Tag Archives: trinity

Hebrews 1:1-8 Jesus the appointed Son?


“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways” (Hebrews 1:1)

God spoke through the prophets meaning through the characters of the Old Testament. Many portions means many ages over a considerable amount of time; many ways—through the Scriptures, through dreams, through visions, through a number of different ways God communicated in the old covenant. 

In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

In these last days has spoken to us in His Son. Last days is a reference to Old Testament prophecies that then defines the time from the time of Christ until the return of Christ. Jesus isn’t just one more communication in the line of prophets. He is the final word from God. Christ (who also spoke to us through the apostles) is God’s final word to man. Not Ellen White, not Muhammad, not Joseph Smith. Now the writer of Hebrews goes through a series of affirmations related to who Jesus is. All of it has to do with this idea that Jesus is superior to everyone else (prophets) and everything else (revelation). It all comes back to this idea of where else would you turn, for every direction you turn is going to be inferior to the exalted Christ. In what form did the Son speak to us in these last days? Not in His pre-existence as God, but He spoke to us as God-Man, when He became flesh, a servant, when He became the anointed one, the Messiah.

Whom He appointed heir of all things through whom also He made the world. The Son made the world, therefore the eternal Son already owned the universe by virtue of creating it with the Father.  “All things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col 1:16). However, even in the state He spoke to us, when He was born of a woman, and became God-Man, He is declared or appointed the heir of all things such as we find when Paul says, the Messiah, “who was declared the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4). A son is heir to everything his father owns, however, the language here is figurative because an “heir” is one who inherits something after the death of the owner. This cannot possibly be applied in this sense to Jesus because the God the Father did not die. Indeed, He cannot. Hence, the idea here is that the Son (whether in His pre-existence or God-Man existence), has authority over and possesses all things.

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3)

He is the radiance of His glory. Radiance refers to what shines out from the source of light. Whatever the glory the Father had, the Son shines out that source of light. He is not a lesser God; He’s the full radiance of God.

The exact representation of His nature. The Greek word charakter, translated “representation,” did not express a general likeness but an exact duplication of the original.Jesus’ essence or divine nature is the exact duplicate of the Father’s nature. This is because Jesus shares the same divine nature with the Father.

Upholds all things by the word of His power. The idea is not so much that Jesus upholds the universe as a dead weight, similar to Atlas shouldering the world. Rather He carries all things forward on their appointed course (Colossians 1:17). Jesus Christ’s word has tremendous power and authority. It is the greatest force in the universe.

Made purification of sins. He did so by His self-sacrifice on the Cross and by His work as the ultimate priest. The Greek word katharismos, translated “purification,” means both removal and cleansing (cf. Mark 1:44; 2 Peter 1:9). Who has authority to say you are purified from your sins? Seems to me you would have to have the authority, power, possession, and ownership over everything. You would have to be the creator. You would have to be the sustainer. You would have to be the full radiance of God. Only God has the authority to say that He covers the sins of the world!  It is mysterious and sometimes confusing to figure out how exactly that death two thousand years ago covers my sin, yet it is true.

He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. The idea of sitting down at the right hand of God is very significant. In the old covenant, the priests daily had responsibilities in the tabernacle and the temple to offer sacrifice and do their required work, but the priests were not allowed to ever sit down on the job. The reason for that is it carried the message that the work is never completed and so they always had to remain standing, always at work, because the work was never done. Christ’s intercession in heaven is not that of an Aaronic priest standing before God to offer the blood. His intercession is that of a King seated on His throne, exercising the rights and titles gained by His finished work. The sitting at the right hand of God is a well-known figure, derived from Psalm 110:1, in order to designate supreme honor and dominion over the world (Romans 8:34).

Having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:4)

Having become as much better than the angels. These words must be closely joined with the last clause of Hebrews 1:3; becoming better than angels is not of His pre-existence before He became flesh, but of what became of Him after He had “made purification of sins” and sat down at the right hand of God. Being made better than angels—by His exaltation by the Father (Heb 1:3, 13) is in contrast to His being “made lower than the angels” for short while on earth (Heb 2:9). Going forward from verse four, the author of Hebrews turns this conversation to Jesus being superior to the angels. Part of the argument raised by some at that time was that Jesus was just a man. He was just another one of God’s prophets but He certainly doesn’t have the authority to overthrow the message or the Law of Moses (including the ten commandments) ordained by angels (Hebrews 2:2; Gal.3:19). He certainly doesn’t have the authority to usher in a new covenant as if somehow He’s introducing something new. He’s certainly not higher than the angels nor does He have authority to do that. Hence, the author of Hebrews refutes such opinions by showing that Jesus’ words have final authority because He has become “so much better” by His resurrection, and “more excellent” than the angels by taking His seat at God’s right hand. And there is much more to Him than just a man.

He has inherited a more excellent name than they. After He had “made purification of sins” and sat down at the right hand of God, Christ inherits His more excellent name, not as the Eternal Son, but also as the God-Man after His resurrection. What is that excellent name? It is the name “Son”.  

For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? (Hebrews 1:5a)

That’s from Psalm 2 and of course the obvious answer is, “Never!” God identified Jesus as His Son, not the angels. When do the words “This day have I begotten thee” apply? An apostle has given the sure and certain answer to this question. Paul said, “God hath raised up Jesus; as also it is written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Acts 13:33). Thus, the begetting mentioned in this place is the resurrection of Christ. It was the resurrection that established all that Christ said and did, confirming the virgin birth, the incarnation, the miracles, the prophecies, everything. Christ, therefore, as the exalted God-Man, was and is far above all angels.

And again, “I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME”? (Hebrews 1:5b)

This is taken from 2 Samuel, chapter 7, verse 14. This is David talking about Solomon as the future King of Israel but it is a foreshadowing of God the Father identifying one in David’s line, His Son, who will be the ultimate King, the fulfillment of the prophecy, and obviously Father never said that of the angels. It is significant that David is quoted here because David is called the “First born” (Psalm 89:27), though he was not the firstborn child of Jesse, but the youngest and the eight.

“And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Hebrews 1:6)

And when He again brings the firstborn into the world. When He bringeth in means when the Father introduces the one with the title “Firstborn” into this world. In context, time of this introduction appears to be when the Son became the Messiah in the first advent though “again” may also refer to the second coming such “that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven [angels] and on earth [humans] and under the earth [perhaps demons]” (Philippians 2:10). This word “first born” was used both as an idea and to designate the one born first. Since the firstborn son was “first in line” and received the position of favor and honor, the title “firstborn” indicates of someone of the highest position and honor. Many of those not born first in the Bible are given the title “firstborn.” David as we mentioned (Psalm 89:27) and so is Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:9). According to Rabbi Bechai (quoted in Lightfoot) the ancient Rabbis called Yahweh Himself “Firstborn of the World.” It was a title, not a description of origin. The idea in this verse is that Jesus is superior because He is the object of angelic worship since He possesses that honor and glory of a First born or First begotten. The angels worship Him; He does not worship among them. Revelation 5 gives a glimpse of the angelic worship of Jesus. Jesus is the “only begotten” Son of God, but the title Firstborn is used primarily for His resurrection (Revelation 1:4).

And regarding the angels He says, “He makes His angels winds, And His ministers a flame of fire.” (Hebrews 1:7)

This is a quote from Psalm 104. The psalmist is saying and the writer of Hebrews is now affirming that angels are messengers of God like the wind and the lightning. Angels are magnificent beings. They are created by God. They are powerful beings. They have a significant role in God’s economy. God the Father is speaking in this verse, and regarding the angels, He says, they’re just created messengers because He makes them so, and God uses them to accomplish His mission. What does the Father says regarding the Son?

But regarding the Son He says, “Your throne, God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of His kingdom (Hebrews 1:8)

But regarding the Son He says, Your throne, God, is forever and ever. Here the Father is describing the Son’s nature in opposition to the angels before. The angels were created spirits, but regarding the Son, the Father addresses the Son as God; Father says, Jesus is not only the “Son” but is “God” just like the Father. However, the angels are ministers and servants in the Son’s kingdom, where the Son sits on His throne as King, from eternity; therefore his name and person is better than theirs.

The scepter of righteousness is the scepter of His kingdom. Jesus’ “scepter” , that is, His “royal scepter”, is used here figuratively to refer to His authority and shows the characteristic of His Kingdom. Jesus, as King, has a scepter of “righteousness”, emphasizing that His authority is based on righteousness.

See also:

The Only Begotten Son (John 1:1-18)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3 NASB 1995).

In the beginning. It’s almost identical to Genesis, chapter one, verse one. “In the beginning” carries us into the depths of eternity, before time or creatures were. If you think of Genesis chapter one as the language of creation, then you might think of John chapter one as the language of the new creation or the re-creation, which will be a major theme in John’s gospel.

Was the Word.  The Greek word for Word is Logos. The Greeks had a concept of the logos, and so did the Hebrews. John’s background for the term was probably Hebrew, and specifically the Hebrew Old Testament. The idea is that the word—just words—think of it that way, are an expression of me. If I speak words, that means I exist. So, there’s already this concept of self-existence. And because I exist, I express myself. That’s the Word. So, forever God has existed; He expressed Himself in the Word, in the Logos. “Was the Word” therefore means the Word was already in existence from the beginning, from eternity. All the “was” in verse 1 are in the imperfect, durative tense in the Greek language and the literal translation of Greek to English is actually, “In the beginning the Word continually was, and the Word was continually with God, and the Word was continually God”.

The Word was with God. The Greek could be translated, “the Word was face to face with God”. There are two parts to this. One would be equality. It’s not saying the word was hanging out with God. Face to face means equal with God, but distinct from God. You don’t stand face to face with yourself. Hence, the meaning here is the Word  was with the Father, meaning Word is distinct from the Father, and not same as the Father. Also, the word was continually with God. There was no point in eternity past when the Father existed without His Son. 

The Word was God. Some false teachers say the word was “a” god, implying one god, among many. It’s helpful to understand: first of all, the Greek language has no indefinite article; it has no “a”. So that’s not what it says. It also has the definite article “the” but it’s not used here. The language is very careful, and it’s very precise. So, if John had said “the word was the God”, it would have meant the Word was the Father, but that’s not the point being made. The point being made is the Word was with God and was God. The Word is a divine person just like the Father. Hence, verse 1 may be paraphrased as, ‘The Word existed from all eternity, face to face with the Father who is a divine person, and the Word himself is a divine person equal in essence or nature or divinity of the Father’. Of course, the Word (Greek is Logos) is none other than the person who is called the “Son”.

He was with God in the beginning. This is a repetition of what was said in the first verse; but it is stated over again to “guard the doctrine,” and to prevent the possibility of a mistake. Emphasis here is the Word (Son) who was continually God was a person distinct from God the Father.

Through him all things were made. The Word was with God the Father in the beginning, but not as an idle, inefficacious existence. On the contrary, God the Word was the source of all activity and life. “All things were made through Him”. Notice what another inspired writer Paul says:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. And He [Son] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together(Colossians 1:15-17).”

All creatures, whether in heaven or on earth, the whole universe, and every being contained therein, you and me, animate or inanimate, intelligent or unintelligent. Everything came into being, or was created, through the Word. Here, right at the beginning of John, we see evidence of the God of the Bible composed of a person called the Father, and a person called the Word.

Without him nothing was made that has been made. Nothing that was made, neither the heavens nor the earth, neither things visible nor invisible, were made without God the Word.Nothing, absolutely nothing, was created or came into being without the Word. If Jesus caused all created things to come into existence, then He existed before all created things (angels, humans, etc.) came into existence. Therefore, the Word was not made or created. If Jesus created everything that has come into being, and Jesus also came into being (as some erroneously contend), then Jesus created Himself, which is absurd. He created all things. Hence, Jesus is the uncreated Creator. Jesus is eternal God. The only alternate “facts” available are found in the wishful thinking of those whose theology demands another reading. It’s clear from the text that Jesus is continually God.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it (John 1:4-5)

In Him was life. It’s not saying He was alive; it is saying He is the origin of life. Wherever life is found anywhere in the universe, it has to have a start; it has to have an origin. And the origin ultimately is in God as the origin of life.

The life was the Light of mankind. In the ancient world, without all the artificial lighting that we take for granted, it was just dark. So life was lived in the light; it wasn’t lived in the darkness. This becomes like a metaphor. If you want to find life, life is going to be found in the light, and the light originates in God.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it. So, the Light shined into the darkness. Grasp it could be translated overpowers it. So what this is telling us is there’s going to be a cosmic war between light and darkness, but the darkness will not win. This theme gets unpacked further in the rest of John’s gospel.

A man came, one sent from God, and his name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.

God even sends a prophet (John the Baptist) whose only responsibility was to announce that the Messiah has come in order that people might believe. This is John’s big message. This word believe is used ninety-three times in John’s gospel. “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). John wasn’t the Light. He came to announce the Light. Some scholars think the reason John put that in there is even by the time John wrote this gospel, there were still those who were followers of John the Baptist, and not yet believers in Jesus.

“This was the true Light that, coming into the world, enlightens every person” (John 1:9)

This was the true Light. Jesus is the true Light. He is the true God, one with the Father. 

Coming into the world, enlightens every person. True Light was there for those who choose to believe it. Very similar to Paul in Romans chapter one when he says that God has made Himself evident through creation, and because God is so evident in creation, no one can ever say they didn’t know there was a God.

“He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, and yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not accept Him” (John 1:10-11)

So He entered into the world He created, but the people He created, His own possession, did not know Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12)

But as many as received Him to them. Again a key word for John, receive simply means to invite in. Think of the imagery of Jesus standing, knocking at the door. The door needs to be opened, and Jesus is invited in. That’s the word receive.

He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. Children, literally means born one’s of God. Again, if you think of Genesis one as creation, then think of the gospel of John as new creation, or re-creation—born again—which again is a theme that will be unpacked in John’s gospel. This idea of He gave the right—it’s not the power. That’s not really a good translation. He gave the right or the authority. People can tell you I’m a child of this and that. But that doesn’t make it so. What John is saying is there are people whom God has given the authority to call themselves God’s children. Who are those people? Those who believe—there’s John’s word—in His name. His name would be like the sum total of His person and work—everything that he is going to talk about in this gospel. Those who “believe” in His name, and  those who were?

“Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God (John 1:13)

Who were born [how?]. Not of blood meaning not nationality or ethnicity. The Jews thought they were children of God because they were Jews. He is saying, “No, it doesn’t work that way.” Nor of the will of the flesh meaning not human effort, not by religious activity, not by good works, not by good performance—it doesn’t have anything to do with that. Nor of the will of man meaning man there is male, so it’s referring to a husband. A husband wants offspring; a man wants offspring. He gets married and has offspring with his wife. John is saying, “No, it’s not like that either.” Then how does it happen? but of God. And John will unpack that later in the gospel.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) 

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory. I’m sorry, what? The eternal Creator of the universe, a God so powerful He spoke the universe into place, took on human flesh and became a man? The first big thing John is asking you to believe— and he will make his case through the gospel—is that the God of the universe, at a point in time, actually entered into human history and became a man. Literally the word dwelt is pitched a tent, could be translated tabernacled among us. It’s a reminder of all these old covenant pictures reminding us of the promise of a Messiah.

The only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. You have heard the word used when reading those long genealogies in the Bible: so-and-so begat so-and-so.John applies this language to Jesus as well, referring to Him as the only begotten Son of God.  There is a strong case to interpret this Greek word “monogenes” as “unique, one of a kind”, which is the meaning found in Hebrews 11:17 when the writer refers to Isaac as Abraham’s “only begotten son”(KJV). Abraham had more than one son, but Isaac was the only son he had by Sarah and the only son of promise.However, begotten sonship could also mean one is generated by a father. Then the question is “when” was the Son begotten? The answer is there is no “when.” Why? Because John has already told us that Jesus was continually with the Father, and Jesus was continually God (John 1:1-3). Unlike human generation, the Son’s generation then has to be eternal, timeless, continual. We are told Messiah’s “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”’ (Micah 5:2 KJV), just like God’s “throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting (Psalms 93:2). There never was a time when the Son was not, nor ever a time when the Son was not from the Father. If the Son’s generation did fall within time (not timeless), then not only is there a time when the Son was not, but there is a time when the Father was not Father. IfHe is Son because He is from the Father, then His sonship must be as eternal as the Father Himself. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” (John 14:10). Then the Son only begotten “from the Father” means He is not generated after the Father, which would make Him less than the Father, but the Son is generated from the Father timelessly. As Jesus Himself says, He is the truth (John 14:6). Was there ever a time when God the Father was without His Truth? The Arians of the fourth century said yes, and some say the same thing today. For if the Son was not before His generation, Truth was not always in God. Hence, the Son is begotten of the Father not by will, but by Father’s inherent nature, so that the Son is a subsistence of that one divine nature, not the production of another, second nature. The Son’s existence did not take its beginning out of nothing, but went forth from the Eternal. It is appropriate to still call it a birth (that is the meaning of begetting), but it would be false to call it a beginning. Unlike human generation which is physical and material, the divine nature, however, is spiritual and therefore indivisible. God is spirit (John 4:24), so He remains one, simple, and undivided. This can explain how God is one (Deu 6:4), or one being or one essence, but within this single indivisible divine nature exist more than one consciousness or person.1

Let’s summarize. In these verses right at the beginning of John’s gospel, we should recognize a number of interesting concepts, events, and words that are parallel with the first chapter of Genesis.

Genesis 1John 1
In the beginning God.In the beginning was the Word.
God created the whole world.All things came into being through the Word
God created all life.In Him was life.
Let there be light.His life is the light of the world.
The darkness he called night.The darkness did not comprehend it.

 So not only the Father is called God, but the Son is called God. Hence, the phrase God is bigger than just the Son or the Father, because the word God includes the divine person of the Father and the divine person of the Son. Moreover, Father is unbegotten, but the Son is begotten (not created or made). Because the Father has begotten the Son, the Father is not the Son. Because the Son is begotten by the Father, the Son is not the Father. Similarly, because the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (John 15:26), the Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son.

Tawhid or Trinity

One of the most common points on which our Muslim friends question Christians is on the whole question of the nature of God: in short, is God uni-personal or multi-personal? Does the doctrine of Tawhid (God’s oneness in being and person) or Trinity (God’s oneness in being and pluralness in person) better describe who God is?

Of all the chapters of the Qur’an, there is one Muslim’s recite more frequently than any other. It is Surat-al-Ikhlaas, chapter 112, and its second verse contains the message: “God is not a Father, and He is not a Son.”. Above all doctrines, that is one of the teachings that is taught to a Muslim, the concept known as ‘Tawhid’, that God is absolutely one and cannot be Father or Son. Indeed, in Muslim-Christian engagement, it often becomes the central issue with Muslims painting the Christian as believing in three gods. Hence, a Muslim’s reaction to God’s pluralness is seen as nonsensical, polytheistic blasphemy; self contradictory, a nonsense doctrine in which God could be three and one at the same time.

Our Muslim friends often like to claim that the Islamic concept of God’s oneness is simple (more on this later), in contrast to the complex doctrine of the Trinity. However, simplicity does not equal truth. If it did, we’d have to reject higher mathematics, and quantum physics. Science shows us that there are things in this world so tiny that we can only view them through microscopes, and yet they are incomprehensibly complex. For example, light defies the minds of scientists, being both a particle and a wave, yet this apparent contradiction is demonstrably true. If the world is so complex that it baffles our minds, what about the One who created the world? Now if my Creator has to be simple so that I can understand Him, then I have made Him in my image.

Contrary to the assertion that ‘God is not a Father or He is not a Son‘, the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures had already referred to God as a Father, and a Son, long before Jesus the Messiah came.

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” (Malchi 2:10)

“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given. And he will be called… Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6).

Muslim friends (and others, you know who) say that the word Trinity is not in the Bible, therefore the concept or the doctrine must be wrong. But the word Tawhid is not found in the Quran either. So is the concept that it teaches wrong as well? Our Muslims friends will say the concept of Tawhid is there. Similarly, Christian’s claim about God’s oneness and pluraness is based on Scriptures. Hence, to discover whether tawhid is qur’anic or the Trinity is biblical, we can’t simply look for a magic word — we need to see what is actually said in each case about the nature of God.

Though the Bible does not use the word “Trinity”, the teachings are certainly there.

Jesus commands us to:

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (plural).” (Matthew 28:19-20)

When Jesus commands us to baptize people, it must be done in the ‘name,’ not ‘names,’ of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That’s because there is ONE name, ONE being, the Yahweh of Scriptures, who exists in three Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

The doctrine of Trinity teaches that God is ONE being and three persons. This is not a contradiction, because ‘being’ and ‘person’ are two different things. Your being is that which makes you what you are, your person is that which makes you who you are.

  • Plants have being, but they are not persons.

  • I am ONE being, a single human being, and ONE person, Stephen.

  • Yahweh is ONE being, a single divine being, with THREE persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. Complex? Yes. Unique? Yes. Nonsensical? No.

If someone asks you who you are, you don’t reply, “I’m a human.” You respond by sharing your name, which identifies you as a person. Similarly, when we say God is One being, we are describing the what of God. When we speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are referring to the who of God.

God is more than able to exist like that because he is God. If we say God must be only one person, like humans, then we are making God in our image. Who are we to limit God? It is up to God to tell us who He is, and Jesus commands us to be baptized into “one divine name consisting of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. God of the Bible is absolutely indivisible in substance and nature (one) , but distinct in identity (plural).

The doctrine of Trinity:
  • Does not teach that each persons are three individual gods; that is polytheism or tritheism
  • Does not teach that each persons are three beings like the teachings of Ellen White of the Seventh day Adventists or the Mormons.
  • Does not teach that the three persons are three parts of God.
  • Does not teach that three persons are freakish-looking, three-headed gods
  • Does not teach that three persons are different nature “gods” like in paganism
  • Does not teach that the three persons are: Father, Jesus, and Mary.
  • Does teach that there is only one God or one divine being
  • Does not teach God is one and three in the same sense; which is self-contradictory. Instead, teaches that God is one in ‘being’, three in ‘persons’; being and persons are two different things.

The Bible teaches that the One God is tri-personal not uni-personal. These three persons are co-eternal, co-substantial, and co-existent with each other. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit never began to exist. One God of the Bible is eternal, the creator, the truth, omnipresent: that’s why the Father, Son, Holy Spirit are said to share in the same attributes only a Divine being has (see below).

Father is Son is Spirit is
God is Eternal “from everlasting” (Psalm 90:2) “from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2) Eternal Spirit” (Hebrews 9:14)
God Is Creator “one father created us?” (Malachi 2:10) “All things were made by Him (John 1:1) “The Spirit of God has made me” (Job 33:4)
God is Truth God’s word is truth (Psalms   25:5) “I [Jesus] am the Truth” (John 14:6) “The Spirit of truth” (John 15:26)
God is Omnipresent “Who can hide in secret places” (Jeremiah 23:24) Jesus said, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20) “Where can I run away from the Spirit of God” (Psalm 139:7-8)

That’s why Jesus applies to himself, the same titles and attributes applied to Yahweh of the Old Testament. No prophet would do such a thing:

Yahweh is the: Jesus is the:
I AM (Exodus 3:13-14) I AM (John 8:58-59)
First and Last (Isaiah 44:6) First and Last (Revelation 1:17-18)
Truth  (Psalm 31:5) Truth (John 14:6)
Light (Psalm 27:1) Light (John 8:12)
Lord of Lords (Deuteronomy 10:17) Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16)
Resurrection (1 Samuel 2:6) Resurrection (John 5:25-29)
Judge (Psalm 9:7-8) Judge (Matthew 25:31-32)

Our Muslim friends and others ask us where is this concept of God’s oneness and pluralness found in the Old Testament? Is it not just an after-the-fact justification? If the doctrine of the Trinity is true, then why don’t we find more explicit references in the Old Testament? We will show where in the Old Testament this concept is present. But remember, the culture in which God revealed His will and Scriptures. Israel was surrounded by nations who were all polytheistic – they believed in many gods. It was important for Israel to realize that the God of the Bible is the only God who existed. After this truth was firmly understood by Israel then the Lord revealed further truth about His basic nature: Father, Son and the Spirit. God revealed more of his nature with the coming of Messiah, and we would be foolish to ignore his revelation.

In the first book of Moses, Genesis, we have an indication for God’s oneness and pluralness:

In Genesis 1:26, the One God says, “Let Us make man in Our image”.

A common response is that such wording is a literary device to reflect the “Royal Plural” as in the Quran. Often times kings and rulers would speak in third person (i.e. the plural of majesty); however, the plural of majesty was not used among the Jews nor was it used in the rest of the Old Testament Scriptures, and so such explanation does not adequately address why it is used in Genesis 1:26 and in other places.

Even Genesis begins with the first verse that hints of God’s singularness in one sense and pluralness in another sense:

In the beginning, God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

The Hebrew word for God is Elohim. Elohim is a plural noun but it is used here with a singular verb bara. In the remainder of the Old Testament, when Elohim is used of the true God, it is always used with a singular verb. The conclusion to be drawn is that in some sense God is singular and plural in another sense.

A number of Muslims point to the Shema as evidence for Tawhid. However, instead of supporting Tawhid, it in fact supports the concept of God’s pluralness (ECHAD).

“Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one (ECHAD).” (Deuteromy 6:4).

Unlike the Hebrew word YACHID, which corresponds to  TAWHID from the Arabic, which is the Islamic notion of an abstract numerical oneness , the Bible uses the word ECHAD for God, a word that stands for unity, such as exists between a husband and wife, constituting them “one flesh” (Gen 2:24), or between morning and evening, constituting them “one day” (Gen 1:5), or such as Christians profess when they say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are “one being”, “one essence”, or “one God” or “one” or “echad”.

Moses shows that God is one yet plural in persons. There are two persons called Jehovah active in Genesis 19:24:

‘Then the LORD (Jehovah) rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD (Jehovah) out of the heavens’ (Genesis 19:24).

In Gen 19:24, there are two individuals called Jehovah, one on the earth who talked to Abraham and called fire down from the other Jehovah in the heavens.

Similarly, there are two persons active as per prophet Amos:

I [Jehovah] overthrew you, as God [Jehovah] overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD (Amos 4:11)

Isaiah shows all three persons active in the following verse:

“Come near to Me [Christ], listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord GOD [Father] has sent Me [Christ], and His Spirit [Holy Spirit].” (Isaiah 48:17)

Jesus himself confirmed in many places that there is one God, yet plural in persons, and then He confirmed it further through His apostles who spearheaded His teachings under the New Covenant.

Jesus said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name [Christ], will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)

‘May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Does God’s oneness in being and pluralness in person better describe who God is? The Scriptures and words of Jesus says so. It is neither illogical nor insane to assert that one God exists in three persons as there is a difference between person and being. Yahweh is one being who exists in three persons and this concept of the Trinity is clear in the Scriptures. It teaches that there is only one God (Deut 4:35), but He is somehow plural (Gen 1:1, Dt 6:4, Jn 1:1), and these three persons share the name of Yahweh (Mt 28:19; Phil 2:11 cf. Isaiah 45:22-23). Unique? Yes. Nonsensical? No. Contradiction? No. If the world is so complex that it baffles our minds, what about the One who created the world? If God can exist without a beginning, an idea that is nonsensial and unimaginable, yet God is eternal without a beginning or end, how much more unique is our creator? Now if my Creator has to be simple so that I can understand Him, then I have made Him in my image.

How simple is Tawhid?

Our Muslim friends (and others who insist the same) says Tawhid is a simple doctrine, yet the doctrine of tawhid does not resolve the complexity of God. Quite the contrary, it creates its own set of challenges. According to tawhid, God is absolutely one. This means that in eternity past, before he created anything, Allah was alone. It was not until he chose to create the universe that Allah had anything, or anyone, with whom to relate. This presents an enormous theological problem for Islam, which teaches that Allah is ar-Rahman and ar-Raheem, the Gracious and the Merciful. These qualities imply that Allah is relational in the way he interacts with his creatures.

So, in order for Allah to actually be gracious and merciful, he first has to create an object of his grace and mercy. Put another way, Allah’s attributes are contingent upon creation.

Allah may act graciously toward certain people, but he cannot be eternally gracious by nature, only by acts of the will.

On the other hand, the doctrine of the Trinity teaches that One being have always existed in the three persons, agreed in purpose, and loved one another with a selfless love. Unlike Allah, Yahweh does not merely love; He is love (1 John 4:7). He does not merely extend mercy; He is merciful (Jeremiah 3:12). His grace and mercy are not contingent on creation because they are expressions of His eternal nature.

Because of tawhid, Allah depends on mankind in order to be Allah. Because of his triune nature, Yahweh is truly independent and self-sufficient. So the simplicity of tawhid proves to be a fatal flaw for orthodox Islam; it makes Allah contingent upon his creation.

There is a crucial difference between the monolithic oneness of Allah and the triune oneness of Yahweh. Only Yahweh is eternally loving and relational. His attributes are not contingent on creation. And He creates people with capacity for personality, selfless love, and relationships.

Adapted: https://www.christianity.com/god/trinity/turning-from-tawhid-to-the-trinity.html

See also: