Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1182 MP3 Audio File Video File

Monotheism And the Trinity

(Exodus 23:20-21)

Delivered 09/03/2023

For our study this morning I want us to look at the doctrine of the Trinity. It seems that when some people come to see the truth of the preterist view of eschatology, they want to throw out all Christian doctrine and start from scratch. I'm not sure why this is because our eschatological view doesn't change the fundamentals of the faith. But one of the doctrines that seems to be attacked by some preterists is the doctrine of the Trinity.

Though the word "Trinity" is never found in the pages of Scripture, it is a doctrine that is taught throughout the Scripture, both in the Tanakh and in the New Testament. "Trinity" is a word used to express the unity of God subsisting in three distinct persons. It is a word describing the unity of the Godhead as three co-eternal, co-equal Persons, each having the same substance while being distinct persons. It is a word that describes a purely revealed doctrine that is indiscoverable by reason but clearly taught in Scripture.

As Christians, we affirm that there is one eternal being known as Yahweh. Yet this one eternal being exists in three individual persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Logically, in our human minds, we cannot entirely understand how one Being can exist in three persons. Yet, as Christians, we affirm both truths to be true. The 1689 London Baptist Confession of faith, Chapter 2, paragraph 3 states:

In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him. 1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Exodus 3:14; John 14:11; 1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:14,18; John 15:26; Galatians 4:6).

The Trinity is one of the distinctive doctrines of Christianity. It is a doctrine that has been under attack since the third century. In the first decade of the third century, the Alexandrian priest Arius began teaching the heresy that if the Son was a real Son, then his Father must have existed before Him; therefore, the Divine Father must have existed before the Divine Son and the Son is a creature created by God. He declared that the Son was the greatest and eldest of all God's creatures and was Himself a God but still created and. Therefore, was like all creatures of an essence or substance which previously had not existed.

Arius clashed with Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, who believed in the co-eternality of the Word of God and refuted Arius' teaching that the Word was created by God. In Arius's words, "there was [a time] when He (the Son) was not." The Arians inferred from this that Christ, though existing before the world, is a creature of the Father.

Because Alexander understood this as a dangerous threat to the church, he publicly condemned Arius' teaching and removed him from all church posts. This led to the calling of the First Ecumenical Council, the Council of Nicaea. At the council, Arius' teaching was formally condemned. The debate lasted from May 20, AD 325 until June 19, AD 325 and produced an initial form of the Nicene Creed which condemned Arianism and established the Doctrine of the Trinity.

This did not end the teaching of Arius, in fact, it continued to have great influence. In fact, the Arian Christology actually came to be predominant. When Alexander died shortly after the Council of Nicaea, Athanasius succeeded him. He is considered to be one of the great heroes of the Christian church.

In the Council of Constantinople, the Doctrine of Nicaea was reaffirmed through the polemics and strength of character of Athanasius and others. So, Arius' Doctrine of Christ that "There was a time when He was not," was refuted, and the Christian church came solidly to stand behind the fact that there was not a time when He did not exist. He did not become. He was not made. He was and He possessed the same essential nature as that of the Father. Both of those important councils established the fact of homoousia (one essence). In other words, Yeshua was of the same essence as the Father. They declared the deity of Yeshua the Christ.

The Athanasian Creed states it this way:

The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created: but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten: but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers: one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after another: none is greater, nor less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal.

Nathan Busenitz summarizes Arius' impact in this way:

"In ancient times, Arius' teachings presented the foremost threat to orthodox Christianity—which is why historians like Alexander Mackay have labeled him 'the greatest heretic of antiquity'." This gives you some idea as to how dangerous the church took any teaching that denied the deity of Christ.

Arianism had all but vanished by the seventh century, but in the 16th Century and 17th Century, the Socinians (who also denied the deity of Christ) used John 14:28 as a proof text: "for my Father is greater than I."

Ryan Turner asserts that

"Despite the best efforts of the Orthodox Church to stamp out Arianism, there are branches of the belief that continue to this present day. One of them is the Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses deny the eternality of the Son and in that sense, they are Arian—like in their Christology. They deny the Trinity. They deny the deity of the Son of God as well. The Mormons also deny the deity of the Son of God. They speak of Him as the Son of God, but they deny His eternity. They deny the Christian Doctrine of the trinity."

In my opinion, anyone who denies the deity of Yeshua or the Trinity is not very familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. A prime example comes from someone of Facebook who, in a discussion on preterism, wrote: 

I would say that the process that has brought most of us to Fulfilled understanding, if used in regards to other commonly held beliefs and traditions, would change those traditions as well. Audience relevance alone destroys the idea of the trinity. The entire Bible is written by, and to, absolutely, singularly, completely monotheistic Jews. The idea of the trinity is so far removed from their sphere of thinking that it would have been absurd.

Much changed after AD 70 though…there was a push back AGAINST Judaism, and a purposeful move AWAY from Jewish leadership in the Christian Church…Without that dramatic move AWAY from the Old Testament reality of the nature of God, trinitarianism could have NEVER been introduced. I am convinced that as we study the ACTUAL Word of God and move AWAY from creeds, the teaching of the trinity will become considerably more difficult to swallow.

I think this is wrong on many levels. Technically the Jews were not monotheistic. Dictionaries define "monotheism" as the belief that there is only one God. The word monotheism comes from the Greek, mono ("single") and Theos ("God"). The Jews believed in other gods. The first commandment implies that there are other gods: "You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). Most mainstream, Old Testament scholars believe that the religion of the early Israelites was neither monotheistic nor polytheistic but was, rather, "monolatrous." Monolatry is the belief in the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity. While the existence of other gods was not denied, Israel was to worship no god but Yahweh. Let me show you this.

"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?  Exodus 15:11 ESV
then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 6:12-15 ESV
and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. Deuteronomy 29:26 ESV

These gods that Israel worshiped were "not allotted to them"; they were allotted to the nations.

They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded. Deuteronomy 32:16-17 ESV
If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good."  Joshua 24:20 ESV

Israel was not monotheistic; they were monolatrous. In other words, while they served one God who was Yahweh, they realized that Yahweh was the Godhead made up of more than one Divine being. Until the second century AD, the Jews understood and taught two powers in heaven. The Hebrew Scriptures taught a second Yahweh. The Hebrew faith had a Binitarian Godhead.

Let's look at the actual Word of God and see just how wrong the aforementioned Facebook person is when he contends that "The idea of the trinity is so far removed from their sphere of thinking that it would have been absurd."  The Trinity is not just Christian theology. The Tanakh taught this also. Some try to defend the Trinity from the very first verse in the Bible saying that in that verse God is plural and, therefore, speaks of the Trinity.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 ESV

"God" here is the Hebrew elohiym. This is the plural of el from a root word meaning "might, strength, power." Elohim is plural, but it is what grammarians would call a morphological plural. Hebrew nouns that end in "im" are plural. But in most cases throughout the Tanakh the meaning is singular.

We know this from Hebrew grammar. Elohim is like the English word deer or sheep. How do you know if "deer" is singular or plural? It is determined by the grammar of the sentence in which it is used. In Genesis 1:1, the verb bara ("created") identifies the subject of the verb, Elohim, as a masculine singular. So, Genesis 1:1 does not speak of the Trinity.

Some say that verse 26 speaks of the Trinity.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." Genesis 1:26 ESV

Many take the plurality language here to refer to the Trinity. But who is the "us" and "our" here? Whom is God talking to? This is a reference to God's heavenly supernatural family, His divine council. From Philo onward, Jewish commentators generally held that these plurals were used because Yahweh was addressing His divine council. The early post- Apostolic Fathers such as Barnabas and Justin Martyr saw the plurals as a reference to the Trinity. I think that is how most Christians see them. But recent scholars tend to agree with ancient Jewish opinion. F. M. Cross notes:

In both Ugaritic and biblical literature, the use of the first-person plural is characteristic of address in the divine council. The familiar "we" … has long been recognized as the plural address used by Yahweh in His council (Cross, Canaanite Myth, 187).

The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary states:

The "us" in "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26; cf. 3:22; 11:6-7) refers to the "sons of God" or lesser "gods" mentioned elsewhere (6:1-4; Job 1:6; Ps. 29:1), here viewed as a heavenly council centered around the one God (cf. Ps. 82:1). In later usage these probably would be called "angels." (p. 1019, "Trinity")

I said earlier that the Trinity is not just Christian theology because the Tanakh taught this also. Let's look at some verses that demonstrate this.

Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. Genesis 19:24 ESV

What is this Yahweh from Yahweh? That sounds strange. In chapter 31, Jacob is talking and says:

Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, "Jacob," and I said, "Here I am!" And he said, "Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred." Genesis 31:11-13 ESV

The angel of God (elohim) says, "I am the God of Bethel." Who was the God of Bethel?

And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Genesis 28:13 ESV

The angel says, "I am the God of Bethel, which is Yahweh."

And he blessed Joseph and said, "The God before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, walked, The God who shepherded me all my life unto this day, The angel who redeemed me from all evil, may he bless the boys. And through them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac. And let them multiply into many in the midst of the earth. Genesis 48:15-16 LEB

I'm using the Lexham English Bible here because it gives us a more accurate Hebrew translation of this verse. Here we see the Angel and God fused together in the dialogue in Jacob's prayer by a singular verb: "May he bless these boys." Who is "he"? Well, it's God in one stanza, God in the second stanza, and the angel in the third stanza. And the verb is singular. It's not, "May they bless the boys," it's, "May he." The verb there puts them together ("May he bless the boys") because they're interchangeable. Here we have this idea of two Yahwehs.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, "I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned." When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Exodus 3:1-4 ESV

"The angel of Yahweh appeared to him…when Yahweh saw that He turned aside."  There is more than one being in the bush. The rabbis noticed this; they were very familiar with the text. They saw that there were two Yahwehs in the text. This is the Jewish God- head. Until the second century AD, the Jews understood and taught two powers in heaven. The Hebrew Scriptures taught a second Yahweh. The Hebrew faith had a Binitarian Godhead. Notice the following.

Moses said to the LORD, "See, you say to me, 'Bring up this people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.' Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people." And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:12-14 ESV

Here Yahweh tells Moses "My presence shall go with you." They experienced the presence of Yahweh in the Exodus.

Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; his lips are full of fury, and his tongue is like a devouring fire; Isaiah 30:27 ESV

The "name of Yahweh" is not four letters but is a person—the presence of Yahweh.

For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful. Isaiah 60:9 ESV

This is a Hebrew parallelism—"the name of Yahweh" your God and "the Holy One of Israel."

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!  Psalms 20:1 ESV
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalms 20:7 ESV

Here they are protected by "the Name":

Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. Psalms 44:5 ESV

The "Name" is an entity.

"Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. Exodus 23:20-21 ESV

This angel pardons transgression. Who can do that but God? "My name is in him"—what does this mean? The four letters were in the angel? The Hebrew word for "name" is shem which comes from neshemah. We find this in Genesis 2.

then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. Genesis 2:7 ESV

The word "breath" here is neshemah. Your shem is your breath. In Hebraic thought your breath is your character; it's what makes you you. It's what makes you different from everybody else. You can replace the word "name" in the Bible with "character."

In Hebraic thought, a name is not merely an arbitrary designation or a random combination of sounds. The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing named. It represents the history and reputation of the being named. In English, we often refer to a person's reputation as his "good name." The Hebrew concept of a name is very similar to this idea. So, in Exodus 23:21, when Yahweh says of the angel, "My name is in him," He is saying "My character, my essence is in him."

Who delivered the children of Israel from Egypt?

For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." Leviticus 11:45 ESV
Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, "I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, Judges 2:1 ESV

Who delivered them from Egypt? Was it Yahweh or the angel of Yahweh? Yes!

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Yeshua, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. Jude 1:5 ESV

The New English Translation Note states the following:

The reading Iesous, 'Jesus,' is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel. However, not only does this reading enjoy the strongest support from a variety of early witnesses, but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange kurios, 'Lord' or theos, 'God,' for Iesous (though P72 has the intriguing reading theos Christos, 'God Christ,' for Iesous)….As difficult as the reading Iesous is, in light of Jude 1:4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate." (See Jude 1:5 NET Note)

So, who delivered the Israelites out of Egypt? It was Yeshua, the angel of Yahweh. And who is Yahweh? He is the second Yahweh in the Tanakh.

When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:4-5 ESV

Moses is told by God to remove his sandals from his feet because he's on holy ground. You see this same language in Joshua 5.

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" And he said, "No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, "What does my lord say to his servant?" And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:13-15 ESV

The captain of the Lord's host appears to Joshua. He looks like any other man. Joshua asks him, "Are you friend or foe?" He says, "I'm the captain of the Lord's host. Take your shoes off from where you stand, because you're standing on holy ground." This language links the reader's mind back to Exodus 3 where Yahweh and the angel are present in the burning bush. But the phrase in Joshua 5 that the captain of the Lord's host had "a drawn sword in his hand" occurs only two other times in the Bible, both of which refer to the figure of the Angel of the Lord.

And the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road. Numbers 22:23 ESV
And David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. 1 Chronicles 21:16 ESV

So, it is the Angel of Yahweh whom we see in Joshua 5 as the commander of Yahweh's army. And in Exodus 3, God says to Moses: "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." Then in Joshua 5, the Angel of the Lord tells Joshua: "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." Yahweh and the Angel of Yahweh are both Yahweh, and where they are standing is holy ground.  

The Faithlife Study Bible says:

The relationship between Yahweh and the Angel of Yahweh ("Angel of the Lord") provides the most familiar example of "two Yahwehs." The Old Testament writers at times deliberately make the Angel of Yahweh indistinguishable from Yahweh (e.g., Exodus 3:1–14. For instance, according to Exodus 23, the Angel has Yahweh's "Name" in him (Exod 23:20–23). This passage gives a glimpse of the Hebrew Bible's "Name theology," in which reference to "the Name" actually refers to Yahweh Himself. Thus, in Exodus 23, Yahweh indicates that He is in the Angel. And yet, in other passages, Yahweh and the Angel can be simultaneously—but separately—present (Judges 6). Various Old Testament passages attribute God's deliverance of Israel from Egypt to both the God of Israel and the Angel (e.g., Judges 2:1–3; 1 Samuel 8:8; Micah 6:4). In light of Deuteronomy 4:37, which states the "presence" of Yahweh was responsible for Israel's deliverance from Egypt, these passages provide a constructive case for binitarianism. The divine presence, of course, is Yahweh Himself, His "essence." Perhaps most tellingly in this theology is the text of Genesis 48:15–16, which fuses God and the Angel. Jacob, near death and pronouncing blessing on Joseph's sons, speaks of God's saving action in a way that highlights the fusion of Yahweh and the Angel.

But wait, there's more. What about the Holy Spirit?

But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Isaiah 63:10 ESV

In context, this verse is referring to the time of the Exodus. The presence of Yahweh is interpreted in this passage in terms of the Holy Spirit. But the Exodus narrative makes it plain that Yahweh Himself led His people through the desert and gave them rest.

And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14 ESV

Yet Isaiah unequivocally asserts that it was "the Spirit of Yahweh who gave them rest."

Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name. Isaiah 63:14 ESV

Who was it that gave them rest? Yahweh or the Holy Spirit? Yes! The Holy Spirit is Yahweh! Yahweh is the one true God and He exists in three persons. Again, the Trinity is not just Christian theology; the Tanakh taught this also.

…the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them…10 But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit…11 Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit…14 the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name. Isaiah 63:9-14 ESV

Here we see Yahweh, the Angel of Yahweh, who is the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So here we have all three members of the Godhead. Psalm 78 is a recounting of the same event as in Isaiah 63, notice what it says.

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel. Psalms 78:40-41 ESV

The verbs "rebelled and grieved," used in Isaiah 63:10 of the Holy Spirit, are used here of Yahweh-the Holy One of Israel. Yahweh and the Holy Spirit are One in essence.

And in the New Testament we learn that the Spirit and Yeshua are one in essence also.

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Yeshua did not allow them. Acts 16:6-7 ESV

The Spirit is Yahweh, the Son is Yahweh, and the Father is Yahweh. Ezekiel gives us the same picture.

In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there. Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal. He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem… Ezekiel 8:1-3 ESV

So, we have Yahweh in verse 1, a divine man in verse 2, and then the Spirit in verse 3. These three figures are co-identified as Yahweh. This is clearly Trinitarianism in the Hebrew Bible. The Jews were monolatrous. They served one God who was Yahweh, but they realized that Yahweh was the Godhead made up of more than one Divine being.

Sometimes Preterists ask if the Holy Spirit is still with us today. Yes, of course. The whole Godhead is with us. We dwell in the presence of the triune Yahweh.

The trinity was not an invention of Christians; it was well known in middle Judaism. The Israelites believed that "The second power is Yahweh's essence manifested in a different form."  This is the basis of Binitarianism in Jewish thought. And later the Spirit of God is spoken of in the same way, as we saw in Isaiah 63.

To deny the Trinity is to deny the deity of Christ. Five times in the Tanakh Yahweh is called the "cloud rider." But Daniel 7 is an exception.

"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 ESV

Here the rider on the cloud is the son of man, a human. Dominion is given to the son of man, the second cloud rider.

And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?" But Yeshua remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Matthew 26:62-63 ESV

Then Yeshua answers the high priest.

Yeshua said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven."  Matthew 26:64 ESV

Yeshua said that he would see Him "coming on the clouds." Yeshua boldly declared: "I am Yahweh!" What was the high priest's response?

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. Matthew 26:65 ESV

He said that Yeshua had blasphemed because He said He would come on the clouds. The high priest knew that only Yahweh rides the clouds. He knew that Yeshua was claiming to be Yahweh!

The man on Facebook falsely claimed that "Audience relevance alone destroys the idea of the trinity. The entire Bible is written by, and to, absolutely, singularly, completely monotheistic Jews." Audience relevance does not destroy the idea of the Trinity; it confirms it. The Jews were monolatrous and not monotheistic. They believed in many gods, but they worshiped ONE God who exists in three persons. These Jews worshiped only ONE God but they worshiped Yeshua.

And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." Matthew 14:32-33 ESV

They "worshiped Him"! If the disciples, who are monolatrous Jews, were worshiping Yeshua, they finally got it. They must have understood that He is Yahweh in the flesh—the second power in heaven.

Notice what the monolatrous Jewish priest, John, said of Yeshua.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Yeshua the Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20 ESV

Who is the true God? Does the statement, "He is the true God," refer to the Father or to Yeshua. Well, "Yeshua the Christ" is the closest antecedent for "he" in the context. The immediately preceding words are "Yeshua the Christ," so proximity alone would suggest that as the preferred antecedent. Many early church fathers, as well as the Reformers, argued that the phrase refers to the closest antecedent, namely, to Yeshua the Christ.

Another reason why I see "true God" as referring to Yeshua is that it does not make sense to say that this is speaking of God the Father. To say that the true God is the true God is stating the obvious. But if this is saying that Yeshua is the true God, it comes as an amazing natural conclusion to the whole of this epistle. This Christ Yeshua is the very Son of God incarnate who has been sent in human flesh to be our Savior! God has revealed Himself in human flesh in the incarnation of His Son, Yeshua the Christ.

"He is the true God and eternal life." This is one of the strongest direct statements of the deity of Christ in the New Testament. In light of John's polemic against the false teachers, who denied Yeshua's deity, it would seem fitting at the end of the book to refer to Yeshua as "the only true God and eternal life."

Do you remember what Thomas said to Yeshua after his resurrection?

Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20:28 ESV

What was Yeshua's response to Thomas' calling Him God?

Yeshua said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29 ESV

Yeshua doesn't correct him because John's words are true. He is God.

Trinitarian theology, which BBC espouses as orthodox Christianity, states that the term "Lord" is a term that applies to all three persons of the Trinity, just as the term "God" is. We really shouldn't speak of God and then the Son and then the Spirit because that is confusing in that it leads to a contention that deity belongs only to the first person while the other names belong to the second and the third. It's much sounder theologically to say, "God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, or Yahweh the Father, Yahweh the Son, Yahweh the Spirit." All three are Yahweh, and Yahweh is one God!

Berean Bible Church provides this material free of charge for the edification of the Body of Christ. You can help further this work by your prayer and by contributing online or by mailing to:

Berean Bible Church
1000 Chattanooga Street
Chesapeake, VA 23322