"And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased."
-Luke 3:22, KJV
There is a lot here to challenge the view of God held by certain groups. First, we have the Holy Ghost in a visible, perceivable form, separate from Jesus, descending upon Him. We also see a voice from Heaven saying, "Thou art my beloved Son...". We understand Matthew's account reads differently. However, it must be understood that the inspiration of Scripture (II Tim. 3:16) guarantees unity of *thought*, not unity of *word*. So we have here at Jesus' baptism the ministry of all three persons in the Godhead. This would be fine if it were all there were, but, dear brother or sister, there is more.
"And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man of those things which they had seen."
-Luke 9:28-36, KJV
Here's another passage that helps us understand this important teaching. We see Jesus first manifest the Glory of God (v. 29), then the Holy Ghost shows up in a bodily perceivable manifestation (v. 34), and finally the voice of God the Father (v. 35). Matthew 17 and Mark 9 also detail this incident, and the reader is cordially invited to read these parallel passages at their leisure. We also see several incidents on the last day of Jesus' Earthly ministry that reveal the existence of more than one person doing the things that God does.
"Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
-Luke 22:42, KJV
We see a few things here. First, God has an individual will ("...if thou be willing...", "...not my will, but thine..."), separate from Jesus', and also that God can remove things form Jesus ("...remove this cup from me..."). Even in Luke's account of the Crucifixion, we see evidence of there being more than one person doing the things that God does.
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them, for they know not what? they do..."
-Luke 23:34, KJV
We see Jesus here asking SOMEONE ELSE to forgive them.
"And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
-Luke 23:46, KJV
Here Jesus once again prays to another person who is seen as doing the things God does. We see yet more evidence in the post-resurrection ministry of Jesus Christ.
"Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."
-John 21:17, KJV
We will explore this verse in detail in the future, but suffice it for now to comment on the fact that Jesus makes three separate references to another person called God. We will wrap up this section with the Great Commission:
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"
-Matthew 28:19, KJV
While authorizing the Church to go and do all the things He did while He was here (more on this later), the Lord Jesus specifically mentions all three persons in the Godhead. Some of our denominational brethren would have us believe that the 'name' of all three is Jesus. However, this reveals a lack of study of the Greek manuscripts. When we look to the Strong's Concordance, we see that the Greek word used here is 'onoma' (Str. 3686), or "authority or character". This is rendered 'name' in 170 of the 171 times the word 'name' appears in the KJV New Testament. The other is at Acts 7:58, which is the Greek 'kaleo' (Str. 2564). Our paraphrase of the definition of 'kaleo' is "what one is called", and this is the way we understand the word 'name' today. In fact, most of the New Testament writers show a grasp of this teaching that some in certain sects and denominations would find impossible. Paul the Apostle regularly used what we would now call 'trinitarian' greetings ( I Cor. 1:3, Gal. 1:3-4, Eph. 1:3, :13, II Ths. 1:1-2, and others), and thoroughly explored this teaching in his letter to the Hebrews.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past to the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"
-Heb. 1:1-3, KJV
The most obvious thing here is unless we understand that there is more than one person worthy of being called God, this passage would seem pointless. Let's continue...
"For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him."
-Heb. 1:5-6, KJV
Yet more references to two of the three persons in the Godhead.
There are two major points of interest:
1)Two separate references to the Son in v. 5.
2) Worship of another person is authorized in v. 6. If this other person were not equally God, then God would be in violation of His own Word ( Ps. 138:2, Ex. 20:3, Matt. 22:37, Mk. 12:30). God even calls this other person God in verse 8. We see a rhetorical question posed to the Hebrews by Paul in v. 13:
? "But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?"
? -Heb. 1:13, KJV
We humbly submit the answer is none of them. Paul was not the only New Testament writer with a grasp of this idea of there being more than one person doing the things God does.
"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."
-I Ptr. 1:2, KJV
Peter explains the ministry of all three persons involved in salvation rather eloquently. John was also familiar with the truth.
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."
-I Jn. 5:7, KJV
Some might contend that these are not in some manuscripts. However, we submit that this teaching is evident in the writings known as the Apostolic Fathers, the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and in enough other Early Church documents for us to be assured that it is a genuine Apostolic doctrine. John also refers to separate persons in the following Scriptures: I Jn 1:3,:7, 2:23-24, 5:9,:10,:11,:20, II Jn.3,:9. We realize some may call I Jn. 2:23 'doubtful'. Therefore, the following is submitted as evidence for the validity of I Jn. 2:23:
1) It is in harmony with Bible teaching on the subject.
2) It is found in the text of over 20 of the best manuscripts. This is how archaeologists determine authenticity of ancient writings.
3) It is quoted by many Early Church fathers.
4) It is restored in many modern versions.
We will conclude this study with a look at The Revelation of St. John. The book even starts with a reference to more than one person doing the things God does:
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:"
-Rev. 1:1, KJV
John sees the glorified Jesus at verse 13, Who instructs him what to write in verse 19. The entire next section of the book, "the things which are" (Rev 1:19), is in red in those Bibles where Jesus' words are in red letters. Then, in Chapter 4 and verse 2, we see One sitting on a throne.
"And immediately I was in the spirit: and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne."
-Rev. 4:2, KJV
Interestingly, in verses 8 and 11 of this chapter, we see angelic creatures calling the One on the throne God. We know the One on the throne is not God the Father, for we see Him and Jesus together as separate persons shortly.
"And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof. And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne."
-Rev. 5:5-7, KJV
We also see, in Rev. 5:9-10,:13, this other person as receiving worship that is not directed toward God the Father. For details how this is possible, see our comment 2 on Hebrews 1:5-6, above. Even the lost people on Earth during the Tribulation understand this teaching:
"And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:"
-Rev. 6:16, KJV
Were there not more than one person worthy of being called God, this passage would read,"...and from His wrath:". Angels also show insight into the nature of God:
"...The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, *and of his Christ*; and he shall reign for ever and ever."
-Rev. 11:15, KJV (emphasis added)
And, finally, we see the Holy Spirit at work at Chapter 22 and verse 17 of this same book:
"And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
-Rev 22:17, KJV
We have covered enough of Scripture to give the reader insight into the nature of God, It is our prayerful hope that this teaching on the Trinity, long though it may have been, will prove helpful and edifying. Until next time, may God richly bless you as you study and are obedient to His Word.
Jesus Is Lord,
© 1999 DIP
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