O.T. References to God’s Plurality:
Elohim, this is a very common term for God. What makes it so important is that it is plural.
This is true of Deut. 6:4, “... the Lord your God (Elohim) is one.”
There is a common argument made against this word being evidence of the plural nature of God that some of you may have heard. It is called the plural of majesty. (“The Royal ‘We’”)
The problem is that there is no proof whatsoever of this concept. And never once in any body of Semitic literature is this use of Elohim used. It is a use that is unique to the O.T.
What makes it even more important for us to note is that it is very commonly used in conjunction with singular verbs. Including the verb here in 1:1.
Note the flow between plural and singular here. “Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
What we have is a divine conference within the Godhead. We have the plural “us” with singular verbs and image.
“Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.”
Again the divine conference. This time in relation to the fact that Adam and Eve sinned.
"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows."
This is a Messianic psalm and the writer references his “king” in vs 1. From there, the psalm is simply talking about the king in the following verses and how God has blessed him. So until vs. 6 you can easily assume it is speaking of the human king, Solomon.
When you come to verse 6 it then, without any warning continues referencing the king but it says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever….”
But then we come to verse 7.
Now we have a surprise. We have God, Elohim, being anointed by God, Elohim. “Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You….”
So we have a situation where God is calling someone else God.
But how can this be if God also tells His people, Israel, that God is one?
Because God is one, but at the same time, there is plurality within that one God.
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
The words of God, here, are in a Hebrew parallelism.
That is helpful because we have the Lord asking in the first line, “Whom shall I send.” Note that it is in the singular. God is asking a divine question, “Who will go to my people to speak judgment upon them?”
What does the second line say, remembering that it is parallel with the first line?
“Who will go for Us?” Note now that He asks in the plural rather than the singular.
This is so powerful for it shows the casualness of God in going from the singular to the plural.
There is no contradiction in this according to God, therefore, there ought not be any sense of contradiction in it for us. Rather it ought to drive us to raise our hearts in praise, glory and wonder.
There are many more we could consider but this should beat it to death enough.
So let’s move into the N.T. to see how these truths are simply magnified and clarified for us. It is here that we see the triune nature come into clear focus.
N.T. References to God's Plurality:
"After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
Here we have the Father speaking and identifying Jesus as the Son and the Spirit resting upon Jesus. Three distinct persons. We will show how the Spirit and the Son are both described as God in a follow-up podcast.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,"
One name to be baptized, but it is made up of three persons.
“Name” here is not merely an identity marker, but it that the people are now, through baptism, identifying themselves as followers of this person or persons.
"When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me,"
Helper = Spirit, the Father, and the Son.
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,"
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."
Whenever we try to speak about the Trinity we find ourselves floundering to describe Him.
Historically, there has been attempts to use analogies to help us see the truth of the Trinity.
Tree (wood, leaves, sap).
Water (liquid, steam, ice).
Egg (shell, white, yolk).
There are problems with all of these, plus all the others that exist.
When using them you can easily end up teaching either 3 gods, or modalism. Both of which are heretical.
It’s our opinion that it is very unwise to attempt to use any created thing to describe God.
This is the whole point of not having any graven image.
Nothing exists that can properly define God in any object.
If you want to see a great and funny video that talks about this search on YouTube under “Lutheran Satire Trinity.” Where else can you find theology and Voltron discussed together.
When we are talking about the Trinity, we are talking about God’s essential nature and we need to be very careful when doing so.
Exodus 15:11, “Who is like Thee among the gods, O LORD? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?” (The Song of Moses after the salvation through the Red Sea).
Psalm 71:19, “For Thy righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, Thou who hast done great things; O God, who is like Thee?”
Psalm 113:1-6, “Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD. Praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD From this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting The name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, Who is enthroned on high, Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in heaven and in the earth?”
Isaiah 44:6-7, “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. 'And who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place.”
The overriding thought behind these passages is that there is nothing and no one like God.
Therefore, why try to find something that is like Him?
What have you really achieved in the discussion of the Trinity by saying that it is sort of like the 3 leaf clover or water?
All you really do is bring the mind down from a glorious mystery to some created object. And anyone who then says, “Oh, I see,” really doesn’t.
It is much wiser to give far greater glory to the Lord by declaring the truth of the Trinity and then cry out, “Who like Thee oh God!” rather than say that the Sovereign God is like an egg…..
So, these are just introductory thoughts on this huge doctrine.
It is not a negotiable doctrine.
It is the difference between blasphemy and heresy (or orthodoxy).
Our next podcast on this will develop the doctrine in greater detail by looking at both the Son and the Spirit and what the Scriptures says about them.
But we hope this helps you see the vastness of it as well as the importance.
Nothing is more important than our understanding of how God reveals Himself.