In the most recent AU we looked at how the Doctrine of the Trinity is drawn from scripture and dismissed the common but erroneous idea that we must find a Nicene-type confession in a single verse for the Trinity to be true. We found that if the Trinity is to be taught as true, we must find evidence for it in the Bible, and that there are 3 basic foundational proofs, without which we can have no Trinity. Sure enough, those 3 basic foundations are indeed found in the Bible, therefore we can reasonably conclude that the Doctrine is proven.
In this Encore I will present supporting evidence. Not things we have to see for the Trinity to be established, but things that we could reasonably expect to see if indeed the Trinity is true. These pieces of supporting evidence do not prove the Trinity, but often they make little to no sense apart from it. This will do much to add to our understanding of and confidence in this foundational doctrine.
(all citations from the ESV translation)
God using plural personal pronouns
There are several instances in the Old Testament where God speaks of “Us” or “We”.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” – Genesis 1:26
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:22
“Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” – Genesis 11:7
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” – Isaiah 6:8
Now, various non-Trinity explanations have been put forth for the above verses by folks trying to make sense of this clearly confusing linguistic phenomenon. These verses are not clear enough for us to be dogmatic and say, “See? Conclusive proof that God is a plurality in a unity!”, however they do certainly support a Trinitarian interpretation quite well. In my opinion, these verses are a powerful witness to the Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity – but they should not be used as your sole proof-texts against Unitarians.
Multiple carriers of the name “LORD” (YHWH) in the same passage
Read these very carefully; they can make you go cross-eyed pretty quickly. I have taken out the quotation marks since the original Hebrew does not have them, so that you can make your own decision about who is communicating when in these verses (and grabbing your Bible to put them in the larger context is a good idea too!).
The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. – Genesis 19:23-25
For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. – Zechariah 2:8-10
She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen. – Hosea 1:6-7
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god. – Isaiah 44:6
Not everyone agrees that the above verses contain references to 2 distinct persons who are God, but I will leave that determination up to you. To me, it’s hard to walk away without that conclusion. At the very least it certainly begs the question, doesn’t it?
Triadic praise and blessings
These passages involve individuals invoking (try saying that 3 times fast) the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in a triadic way. Coincidence? Or something more?
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” – Isaiah 6:1-3
A triple “Holy”… not conclusive by any means, but it certainly adds to the growing body of supporting evidence…
And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). And he blessed Joseph and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” – Genesis 48:14-16
True, this passage speaks of God, God, Angel (as opposed to God, God, God) – but, why would Jacob be praying to a mere created angel (keep in mind the word angel means “messenger” and is not strictly a word for a specific type of created being)? Especially when he does not make a distinction between the God of the first two lines and the Angel of the third but lumps them all together as if he hasn’t changed who he’s referring to at all? Far better to understand that this Angel is the same Angel who spoke out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:2) saying, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:6) Thus, we have Jacob praying to God, God, [God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob].
Now, a good question to ask: what is Jacob doing in this passage? Answer: he is blessing them. Where else do we see a blessing applied in such a way?
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
in the sanctification of the Spirit,
for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you. – 1 Peter 1:1-2
See any parallels?
And speaking of parallels, we now come my favorite Old Testament/New Testament parallel. Pay careful attention here.
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” – Numbers 6:22-27
In this passage Aaron is instructed to bless the people in a triadic benediction in order to put God’s name upon them. Hmmm, where else do we see this in scripture?
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Folks, I want you to really let this sink in. Let’s break this into bite sized pieces for digestion. Consider what is happening:
- The servants of the Lord (Moses, Aaron and his sons/the Apostles) are being instructed to bless the people.
- This blessing carries the promise of placing God’s name upon the people so blessed (“so shall they put my name upon the people of Israel”/”baptizing them in the name”).
- This blessing is triadic (LORD, LORD, LORD/Father, Son, Spirit).
And that’s just the beginning of the parallels between these two verses! I could write a book on them, truly. Or at least a really sweet post! (hmmm…)
Those are just some of the lines of supporting evidence for the Doctrine of the Trinity. There is much, much more, but what remains is too technical to present in brief here (I have multiple volumes on the subject; trust me, it’s deep). At any rate, I hope you found those above enlightening.
So when we think of the Trinity and ask the question, “What might we expect to see in the Bible if this is true?”, do we find it? Indeed we do, and it is my prayer that with every strand of supportive material your faith is blessed.
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