God in Three Witnesses


Three Witnesses
The Three at Mamre
Holy, holy, holy
Let Us Make Man
Fire and Brimstone
Christ's Baptism
Oil of Gladness
The Comforter Has Come
Desire of Nations
Three Conversationalists
God is Love
The Same God
One Faith
The LORD Bless You
Seal
In their Affliction
In the Name
Origin
Temple Vision
Jehovah Jah Jehovah
Return to Answering 'Oneness' Pentecostalism...

Three Witnesses

Holy, Holy, HolyMoses laid down the law that the testimony of two or three witnesses is required to establish a matter:

"One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established." (Deuteronomy 19:15).

Atheists sometimes complain this principle of law is inefficient and unjust, but in actual experience, it is often respected even if not laid down explicitly in other law codes, such as the Roman: "But as he left he added that he should be believed only if others made the same assertion, since for anyone to be convicted on the evidence of a single witness would be a very bad precedent." (Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and Sayings, Book IV.1, p. 347).

Jesus raised this principle of law in making His case before the Pharisees. They complained that His own, uncorroborated witness to His identity was insufficient: "The Pharisees therefore said to Him, 'You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.'" (John 8:13). Far from challenging them on the law, He agreed with their legal analysis: "And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true.  I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me." (John 8:16-18). As Jesus Himself had already explicated the law to His hearers, testimony of only One Witness in His own behalf was not legally valid: "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true." (John 5:31-32). Nor was it suitable to the gravity of the matter to allow merely human testimony: "Yet I do not receive testimony from man..." (John 5:34). It's the Father who corroborates Jesus' own testimony: "And the Father Himself, who sent me, has testified of Me..." (John 5:37).  So we've got our legal minimum of two witnesses: the Father and the Son.  But why stop at two; why not the full complement of "three witnesses" Moses recommended?

Jesus said, "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." (John 15:26). So a third witness rises to testify! Yet if we listen to the 'Oneness' Pentecostals, all this corroborating testimony is as phony as a three-dollar bill: there's only One Witness, He just keeps popping up under various aliases. But the case falls apart without corroboration. Many contemporary Bible translations lack 1 John 5:7, missing in the early Greek manuscripts. Some think it was a marginal gloss which migrated into the text. But if a 'study note,' it's an uncommonly astute one, as these are the very three witnesses John's already named to make the case that Jesus Christ is the Son of God: "...And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one...If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of his Son." (1 John 5:6-9).

Has any witness in a court of law ever been permitted to go outside, put on an ill-fitting wig and cheap glasses, return to be sworn in under an alias, and then been allowed to corroborate his own testimony? Of course not! — that's not two witnesses, but one witness whose perjured testimony is obviously worthless anyhow.

The witnesses with Whom we have to deal would not lower themselves to such a tawdry scam: "And they made his grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth." (Isaiah 53:9). As these three witnesses rise above any suspicion of perjury, their testimony must provide the genuine corroboration Moses demanded: God in Three Witnesses, Blessed Trinity!

Here have assembled the witness; where is the trial, and who is on trial? What is at issue? Here:

“'Present your case,' says the Lord. 'Bring forth your strong reasons,' says the King of Jacob. 'Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; yes, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and see it together. Indeed you are nothing, and your work is nothing; he who chooses you is an abomination.'” (Isaiah 41:21-24).

The living God has a case against the vanities of the nations, or rather, since these chunks of wood and stone have the embarrassing habit of toppling over when not nailed down, against their infatuated devotees, who alone can answer for these deaf-mutes, in favor of His sole worship.

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The Three Visitors at Mamre

The Old Testament presents under a veil the truths which shine forth unveiled in the New.  Did Abraham know that God is triune? He was shown:

"Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, and said, 'My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.' They said, 'Do as you have said.'" (Genesis 18:1-5).

Was Abraham a rude and inattentive host, who flat-out ignored two of his visitors, concentrating on the third?: "'My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.'"? Or had he figured out what God here so obscurely intimates, in this theophany in three angels?

Christians sometimes fail to notice what even the non-Christian Philo Judaeus saw:


  • "...when, therefore, the soul is shone upon by God as if at noonday, and when it is wholly and entirely filled with that light which is appreciable only by the intellect, and by being wholly surrounded with its brilliancy is free from all shade or darkness, it then perceives a three-fold image of one subject, one image of the living God, and others of the other two, as if they were shadows irradiated by it...Therefore, the middle person of the three, being attended by each of his powers as by body-guards, presents to the mind, which is endowed with the faculty of sight, a vision at one time of one being, and at another time of three...But that which is seen is in reality a three-fold appearance of one subject is plain, not only from the contemplation of the allegory, but also from that of the express words in which the allegory is couched.  For when the wise man entreats those persons who are in the guise of three travellers to come and lodge in his house, he speaks to them not as three persons, but as one, and says, 'My lord, if I have found favor with thee, do not thou pass by thy servant.' For the expressions, 'my lord,' and 'with thee,' and 'do not pass by,' and others of the same kind, are all such as are naturally addressed to a single individual, but not to many.
  • (Philo Judaeus, On Abraham, XXIV-XXV, 119-131).




People sometimes complain, 'if God had intended us to know that He is triune, why did He not communicate this clearly?' He appeared to Abraham in the form of 'three men;' what else would they have Him do?


Genesis 18 Theory One
Theory Two Theory Three
Theory Four Conclusion
Bad Theory

Visitation at Mamre


Holy, Holy, Holy

'If God is triune, why doesn't the Bible say so?' This question stuns attentive Bible students, who see the triunity of God running all through the Bible. Here is an example:

The seraphim about God's throne praise Him with three 'holies': "And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!'" (Isaiah 6:3). When Paul feels moved to sing a hymn of praise to his God, he likewise finds three 'holies' just sufficient:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace,..."

"[T]o the praise of the glory of His grace": the first 'Holy', awarded to "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ".

"...by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory."

"[T]o the praise of His glory", the second 'Holy', goes to "the Beloved", Christ.

"In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:3-14).

"[T]o the praise of His glory", the third 'Holy', awarded to "the Holy Spirit of promise". Three 'Holies': not any 'Holies' too few, nor any left over!

Let us Make Man

Anti-trinitarians interpret passages like Deuteronomy 32:39 as if they were spoken by one person of the Trinity, intending to criminalize worship of the others: "Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand." But there is nothing unusual or ungrammatical about the One God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, speaking of Himself in the singular. What anti-trinitarians lack an answer for, though, are those occasions in scripture where God employs a plural pronoun of Himself:



  • "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
  • (Genesis 1:26-27).




Anti-trinitarians are more willing to dabble with theories of angelic co-creators than to notice the obvious: that the "Our image" of verse 26 must correlate to the "His own image" of verse 27.  It was in the image of God man was made, not the image of 'God and the angels': "For in the image of God He made man." (Genesis 9:6). Angelic co-creators are Biblically impossible in any case, because God created the world alone: "Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: 'I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself..." (Isaiah 44:24). The created choirs of "ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1:14) are as much spectators to the wonders of nature as we are.

More: "Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil..." (Genesis 3:22).

"And the LORD said, 'Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.' So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city." (Genesis 11:6-8).

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'" (Isaiah 6:8).

"Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.'" (John 14:23).

"The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 'Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.'" (Psalm 2:2-3).


Let Us Make Man


Or is it the 'royal we?' This present age is not a golden age for hereditary monarchy. Only a few hang on, some just for show like the British Queen. But in the hey-day of this form of government, royal apologists sought to explain and rationalize such usages as the 'royal we.' To these theorists, it was not just megalomania. One theory is that the 'royal we' means 'God and I.' To those who espouse the divine right of kings, the monarch stands as trustee for God, if he is not indeed assumed to be an intimate of God.

Another theory is that the king embodies the nation,— as Louis XIV said, 'L'etat c'est moi' (I am the state). To defenders of the royal system, it is a downfall of representative government that it places power in the hands of men who are after all private persons with private interests. As the career of Jack Abramoff shows, elected officials need not always pursue the public's interest but can look instead to their own. The king is different: from earliest childhood, he is the one person with no private interest, though he lacks for nothing. He is the one person in society who need never carry a wallet. He is not the representative of a faction, interest group, or social class, but embodies in his own person the nation.

So on either theory: that the 'royal we' means 'God and I' or that it means 'the nation which I embody in myself,' the 'royal we' is not really applicable to God.

But it may be over-reaching to seek a reason for this usage; language can play odd tricks with singular and plural. Contemporary English speakers address one another as 'you,' which is strictly speaking second person plural; the original second person singular, 'thee,' is heard nowadays only in religious speech, especially in petitions to the Almighty. Yet to assign these enigmatic statements to some hypothesized quirk of language is not to try to understand them, but to deny they have meaning.

The 'editorial we,'—"We endorse the re-election of Congressman Claghorn,"— is, likewise, not strictly a case where an individual, the writer, is referring to himself alone as "we." Rather the editorialist's 'we' incorporates others: 'I and the editorial board,' or 'I and the newspaper's owner,' or 'I and the concerned citizenry.' When a writer expresses opinions so eccentric they cannot conceivably be the opinions of any group or organization, readers may retort to his 'editorial we' with a snappy comeback like, 'Do you have a frog in your pocket?' The 'editorial we' is pretentious where there is no editorial board, but only a voice in the wilderness.

In a similar vein, of suggestive though far from conclusive evidence, are found the various plural forms used to refer to God, such as the plural 'Elohim,' often occurring with singular verbs to foreclose any suggestion of polytheism. Usually, when comparing rival theories, that theory is judged best which explains the most, and the doctrine of the Trinity explains both the plural word forms and the singular verbs. Though falling short of forensic proof, this is a case where the evidence falls neatly and easily into place if God is triune, though under no other assumption. Theological 'liberals' usually explain plurality, where it occurs, as the remains of polytheism, with which they claim the Bible is shot through. That's the rival explanation!

Readers of the Koran note that Allah calls Himself "we" also:

"Of old sent we Moses with our signs to Pharaoh and his nobles: and he said, ‘I truly am the Apostle of the Lord of the Worlds.’ And when he presented himself before them with our signs, lo! they laughed at them. . ." (Sura 43:45).
"Of old, too, did we destroy the cities which were round about you; and, in order that they might return to us, we varied our signs before them." (Sura 46:26).

The God of the Koran is, by Mohammed's authorial intent, unipersonal. Yet the Koran is a very derivative book. Were all the material cribbed from the Bible to be removed, it would be a very thin book. Mohammed adopted a 'vacuum cleaner' approach in collecting his material, tossing in the 'Seven Sleepers' alongside familiar Bible stories. He repeats a story, Jesus' breathing life into clay sparrows (Sura 3:43), which in its first telling in the apocryphal gospels was meant to underscore Jesus' deity. Although Mohammed denies Jesus' deity, he nevertheless repeats a story most Unitarians would know not to touch. There is consequently an odd-ball category of theological literature: proofs of Jesus' deity from the Koran,— which might seem pointless since Mohammed explicitly denied Jesus' deity. Yet it is not pointless, since his 'filter' in collecting these stories was set so coarse that material slipped through which, in its original telling, was certainly intended to affirm Jesus' deity. It is not clear that a compiler who repeats others' material can control the context so firmly that, when he repeats a story, it means what he wants it to mean, not what its author intended. Is that approach not reminiscent of Humpty Dumpty, who used words to mean what he intended them to mean, not what others understood by them?

Mohammed had several Christian and Jewish informants, including his cousin Waraqa, Salman the Persian, Mary the Egyptian slave girl, and the Jewish sages of Medina (before he slaughtered them). Can it be that he heard from one of these that the God of the Bible has called Himself 'We,' and tossed that into the blender along with Jesus' clay sparrows?

Since it may be that Allah's habit of referring to Himself with both singular and plural pronouns borrows from the true and living God upon whom He is modelled, this habit is not independent testimony.


The First PageThe Last Page


Fire and Brimstone

"Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens." (Genesis 19:24).

Notice the iteration of two 'Jehovah's.' Another: "And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off." (Exodus 24:1). Why not say, 'Come up unto Me?' There are numerous Bible passages which suggest a plurality, while also restricting the 'god-count' to One:

"Rabbi Johanan said: In all the passages which the Minim [Christians, heretics] have taken [as grounds] for their heresy, their refutation is found near at hand. Thus: Let us make man in our image, — And God created [sing.] man in His own image; Come, let us go down and there confound their language, — And the Lord came down [sing.] to see the city and the tower; Because there were revealed [plur.] to him God, — Unto God who answereth [sing.] me in the day of my distress; For what great nation is there that hath God so nigh [plur.] unto it, as the Lord our God is [unto us] whensoever we call upon Him [sing.]; And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, [like] Israel, whom God went [plur.] to redeem for a people unto himself [sing.], Till thrones were placed and one that was ancient did sit." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, Folio 38b.)

The doctrine of the Trinity respects both aspects of these remarkable passages, both plurality (of persons) and oneness of being. Rather than angrily insisting on one aspect only, much less opening the door to the outright pagan polytheism of the 'heavenly court' with its multiplicity of rulers, the correct interpretation must incorporate both scriptural constraints: three, and one. Another instance of the same principle:

"But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen." (Hosea 1:7).

Who will save? The LORD God. By whom? By the LORD their God.

Christ's Baptism

At the scene of Christ's baptism, we observe three take the stage: "When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, 'You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.'" (Luke 3:21-22, Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11; John 1:32-34). Three interacting characters talk with one another, pledging mutual love. Staging the baptism of Christ as a church pageant or a summer theatre production, our program for the evening's entertainment would list three 'dramatis personae'...a strangely familiar term. Christian baptism, with its triune recital of names, is a replica in miniature of this scene.


T. D. Jakes


Oil of Gladness

"You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions." (Hebrews 1:9, Psalm 45:7).

The title 'Christ' means 'Anointed'.  Kings of Israel were anointed into office: "Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah." (1 Samuel 16:13).

An anointed king, or Messiah, was prophesied in the psalms: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed..." (Psalm 2:2), "I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him..." (Psalm 89:20), and also by the prophets:



  • "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
    Because the LORD has anointed Me
    To preach good tidings to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to the captives,
    And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
    To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
    And the day of vengeance of our God;
    To comfort all who mourn,
    To console those who mourn in Zion,
    To give them beauty for ashes,
    The oil of joy for mourning,
    The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
    That they may be called trees of righteousness,
    The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."
  • (Isaiah 61:1-3).



Messiah


Jesus applied this prophecy of the coming Messiah to Himself in Luke 4:18-21, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit: "...how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." (Acts 10:38).  Those of us who follow Him have a lesser anointing: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things...But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you..." (1 John 2:20-27), not the limitless one of the Son: "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure." (John 1:34).

Does Jesus anoint Himself...with Himself, as some say? Or, Biblically, do we have One who anoints, One who is anointed, and the Anointing: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

The Comforter Has Come

In His high-priestly prayer, Jesus prays the Father to send another comforter:



  • "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
  • "Even 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.
  • "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."
  • (John 14:16-18).


  • "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, 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."
  • (John 14:26).





There is one who prays ("I"), another to whom He prays ("the Father"), and that gift for which He prays ("the Spirit of Truth"). These three will not readily collapse down into one person, because why pray if praying to oneself, and why pray to oneself when the gift petitioned for, oneself, is already in hand? Nevertheless, while not one person, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, the gift, the teacher of truth, are certainly one God.




Desire of Nations

"'Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,' says the LORD; 'and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,' says the LORD, 'and work; for I am with you,' says the LORD of hosts. 'According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!' For thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the LORD of hosts." (Haggai 2:4-7). The Speaker identifies two others: the word and the spirit. We sing of this "Desire of Nations" every Christmas-time: "Come, Desire of Nations, come! Fix in us Thy humble home...Adam's likeness now efface, Stamp Thine image in its place: Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love." (Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, Charles Wesley).

Three Conversationalists

The Bible records conversations between Father and Son. Nor are these conversations always in public, as would be the case if, as the 'Oneness' Pentecostals claim, their purpose was to 'teach us' to pray: "And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.  Now when evening came, He was alone there." (Matthew 14:23).

A uni-personal God would experience some embarrassment addressing Himself as "You":

"And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: 'The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek"'), by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant." (Hebrews 7:20-21);

"Then a voice came from heaven, 'You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" (Mark 1:11);

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.'" (Luke 10:21).

"Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: 'Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.'" (John 17:1-2).

"Then the Angel of the LORD answered and said, 'O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?' And the LORD answered the angel who talked to me, with good and comforting words." (Zechariah 1:12-13). (If you do not believe that the "Angel of the LORD" who addresses Himself to the LORD is Himself also God, keep following the conversation: "'Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,' says the LORD. 'Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people.  And I will dwell in your midst.  Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.'" (Zechariah 2:10-11).

Here is a conversation taking place prior to the incarnation, the upcoming incarnation being the very topic of conversation: "Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me...Then I said, "Behold, I have come — In the volume of the book it is written of Me — To do Your will, O God."'" (Hebrews 10:5-7).

The Holy Spirit joins in the conversation, making intercession for the saints before God the Father: "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26-27). He thus joins the Son in His work of intercession (Romans 8:34) — and how would one person intercede with Himself, anyhow?


Gethsemane


God is love

The God of the Bible is love: "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. " (1 John 4:8); "And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16). John does not say that God once was not love but became love, but that He is love; because what God is, He is eternally. He does not change: "For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob." (Malachi 3:6).

The Father loves the Son:

"Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles." (Isaiah 42:1);
"While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!'" (Matthew 17:5);
"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (John 15:9-10).

And the Son loves the Father: "But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here." (John 14:31).

"Then His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal [i.e., jealousy] for Your house has eaten Me up.'" (John 2:17, Psalms 69:9).
"Then I said, 'Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.' (Psalm 40:7-8, Hebrews 10:7).

The Holy Spirit joins in this communion of love:

"Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: 'He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us'?" (James 4:5 NASB).
"Or do you think it is meaningless when the scripture says: He has jealous longings over the spirit which he lodged in us?" (James 4:5 Lattimore).

(This is a difficult verse to translate: "'Long unto envying'. A difficult phrase...But even so, with God presented as a jealous lover, does 'to pneuma' refer to the Holy Spirit as the subject of 'epipotei' or to man's spirit as the object of 'epipotei'?" (Robertson's Word Pictures).)

How could a uni-personal God be love, before He had created a world filled with things to love?  Love requires a lover and a beloved. This is why the living God is love, now and forever; because, as Jesus said, "...for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24).

"Embrace the love of God, and by love embrace God...In proportion, therefore, as we are healed from the swelling of pride, in such proportion are we more filled with love; and with what is he full, who is full of love, except with God? Well, but you will say, I see love, and, as far as I am able, I gaze upon it with my mind, and I believe the Scripture, saying, that 'God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God;' but when I see love, I do not see in it the Trinity.  Nay, but thou dost see the Trinity if thou seest love." (Augustine, On the Trinity, Book 8, Chapter 8).

Jesus promised that the very love with which the Father loves the Son would come to dwell in the believer: "And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:26).  Could this mean that the Holy Spirit who indwells our hearts is the very love of Father and Son, arising from a perfect act of love just as the Word is born from a perfect act of self-contemplation?  For a vigorous defense of this old idea, I've placed Jonathan Edwards' 'Essay on the Trinity' in the Thrice Holy library!

The Same God

"Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.  There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all." (1 Corinthians 12:3-6).

One Faith

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:5).

The LORD Bless You

Moses taught Israel a triune blessing: "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: "The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."  So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.'" (Numbers 6:23-27).

"A brief consideration of this right royal blessing concluding Chapter 6 is in order, as it is prophetic of the apostolic benediction under grace (II Cor. 13:15), and of the attributes of the three Persons of the Trinity. For centuries it has been commonly recognized that Aaron's blessing is an allusion to the Godhead, just as the threefold Holy of Isaiah has been (Isa. 6:13). . .

"The impressive feature of the blessing is the repetition of the sacred name 'Lord,' or JEHOVAH, three times, expressing the great mystery of the Godhead — three Persons, yet one God. . .

"Jehovah the Father —
'The LORD bless thee, and keep thee (Num. 6:24).
'The love of God. . .be with you all' (II Cor. 13:14).
"Jehovah the Son —
'The LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee' (Num. 6:25).
'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. . .be with you all' (II Cor. 13:14).
"Jehovah the Spirit —
'The LORD life up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace' (Num. 6:26).
'The communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all' (II Cor. 13:14)."
(Herbert Lockyer, 'All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible,' pp. 318-319, )

There are several of these three-fold blessings in the Bible, as "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us." (Isaiah 33:22), and "O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name." (Daniel 9:19). They often go unmentioned because, by themselves, they are very weak evidence. After all no one thinks the earth is triune, because Jeremiah says, "O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD." (Jeremiah 22:29). However, they are not by themselves: along with the many clear passages ascribing full deity and distinct personhood to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they add their mite to the pile of accumulating evidence. Why, in Psalm 67, is 'God' invoked three distinct times, then identified three times more?"

"God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, Selah That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth. Selah Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him." (Psalm 67).

If "for no special reason" works for you, then by all means go with 'for no special reason.' However for many of us, one of the things that differentiates  the Bible from works of exclusively human authorship, is that 'for no special reason' never quite comes up to the level of the evidence. Incidentally, the 'face' of God is another familiar reference found in the psalms and elsewhere. Is this a mere figure of speech, or something to make us sit up and take notice?:


Face of God


Easy to remember URL!


Seal

If the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, then where is it? A better question might be, where is it not:

"Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." (2 Corinthians 1:21).

"For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?" (Hebrews 2:2-4).



  • "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen."
  • (2 Corinthians 13:14).




"We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." (1 Thessalonians 1:1-5).

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men." (Romans 14:17-18).

"To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ..." (1 Peter 1:1-2).

"Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me." (Isaiah 48:16).

"For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:13-14).

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near...For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father." (Ephesians 2:13-18).

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19).

"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." (John 15:26).

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." (Jude 1:20-21).

"Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me..." (Romans 15:30).

"This Jesus God has raised up...Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear." (Acts 2:32-33).

"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Galatians 4:6).

The God the church of the apostles worshipped and adored was Father, Son and Holy Spirit. According to the modalists, these oft-repeated triune invocations and doxologies are repetitious stuttering; according to the Arians, they are lop-sided invocations of the Creator along with two creatures. Why not accept this content on its own terms and allow God to be what He ever has been and ever will be: Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

In all their Affliction

"I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD
And the praises of the LORD,
According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies,
According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
For He said, 'Surely they are My people,
Children who will not lie.'
So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them and carried them
All the days of old.
But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit;
So He turned Himself against them as an enemy,
And He fought against them.
Then he remembered the days of old,
Moses and his people, saying:
'Where is He who brought them up out of the sea
With the shepherd of His flock?
Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them,
Who led them by the right hand of Moses,
With His glorious arm,
Dividing the water before them
To make for Himself an everlasting name,
Who led them through the deep,
As a horse in the wilderness,
That they might not stumble?'
As a beast goes down into the valley,
And the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people,
To make Yourself a glorious name...
Doubtless You are our Father,
Though Abraham was ignorant of us,
And Israel does not acknowledge us.
You, O LORD, are our Father;
Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name."
(Isaiah 63:7-16).


Theophanic Angel


In the Name

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Matthew 28:19).

The way this passage is written expresses in detail the truth of the Trinity: "[He] likewise [says,] 'Go baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' But by inserting the conjunction, that is, the syllable 'and' between the names, he refutes Sabellius, with his futile introduction of an identity. For by [inserting] 'and' he shows that there is truly a Father, truly a Son, and truly a Holy Spirit..." (The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, translated by Frank Williams, Books II and III, Section IV, 62, p. 124). The definite article is repeated three times, once before each element in the sequence: "...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ['tou patros kai tou huiou kai tou hagiou pneumatos']..." Grammarian Granville Sharp paged through the New Testament, tabulating every instance of 'kai' ['and'], discovering that the trick is to check whether the definite article is repeated or omitted, as doing so brings beautiful order to the chaos of whether the Greek 'kai' intends to distinguish or identify. Though he labored without benefit of computers, his conclusions have stood up to modern scrutiny, although of course the rule is empirical only and the very evidence upon which it rests are the verses in dispute between trinitarians and anti-trinitarians. Does Matthew 28:19 intend to identify Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one and the same person, or to distinguish between the persons?:

"Sharp's fifth and sixth rules define constructions in which two or more personal nouns linked by 'kai' must denote distinct persons. Several such instances reveal that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons...When each noun is preceded by the article, each noun must denote a distinct person...e.g., Matt. 28:19, 'the Father and...the Son and...the Holy Spirit' are distinct persons..." (E. Calvin Beisner, "Jesus Only" Churches, pp. 46-47).

Origin

"For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself..." (John 5:26).
"As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me." (John 6:57).
"Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.'" (John 8:42).

It's not 'the flesh' claiming to have "life in Himself", as 'Oneness' Pentecostals may wish to claim, because it is God who gives life: "Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things." (Acts 17:25) — namely, the Word, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4), the "Author of life" (Acts 3:15).

Likewise, the Holy Spirit is said to proceed, from the Father, through the Son:

"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." (John 15:26).
"And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb." (Revelation 22:1).

Statements like these outline the 'processions': 'filiation' and 'spiration,' of the scholastics.  These mutal relations cannot be understood to imply precedence in time, because both Son and Spirit are explicitly said to be eternal (Hebrews 1:8-12, Hebrews 9:14).  As eternal, there never was a time when Son and Spirit were not. But there is an order, because Jesus can ever say, "I live because of the Father".  This mutual interdependence cannot meaningfully be predicated of a unipersonal God.

Temple Vision

New religious movements like the Jehovah's Witnesses take it for granted that Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, is the 'Father-only.' One proof that the God of the Old Testament is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not 'Father-only', comes from Isaiah 6:1-3, combined with John 12:41 and Acts 28:25.  Isaiah saw God in the temple:

"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." (Isaiah 6:1-3).

Whom did Isaiah see? John the evangelist says he saw Christ. After quoting Isaiah 6:9-10, he says, "These things said Esaias, when he saw his [Christ's] glory, and spake of him. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue..." (John 12:41-42).

"In none of these scenes was the glory more evident than in Isaiah's glimpse of the majesty of his Lord. When the long reign of Uzziah had ended in the corruption of the tomb, the prophet beheld One whose throne was forever. Seven centuries were to elapse before the occupant of that throne stooped to thirty-three years of deepening humiliation that culminated in the sorrows of the Tree.
"But on the day of the vision, He was dwelling in His rightful sphere, sitting on a throne high and lifted up (or lofty) as befitting 'the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy.' . .As a living canopy over the throne stood the seraphs, the burners, aflame with the holiness of the Presence in which they served. With faces hidden in profound reverence as was right before their Lord, and with feet out of sight, as suited the lowly estate of the creature, they waited to fulfill every command. From their lips pealed their adoration, seraph answering to seraph, and with one mind proclaming the dignity of their Lord. Their 'Holy, Holy, Holy' pointed to the mystery of Trinity in Unity, yet all the glory was displayed in One whom Isaiah saw, and whom John identified as the beloved Son. To Him, therefore, belonged the name 'Lord of hosts,' the name that set forth His high and unapproachable supremacy amid the hierarchies of heaven." (H. C. Hewlett, The Glories of Our Lord, p. 25).

To whom is the temple holy? "And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise." (John 2:16). Paul quotes the same passage, attributing the LORD's words to the Holy Spirit:

"So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: 'The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, "Go to this people and say: 'Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see, and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.'" (Acts 28:25-27).

Thus the God of the Old Testament, the LORD of hosts, is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not 'Father-only'.


Temple Vision


Jehovah Jah Jehovah

"Confide ye in Jehovah for ever; for in Jah, Jehovah, is the rock of ages." (Isaiah 26:4 Darby)

If that isn't sufficiently obscure, here is another recondite glimmer of the trinity:

"CASES OF FLOGGING BY THREE, etc. Whence do we infer this? — R. Huna said: Scripture says: They [the judges] judge them, indicating [at least] two, and since no Beth din [law-court] can consist of an even number, another judge is added, giving a total of three." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 10a).

The scripture cited is Deuteronomy 25:1, "If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked." There is a Biblical back-door between 'God' and a law-court, or else the rabbinic requirement of a minimum of three to judge would not be relevant here. In several cases 'God, 'elohim,' is even translated 'judges:' "For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges [elohim]; and whom the judges [elohim] shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbor." (Exodus 22:9). This simple yet profound analogy between God and judges may conceal a hidden arithmetic lesson:


Ye Are Gods