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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lesson 6 - Plain & Obvious Proof Texts Through the Old Testament

I don’t know how many times I have had a Jesus Only adherent tell me they can’t find the Trinity anywhere in the Bible. This always sounds strange to me, considering, as you have already seen, the Bible is chock full of verses revealing the existence of the Trinity! A Oneness person’s inability to find the Trinity in the Bible is like a thief struggling to find a policeman–they don’t want to find the Trinity! It would require them to read the Bible with an honest heart and an open mind. It would require them to forsake their pride and stubbornness. They would have to admit that they, as well as their church and family, are believing a false doctrine. It would most likely mean they would be excommunicated by their denomination and in many cases their very own family. We need to pray for these people! We need to ask God to give them the courage to do the right thing no matter what it costs them.

Throughout this lesson, while looking through the crystal clear lens of the New Testament, I want to examine some beautiful Old Testament Trinitarian nuggets of truth!

Deuteronomy 6:4 (The Shema) and Echad

Let us quickly look at Deuteronomy 6:4 again.

De 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

Remember, the Jews would pray this prayer (the Shema) twice a day. They would say, “The Lord our God is one, one, one, one, one...”, sometimes repeating the word one up to two minutes straight. Here, the word for one is the Hebrew word echad (ekh-awd') which means “united; a compound unity of two or more”. It is found 739 times in the Bible. Moses, in Deuteronomy 6:4 is saying God is united, not one solitary person! So the Jews were literally praying, “The Lord our God is united, united, united, united, united . . . .”

The Hebrew word used for the number one is yachid (yaw-kheed). Yachid is used differently in the Scriptures than echad. It is only used twelve times in the entire Old Testament and never denotes the unity of God! If Deuteronomy 6:4 were teaching that God was one in number, Moses would have used the word yachid, but he didn’t. The word echad is always used in reference to God because God is not one solitary person, He is one in essence (homoousion), but three distinct persons or hypostasis!


I want to show you something very interesting that will confirm the meaning of the word echad in Deuteronomy 6:4.

Ge 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Here, the word God is translated from the Hebrew name Elohim. When “m” or “im” is attached to the end of a word in the Hebrew language it is plural like an “s” in the English language. Therefore, Elohim means “gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the PLURAL) of the supreme God”. Moses did not call God “El”, which is God in the singular; He did not call Him “Eloah”, which is God is the dual form; He called Him “Elohim”, God of three or more! Genesis 1:1 can be literally translated, “In the beginning God, of three or more, created the heaven and the earth.” This definition is indisputable!

Since the Bible tells us plainly in Deuteronomy 6:4 that there is but one God, and we know from verses like 1 John 5:7 that there are three persons in that one God, “Elohim” can mean nothing other than one God existing in three persons–a holy Trinity! So, the use of the name “Elohim” to describe God offers us hundreds and hundreds of Old Testament proof texts demonstrating a plurality of persons in the Godhead.

A Plurality of Persons In Genesis

Ge 1:26 And God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness: (emphasis added)

Who is this “us” and “our” that God the Father was referring to concerning the creation of man? Was He referring to Himself as “us”? Was He referring to angels (created beings) when He said “us”? Was He speaking of a plurality of majesty? No! and a million times no! First of all, God doesn’t talk to Himself! Secondly, man was made in the image of God, not angels (Ge 1:27)! Finally, as we have already discussed, no record of a plurality of majesty being used in this fashion can be found until the Anglo Saxon kings of the thirteenth century! So, who was the Father speaking of in Genesis 1:26 when He said, “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness”? I suggest that He was speaking of Jesus and the Holy Ghost, and this next passage of Scripture should make that very clear.

(John 1:1-3) The Word Was With God

St. Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was WITH God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning WITH God.
3 ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (emphasis added)

In these three verses, John tells us some very profound things. Firstly, he says the Word has been with God throughout all of eternity. Secondly, he says the Word is God. And lastly, he tells us that the Word is creator of all things.

Basically everyone throughout the entire history of Christendom has understood John’s reference to “the Word” as being a reference to the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ. They have agreed that this passage means Jesus (as the Word) was God, and eternally dwelt, as a distinctly different person than the Father, alongside the Father. They have understood this passage to mean there is a plurality in the Godhead. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the vast majority of Oneness people! In order to hold to their system of Theology, they have wrested these Scriptures to their own destruction (2Pe 3:16)!

The Oneness adherent will say the Word is not the second person of the Godhead, rather the expression, or mind of God. In other words, when the Bible says the Word was with God, they believe it means God was thinking about His own incarnation in the body of Jesus Christ. To them, John 1:1 is saying: “In the beginning was an idea, and the idea was with God, and the idea was God.” They believe the Word is a thing and not a Who!

There are several ways in which we can expose this erroneous doctrine. First, the Word is said to be God; and if the Word is God, the Word is everything God is! Since God is a self-aware person, we must, therefore, conclude that the Word is a self-aware person too! If we use the Oneness method of interpretation we find great trouble. If the Word was merely an idea or concept, God Himself would be reduced to an idea or concept because the Scripture says the Word was God. Whatever the Word is, God is.

Secondly, the “Word” is said to be with God! Webster’s dictionary says the word with means to be on the side of. Bauer’s Lexicon says the word with means to be by, at, near, or in company with someone. A. T. Robertson (the greatest Greek scholar America has ever produced) said the word with means to be face-to-face with (2Co 5:8). I think any sensible person would tell you that you can’t be face to face with, or on the side of yourself, that requires at least two persons! In every respect, the word with denotes relationship or accompaniment. John 1:1 is stating nothing less than: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was in the company of, or in a relationship with, God.” I am sorry, but I find it highly unlikely that John would make reference to God being in the company of, or face to face with, His own ideas or thoughts. Logic, coupled with the Greek and English languages, should tell us that much!

Next, the Word is spoken of in a personal way that a mere concept or idea could not be. He is said to be God (1:1). He is said to have created the world (1:3). He is said to be the life and light of all men (1:4-5). He is said to have come unto His own, but rejected by them (1:11). He is referred to by the personal pronouns “him”, “he”, and “his” (1:10-12). Then there is verse 14 which does not leave any doubt as to His personhood:

Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Are we supposed to believe that a thought put on a fleshly body and walked around for 33 ½ years? I am sorry, but I simply refuse to believe the glorious “only begotten of the Father” was nothing more than a concept in the mind of the God!

Let’s read Revelation 19:13:

Re 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

This verse is prophetic, it takes place right before the millennium. It shows Jesus Christ riding upon a white horse, judging and making war! It demonstrates that “the Word” is much more than an idea, it is another name for the Lord Jesus Christ.

With all things considered, we must conclude that this glorified, life giving, stallion riding Jesus is the very same Word that eternally dwelt face to face with, and alongside of the Father (Joh 1:1-3). Likewise, we must conclude that when the Father used the plural pronouns “us” and “our” in Genesis 1:26, He, too, was referring to the living Lord Jesus Christ (the Word of God)–as well as the Holy Ghost!

The Counsel Of His Own Will (S.C. Johnson’s Explanation of Genesis 1:26)

I would say the most ridiculous explanation of Genesis 1:26 I have ever heard came from the late S.C. Johnson (a semi-famous Oneness preacher in the mid-1900's). He contended that God was referring to His own will when He said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”! He used Ephesians 1:11 to support this theory:

Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the COUNSEL OF HIS OWN WILL: (emphasis added)

From this verse, Johnson taught that the will of God was abstract, or separate from the person of God!

There are several major problems with this crazy interpretation. First of all, an abstract will doesn’t even exist! You can’t separate a person’s will from the person. It would require one’s will to counsel with one’s will! Regardless of how you look at it, in the end, you have God talking to Himself! Paul’s reference to “the counsel of his own will” was used strictly in a figurative sense. The only place an abstract will exists is in the mind of S.C. Johnson and those that theorize as he did!

Secondly, if Johnson’s interpretation is correct, God would actually consist of two abstract wills! He would have been counseling with one will, and then, by saying “Let us make man”, be speaking another will into existence! There would have been two wills in God, not one!

Thirdly, each member of the Trinity is said to have a will of their own (Joh 5:30, 6:38; Lu 22:42; Ro 8:27; 1 Co 12:11). S.C. Johnson forgot to tell us who’s will is being addressed in Ephesians 1:11! Was it the will of the Father? Was it the will of the Son? Or was it the will of the Holy Ghost?

Fourthly, if Genesis 1:26 is an address to the divine will, Isaiah 6:8 would be, too! The problem is, Isaiah 6:8 cannot be considered an address to the divine will because it is a question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for US?” God was directing this question to the prophet Isaiah, who responded, “Here am I; send me.” God was not speaking to His own will, He was speaking to Isaiah’s will!

It is a great deal more Scriptural and easier to accept the fact that Genesis 1:26, and every other passage that uses plural pronouns, are references to the three persons of the Godhead. Each of them has a mental faculty of their own and, as we have seen, play an active role in creation.

I want you to know that my interpretation of Genesis 1:26 is in no wise a new concept. I believe I’d be safe in saying that 99.99% of all Christendom has understood this passage to mean there is a plurality of persons in the Godhead! There are many accounts of the early Church Fathers referring to this verse in the same exact manner as I have. For example, The Shepherd of Hermas. Justin explained the personal pronouns in Genesis 1:26 by saying that God “conversed with someone that was numerically distinct from Himself, and also a rational Being”. You can also find similar wording in the Epistle to Diognetus (7:1-4, 9:1), as well as in the writings of Irenaeus. The Epistle of Barnabas (written sometime between 70-132 A.D.) states:

“...if the Lord submitted to suffer for our souls, even though he is Lord of the whole world, TO WHOM GOD SAID at the foundation of the world, ‘Let us make man according to our image and likeness,’ how is it, then, that he submitted to suffer at the hand of men?” (E. of B. 5:5). (emphasis added).

Carl Brumback said even the Jews felt there was a great mystery in these plural pronouns. According to Jewish tradition, when Moses was about to write the words “Let us ...” he cried out, “O Lord of the world, why wilt thou give man occasion to err about Thy most simple unity?” To which the Lord is supposed to have replied, “Write as I bid thee, and if any man love to err, let him err.” The facts of it are, the only place this “so-called” plurality of majesty exists is in the minds of the Oneness people.

For further study of verses using plural pronouns to describe God, you can examine:

Ge 3:22 ...Behold, the man is become as one of US, to know good and evil: (emphasis added)

Ge 11:7 Go to, let US go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. (emphasis added)

Although it is questionable, I believe the chapter of Genesis offers us a beautiful picture of the three persons of the Trinity!

Three Men - One Lord

Let’s read the first three verses:

Ge 18:1 And the LORD (Jehovah) appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, THREE MEN stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
3 And said, MY LORD... (emphasis and parentheses added)

Genesis 18:1 is a narrative telling us that Jehovah appeared unto Abraham while he was sitting at the door of his tent. What I find really strange about all of this is verse 2 states that when Abraham looked up he saw THREE men (not one) standing by him. At the sight of these three men, he ran toward them and fell down at their feet as if to worship; but when he acknowledged their presence he addressed them as his “Lord”, not “Lords”!

I will concede that this passage alone doesn’t prove that God is a trinity of persons, but its wording is just too peculiar for us to overlook or to consider coincidental! Furthermore, I think it gets a little more convincing as we watch this story unfold in chapter 19 of Genesis!

The Lord Rained Fire Down From the Lord

The purpose for Jehovah visiting Abraham in the first place was to warn him of the imminent danger that loomed over Sodom and Gomorrah. This was important news for Abraham because his nephew Lot was a citizen of Sodom. After the Lord told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, the Bible tells us:

Ge 19:24 Then the LORD (Jehovah) rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire FROM THE LORD (Jehovah) out of heaven; (emphasis and parentheses added)

I want you to notice that Jehovah is said to have rained down fire and brimstone FROM Jehovah out of heaven! That’s right! Amazingly, one member of the Godhead was here on earth raining down fire and brimstone from another member of the Godhead that was in heaven!

Here’s another verse that supports this same truth:

Am 4:10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, SAITH THE LORD.
11 I have overthrown some of you, AS GOD overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, SAITH THE LORD. (emphasis added)

I want you to notice (in verse 11) how the divine speaker, who is obviously God, refers to another (besides Himself) as God! We can be very sure this was Jehovah Jesus, the eternal Word, speaking of Jehovah the Father!

Dialogue Between Members of the Godhead

Here are a few Old Testament passages recording dialogue amongst the members of the Godhead.

Ps 2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

Ps 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Ps 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

Verses That Spark the Curiosity

Ps 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
30 THOU (Father) sendest forth thy SPIRIT (Holy Ghost), they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. (emphasis and parentheses added)

Isa 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put MY (Father) SPIRIT (Holy Ghost) UPON HIM (Jesus): he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. (emphasis and parentheses added)

Isa 61:1 The SPIRIT (Holy Ghost) of THE LORD GOD (Father) is upon ME (Jesus); because the LORD (Father) hath anointed ME (Jesus) to preach good tidings unto the meek; HE (Father) hath sent ME (Jesus) to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound: (emphasis and parentheses added)

Isa 63:8 For he said, Surely they are MY (Father) people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.
9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the ANGEL OF HIS PRESENCE (Jesus) saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
10 But they rebelled, and vexed his HOLY SPIRIT (Holy Ghost): therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. (emphasis and parentheses added)

Da 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the SON OF MAN (Jesus) came with the clouds of heaven, and came to THE ANCIENT OF DAYS (Father), and they brought him near before him.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (emphasis and parentheses added)

I want you to notice that the Son of man is said to have come to the Ancient of days! There is no way the Son of man and the Ancient of days are the same person in this passage.

Ho 1:6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And GOD (the Father) said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD THEIR GOD (Jesus), and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen. (emphasis and parentheses added)

In these two verses we find, once again, a divine being referring to another person as God.

Zec 3:1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the ANGEL OF THE LORD (Jesus), and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
2 And the LORD (Jesus) said unto Satan, The LORD (Father) rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD (Father) that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? (emphasis and parentheses added)

I want you to notice (in verse 2) that Jehovah is said to have rebuked Satan while invoking another who is called “Jehovah”!

Zec 13:6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in THINE (Jesus) hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
7 Awake, O sword, against my SHEPHERD (Jesus), and against the man that is my FELLOW (Jesus), saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. (emphasis and parentheses added)

Taken in context, this verse has the Father referring to the shepherd (He that was wounded in the house of His friends) as His “fellow”! A fellow Jehovah? Interesting.

Mal 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

This passage shows Jehovah referring to another that is called “Jehovah”!

There are many more passages we could discuss, but I am trusting these will suffice in demonstrating the point that the Old
Testament contains many precious insights and clues as to the existence of the three distinct “persons” of the Godhead. Again, they, by themselves, may not prove beyond a shadow of doubt that God is a trinity of persons, but they sure help embellish the verses that do!

Copyright 2009 by David Lamb

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