The Trinity – Part 2
Last month we began a series on one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, the Trinity. We defined the Trinity as "one God in three distinct equal persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; equal in nature, distinct in person, subordinate in their duties." We examined the external evidence for this doctrine that included the writings of early church fathers as well as the Athanasian Creed. This month we’ll focus on evidence for the Trinity as found in the Old Testament.
The Name For God
One of the three primary names for God is Elohim, which is the plural form of El and is defined as strong and faithful, indicating a deity of great power. In the King James Version of the Bible, the Hebrew Elohim is translated as God. There are over 2000 occurrences of this term, with the first taking place in the very first verse of the Bible. Elohim in its plural form points to the Triune Godhead and denotes God’s unlimited power. Though there are several examples in Scripture where Elohim is used as a singular (Exodus 7:1, Psalm 45:6), this does not make null and void the fact that Elohim is mostly used as a plural.
Unitarians (those who reject the Trinity) try to explain away the plurality of Elohim by pointing to Baal, a Phoenician God who was worshipped in different places with different names (i.e. Baal-Peor, Baal-zeebub). Baalim is the plural form of Baal and is used as a collective term, which is used as evidence by some that Elohim is nothing more than a collective term for the different names of God. This can be easily refuted when one realizes that Baal was usually addressed in the singular, not plural, while God is commonly addressed in the plural. This shows that Baalim is a collective term while Elohim is not.
Use of Plural Personal Pronouns
And God said, Let us make man in our image
Behold, the man is become as one of us
Elohim, when connected with plural personal pronouns, is strong evidence for the Trinity. Unitarians explain away these pronouns as majestic plurals. The idea behind the majestic plurals is that a monarch or other high official often speaks for his or her people. (The Queen says, "We are not amused.") Another attempt to disprove the Trinity is to refer to Elohim and plural pronouns as plurals of dignity. This is the idea that in God there exists many reasons for adoration and a need to signify His unlimited greatness, hence the reason for plurality. There can be no doubt that the clear, literal understanding of the Old Testament will lead the reader into a belief of the Trinity and not fanciful methods to explain it away.
Worship of God Using Trinitarian Formula
One more solid piece of evidence for the Trinity in the Old Testament is found in Isaiah.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
Notice that the seraphims utter the praise "Holy" three times, one for each person of the Godhead.
Join us next month as we look at the New Testament evidence for the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity.