See Oneness Tract

NOTE: the answers provided to the questions below are a simple and quick guide for the interested person wishing to compare Oneness theology with Trinitarian theology. The answers do not represent a *full exegetical presentation—rather it simply and basically demonstrates (a) the fundamental Oneness unitarian assumptions (viz. asserting that God is one person) and (b) the basic theological errors of Oneness theology (e.g., denying the deity of the Son). For an expanded exegetical refutation of Oneness unitarian theology see Oneness Theology (Modalism).

Important Question: If Jesus is the Father, why is there not a single passage that states this in the NT or the OT? The fact is, in the NT, Jesus is explicitly referred to as “the Son” over two hundred times in the NT and never as Father or Holy Spirit. In the Gospels, Jesus referred to the Father over two hundred times as someone other than Himself, thus, as a distinct person.

Further, in the Gospels, almost one hundred and eighty times, Jesus referred to the Father as “the Father,” “my Father,” or “your Father”- thus, as a distinct person from Himself. And no time did He refer to “my Son” or anything of the sort as distinct from Himself! Forty times in John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to himself as “sent by the Father,” but never does he refer to himself as the Father who sent the Son

Further, Isaiah 9:6, is no help for Oneness advocates trying to “prove” Jesus is the Father-  See Isaiah 9:6: Oneness Refuted

 

1. Where in the Scripture does it say that God is unitarian? (or that God exist as one person?)

Note: Nowhere in Scripture is God defined as one person, but rather as one Being: mono (from monos, meaning, alone or only one) and theism (from theos, meaning, God). Oneness adherents (along with Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses) wrongly assume that the concept or word “one” when referring to God (e.g., Deut. 6:4) has the strict denotative meaning of absolute solitude. Arguing unipersonalism (unitarianism) assumes a conclusion that is meant to be proved.

2. If God is unitarian, how do you explain passages such as Genesis 19:24 where Yahweh (“LORD”), rained brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven?

Note: there are many places in the OT where God is presented as multi-personal (e.g., plural nouns, verbs, nouns, prepositions, and plural adjectives were used of God, i.e., “Us,” “Our,” in Gen. 1:26-27; 3:22; 11:7-9; Isa. 6:8; 54:5; Prov. 30:3; John 14:23]; Yahweh to Yahweh and Elohim (“God”) to Elohim correspondences in passages such as Gen. 19:24; Ps. 45:6-7; Hos. 1:6-7; etc.).

3. If God is unitarian, why are there so many plural descriptions in the OT (viz. plural nouns, adjectives, verbs, prepositions) to describe the one God? (as seen above).

Example: in Isaiah 54:5, “Maker” is plural in Hebrew, lit., “Makers”; same with Psalm 149:2 where “Maker” is in the plural in Hebrew. The same can be said in Ecclesiastes 12:1, where the Hebrew literally reads, “Remember also your Creators” (plural in Heb.). Thus, because God is tri-personal He can be described as both “Maker” and “Makers” and as “Creator” and “Creators.” He is one Being, not one person—a point that is repeatedly brought to bear by the OT authors.

4. If God is unitarian, why is it that there are so many places in the Bible where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are clearly distinguished from each other in the same verse?

Example, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Also see passages such as Matthew 3:17-17; 28:19; Luke 10:21-22; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:3-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 3:5-7; 1 Peter 1:2-3; and Jude 1:20-21 where all three persons of the Trinity are referred—in the same verse or context.

5. If Jesus is the Father, why is it that Jesus is explicitly referred to as “the Son” over two hundred times in the NT, and never once is he called “Father? Note, that over two hundred times, the Father is referred to by Jesus or someone else as being clearly distinct from Jesus. Over fifty times, the Father, and Jesus are presented as explicitly distinct in the same passages (cf. Dan. 7:9-14; John 1:1, 18; 6:37-39, 44; 14:23; 17:5; 2 John 1:3; 2:22; Heb. 1:1-13; Jude 1:1; Rev. 5:13 et al. (see above).

Further, almost one hundred and eighty times, Jesus is presented as referring to “the Father,” “My Father,” or “your Father” in the Gospels as distinct from Himself, and at no time does Jesus refer to “my Son.” Forty times, in the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Himself as “Sent by the Father,” but never does Jesus refer to Himself as the Father who sent the Son (cf. John 6:38). And over two hundred times, Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit and Jesus as distinct persons- and Never once does Scripture call Jesus the Father or the “Holy Spirit.”

 6. If the “Son” has not eternally existed with (personally distinct from) the Father why then is the Son presented as the agent of creation, that is, the Creator Himself? (for in Oneness theology *only Jesus as the “Father” mode existed prior to Bethlehem).

Note: in passages such as John 1:3, 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:2, 10-12, the “Son” is clearly presented as agent of creation, the Creator Himself. Specifically, in John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2 and 2:10, the Greek preposition dia (“though”) is followed by a pronoun (autou, “Him”) in the *genitive* case (or possessive case). Grammatically, when dia is followed by the genitive (as in these passages), the preposition indicates “agency” (cf. Wallace, GGBB, 368; Greenlee, A Concise Exegetical Grammar of New Testament Greek, 5th ed. 31; A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures, 4:478-79; and cf. also Walter Bauer’s, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament, 3rd ed. [hereafter BDAG], 225).

Hence, exegetically these passages do not indicate that the Son was a mere instrument of creation (as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons believe), nor, as Oneness teachers argue, these passages indicate that the Son was only a “thought” or “plan” in the Father’s mind when the Father (Jesus’ divine nature) created all things. Rather the Son is biblically (exegetically) presented as the Creator of all things Himself. That the Son was the Creator clearly disproves the Oneness position. This is the greatest weakness of the Oneness position: For if the Son created, then, He eternally existed with the Father.

7. If the Son did not eternally exist with the Father as a distinct person why is it that the “Son” can say, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had [or shared, eichon] with You before the world was.”? How did the Son have (literally, actively possessed) glory with (para) the Father before time if the Son did not exist before Bethlehem?

Note: In this beautiful passage (Jesus’ high priestly prayer) the “Son” (for Jesus says, “Now, Father”) says that He possessed or shared glory with the Father, before time.

To avoid the plainness of the passage (namely, the preexistence of the Son and His personal distinction from His Father), Oneness teachers argue that the glory that Jesus (the Son) had with the Father, only signified the future glory or “plan” in the Father’s mind, thus anticipating the Son’s coming at Bethlehem. But the Son, they say, was not really there with the Father “before the world was.” However, consider the following:

First, note that the glory that the *Son* said that He possessed or shared (eichon) was when? Answer: Before time. The Son said that He *HAD* glory *before* time—with (para) the Father. Exegetically, it cannot refer to the Father thinking of the Son or having the Son in view or in His mind, for Jesus uses the imperfect tense [eichon, *had*), which shows that the Son had or possessed it, not in the Father‘s mind. The Son is speaking of something that He had, that He shared with the Father; the Son is not speaking of something that the Father had (in view).

Second, when did the Son have this glory (which only God has, Isa, 42:8)? Before time, with the Father. The term *with* is para in Greek. Grammatically, when the preposition para (“with”) is followed by the dative case (as in this verse: para seautō, para soi), especially in reference to persons, it indicates “near,” “beside,” or “in the presence of.”

Noted Greek scholar Daniel Wallace provides the precise meaning of the preposition para followed by the dative: “In general, the dative uses suggest proximity or nearness. a. Spatial: near, beside, b. Sphere: in the sight of, before (someone), c. Association: with (someone/something) (BBGG). This is agreed by recognized Greek Grammars and recognized Lexicons of the NT such as BDAG, 757. Noted Greek grammarian, A. T. Robertson says of the passage that “This is not just ideal pre-existence, but actual and conscious existence at the Father’s side (para soi, “with thee”) ‘which I had’ (hē eichon, imperfect active of echō. . . . ” (Robertson, Word Pictures, 5:275-76).

In sum, John 17:5 the Son first commands/asks (doxason, aorist impart.) the Father (in the vocative case, Pater. “Father”) to glorify Him together with Him (para seautō, thus, a shared glorification, a glory that only God can have, Isa. 42:8), which shows that the glory that the Son had was in together in the presence of the Father. The *Son* said that He possessed (note the imperfect of echō) the glory WITH (para, in the presence of) the Father (not in the Father’s mind, for eh Son had it). And when did the Son have this glory? Before time. Also, only that the Son was God can He God make this request/command to the Father, not mere man. For God does not share His glory with no one (cf. Isa. 42:8).

So when a Oneness advocate says that the Son did not exist before time, remember, that assertion is not based on biblical exegesis, but rather on what he or she has been taught by Oneness pastors/teachers. Also, John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; and Hebrews 1:10-12 teach exegetically that the Son was God, the agent of creation, the Creator, thus preexisting with the Father.

Note, of all the times para is followed by the dative in John’s literature (10 times), not once does para indicate with/in the mind, but rather, a literal association or in the presence of someone else or others, unless one (as Oneness advocates do) makes John 17:5 the exception to John’s usage:

For example,

John 1:39: He *said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him [par’ autō] that day, for it was about the tenth hour

John 8:38: “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father [para tō patri ]; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”

John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and we will make Our abode with him [par’ autō].'” Note the first person plural verbs (eleusometha, “We will come,” and poiēsometha, “We will make”).

John 17:5: “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself [para seautō] with the glory which I had/possessed [eichon] with You before the world was.”

John 19:25: “Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross [para tō staurō] of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

Revelation 2:13: “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you [par’ humin], where Satan dwells” (cf. also John 4:40;  14:17, 25). 


8. If the Son did not eternally exist with the Father as a distinct person why is it that the “Son” is said to be “sent” from the Father “out of heaven”?

Scripture presents in plain and normal language that the preexistent person of the Son was sent from the Father (e.g., John 3:13; 16-17; 6:33, 38, 44, 46, 50-51; 62; 8:23, 38, 42, 57-58; 16:28; Gal. 4:4). Nowhere in the New Testament, however, is it said that Jesus sent the Son. If Jesus were the Father, as Oneness believers contend, one would expect to find a clear example of this—at least one passage (cf. John 3:13; 6:38, 46, 62; 8:23, 38, 42; 16:28).

“No one has ascended into heaven but He who descended from [the] heaven [ek tou ouranou]: the Son of Man” (John 3:13).

References of the Son coming down from the heaven appear eight times in John chapter 6 alone!

  • ek tou ouranou (“out of, from, the heaven”)- vv. 32, 33, 41, 42, 50, 51.
  • apo tou ouranou (“from the heaven)- v. 38
  • ex ouranou (“from heaven”)- v. 58.

(vv. 32, 33, 41, 42, 50, 51-ek tou ouranou; verse 38 – apo tou ouranou; and verse 58 – “came down ex ouranou).

Note the context indicating that the Father sent the person of the Son.     

 
27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”

32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread ek tou ouranou, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread ek tou ouranou.

33 For the bread of God is that which comes down ek tou ouranou, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36: But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.” 

38: For I have come down apo tou ouranou, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me

41: Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down ek tou ouranou

42: They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down ek tou ouranou?”

50 This is the bread which comes down ek tou ouranou, so that one may eat of it and not die.

51: I am the living bread that came down ek tou ouranou

58: This is the bread which came down ex ouranou; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Thus, the person of the Son of Man was in heaven prior to being sent. That the “Son of Man” was in heaven prior to Bethlehem creates a theological problem for Oneness doctrine. For the “Son of Man” in Oneness theology was not the Father, but the human Son who emerged not until Bethlehem, but here, the Son of Man came from heaven, that is, the Son (cf. Phil. 2:6-11).

 

 

9. If Oneness doctrine is biblically true, why then do the biblical authors use grammatical features that personally distinguish between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

Example,

I. First and third person personal pronouns: Throughout chapter 14, Jesus clearly differentiates Himself from the Father by using first person personal pronouns (“I,” “Me,” “Mine”) to refer to Himself and third person personal pronouns (“He,” “Him,” “His”) to refer to His Father (e.g., John 14:7, 10, 16). This case of marked distinction is also evident when Jesus differentiates Himself from God the Holy Spirit:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another [allon]3 Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16; also see 14:7, 10, 26).

II. Granville Sharp’s grammatical rule #6: Specifically, the repetition of the article tou (“the”) before each noun and the conjunction kai (“and”) that connects the nouns clearly denote a distinction between all three persons named.4 Note Matthew 28:19: “in the name of the [tou] Father and of the [kai tou] Son and of the [kai tou] Holy Spirit.” Further, Paul clearly presents the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, not as three modes of a unipersonal deity, but rather as three distinct persons. The same grammatical distinctions are observed in 2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the [tou] Lord Jesus Christ, and [kai] the love of God [tou theou (lit. “the God”)], and [kai] the fellowship of the [tou] Holy Spirit be with you all.” .

In Revelation 5:13, the Lamb and the Father are presented as two distinct objects of divine worship, as they are clearly differentiated by the repetition of the article tō:

“To Him who sits” (tō kathēmenō [lit. “to the one sitting”—the Father]) “and the Lamb” (kai tō arniō—the Son) are grammatically differentiated by the repeated article (“the”), which precedes both nouns and are connected by the one conjunction kai (“and”).

Further, turning to 1 John 1:3, not only does John show that believers have fellowship with both the Father and the Son, but the Father and the Son are clearly distinguished as two persons by the repeated article tou (“the”) and the repeated preposition meta (“with”):

We proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with [meta] us; and indeed our fellowship is with the [meta tou] Father and with [kai meta] His Son [tou huiou], Jesus Christ” (see esp. 2 John 1:3- Jesus is “the Son of the Father”).

There are many other passages where this construction applies clearly denoting distinction between the persons in the Trinity (e.g., 1 Thess. 3:11; 2 Thess. 2:16-17; 1 John 2:22-23).

III. Different prepositions: Throughout John chapter 14 (and chaps. 15-16), Jesus distinguishes Himself from His Father by using different prepositions. This use of different prepositions “shows a relationship between them,”5 and clearly denotes essential distinction, e.g., “no one comes to [pros] the Father but through [dia] Me” (John 14:6); “he who believes in [eis] Me . . . I am going to [pros] the Father” (v. 12; cf. also John 15:26; 16:28). Paul, too, regularly uses different prepositions to clearly differentiate the Father from the Son. In Ephesians 2:18, Paul teaches that by the agency of the Son, Christians have access to the Father by means of the Spirit: “For through Him [di’ autou—the Son] we both have our access in [en] one Spirit to the Father [pros ton patera] (Eph. 2:18).

 

10. If Oneness doctrine (or Modalism) is the so-called doctrine of the apostles, then, why was it universally condemned as *heretical* by the early church Fathers (some of who were disciples of the original apostles) and condemned by all the important church councils and creeds?

Example, Theodotus (the first known dynamic monarchianist) was excommunicated by Victor, the bishop of Rome, around A.D. 190; Noetus (the first known modalist) was condemned by Hippolytus and by the presbyters around the same time; Praxeas was marked as a heretic by Tertullian; Paul of Samosata was condemned at the Third Council in Antioch (A.D. 268); Dionysius of Alexandria and Dionysius bishop of Rome along with many important church Fathers condemned Sabellius and his teachings as Christological heresy. Moreover, significant Christian church councils affirmed the Trinity and explicitly rejected Oneness doctrine: e.g., Council of Nicaea (325); Chalcedon Creed (A.D. 451); Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381); etc.

SeeWas the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century?

 

Consider this, Trinitarians, not Oneness believers, conducted all of the major revivals worldwide. Virtually all of the great biblical scholars, theologians, and Greek grammarians, historically have been and presently are Trinitarian, not Oneness—for obvious reasons. The church has branded Oneness theology as heretical since the days of Noetus at the end of the second century. Moreover, when it found its way in the twentieth century, departing from the Trinitarian Pentecostals, it was again rejected by the church.

 

There are many more biblical objections that could be mentioned. But these do suffice in showing that the Bible affirms that God is triune, and militates against Oneness unitarianism. Modalism rips the heart out of Christianity—it denies Christ by misrepresenting Him. To be sure, Modalism embraces another Jesus, another Gospel, and another Spirit. There is only one true God. The Apostle John was very concerned as to the false beliefs and teachings of Jesus Christ, as he gives this warning:

“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23).

By promoting the Son as a temporary mode or a role of the unitarian deity whose life started in Bethlehem, denies the Son, as well as the Father.

1. Oneness theology rejects the doctrine of the Trinity, for they are unitarian (i.e., believes that God exists as one person—unipersonal).

2. Oneness theology rejects the eternality of the Person of the Son.

3. Oneness theology rejects that the Son was the actual Creator.

4. Oneness theology rejects the personhood of the Holy Spirit.

5. Oneness theology distorts and thus rejects the biblical concept of the Son being Mediator (Intercessor) between the Father and men (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5). For if Jesus is the Father, then, between whom would He Mediate since by definition a mediator/intercessor represents two distinct parties, other than Himself. Biblically, only Jesus, God the Son, can rightfully represent the Father (because He is God a distinct person from the the Father), and represent man because He is fully man. Again, in its proper sense, a “mediator” is one who is other than or distinct from the parties, which are being mediated. However, since in Oneness theology Jesus is both Father and Son, Jesus cannot be properly “Mediator” between two parties–God the Father and man.

6. Many Oneness churches especially the UPCI rejects justification through faith alone by teaching that one must be water baptized (“in the name of Jesus” only) to be saved—with the evidence, as the UPCI teaches, of speaking in other tongues.

7. Virtually all Oneness churches reject that water baptism should be done in the *triune* formal as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 28:19, rather, as they insist, it should be dome in the name of Jesus only.

 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14).

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

NOTES

[1] In Phil. 2:7, the participle labōn, (“taking” as in “taking the nature of a servant”) is a participle of means (cf. Wallace, BBGG, 630). The participle describes the means or manner of the emptying. Hence, the Son emptied Himself by means of His incarnation (cf. John 1:14). Note that the emptying did not involve His deity, for Paul safeguards against such an assertion in verse 6: hos en morphē theou huparchōn (“who [Christ] always and continually subsisting in the very nature and substance God”; author’s translation).

[2] Cf. Wallace, BBGG, 350-51; Robert Reymond, Systematic Theology, 263.

[3] BDAG defines allos here as “pert[aining] to that which is other than some other entity, other . . . distinguished fr. the subject who is speaking or who is logically understood. . . .” (BDAG, 46).

[4] This grammatical rule is also know as “Granville Sharp rule #6: when multiple personal nouns in a clause are each preceded by the article ho (“the”) and linked by kai (“and”) each personal noun denotes a distinct person as in Matthew 28:19 (esp. 2 Cor. 13:14; also cf. 1 Thess. 3:11; 1 John 1:3; 2:22-23; Rev. 5:13).As NT scholar Harold Greenly points out, “When the article is used before each member, each is to be considered separately” (Greenlee, Exegetical Grammar, 23).

[5] Beisner, “Jesus Only” Churches, 34. Additionally, the repetition of the preposition distinguishes the Father and the Son as two distinct self-aware Subjects (e.g., 1 John 1:3).

Theological Identification: “Oneness” theology, historically known as “Modalism.”[1]

Who: Oneness churches include the United Pentecostal Church International (hereafter UPCI), which is the largest Oneness domination. In addition to the UPCI, there are many other Oneness churches having generic names such as “Apostolic,” “Bethel Temple,” “Higher Ground,” “Jesus’ Name,” or even “Jesus Only,” etc. Further, there are many popular and prolific preachers on the airwaves that propagate Oneness theology (e.g., Trinity Broadcasting Network [TBN] features one of the most recognized Oneness preachers, T. D. Jakes of the Potters House, Dallas, TX.[2]

The basics of Oneness theology:

The Father: Jesus’ divine nature, God.

Son: Jesus’ human nature, the Son of God, not God the Son, for only the Father is God. Jesus’ divine nature is the Father (or the Holy Spirit), His human nature is the Son.

Holy Spirit: Jesus’ divine nature. Thus, as to His divine nature, Jesus is both Father and Holy Spirit depending on His particular function (e.g., Jesus as the Father created all things, but Jesus as the Holy Spirit mode is the Comforter).

Oneness Christology is a clear and major departure from biblical orthodoxy. It removes the personhood and deity and incarnation from the Son, thus removing the Son from the Trinity. The chief Oneness Christological divergences from that of the biblical teachings are as follows:

  • Oneness Christology denies the unipersonality of the Son, Jesus Christ. 
  • Oneness Christology denies that the “Son” is God. As stated, Oneness theology teaches that Jesus’ divine nature represents the Father and Holy Spirit, but not the Son—i.e., the “Son” is not God; He is merely the human nature of Jesus (see Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 99, 103, 252; UPCI, website, 2008).
  • Oneness Christology denies the preexistence and incarnation of the Son and His role as the agent of creation (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 103-4; Magee, 1988: 25). Thus, by denying the preexistence of the Son, Oneness doctrine rejects the incarnation of the divine Son holding to the erroneous notion that it was Jesus as the Father, not the Son, who came down and wrapped Himself in flesh (hence, not actually becoming flesh), and that flesh was called “Son” (see Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 106, 122; 1991:103).
  • Oneness Christology claims that Jesus is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (same Person), hence denying the concept of the Trinity (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 57; Weisser, 1983: 2; UPCI, 2008). Thus, Oneness theology is “unitarian” seeing God as a unipersonal deity, same as Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

In sharp contrast, in the Pauline corpus, the deity, unipersonality and distinction of all three Persons are seen frequently either in the same passage or same context (cf. 2 Cor. 13:14). Both John and Paul present the Son as fully God and Creator of all things (cf. John 1:1, 3, 18; Col. 1:16-17; Phil. 2:6-11).

In the prologue of Hebrews, the author in v. 3 and God the Father Himself declares that the Person of the Son is “the God” (ho theos, v. 8) and further, God the Father *directly addresses* the Son as “Lord” (using the vocative kurie, “Lord”), thus, the YHWH of Psalm 102:25-27—the unchangeable Creator (1:10-12). The Father’s words here totally demolish the Oneness position, which sees the “Son” representing only the human nature of Jesus whose life started in Bethlehem.

Oneness theology cannot stand exegetically. It must circumvent and redefine the plain reading of many passages that state or imply, for example, the grammatical and contextual distinctions of the Persons in the Trinity, the preexistence and deity of the Son, and the deity and unipersonality of the Holy Spirit. Further, contrary to the historical revisionism frequently employed by Oneness authors and teachers, the early church prior to Nicea held to the concept of the Trinity and universally rejected Oneness doctrine, that is, they rejected both modalistic and dynamic forms of Monarchianism.

We must pray that God rescues Oneness believers from the darkness of Oneness-unitarianism. As Christians, we must present to them a coherent presentation of the gospel proclaiming the one true God and Savior of biblical revelation, who has revealed Himself as triune.

For a short outline on the Oneness rejection of the Son’s preexistence see this  See The Preexistence of the Son and Oneness Theology.

See10 Questions to ask Oneness Believers

See and print this short Oneness Tract

NOTES

[1] Oneness theology was first known as monarchianism, which comes from the Greek word monarchia, meaning single principle. There were two forms of monarchianism: modalistic, and the far less accepted, dynamic (or more properly called adoptionism), both of which emerged at the end of the second century. Modalistic monarchianism, known also as Modalism, Sabellianism (named after the heretic Sabellius, who came to Rome and taught it at the beginning of the third century) and even patripassianism (from Lat., meaning, “father to suffer”). Today, however, Modalism is generally classified as “Oneness.” Modalism earned its name from its distinctive theology. Basically, Modalism (or Oneness theology) teaches that God is a unitarian (i.e., unipersonal), indivisible monad. Hence, the titles “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” were merely the different modes, roles, or offices that the unipersonal deity temporally manifested for the sake of redemption. Oneness teachers today tell us that Jesus is the name of the single, lone Person behind the three masks of the “Father,” “Son” and “Holy Spirit” (in contrast to early Modalism, which taught it was the Father Person behind the masks).

[2] If you are unsure about the orthodoxy of a particular church (or pastor), examine the church’s doctrinal statement concerning God. If it avoids the word “Person,” and/or describes God as three “manifestations” or “dimensions” (as T. D. Jakes does, see The Potter’s House  use extreme caution! Orthodox Christianity has never described God as merely temporary appearances, manifestations, or even worse, “dimensions.” Oneness churches typically describe God in those terms. However, if a church claims to be Trinitarian, yet uses terms like “manifestations” to describe the three Persons of the Trinity, it reveals theological ignorance or carelessness. In my observation, the term “manifestations” in a doctrinal statement frequently indicates Oneness rather than Trinitarian theology. Therefore, when churches avoid the term “Persons” in their doctrinal statements—beware.


“For a Child [yeled] will be born [yalad] to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6, NASB).

 

Oneness advocates see phrase, “Eternal Father” as a proof text to the notion that the Messiah is the Father – However, Consider this:

1) Fallacy of equivocation by asserting that the term “father” (Heb. Ab) has only one meaning. The NT identification of God the Father. Contra the fact that the term “father” (ab) has various meanings in the OT, depending on the context. Further, asserting that the unitarian supposition (i.e., only the Father) many Oneness advocate appeal also to Mail. 2:10. However, neither this passage nor Mal. 2:10 teaches that only the Father is God, rather speaking of God as Creator (see point 4 below). 

2) Shem. The word translated “NAME” (shem, LXX – onoma) as in “His name will be called” (shem + qara) was Not a formal title for God, but rather it denoted the essence or essential characteristics, or authority of who someone is (cf. E. J. Young)[1]. This was clearly the Semitic concept of “name.” Hence, as to the essence and character of the Messiah, He is Wonderful,[2] Counselor, Mighty God, Father Eternal (Heb.) and Prince of Peace.

3) When the term “father” is applied to God (or Yahweh) in the OT, it typically denoted His parental, providential character to His children—namely, Israel. For example:  

  • Exod. 4:22-23: “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.'” 
  • Ps. 103:13: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” 
  • Isa. 63:16: “You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us And Israel does not recognize us. You, O Lord, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name” (cf.  Jer. 31:9).

Note – – the term “father” was never a standard recurring Epithet for God in the OT—only used of God fifteen times.   

 4) Linguistically, – Ab carries the meaning of “possessor, “founder,” or “source.”  For example, 2 Sam. 23:31 speaks of Abialbon– “father (or possessor) of strength,” strong one. In Exodus 6:24, “Abiasaph”–father [possessor] of gathering,” As with Malachi 2:10, – corresponding with that meaning, the term “father” carries the idea of “possessor,” “founder,” “source”- as with His role as Creator (cf. Duet. 32:6; Isa. 64:8; Mal. 2:10). So, the Messiah “possesses,” that is, the source of eternity—He is the Creator of all things .     

 

5) Syntactically, the Hebrew term ab (“father”) precedes the word translated “eternal.” Thus, abiad (אֲבִיעַ֖ד), from the Hebrew ab (“father”) and ad (“forever, ever perpetuity”). Thus, literally, “father eternal” (not “eternal father”)—indicating the eternal nature of the Messiah.

Targums of Isa 9:6[3]: “For us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . and his name will be called the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, existing forever [or “HE who lives forever”]. The Messiah in whose days peace shall increase upon us” (Targum Johnathan).  

 

Conclusion 

So according to lexical-semantic of abiad (ab, “father” and ad, “eternal, forever”), the Messiah is the “father,” that is, the possessor, source of eternity—the Creator of all things, as the NT indicates (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2, 10-12; 2:10). He is the YHWH of Ps. 102:25-27; cf. Heb. 1:10-12), the unchangeable Creator (He lives forever). But not the person of the Father or Holy Spirit. He is the Son of God (Dan. 7:9-14; Mark 14:61-14; John 5:17-18; 17:5; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13-14)   

There has never been a Jewish commentator, Rabbi, church Father, nor Christian scholar that has interpreted Isa. 9:6 as Oneness teachers do. Oneness teachers must prove that Jesus is specifically called the Father of the Son of God (i.e., His own Father). 

The Oneness view opposes historical and contemporary scholarship at every turn. The Jesus Christ of biblical revelation is God the Son, unipersonal and preexistent, who is the Son of the Father, the only Jesus that can save.

 


“Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 John 1:3).


Notes

[1] E. J. Young, Commentary on the Book of Isaiah, 1972.

[2] The Hebrew term translated “Wonderful” (pele) is from the same root word (both from pala) as in Judges 13:18: “seeing it is wonderful.”

[3] The Targum was an ancient Aramaic translation providing explanations and paraphrases of the Hebrew Old Testament. In the post-exilic period, Aramaic began to be broadly spoken in the Jewish community in conjunction with Hebrew. There is solid evidence indicating that the targumic usage of the Memra (“Word”) was the background for John’s Logos theology.

 

Oneness-unitarian advocate, Roger Perkins, has again attempted to deny the person of the Lord Jesus in his recent so-called refutation of my very brief article on the “Son of God”-– Read it Here.

Not at all surprising, in his struggle against biblical Trinitarianism, Perkins voluminously responds to my brief article instead of dealing with a fuller presentation of passages such as John 10:30 contained in my book, *A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology: In the Light of Biblical Trinitarianism* (Get it here), or the countless other exegetical and scholarly works by other authors, which is also contained in the book. If I were Perkins, I too would rather deal with a short (about two pages) article than be forced to interact with an expanded exegetical treatment made be myself, and so many others throughout history. – – To read Perkins’ article go here.

In fact, not one, not even one, noted scholar, grammarian, or standard lexicographer in Christian history has ever agreed with the customary Oneness interpretation of Isa. 9:6; Mal. 2:10; Matt. 28:19; John 1:1; 10:30; 14:9; 17:5; Col. 2:9 et al. In point of fact, early church Fathers collectively, important Ecumenical Councils and resulting creeds, all recognized biblical scholarship has always been against the theological assertions made by modalistic/Oneness advocates.

Disregarding Context: First, as clearly seen, Perkins (as well as Oneness advocates across the board) has an annoying routine of basing the entirety of his arguments on a single word possible meaning, hence engaging in word fallacies over and over—while the entire contexts are dismissed and/or ignored. This is esp. seen in his unitarian view of John 10:30, as we will see.       

A glaring example of this is in Perkins’ assessment John 10:30, Perkins in his article, he spends most of his time trying to tell us (Christians) what a text “cannot” mean, rather than what it does mean. In other words, Perkins, does not provide a positive affirmation as to the actual meaning of v. 30; nor does he explain how it relates to the context of chapter 10; or explain WHY Jesus, as recorded, uses a plural verb and not a singular verb denoting Him and His Father; or WHY is the neuter “one” used to denote the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Perkins, for reasons know to himself, decided not to properly address these important issues. Instead, Perkins merely makes comments based on his personal view and complains about the historic Trinitarian view.  Since Perkins seems bothered most by the historical and enduring scholarly interpretation of John 10:30, I will respond primarily to Perkins’ assertion regarding that passage:  

Oneness people are utterly controlled by their unitarian presupposition. Thus. every passage, which says or teaches “one God” (e.g., Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29), Perkins (as with all Oneness advocates), must salvage his personal views by forcing unitarianism into every passage—without, of course,  proving it from the text. All unitarians, whether Muslims, JWs, or Oneness Pentecostals employ this kind of circular eisegesis. Thus, Perkins automatically (not exegetically) interprets John 10:30 through the lens of unitarianism—viz., one God = one person, the Father.           

As we will see all over, Perkins not once deals with the context of the chapter itself. Anyone who as ever heard Perkins in debate or read any of his tutelages, he or she would see that Perkins lives up to his solid reputation of removing passages and words out of their inclusive context in which he posits his personal theology into such passages throwing around Greek terms and misreading and misquoting lexicons. Hence, many see Perkins as practicing dishonest scholarship especially in his debate with James White. Namely, Perkins stated that Thayer applied a meaning of “in the mind” for preposition para with dative, appearing twice in John 17:5: (“Father glorify Me para seautw [“together with Yourself”] . . . with the glory I had para soi [“with You”] before the world was”). However, Thayer said no such thing. He does indicate para with the dative could have a possible meaning of “in the mind” at John 17:5. To say that he did as Perkins did is simply flat-out lexical abuse. In fact, when Thayer actually comments on para with the dative to John 17:5 he states:

With, i.e., in one’s house. . . . Dwelling WITH God, John 8:38 [“I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”]; i.q. [‘the same as’] in heaven, John 17:5 (emphasis added).

No “in the mind” meaning (as with standard lexicons and grammars indicate). As with John 10:30, Perkins is quite alone on his personal views of regarding a Oneness unitarian interpretation of 17:5. In point of fact, anyone engaging in real scholarly research on John 17:5 (or 10:30) would see scholarly opinion rejects Oneness theological assertions across the board.           

REGARDING JOHN 10:30-

Context. After reading Perkins’ so-called refutation, a glaring fact jumps out (esp. with John 10:30): Perkins never actually interacts at all with the content and actual context of the surrounding the passages, he merely asserts his theology into text. He does use the word “context when he says:

“And the context actually defines this distinction for us:  “You, being a man, make yourself God.”  The problem the Jews had with Christ’s assertion was that He was a visible “man” claiming to be the invisible “God.”  In John 10.30 both the 1st person pronoun translated “I” (ἐγὼ) and the noun translated “Father” (Πατὴρ) appear in the nominative case, singular number.  The speaker was a visible man (subject) claiming to be the one invisible God (object)—hence the contextual subject-object distinction.”

So Perkins’ idea of “context” is to cite a lone passage (i.e., v. 30) and then his own assumed context into that passage. As any first year seminary student knows, that he would receive failing grade on in a basic hermeneutic class, which he was required to exegete a passage and he merely did what Perkins did—viz., assert a pre-text without a context. As he consistently does with other passages Perkins attempts to modalize (esp. John 1:1; 10:30; 17:5 et al). Perkins here is utterly discounted from the context of chapter 10—where Jesus and the Father are plainly repeatedly differentiated.

Note the consistency of the passages leading up to v. 30 the following:   

  • Verse 15: “even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
  • Verses 17-18: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” 
  • Verse 29: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
  • Verse 36: “If He [i.e., the Father] called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him [Jesus], whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”
  • Verse 38: “so that you may know and understand that the Father is in [en, thus, not “am”] Me, and I in the Father.”

Clearly, no one who reads this chapter for the first time would never get the idea that Jesus was the same person as the Father. One would have to be taught the Oneness notion trading the natural reading for a stroppy modified one.

More grammatical errors. Perkins then ties a loose around the neck of his argument when he makes the assertion regarding nominatives and “subject object distinctions,” which Perkins calls, “the contextual subject-object distinction.” Because of Perkins’ lack of understanding in area of Greek grammar, he assumes his pretext (what he feels v. 30 means) based on his misunderstanding of 1) what a nominative and a predicate are and 2) subject object distinctions between Jesus and the Father.

First, it is clear from the Perkins statement, “In John 10.30 both the 1st person pronoun translated “I” and the noun translated “Father” (Πατὴρ) appear in the nominative case, singular number,” which he then sneaks in his conclusion, that Perkins just doesn’t know what two nominatives in a sentence indicates in light of the PLURAL verb.

Most Oneness people in an embarrassing way, error on this grammatical point at John 1:1, wherein we find two nominatives (theos and logos). They typically argue that the two must carry the meaning of the mathematical equal sign (A=B, B=A). But as NT Greek scholars/grammarians (e.g., Robertson, Reymond, Harris, Wallace, Greenlee et al), point out the theos and logos in 1:1c are NOT a convertible proposition, rather a subset proposition (cf. Wallace, BBGG). As a qualitative noun, the Word in John 1:1c is in the class or category of the anarthrous pre-Verbal PN theon, but the Word is not the person of ton theon (1:1b, viz., the Father). Again, Perkins stands alone, he has no recognized scholar to which he can appeal—because they reject the Oneness interpretation both historically and present day. No Greek grammarian has ever concluded, by the grammar of the passage, a Oneness interpretation of John 1:1.    

Perkins seems in a dense fog here, for first he merely throws out there that v. 30 contains two singular nominatives, but never explains what the significance of it is. And since he never mentions nor explains the function of the predicate (the other nominative), it indicates to me that he does not understand neither what a nominative nor predicate are or what they do.

The large issue here is this: that there are two nominatives in the passage is meaningless WITHOUT a context. This has been the chief flaw in his hermeneutic throughout his writings and presentations. So when he offers his so-called reply to my tersely article, he stays consistent in his lack of contextual interaction. The construction simply and typically marks out distinction from the subject and predicate (complement).

And again demonstrating Perkins lack of familiarity of Greek grammar, the linking PLURAL verb unities the subject and the predicate together in which grammatically the subject and the subject complement are “essentially” one—not one person—rather PLURAL verb is used, esmen, not a singular one (estin, eimi, “is, am”); and both nominative are associated as the main topic of the sentence.

Unbeknownst to Perkins (or he a point he chooses to overlook), Subject–Object and Subject-Hearer distinctions between Jesus and the Father interspersed throughout the NT radically disproves the Oneness position.  

In fact, this feature alone is one of the most controverting arguments against the Oneness unitarian notion of Jesus being the Father. For example, “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water … behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My [speaker] beloved Son, [hearer] in whom I [speaker] am well-pleased’” (Matt. 3:16-17; also Matt. 17:5); “I [speaker] glorified You [hearer] on earth, having accomplished the work which You [hearer] have given Me [speaker] to do” (John 17:4; cf. also Luke 23:34, 46). Jesus personally and distinctly relates to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the reverse is altogether true of the Father and the Holy Spirit relating to each other. That is why I find it very odd that Perkins argue this, when it actually refutes his position.

Heis (“one”)

Now onto Perkins attempt to go against all mainline scholarship regarding the neuter adjective heis (“one”):

“Though this has been pointed out to Trinitarians ad-nauseum, the masculine singular (3-3) adjective heis, translated “one” (εἷς), is indeed applied to God from the very lips of Jesus in Mark 12.29 as “the most important commandment.”  If, as Dalcour asserts here, the masculine singular heis demands a single person (and it certainly does) the entire Trinitarian position is collapsed according to Christ Himself!  That is, Jesus’ view of the Godhead was most definitely not that of a “Triune divinity”—and His view of both God and Scripture should equally be our view.”

First, he again, as with all unitarians, assumes unitarianism into Mark 12:29 (one God = one person). As much as Oneness advocates would like this point to be true, nowhere does Scripture indicate one God = one person. A redundant vibrato of citing passages that indicate “one God” is meaningless when “one” is left undefined as Perkins does—he merely assumes “one” means one numerically and one in solitary.

Although in both the OT and NT “one” can mean composite/compound unity, one group, people, one union between husband and wife, one section or many, etc. Further, at least nine words in Hebrew can mean “one” (Morey)—and Perkins knows this. An undefined “one” rather proves the Trinitarian positon, since the foundation of the Trinity is monotheism (one God), and the foundation of Oneness is one person. So in spite of Perkins’ overly complaining, Mark 12:29 does not show what Perkins wants it to show—Jesus was not a unitarian.  

Second, Perkins goes on to say,   

“Although lexical quotes abound to this end, ironically, Dalcour’s quotation from Robertson above is one of the most conclusive citations from Greek linguists (cf. Zodhiates, Vincent, Thayer, BDAG, Wuest, et al.).”

Please note: Not ONE of these sources applies a unipersonal (viz. that God is one person) meaning to eiJV at Mark. 12:29 (Deut. 6:4, LXX), not one. Hence, Perkins references (“Zodhiates, Vincent, Thayer, BDAG, Wuest, et al.”) is his rickety attempt to sustain a unipersonal meaning of eiJV at Mark 12:29—but again, scholarship (esp. the ones he references) is decidedly against a unipersonal meaning of Mark 12:29 (or any other passage). 

Perkins says, “when heis is used “one person” is in view . . . lexical quotes abound to this end.” And then Perkins tell us: “Indeed, heis is used c. 100x in the NT alone and in no instance does it denote more than one-single-person. . . . the masculine singular heis demands one-single-person.”  

This assertion again reveals the stock of knowledge Perkins has in Greek. Although he has been consistently refuted on this point, Perkins still presses it. One wonders if he does this purposefully hoping no one will verify this.

The masculine eiJV is similar to the English “one.” Here we have again, Perkins assume unitarianism into the term. “One” what? Yes, most of the time, “one person,”—when man is in view. However, not “every time” as Perkins would like it to mean. The fact is, if there is even one place where eiJV is used to signify more than one person, Perkins entire premise implodes. This is true with the multitude of plural verbs, nouns, adjectives, and prepositions applied to the “one” God, which is a thorn in the flesh to Oneness advocates—showing again that Oneness unitarianism is not consistent with biblical view of God. For example, note Gal. 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one [heis] in Christ Jesus.”

Of course, Christians naturally and rightfully cite this passage to show the unity of believers in Christ—because it plainly states this, as with biblical scholarship. The fact is, Perkins will put a doctrinal spin on any verse if it disagrees with what he believes. Note Perkins comments: 

“Galatians 3.28 will not do at this point (as Trinitarians typically use to evade the force of heis) since the entire point of Paul’s discourse in these texts is that biblical Christians are “one person in Christ Jesus” (cf. NEB, ASV, ERV).”  

“The force of heis”? What does that mean? First, Perkins misleads he readers here. For both the ASV (“for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus”) and the ERV (“You are all the same in Christ Jesus”), none say “one person.” As said, Perkins has a reputation for misquoting and botching sources. He selects translations that he can put a spin on, as he did with the older ed. of the AMP of Gal. 3:20. The fact is, the translators of the ASV (note, Philip Schaff had chosen the scholars for the project) and the ERV (produced by the WBTC), NEB, and the AMP were translated by Trinitarian scholars, who naturally saw the Oneness view as a perversion of Scripture.      

That Perkins will rest his interpretation of Gal. 3:28 on a few obscure translations in the face of virtually every other biblical translation is a flimsy argument esp. in the context of Christians being “one in unity” in Cristw. Again, the translators to which Perkins appeals were Trinitarian. Also, contrasting the masculine eiJV and the neuter eJn in John 10:30, noted Greek grammarian A. T. Robertson points out: Not one person (cf. ei in Galatians 3:28), but one essence or nature” (Word Pictures).

Perkins’ strange interpretation that “biblical Christians are one person” is, of course, restless eisegesis. Perkins main howlers here is that critical biblical exegesis is NOT derived from looking at translations trying to find which one matches a view, but rather proper exegesis.  

The Greek phrase, panten gar humeis heis este en Cristw Iesou, literally, “All indeed you one are in Christ Jesus.” The Greek completely erases Perkins odd interpretation and affirms clearly, “one in unity,” not in one man. As mention, this one passage, which denotes a clear one in unity meaning, turns Perkins heis view upside down.          

Note that Paul’s salutations grammatically denote two distinct persons (cf. Sharp Rule 5). Grammatically (as circumstantiated by grammarians [Sharp, Greenlee, Wallace et al] when there are multiple personal nouns in a clause that are connected by kai and the first noun lacks the article, each noun must denote a distinct person, as shown in all of the Pauline salutations: charis humin kai eirene apo theou patros hemwn kai kuriou Iesou Christou, literally, “Grace to you and peace from God Father of us and Lord Jesus Christ” – no articles preceding both personal nouns (patron and Christou)—thus, this indicates distinct persons.

Along with Gal. 3:28, Perkins Oneness unitarian view of heis is esp. refuted by 1 Cor. 8:6:

“yet for us there is but one [heis] God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one [heis] Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”

Remember, Perkins argument is “when heis is used “one person” is in view.” But wait. Perkins trips here (as with Gal. 3:28) on his own so-called linguistic rule. If heis means, in every case, one sole person, as Perkins asserts, it would follow then that the Father is one sole person and the Lord is one (another) sole person since the double usage of heis precedes both nouns, that is, both sole persons, which is consistent with Trinitarianism, not Oneness.

Two distinct persons, the sole person of the Father (who is heis) and the sole person of Lord Jesus (who is also heis). To argue that the double usage of heis represents both the Father and Lord Jesus defies the plain and natural reading here, Compare Eph. 4:4-5 and 1 Tim. 2:5, where, as with 1 Cor. 8:6, the multiple use heis preceding both the Father and Jesus heavily challenges and clearly refutes the Oneness perspective of heis and a unitarian Jesus.  

Perkins simply dismisses all of this when he says:

“This is the adjective [heis] carefully and intentionally employed by Jesus when specifically describing God’s numerical identity.”

Again, this only shows how controlled Perkins and Oneness believers are to a unitarian a priori assumption. Perkins as shown is dead wrong in his assessment of what Christ meant. Jesus and the NT never once saw or called Jesus the Father. Rather He is the monogenes theos (John 1:18);  He was the Son who was worship as God, (God commanding the all the angels to worship God, the Son; Heb. 1:6); the Son is the YHWH of Isa. 45:23 (Phil. 2:9-10); and the YHWH of John 2:32 (Rom. 10:13); and the YHWH of Ps. 102:25-27, the unchangeable Creator (Heb. 1:10-12); and the YHWH that Isiah saw in Isa. 6 (John 12:39-41)—note, all these are references specifically to the Son.           

The, Perkins amazingly cites Trinitarian A. T. Roberson in response to my original citation. I say “amazingly” because as, Perkins certainly knows, Robertson saw all forms of Oneness unitarian theology as heretical. When Perkins (and other Oneness defenders) appeals to numerous Trinitarian grammarians and scholars, I suppose he sees them as “hostile witnesses.”

Since Perkins does have a reputation of misquoting sources, before citing Perkins’ analysis of what he feels Robertson meant, let us read in full (since I only cited partial) the grammatical comments of Robertson said pertaining to the neuter adjective eJn in John 10:30:

“One (en). Neuter, not masculine (ei). Not one person (cf. ei in Galatians 3:28), but one essence or natureBy the plural sumu (separate persons) Sabellius is refuted, by unum Arius. So Bengel rightly argues, though Jesus is not referring, of course, to either Sabellius or Arius. The Pharisees had accused Jesus of making himself equal with God as his own special Father (John 5:18). Jesus then admitted and proved this claim (John 5:19-30). Now he states it tersely in this great saying repeated later (John 17:11, 21 John 21). Note en used in 1 Corinthians 3:3 of the oneness in work of the planter and the waterer and in Jo 17:11 Jo 17:23 of the hoped for unity of Christ’s disciples. This crisp statement is the climax of Christ’s claims concerning the relation between the Father and himself (the Son). They stir the Pharisees to uncontrollable anger (Word Pictures, emphasis added).”

Incongruent to what Robertson actually said, Perkins comments:  

“Robertson’s point is that if Christ would have employed the masculine singular (3-3) adjective heis (translated “one”) in John 10.30 then this would have demanded “one person”—since this is the natural force of the masculine singular tag. However, as mentioned both above and elsewhere, Jesus does indeed use the masculine singular heis in delineating the “most important commandment” of the emphatic-monadic identity of God (Mark 12.29).view.”   

Perkins is unequivocally wrong. Robertson made no such point. Again, “Not one person (cf. ei in Galatians 3:28), but one essence or natureBy the plural sumu (separate persons)Sabellius is refuted.” Oh my, it seems as though Perkins may assume that no will fact-check his sources—in context. The point of fact, Robertson bluntly refutes Perkins position—“Neuter, not masculine (ei). Not one person.”       

I understand that Perkin (and many Oneness believers) is very passionate (and always seems very angry) in promoting what he believes to be true. Although, Oneness theology is clearly not according to the teachings of the biblical authors—it does matter. Perkins refuses to properly consult lexical sources and grammars; many have brought this point to attention who have read and heard Perkins. As seen, Perkins’ malfunctioning hermeneutic is most shown when he repeatedly insists on a meaning of the neuter eJn and masculine eJiV, which disconnected from the context. It should not be surprising, then, why recognized biblical scholars presently and historically reject the Oneness interpretation of John 10:30 seeing it patently false. One must interpret in light of, not in spite of, the context in which words appear.

On this point, again citing Trinitarians, Perkins refers to footnote in the NET translation, which was edited by Daniel Wallace, Greek grammar and textual authority, and Yes, solidly Trinitarian:  

“See here also the NET translator notes:  The phrase ἕν ἐσμεν ({en esmen) is a significant assertion with trinitarian implications. ἕν is neuter, not masculine, so the assertion is not that Jesus and the Father are one person, but one ‘thing’”

Note that Wallace has written countless works on the Trinity and has definitely commented on the many passages that exegetically prove it. Perkins shoots himself in the foot here; he seems to be uninformed. We as with Wallace, see John 10:30 as totally opposing the Oneness-unitarian view that Jesus and the Father are the same person, rather they are one in essence and unity (one thing, not one person).   

 

Then Perkins goes on to complain about the contextual understanding of heis:

“(Dalcour):  In John 17:21, for example, Jesus prays that His disciples may “be one [hen] even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us.”  The same neuter adjective is used. . . . *Note here that in Jesus’ High Priestly prayer He is praying that His disciples—who were separate human beings and not merely “distinct persons”—would share in the same oneness as the Father and Him shared.  Since Dalcour is appealing to this passage in connection with the neuter sing. hen (translated “one”), will he now inform us that God the Father and “God the Son” are equally as radically separated as human beings, and each are fully God?  Or will he now modify this assertion to conform to his predisposed religious tradition?”

Perkins again ignores the context of the entire chapter. Unity Mr. Perkins—that is the idea being expressed here, as the statements directed to Jesus disciples clearly indicate. Thus, the context governs the meaning of the neuter.        

PLURAL VERB—esmen (“we are”)

John 10:30 (as well as the entire chap.) at face value, in the most plainness way, indicates that Jesus is not the Father— egw kai o Pathr eJn esmen (“I and the Father one We Are”). After one reads John 10, he would never never get the idea that Jesus is the Father; only if he were superficially “taught” Oneness unitarianism would he come up with that. To say again, no one in church history (viz. Christian fathers, ecumenical councils, or resulting creeds) or present-day recognized scholarship embraced Oneness doctrine—they have always rejected it as non-Christian, a departure from the Christ of biblical revelation.        

When ones reads plainly the entire content set forth in the literature of John, he sees clearly that Jesus and the Father were distinct not the same person. This is seen esp. in places such as John 10:15-18, where Jesus had clearly differentiated Himself from the Father. As well as the passages leading up to v. 30. The same Father of whom Jesus says, “For this Father loves Me” and in v. 18, Jesus says that He lays down His life ap’ emautou, “from Myself, My own [not ‘our’] initiative.” Jesus tells His readers as in John 6:38, before the incarnation He makes and possesses His Own determination/will (note the reflexive emautou) “of, from My own [not, “our own”], thus, distinct from the Father (cf. John 6:38). 

Perkins is simply in error. Yes, essential Unity, not identification—coupled with the plural verb esmen- not eimi, (“am”) or estin (“is”). In point of fact, the Apostle John envisages the Son as the monogenhV qeoV (“unique God,” John 1:18), who was WITH the Father as a distinct person before time (cf. John 1:1, 18, 6:38; 8:58; 17:5; Rev. 5:13). Further, John sees the Son as God as the eternal God deserving of religious worship (cf. John 5:23; 9:38; Rev. 5:13-14). John sees the liar as any denying this Son of divine revelation (cf. 1 John 2:22-23).

REVELATION 21:22: “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (NASB)

Perkins states that

“The Greek verb translated “are” (ἐστιν) in this text is the “singular verb estin” that Dalcour requests above explicating both God and His Son.  If a plural verb describing the Father and the Son quantifies as two divine persons—why does not a singular verb modifying the same subject equal a single divine person (esp. when this passage contextually describes the singular “temple” of Heaven)?”

Then Perkins provides a lengthy explanation, which only proves my point: Perkins is not a fan of context. Perkins simply attempts to isolate this passage from John’s own theology in both Revelation and in John’s entire literature. Simply, Perkins makes two slippery mistakes (perhaps hoping no one will fact check). Briefly,

1) John has already differentiated Jesus from the Father throughout the book. For example,

Revelation 3:21 presents the “Son” as sitting on His own throne (distinct from the Father’s throne). And Revelation 5:13-14 presents two distinct divine objects of religious worship: “To Him [the Father] who sits on the throne and to the Lamb [the Son]: be praise, honor, glory and dominion forever and ever!”

Passages such as Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:3; 2:22; and here Revelation 5:13 confirm a grammatical differentiation between two or all three persons of the Trinity.

Grammatically, along with Matthew 28:19, note 2 Cor. 13:14 and 1 John 1:3:   

  • 2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the [tou] Lord Jesus Christ and [kai] the love of the [tou] God and [kai] the fellowship of the [tou] Holy Spirit with all of you.”
  • 1 John 1:3: “Indeed our fellowship is with the [tou] Father and [kai] with the [tou] Son of Him Jesus Christ.”

And Revelation 5:13: “The [tw] One sitting upon the throne and [kai] to the [tw] Lamb, the blessing and the honor and the glory and the dominion into the ages of the ages.”

According to the “normal” rules of Greek grammar (cf. Granville, Reymond, Beisner, Wallace, Greenlee), Jesus (the Lamb) is distinct in person from the Father throughout Scripture. To make Rev. 21:22 militate against John’s own words in other places is blatant eisegesis—viz. again, a painful and flawed hermeneutic. But again, Perkins enjoys using and abusing naked words in spite of context to arrive at unorthodox interpretations. 

2) Since the Greek is clear, Perkins either has no concern about reading the text carefully in its original significance (Greek) whereby Perkins merely assumes all Oneness believers will blindly accept his assertions here or he just cannot read Greek. Simply, as Perkins knows it (it was brought to his attention over and over), Rev. 21:22 has NO syntactical parallel to John 10:30.

> John 10:30 reads: egw kai ho Pater hen esmen (lit., “I and the Father one we are”).

 

  •    > Rev. 21:22 reads: Kai naon ouk eidon en aute ho gar kurios ho theon ho pantokratwr naos autes estinkai to arnion (lit., “And temple not I saw in it, indeed [the] Lord the God almighty, temple of it is, and the Lamb”).        

 

Note that first in John 10:30, the verb (esmen, “are”) appears at the end of the sentence, after the phrase, “I and the Father,” thus, Jesus and the Father—“we are” one, not “we “is” (estin) or “am” one. Whereas in Rev. 21:22, the verb (estin, “is”) is before the phrase, “and the Lamb.” Thus, kai to arnion (“and the Lamb”) is an additional clause. No connection whatsoever—and Perkins knows this.               

Perkins lack of awareness in Greek (or purposeful fraudulence) causes him to assume that that lone context-less singular verbs constitute doctrine. However, the entire context and syntax must be considered—something Perkins does not do, as seen.  

CONCLUSION

In the end, the only ones who will accept the assertions of Roger Perkins in his article are uncritical and disinserted Oneness believers.

Again, biblical scholarship is on the Trinitarian side, and thus in John 10:30—Jesus and the Father are distinct persons who are one in unity an essence. Oneness advocates like Perkins stand alone, for obvious reasons. Note the some robust (a few of countless) scholarly opinions regarding John 10:30 militating again the Oneness position: 

New Testament scholar Murray Harris: “This dual conception of “distinction of person-community of essence” also comes to expression in John 10:30, egw kai ho pater hen esmen, which refers to neither personal identity (which would require heis esmen) nor simply to agreement of will and purpose (since John 10:28b, 29b implies at least an equality of power).” (Harris, Jesus as God, 285, n. 38).

Marvin Vincent: “The neuter, not the masculine heis, one person. It implies unity of essence, not merely of will or of power” (Vincent, Word Studies in the NT, vol. 2)

Robertson (as cited): “By the plural sumus [“are”] (separate persons) Sabellius [Oneness] is refuted, by unum [‘one in essence’] Arius” (Word Pictures, 5:186).

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown: “‘Are’ is in the masculine gender—‘we (two persons) are’; while ‘one’ is neuter—‘one thing.’ Perhaps ‘one interest’ expresses, as nearly as may be, the purport of the saying. . . . Thus it will be seen, that, though oneness of essence is not the precise thing here affirmed, that truth is the basis of what is affirmed, without which it would not be true. And Augustine was right in saying the ‘We are’ condemns the Sabellians (who denied the distinction of Persons in the Godhead), while the ‘one’ (as explained) condemns the Arians (who denied the unity of their essence)’” (JFB, Commentary, Volume 3: Matthew to Ephesians).

David J. Ellis: “The neuter gender rules out any thought of meaning ‘one Person.’ This is not a comment on the nature of the Godhead. Rather, having spoken of the sheep’s security in both Himself and the Father, Jesus underlines what He has said by indicating that in action the Father and He can be regarded as a single entity, because their wills are one” (Ellis, “John,” in The International Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, ed. F. F. Bruce, 1249).

It is not surprising that Oneness-unitarians like Roger Perkins who after reading the plainness of so many biblical texts and examining scholarly and lexical sources makes so many errors in hermeneutics (as shown above and shown in debate) and his misuse of scholarly sources esp. lexical abuse.

So, what we have here is yet another Oneness advocate who is so controlled by unitarianism that he will sacrifice simply and verifiable truth for the sake of his tradition. Yes, it is a spiritual issue; Christians must keep praying that God will deliver Oneness Pentecostals from the bondage of the Oneness theology, which denies both the Father and the Son.

I seriously hope that Oneness believers reading this will visit our website (www.christiandefense.org) or email me personally (edward@christiandefense.org) regarding questions, concerns, or prayer.

Oneness apologists are constantly developing new arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity, to which Christians should know how to respond (see “Footloose Theology of Roger Perkins” pertaining to the adjective heis and John 10:30.   

One such argument states that in the NT, the Greek masculine adjective heis (“one”) always means “one person.” Thus, passages such as Mark 12:29; 1 Tim. 2:5; etc. teach that God is “one person.” However, the Oneness-unitarian so-called semantic rule is clearly refuted by the fact that heis appears in Galatians 3:28 referring to many:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you [humeis, 2nd per. plural] are [este, plural verb] all one [heis] in Christ Jesus.”

Further, this Oneness notion completely backfires at 1 Corinthians 8:6, which contains a double usage of heis. If heis always means “one person,” as Oneness advocates argue, then, the “one [heis] God, the Father” is one person and the “one [heis] Lord, Jesus Christ” is another (distinct) divine person, which is consistent with Trinitarianism, not Oneness:

“yet for us there is but one [heis] God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one [heis] Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (cf. Deut. 6:4)

Throughout the OT, we frequently encounter the “angel of the Lord” (or, “angel of God”—as used interchangeably[1]). The term translated “angel” in both Hebrew (malak) and Greek (aggelos) simply means “messenger.” Although, we find many occurrences and classes/ranks of “angels” in both the OT and NT (some by name/description such as Michael, Gabriel, Satan, sons of God, cherubim, seraphim, etc.), the angel of the Lord in the OT was not a mere “created” angel (as asserted by the JWs). Rather,

He was identified as, and claimed to be, YHWH, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” “God.” While all unitarian groups (esp. Muslims, JWs, and Oneness Pentecostals) oppose any implication of the deity and thus preexistence of the Son, Jesus Christ, the biblical evidence points to the preincarnate Christ as the identity of the angel of the Lord. Note below some of the more significant examples:

HAGER (fist defined occurrence): In Genesis 16, Hager encountered the angel of the Lord in the desert. In verse 10, the angel of the Lord said to her: “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.” In verse 11, the angel of the Lord refers to YHWH in third person: “Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.” However, note Hager’s words to the angel of the Lord in verse 13: “‘You are a God who sees’; for she said, ‘I even remained alive here after seeing Him?’” First, she addresses the angel as “a God who sees.” And second, she acknowledges that she “remained alive here after seeing Him,” thus echoing Exodus 33:20, where YHWH says, “no man can see Me and live!”

Abraham: In Genesis 18:1-2, 8, we read that “the LORD [YHWH] appeared” to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre. And “when he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him. . . . He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate” (emphasis added). When we look at chapters 18-19, we find some interesting things pertaining to the preincarnate appearance of Christ as the angel of the LORD, YHWH Himself. First, in Genesis 18:1-2, we read that YHWH had appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre. Second, when Abraham “lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him,” which Abraham prepared food and they ate.

Third, one of the visitors had told Abraham: “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son,” which Sarah laughed since she “was old advanced in age . . . past childbearing” (vv. 10-12). Lastly, verses 13-14 identify one of the visitors as YHWH: “And the LORD [YHWH] said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the LORD [YHWH]?”

Again note verses 16-17, where the men spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah: “Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. The LORD [YHWH] said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do.” After Abraham’s interesting dialogue with YHWH from verses 22-33, we read in chapter 19:1: “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.” Here only two of the visitors are mentioned. After the two men repeatedly warned of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah verses 23-24 indicate that 

“The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord [YHWH] rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD [YHWH] out of heaven.”  – – See Hebrew preposition min (LXX, ek tou ouranou).

This point cannot be missed. YHWH did something (rained brimstone and fire) from another YHWH in heaven! This can only be consistent with biblical monotheism in light of Trinitarianism. The angel of the LORD (the Son) was one of the visitors; He is called YHWH, and He did something on behalf of YHWH “out of heaven” (the Father). In fact, the Targums is ever more revealing as to the identification of the angel of the LORD as the Word if the LORD:

And the Word [Memra] of the Lord had caused showers of favour to descend upon Sedom and Amorah, to the intent that they might work repentance, but they did it not: so that they said, Wickedness is not manifest before the Lord. Behold, then, there are now sent down upon them sulphur and fire from before the Word of the Lord from Heaven. And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and the herbage of the earth (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan).

 

MOSES: We all are familiar with Moses’s encounter with the angel of the Lord in Exodus 3:1-6: “Then the angel of the LORD appeared to him” (v. 2). Yet verse 4 indicates that it was “God” who “called to him from the midst of the bush.” Throughout the account, the angel of the Lord is used interchangeably with “God.” Further, in verse 14 (in the LXX), the angel of the Lord claimed that He was the Eternal One—egō eimi ho ōn (lit., “I Am the One/Being”); and in verse 6, He affirmed to Moses: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Notice Moses’ response to Him: “Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”

GIDEON: In Judges 6:11-24, Gideon also encountered the angel of the Lord[4]: “The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior’” (v. 12). However, because “the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (6:1), the “LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years” (v. 1), which prompted Gideon to ask the angel of the LORD: “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian” (v. 13). However, the response of the angel of the Lord in verse 14 clearly identifies Him as YHWH: “The LORD looked at him and said, ‘Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?’” As in other places, the angel of the Lord is referred to as YHWH (“LORD”). After “the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight” (v. 21), Gideon reveals his understanding that the “angel” to whom he was speaking was not a mere angel, rather, as he stated: “Alas, O Lord God! [Adonay YHWH]. For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face” (v. 22). And the Lord Himself said: “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die” (v . 23; see Exod. 33:20).

MANOAH: In Judges 13, we find the angel of the Lord announcing to Manoah and his wife of their coming son, Samson, a “Nazirite to God.” Verse 16 (and v. 21) indicates that Manoah knew that this angel was not an ordinary angel, but the angel of the Lord, YHWH Himself. Manoah had wanted to prepare some food for Him, but the angel of the Lord said to Manoah: “‘Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD’ For Manoah did not know that He was the angel of the LORD.”

Attesting even more as to the identity of the angel of the Lord, not only as YHWH, but as the preincarnate Christ, is the response the angel of the Lord gave after Manoah had asked of His name in verse 17: “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful [Heb. piliy/paliy]” (v. 18). In Isaiah 9:6, the name of the coming Messiah will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father [or father/possessor of eternity], Prince of Peace.”

The Hebrew term translated “Wonderful” (pele) is from the same root word (both from pala) as in Judges 13:18: “seeing it is wonderful.” No created angel can claim this name of Himself. This claim is certainly consistent to the many claims Jesus made and titles ascribed to Him in the NT, which were claims that only YHWH made and titles ascribe to YHWH alone in the OT (e.g., “First and Last”[5]; egō eimi [“I am”][6]; “Lord of glory”[7]; “only Lord”[8]; etc.). When Manoah discovered that it was the “angel of the Lord,” he declared to his wife, “We will surly die, for we have seen God” (v. 22)—seeing that the angel of Lord was God.

There are many other angel of the Lord references in the OT (cf. Josh. 5:13-15;[9] Num. 22:22-35; 2 Kings 19:35; etc.). However, the examples mentioned above are more than sufficient in showing that the angel of the Lord was identified as YHWH Himself and as the preincarnate Christ. This view has been concurred by early church Fathers and most biblical commentators throughout church history. In sum,

1. As countlessly revealed in the NT regarding the personal distinctions between Jesus and the Father (and the Holy Spirit) there is a marked distinction between the angel of the Lord and God/YHWH—i.e., two divine speakers/persons both identified with divine titles (i.e., YHWH, God, “the God of the fathers,” etc.).

2. In Colossians 1:15 and 1 Timothy 1:17, Paul explains that God the Father (as with the Holy Spirit) is an invisible spirit, which “no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16, as confirmed in John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12). Hence, it is quite implausible that the angel of the Lord is the Father or the Holy Spirit.

3. In Zechariah 1:12 (see chap. 3), the angel of the Lord (who had been claiming to be YHWH since Genesis) is now praying to the “LORD [YHWH] of hosts.” As stated, YHWH praying to “another” YHWH can only be consistent with biblical monotheism in the context of Trinitarianism (cf. Gen. 19:24). We find the same in the NT, where God the Son prays to another divine person, God the Father (cf. Luke 10:21-22; John 17:1ff.).

4. Unitarian groups (esp. Muslims) frequently assert that the angel of the Lord was merely a “divine agent” as with Moses, judges, prophets, created angels, etc., but not God Himself. This assertion, however, is clearly refuted by the fact that no agent of God ever identified himself as “YHWH,” “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” “Wonderful,” etc.

5. Lastly, many who encountered the angel of the Lord identified Him as God in which they feared for their life: “We will surly die, for we have seen God” (Judg. 13:22; cf. Gen. 16:13; Judg. 6:23).

The angel of the Lord was not an indefinite created angel. Rather, as He claimed, He was the “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”—YHWH, yet a distinct person from another YHWH (cf. Gen. 19:24; Zech. 1:12). In the highest probability, the identity of the angel of the Lord was the preincarnate Christ, God the Son. As revealed in the NT, He mediates and intercedes for the people of God, on their behalf— not as a mere created agent, but as YHWH Himself, second person of the Holy Trinity.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

NOTES

[1] Cf. Judges 6:20.

[2] The Trinitarian force of this passage sharply disproves any unitarian view of God.

[3] The Targum was an ancient Aramaic translation providing explanations and paraphrases of the Hebrew OT. In the post-exilic period, Aramaic began to be broadly spoken in the Jewish community in conjunction with Hebrew. Further, the Targums’ “Memra of the Lord” identifies “the angel of the Lord” with the Memra (“Word”) of the Lord (cf. in Gen. 1:16-17 Targum Neofiti reads, “The Word of the Lord created the two large luminaries. . . . and the Glory of the Lord set them in the firmament”; Gen. 2:2-3: “On the seventh day the Word of the Lord completed the work which he had created. . . . and the Glory of the Lord blessed the seventh day” (cf. Exod. 3:6, 14 et al.). Mostly likely the Targums’ Memra theology may be indeed the background of John’s Logos doctrine.

[4] Again, as with other places, here the angel of the Lord is used interchangeably with the “angel of God” (cf. vv. 20-21).

[5] Cf. Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; and 48:12. In the NT, only Christ claims to be “the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13).

[6] In such places as in the LXX of Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 41:4; 43:10; and 48:12, YHWH alone claims to be the “I am” (egō eimi). As with the divine title, “the first and the last,” only Christ Himself claims to be the absolute “I am” (egō eimi, John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19 et al.) To recall, at Isaiah 41:4 and 48:12, both divine titles, “I am” and “the first and the last” are contained in the same verse!

[7] In Acts 7:2, Steven declared, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham.” Whereas in 1 Corinthians 2:8, Paul calls Jesus, “the Lord of glory,” which is a title of full deity (see 1 Sam. 15:29 where YHWH is called “the Glory of Israel”).

[8] Biblically, there is only one true Lord and God—YHWH. In Jude 1:4, Jesus is called ton monon despotēn kai kurion, “the only Master and Lord.”

[9] Especially note verses 14-15: “[Joshua] said, ‘No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, ‘What has my lord to say to his servant?’ 15 The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” This is exactly what the angel of the Lord said to Moses in Exodus 3:5: “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Nowhere in Scripture is it even implied that being in the presence of mere angels is “holy ground” in which one must remove his sandals. John the Baptist speaks of the coming Christ before whom he is “not fit to remove His sandals” (Matt 3:11). Thus, John saw the presence of the Christ, as God incarnate, sacred.

Never was there a more deceptive doctrine advanced than that of the Trinity. It could have originated only in one mind, and that the mind of Satan the Devil (Reconciliation [Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1928], p. 101).

Since the beginning of human history, the nature of God (i.e., how He revealed Himself) has been furiously attacked (esp. ontological monotheism).[1] Though, one of the first heresies that emerged in first century church was that of the Judaizers.[2] And the second heresy that the early church dealt with was that of the Gnostics.[3] Both of which were thoroughly refuted by the apostles in there writings.[4]

Jesus was clear on the subject: eternal life is to have “knowledge” of the true God (cf. John 17:3; 8:24). And Scripture presents that there is one true God who revealed Himself in three coequal, coeternal, and coexistent *distinct* persons—thus, God is Triune. The biblical data is undeniable. But many today (and historically) deny, in some way, shape, or form, the doctrine of the Trinity. We are not speaking of some peripheral, non-essential doctrine here: The belief in the doctrine of the Trinity is essential to ones salvation, for it is how God revealed Himself—the very nature or essence of His essential Being, the only true God.

If one removes the Son from the Trinity (in any way), the Son is reduced to either to a created being (as with, for example, Oneness believers and Jehovah’s Witnesses [JWs]) or the Son becomes a “separate” God (as in Mormonism). The Trinity is the biblical explanation of how there is one God and yet the Son is presented as both Creator[5] and “God” (theos)[6] distinct from the Father and Holy Spirit who are likewise presented as God.[7]

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Main Objections to the Trinity[8]

Also, see JWs_Objections in which deals specifically with the Trinitarian objections made by the JWs. And see here Oneness_Objections in dealing with some of the specific Trinitarian objections made by the Oneness Pentecostals.

However, virtually all anti-Trinitarians utilize the same arguments as delineated below:


The Trinity is 3 separate Gods

This is a typical straw man argument that misrepresents the doctrine of the Trinity by assuming that “Trinity” means, three “separate” Gods. The very foundation, however, for the doctrine of the Trinity is *monotheism*: there exists only one true God (one Being, not one person). The doctrine of the Trinity states that there are three *distinct* coequal, coeternal, and coexistent persons who share the nature of the one true God. The belief in three separate Gods is a misrepresentation of the historic and biblical position of the Trinitarianism; three separate Gods is tritheism, which is how the Mormons view the Godhead.

The Trinity is from pagan origins

This is an argument of false cause (i.e., misrepresents the cause of something). In pagan constructs, they worshiped and believed in three separate gods. The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there is one true eternal God revealed in three distinct inseparable persons. The Trinity properly defined is unique to only Christianity. The burden of proof rests squarely on those who make this kind of assertion—asserting something does not prove anything. By misrepresenting and distorting the Trinity unitarian groups put up a straw man argument– which has noting to do with the Trinity. In fact there no place in pagan literature pre-Christianity (first cent.) where a resemblance to the proper description of the Trinity (one God revealed in three distinct persons) is found.     
 

“Trinity” is an unbiblical term

This is a very popular objection especially among JWs. For the JWs to argue that the Trinity is not true because the exact word “Trinity” is absent from the Bible is self-refuting. If that kind of reasoning was true, then, the JWs would have to admit: the “Trinity” cannot be pagan, for the word “Trinity is not found in any pagan sources either. Further, if the *non-biblical words = false doctrine* argument were true, then, the Watchtower[9] [WT] must be a false religion for distinctive words that describe their organization are not contained in the Bible either such as “theocracy.” Even the badly mispronounced and mistranslated term “Jehovah” was not found until the early thirteenth century, as admitted by the WT.[10]

It is also self-refuting for Oneness advocates to pose the same argument. For many Oneness doctrinal terms that denote the Oneness concept of God are not found in Scripture either (e.g., “manifestations,” “modes,” “offices,” “unipersonal,” “monad,” etc.).

So on one side, both Oneness believers and JWs argue that the “Trinity” cannot be true because the exact term is not contained in Scripture, but on the other side, they both will assert the opposite: non-biblical terms can be used to justify their distinctive doctrines, which they say are biblical.[11] In point of fact, and what is not at all considered, is that terms like, “incarnation,” “self-existent,” etc. are not mentioned in Scripture and both are biblical truths, which by the way, all Oneness believers agree upon.

If we were only limited to strict biblical words, then, when teaching out of the NT, we would have to use only Koinē Greek words that the authors used! Employing extra-biblical terminology does not violate the rules of sola-Scriptura (Scripture alone), as long as the terminology is consistent with Scripture.

In other words, the term “Trinity” is merely a precise doctrinal word that defines the biblical revelation that is so overwhelmingly found in Scripture: There exists only one true God. Scripture also presents that there are three distinct Persons[12] who share the nature of the one true God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the church has used the term “Trinity” to describe the biblical data as with “incarnation” (cf. John 1:14) or God’s self-existence (cf. Ps. 90:2) all of which are biblical concepts. Again, this point must be understood: We cannot confuse the biblical data with doctrinal words that define that data.

The Trinity doctrine did not emerge until the 4th century

This is an argument from ignorance. First of all, the term was first used in the East as early as A.D. 180 to describe God by early church apologist, Theophilus, bishop of Antioch.[13] Further, it is completely misleading to say that the doctrine of the Trinity did not emerge until the 4th century.[14] This is a meaningless objection—for it confuses *doctrinal terms* with biblical revelation (as discussed above). The question of what is and what is not biblical is not determined by doctrinal terms, but rather the exegesis of the text. For a term to be “biblical,” it must be substantiated by the clear biblical data—i.e., what is stated in the pages of Scripture. Thus, we are not, as Paul instructs, to “go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6 NIV).

See Was the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century?

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Scripture presents God as triune. As Christians, we must present a positive affirmation of the gospel (i.e., the true God) and a biblical defense to those who oppose it.[15] For this glorifies God. The JWs spend literally thousands of hours teaching (in literature and personal interaction) against the Trinity. In 2006, they conducted over six million Bible studies every week worldwide! Thus, we must take the time to accurately present the doctrine of the Trinity (the one true God) in our gospel presentation. Pastors especially should be mindful that by never mentioning the Trinity, it is nearly as bad as rejecting the doctrine itself.

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NOTES

[1] Ontological (by nature) monotheism (one God) is the doctrine that there exists only one God by nature (cf. Deut. 4:35; Jer. 10:10-11). Mormons, although, claim that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are “one God,” but only in the sense of “unity,” not one in essence. But, as they assert, these three are three “separate” Gods, with the Father as the head God in whom they worshiped alone—thus, the Mormon view of the Godhead. But whether one or more Gods are worshiped is irreverent, the question is: how many true Gods exist? The fact that the Mormons believe that many “true” Gods exist, therefore, categorizes the Mormon people as overt polytheists (the belief in many true Gods) and hence, non-Christian. Not only in the OT, but in the NT as well, strict monotheism was strongly asserted (e.g., Mark 28:29; John 17:3; 1 Tim. 2:5).

[2] Simply, the Judaizers taught that one had to practice the OT law, rituals, ordinances, etc. (esp. circumcision), to obtain salvation. And this, was the primary reason as to why Paul wrote to the Galatians.

[3] The Gnostics (from gnōsis, meaning “knowledge”) held to a dualistic system: spirit was good and all “matter” (esp. flesh) was inherently evil; some even taught that “matter” did not exist; it was illusory—as with the theology of Christian Science today. Both the Apostle John and Paul specifically refuted this teaching (esp. in Col. and 1 & 2 John).

[4] As seen above.

[5] E.g., Isa. 9:6; John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17)

[6] E.g., John 1:1, 18; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:3, 8-10

[7] Of course, the OT and NT teaching of “one God” (i.e., monotheism) does indicate or equate “one person” as *unitarian* groups such as Jews, Muslims, JWs, Oneness Pentecostals, etc. presuppose. Monotheism simply means “one God” (viz. “one Being”). To argue that “one God” equals “one person” is to argue in a circle. It assumes what is meant to be proven.

[8] These examples, however, are not necessarily in order of usage. Further, this is not an exhaustive list, only a sample of some of the main objections that are utilized most commonly by anti-Trinitarians.  

[9] That is, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which is the organization of the JWs.

[10] The WT publication, Aid To Bible Understanding, states:

The first recorded use of this form [Jehovah] dates from the thirteenth century C.E. Raymundus Martini, a Spanish [Roman Catholic] monk of the Dominican Order, used it in his book Pugeo Fidei of the year 1270 C.E. (Aid To Bible Understanding, 1971, pp. 884-5).

As noted above, for more information on the term see our article, The term “Jehovah” and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[11] In logic, this kind of argumentation is called “special pleading” for it “pleads” to or argues only one side of the evidence while ignoring the other side.

[12] The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are called “persons” for the simple fact that (a) they all possess *personal* attributes (e.g., they communicate, make decisions [viz. a will], exercise emotion, etc. also referring to themselves as “I” (egō)—the hallmark of personhood. Even more, Jesus used first person pronouns (“I”) to refer to Himself and third person pronouns (“He,” “His”) to refer to the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. John chaps. 14-16). Note that anti-Trinitarians such as JWs have no problem seeing the Father as a person, but the same evidence that demonstrates the personhood of the Father can be equally applied to the Son and especially the Holy Spirit. The JW’s are taught that Satan is a person because he communicates, however, that is true of the Holy Spirit at many places (e.g., Acts 10:19; 13:2) and yet they deny the personhood Holy Spirit due to their prior theological commitments: the Trinity is a false doctrine, thus, the Holy Spirit is merely Jehovah’s active non-personal force.

[13] Cf. Theophilus, To Autolycus, 2.15, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers [ANF], vol. 2. And the term “Trinity” was first used in the West around A.D. 213, by the brilliant church theologian, Tertullian of Carthage (cf. Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 2, in ANF, vol. 3).

[14] Many falsely assume that the doctrine of the Trinity was not developed until the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). But the Trinity was not even discussed there.- – See, Was the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century? 

[15] E.g., Titus 1:9, 13; 1 Peter 3:15; etc.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14).[1]

 

Virtually all non-Christian cults (esp. Muslims, Oneness believers, and  Jehovah’s Witnesses) reject the doctrine of the Trinity and teach that the early church had no such concept of a triune God, but rather they held to a unitarian concept of God (i.e., God existing as one person). Because of a great lack of study in the area of Patristics (i.e., church Fathers), these groups normally assert that the origins of the doctrine of the Trinity first emerged at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.

So vast is the evidence that the early church envisaged a tri-personal God and not a unitarian.

 

Patristic authority,  J. D. Kelly observes: 

“The reader should notice how deeply the conception of a plurality of divine Persons was imprinted in the apostolic tradition and the popular faith. Though as yet uncanonized, the New Testament was already exerting a powerful influence; it is a commonplace that the outlines of a dyadic and a triadic pattern are clearly visible in its pages” (J. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 88; emphasis added).   

 

QUESTION: What do these pre-Nicaea (A.D. 325) patristic sources: the Didachē (c. A.D. 70); Clement of Rome (96); Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (107); Mathetes (130); Aristides of Athens (140); Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (150); Justin Martyr (151); Athenagoras of Athens (175); Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (180); Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum (now Lyon; 180); Clement of Alexandria (190); Hippolytus (205); Tertullian (213);  Origen (225); Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (253); Novatian (256) Dionysius, bishop of Rome (262); Gregory Thaumaturgus, the Wonder-worker (260); Methodius, bishop of Olympus (305); and Lactantius (307) have in common?- ANSWER: They all clearly affirm the biblical doctrine/concept of the Trinity and/or the coequality and coeternally of the divine person of the Son “with” the Father.         

 

Partial list (emphasis added on most citations): 

 

Didachē (viz. “The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles”; c. A.D. 70):

 

After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. . . . If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (7.1).

 

 Clement bishop of Rome (c. A.D. 96). 

Clement of Rome wrote an epistle to the original Corinthian church. He was perhaps the same Clement who was Paul’s close companion mentioned in Philippians 4:3. Schaff comments of Clement of Rome: “Clement, a name of great celebrity in antiquity was a disciple of Paul and Peter, to whom he refers as the chief examples for imitation. He may have been the same person who is mentioned by Paul as one of his faithful fellow-workers in Philippi [Phil. 4:3] (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, op. cit., chap. 13, Ecclesiastical Literature of the Ante-Nicene Age, and Biographical Sketches of the Church Fathers, sec. 152).

Eusebius in his History of the Church (III:4) says that “Clement too, who became the third bishop of Rome, was Paul’s co-worker and co-combatant, as the apostle himself testifies.”

 

Clement’s salutation (To the Corinthians), he clearly differentiates God the Father from the Lord Jesus Christ:

The Church of God which sojourns in Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to those who are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, from almighty God through Jesus Christ, be yours in abundance.

 

Ignatius bishop of Antioch (c. A.D. 107):

 

Ignatius bishop of Antioch was another apostolic church Father. What he says should be considered; after all, he was leader of the original church at Antioch:

 

There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made [agennētos]; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible, even Jesus Christ our Lord (Letter to the Ephesians, 7).

 

Clearly, Ignatius does not see the Father and the Son as the same Person. In the same letter, he distinguishes the Father from the Son and the Holy Spirit:

Nevertheless, I have heard of some who have passed on from this to you, having false doctrine, whom you did not suffer to sow among you, but stopped your ears, that ye might not receive those things which were sown by them, as being stones of the temple of the Father, prepared for the building of God the Father, and drawn up on high by the instrument of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, making use of the Holy Spirit as a rope, while your faith was the means by which you ascended, and your love the way which led up to God (ibid., 9).

 

Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time, [cf. John 17:5] and in the end was revealed. . . . He, being begotten by the Father before the beginning of time, was God the Word, the only-begotten Son, and remains the same for ever. . . . . (Letter to the Magnesians, 6).

 

What is also noteworthy is the striking parallel in this portion of Ignatius’ letter and John 17:5. Ignatius states: “Jesus Christ, who ‘before the ages’ [pro aiōnōn] was ‘with the Father’ [para patri] and appeared at the end of time.” Specifically, both John and Ignatius use para with the dative denoting a marked distinction between Jesus and the Father and both use the preposition pro (“before”) to indicate that their distinction existed from eternity—“before time.”

Thus, Ignatius following the apostolic tradition envisages Jesus Christ as being para (“with/in the presence of”) the Father— pro aiōnōn (“before time”)—, which again is consistent with Trinitarianism, not Oneness unitarianism. As John does, Ignatius grammatically affirms the preexistence of the person of the Son who shared glory “with the Father” before time.     

 

For our God, Jesus Christ, now that He is with the Father, is all the more revealed [in His glory]. Christianity is not a thing of silence only, but also of [manifest] greatness (Letter to the Romans, 3).

 

Hermas (c. A.D. 120)

Hermas was perhaps the same Hermas whom Paul sends greetings to in Romans 16:14, around the year A.D. 57. Eusebius says of Hermas: “But as the same apostle, in the salutations at the end of the Epistle to the Romans, has made mention among others of Hermas, to whom the book called The Shepherd is ascribed” (History of the Church, 3.3).

In The Shepherd, Hermas writes in clear contradiction to the Oneness unitarian doctrine of the non-eternal Son: “The Son of God is older than all his creation, so that he became the Father’s adviser in his creation. Therefore, also he is ancient” (Ninth Similitude, 12).

Aristides of Athens (c. A.D. 140): “[Christians] are they who, above every people of the Earth, have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the creator and maker of all things, in the only-begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit” (Apology, 16).

 

Polycarp bishop of Smyrna (c. A.D. 130-150)

The beloved Polycarp bishop of Smyrna, who claimed he had been a Christian for eighty-six years, was also, according to Irenaeus and Eusebius, a disciple of the Apostle John. In his last prayer before he was martyred, Polycarp glorifies not a unipersonal God, but rather a tri-personal God: the Father and His beloved Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit:

O Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before thee, I give Thee thanks that Thou hast counted me, worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of Thy martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption [imparted] by the Holy Ghost. I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee, and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen (Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14).

 

 

Mathetes (c. A.D. 130)

In his Letter to Diognetus, Mathetes, who claimed himself “having been a disciple of the Apostles,” speaks clearly of the eternality of the Word, not as the Father but as being sent from the Father:

I do not speak of things strange to me, nor do I aim at anything inconsistent with right reason; but having been a disciple of the Apostles, I am become a teacher of the Gentiles. For which s reason He sent the Word, that He might be manifested to the world…This is He who was from the beginning, who appeared as if new, and was found old, and yet who is ever born afresh in the hearts of the saints. This is He who, being from everlasting, is today called the Son. . . . (Letter to Diognetus, 11).

 

Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 160)

Throughout the content of his literature, Justin Martyr, consistently distinguishes the persons of the Trinity. Justin here naturally quotes the Trinitarian baptismal formula:

Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are reborn by the same manner of rebirth by which we ourselves were reborn; for they are then washed in the water in the name of God the Father and Master of all, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit (The First Apology, 61.1).

 

Consistent with Trinitarian theology, Justin points out that the Lord’s usage of first person plural pronouns (*which are actual plural verbs in the Hebrew) in the OT was God the Father conversing with someone, “numerically distinct from Himself,” that is, another person:

“Let Us make,” –I shall quote again the words narrated by Moses himself, from which we can indisputably learn that [God] conversed with someone who was numerically distinct from Himself, and also a rational Being. . . . (Dialogue with Trypho, 62).    

 

Justin Martyr refers to Jesus’ eternality (as Son) and as being “even numerically distinct [kai arithmō heteron]” from the Father:

 

And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man, and Angel, and in the glory of fire as at the bush, so also was manifested at the judgment executed on Sodom. . . . And that this power which the prophetic word calls God, as has been also amply demonstrated, and Angel, is not numbered [as different] in name only like the light of the sun but is indeed something numerically distinct, I have discussed briefly in what has gone before; when I asserted that this power was begotten from the Father, by His power and will, but not by abscission, as if the essence of the Father were divided; as all other things partitioned and divided are not the same after as before they were divided: and, for the sake of example, I took the case of fires kindled from a fire, which we see to be distinct from it, and yet that from which many can be kindled is by no means made less, but remains the same. . . . (ibid., 128).

 

Athenagoras of Athens (c. A.D. 175)

I will state briefly that He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning, God, who is the eternal mind [nous], had the Logos in Himself, being from eternity instinct with Logos; but inasmuch as He came forth to be the idea and energizing power of all material things, which lay like a nature without attributes. . . . The Holy Spirit Himself also, which operates in the prophets, we assert to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him, and returning back again like a beam of the sun (A Plea for Christians, 10).

Athenagoras wonders how any man could declare someone as an atheist, if they speak of “God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit”:

Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists? (ibid.).

For, as we acknowledge a God, and a Son his Logos, and a Holy Spirit, united in essence, – the Father, the Son, the Spirit, because the Son is intelligence, reason, wisdom of the Father, and the Spirit an effluence, as light from fire; so also do we apprehend the existence of other powers, which exercise dominion about matter, and by means of it (ibid., 24).

 

Theophilus bishop of Antioch (c. A.D. 180)

 Theophilus seems to be the first person to mention the term “Trinity” (triados) when describing God:

 But the moon wanes monthly, and in a manner dies, being a type of man; then it is born again, and is crescent, for a pattern of the future resurrection. In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man (To Autolycus, 2.15).

 

Irenaeus bishop of Lugdunum (now Lyon; c. A.D. 180)

It was not angels, therefore, who made us, nor who formed us, neither had angels power to make an image of God, nor any one else, except the Word of the Lord, nor any Power remotely distant from the Father of all things. For God did not stand in need of these [beings], in order to the accomplishing of what He had Himself determined with Himself beforehand should be done, as if He did not possess His own hands. For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, even the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, “Let Us make man after Our image and likeness;” He taking from Himself the substance of the creatures [formed], and the pattern of things made, and the type of all the adornments in the world book (Against Heresies, 4.20.1).

 

Irenaeus rightly refers to the Word as the “Son” who he says, “was always with the Father,” which sharply opposes the unitarian view of God:

I have also largely demonstrated, that the Word, namely the Son, was always with the Father; and that Wisdom also, which is the Spirit, was present with Him, anterior to all creation, He declares by Solomon: “God by Wisdom founded the earth, and by understanding hath He established the heaven” (ibid., 4.20.3).

As it has been clearly demonstrated that the Word, who existed in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, who was also always present with mankind, was in these last days, according to the time appointed by the Father. . . . For I have shown that the Son of God did not then begin to exist, being with the Father from the beginning; but when He became incarnate, and was made man (ibid., 3.18.1).

The Church, though dispersed through the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God. . . . (ibid., 1.10.1).

Following, Irenaeus speaks of God the Son as distinguished from the invisible Father:

and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him [Jesus], and that He should execute just judgment towards all. . . . (ibid.).

 

When one examines the entirety of Irenaeus writings, the great truth of the Trinity shines forth.

 

Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 190):

I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father” (Stromata, Book V, Ch. 14)

 

Hippolytus (c. A.D. 205)

For us, then, it is sufficient simply to know that there was nothing contemporaneous with God. Beside Him there was nothing; but He, while existing alone, yet existed in plurality (Against Noetus, 10). Note the Greek: monos ōn polus ēn (lit., “alone existing [yet] plurality/many was”).

 

Tertullian (c. A.D. 213)

He commands them to baptize into the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And indeed it is not once only, but three times, that we are immersed into the Three Persons, at each several mention of Their names (Against Praxeas, 26).

 

Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (253): “One who denies that Christ is God cannot become his temple [of the Holy Spirit].” (Letters 73:12).

 

Novatian the Roman Presbyter (c. A.D. 256)

The Roman Presbyter Novatian wrote extensively on the doctrinal basis of the essential Trinity. He argued, from the Scriptures, that Jesus was God, but not as the Father. He clearly shows that the eternal Son interacted with the Father as he draws from Genesis 19:24, where we read that YHWH sent fire from YHWH:

Whence also, that there might be no doubt but that it was He who was the guest of Abraham on the destruction of the people of Sodom, it is declared: “Then the Lord [YHWH] rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord [YHWH] out of heaven.” But although the Father, being invisible, was assuredly not at that time seen, He who was accustomed to be touched and seen was seen and received to hospitality. But this the Son of God, “The Lord rained from the Lord upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire.” And this is the Word of God. And the Word of God was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and this is Christ. It was not the Father, then, who was a guest with Abraham, but Christ. Nor was it the Father who was seen then, but the Son; and Christ was seen. Rightly, therefore, Christ is both Lord and God, who was not otherwise seen by Abraham, except that as God the Word He was begotten of God the Father before Abraham himself (“De Trinitate,” in Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity, 18).

 

Novatian appeals to Philippians 2:6-11 to show again that the Son, the eternal Word, was not the Father:

“Who, although He was in the form of God,” he says. If Christ had been only man, He would have been spoken of as in “the image” of God, not “in the form” of God. . . . The Son of God, the Word of God, the imitator of all His Father’s works, in that He Himself works even as His Father. He is—as we have declared—in the form of God the Father. And He is reasonably affirmed to be in the form of God, in that He Himself, being above all things, and having the divine power over every creature, is also God after the example of the Father. . . . Yet He obtained, this from His own Father, that He [the Son] should be both God of all and should be Lord, and be begotten and made known from Himself as God in the form of God the Father. He then, all though He was in the form of God, thought it not robbery that He should be equal with God. For although He remembered that He was God from God the Father, He never either compared or associated Himself with God the Father, mindful that He was from His Father, and that He possessed that very thing that He is, because the Father had given it Him (ibid., 22).

 

Against the modalism of Sabellius, (Oneness doctrine)  Novatian writes:

that many heretics, moved by the magnitude and truth of this divinity, exaggerating His honours above measure, have dared to announce or to think Him not the Son, but God the Father Himself. And this, although it is contrary to the truth of the Scriptures, is still a great and excellent argument for the divinity of Christ, who is so far God, except as Son of God, born of God, that very many heretics–as we have said–have so accepted Him as God, as to think that He must be pronounced not the Son, but the Father. . . . This, however, we do not approve; but we quote it as an argument to prove that Christ is God, to this extent, that some, taking away the manhood, have thought Him God only, and some have thought Him God the Father Himself; when reason and the proportion of the heavenly Scriptures show Christ to be God, but as the Son of God; and the Son of man, having been taken up, moreover by God, that He must be believed to be man also. (ibid., 23).

 

Novatian lays out Scripture as his main point of argumentation against the modalists, again using Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 19:24, which opposes Oneness believers:

For thus say they [the modalists] If it is asserted that God is one, and Christ is God, then say they, If the Father and Christ be one God, Christ will be called the Father. Wherein they are proved to be in error, not knowing Christ, but following the sound of a name; for they are not willing that He should be the second person after the Father, but the Father Himself. And since these things are easily answered, few words shall be said. For who does not acknowledge that the person of the Son is second after the Father, when he reads that it was said by the Father, consequently to the Son, “Let us make man in our image and our likeness;” and that after this it was related, “And God made man, in the image of God made He him”? Or when he holds in his hands: “The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha fire and brimstone from the Lord from heaven”? Or when he reads (as having been said) to Christ: “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathens for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession”? Or when also that beloved writer says: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, until I shall make Thine enemies the stool of Thy feet”? Or when, unfolding the prophecies of Isaiah, he finds it written thus: “Thus saith the Lord to Christ my Lord”? Or when he reads: “I came not down from heaven to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me”? (ibid., 26).

 

Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria (262):

The Son alone, always co-existing with the Father, and filled with Him who is, Himself also is, since He is of the Father . . . neither the Father, in that He is Father, can be separated from the Son, for that name is the evident ground of coherence and conjunction; nor can the Son be separated from the Father, for this word Father indicates association between them. And there is, moreover, evident a Spirit who can neither be disjoined from Him who sends, nor from Him who brings Him. . . . Thus, indeed, we expand the indivisible Unity into a Trinity; and again we contract the Trinity, which cannot be diminished, into a Unity . . . For on this account after the Unity there is also the most divine Trinity . . . And to God the Father, and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (“Epistle to Dionysius Bishop Rome,” 5-9 in Works of Dionysius, Extant Fragments [in Philip Schaff, The Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325]).

In Defense of Dionysius 9, Athanasius says of Dionysius’ letter to the Roman bishop (with the same name): “[Dionysius rightly] acted as he learned from the Apostles.”

 

Gregory Thaumaturgus the Wonder-worker (c. A.D. 260)
 
As with Dionysius of Alexandria, he was a pupil of Origen, and his Declaration of Faith, which is accepted as genuine, is a stunningly positive and definite Trinitarian treatise. Again, years prior to Nicaea:

There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is His subsistent Wisdom and Power and Eternal Image: perfect Begetter of the perfect Begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son. There is one Lord, Only of the Only, God of God, Image and Likeness of Deity, Efficient Word,) Wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and Power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father, Invisible of Invisible, and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal and Eternal of Eternal. And there is One Holy Spirit, having His subsistence from God, and being made manifest by the Son, to wit to men: Image of the Son, Perfect Image of the Perfect; Life, the Cause of the living; Holy Fount; Sanctity, the Supplier, or Leader, of Sanctification; in whom is manifested God the Father, who is above all and in all, and God the Son, who is through all. There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus, neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abides ever (A Declaration of Faith).

 

Methodius of Olympus (c. A.D. 305)

Writing in the very early fourth century, Methodius’s work was widely read and highly valued. Jerome refers to him several times as does Epiphanius, Gregory Nyssen, Andrew of Caesarea, Eustathius of Antioch, and Theodoret. He is definitive as to his doctrine and, of course, extraordinarily Trinitarian in his view of God:

For the kingdom of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is one, even as their substance is one and their dominion one. From wich huch Whence also, with one and the same adoration, we worship the one Deity in three Persons, subsisting without beginning, uncreated, without end, and to which there is no successor. For neither will the Father ever cease to be the Father, nor again the Son to be the Son and King, nor the Holy Ghost to be what in substance and personality He is. For nothing of the Trinity will suffer diminution, either in respect of eternity, or of communion, or of sovereignty (Oration on the Psalms, 5).

 

The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, explains Methodius, were in divine accordance in purpose and will, being inseparable:

Whence also in this place they are not only said to hymn with their praises the divine substance of the divine unity, but also the glory to be adored by all of that one of the sacred Trinity, which now, by the appearance of God in the flesh, hath even lighted upon earth. They say: “The whole earth is full of His glory.” For we believe that, together with the Son, who was made man for our sake, according to the good pleasure of His will, was also present the Father, who is inseparable from Him as to His divine nature, and also the Spirit, who is of one and the same essence with Him (Oration concerning Simon and Anna on the Day that they met in the Temple, 2).

 

Lactantius (307)

When we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we do not speak of them as different, nor do we separate them, because the Father cannot exist without the Son, nor can the Son be separated from the Father, since the name of ‘Father’ cannot be given without the Son, nor can the Son be begotten without the Father … [T]hey both have one mind, one spirit, one substance; but the former [the Father] is as it were an overflowing fountain, the latter [the Son] as a stream flowing forth from it. The former as the sun, the latter as it were a ray [of light] extended from the sun” … “We, on the other hand, are [truly] religious, who make our supplications to the one true God. Some one may perhaps ask how, when we say that we worship one God only, we nevertheless assert that there are two, God the Father and God the Son–which assertion has driven many into the greatest error … [thinking] that we confess that there is another God, and that He is mortal … [But w]hen we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we do not speak of them as different, nor do we separate each, because the Father cannot exist without the Son, nor can the Son be separated from the Father” (Divine Institutes, 4:28-29).

 

Many more could be presented that undeniably show, within the proper context of the writers cited, that the early church prior to Nicaea collectedly embraced the concept of the Trinity and rejected both polytheism and Oneness unitarianism in all forms. They saw and taught that the one true God was triune—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—three distinct coequal, coeternal, and coexistent persons. This is the Faith of the OT believers and the NT church.

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Athanasius, in his Statement of Faith, put into plain words the doctrine of the indivisible and inseparable tri-unity of God:

 

“We believe in one Unbegotten God, Father Almighty, maker of all things both visible and invisible, that hath His being from Himself. And in one Only-begotten Word, Wisdom, Son, begotten of the Father without beginning and eternally; word not pronounced nor mental, nor an effluence of the Perfect, nor a dividing of the impassible Essence, nor an issue; but absolutely perfect Son. . . . We believe, likewise, also in the Holy Spirit that searcheth all things, even the deep things of God (1 Cor. ii. 10), and we anathe-matise doctrines contrary to this. . . .For neither do we hold a Son-Father, as do the Sabellians, calling Him of one but not of the same essence, and thus destroying the existence of the Son. Neither do we ascribe the passible body which He bore for the salvation of the whole world to the Father. Neither can we imagine three Subsistences separated from each other, as results from their bodily nature in the case of men, lest we hold a plurality of gods like the heathen. For neither is the Father the Son, nor the Son the Father. For the Father is Father of the Son, and the Son, Son of the Father. The Father, possessing His existence from Himself, begat the Son, as we said, and did not create Him, as a river from a well and as a branch from a root, and as brightness from a light, things which nature knows to be indivisible; through whom to the Father be glory and power and greatness before all ages, and unto all the ages of the ages. Amen.”

 

 

 

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NOTES

[1] Note that the repetition of the Greek article (tou, “the”) and the conjunction (kai, “and”) in this passage: lit., “of the [tou] Lord Jesus Christ . . . and [kai] . . . of the [tou] God and [kai] . . . of the [tou] Holy Spirit. . . .” Grammatically, this construction (viz. Granville Sharp’s Greek rule #6) indicates a distinction of persons. Same with Matt. 28:19: lit., “in the name of the [tou] Father and of the [kai tou] Son and of the [kai tou] Holy Spirit.”

 

However, aside from the biblical passages where Jesus claims that He is God (cf. John 5:17-18; 10:26-33; the egō eimi [“I am”] affirmations [John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8; etc.) and the passages where He is presented as God by His apostles (cf. John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil. 2:6; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 John 5:20; Jude 4; Rev. 22:13), and presented as God by the Father (cf. Heb. 1:6, 8, 10-12) the Son possesses the very attributes of God:

  • He has power to forgive sins (cf. Matt. 9:6)
  • He is greater than the temple (cf. Matt. 12:6)
  • He is Lord of the Sabbath (cf. Matt. 12:8)
  • He is the King of a kingdom and the angels are His, He gathers His elect (cf. Matt. 13:41; Mark 13:27)
  • He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (cf. Matt. 16:13-17)
  • He was to be killed and raised from the dead (cf. Matt. 17:9, 22-23; 19;26:2; Mark 8:31; 9:31; Luke 9:22; 18:31-33; John 2:19ff.)
  • He is omnipresent (cf. Matt. 28:20; John 14:23)
  • He is omniscient (cf. John 2:24-25; 6:64; 16:30; 21:17)
  • His is omnipotent (cf. Matt. 8:27; 9:6; 28:18; Heb. 7:25)
  • He gave His life as a ransom for many (cf. Mark. 10:45)
  • He gives eternal life (cf. Luke 10:21-22; John 5:21; 10:27-28)
  • He is the monogenēs theos, “unique/one and only God” that came from heaven (cf. John 1:18; 3:13)
  • He pre-existed with and shared glory with the Father (cf. Micah 5:2; John 1:1; 17:5)
  • He is Immutable (cf. Heb. 13:8)
  • He was worshiped as God (cf. Dan. 7:14; Matt. 14:33; John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14)

Virtually every New Testament book teaches the full deity of the Son, Jesus Christ, explicitly or implicitly. This is exegetically seen in passages such as the ones mentioned above. The biblical evidence is massive. Jesus declared in John 8:24: Ean gar mē pisteusēte hoti egō eimi apothaneisthe en tais hamartiais humōn (lit., “For if you should not believe that I am [egō eimi] you will perish in your sins”).

As with all religious groups that are “unitarian” in their theology (i.e., maintaining that God exists as one Person), Muslims reject the Trinity chiefly on the basis of their false notion as to what the doctrine actually teaches. As with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Oneness Pentecostals, Muslims see the Trinity as teaching three separate Gods. Thus, because of their misrepresentation of the doctrine, Muslims see Allah (Arabic for “God”) existing as one Person. Hence, naturally they reject the deity of Jesus Christ falsely concluding if Jesus were God, then, there would be more than one God. Mohammad’s misconception of the Trinity is quite evident, which can be seen in many passages of Islam’s most sacred book, the Koran:

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah taught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah. . . . (Sura 4:171; Yusuf Ali’s translation; emphasis added).

They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them (Sura 5:73; Yusuf Ali’s translation).

Note: the Arabic term for [Holy] “Trinity” (al-thaaluuth al-aqdas) is not contained in the Koran. Because of his incorrect notion of the Trinity (as three gods), Ali added the term “Trinity” into the text. While some other translations do contain “Trinity” others though are consistent to the actual Arabic word translating it as “three” (e.g., Sura 5:73: “They have truly disbelieved those who say: Lo Allah is a third of three”).

Therefore, the verses referenced above in the Koran, do not actually condemn the doctrine of the Trinity: for, as indicated, there are no actual references to the “Trinity” in the Koran.[1] They are speaking against tritheism (three Gods), and thus not Trinitarianism—one God revealed in three distinct co-equal, co-eternal, co-existent Persons. The condemnation of the belief in the tritheism mentioned in the Koran (as well as polytheism) is shared by both Muslims and Christians. Therefore, we need to show Muslims that claiming that the belief of the Trinity equals the belief in three Gods is a false claim that misrepresents the Trinity. In doing so; Christian-Muslim dialogue can progress a lot further.

So, before presenting the concept of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity to Muslims (or any other anti-Trinitarian group) you must first deal with the unitarian/unipersonal assumption: i.e., God existing as one Person. For this is the theological starting point of groups such as Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, etc. It must be emphasized over and over: The very foundation of the doctrine of Trinity is ontological Monotheism—one God by nature (cf. Deut. 6:4; Jer. 10:10-11.)

 

The 3 Biblical Truths of the Trinity

1: There is only one God.

2: There are three Persons or Selves that are presented as God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

3: The three Persons are distinct from each other.

Conclusion: The three distinct Persons share the same nature or Being of the one God.    

 

First Truth: Monotheism. God is presented as one Being – not one person.

Passages which speak on “one God”  (e.g., Deut 6:4; Isa. 44:6-8; Mark 12:29-30; 1 Tim. 2:5 et al) reveal that God is one Being. However, unitarian groups such as Muslims, JWs, Oneness Pentecostals etc. read into “one” God as “one” person. Through the OT and NT,plural nouns, verbs, adjectives and plural prepositions are applied to the one God (cf. Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa. 6:8; 54:5; Eccl. 12:1 [see Heb.] et al). Also, in places such as Gen. 19:24, we find Yahweh on earth acting on behalf of Yahweh in heaven (as we see in the NT where the divine Son interacts with God the Father (e.g., John 1:18; 6:37-39; 14:23; 16:28; 17:5; Heb. 1:8, 10-12).                

  

Second truth: Scripture presents that Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are God and worshiped as God. 

 

Jesus: 

1. Jesus is God (ho theos, “the God) and seen as the Yahweh of the OT: e.g., John 1:1-3; John 1:18; John 20:28; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-11; Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 (see Granville Sharp’s Greek Grammar Rule #1); Hebrew 1:3; and esp. V. 8 and 10-12. Further, He was presented as the great “I am” (egō eimi); viz. at John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8 (in light of places in the OT such as Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 48:12 – where Yahweh is referred to as egō eimi, “I am” in LXX).  

2. He was presented as the YHWH of the OT.

The NT authors clearly envisaged Jesus Christ as the Yahweh of the OT. Hence, they often cited OT passages referring to Yahweh and applied them to Jesus Christ: e.g., compare Joel 2:32 with Rom. 10:13; Isa. 6:8 with John 12:41; Ps. 102-25-27 with Heb. 1:10; Isa. 45:23-24 with Phil. 2:9-11; Isa. 8:12, 13 with 1 Pet. 3:14, 15; etc. (see also Jesus is Jehovah: Old Testament passages of Jehovah applied specifically to Jesus Christ in the NT).

3. Jesus is Creator: e.g., John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 8-10. 

4. Jesus claimed He was fully God: Although Jesus never literally stated, “I am God,” Jesus’ claims to deity were much stronger and clearer than if He had said, “I am God.” In fact, some of Jesus’ claims to deity were only used of Yahweh alone: John 5:17-18; John 10:26-33 (cf. Duet. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 48:12; Ps. 95:7); the seven “I am” (egō eimi) affirmations stated at John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8.

5. Jesus is worshiped in a “religious context” which was reserved for God alone (cf. Exod. 20:5): e.g., Dan 7:14; Matt. 14:33; 28:9; John 9:38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:11-14.– See Christ Worshiped as God

6. Jesus possesses the SAME attributes as God the Father, for example:

  • Creator (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:10-12)
  • Raises the dead and gives them life: John 5:21: “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes” (cf. John 6:37-40, 44).
  • Omnipresent (cf. Matt. 28:20; John 14:23; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20).
  • Omniscient (cf. John 2:24-25; 6:64; 16:30; 21:17).
  • Omnipotent or all-powerful (cf. Matt. 8:27; 9:6; 28:18; Heb. 7:25).
  • Eternal (Pre-Existing) (cf. Micah 5:2; John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5).
  • Immutable (cf. Heb. 13:8).

To recap, Scripture then presents in the clearest way that Jesus Christ is God (yet distinct from the Father, cf. John 1:1b; 17:5), Creator, worshipped in a religious context, and possesses the same attributes as that of God the Father.

 

The Holy Spirit is God: e.g., Acts 5:3-4; the Holy Spirit also possesses the attributes of God:

  • Eternal, having neither beginning nor end (cf. Heb. 9:14),
  • Omnipresent, being everywhere at the same time (cf. Ps. 139:7).
  • Omniscient, understanding all things (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-11).
  • Omnipotent (cf. Luke 1:35).

The Holy Spirit is a Person: e.g., the Holy Spirit communicates (e.g., Acts 10:19-20; 13:2; Heb. 3:7-11; 10:15-17); personal pronouns (“I,” “He”) are applied to Him (cf. Acts 10:20; John 16:13-14); possesses “personal” attributes (e.g., He has a will [cf. 1 Cor. 12:9-11]; emotions [cf. Eph. 4:30]; intelligence in that He investigates [cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-11; Rom. 8:27]; He intercedes/prays [cf. Rom. 8:26]; He can be lied to [cf. Acts 5:3]; He can be blasphemed [cf. Mark 3:29-30]; He issues commands [cf. Acts 13:4; Acts 16:6]; He gives love [cf. Rom. 15:30]). See also: God the Holy Spirit: The Third Person of the Trinity


Third Truth: The three Persons are distinct from each other: e.g., John 1:1b. 17:5; Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13.[2] See also: Grammatical Details.

As mentioned, additionally, in the OT, God is presented as multi-Personal: e.g., Gen. 19:24; Isa. 48:16; Hosea 1:7; Eccl. 12:1 (Heb. “Creators”); Isa. 54:5 (Heb. “Makers”; see also: The Multi-Personal God in the Old Testament and Oneness Theology)

In conclusion then, Scripture presents a tri-personal God. The Trinity is God’s highest revelation to mankind. In John 4:23-24, Jesus told the Samaritan woman that God seeks those who worship Him “in spirit and truth.” In truth, God is triune. Worshiping a unipersonal God or three separate Gods is not worshiping Him in truth. The issue being that the truth of the Trinity, the self-disclosure of God to men, is found in nearly every page of the Holy Scriptures: There is one God, and there are three distinct, coequal, coeternal, and coexistent, self-cognizant divine Persons or Egos that share the nature of the one God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

Notes

[1] Historically, these verses are no doubt referring to a heretical so-called Christian sect called Mariyama or Collyridians who existed within the same geographical location and period as that of Mohammad. This sect held to a form of Tritheism, worshipping Mary and her Son both of which were believed to be two separate gods besides God.

[2] Specifically, Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 1:3; and Rev. 5:13 (and there are many others) distinguish the Persons in the Trinity. This is due to their grammatical construction—namely, the repetition of both the article (ho, “the”) and conjunction (kai, “and”). For example, note the literal reading of 2 Cor. 13:14: “The grace [of] the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love [of] the God, and the fellowship [of] the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.” Or the literal reading of Rev. 5:13: “[to] the one sitting upon the throne and [to] the Lamb. . . .” Here, the Father (“the one sitting”) and Christ (“the Lamb”) are personally differentiated by the repetition of the article “the” (ho) and conjunction “and” (kai).