Jewishness and the Trinity

In a recent question-and-answer article, Rabbi Stanley Greenberg of Temple Sinai in Philadelphia wrote:

Christians are, of course, entitled to believe in a trinitarian conception of God, but their effort to base this conception on the Hebrew Bible must fly in the face of the overwhelming testimony of that Bible. Hebrew Scriptures are clear and unequivocal on the oneness of God . . . The Hebrew Bible affirms the one God with unmistakable clarity. Monotheism, an uncompromising belief in one God, is the hallmark of the Hebrew Bible, the unwavering affirmation of Judaism and the unshakable faith of the Jew."

Whether Christians are accused of being polytheists or tritheists or whether it is admitted that the Christian concept of the Tri-unity is a form of monotheism, one element always appears: one cannot believe in the Trinity and be Jewish. Even if what Christians believe is monotheistic, it still does not seem to be monotheistic enough to qualify as true Jewishness. Rabbi Greenberg's article tends to reflect that thinking.

He went on to say, "…under no circumstances can a concept of a plurality of the Godhead or a trinity of the Godhead ever be based upon the Hebrew Bible." It is perhaps best then to begin with the very source of Jewish theology and the only means of testing it: the Hebrew Scriptures. Since so much relies on Hebrew language usage, then to the Hebrew we should turn.

1. God Is A Plurality

The Name Elohim

It is generally agreed that Elohim is a plural noun having the masculine plural ending "im." The very word Elohim used of the true God in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," is also used in Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods (Elohim) before Me," and in Deuteronomy 13:2, "…Iet us go after other gods (Elohim)…" While the use of the plural Elohim does not prove a Tri-unity, it certainly opens the door to a doctrine of plurality in the Godhead since it is the word that is used of the one true God as well as for the many false gods.

Plural Verbs used with Elohim

Virtually all Hebrew scholars do recognize that the word Elohim, as it stands by itself, is a plural noun. Nevertheless, they wish to deny that it allows for any plurality in the Godhead whatsoever. Their line of reasoning usually goes like this: When "Elohim" is used of the true God, it is followed by a singular verb; when it is used of false gods, it is followed by the plural verb. Rabbi Greenberg states it as follows:

"But, in fact, the verb used in the opening verse of Genesis is 'bara' which means 'he created'—singular. One need not be too profound a student of Hebrew to understand that the opening verse of Genesis clearly speaks of a singular God."

The point made, of course, is generally true because the Bible does teach that God is only one God and, therefore, the general pattern is to have the plural noun followed by the singular verb when it speaks of the one true God. However, there are places where the word is used of the true God and yet it is followed by a plural verb:

Genesis 20:13: "And it came to pass, when God (Elohim) caused me to wander [literally: They caused me to wander] from my father's house…

Genesis 35:7: "…because there God (Elohim) appeared unto him…" [Literally: They appeared unto him.]

2 Samuel 7:23: "…God (Elohim) went…" [Literally: They went.]

Psalm 58:12: "Surely He is God (Elohim) who judges…[Literally: They judge.]

The Name Eloah

If the plural form Elohim was the only form available for a reference to God, then conceivably the argument might be made that the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures had no other alternative but to use the word Elohim for both the one true God and the many false gods. However, the singular form for Elohim (Eloah) exists and is used in such passages as Deuteronomy 32:15-17 and Habakkuk 3:3. This singular form could have easily been used consistently. Yet it is only used 250 times, while the plural form is used 2,500 times. The far greater use of the plural form again turns the argument in favor of plurality in the Godhead rather than against it.

Plural Pronouns

Another case in point regarding Hebrew grammar is that often when God speaks of himself, he clearly uses the plural pronoun:

Genesis 1:26: Then God (Elohim) said,"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.…"

He could hardly have made reference to angels since man was created in the image of God and not of angels. The Midrash Rabbah on Genesis recognizes the strength of this passage end comments as follows:

"Rabbi Samuel Bar Hanman in the name of Rabbi Jonathan said, that at the time when Moses wrote the Torah, writing a portion of it daily, when he came to this verse which says, "And Elohim said, let us make man in our image after our likeness," Moses said, "Master of the universe, why do you give herewith an excuse to the sectarians (who believe in the Tri-unity of God)." God answered Moses, "You write and whoever wants to err, let him err."1

It is obvious that the Midrash Rabbah is trying to simply get around the problem and fails to answer adequately why God refers to Himself in the plural.

The use of the plural pronoun can also be seen in:

Genesis 3:22: Then the LORD God (YHVH Elohim) said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us…"

Genesis 11:7: "Come, let Us go down, and there confuse their language…"

Isaiah 6:8: Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?"

This last passage would appear contradictory with the singular "I" and the plural "us" except as viewed as a plurality (us) in a unity (I).

Plural Descriptions of God

One point that also comes out of Hebrew is the fact that often nouns and adjectives used in speaking of God are plural. Some examples are as follows:

Ecclesiastes 12:1: "Remember now you creator…" [Literally: creators.]

Psalm 149:2: "Let Israel rejoice in their Maker." [Literally: makers.]

Joshua 24:19: "…holy God…" [Literally: holy Gods.]

Isaiah 54:5: "For your Maker is your husband…" [Literally: makers, husbands.]

Everything we have said so far rests firmly on the Hebrew language of the Scriptures. If we are to base our theology on the Scriptures alone, we have to say that on the one hand they affirm God's unity, while at the same time they tend towards the concept of a compound unity allowing for a plurality in the Godhead.

The Shema

Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

Deuteronomy 6:4, known as the Shema, has always been Israel's great confession. It is this verse more than any other that is used to affirm the fact that God is one and is often used to contradict the concept of plurality in the Godhead. But is it a valid use of this verse?

On one hand, it should be noted that the very words "our God" are in the plural in the Hebrew text and literally mean "our Gods." However, the main argument lies in the word "one," which is a Hebrew word, echad. A glance through the Hebrew text where the word is used elsewhere can quickly show that the word echad does not mean an absolute "one" but a compound "one." For instance, in Genesis 1:5, the combination of evening and morning comprise one (echad) day. In Genesis 2:24, a man and a woman come together in marriage and the two "shall become one (echad) flesh." In Ezra 2:64, we are told that the whole assembly was as one (echad), though of course, it was composed of numerous people. Ezekiel 37:17 provides a rather striking example where two sticks are combined to become one (echad). The use of the word echad in Scripture shows it to be a compound and not an absolute unity.

There is a Hebrew word that does mean an absolute unity and that is yachid, which is found in many Scripture passages,2 the emphasis being on the meaning of "only." If Moses intended to teach God's absolute oneness as over against a compound unity, this would have been a far more appropriate word. In fact, Maimonides noted the strength of "yachid" and chose to use that word in his "Thirteen Articles of Faith" in place of echad. However, Deuteronomy 6:4 (the Shema) does not use "yachid" in reference to God.

II. God Is At Least Two

Elohim and YHVH Applied to Two Personalities

As if to even make the case for plurality stronger, there are situations in the Hebrew Scriptures where the term Elohim is applied to two personalities in the same verse. One example is Psalm 45:7-8:

"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions."

It should be noted that the first Elohim is being addressed and the second Elohim is the God of the first Elohim. And so God's God has anointed Him with the oil of gladness.

A second example is Hosea 1:7:

"Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen."

The speaker is Elohim who says He will have mercy on the house of Judah and will save them by the instrumentality of YHVH, their Elohim. So Elohim number one will save Israel by means of Elohim number two.

Not only is Elohim applied to two personalities in the same verse, but so is the very name of God. One example is Genesis 19:24 which reads:

"Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens."

Clearly we have YHVH number one raining fire and brimstone from a second YHVH who is in heaven, the first one being on earth.

A second example is Zechariah 2:8-9:

For thus says the LORD of Hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he that touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me."

Again, we have one YHVH sending another YHVH to perform a specific task.

The author of the Zohar sensed plurality in the Tetragrammaton3 and wrote:

"Come and see the mystery of the word YHVH: there are three steps, each existing by itself: nevertheless they are One, and so united that one cannot be separated from the other. The Ancient Holy One is revealed with three heads, which are united into one, and that head is three exalted. The Ancient One is described as being three: because the other lights emanating from him are included in the three. But how can three names be one? Are they really one because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit."4

III. God Is Three

How Many Persons Are There?

If the Hebrew Scriptures truly do point to plurality, the question arises, how many personalities in the Godhead exist? We have already seen the names of God applied to at least two different personalities. Going through the Hebrew Scriptures, we find that, in fact, three and only three distinct personalities are ever considered divine.

1. First, there are the numerous times when there is a reference to the Lord YHVH. This usage is so frequent that there is no need to devote space to it.

2. A second personality is referred to as the Angel of YHVH. This individual is always considered distinct from all other angels and is unique. In almost every passage where He is found He is referred to as both the Angel of YHVH and YHVH Himself. For instance, in Genesis 16:7 He is referred to as the Angel of YHVH, but then in 16:13 as YHVH Himself. In Genesis 22:11 He is the Angel of YHVH, but God Himself in 22:12. Other examples could be given.5 A very interesting passage is Exodus 23:20-23 where this angel has the power to pardon sin because God's own name YHVH is in him, and, therefore, he is to be obeyed without question. This can hardly be said of any ordinary angel. But the very fact that God's own name is in this angel shows His divine status.

3. A third major personality that comes through is the Spirit of God, often referred to as simply the Ruach Ha-kodesh. There are a good number of references to the Spirit of God among which are Genesis 1:2, 6:3; Job 33:4; Psalm 51:11; Psalm 139:7; Isaiah 11:2, etc. The Holy Spirit cannot be a mere emanation because He contains all the characteristics of personality (intellect, emotion and will) and is considered divine.

So then, from various sections of the Hebrew Scriptures there is a clear showing that three personalities are referred to as divine and as being God: the Lord YHVH, the Angel of YHVH and the Spirit of God.

The Three Personalities in the Same Passage

Nor have the Hebrew Scriptures neglected to put all three personalities of the Godhead together in one passage. Two examples are Isaiah 48:12-16 and 63:7-14.

Because of the significance of the first passage, it will be quoted:

"Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. Indeed My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand up together. All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? The LORD has loved him; he shall do His pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be against the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him, I have brought him, and his way will prosper. 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."

It should be noted that the speaker refers to himself as the one who is responsible for the creation of the heavens and the earth. It is clear that he cannot be speaking of anyone other than God. But then in verse 16, the speaker refers to himself using the pronouns of I and me and then distinguishes himself from two other personalities. He distinguishes himself from the Lord YHVH and then from the Spirit of God. Here is the Tri-unity as clearly defined as the Hebrew Scriptures make it.

In the second passage, there is a reflection back to the time of the Exodus where all three personalities were present and active. The Lord YHVH is referred to in verse 7, the Angel of YHVH in verse 9 and the Spirit of God in verses 10, 11 and 14. While often throughout the Hebrew Scriptures God refers to Himself as being the one solely responsible for Israel's redemption from Egypt, in this passage three personalities are given credit for it. Yet, no contradiction is seen since all three comprise the unity of the one Godhead.

Conclusion

The teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures, then, is that there is a plurality of the Godhead. The first person is consistently called YHVH while the second person is given the names of YHVH, the Angel of YHVH and the Servant of YHVH. Consistently and without fail, the second person is sent by the first person. The third person is referred to as the Spirit of YHVH or the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. He, too, is sent by the first person but is continually related to the ministry of the second person.

If the concept of the Tri-unity in the Godhead is not Jewish according to modern rabbis, then neither are the Hebrew Scriptures. Jewish Christians cannot be accused of having slipped into paganism when they hold to the fact that Jesus is the divine Son of God. He is the same one of whom Moses wrote when he said:

"Behold, I send an Angel before you, to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off."
—Exodus 23:20-23

New Testament Light

In keeping with the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament clearly recognizes that there are three persons in the Godhead, although it becomes quite a bit more specific. The first person is called the Father while the second person is called the Son. The New Testament answers the question of Proverbs 30:4: "…What is His name, and what is his Son's name, if you know?" His son's name is Y'shua (Jesus). In accordance with the Hebrew Scriptures, he is sent by God to be the Messiah, but this time as a man instead of as an angel. Furthermore, He is sent for a specific purpose: to die for our sins. In essence, what happened is that God became a man (not that man became God) in order to accomplish the work of atonement.

The New Testament calls the third person of the Godhead the Holy Spirit. Throughout the New Testament he is related to the work of the second person, in keeping with the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures. We see, then, that there is a continuous body of teaching in both the Old and New Testaments relating to the Tri-unity of God.

Footnotes


1Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 1:26, New York: NOP Press, N.D.
2Genesis 22:2,12; Judges 11:34; Psalm 22:21; 25:16; Proverbs 4:3; Jeremiah 6:26; Amos 8:10; Zechariah 12:10
3"Personal Name of God of Israel," written in Hebrew Bible with the four consonants YHWH. Pronunciation of name has been avoided since at least 3rd c. B.C.E.; initial substitute was "Adonai" ("the Lord"), itself later replaced by "ha-Shem" ("the Name"). The name Jehovah is a hybrid misreading of the original Hebrew letters with the vowels of "Adonai."—Encyclopedic Dictionary of Judaica, p. 593
4Zohar, vol. III, 288, vol. II, 43, Hebrew editions. See also Soncino Press edition, vol. III, 134.
5In Genesis 31 he is the Angel of God in verse 11, but then he is the God of Bethel in verse 13. In Exodus 3 he is the Angel of YHVH in verse 2 and he is both YHVH and God in verse 4. In Judges 6 he is the Angel of YHVH in verses 11, 12, 20, and 21 but is YHVH himself in verses 14, 16, 22 and 23. Then in Judges 13:3 and 21 he is the Angel of YHVH but is referred to as God himself in verse 22.

Add comment

  • If your comment does not pertain to this specific article/blog please click here to send us a message. Comments not related to this article will not be posted.
  • We reserve the right to delete vulgar, racist, or hateful content, as well as inappropriate and off-topic posts.
  • Comments including links will not be published.
  • Multiple comments posted in a row will not be accepted.
  • Comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.
/index.php?option=com_jcomments&task=captcha&format=raw&ac=84296&Itemid=4243

Comments

+7

Joel

The "Echad" arguement, that the Hebrew "Echad" somehow means many-that-are-one, is plain wrong. Echad means "one" in English. Just as in English, you can say "We are of one mind", or "they became as one flesh", you can do the same in Hebrew. It does not change the basic meaning of the word "one" in English, or "Echad" in Hebrew. "Echad" is used almost 700 times in the Bible, usually to indicate one sheep, one cow, one man, one spoon and so on. It has no more plural sense than "one" does in English. Believe what you like, but please try to stick to facts.
-3

Remi

Yes, and Deut 4 boils it down my friend. Echad could mean 3, 4, or 100000, but as long as G-d told the Jewish people that the should not worship anything they have not seen at mount Horeb, and as long as He did not show any form, then Jesus, regardless de if the word elohim is plural, should not be worship as a god. If anybody wants to be reasonable, you just have to read deut 4 with an open mind.

Also, moses was called elohim, was he part of a triun person?
+2

myth buster

Thomas said to the risen Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus did not rebuke him, as any creature would be obligated to, but rather said, "You have believed because you have seen; blessed are they who have not seen, yet still believe." Indeed, He said, "Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." Clearly, worship of the Incarnate Son of God is not only licit but obligatory.
+1

leah

Wow! I have read the whole Bible at least once and the book of Isaiah several times, and never saw the distinction of personalities, but you make it so clear! And all this time I was thinking that there was so little connection between the Old and New Testaments. As for the 'echad' argument, that's only a small fraction of the evidence you give, whereas most people can only give that. Maybe Joel didn't read the whole article? Thanks for clearing things up!
+1

Miranda

The belief of the trinity is simple. Being a Christian, I believe that God (there is only ONE) had a human form, and that would be his son Jesus Christ, who he sent down to die for our sins, Jews and Gentiles. And then there is the Holy Spirit, which was given as a comforter when Jesus ascended to Heaven. Christians do not believe the three to be separate but ONE and because of our God's greatness, (he did create everything after all!), he can make himself into the Holy Spirit and into his Son. God IS omnipresent and I thoroughly believe that God gives his Holy Spirit to those who call on Him and profess their faith in Jesus. Thank you for listening, ~Miranda
+1

Martha Mendez

Amen to that Miranda God is not 3 people is only one God took a human form in Christ and is the Holy Spirit but its the same God and Hes name is JesusChrist .but the devil is tricky and want to confuse and destroyed the work of our Lord.
+4

David

The Apostolic view and teaching regarding the Godhead did not include a pluralistic concept of God’s nature. If the Apostles themselves were confused as to the nature of God (John 14) surely these new Gentile Christians, which were formerly pagan polytheists and idolaters, could have become confused as well. Interestingly enough we find this written to one of the Gentile churches: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2:8-9 The biggest problem with the doctrine of the Trinity is that it is an attempt to understand the infinite God through the lens of finite human understanding and philosophy. Furthermore, the Trinitarian concept of the Godhead indirectly contradicts the firm belief in the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. That said I entirely agree with Rabbi Greenberg.
-1

Romel

@ David
Trinitarian concept does not contradict the concept of omnipresent and omnipotence of God. If God is plural then sending one person to earth in the person of Jesus Christ does not diminish His Power(omnipotent) and His presence (omnipresent).

Rick

I loved this article! It points out the truth of the Trinity! I've watched a video tape my brother has a number of times, titled "The Oneness of God". It features an Israeli Christian pastor named Meno Kalisher, who points out beautifully the plural existance of ONE GOD! It is the Holy Trinity! We know this, because of the Hebrew words "Elohim" and "Echad". It says that God consists of three parts, that form ONE GOD, which are God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit. As Meno says on the tape, "God knows enough Hebrew", to know when to use Eloha (singular), and Elohim (plural)! Meno, along with other Biblical scholars in the video, Steve Herzig, and Ronald Showers, has pointed this out beautifully! Your article also points this out beautifully. Merry Christmas to everyone! Praise Yeshua! Praise God! Praise the Holy Spirit!

Richard

The exegesis on the TeNaCH as was done in reference to YHWH is an excellent resource and one I have used many times. Thank you for having the spirit of wisdom and courage in posting this truth. Many make the mistake of believing that if God is one then He is solitary and not a plurality. You have shown, through your study and this article, that God is indeed one yet a pluarlity! Thank you very much and may God continue to bless your ministry.
+4

zaph

consider! trinitarian scholars freely admit the word trinity is never used in the NT nor is the definition of god being 3 in one ever revealed - indicating it is knowledge learned outside of the ‘revealed word of god’. assuming the plurality argument is correct then how is the number 3 arrived at without presupposition? for the sake of simplicity in christ, let us base our entire doctrine on the words from the apostles preaching of the gospel as recorded in acts, undoubtedly utterance breathed by god himself through them. in each example of preaching the gospel, god bore witness to their testimony in receiving new believers based on the words of the apostles by indwelling each new believer by his spirit. jesus was preached as a man who was ordained/anointed by god as messiah, raised from the dead by god, and is seated at the right hand of god(the spirit in stephen testified to this in acts that jesus is seated beside god – psalm 2), and only in him is forgiveness available!

Marshall Gordon

This "explanation" is full of the usual Southern Baptist distortions of the Torah. They are based on an incomplete and therefore distorted view of the Torah, born out of ignorance of the original Hebrew.

The Jewish Study Bible is a good antidote.
+1

Theophania

Quoting Marshall Gordon:
This "explanation" is full of the usual Southern Baptist distortions of the Torah. They are based on an incomplete and therefore distorted view of the Torah, born out of ignorance of the original Hebrew.

The Jewish Study Bible is a good antidote.



Not sure how a man with multiple theological degrees, who grew up with an Orthodox Jewish education, and whose graduate studies were done at Jewish Theological Seminary as well as Hebrew University can have his Scriptural understanding be "born out of ignorance of the original Hebrew." Especially since he lived in Israel for a while and has authored several commentaries.

Here's a link to a bio on the author, Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum: http://www.israelunique.com/authors/arnold-fruchtenbaum.htm
+3

Rich Robinson

Quoting Marshall Gordon:
This "explanation" is full of the usual Southern Baptist distortions of the Torah. They are based on an incomplete and therefore distorted view of the Torah, born out of ignorance of the original Hebrew.

The Jewish Study Bible is a good antidote.

@Marshall - I'm not sure how the Southern Baptists got singled out here, but can you point to one "distortion." Oh, this may surprise you, many scholars Southern Baptist or not know biblical Hebrew.
+2

Marilyn D Smith

I believe the Gentile problem with the trinity theory is they make 3 Gods out of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Saying they are all Equal and it's a mighty mystery but they are all God. Yet it's a divided mindset or 3 Gods being ONE. I believe they don't understand that ONE means THE SAME PERSON.
But I choose to believe that God is ONE. And Jesus is the A to Z in the bible. That God I AM showed himself to man in different ways and times. To reach man and do what was necessary for mans redemption Phiippians tells us God humbled himself taking on the Form of flesh and blood. God I AM became everything man needed because man could not do it for himself.
+1

Marilyn Watkins

With the issue of the trinity and the oneness debate. I asked God to show me the truth. It was so elementary yet profound. The ten commandments says the truth. Thou shall not have any other Gods before me. The words of Jesus that no one enters unto the father except through me. So..God would not command that he comes first then put another in front of him. They are one in the same.

Guest

This comment has been deleted by Administrator
+5

Bob Ross Thomas

I have been so blessed by reading this. The Jewish Christians have done for Jews what us Gentiles could not. Another strong verse in supporting the plurality of the Godhead is Psalm 110:1 - "The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'"
+2

COLIN ATKINSON

EXCELLENT. IT CLEARLY SHOWS THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING ON THE NATURE OF GOD IS FULLY CONSISTENT WITH THAT OF THE OLD.
WELL DONE.
COLIN(ROMANIA)

Donna Branch

I meant to hit thumbs up for Colin's statement and I accidentally hit thumbs down. I agree with Colin
-1

Lena Buhr

I Went to the Hebrew Bible On Line by a jewish Group.I read Isiah 48 and all the other verses and it is exactly as he says.....there s a distinction....Amazi ng....it is even left intact in the New World Translation by the Watchtower society,,,,,
-2

Brent Yuille

The unity of the body of the Messiah Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) is a reflection of the Unity of the Godhead (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) Hence, there has been,is,and will be the love and communication within the Trinity from all eternity. The Trinity is not 1+1+1= 3 but 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 One God with three persons! Amen! Blessings! Thank you for the article! Brent Yuille
+5

cryptojudeo

Hi and thank you for this post.
I don't like to play with words. For the use of the word Elohim in plural you can see this post:

http://yhwhechad.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/elohim-and-the-majestic-plural/
+5

cryptojudeo

Messiah didn't use this word to describe himself or G-d nor his apostles or his disciples. So i don't understand what happened and we must use a new word and a new concept to describe the one true G-d?
Dont forget that it is written : "do not add to His words" Deuteronomy 4:2 - Proverbs 30:6 - Revelation 22:18
so lets go back in History of Christianity. I will just say that by accident Emperor Constantine chose Athanasius and his dogma over Arius's dogma. He first exiled Arius and later exiled Athanasius. Emperor Constantine at the time that he started to control christianity was pagan (and as far as concerns me he was always a pagan). Since when a Pagan can teach us about the one true G-d? This is preposterous!
http://www.christadelphia.org/trinityhistory.htm
+4

Ray Mosher

Wow! An awful lot to absorb. My understanding is that the doctrine of the Trinity originated from the Roman Catholic Church, which would give enough reason to be skeptical.

Isaiah 9:6;The son is called the Eternal Father - John14:10; The person dwelling in the Son is the Father - & 16-18;The Holy Spirit is Jesus - & 23;He is Father and Son. We have the Three dwelling in us, by the one Holy Spirit. There is only one Holy Spirit, we would all agree. If there were three persons in the Godhead, then there would be three Holy Spirits.

Hebrews gives a good example of understanding the 3 in1 mystery. As Prophet, Priest, and King, the one Jesus, is all Three. Praise God!

Ray, in Rhode Island

James

Your cultic ONENESS doctrine is coming out again! "everlasting father", as found in Isaiah, simply refers to His eternal Kingship over Israel as a father to His people as King David was- this is plainly shown in Isaiah chapter 22: " Isa 22:20
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:
And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah." The Kings of Israel were called "fathers" and that He would be an "everlasting" father, means that Jesus would be an "eternal King" over Israel.

Guest

This comment has been deleted by Administrator

James

Wrong. The ECF's(Early Church Fathers)starting with the Apostle John's student Ignatius of Antioch believed in the Deity of Christ so this whole doctrine of the Trinity beginning in Rome is plain wrong and shows the lack of knowledge of early church history.
-1

Bob Ross Thomas

I did not know I had signed up to receive new comments to this article by email. I have only received these last 2 as I see there have been many since mine. But now I read over them and they grieve me as much as these last 2. It doesn't matter that the word trinity is in the Bible or not. Just like rapture isn't in the Bible but the meaning is there in Thessalonians in the Greek word that means a catching away. The big debate is when it is not that it is. The people making these comments just do not want to believe truth when it stares them in the face through the gospels. Jesus had a relationship with the Father. He said the Father loves the Son and constantly prayed to Him and cried out to Him on the cross. The father spoke out of heaven saying This is My Son. Too say Jesus was being a ventriloquist is blasphemy and saying He was a liar playing games with the people. The same to say He was just meditating when He prayed. The scriptures are clear on the plurality as set forth here.
+1

Ray Mosher

Let's listen to Jesus, who is the "Truth", help us here. In John 4:21-26, He's telling the woman that the Father, the Spirit, and the Messiah, are the same "One". Verse 24 is the kicker; "God is a Spirit". NOT SPIRITS, as three persons would be. Also, as I mentioned in my previous comment, each person being Holy, these would be three Holy Spirits. There is only one such, we'd all agree. Christ's answer to Thomas and Philip (Jn.14:7-20), makes the same case. One of the most contentious issues, is where Jesus talks to His Father. It's not one person talking to another person. It's the man (flesh), talking to the person (spirit), who is abiding in both the man and heaven. Spirit and flesh are not the same, but come together as one. God in the flesh! f Ray, in Rhode Island
+2

James

You haven't read the discourse in this article or you wouldn't be trying to propagate your Monarchian doctrine of ONENESS. "He that is joined to the Lord" Paul said, "is ONE SPIRIT…" Does that mean that the Saints are the Holy Spirit??? Obviously NOT, but UNIFIED as ONE. Even as Jesus prayed in John 17, "that THEY ALL (PLURAL) may be ONE…even as WE (PLURAL) ARE ONE ( a Unity)." Thus, as the body is ONE (a unity) and has MANY MEMBERS (plural) so also is Christ." Paul does not agree with your assertions! The old idea that the body can pray to its own spirit is nonsense and would still require the body and the spirit to be TWO DISTINCT ENTITIES WITH TWO DISTINCT PERSONALITIES- your argument will not stand.

Bob Thomas

great word!

Drew

How would you explain John 17:24 then, "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."

Is Jesus saying that he loved himself then before the world was even created? Is Jesus referring to Himself as "Father"? The only way this verse and many others make sense is if the the Father and Jesus are distinct persons of the Godhead.
+2

Ray Mosher

Hi,Drew. Just as God knew us before we were born, so the Father loved Jesus before He was born. It's the body(flesh) and the person(spirit) thing, that so many just don't grasp. Jesus the Son(flesh) indwelled by the Father(spirit)-John 14:7-10. Only one person involved!

So, yes, Jesus is referring to Himself as "Father". He is called just that in Isaiah 9:6.

Remember, the idea that the Godhead consists of three persons is from men, not scripture. The Oneness of God is from scripture.

Ray, in Rhode Island

Greg Logan

Drew - The same way you explain Rev13:8, etc. The modalist explanation simply fails - stick to the Biblical explanaiton
+1

Mitch

Jesus had a LOT to say about the religious leaders at the time. His words are found in Matt 23. He basically said call no man rabbi ,father or master.He was very specific. Read it yourself.Use the KJV,NKJV, CJB.
+1

Darwin

You write, "three and only three distinct personalities are ever considered divine." Where do you think the Hebrew Scriptures teach this concept and limit it to only three? Isn't Jerusalem identified as God as well? Psalm 48:12-14 (כִּי זֶה אֱלֹהִים); Psalm 137:5-6; Jeremiah 33:16.
+5

Ray Mosher

More to be said, as to the legitimacy of the Trinity Doctrine. Some like to use the absence of the word rapture, as an example, to justify the Trinity, although the actual word isn't present. No can do. In the bible, the Rapture is an actual referenced event. The Trinity, of course, does not have a factual reference. When Jesus said, "I AM", He was not saying, "I am just one third of Him". Same with, "I and the Father are One". Keep it simple. When you have to write a short novel to make your point, think more. Ray, in R.I. .
+1

myth buster

He also said, "I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me." We cannot oversimplify, for that way lies heresy. To oversimplify is to subtract from the Scriptures, and many heretics have done just that, to their destruction, for they were ignorant and unstable people, twisting the Scriptures to fit their biases and ignoring Scriptures that contradict their heresy. It is written, "Trust in the Lord, and lean not on your own understanding."
+1

cryptojudeo

Hi,
someone by the name Paul Sumner wrote a very interesting article about this!

http://www.hebrew-streams.org/works/hazak/af-answer.pdf

i totaly agree with him, whem it comes to "G-d issues" we must be very fearful of what we say and what we write.
i take G-d's word, the holly bible, very seriously.
Teo from Thessaloniki Greece.

Matt Sieger

Teo,
There are noted Jewish scholars who believe that the incarnation and the idea of God being a multiple unity are ancient Jewish concepts:

Benjamin Sommer from Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City — the training school for Conservative Jewish rabbis in America —has this to say in a recent book:

"Some Jews regard Christianity's claim to be a monotheistic religion with grave suspicion, both because of the doctrine of the trinity (how can three equal one?) and because of Christianity's core belief that God took bodily form. What I have attempted to point out here is that biblical Israel knew very similar doctrines, and these doctrines did not disappear from Judaism after the biblical period.... The only significant theological difference between Judaism and Christianity lies not in the trinity or in the incarnation but in Christianity's revival of the notion of a dying and rising God, a category ancient Israel clearly rejects." (italics added)

At the University of California in Berkeley, Daniel Boyarin writes in his recent book, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ, that the idea of a human-divine Messiah is not a later pagan addition but part of the early Jewish Jesus-movement:

"[According to an older view,] which has been popular among liberal Protestants for over a century, the idea of the divinity of Christ could only have been a relatively late and "Gentile" development that marks a decisive break with anything that could reasonably be called Jewish.... A second approach, currently enjoying ascendance especially among New Testament scholars, sees the earliest versions of high Christology as emerging within a Jewish religious context."

You can read more at http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/v19-n08/so-whyd-you-switch-teams
+3

george eves

despite what your article says ,,in john1-1 reveals the entire god head ,there is no third person revealed here , also rev 22 , jesus and god are pictured on thrones , if the third person as you claim is almighty and equal were is his throne ,, a third person can only be imagined ,if you picture one , how is it possible for one preson to be three people //
-1

Denise Jones

by the comments I'm reading the diffrence of God and the god head goes on. Does it make a difference, could it be possible that God can be both since his ways are superior to mans. just asking. I was raised to believe in the Trinity.

Ray Mosher

Hi, Denise.
It makes a difference because the bible tells us to grow in the knowledge of our Lord (2 Pet.3:18). Also, it tells us not to lean on our own understanding. Believing in the Trinity is where we all seem to start out. References to a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, alludes to a three person Godhead, we reason. Coming to the three as one person realization, is evidence of knowledge growth.
Please read my previous comments in this section, where I go into the subject more.
Yours, in Him, Ray

Anushanth

Superv article. God is a trinity no doubt in that. But to hear it that even the early jewish tradition was rooted in this concept, I cn only praise God for his infinite wisdom. He never failed to give us enough evidence.
When a jewish site write an article like this, certainly I can defend trinity from my muslim friends. Praying for jews, for their salvation
Greeting to you from Sri Lanka

John

Yes, Elohim is plural!!! :) All the Gods were accompanied by 2 minor deities: El was accompanied by Lofty+Exalted, Baal by Vine+Field, Athirat by Holiness+Power----We must not forget the 3 Angels ( and one of them was Jehovah God) that visited Abraham----Here is the Holy Trinity. Thank you! :)

Darwin

Take a careful look at Genesis 18:20-22.God cannot lie. He (they) went down, "but Abraham still stood before the LORD." All three Men are God. As Daniel says, "They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, . . ." (Dan 4:25). "He is Holy Gods" (Joshua 24:19).
-2

Greg Logan

Is that wQuoting John:
Yes, Elohim is plural!!! :) All the Gods were accompanied by 2 minor deities: El was accompanied by Lofty+Exalted, Baal by Vine+Field, Athirat by Holiness+Power----We must not forget the 3 Angels ( and one of them was Jehovah God) that visited Abraham----Here is the Holy Trinity. Thank you! :)


Is that why Moses alone was called Elohim in Ex7:1?? I continued to be amazed by the ignorance of those who profess some knowledge of the Word of God... when, in fact, all they have is the useless dust of tradition.
+4

Patrick Geaney

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of The United States, in his letter to James Smith, wisely wrote that the Christian Trinity was "The hocus-pocus phantasm of a god like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, that had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs... In fact, the Athanasian paradox that one is three, and three but one, is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself".

If he were alive today the illustrious Thomas Jefferson would be castigating the mad contributions of some in this page who continue to spread the same old lies that 'one is three and three is one' and twist the sacred scriptures to make their lies believable and deceiving not only themselves but their gullible followers.
-3

Ruth Rosen

There is a vast difference between "having an idea" of something and being able to fully understand/explain it. Using the argument you present, one might just as well say that no candid man (or woman) "has an idea" of the existence an all powerful, all knowing, unchanging, good, loving being that has no beginning or end. How can any finite being "have an idea" of an infinite God? And yet by your use of the term "sacred Scriptures" it would seem that you do. The mystery of God's existence as the un-caused First Cause is no less mind boggling than the complex nature of His unity. Also, your accusation of twisting Scriptures presumes intent. Who are you to make such generalizations about people you don't know? Just because Thomas Jefferson was brilliant does not mean the supercilious comment you quoted is. Brilliant people, after all, are capable of saying surprisingly silly things.
+3

Patrick Geaney

Shooting the Messenger in the hope that his message will go away has been practiced by Christian leaders since they first made their appearance in Antioch in Syria less than two thousand years ago. Ruth Cohen adopts this tactic as she seeks to discredit the wise words written by Thomas Jefferson as being "supercilious" or arrogant.

That The Almighty One of Israel is ONE PERSON (cf Deuteronomy 6:4. Mark 12:29-32) is clearly revealed in His blessed words as recorded in the Hebrew Tanach and faithfully preached by Moses and the Prophets and His Jewish Messiah and Beloved Son Yeshuwa' Mashiyach. No Trinitarian twisting of sacred scriptures can overturn the sacred words that "HE IS ONE PERSON"

"HE" (Deuteronomy 6:4. Mark 12: 32) can never be a Trinitarian 'three'.no matter what "hocus-pocus" and twisting of sacred scriptures is adopted by Christian leaders.

Ruth Rosen

If you really think I was "adopting a tactic" could it be because you are a tactician? You managed to ignore my point, and zero in on an ancillary comment. You might try telling God what He can and can't be. It could become far more interesting than arguing with people. BTW, I'm not inviting further comments on my comment as I think we've both already said what we have to say.
+1

Ray Mosher

Hi,Ruth.
Reading all these comments reminds me of the saying..."The farther I go, the behinder I get". To repeat what I've previously said, who better than Jesus himself to clear up the matter. To Philip's request, the Lord explains that the person (spirit) abiding in Him (flesh) is the Father - Jn. 14:10. See how nicely this fits with the Son being called Eternal Father - Isa. 9:6. One person, not three.
I can already anticipate the questions you might want to throw at me. Let me hear from you, Ruth.
Luv ya, Ray

myth buster

It is "a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to we who are being saved by it, it is the power of God."
+1

Greg Logan

So funny that you guys go in this direction when Jesus and Paul are so clearly genuine monotheists - and both clearly and repeatedly describe God as the Father. Period.

For us there is one God - the Father. Period.

Case closed. No games - no playing with texts - just straight, clear text.
-1

Matt Sieger

Greg,
The Apostle Paul wrote: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:14)
+1

Greg Logan

Quoting Matt Sieger:
Greg,
The Apostle Paul wrote: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:14)


Matt - Thanks for the follow-up. Please note that everyone (people who claim to follow Christ) believes in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - however, recognizing the existence of the F, S, HS does not create a trinity. Mormons believe in all threee - as you know - but they are not trinitarian...

Best,

Greg
+1

Patrick Geaney

Greg Logan wisely writes that the "Case" against the Christian "trinity" is "closed".

It is indeed "closed" Greg, but do not be surprised that Christian leaders will not "stop playing with texts".

Spurious texts such as 1 John 5:7 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 will no doubt be introduced at some point in vain attempts to prop up the 'Trinity'

myth buster

Thus says the Lord Jesus Christ, "Before Abraham came to be, I AM." Here, He explicitly claims to be God Himself, yet always identifies Himself as distinct from the Father. For this reason, many Jews who did not believe His claim prepared to stone Him on the charge of blasphemy. When the chief priests and temple guards came to arrest Him, they said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth, and again He answered, "I AM," and they fell prostrate on account of His pronunciation of the Holy Name, and so stunned were they that they said a second time that they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth, and He answered, "I told you that I AM."

Greg Logan

Myth - You have some mythical exegesis that needs bustin' for sure. However, I cannot deal with it now. If you go to any Biblical Unitarian site - they will correct this error. The exegesis you are using is horrible mangled.

Patrick Geaney

The Shema.

Arnold G Fruchtenbaum in his article correctly states that 'the Shema, has always been Israel's great confession'. He then launches an attack against the blessed Biblical Hebrew word "elohey" as written in the Shema by his re-introducing the long promoted Christian "lie" (Revelation 22:15) that "elohey" in "eloheynu" (Deut 6:4) is 'plural'.

The blessed Biblical Hebrew word "elohey" as written in the Shema and uttered by every Jew, including Yeshua; is NOT 'plural' just as the very same word "elohey" is not 'plural' when referring to "Dagon" (Judges 16:23) the idol worshiped by the Philistines

Matt Sieger

Actually, Patrick, Strong's Concordance shows that "elohiym," which Strong's describes as the plural of "eloahh," is the word used in both Deuteronomy 6:4 and Judges 16:23. Fruchtenbaum is not lying. But for you to accuse him of that could be considered hotzaat shem ra (defamation). See Leviticus 25:17.

Matt tPatrick Geaney

Matt Sieger now dares to add to Christian deceptions and corruptions of scripture by his writing the "lie" (Revelation '22:15) that "elohiym...is the word used in both Deuteronomy 6:4 and Judges 16:23'.

Oh what a blatant "lie" (Revelation 22:15)!. The blessed 'word' plainly written in the Biblical Hebrew in both Deuteronomy 6:4 and Judges 16:23 is not 'elohiymnu' as Matt Sieger states but is "eloheynu"---.אֱלֹהֵ ינוּ

Matt Sieger

To be technical, those verses use other grammatical forms of elohiym, which is the base form.

Patrick Geaney

You are wrong again Matt Sieger. The singular "Dagon" (Judges 16:23) which the Philistines described as "eloheynu" again proves conclusively that both Arnold G Fruchtenbaum and you are deceivers.

I now encourage the small number of Jews who may have been deceived by 'Jews for Jesus' and other Christian leaders to flee from their many conflicting Christian idols such as 'jesus' and 'christ' and 'jesus christ' and 'trinity' and 'triunity' etc and worship and serve "YEHVAH elohey Yisrael" (Exodus 5:1).

Guest

This comment has been deleted by Administrator

Guest

This comment has been deleted by Administrator

Darwin

Genesis 20:13 in Hebrew Abraham said, "And it came to pass, when Gods caused me to wander from my father's house, . . . . " (plural noun/plural verb). Genesis 35:7 the Hebrew reads, "And he built there an altar and called the place, "God, the house of God," because there the Gods were revealed to him in his fleeing from the face of his brother." (plural noun/plural verb). Genesis 1:26-27 "Let Us make man in Our image, . . . God created man in His own image."

Darwin

Genesis 20:13 in Hebrew Abraham said, "And it came to pass, when Gods caused me to wander from my father's house, . . . . " (plural noun/plural verb). Genesis 35:7 the Hebrew reads, "And he built there an altar and called the place, "God, the house of God," because there the Gods were revealed to him in his fleeing from the face of his brother." (plural noun/plural verb). Genesis 1:26-27 "Let Us make man in Our image, . . . God created man in His own image."

Patrick Geaney

Darwin now misquotes both Genesis 20:13 and Genesis 35:7 in his vain endeavors to support the lying contradictory Christian 'tri-unity' and 'trinity' idols.

Genesis 20:13 translates from the Biblical Hebrew: "And it came to pass when the Gentile idols (Hebrew: elohiym) caused me to be led astray (Hebrew: ta'ah), I was called out from my father's house..."

Genesis 35:7 translates from the Biblical Hebrew: "And he built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el, because there HaElohiym was revealed unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother"

We see the important differences between "HaElohiym" in Genesis 35:7 - which does not translates as 'Gods'; as Darwin and Arnold G Fruchtenbaum suggest; but ALWAYS refers to The Majestic Elohiym (Genesis 1:26,27) of Yisrael - and "elohiym" (Genesis 20:13) which refers to the Gentile idols which led Abraham astray (Hebrew: ta'ah).

Roger Allen

Dear Jews for Jesus,

I love this article , because it explains the use of plural words in Hebrew that refer to God more depth.
I will be witnessing to two JW ladies next Sunday, and will use this wonderful information when I am talking with them.
Roger

Errol

One has to look at Psalm 136:2 " O give thanks unto the God of gods, for His mercy endureth forever". The singular being understood as opposed to the plural in the idols. Also " His" mercies endures forever and not theirs. Quite simple and plain that there is no such compound Union of God in a Trinity.
-1

Misha

Guest
6:40 am
Nice website. I found it (somehow) by reading much of (Hebrew-Streams) Paul Sumner's writ. I believe soon (within 15 years) that the truth about who God is, and who our Lord Jesus Christ is, will be clear to those Christians who still believe in this false triad of God, and for those Jews who are still awaiting the Messiah.
All will be made clear before God's day of war
Issues Email Signup
Get Issues Magazine in your inbox. Sign up below!

Are you Jewish?

Do you believe in Jesus?

Issues Editions