief that the angel of the LORD is the pre-incarnate Son.
John 3:16 calls Jesus the only begotten Son of God. However, many people use the phrase "eternal Son." Is this latter phrase correct? No. The Bible never uses it and it expresses a concept contradicted by Scripture. The word begotten is a form of the verb beget, which means "to procreate, to father, to sire." Thus begotten indicates a definite point in time - the point at which conception takes place. By definition, the begetter (father) always must come before the begotten (offspring). There must be a time when the begetter exists and the begotten is not yet in existence, and there must be a point in time when the act of begetting occurs. Otherwise the word begotten has no meaning. So, the very words begotten and Son each contradict the word eternal as applied to the Son of God.
The term "Son of God" refers to the humanity of Jesus. Clearly the humanity of Jesus is not eternal but was born in Bethlehem. One can speak of eternality - past, present, and future - only with respect to God. Since "Son of God" refers to humanity or deity as manifest in humanity, the idea of an eternal Son is incomprehensible. The Son of God had a beginning.
The Sonship - or the role of the Son - began with the child conceived in the womb of Mary. The Scriptures make this perfectly clear. Galatians 4:4 says, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." The Son came in the fulness of time - not in eternity past. The Son was made of a woman - not begotten eternally. The Son was made under the law - not before the law. (See also Hebrews 7:28.) The term begotten refers to the conception of Jesus described in Matthew 1:18-20 and Luke 1:35. The Son of God was begotten when the Spirit of God miraculously caused conception to take place in the womb of Mary. This is evident from the very meaning of the word begotten and also from Luke 1:35, which explains that because the Holy Ghost would overshadow Mary, therefore her child would be the Son of God. We should notice the future tense in this verse: the child to be born "shall he called the Son of God."
Hebrews 1:5-6 also reveals that the begetting of the Son occurred at a specific point in time and that the Son had a beginning in time: "For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." The following points can be deducted from these verses: the Son was begotten on a specific day in time; there was a time when the Son did not exist; God prophesied about the Son's future existence ("will be"); and God brought the Son into the world sometime after the creation of the angels.
Other verses of Scripture emphasize that the Son was begotten on a certain day in time - "this day" (Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33). All the Old Testament verses that mention the Son are clearly prophetic, looking forward to the day when the Son of God would be begotten (Psalm 2:7, 12; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6). One thing is certain: during the days of the Old Testament the Son had not been born and the Sonship had not begun. Even if Scripture describes a theophany of God, it could not mean the then nonexistent body of Jesus Christ.
Not only did the Sonship have a beginning, but it will, in at least one sense, have an ending. This is evident from I Corinthians 15:23-28. In particular, verse 24 says, "Then cometh the end, when he [Christ] shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father…" Verse 28 says, "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." This verse of Scripture is impossible to explain if one thinks of a "God the Son" who is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father. But it is easily explained if we realize that "Son of God" refers to a specific role that God temporarily assumed for the purpose of redemption. When the reasons for the Sonship cease to exist, God (Jesus) will cease acting in His role as Son, and the Sonship will be submerged back into the greatness of God, who will return to His original role as Father, Creator, and Ruler of all. Ephesians 5:27 describes this same scene in different terms: "That he [Christ] might present it to himself a glorious church…" Jesus will present the church to Himself! How can this be, in light of I Corinthians 15:24, which describes the Son presenting the kingdom to the Father? The answer is clear: Jesus in His role as Son, and as His final act as Son, will present the church to Himself in His role as God the Father.
We find another indication that the Sonship has an ending. In Acts 2:34-35, Peter quoted David in Psalm 110:1: "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool." We should note the word until. This passage describes the dual nature of Christ, with the Spirit of God (the LORD) speaking prophetically to the human manifestation of Christ (the Lord). The right hand of God represents God's power and authority. Making foes a footstool means utterly defeating the enemy and making an open show of their defeat. In ancient times, the victor sometimes did this literally, placing his foot on his enemies' heads or necks (Joshua 10:24). So the prophecy in Psalm 110 is this: The Spirit of God will give all power and authority to the man Christ Jesus, the Son of God, until the Son has completely vanquished the enemies of sin and the devil. The Son will have all power until He does this. What happens to the Son after this? Does this mean an eternal person of a trinity will stop sitting on the right hand of God or lose all power? No. It simply means that the role of the Son as ruler will cease. God will use His role as Son - God manifest in flesh - to conquer Satan, thereby fulfilling Genesis 3:15 in which God said the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the devil. After that, God will no longer need the human role to rule.
After Satan is cast into the lake of fire and all sin is judged at the last judgment (Revelation 20), there will be no further need for the Son to exercise the throne of power. Jesus Christ will cease acting in His Sonship role and will be God forever.
Does this mean that God will cease using the resurrected and glorified body of Christ? I believe that Jesus will continue to use His glorified body throughout eternity. This is indicated by Revelation 22:3-4, which describes a visible God even after the last judgment and after the creation of the new heaven and earth: "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads." Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec (Hebrews 7:21), even though He will cease acting in His role as priest after the last judgment. The Lord's glorified human body is immortal just like ours will be (I John 3:2; I Corinthians 15:50-54). Although the glorified body of Christ will continue to exist, all the reasons for the reign of the Sonship will be gone and all the roles played by the Son will be over. Even the Son will be placed under subjection so that God may be all in all. It is in this sense that the Sonship will end.
Wow! I haven't written that much at one time since my days doing internship back in 1973. Luckily I have gotten to where I can type 110 wpm over all these years. It really has been a pleasure blogging with you Glen, and I am not sure when I will have the oppurtunity again. The LORD has called me to head to Haiti. I leave in two days. There is an extremely high demand for qualified surgeons over there, so I will most likely be working 16-18 hour days for the next 3-6 months. I doubt I will have much time to get online. Until we meet again may God bless you! Pray I have a safe trip.
Safe travels to Haiti.
I hope you'll consider a couple of things:
1) You seem to allow that *sometimes* the Angel is the LORD but you only countenance that option when the Angel doesn't explicitly call on Another as LORD. Of course you take that route because you are assuming throughout that the LORD is unipersonal. As your take on Zechariah shows - that requires tortuous interpretations of the Scriptures. And you simply cannot handle the Zechariah 2 verses I quote. There is no getting around those ones - the LORD says that the LORD has sent Him.
2) You simply assert that "begotten" = "made". (Another case of assuming what you want to prove). It's not true that begotten must mean a beginning or that eternal son is incomprehensible. It could only be incomprehensible if you begin by assuming a definition of oneness as mathematical singularity. Eternally begotten on a trinitarian understanding simply means having an eternal filial relationship.
3) The Son is the Creator - Hebrews 1:2f. (You began your Hebrews quotes from v5 - why, when you must know how Hebrews introduces the Son?)
4) If the Son is not eternal then God is not eternally Father either. You claim God's "original role" is Father. You simply cannot say this without an eternal Son. All you can say is that He is the Ingenerate One
5) The Son ever lives to intercede for the saints. (Heb 7:25) We are incorporated by the Spirit *into* the Son that we may be brought to the Father. This is an eternal and irreducibly trinitarian dynamic. The Son Himself is divine and human as our true high priest and He Himself relates us to Another (the Father) who is God. To mess with trinity is to mess with the gospel. You are on seriously dangerous ground Jerry. I pray you'll reconsider.
Here is a wonderful link for trinitarians!
God Bless Us, Everyone!
Which god Tiny Tim? The living God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Love to hear your thoughts on the article posted above.
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