Many Christians are gaining a better understanding of biblical faith and observance through the Sabbath, and feast days, and a better understanding, or correction of false doctrines taught by Rome. Yet the danger is always present in that many who reject truth in one place only go to another place to preach or embrace error while they look like they are converting the the truth on a good many other things. For this reason what often goes under the label of messianic or torah observant is really made up of Christians or ex-Christians who faulted the Sunday Church at illegitimate points, and in that community got nowhere with their false teaching or inclination, and then became Messianic and found an open door for their doctrines. The Sunday Church does have its hands full with cults that that are constantly attacking the nature of God, like Mormons, or those who are denying the deity of Messiah, like the Watchtower Society, or Oneness Pentecostals, and many more heresies than beset them all about, both outside and within.
It has therefore become very easy to attack the word Trinity. The problem, however, is that those attacking are most often actually attacking the Deity of Messiah, and are at the same time rejecting the biblical teaching that the Most High exists as more than one person. This puts those of us who simply wish to avoid the creedal and sectarianly stamped language of the Roman Catholic Church in a hard spot. There are many Christians that will call you a heretic simply for not using the word Trinity, and certain other phrases, even when one believes all the texts in the Scripture about it pretty much the same way they do.
As we prefer not to use the word Trinity, let it be said that we hold to its concepts with only a few reservations. And they are trivial indeed with respect to the bigger issues of anti-trinitarianism. Scripture does not indeed limit God to existing as three persons, but may (and I say in theory, because it is not revealed) be able to merge three into one or split one into many depending at any given instant in time, or for a period of time. With that said, however many persons there may be at any one instant, all would be co-eternal and united as one Almighty, however you want to understand united. Or to put it another way, we really don’t understand it on that level. And furthermore, mere created humans will not be becoming God. There was no Almighty before him, and there shall be none after him. If the concept is to be faulted at all as some define it, it is because they were too rigid in thinking they know exactly what God is like, or because they think how God exists is inflexible. No doubt allowing this possibility will make the Most High feel like an Alien being to many, and I think we should not speculate further, except to say that in particular biblical contexts we can in fact distinguish a given number of persons.
The Almighty is an alien being with respect to humans, for the most part. That is why part of Him became the Messiah, and before that appeared as the Messenger of Yahweh, so that we could relate to him on a more familiar basis, and so that we could get a window into what God is like, as it says in John 1:18, “No one has seen the Almighty at any time, but the specially brought forth Almighty, who is in the bosom of the Father, this one has explained what he is like.”
In the beginning the Almighty said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and Let them rule....Then the Almighty created man in His own image, in the image of the Almighty He has created him; male and female He has created them” (Gen. 1:26-27). Right away, in the first chapter of the Torah, we have the plural nature of the Almighty declared by the language used. The Almighty has not kept his plural nature a secret. He revealed it right at the beginning when He made man.
If it is objected that ‘us’ and ‘our’ only mean that God is speaking inclusively to a heavenly court of lesser created beings, then the answer is that he includes only himself and another person equally part of the Most High, because it goes on to say, “He has created them” and not that other created beings helped make man. Also that Adam, when he sinned, sought to become like the Almighty, who alone has the right to determine good and evil. Then Yahweh Almighty said, “the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil” (Gen. 3:22). If the plural us does not refer to God alone, then why did Adam have to die?
If alternatively, it is objected that God speaks with a royal we, then point out where royal we is used, that the sovereign is usually meaning to include others in his pronouncements, or claim the inclusion of others, even when others did not make them or even agree with them. Finally, I would say while such a royal we is found among more modern nations, its use is not shown in the scriptures. Also I answer that if a royal we does not mean to include other persons, then it is really misleading. “God is not a man who lies” (Num 23:19), and neither does he use a petty royal we, which belongs only in the mouths of sovereigns trying to make themselves more than the mere men they are.
If it is objected that ‘His own image’ refers to a singular person, then I would show them that Scriptural language speaks of more than one person as his and him, “Edom, however, said to him [Israel], ‘You shall not pass through us, lest I come out with the sword against you.’ Then the sons of Israel said to him, ‘We shall go up on the highway, and if we drink from your waters, I and my livestock, then I will have paid its price. Let me only pass through on my feet, nothing else.’ But he said, you shall not pass through.’ And Edom came out to meet him with a heavy force, and a strong hand. Thus Edom refused to allow Israel to pass through his territory; so Israel turned away from him” (Num. 20:18-21).
Edom refers to himself with ‘us’ and then the scripture proceeds to refer to Edom using his and him. The use of his and him does not prove that Edom is one person. And not only that, but the passage shows that the use of I, me, my, and you, are not required to refer to a single person either.
Therefore, the ‘us’ in reference to the Most High alone in Genesis 1 is justified. It is not a royal we. He is not speaking to a heavenly court, but only to another person who is part of the Most High. He alone has the power to know good and evil, neither created angels, nor Adam, and that is why those who try to take it must die. Scripture regularly uses singular pronouns, “I, me, my, you, your, he, she, him, his, etc. to refer to entities of more than one person, and the text represents entities speaking this way. Therefore, the ‘us’ in Genesis 1 includes Messiah: Concerning Messiah, it says, “I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch...And this is His name which he will be called: Yahweh our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:6), and he says, “They will look to Me, whom they have pierced through” (Zec. 12:10).
A man and a wife become one flesh. Two armies unite and become one army. Several states unite and form one nation. These are examples of being one in a physical sense where a term for the combination of many is treated as a singular unit. This type of oneness may be called the unity of parts.
One is also used to denote exclusiveness. There is one teacher in a classroom. There is one city council of a city. There is one band that won top prize. There is one Almighty of all reality. This sense of one denotes a single functioning entity presiding over a domain with no competing entities of the same nature. This may be called the exclusive one.
It should be observed that the use of one in “There is one Almighty” does not define the nature of the Almighty. Any entity, whether plural persons, or a singular person, may be substituted in the grammatical slot after the word one. Only the meaning of the word after one can define the nature of the entity. The adjective one does not. All the adjective one does is denote the exclusiveness of the entity in its assumed domain.
Both senses of one are applied to the Almighty. When it is said, “The Almighty is one” then one is a unity of parts. When it is said, “There is one Almighty,” then one is the exclusive one.
“There is one Almighty” fits the same grammatical slot at “There is one teacher” in a classroom, or “There is one team” that wins. A team is a plurality of persons. The teacher is one person. We cannot say whether the Almighty is a plurality of persons or not by this use of the exclusive one. To know whether X in, “There is one X” denotes a plurality of persons or one person, someone needs to know the make up of X to begin with. If someone assumes that X is a singular person, and then claims that “There is one X” proves that X is a singular person, then the claimant is reasoning in a vicious circle. This is also called begging the question, which is a logical fallacy, and therefore nothing is proved by it.
“The Almighty is one” fits the pattern for the unity of parts, unless,of course one assumes the meaning is “The Almighty is one [person, soul].” However, it would be begging the question to say that such an assumption proves the Almighty is one person. It also contradicts the evidence that I have reviewed from Genesis 1, where the terms ‘us’ and ‘our’ are used by the Almighty in self reference.
The Shema (Deu. 6:4) has been understood as 1: “Yahweh is our Almighty, Yahweh is one” (a case of unity of parts), 2: “Yahweh is our Almighty, Yahweh alone” (a case of the exclusive one), and 3: “Yahweh is our Almighty, Yahweh is one [person]” (a case of begging the question). The last case is what Judaism teaches, and what Modalists assume. It is certain that the second sense was meant. The unity of parts does not fit the context, which is about the exclusiveness of Yahweh with respect to all false gods. And the last sense contradicts Genesis 1. The use of the exclusive one is confirmed in Zechariah 14:9, “And Yahweh will have been king over all the earth in that day; it will be Yahweh only, and His name alone.”
Both Judaism and Christianity define God as “one being,” which Judaism claims means one person, and which Christians claim means one essence, or substance. Both parties say the one being or one essence is indivisible and has no parts. The difference between Judaism and Christianity is that Christians say the one essence does not mean one person. The one essence operates on an unknowable plane above personhood. That is, if they are honest and say they don’t know what the one essence is. It is not supposed to mean one person. It is simply the undefinable spiritual substance that makes the Almighty almighty. It is undefinable because one would have to be the Most High to comprehend it.
It is my belief that the “one being” doctrine is derived from Greek philosophy, along with the notion of indivisibility and having no parts. Scripture never follows the word ‘one’ with a category like being, person, or soul. Both Judaism and Christianity derived these notions from Greek philosophy, which defined perfection as unchangeable, having no movement, and no parts. This was based on the idea that if something perfect could change, then it could only change for the worse. These ideas led to Gnosticism, Augustinianism, and Calvinism in the Church. In any case the notion of indivisibility or having no parts is not actually taught in Scripture. If the one essence doctrine is divorced from these Greek concepts, and it is admitted that the Almighty is unknowable at this level, then it becomes harmless.
In conclusion then, “The Almighty is one” (a unity of parts), and “There is one Almighty” (the exclusive one). The Shema teaches the exclusive ‘one,’ “Hear Israel, Yahweh [is] our Almighty, Yahweh only.” The notions appended to ‘one:’ being, person, soul, essence, are not found in scripture, but are derived from philosophy or assumptions based on dogmatic beliefs. Many persons utter the Shema assuming that it means one person when the Hebrew language does not require this sense to make good sense in the context.
The Scripture says,
The question arises how the Father can speak using first person words and yet be including the Son, or how the Son can speak using first person words, and be including the Father. This is a case of one person speaking for all persons united in the one Almighty. One part of Elohim speaking represents all parts of Elohim. This way of speaking in Hebrew is represented in Exodus 17:3:
“Then the people thirsted there for water; then it grumbled against Moses, and it said, ‘Why have you made us ascend from Egypt to kill me, and my sons, and my livestock with thirst?” Here we see a first person pronoun used to represent the people. The thoughts or words of the people are presented as if they were uttered by one person. The people are also referred to with the singular pronoun it, really a he (3ms) required by the verb. The people are united as one entity made up of parts. Therefore, the whole entity is represented as one person would be represented.
There are many other examples of singular pronouns in the first person being used by entities speaking for a plural entity: Isa 23:4; Ezek 26:2; Zeph. 2:15; Rev. 18:7. Zeph 2:15:
Note Isa 48:12 is not very distant from Isa. 47:7,8, 10 (17 verses distant). Consider Isa 48:13, “My right hand spread out the heavens” (Psa. 110:1, “Sit as my right hand while I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”). The right hand is that part of the Almighty which is Messiah.
Who is the Servant? ‘You are My Servant, Israel, in whom I will show My glory” (Isa 49:3), yet He speaks in the first person in Isa. 49:1-2, 4, 5, 6. Isa. 49:14,
All these passages show that a plural entity can speak in the first person singular, and speak of being exclusive, i.e. there is none besides me, and yet the context shows that the speaker is representing a plural entity. Therefore, since such language echos the very language of the Almighty, it follows that the Almighty himself may be, and is, a plural entity just as indicated in Genesis with the us passages.
We have just seen that if an entity speaks in the first person with I or my that the Hebrew language does not require the entity to be one person. Also the statement,
Many people have been falsely taught by mono-personal theists that multi-personal theism is impossible on the basis of the Isaiah texts. Most of this argumentation comes from Judaism, but some of it comes from Modalists in the Church. Such false teaching depended on the assumption that first person singular pronouns can only be used by single persons and refer only to single persons. The Hebrew language shows this assumption to be false. It has been imposed by ignoring the Hebrew, and the correct English translations. Mono-personal theism simply assumes that the language only means what they think it means. Examination proves otherwise.
Messiah commands our ultimate trusting faithfulness, and our complete loyalty because He is Yahweh Elohim, and one with Father Yahweh, and His Spirit.
1. ^ source: torahtimes.org\articles\nature-of-elohim.html. Original content article by Daniel Gregg. All Rights Reserved. Permission granted to cite or copy article with proper attribution, i.e. include this paragraph with article or portion thereof that is quoted as the reference footnote. If used on a forum, group, this requirement is only needed for any opening post to start a discussion or if the article is brought in to another discussion to address issues raised in another discussion.