By James Fire
In exploring the Deity of Jesus Christ as being co-equal to the Father, the subject of the Trinity inevitably and necessarily comes up. While the word ‘trinity’ never appears in the Scripture, the conceptual and spiritual truth of it are everywhere in Scripture and reinforces the doctrine of Christ’s Deity (and that of the Holy Spirit as well).
TRIUNITY of GOD – THREE PERSONS IN ONE GODHEAD
Along with the following treatment on the triune nature of the Godhead, here is an excellent series (five audio files) on The Trinity by Koinonia House with Chuck Missler on his radio program 66/40 - In this presentation Dr. Missler shows how all three Persons of the Trinity were involved in the creation, in the resurrection of Christ, the indwelling of the believer, and how the many appellations of Scripture, describing God are attributed to all three Members of the Godhead.Should you wish to read, rather than listen to this presentation, you may do so in this summary article here (a concise treatment): The Trinity: One God or Three?.Deut 6:4-5
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
“ . . .The Bible clearly teaches that there is one God. However, we have seen that the Messiah is called ‘God with us,’ ‘the Mighty God,’ ‘the LORD our Righteousness,’ and that he is served and worshipped by all people and even God’s angels during the [coming] kingdom age. We have also found evidence that the Messiah will be a physical manifestation of God or God in the flesh.”
How can we reconcile the truth of God being one, and yet also three? This is where the truth of the triune nature of God is revealed, and as early as Genesis chapter one (in the Hebrew). As has already been stated, the name of God used throughout Scripture is “El” and in the very first verse of Genesis we have the following:Gen 1:1
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
There are two points of interest in this verse; firstly is the word for God: one would expect that the Hebrew word here would also be “El” as found elsewhere, and yet the word used is “Eloheim” instead. In Hebrew, by adding the suffix “im” it changes the word from the singular to the plural form. The word “El” is God; “Eloheim” would therefore mean “Gods”. However no where in Scripture is true Deity revealed as a pantheon, that is, a multiplicity of gods such as the ancient pagan cultures worshipped (the most commonly known is the Greek and Roman pantheon), so what is being revealed here at the very onset of Genesis?
Secondly, the word for “created” here used in Hebrew is “barah” which is in the singular form; in virtually all languages, and especially Hebrew, the verb must agree with the noun, and yet here the noun is in the plural form, the verb in the singular. Is God accustomed to inspire His writers to use bad grammar? Hardly; rather this is a clue to reveal the very nature of the Godhead!
Another insight into the triune nature of God:Gen 1:26
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Mark Eastman remarks:
“According to this fascinating verse, man was created by God (Eloheim) in his own image. However, there is something provocative and unexpected in this verse. Prior to the creation of man we find a conversation between God (Eloheim) and an unidentified being (“let US make man in OUR image”). Who is this person with whom God is speaking?
“… First, the being is able to speak with God ‘on his own turf’ that is, in the realm of timeless eternity. We know this because man had not yet been created. Therefore, God was not talking to an earthly intelligence. He must have been speaking to a being that exists in the supernatural, eternal realm.
“Secondly, this being apparently has the same kind of creative ability as God. This describes a cooperative effort between Eloheim and the person with whom he is speaking. Finally, the likeness or image of this being is comparable to God’s.”
The assertion to disprove these allusions of a triune Deity is that God was speaking to the angels (who were presumably created prior to the physical universe (Job 34: 4-7)), but angels cannot create (barah) as does God, nor are they in the image of God, nor is man created in angelic likeness – therefore this argument is invalid.
So who is this mysterious person that is on par with God Himself?
No one other but God Himself, represented in another Person.
Revisiting the verse from Deuteronomy, Dr. Eastman rightly points something out that must be understood regarding the Oneness of God –Deu 6:4
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
The Hebrew word used for “one” here is not the numerical ‘one’ (that would be “yachiyd” or “one and only one;” in English this word is often translated as “only;” take for example the passage in Genesis 22:2 in reference to Abraham’s son Isaac, his “only (yachiyd) son;” See also Zech. 12;10), but rather a ‘united one’ (“echad”) or one might say a unit.
When a football game is engaged, there are two teams out in the field; yet there are a number of players, half of each belonging to one of those teams. One team or unit, many players: the players are distinct from one another, they have their own names, their own number, their own record, but still belong to a whole (unit).
The same can be seen in Genesis 2:24 where the man and wife are seen as one (echad) flesh, but comprising of two distinct bodies. The marriage is a unit of two, man and wife.
Likewise in Genesis 11:6, the LORD God observes that the people at Babel “are one (echad) people…” An entire population of distinct, self-contained individuals, and yet collectively seen as “one (echad)”.
The Holy Spirit could well have inspired Moses to use the Hebrew word yachiyd rather than echad if He meant to emphasize that God indeed is a singular, distinct Person with no equal, the only One of Israel; yet such was not the case – the word indeed is echad, expressing a unity, a compound one.
This is further demonstrated in Ecclesiastes, as well as Isaiah –Ecc 12:1
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
In both cases the plural form of “Creator” and “Maker” is used (Young’s Literal Translation, 1898 ed.)! Note particularly in the passage from Isaiah that the prophet uses three different appellations for God – the LORD of hosts, thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel and The God of the whole earth, perhaps a further demonstration of the tri-unity of God.
GOD the FATHER, GOD the SON –
Dr. Eastman concludes the following in regards to all the above findings:
“How can all this be true and yet there be only one true God? The only possible answer is that God is a plural being manifested in at least two Persons, one of which must be the Messiah!
“In the entire history of the world there is only one person who has even made claims compatible with the criteria we have examined. His name was [and is] Jesus of Nazareth. During the life of Jesus of Nazareth, he claimed equality with God. In fact, he was tried and condemned by the Sanhedrin for this very claim. Yet, the claims of Jesus were totally compatible with the scriptural paradoxes we have just examined.”Jhn 10:30-33
I and my Father are one.
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
Five controversial words in vs. 30 that are just as potent as the three (“JESUS is GOD”) that my brother in Christ has on his van and lap top, and yet even here in this verse from the Gospel of John we understand that the word used for “one” here in the Greek is also defined as “a compound unit of one”.
The Jews understood what Jesus was claiming, because they said as much as the very reason why they wanted to stone Him: “…because that you, being a man make yourself God.” They knew He was claiming Deity!
Yet Jehovah Witnesses and other cults are quick to point out that Jesus here was supposedly correcting them by saying that He was only the “SON of God” (vs. 36), but NOT God Himself.
Yet Scripture also points out concerning Jesus, the Son of God that He is …Jhn 1:14, 18
. . . the Word . . . made flesh, and [and that He] dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Note that term: “the only begotten Son of the Father” in reference to the Word made flesh, that is Jesus Christ, of whom it was said that the “Word was God” (vs. 1).
I would like the reader to consider something with me:
When a man and woman come together and have a child, that child is a human being just as their parents are: an infant, not a mature being to be sure, but nevertheless a human.
When an ostrich has offspring, they are also ostriches; the same goes for fish, the birds and the bees. Each of the offspring will grow and possess the same qualities, given time, as their parents once they are fully developed and mature.
Jesus, being the Son of GOD, being the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the Father would not be anything different than the Father (God), any more than any human begotten infant would be different from their parents (that is, human). There is a distinct difference however that must be acknowledged in the use of this analogy:
Any creature in the world is subject to time, thus there is a time of their birth, time requirements for development and maturity, a time in which the offspring will excel the abilities of their aging parents, a time in which the offspring themselves will procreate offspring of their own, and eventually become aged themselves and a time in which they die.
Jesus Christ however, being the only begotten of the Father would share in the same qualities as the Father. As the Father is God, so is the Son; as the Father is timeless and self-existing in eternity, so is the Son (thus the Son in His Divinity is without beginning and, or end [rather, He is called the Alpha and the Omega], and so is outside of the limitations and influences of time) – He Himself has no beginning or ending as would one who is created, because He would share in the trait of eternal existence with the Father; He would not be immature or underdeveloped nor have a need to mature and grow as He is already Perfect and Immutable, just like His Father.
The fact that Scripture specifically states that He is one (echad – a unified whole) with the Father demonstrates that He is an equal member of and in no way inferior to, the other members of the Godhead.
Certainly He allowed Himself a submissive role to the Father for the purpose of being what Scripture portrays Him as “the Servant of the LORD (Isaiah 42: 1-7)” and that He might learn (experientially) obedience through suffering (Heb. 5: 7-9), but these are those things He endured in His humanity and by no means detracts from His Divinity.
The LORD Jesus also stated in this Gospel:Jhn 8:24, 56-58
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Note in vs. 24 the word “he” is in brackets; in the original Greek this word does not appear, so what Jesus was saying is “if you believe not that I AM, you shall dies in your sins.”
Likewise in vs. 58, He again says “I Am” in a rather peculiar fashion. If Jesus is indeed a pre-existent Person, one might expect Him to say, “I was before Abraham” or even “before Abraham, I was” but instead He says “I AM” in a perfect present-tense, declaring that He existed for all time and beyond. These of course are the famous words issued from the burning bush that Moses encountered. The Law giver and prophet asked God:Exd 3:13-14
. . . Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
“I AM” . . . there is no doubt as to the claim of Jesus, that He in fact stated that He is God; and at that point of declaration the Jewish leaders performed their customary underscoring of His statement by attempting to stone Him (for blasphemy).
Thomas declared Jesus as his Lord and his God in John 20:28; Philip was told by the LORD Jesus Himself that because he has seen Him (Jesus) he has seen the Father in John 14:9; just prior to this Jesus declared that He Himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life – not that He was showing the way, or revealing the truth, or exhibiting a manner of life to be modeled, but that He Himself integrally is all of these (a claim no other religious leader has ever made; Jesus of Nazareth is exclusive in this claim, and has verified it by His teachings, His power, His fulfilling of Messianic prophecies* and His resurrection from the dead.
*For an excellent resource in the study of the myriad of multitudinous prophecies regarding the Messiah, please read All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer, some incredibly power packed chapters steeped in Scriptural evidences, proving that Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophecies and is indeed the Messiah of Israel!
(A book review of Herbert Lockyer’s work on this subject would be a worthy series of articles on TTUF in their own right! LORD permitting, we shall endeavor to do so.)
It’s also noteworthy that the LORD Jesus accepted worship from others which is strictly forbidden by the aforementioned verse in Deut. 8:19. He declared in His prayer to the Father (John 17: 5) that He existed in heaven, in eternity, prior to the creation of the world.
John 1: 1-3, 14 when compared with Genesis 1:1, 26 reveals the reasonable conclusion that “in the beginning” Jesus, the Word made flesh, was with the Father and that they were co-Creators.
Dr. Norman Geisler has written much about the Deity of Christ in The BAKER Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics and we now turn to the segment pertinent to our article:
“Central to Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that is, God manifest in human flesh. The evidence for this is as follows:
1. Truth about reality is knowable.
2. Opposites cannot both be true.
3. God exists.
4. Miracles are possible.
5. A miracle is an act of God to confirm the truth of God claimed by a messenger of God.
6. The New Testament documents are reliable.
7. In the New Testament Jesus claimed to be God.
8. Jesus proved to be God by an unprecedented convergence of miracles.
9. Therefore, Jesus [is] God in human flesh.”
Dr. Geisler’s work dealt previously with the first six points above, so he focuses at this point on 7 through 8, and so shall we . . . in the next article in this series! Until then, the LORD bless and keep you in His grace and peace!