Short Conversations: Trinity in the Old Testament?

Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria wrote about the Logos or Word of God. Britannica.

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Why do you believe in the Trinity if the word Trinity is not in the Old Testament. “Trinity” is used to describe the evidence the Bible presents. The words omniscient and omnipotent do not appear in the Bible either but even Unitarians attribute these traits to God. There is evidence for a multipersonal Godhead throughout the Old Testament.

No Jews ever thought God was more than one person and this was a Christian invention. They only ever believed in one God. Christians also believe God is one. One in being, three in person. One essence or nature, three centres of consciousness. Jewish binitarians viewed God as two persons as noted by historian Dr. Boyarin and outlined in the Babylonian Talmud in a section on Rabbi Akiva.

Segal and Dunn note some Jews viewed this second person as the Wisdom of God or Word or Logos (eg. Philo). Jesus is referred to as the Wisdom of God (Luke 11:49, 1 Cor. 1:30) and Logos (John 1:1) in the New Testament.

Doesn’t Deut 6:4 contradict the Trinity by saying the LORD is One? No, God is one. God has one essence, one being. The word for one, ehad does not necessarily refer to absolute singularity. It can also refer to individuals such as a husband and wife being one (Gen. 2:24) or thousands of soldiers united (Ez. 2:64) while the word yahid would be used to describe an absolute singular one but was not used in Deut. 6:4. Some have argued Deut. 6:4 has a plural suffix on the word God or eloheinu meaning this verse can be translated as “our Gods is One” claiming similar suffixes are used to describe grapes or fathers but this interpretation is hotly disputed as high ranking individuals were even referred to in plural to denote respect (eg. 1 Kings 1:11). More here .

If Jesus or the Trinity is not explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament then what could the Trinity include? The LORD, the angel or word of the LORD and Spirit of the Lord are all called YHWH in the OT, yet are distinct persons. Moreover, there are two Powers with thrones in heaven and a Spirit which is sent forth.

What if the word of the LORD is simply the LORD talking and the angel of the LORD is a personification for the LORD? In Genesis 21, Judges 5, 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21, 2 Kings 1, 2 Kings 19, Isaiah 37 and Zechariah 1 the LORD and the angel of the LORD are distinct. In 1 Sam. 3:21 the LORD reveals himself by the word of the LORD indicating the word of the LORD is a separate person.

What if the Spirit is simply an energy which emanates from God? In Ezekiel 11:5, the Spirit speaks as YHWH. Impersonal energy does not speak, persons do. In Isaiah 63:11–12, the Lord puts his Holy Spirit in the midst of Israel. Thus, the Holy Spirit is a person who is distinct from the LORD but also somehow YHWH. Same being, different person.

You have no evidence the angel or word of the LORD is YHWH. In Jeremiah 1:4–7, the word of the LORD appears to Jeremiah, yet Jeremiah called the word of the Lord, YHWH (v.6). In the famous passage in Exodus 3 with the burning bush, it is the angel of the LORD who calls himself the I AM (Ex. 3:1–4, 14–16) which is the covenant name of YHWH Jesus used (John 8:58). The angel of God calls himself YHWH of Bethel to Jacob in Gen 31:11–13 (also see Gen. 28:13).

Nowhere does God appear as a man in the Old Testament. In Genesis 32:24–30 God is a man who wrestled Jacob. Jacob says in Gen. 32:30, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” Hosea describes this event in Hosea 12:2–4 saying Jacob “strove with the angel and prevailed”, “He met God at Bethel.”

How could Jesus be the the angel of the LORD when Hebrews 1 shows Jesus is superior to the angels? The word here in Hebrew for angel is mal’ak which simply means messenger, not angel in the sense we would think of it. Hebrews 1 compares Jesus to angelic beings or spirit ministers of God saying Jesus is on a different level. Angels are also described as elohim in Hebrew or spirit beings, God is also called an elohim but God is the supreme elohim who rules the other elohim and created them while he is uncreated (Psalm 82, Isaiah 40–48).

There is nothing in the Old Testament about two powers or thrones in heaven similar to how Jesus said he sits at the Father’s right hand. Genesis 19:24 YHWH sends fire by the YHWH of Heaven. In Psalm 110:1, YHWH says to Adonai (LORD said to my Lord- 2 names used for God although Adonai can be used more broadly), sit at my right hand implying corulership with YHWH.

In Daniel 7:9–14 the Son of Man is seated next to the Ancient of Days. YHWH is the one who has dominion whom everyone will serve (Is. 45:23). Yet the Son of Man has dominion, glory, an eternal kingdom and is served by the nations just as YHWH. Jesus claims he is this Son of Man who comes in the clouds when only God does and is charged with blasphemy for it in Mark 14:60–64.

There is nothing in the Old Testament which limits God to three persons while being one Being. Isaiah 48:12–16. The Lord who called Israel, the first and the last, is there from the beginning, uncreated, yet somehow sent by the Lord God and the Spirit (v.16). By implication there are three distinct uncreated timeless persons part of the Godhead which have different roles though the same nature.

Luke 24:44 These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.

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20+1 Old Testament Passages Supporting the Trinity

20 +1 Old Testament Passages Supporting the Trinity

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