If God is a Trinity, when did He reveal himself as such?
(Think about THAT for a while!)
©Copyright 1998 Randall D. Hughes
"The Torah starts with the proclamation of the Only One, and later Judaism marches through the nations and ages of history with a never-silent protest against polytheism of every kind, against every division of the Godhead into parts, powers, or persons."
"The first pages of Genesis, the opening of the Torah, as well as the exilic portions of Isaiah which form the culmination of the prophets, and the Psalms also, prove sufficiently that at their time monotheism was an axiom of Judaism."
"The churchmen have attempted often enough to harmonize the dualism or trinitarianism of Christianity with the monotheism of the Bible. Still Judaism persist in considering such an infringement upon the belief in Israel's one and only God as really a compromise with heathenism. 'A Jew is he who opposes every sort of polytheism,' says the Talmud."
"The Jewish martyrs likewise cheerfully offered up their lives in His honor; and thus all hearts echoed the battle-cry of the centuries, 'Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One,' and all minds were illuminated by the radiant hope, 'The Lord will be King of the earth; on that day the Lord shall be One, and His name One.'"
These quotes selected from Jewish Theology, by Dr. K. Kohler, KTAV Publishing House Inc. New York, © 1968, pages 82-88
It was into this kind of world, people with this view of God that Jesus walked among and spoke to about God. The few Old Testament verses often used to try and prove God is a Trinity had no impact on the Jew's thought about God's absolute Oneness! For some 4,000 years they viewed God as ONE. The use of "us" in Genesis, the 2,500+ times "Elohim" is used, a Hebrew word that can be used as a plural form of God, but is also used in relationship with known singular heathen gods. The use of the Hebrew word "Echad," a uni-plural form of the word "one." In spite of all these supposed possible pluralities within the language of the Old Testament, the ones who wrote it, in their own language, knew what they meant by it, and did not interpret it to be plural "beings" in any way, shape, or form! To them this was simply a way to bestow multiple glories, majesty, or powers to their One and Only God! A multiplicity of magnificence, absolutely! A multiplicity of persons, NO, a thousand times! It was among these people, with this view of God that Jesus spent the majority of His ministry teaching them about God.
So what is the Jew's view of God? God is a Spirit that is everywhere, Ps. 139:7-12. In spite of the many ways he has revealed himself in the Old Testament, his numerical integrity was not altered! He appeared as the Angel of the Lord to Abraham, Jacob, Joshua, Manoah and his wife. He appeared as a burning bush to Moses, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to the Jew's in the wilderness. Even spoke to Balaam through a donkey! None of these appearances changed the fact that he is One Spirit! One God! In Mal. 3:6, God declares, "For I am the LORD, I change not;"
So does Jesus reveal God as a Trinity? It is clear from the Jew's understanding of God this would be the first opportunity for them to see God in such a way in 4,000 years, that is if God were indeed a Trinity!
How would Jesus go about revealing God as a Trinity? Would he be blatant or subtle? Would it be in a parable or clearly spoken? And although the Jew's rejected Jesus, was it because he spoke of God as a Trinity or they simply did not see him as their Messiah? Because they could not understand the incarnation? It is clear from the past two thousand years the Jew's have rejected the Trinity all the way to death. So let us see how Jesus reveals God to the Jew's.
First we will look at how often each of the primary books containing the words of Jesus mentions the Holy Spirit. The reason we are looking at the Spirit is that in the trinity this is the weak link. So if this breaks then there is no trinity! Note: This will not include other references to the Holy Spirit within these writings. References such as the Holy Spirit Fathering Jesus, or John the Baptist saying Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Only those references made by Jesus himself, opportunities where He could reveal His supposed co-lateral beings.
Matthew Mark Luke John Acts
6 times 3times
4 times 10
times 2 times
It is clear John records more of Jesus speaking about the Spirit than any other writer, with three times as many references. In fact more than the others combined! But if Jesus is indeed presenting a bold new truth about the God the Jew's served for the past 4,000 years, wouldn't all the writers feel obligated to help in this revelation? That is if they indeed understood and believed it themselves? Or was it a "later" revelation?
Jesus spoke specifically of the Spirit only 35 times! That is contrasted by the 178 times Jesus refers to the Father! Co-equal? There certainly isn't equal representation in print!
Since the Trinity was not revealed in the Old Testament, we should find Jesus revealing it! Here are the 35 account of Jesus speaking of the Spirit in the New Testament. (If you consider the parallel passages, the total is more like 27 than 35! Two of MT's are also in MK and LK, the third one from MK is in MT [making all of MK's in MT also] and one of LK's is in Acts, leaving only 27 original references)
(Parallel's with MK 13:11, and LK 12:11-12)
Is it not inconceivable, that Matthew waited until now for his first mention of the Spirit by Jesus? And this passage gives no indication the Father and the Spirit are distinct and separate! Think of it! The Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5, 6, & 7. The Lord's prayer. All without a hint of a third person within the Godhead! He even fed 5,000 men plus women and children in Mt. 14, and 4,000 men plus women and children in Mt. 15. Surely these would have been some of His largest crowds! Is it not inconceivable that the Spirit is not mentioned in these settings? (While it is understood that Jesus did not cover every point of doctrine on everyday (or at least the Disciples did not record him to have). The lack of mentioning this considering the Jew's central thoughts about God being so contrary, if the Trinity were a doctrine Jesus meant to reveal, surely He would have spoken on the subject more!)
Matt:12:28 "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you."
Once again no real distinction, between God, the Father, or the Spirit! Or are these Jew's and Disciples suppose to understand this is really a distinct person (although only mentioned once before by Matthew's account) from the Father Jesus has been speaking of? Considering that the Jew's considered God who is a Spirit to be their Father!
Matt. 12:31 & 32 "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. 32And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
(Parallel's with MK 3:29, LK 12:10)
In Mathew 12, here Jesus really make no distinction between the "Spirit of God" in verse 28 and the Spirit in verse 31! In fact, in verse 31, "Holy," is added by translators. If you were in the audience when Jesus said this, would you have known this was to mean the "third person?" Since once again the Jew's God is a Spirit who's greatest attribute is his Holiness? Lev. 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:3, 26, 21:8, etc. just a few of the times the God of the Jew's is called Holy. Notice Jesus does not mention blasphemy against the Father who he has been speaking of for the past 9 chapters (Jesus really doesn't speak of the Father prior to Chapter 4)! Is the listener suppose to know they are different persons? And does this mean the Father cannot be blasphemed?
Matt. 22:43 "He saith unto them, How then doth David in Spirit call him Lord, saying, 44The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?"
(Parallel's with MK 12:36)
This passage raises many questions. If God is a Trinity of three co-equal, co-eternal persons, why aren’t all three on the throne? Where is the Spirit in relationship to this throne? Does this passage reveal a Trinity? When you consider the Jew were well aware of this passage from the Psalms and did not find within it a plurality of deity, how could it be said this was Jesus revealing the Trinity?
Matt. 28:18-20 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
If God were indeed a Trinity, why would one member have all power? Why is "name" singular in verse 19? Did the Disciples understand this to mean a Trinity? If so, why did they not use these "titles" in the Book of Acts when they baptized? And why is it Jesus that is with them to the end of the World, instead of the Trinity? So thus one of the seemingly most conclusive verses Trinitarians have in the entire Bible is surrounded with questions regarding its "true" meaning. And then the Disciples and Jew's understanding of it! So if God is a Trinity, Jesus waited until He was practically in the air, and Matthew's next to last verse to give his best attempt which actually did little or nothing to reveal Him as such! In the six verses in Matthew that referenced the "third person" the readers certainly were not left with a distinct knowledge of a God in "three persons!" And particularly did not make an obvious distinction to these Jew's in regards to their historical view of God!
Mark 3:38-39 "Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: 30Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit."
Here in Mark 3, Jesus once again mentions blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and fails to mention the Father? But in light of the context, Jesus mentions blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because they said He did miracles by Beelzebub? But wasn't it the Father who did the works? JN 5:17, 19, 30, 36, 8:28, 29, 9:4, 10:25, 32, 37, 14:10, 11, 31, 17:4
Mark also, manages to tell of the feeding of the 5,000+ in Mark 6, and the 4,000+ in chapter 8 without mentioning the Spirit.
Mark's next reference to the Holy Spirit is the same as Matt. 22:43-45.
Mark 12:36 "For David himself said by the Holy Spirit, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool."
If the Trinity is made up of three co-equal, co-eternal members, then why aren’t all three on the throne? And where is the Holy Spirit in relationship to this throne?
Mark 13:11 "But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit."
Does this sound like a third person, or simply God's Spirit anointing? Thus Mark fails to give a conclusive revelation to the Trinity! These being all the references by Jesus to the Holy Spirit mentioned in Mark!
This is the Spirit of Jehovah, from Isa. 61:1. Is this different than the Holy Spirit? Is there anything about this passage to indicate it as such? In light of only One Spirit! Eph. 4:4, 1 Cor. 12:13, Ps. 139:7, John 4:24.
In chapter 9, Luke also bypasses the feeding of the 5,000+ without a reference to the 'third person."
Luke 11:13 "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
The Father gives the third person? Does this sound like a separate person from the Father, or simply the Father, who is a Spirit, giving of himself to those asking him? If God is a Trinity, co-equal and co-eternal, why couldn't you ask the Holy Spirit directly?
Luke 12:10-12 "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven. 11And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say."
Once again blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is mentioned with no mention of the Father? And then mentioning that the Holy Spirit will anoint you to speak. Is this a third person? Think of this! Jesus is revealing the Trinity to these Absolutely Monotheistic Jews. Surely these writers realize the importance of making this known! How is the Holy Spirit that teaches you in verse 12 different from the "Spirit of the Father" in Matt. 10? Particularly since there is but One Spirit! There is no difference!
There is one other way that Luke spoke of the Spirit.
Luke 24:49 "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."
(Parallel's with Acts 1:4)
Once again an absolutely non-conclusive statement that does not reveal God's Spirit as a distinct "third person."
The writers all said, let John do it? That is, he will offer the best "proof" text for the Trinity. With the exception of Matt. 28:19 you will seldom hear discussion about the person of the Spirit from the first three Gospels.
John 3:5 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
Does this sound like Jesus is trying to reveal a third person with him?
John 3:34 "For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him."
Who is God in this verse? The Father, giving to the Second person the Third person? Or God manifesting himself in flesh, 1 Tim. 3:16, Col. 2:9.
John 4:10 & 14 "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 14But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Definitely sounds like a "third person" here?
John 4:24 "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
So now once again the question, who is God here? Is it the Father, or the Holy Spirit? Or all three of the Trinity? So who is the Spirit? There is only One Spirit, Eph. 4:4, 1 Cor. 12:13, Ps. 139:7! And it is clear from the context here in John 4 that the Father's substance is Spirit.
John also, in chapter 6 fails to tell of Jesus revealing God as a Trinity to the 5,000+ here. Was He selective as to who he told? With his other parables he just told them outright and left the Jew's to try and figure them out. Some he would explain to his Disciples. But never a clear explanation of the "God in three persons!"
John 7:37-39 "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"
Here John clarifies Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit as the living water.
John 14:16-20 "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you."
Trinitarians try to say that the word "another" means a different person. While a different means, manner, or way, of comfort works here also! Particularly in light of the context! While Jesus is speaking of this other means of comfort being sent, he says "I will not leave you orphans (comfortless), I will come to you! Then Jesus says, at the day when you see me no more, I shall be in you! Alright, the Disciples knew the Spirit of Truth because he was with them, (isn't Jesus the one with them?) and would be in them! This make Jesus the Holy Spirit! Or the same Spirit within him is the Holy Spirit!
John 14:26 "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
Here is a single verse with Jesus speaking in which he mentions the "other two." But does this indicate a Trinity of persons? Or God who fathered a body, sending his Spirit to believers in His name, which is also the name he gave to his image or Son (body). Col. 1:15.
John 15:26 "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:"
What about John 14:17? Didn't Jesus say in that passage HE was the Spirit of Truth? A portion of the same Spirit that dwelt in Jesus Christ!
John 16:7-15 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you."
Same questions. The Comforter is just another means of God dwelling with his people! But it is different in that instead of just being with them, He is in them! The Spirit of Truth. Who is Truth personified? John 14:6, Jesus Christ! Throughout the Bible there are many inanimate objects that are referred to with personal pronouns without any intent to indicate a person! Wisdom in Proverbs, is often personified as a woman with personal pronouns used.
John 20:22 "And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit:"
Nothing here that indicates the Spirit to be a "third person."
Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Now consider this. If you were a Jew (you know their background) hearing Jesus speak of the Holy Spirit, would you be convince that he was meaning a third person within the Godhead? Could you piece it all together? You would struggle if all you had was Matthew, Mark, and Luke to go on! And that is not to say the Trinity is revealed in John, just there is more opportunity for confusion with the many references to the Spirit.
The revelation of the Trinity actually was brought over from Grecian thought and philosophy and was put to "Christianity" by Tertullian 160-220 AD, (as well as others) and was made a dogma of the Church in 325 AD, at the Nicean Council.
Jesus never intended for God to be viewed differently than the One and Only God of the Jew's! In fact, Jesus makes this clear on several occasion. John 4:22, Jesus said the Jew's were correct in their worship of God! In Mark 12:29-34, Jesus reaffirms the Jew's understanding of the Deu. 6:4, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." Speaking to a Jew, and knowing his understanding of this passage, Jesus told him he was "not far from the kingdom of God." Jesus was the manifestation of that One God, 1 Tim. 3:16. He was the image of the invisible God, Col. 1:15, Heb. 1:1-3. Not the second person in that God. All the fulness of the Godhead (Deity) dwelt in him! Not Jesus dwelling IN the Godhead. Col. 2:9.
It took the efforts of the "Church" in the years from 325-1517 and beyond, to put to death all who did not believe the Trinity to get "Christianity" to where it is today. That is, where the Doctrine of the Trinity is believed by the majority of "Christians." In Tertullian's day, 160-220 AD, this was not the case!
"…the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation (of the
three in one) on the ground that their very rule of faith withdrawals them from
the world's plurality of gods to the one only true God;…they are constantly
throwing out against us that we are preachers of two gods and three gods, while
they take to themselves pre-eminently, the credit of being the worshippers of
the One God."
The Orthodox Church gives great significance to Tertullian, calling him the Father of Latin Theology, and the Father of the Trinity. Yet in his day he went against the majority by believing the Trinity!
The greatest significance of these words by Tertullian, he was not in Israel when he made this statement! He was from Carthage, North Africa! And the majority of the Jew's Dr. Kohler spoke of were never called believers! Thus the early church preached and taught it's believers in the One true God! The early Church's view of the Godhead was the same as the Jew's! But with the understanding of the incarnation, the One True God manifest in flesh!
You may have noticed that Holy "Ghost" was not used in this writing. The reason, Strong's #4151, states it is the same word for "Spirit, life, breath, breeze, mental, mind, being, etc." This is the same Strong's # used in reference to the Spirit of God throughout the Gospels. In Hendrickson's Interlinear Bible, the word "Spirit" is always used in those instances where "Ghost" is found in the KJV. Also, virtually every translation that has come out in the last century uses "Spirit" instead of "Ghost." Which raises the question, how much distinction did Jesus make?
Is it possible that the Catholic Church used such a "translation" of the word to emphasis the supposed distinction between the Spirit who is the God, and also called Father, and the one and the same Spirit that indwells believers? Thus creating a "third person?"
Jesus did not reveal the One True God to be a Trinity! Instead He reaffirmed that God is ONE! Mark 12:29-30; John 4:22:
©Copyright 1998 Randall D. Hughes
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