Sunday, December 29, 2013

Quotations from the Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern

I will be adding quotes to this blog as I find them. So, this post will periodically be updated.

The following quotes either show how having an understanding of Jewish theological traditions can make the case for the Trinity stronge, or at the very least shows how some Jewish theological traditions are consistent with Trinitarianism. All highlights are mine.
 My comments are in Blue.

Regarding Mark 12:29 and Jesus' recitation of the Shema:

...Likewise, here in the Sh'ma (Deuteronomy 6:4) there are two such r'mazim: (1) the triple reference to God, and (2) the use of the word "echad," which often means a multiple unity (such as "one" cluster of grapes or "one" bundle of sticks) instead of "yachid," which nearly always excludes multiple oneness. -page 97
Notice that Stern does not make the common Christian mistake in claiming that "echad" [always] means "compound unity." Echad merely means, "one." Whether it is compound or simple oneness. By "triple reference to God" Stern is talking about the fact that God is mentioned three times in the Shema. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD [1st reference] our God [2nd reference], the LORD [3rd reference] is one."

R'mazim is plural for remez.
 (2) Remez ("hint") — wherein a word, phrase or other element in the text hints at a truth not conveyed by the p'shat. The implied presupposition is that God can hint at things of which the Bible writers themselves were unaware. - page 12
(1) P'shat ("simple") — the plain, literal sense of the text, more or less what modern scholars mean by "grammatical-historical exegesis,"...- page 11
See Wikipedia's article on PaRDeS
Notice also that this Jewish concept of God hinting at deeper meanings is consistent with the Christian understanding of Progressive Revelation.

Regarding John 8:58-59:
Before Avraham came into being, I AM. This and 10:30 are Yeshua's clearest self-pronouncements of his divinity. On "I AM" see 4:26N. It was very clear to the Judeans exactly what Yeshua's claim was, because they immediately took up stones to put him to death (v. 59) for blasphemy. Claiming to be God and, specifically, pronouncing God's name (as Yeshua had just done) were punishable by death (Leviticus 24:15-16 and Mishna Sanhedrin 7:5, "The blasphemer is not guilty until he pronounces the Name."). - page 183

Regarding 1 Cor. 12:4-6:
The word "Trinity" is never used in the New Testament, but the elements which led theologians to develop such a concept are seen in passages like this one, where Spirit, Lord, and God refer respectively to the Holy Spirit, Yeshua the Messiah, and the Father. There seems to be less significance in the attribution of the three activities — giving to the Spirit, being served to the Lord, and working to God (the Father) — than in the oversight of all the activities by the same one God. - page 476

Regarding 2 Cor. 13:14:
The wording of this benediction implies equality between the sources of grace, love and fellowship (Greek koinonia, which can also be rendered "communality," "commonness," "communion") — that is, between the Father (God), the Son (the Lord Yeshua the Messiah) and the Holy Spirit (the Ruach HaKodesh). But this equality remains an implication and is not stated as a proposition. As pointed out elsewhere, Adonai is never called a "Trinity" in the New Testament. However, the three terms which appear here, along with equivalent terms, are used in various ways in both the New Testament and the Tanakh when speaking of God. - page 519

Regarding Phil. 2:6
The pre-existence of the Messiah was a familiar concept in rabbinic Judaism (Yn 1:1-18&NN), so that it is unnecessary to resort to the idea that Sha'ul is drawing on pagan notions of a "heavenly man" who descended and carried through a mission of redemption for mankind. The Tanakh provides more than sufficient ground for this passage in its material about Adam (Genesis 2:4-3:22) and the suffering Servant of Adonai (Isaiah 52:13-53:12); there is no need to resort to explanations that assume Hellenistic or Gnostic influence. - page 596
Notice how this quote refutes forms of Unitarianism that deny the pre-existence of the Messiah.

Regarding Heb. 1:6b
The Hebrew text of Psalm 97:7 says, "Worship him, all gods (elohim)." Since Judaism allow that elohim sometimes means "angels," the Septuagint's rendering, "Let all God's angels worship him," is not surprising. What is surprising is that whereas in the original, the object of worship is Adonai, here it is the Son. This is another of the New Testament's indirect ways of identifying Yeshua with God (see Co 2:9N). Verse 4b parallels Pp 2:9; this parallels Pp 2:10-11. Needless to say, if angels worship the Son, the Son is "better than angels." - page 666

Regarding Heb. 3:2-4
...This passage is also notable in that it equates the "spirit of the Messiah" (a term used at Ro 8:9&N) with the "spirit of God," who is the same as the Ruach HaKodesh ("Holy Spirit"; Ep 4:30&N)........The logic of vv. 3-4 leads to the conclusion that Yeshua is to be identified with God, since he is the one who built everything (compare 1:2). As usual, the New Testament does not state outright that Yeshua is God but makes this identification indirectly (see 1:6b&N, Co 2:9&N). - pages 670-671

 Regarding Rev. 1:4
...The One who is, who was and who is coming. This is based on God's self-identification in Exodus 3:14, "I am who I am," or, "I will be who I will be." Compare MJ 13:8. In the Siddur a line from the popular Jewish hymn, Adon-`Olam, reads: "V'hu hayah v'hu hoveh v'hu yihyeh l'tif' arah" ("He was, and he is, and he will be, into glorious eternity"). The substitution of "is coming" for "will be" seems to allude to Yeshua's return. - page 787

Regarding Rev. 1:8
The "A" and the "Z," literally, "the Alpha and the Omega," that is, the one who existed at the beginning and who will exist at the end. Here and at 21:6&N the phrase refers to God the Father; but at 22:13&N it refers to Yeshua. It means the same thing as the One who is, who was and who is coming (on which see v.4N). - page 790

Regarding Rev. 1:17
...Yeshua says, "I am the First and the Last," here, at 2:8, and at 22:13 (see v. 8N above). At Isaiah 44:6, 48:12 it is God the Father who so describes himself. Many titles and descriptions which the Tanakh applies only to YHWH are in the New Testament applied to Yeshua (for another example, see 3:7&N). Since the New Testament distinguishes Yeshua from God the Father, we conclude: (1) Yeshua is to be identified with YHWH, with God; yet (2) Yeshua is not the Father. See Yn 1:1N, 20:28N; Co 2:9N. - page 793

Regarding Rev. 1:18
The Living One; compare the phrase, "El Chai" ("the Living God"), at Joshua 3:10, Psalms 42:3, 84:3...[the rest is also relevant but I chose not to add it]

Other passages in Stern's commentary that have relevant comments include:
John 1:1a, 1b-3, 14, 18; 10:30-33; 14:9, 10-11; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 10:9; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 2:9; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 22:13

Saturday, December 28, 2013

How to Tie the "Trinity Knot"

If you like, you can use this knot as a witnessing tool. If anyone notices the knot, you can tell him or her that it's named the "Trinity Knot." Then you can tell him you sometimes enjoy wearing the knot because you're a Christian and it reminds you of the doctrine of the Trinity (and so the God that you worship). And then you can leave it at that. If the other person is interested in talking about spiritual and religious matters he or she will.

Quotes from "Of A Plurality In The Godhead" by John Gill

In John Gill's book A Body of Doctrinal Divinity he addresses the subject of the Trinity in book 1, chapters 26-31

The following quote is from  book 1, chapter 27 Of A Plurality In The Godhead]

...let it be further observed, that the word Elohim is sometimes in construction with a verb plural, as in (Gen. 20:13; Gen. 35:7; 2 Sam. 7:23) where Elohim, the gods, or divine persons, are said to cause Abraham to wander from his father's house; to appear to Jacob; and to go forth to redeem Israel: all which are personal actions: and likewise it is in construction with adjectives and participles plural, (Deut. 4:7, 5:26; Josh. 24:19; 2 Sam. 7:26, 27; Ps. 58:11, Prov. 30:3; Jer. 10:10) in which places Elohim, gods, or the divine persons, are said to be nigh to the people of Israel; to be living, holy, and to judge in the earth; characters which belong to persons; and now, as a learned man[3] well observes, "that however the construction of a noun plural with a verb singular, may render it doubtful to some whether these words express a plurality or not, yet certainly there can be no doubt in those places, where a verb or adjective plural are joined with the word Elohim''. No such stress is laid on this word, as if it was the clearest and strongest proof of a plurality in the Deity; it is only mentioned, and mentioned first, because it is the most usual name of God, being used of him many hundreds of times in scripture; and what stress is laid upon it, is not merely because it is plural, but because it appears often in an unusual form of construction; it is used of others, but not in such a form; as has been observed.
[Underling and highlighting mine]

A little later Gill writes:
Another plural name of God is Adonim; "If I am (Adoaim) Lords, where is my fear?" (Mal.. 1:6) now, though this may be said of one in the second and third persons plural, yet never of one in the first person, as it is here said of God by himself; "I am Lords"; and we are sure there are two, "The Lord said to my Lord", &c. (Ps. 110:1). In Daniel 4:17 the most high God is called the watchers and the Holy Ones; "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the Holy Ones"; which respects the revolution and destruction of the Babylonian monarchy; an affair of such moment and importance as not to be ascribed to angels, which some understand by watchers and Holy Ones; but however applicable these epithets may be to them, and they may be allowed to be the executioners of the decrees of God, yet not the makers of them; nor can anything in this world, and much less an affair of such consequence as this, be said to be done in virtue of any decree of theirs: besides, this decree is expressly called, the decree of the most High, (Dan. 4:24) so that the watchers and Holy Ones, are no other than the divine Persons in the Godhead; who are holy in their nature, and watch over the saints to do them good; and over the wicked, to bring evil upon them: and as they are so called in the plural number, to express the plurality of them in the Deity; so to preserve the unity of the divine essence, this same decree is called, the decree of the most High, (Dan. 4:24) and they the watcher and Holy One, in the singular number in (Dan. 4:13).[Highlighting mine]

In the above quote Gill writes, "and we are sure there are two, "The Lord said to my Lord", &c. (Ps. 110:1)." For precision's sake and in order to preemptively respond to anti-Trinitarians, I want to acknowledge that the Hebrew vowel pointing for the second "Lord" is in dispute. But that doesn't distract from the general point Gill makes.

The above is similar to John Gill's statements in his book, "The Doctrine Of The Trinity Stated And Vindicated." Specifically chapter 2 titled, "Proving That There Is A Plurality In The Godhead"

Comments and Blog Posts on the Trinity

The following are links to either comments I've made on other people's blogs on the topic of the Trinity or links to my own blogs on the topic of the Trinity. I've listed them from the earliest to the latest (meaning the most recent is at the bottom).

I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND Steve Hays' posts in defense of the Trinity against Unitarians Dale Tuggy and Drake Shelton. Unfortunately Steve didn't consistently label his blogs when he was interacting with Tuggy or Shelton. So, merely clicking on the labels at the bottom of his blog posts won't result in you being able to access all of his blogs on a topic.

Here's a random example:

Steve's blog "My Lord and my God" is in response to Drake Shelton. Here are the labels at the bottom of the blog post, "anti-Trinitarianism, Christology, Gordon Clark, hermeneutics, Scripturalism." Notice that Drake Shelton's name isn't included. This means that if you clicked on another blog that did include "Drake Shelton" as a label, Steve's blog "My Lord and my God" will not be included in the search results.

So, for a more thorough search on you can do the following. 
1. Go to and type in "" in the "site or domain:" field. Don't type "" [i.e. leave out "www." or "http://www."]

2. Then type in keywords in the various "Find Pages with..." fields. You can type in words like "Drake", "Shelton", "Dale", "Tuggy", "anti-Trinitarianism", "Christology", "Unitarianism", "incarnation", "Trinity", etc.

The only true God

The human face of God

Do we need a "Trinity verse"?

Dialogue with James, aka Annoyed Pinoy (Trinity Versus Christ)

F[L]air-minded Reinvention of the Wheel (COMPLETE BLOG)

Do Rocks Dream of Ceramic Sheep? OR Jade Runner (COMPLETE BLOG)

The Dale follies

"Foolish nonsense"

Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?

He is the true God


"Begotten, not made"

The Eternal Sonship of Christ

Trinitarian plumbing

"My Lord and my God"

Reply to Ryan

Replying to ANNOYED PINOY’s Comments at Triablogue

Everyone is crazy but me!

Origen on Our Object of Prayer by Mark Xu, ed. Drake

Identity and Trinity

God came down

Tuggy's latest failure

Giving the devil his due

Episode 113: You Are God Alone (Not A God)

Apollinarianism redux
                                 Related blog: Incarnation and reincarnation

Disfellowshipping Calvinists as damnable heretics

 Do Trinitarian theories conflict with the New Testament? (COMPLETE BLOG)

continuing the conversation with Robert Bowman – different selves, same being?

Unitarian evangelism

Dr. Michael Heiser on Old Testament binitarianism

Jesus and the prophets

The coming king

Quote-mining the church fathers

Is the Incarnation possible?

The deity of Christ in Hebrews 1

God over all, forever blessed

 My Last Remarks to Dale Tuggy on Triablogue's blogpost "God over all, forever blessed" (COMPLETE BLOG)

Dale Tuggy's Da Vinci Code

Worshipping a Merely Human Jesus Is Wrong No Matter How Exalted (COMPLETE BLOG)

Is Jesus the eternal Logos?

And the Word was God

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us

What does Jesus know?

 Jesus' Omniscience (COMPLETE BLOG)

Angelomorphic Christology

Jesus Christ, the Angel of Jehovah, and Michael the Archangel - part 1

Unitarian Judaism

Jesus Christ, the Angel of Jehovah, and Michael the Archangel - part 2

Gregory of Nazinazus on the Father as "greater" than the Son (John 14:28)

Gender and Trinity

The shadow God

The Only One

Dreaming and dual consciousness

What's the image of God?

The Immortal dies!


Composition fallacy

The Lord said to my Lord

The man Jesus Christ

"Faith is believing what you know ain't so"

Samples of My Own Complete Blogs on the Trinity:

F[L]air-minded Reinvention of the Wheel (COMPLETE BLOGPOST)

Do Rocks Dream of Ceramic Sheep? OR Jade Runner (COMPLETE BLOGPOST)

Trinity Notes (this blog you're currently visiting)

I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND one of my other blog posts (on a different blog) titled:

Resources in Defense of Trinitarianism 

The Trinity (A Poem)

Thou dear and great mysterious Three,
For ever be adored;
For all the endless grace we see
In our Redeemer stored. 

The Father's ancient grace we sing,
That chose us in our Head;
Ordaining Christ, our God and King,
To suffer in our stead.
The sacred Son, in equal strains,
With reverence we address,
For all His grace, and dying pains,
And splendid righteousness. 

With tuneful tongue, the Holy Ghost,
For His great work we praise;
Whose power inspires the blood-bought host
Their grateful voice to raise.

Thus the Eternal Three in One
We join to praise, for grace
And endless glory through the Son,
As shining from His face.
Author Unknown

Taken from Prevailing Prayer by D.L. Moody
(online HERE or HERE)

The Holy Spirit Contradicts the Accidence of Personality

In the Bible the Hebrew word for spirit (ruach) is feminine and the Greek word for spirit (pneuma) is neuter. Yet some New Testament writers sometimes wrote contrary to the requirements of Greek grammar when referring to the Holy Spirit. This fact adds to the evidence that the Holy Spirit is not merely an impersonal force or influence but a genuine person as Trinitarianism teaches.

The following is a quote from Charles Ryrie's book The Holy Spirit (revised and expanded edition) page 17.

The Holy Spirit Contradicts the Accidence of Personality
     Here accidence refers to the rudiments of grammar. The Greek word for "spirit" is pneuma (from which we derive English words that have to do with air, such as pneumatic and pneumonia) and is a neuter gender word. According to every normal rule of grammar, any pronoun that would be substituted for this neuter noun would itself have to be neuter. However, in several places the biblical writers did not follow this normal rule of grammar, and instead of using a neuter pronoun when referring to the neuter noun pneuma, they deliberately contradicted the grammatical rule and used masculine pronouns. Indeed, they used two different kinds of pronouns, all in the masculine gender. This shows that they considered the Spirit to be a person and not merely a thing.

     John 16:13-14. In this passage the masculine demonstrative pronoun is used for pneuma. (Demonstrative pronouns are the words this and that.) The same demonstrative pronoun is found twice in these verses: once in verse 13 ("But when He") and once in verse 14 ("He will glorify Me"). In these last two instances, instead of the translation "He," the better translation would be "that one."

     John 15:26. Here the masculine demonstrative pronoun occurs referring to the Spirit. Some explain the gender of the pronoun as referring back to the masculine word Helper. However, this is less likely, since Spirit is the nearer antecedent.

     Ephesians 1:14. In this passage the masculine relative pronoun is used for the neuter noun pneuma, "Spirit." (Relative pronouns are translated "who" if masculine or feminine, and "which" if neuter.) The masculine pronoun (in the Greek) is the first word in the verse: "Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory." It refers back to the Holy Spirit in verse 13.

     These departures from the normal rules of grammar in connection with the use of several kinds of pronouns are evidences that for John and Paul the Holy Spirit was more than a mere influence—He was a person.

Concerning 1 John 5:20 ( from The Trinity: Evidences and Issues)

This was a mirror of a blogpost I posted elsewhere. However, new quotations have been added.

The following is a passage from pages 354-357 of Robert Morey's book "The Trinity: Evidences and Issues." I didn't bother to reproduce the Greek text. Along with bolding and underlining, I also colored some passages in red font for emphasis.


We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true-even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life (I John 5:20 NIV)

The editors of the New International Version were so certain that John was calling Jesus [Greek] "the true God and eternal life" that they used "He is" instead of "This is" so the English reader could not miss the point. This translation could be made in the later half of the twentieth century because most scholars, liberal as well as conservative, were now in agreement that the name "Jesus Christ" was grammatically the antecedent for the pronoun [Greek] 190

This passage, more than any other, illustrates the importance of following the normal rules of Greek grammar. The word [Greek] is a pronoun. No one can disagree with this. As a pronoun, [Greek] would naturally refer back to the person just mentioned. No one can disagree with this either. Robertson states the rule:

[Greek] does, as a rule, refer to what is near or last mentioned and [Greek] to what is remote. 191

But what about the few exceptions where [Greek] acts like [Greek] and refers not to the person immediately in view, but to someone before him? Anyone who is at all familiar with ancient literature knows that such "exceptions" do appear form time to time. For example, a writer can mix genders or numbers. But such "exceptions" do not disprove the general rule that genders and numbers should agree.

That there may be a a few rare exceptions to a general rule does not mean that one should approach a text of Scripture with the a priori assumption that it will be an exception to the normal rules of grammar. Instead, we should approach a text with the a priori assumption that the normal rules of grammar and syntax will apply unless there are clear grammatical reasons to depart form those rules.

Please notice that we said "grammatical" - not "theological" - reasons. Just because the grammar of a text leads to an idea which contradicts what you believe, this does not give you the right to throw grammar to the wind. Theology cannot overthrow or ignore the grammar of the sacred text. It can only bow before it.

Many people today ignore the grammar of the original text and instead interpret the Bible from their "feelings." Besides being a form of exegetical suicide in which one slits his own throat with the rusty blade of relativism, Christ and the apostles used grammar and not their "feelings" as the rule of interpretation.

In Matthew 22:32, Jesus used the distinction between the past tense "was" and the present tense "is" as proof that there is a conscious afterlife. The apostle Paul in Galatians 3:16 based his argument that Christ was preached to Abraham on the distinction between the singular and plural forms of the word "seed." They used the rules of grammar as the proof of their theology.

The Greek text of I John 5:20 is simple and straightforward. John used [Greek] fifty-five times in his writings. Thus, we are not talking about a rare usage of a rare word. There are plenty of places in John's writings where [Greek] was used in the same kind of construction as found in I John 5:20 and no one has any problem with [Greek] referring back to the antecedent.

Does anyone question whether [Greek] refers to "Judas" in John 6:71? No. Does anyone object to [Greek] in John 1:41 referring back to the "Andrew" mentioned in v.40? No. Or that [Greek] in John 1:30 refers back to "Jesus" in v. 29? No. Where are all the angry denials that [Greek] in John 6:46 refers to Jesus as [Greek]? Has anyone ever denied that in II John 9 [Greek] refers back to [Greek]? No.

Why then all the hysteria over whether [Greek] refers to Jesus in I John 5:20? Obviously, it is not the grammar or syntax of the Greek that causes people to question whether [Greek] refers to Jesus Christ per se. It is that it refers to Him as God. That is the real issue.

If the text read, [Greek] ("Jesus Christ. This is Eternal Life"), there would [sic] no controversy whatsoever. [Greek] would be seen as referring to [Greek]. But once you add [Greek] to the phrase, then the controversy begins.

The evidence for Jesus being called "the true God" and "Eternal Life" is quite strong:

1. The general rule on pronouns is that it modifies the immediate antecedent. This means Jesus Christ.

Brown: Grammar favors a reference to the nearest antecedent, and this would be "Jesus Christ." In this case Jesus Christ is called true God. 192

Candlish: The Lord Jesus Christ is the person here meant. Such seems to be the fair inference from the use of the pronoun "this;" which naturally and usually indicates the nearest person spoken of in the context; and therefore, in this instance, not "him that is true," but "his Son Jesus Christ." That inference indeed is so clear, in a merely grammatical and exegetical point of view, that there would not probably have been any doubt about it, were it not for its implying an assertion of our Lord's supreme divinity; an assertion which no sophistry or special pleading can evade or explain away. 193

Morgan and Cox: There can be no doubt they refer to Jesus Christ. We are shut up to this conclusion by the construction of the passage. Christ is the near and natural antecedent to the assertion of the apostle. 194

Marshall: The NIV rightly adopts the view that [Greek] refers back to Jesus. 195

For the last time John hammers home the point. He-Jesus- is the true God and eternal life. Here, as in the Gospel (Jn. 1:1; 20:28; cf. 1:18 mg.), John declare that Jesus is the true God. 196

2. The Granville Sharp rule once again applies. The phrase [Greek] is composed of two nouns separated by [Greek] with the first noun having the article and the second noun without the article. This means that only one person is in view. He is called "Eternal Life" as well as "God." Thus, the idea that [Greek] refers to an abstract concept, and not to a person, is eviscerated by the grammar.

3. While John elsewhere refers to Jesus as "Eternal Life" (I John 1:2), the Father is never called "Eternal Life." More importantly in the immediate context, since Jesus is "eternal life," then to have Him in your heart is to have eternal life (I John 5:11-12). In John's writings [Greek] "Eternal life" refers to Jesus.

4. John applies the adjective [Greek] "true" to Jesus many times:

John 1:9the true Light
John 6:32the true Bread
John 15:1the true Vine
Rev. 3:7the true One
Rev. 3:14the true Witness
Rev. 6:10true Sovereign & Lord

[I don't think Rev. 6:10 is a specific reference to Jesus-AP]

5. That the Father is called "true God" in John 17:3 and the Son is called "true God" in I John 5:20 is no more a contradiction than the fact that they are both called the "true One" (I John 5:20 cf. Rev. 3:7).

6. The interpretation that "the true God" refers to the Father leads to a meaningless tautology Lenski explains:

In the first place, if [Greek] has as its antecedent "the real God" (the Father), then the statement is a tautology: John would say: "This real God is the real God." He would say it after having twice said: we know the real God and are in the real God. 197

7. Lastly, the next verse warns us to keep away from idols. There is an obvious contrast between the "true God" and the "false gods" of the heathen. The pagans may worship their "divine heros," such as Adonis, but Christians worship Jesus Christ who is not a [sic] "idol" or "false god," but "the true God."


The following additional quotes are from other sources I'll add more quotes or links below from other sources as I have time to find or type them out.

Albert Barnes' New Testament Notes (AKA "Barnes' Notes on the Bible") gives FIVE persuasive reasons why "true God" refers to Jesus in 1 John 5:20.

This is the true God.* There has been much difference of opinion in regard to this important passage; whether it refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, the immediate antecedent, or to a more remote antecedent—referring to God, as such. The question is of importance in its bearing on the doctrine of the divinity of the Saviour; for if it refers to him, it furnishes an unequivocal declaration that he is Divine. The question is, whether John meant that it should be referred to him? Without going into an extended examination of the passage, the following considerations seem to me to make it morally certain that by the phrase "this is the true God," etc., he did refer to the Lord Jesus Christ.
(1.) The grammatical construction favours it. Christ is the immediate antecedent of the pronoun thisoutov. This would be regarded as the obvious and certain construction so far as the grammar is concerned, unless there were something in the thing affirmed which led us to seek some more remote and less obvious antecedent. No doubt would have been ever entertained on this point, if it had not been for the reluctance to admit that the Lord Jesus is the true God. If the assertion had been that "this is the true Messiah;" or that "this is the Son of God;" or that "this is he who was born of the Virgin Mary," there would have been no difficulty in the construction. I admit that this argument is not absolutely decisive; for cases do occur where a pronoun refers, not to the immediate antecedent, but to one more remote; but cases of that kind depend on the ground of necessity, and can be applied only when it would be a clear violation of the sense of the author to refer it to the immediate antecedent.
(2.) This construction seems to be demanded by the adjunct which John has assigned to the phrase "the true God"—" ETERNAL LIFE." This is an expression which John would he likely to apply to the Lord Jesus, considered as life, and the source of life, and not to God as such. "How familiar is this language with John, as applied to Christ! 'In him (i.e. Christ) was Life, and the LIFE was the light of men—giving LIFE to the world—the bread of LIFE.—my words are spirit and LIFE —I am the way, and the truth, and the LIFE. This LIFE (Christ) was manifested, and we have seen it, and do testify to you, and declare the ETERNAL LIFE which was with the Father, and was manifested to us,' 1 Jo 1:2."—Prof. Stuart's Letters to Dr. Channing, p. 83. There is no instance in the writings of John, in which the appellation LIFE, and eternal Life, is bestowed upon the Father, to designate him as the author of spiritual and eternal life; and as this occurs so frequently in John's writings as applied to Christ, the laws of exegesis require that both the phrase "the true God," and "eternal life," should be applied to him.
(3.) If it refers to God as such, or to the word "true"—ton alhyinon [yeon]—it would be mere tautology, or a mere truism. The rendering would then be, "That we may know the true God, and we are in the true God: this is the true God, and eternal life." Can we believe that an inspired man would affirm gravely, and with so much solemnity, and as if it were a truth of so much magnitude, that the true God is the true God?
(4.) This interpretation accords with what we are sure John would affirm respecting the Lord Jesus Christ. Can there be any doubt that he who said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" that he who said "all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made;" that he who recorded the declaration of the Saviour, "I and my Father are one," and the declaration of Thomas, "my Lord and my God," would apply to him the appellation the true God!
(5.) If John did not mean to affirm this, he has made use of an expression which was liable to be misunderstood, and which, as facts have shown, would be misconstrued by the great portion of those who might read what he had written; and, moreover, an expression that would lead to the very sin against which he endeavours to guard in the next verse—the sin of substituting a creature in the place of God, and rendering to another the honour due to him. The language which he uses is just such as, according to its natural interpretation, would lead men to worship one as the true God who is not the true God, unless the Lord Jesus be Divine. For these reasons, it seems to me that the fair interpretation of this passage demands that it should be understood as referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. If so, it is a direct assertion of his divinity, for there could be no higher proof of it than to affirm that he is the true God.
And eternal life. Having "life in himself," (Joh 5:26,) and the source and fountain of life to the soul. No more frequent appellation, perhaps, is given to the Saviour by John, than that he is life, and the source of life. Comp. Joh 1:4; 5:26,40; 10:10; 6:33,35,48,51,53,63; Joh 11:25; 14:6; 20:31; 1 Jo 1:1,2; 5:12.

* Many MSS. here insert the word God—"the true God"—ton alhyinon yeon, this is also found in the Vulgate, Coptic, AEthiopic, and Arabic versions, and in the Complutensian edition of the New Testament. The reading, however, is not so well sustained as to be adopted by Griesbach, Tittman, or Hahn. That it may be a genuine reading is indeed possible, but the evidence is against it. Lucke supposes that it is genuine, and endeavours to account for the manner in which it was omitted in the MSS. —Commentary, p. 349.
{a} "understanding" Lu 24:45 {b} "This" Isa 9:6

* * * * * * * * * *

The NET Bible has a footnote on this verse that states:

sn The pronoun This one (οὗτος, Joutos) refers to a person, but it is far from clear whether it should be understood as a reference (1) to God the Father or (2) to Jesus Christ. R. E. Brown (Epistles of John [AB], 625) comments, “I John, which began with an example of stunning grammatical obscurity in the prologue, continues to the end to offer us examples of unclear grammar.” The nearest previous antecedent is Jesus Christ, immediately preceding, but on some occasions when this has been true the pronoun still refers to God (see 1 John 2:3). The first predicate which follows This one in 5:20, the true God, is a description of God the Father used by Jesus in John 17:3, and was used in the preceding clause of the present verse to refer to God the Father (him who is true). Yet the second predicate of This one in 5:20, eternal life, appears to refer to Jesus, because although the Father possesses “life” (John 5:26, 6:57) just as Jesus does (John 1:4, 6:57, 1 John 5:11), “life” is never predicated of the Father elsewhere, while it is predicated of Jesus in John 11:25 and 14:6 (a self-predication by Jesus). If This one in 5:20 is understood as referring to Jesus, it forms an inclusion with the prologue, which introduced the reader to “the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” Thus it appears best to understand the pronoun This one in 5:20 as a reference to Jesus Christ. The christological affirmation which results is striking, but certainly not beyond the capabilities of the author (see John 1:1 and 20:28): This One [Jesus Christ] is the true God and eternal life.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jamieson Fausset and Brown commentary states:

This is the true God — “This Jesus Christ (the last-named Person) is the true God” (identifying Him thus with the Father in His attribute, “the only true God,” Joh_17:3, primarily attributed to the Father).
and eternal life — predicated of the Son of God; Alford wrongly says, He was the life, but not eternal life. The Father is indeed eternal life as its source, but the Son also is that eternal life manifested, as the very passage (1Jo_1:2) which Alford quotes, proves against him. Compare also 1Jo_5:11, 1Jo_5:13. Plainly it is as the Mediator of ETERNAL LIFE to us that Christ is here contemplated. The Greek is, “The true God and eternal life is this” Jesus Christ, that is, In believing in Him we believe in the true God, and have eternal life. The Son is called “He that is TRUE,” Rev_3:7, as here. This naturally prepares the way for warning against false gods (1Jo_5:21). Jesus Christ is the only “express image of God’s person” which is sanctioned, the only true visible manifestation of God. All other representations of God are forbidden as idols. Thus the Epistle closes as it began (1Jo_1:1, 1Jo_1:2).

 * * * * * * * * * *

John Gill in his commentary states:

This is the true God and eternal life; that is, the Son of God, who is the immediate antecedent to the relative "this"; he is the true God, with his Father and the Spirit, in distinction from all false, fictitious, or nominal deities; and such as are only by office, or in an improper and figurative sense: Christ is truly and really God, as appears from all the perfections of deity, the fulness of the Godhead being in him; from the divine works of creation and providence being ascribed to him; and from the divine worship that is given him; as well as from the names and titles he goes by, and particularly that of Jehovah, which is incommunicable to a creature; and he is called "eternal life", because it is in him; and he is the giver of it to his people; and that itself will chiefly consist in the enjoyment and vision of him, and in conformity to him.

 * * * * * * * * * *

Charles Hodge states in his Systematic Theology:

He [i.e. John in 1 John] closes his epistle by saying: “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true (i.e., that we may know the true God); and we are in Him that is true (i.e., the true God), even in his Son Jesus Christ. This (i.e., this person Jesus Christ) is the true God and eternal life.” That this passage is to be referred to Christ, is plain. (1.) Because He is the subject of discourse in the context, and throughout the epistle. The great design of the Apostle is to tell us who and what Christ is. (2.) In the immediately preceding clauses he had called Him the true, “we are in Him that is true,” even in Jesus Christ. “The true” and “the true God,” are used as convertible expressions. (3.) Christ is repeatedly called “eternal life,” by this Apostle, and “eternal life” is said to be in Him, which language is not used of God as such, nor of the Father. (4.) Χριστός is the natural antecedent of οὗτος, not only because the nearest, but because it is the prominent subject. (5.) This has been the received interpretation in the Church, at least since the Arian controversy; and the objections urged against it are mainly theological, rather than exegetical. It is to be remarked that Christ is here called not merely θεός but ὁ θεός, as in John xx. 28.

 * * * * * * * * * *

Robert Bowman in his work The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity wrote in Part IV
10. 1 John 5:20. Admittedly, biblical scholars are split on whether the “true God” in this text is the Father or the Son. Three considerations favor the Son. First, the closest antecedent for “this one” is Jesus Christ (“in his Son Jesus Christ. This one…”). Second, in 1:2 the “eternal life” is Jesus Christ (who was “with the Father”), an apparent example of inclusio (repetition of a theme or idea at the beginning and end of a text). Third, the confession form “This one is …” (houtos estin) strongly favors Jesus Christ, rather than the Father, as the subject, since John uses this language repeatedly with regard to Christ (John 1:30, 33, 34; 4:29, 42; 6:14, 42, 50, 58; 7:18, 25, 26, 40, 41; 1 John 5:6; of the man born blind, John 9:8, 9, 19, 20; of the disciple, John 21:24; of the anti-Christ, 1 John 2:22; 2 John 1:7), but not once for the FatherJohn has just used this formula for Christ earlier in the same chapter (1 John 5:6).

see also:

Romans 9:5 and Christ's Full Deity

Do Rocks Dream of Ceramic Sheep? OR Jade Runner

This is a mirror of a blogpost I posted elsewhere in response to a post by Mike Gantt. I also made many comments on his combox.

Continuing my dialogue with Mike Gantt (AKA "BLOGFORTHELORDJESUS")

Mike, I'm done adding to my last post. Any additional changes will be spelling, grammar, or typo corrections.

What follows is my response to you additional comments at:

You said...Link
I had asked you to explain how multiple persons could exist as one being. You gave a very long response to that question but I could not find anything in it that addressed the question. Since this distinction is the logical foundation upon which the entire doctrine of the Trinity rests, it would seem Trinitarians would have formulated a reasonable answer to this by now. Do you not have one?

Eastern Orthodoxy's version of the Trinity explains this by distinguishing between God's essence and energies. There are problems with the EO view of the Trinity. The folks a Triablogue have pointed many of them out. When it comes to the Western/Latin understanding(s) (versions) of the Trinity, I would again recommend reading John Piper's sermon which is based on Edwards' essay, which itself echos Thomas Aquinas' speculations, which echos Augustine's speculations.

Here's a link to Aquinas' Summa Theologica where he deals with the Trinity

I was actually quoting Scripture when I said that Christ was God’s mystery (Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 4:3; and especially Colossians 2:2). Neither you nor anyone else will be able to cite Bibles verses which identify the Trinity as God’s mystery.

You seem to be appealing to those passages eisegetically rather then exegetically. The word "mystery" as used in the New Testament refers to something that hadn't been revealed in the past, but has now been revealed. Both Dispensationalist and Covenant theologians affirm that that's the meaning of the Greek word. It doesn't mean "mystery" as we in our modern world use the word to refer to something that's still hidden or not revealed or unknowable (either in the meantime or in principle).

Ephesians 3:4 has to do with the now revealed truth that gentiles were part of God's plan of salvation all along but only hinted at in the OT. But now revealed openly in the New Covenant.

Eph. 4:
4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel

Next you cite Col. 4:3. What in its context explains what the "mystery of Christ" Paul is referring to? Admittedly, just because Paul uses the same phrase as Eph. 3:4 doesn't mean Paul is talking about the same thing. But that's a possibility. So, the burden of proof is on you to show that Col. 4:3 has anything to do with our subject of the nature of God, rather than about the inclusion of the Gentiles.

Finally you cite Col. 2:2-3 which says, "that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

The context of this passage is the first chapter of the book where Paul is arguing against proto-gnostics who were demoting Christ and denying his preeminence. But notice the kind of preeminence that Paul talks about in the first chapter.

Col. 1:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Notice that Paul says that all things have been created THROUGH him and for him. If Jesus is the Father, then how could the Father have created all things THROUGH him? Paul's wording would be superfluous since no one creates things through himself. People create things through other things or persons. I people don't say, "I created this sand castle through myself." Therefore, rather than weakening the case for the Trinity, it actually supports it by affirming the distinction between the Father and the Son prior to creation and prior to the incarnation.

Even if you don’t agree that this settles the case, you have to agree that this leaves the burden of proof on you.

No, the burden still remains on you because I've just shown that you've been spoof-texting Bible verses in the place of definition, and/or explanation and/or argument.

As I’ve told you, “my”model is the doctrine of Christ, which is explicitly taught in the Bible. I refer you there. If you don’t know the doctrine of Christ, how do you claim to follow Him?

I don't want to sound mean or arrogant, ungracious or rude, but this is just assertion without argument. Citing Bible verses doesn't prove anything since you need to exegete those passages. You need to make an argument. If I just cited Isa. 48:16 and said that verse proves the Trinity, you'd laugh at me because you know that I need to explain why the verse either proves or supports or hints at the doctrine of the Trinity. The fact is that Isa. 48:16 hints at the doctrine of the Trinity much more than your citations of Eph. 3:4, Col. 4:3, and 2:2 hint at your position (whatever it might be, since you still haven't explained to me what you believe).

So far, all you've done is claim that the Scriptural teaching on the nature of God is what Scripture teaches and then you attempt to prove it by citing Scripture. Not only is that tautological, but it's vacuous since you haven't explained what you mean by "the doctrine of Christ" or "the mystery of Christ". It's analogous to someone saying that the right millennial view is the one taught in Scripture. Then citing Rev. 20 as proof. Then condemning others for not accepting her interpretation even though no one knows what her interpretation of Rev. 20 is.

There are exegetical and logical reasons for why the church has been forced to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity.

Interesting. What are they?

Those books I've recommended are great places to start. If I knew what you actually believed, I could make better recommendations. But you still haven't revealed what you believe. From the very little you've said, I'm guessing your views are Modalistic-like. If so, then I would especially recommend E. Calvin Beisner's book "Jesus Only Churches" (which I've recommended previously).

As for your twelve premises, the conclusion of Trinity is embedded in them. That is, the reasoning is circular. It starts from the premise there are three divine beings which we have to reconcile with the idea that God is one.

None of the premises individually (i.e. explicitly) or by necessary logical implication (implicitly) says that there are three ***beings***. The doctrine of Latin Trinitarianism explictly and by intention denies there are three ***beings*** that are God. Maybe that's a typo on your part and you meant to type "three divine *persons* [instead of *beings*] which we have to reconcile with the idea that God is one."

Then, in Alice-in-Wonderland style, someone says “Let’s agree that three persons can exist in one being,” and – “Voila!” – we have our answer. This is human wisdom at its finest – which is to say, foolishness in the sight of God.

Well, I'm open to hearing how you reconcile those premises if you agree with each of them. Or if you reject some, which and why.

Leave out the premises related to the New Testament for the time being (which is to say, leave out any reference to Jesus in the premises). Why didn’t anyone in Israel feel compelled to similarly reconcile all the premises related to the Father and the Holy Spirit during those thousands of years before Christ?

Because, as I've said, and to which you've agreed, the revelation of God's nature and attributes was progressively revealed throughout Redemptive History. In my view, the Trinity was only hinted at in the Old Testament. In the New Testament it's more clearly revealed (even if not formulated with the precision of the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Constantinople I, the Council of Ephesus, or the Council of Chalcedon. Or any of the Trinitarian creeds (for example, the athanasian Creed

Here's another hint in the Old Testament to the Trinity.

Psalm 33:6
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.

Is the "Word of the LORD" here a reference to the pre-incarnate Christ?
Is the "Breath of His mouth" here a reference to the Holy Spirit? The same word used for the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is used for "breath" (e.g. Gen. 1:2). In this passage, it seems we have here 1. The LORD, 2. His Word and 3. His Breath/Spirit (viz. the Trinity?)

As for the Piper sermon, I found it to be a meditation on the Persons of the Trinity (and only the first two at that) rather than an explanation or proof of the Trinity doctrine.

There's more than one way to support a theory or hypothesis. One way is by inductive study. This would include going directly to the text of Scripture like those books I first recommended which were free. Another way is by deduction. Theologians have used (variations of) the premises I mentioned before to deduce the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet another way is by abductive reasoning which includes 1. showing the internal consistency of a theory, 2. showing it's superior explanatory power and scope. This involves asking someone else (or oneself) to temporarily step into that other hypothesis or worldview that he doesn't currently hold, and as best as one can, trying to see things ask if that hypothesis or theory were true and seeing how well the hypothesis works. Is it ad hoc? Does it conform to the principle of parsimony (i.e. Occam's Razor)? Does it fit with all the known and relevant facts/data etc. Btw, Edwards does go on to explain how the Holy Spirit might proceed from the Father and the Son.

Here's my summary:

In essence (pun intended), Piper and Edwards argue that God the Father has eternally had an infinitely perfect and intense knowledge of himself (self-knowledge) and all that he knows (natural/necessary knowledge). That intuitive, immediate and eternal self-knowledge is so intense, complete and perfect that it is itself another person, the pre-incarnate Christ (the Eternal Word and Son of God). If, you'd allow me to commit the fallacy of equivocation for a moment and rephrase it; God's eternal self-contemplation and self-REFLECTION metaphorically (or possibly ontologically and/or epistemologically) "mirrors" God himself. Or put another way, God's eternal self-CONCEPTION "conceives" or begets the person of the Son from all eternity (hence the doctrine of 1. Eternal Generation as well as 2. Eternal Sonship of Christ). Then the eternal love between the Father and Son is so intense, infinite and perfect that that love is itself another person, the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the love between the Father and the Son (which incidentally assumes the Filioque).

He was preaching to choir, and his starting point was that the doctrine of the Trinity was true. He never justified it. And when he came close to trying to justify it, he did poorly.

Again, I recommended the sermon not to "prove" the doctrine of the Trinity but to answer your question how it might be possible for three persons to share one being. Yes, you're right that multiple personality disorder is a manifestation of dysfunction in individual human beings. But that's because human beings are finite creatures that were made to be one person per body/nature. But what is unnatural for a finite creature shouldn't be the standard for, nor a required limitation on what is natural or possible for, with, or about the infinite God.

Of course, when Piper says this he’s relying on the ever-convenient-but-never-justified distinction between “person” and “being.”

I'm assuming you agree that the distinction between "being" and "person" is a real distinction that can be applied to anything in all of reality (created, or uncreated; that is, whether we be talking about a creature/creation or God). Moreoever, I assume that your complaint is not the reality of the distinction but rather the appeal to that distinction to prop up the doctrine of the Trinity. Would I be right here? Nevertheless, don't you agree that rocks, and trees, and cars, and stars, and dogs, and cats exist and have being or reality (i.e. possess stuff-ness), even if they don't have personality? I say, stuff-ness since, I can't really say "composed of stuff or made of stuff" since I can't say that God has being because he's "made" of or "composed" of stuff. God isn't made. Nor is God a composite of anything/any-thing. Yet, God is a thing. In other words, God has being. Every thing has being precisely because it is a "thing." Only nothing has no being, because it is literally no-thing.

Speaking of pets, that brings up another issue. Do you have a pet? Wouldn't you admit that pets have some sense of self-awareness even if they aren't "sentient" or "persons"? Wouldn't you agree that your self-awareness is much higher than that of a dog or a cat that can respond to your moods and which have their own moods and preferences etc? If your self-awareness and self-consciousness far surpasses that of dogs and cats, then isn't it possible that God's self-awareness and personality far, far, far, far, far surpasses and exceeds yours?

Here's another analogy. Have you ever had a dream where you are having a conversation with somebody in the dream and there seemed to be two or more genuine separate people in your dream perception? I think we've all had that experience. Here's an extreme example. More than once I've had a dream where I was having a conversation with someone who was telling me a joke and I found the joke so funny that I *literally* woke up laughing. Yet, the joke was told TO ME, BY ME. Somehow my brain was functioning as if it were two different people. As I was listening to the joke I didn't know what the punchline was going to be, and when it was delivered, it was genuinely surprising. Yet, at the same time, *I* was telling the joke (to me!). Maybe something like that is the case with God. Though, admittedly, my analogy might border on Modalism. But I did say it's an analogy. I've had other dreams that had a coherent story and a conclusion that made sense in such a way as if my brain wrote the story in advance "jigsaw puzzle style" even though I wasn't conscious of it. Of course, it's possible that these examples were brought about by the special influence of demons or of God. But I have no reason to think that. They were mundane dreams that had no indication of coming from an outside intelligence. Even computers multi-task in such a way that they acts as if they are multiple computers. Though, admittedly the analogy breaks down since Western theological tradition affirms the Simplicity of God whereby God is not made up of parts. Rather, God is indivisible, uncompounded, incomplex.

Like you, I can only continue our dialogue as time permits. :^)

F[L]air-minded Reinvention of the Wheel

This is a mirror of a blogpost I posted elsewhere in response to a post by Mike Gantt. I also made many comments on his combox.


Your defense of Davies is fair, except that he has other sentences like that. So far as I have read him, I couldn’t say his presentation is even-handed.

Maybe Davies is heavy handed at times. I forget since I usually focus on the good arguments when I read a work, not so much on the bravado, posturing, argumentum ad populum and other logical fallacies. That's because a mixture of good and bad arguments can be used to defend a true position (as well as a false position). Knowing that, it's also useful to be able to indentify bad arguments and logical fallacies.

That such verses can be read as fitting into a doctrine of Trinity is far from saying they teach the doctrine of a Trinity. These verses do present a trio of names, but there are also verses in the New Testament which present a pair of names.

I don't think the Bible EXPLICITLY teaches the doctrine of the Trinity. You won't find the Nicene formulation in the NT. Though, I believe the Bible IMPLICITLY teaches normative or basic Trinitarianism. I believe that just as there was a progression in God's Revelation about His nature and the nature of salvation (i.e. "Progressive Revelation") DURING the days of inscripturation when infallibly inspired and inerrant public universally binding revelation was still BEING given, so there is, I believe, progression or development of doctrine after such public infallible revelation has ceased (e.g. the closing of the canon of Scripture).

By the way, I'm not only a Trinitarian, but also a Calvinist and a Continuationist with respect to the charismatic gifts (as opposed to Cessationist). So, I believe private fallible non-universally binding revelation which is not on par with Biblical authority is still being given by God at times.

Back to my point. Even during the early Church and during the lives of the apostles there was a growing progressive understanding of right doctrine (orthodoxy) and right practice (orthopraxy). For example, Christ intentionally delayed explicitly acknowledging His messiahship publically for most of his ministry till the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem when he more openly claimed to be the Messiah by fulfilling the prophecies in Zech. 9 and Daniel 9 to the exact day that Daniel predicted. Before that time, he let his actions speak for him since his miracles were the signs and seal of his messiahship per OT prophecies. Up until then, most people weren't sure who he was or what he claimed. That's why Jesus had to ask his disciples "Who do men say I am?". It was only then that the disciples fully understood his messianic claims when he praised Peter for having the right answer. In the same way, the Apostolic church grew in it's understanding that the Gentiles were to be included in salvation (Acts 10 and 15). It grew in it's understanding of the application and non-application of the Law (e.g. circumsion, unclean meats, holy days etc. cf. Rom 14; Col. 2 and the entire book of Galatians). Just as it grew in it's understanding of the doctrine of justification.

This doctrinal development both during and (even) after the lives of the apostles continued because the church continued to be exposed to new situations where disputing parties needed to determine which was/is the correct orthodox view on a particular subject. However, now that there are no longer any living Apostles, no post-apostolic doctrinal development or practical decision that might be made can be binding on all Christians as if it were inspired infallible revelation from the lips or pens of the Apostles. In our current situation, where we are without Apostles to make such dogmatic pronouncements, we need to go back to Scripture to determine which view, if any, is most in keeping with the (explicit and implicit) teaching and spirit of Scripture. That's because Scripture is the only sure source available to the church for infallibly inspired, inerrant, revelation. Hence, the principle of Sola Scriptura.

This doctrinal development included questions about who and what Jesus was/is, who and what the Father is, and who and what the Holy Spirit is. These questions weren't immediately pressing on the early apostolic Church because it was originally Jewish. Unlike the Greek philosophic mentality that asks about issues of ontology/metaphysics/being, the Jewish mentality focused primarily/firstly on right practice/conduct/behavior (orthopraxy). Then secondarily on issues of right doctrine (orthodoxy). But as the church was more and more exposed to and challenged by pagan religious and philosophic beliefs, she (the church) was forced to refine its doctrinal understanding to contrast it with error. That's why there are those passages in Colossians and Ephesians about the supremacy of Christ.

1 Cor. 11:19 says,
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (KJV)

For there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you. (ASV)

for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. (ESV)

For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. (NASB)

In the history of the Church doctrinal factions and disputes arose that required resolution. 1 Cor. 11:19 is almost prophetic in that way. And it was those factional disputes that helped to uncover who were most faithful to Scripture. They are the ones who fit the description of having been "approved, made manifest, recognized and become evident[ly true]".

In Ephesians chapter 4 Paul says the following,

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, (NASB)

Notice that verse 13 say, "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."

I believe this is prophetic of what will happen and has been happening in the history of the Church. It will probably continue to happen till Christ returns. For example, it took time for doctrines and principles like Sola Scriptura (Scripture as the highest authority), Sola Gratia (salvation by grace alone), Sola Fide (justification by faith alone), Solo Christo (sufficiency of Christ work alone for salvation) to develop and mature.

Trinitarianism is the fruit of that kind of necessary refinement as the church was challeged by various ontological questions. For example: Did Jesus pre-exist his physical birth? Was it a personal or impersonal "existence"? Is Jesus Michael the Archangel? Is Jesus created? Is Jesus a demigod? Is Jesus *half* human and *half* god (or half demigod or half angel)? OR is Jesus *fully* human and *fully* God? Does Jesus have only one nature or two natures? If there's one nature is it a mixture of two (or more) natures? If there are two (or more) natures, are the natures distinct or do the attributes of one affect the attributes of the other(s) and vice versa? Is Jesus one person or two persons? Does Jesus have a human soul? Does Jesus have two wills or one will? While on earth did Jesus only appear human but was actually only spirit and not flesh? Was Jesus only human/flesh? After the resurrection is Jesus now only spirit or now only flesh? If spirit and flesh, what's the nature of his glorified body? Is Jesus the same person as the Father? Was Jesus the Angel of the LORD in the OT? Was Jesus the "Word (debar/memra) of the LORD" in the Old Testament? Is Jesus the first and only direct creation of God the Father through whom he (i.e. the Father) created everything else? Or is Jesus God so that he is not a creature and therefore not created? Did the pre-incarnate Jesus begin to exist in time? Or is his pre-existence eternal? Is God temporally (i.e. everlastingly) eternal or timelessly eternal? What kind of eternality does/did Jesus have if any? Is it only an eternality that's forwards. Or does it go backwards as well? Did Jesus know everything (i.e. omniscient)? Could Jesus sin? Is the Holy Spirit personal or impersonal? Is the Holy Spirit a created creature or God?

All of the above (and more) are questions people who to take the Bible serious will NATURALLY ask and will NATURALLY attempt to answer not only because people are curious by nature, but because they understand that truth is precise, polarizing, and exclusive/discriminating. What are the right answers to these questions? It's not enough to merely say, Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God. Everyone who claims to believe the Bible can parrot those Biblical phrases yet have TOTALLY different meanings and understandings of that scriptural phrase.

That's why doctrine is important and why logic and philosophy has been used to help understand and describe what the Bible teaches both explicitly and implicitly on this subject. Philosophy should take a back seat to theology. Philosophy should be the servant of theology, rather than it's master. So long as philosophy is used in the right way, it can aid in doing theology (e.g. Biblical theology, systematic theology).

If the mere presence of three names in a verse teaches a Trinity, then a presence of two names would present a Binity…and we would have a contradiction in the Scriptures on our hands. Moreover, there are far more NT verses that present a duo than there are that present a trio.

Well, when I was once Arianistic, I also flirted with something like Binitarianism because I used to be influenced by Armstrongism (i.e. Hebert W. Armstrong's theology) 20 years. I don't claim that the presence of 3 names conclusively proves Trinitarianism.
I presented those passages as data which help us to inductively and abductively understand what the correct (i.e. orthodox) teaching is.

I hope you see therefore that the three cited verses just don’t do the work that Trinitarians claim they do.

Well, most knowledgeable Trinitarians don't attempt to proof-text or spoof-text the doctrine of the Trinity. It takes exegetical finesse. It's not just a science, but an art. An art that requires illumination by the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. It's an abductive endeavor just like one would make if one were to set forth a case for pre-millennialism or amillennialism or post-millennialism. There is no one verse that teaches all aspects of any one doctrine (whether Christology, eschatology, pneumatology, angelology, demonology, ecclesiology, predestination, etc). We have to piece together all of what Scripture says on a subject in a coherent and non-contradictory way that gives the same emphasis and priority/weight the Bible does to the various Biblical premises and axioms available.

Since I don’t believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, what do I believe? The doctrine of Christ. This is what I believe the Scriptures teach.

I don't know what you mean by "The doctrine of Christ".

For some specifics, let me point you to The Biggest Problem with the Trinity and Six Objections to the Trinity.

I'll deal with those posts of yours at the end of this blog.

One of the difficulties with discussions about Trinitarianism is that it’s a philosophical, not a biblical, construct.

There are aspects of higher level trinitarian theology that are philosphic, abstract and speculative. That's true. But the basics of Trinitarianism can be understood with a minimum amount of philosophy. Leaving aside for the meantime Social Trinitarianism, and Eastern Orthodox Trinitarianism, Latin Trinitarianism only requires an understanding of the distinction between the categories of 1. "being" and 2. "person".

The category of "Being" has to do with having the "stuff" of existence. It has to do with the "WHAT-ness" of something. While the category of "Person" has to do with consciousness. That is, with the "WHO-ness" of something. So, for example, a rock you find at a beach has physical being, but it doesn't have personality. Angels and demons on the other hand are conscious persons even if they don't have physical being (though they do have spiritual being).

Now when it comes to the Trinity, Latin Trinitarians believe God is one "what" and three "whos". That three persons eternally share the one being that is God. We believe that God is ONE in *being* and (at the same time) THREE in *person*. That's not a contradiction.

It would be a contradiction if it was formulated as "God is one in person and three in person." It would also be a contradiction if it was formulated as "God is one in being and three in being."

It can get more philosophic than that if we started talking about substance and subsistence, hypostasis, hypostases, hypostatic union, perichoresis, circumincession, eternal generation, eternal sonship, filioque, subordinationism, eternal procession of the Holy Spirit, is the Father fons deitatis, or fons trinitatis etc. But what I outlined there is the basics of the Trinity and easily understood by most people. I'm personally forced to hold to it because I can't think of any better way to piece together all of the Biblical teaching on the subject. Or find any other better resolution to all of the problems and questions that have been brought up down through history. I don't think it's necessary, practical, wise, or humble to re-invent the wheel. We can learn from those who have gone before us. Both in what they got right and (sometimes even more importantly) from what they got wrong. We have 2000 years of theology to build upon. Unless we got stranded on an island, I don't think God expects us to start from scratch. Having said that, we should also always follow Paul's command to "Test ALL things, and then to HOLD FAST that which is good." That includes the traditional doctrine of the Trinity since Christ warned us not to nullify the Word of God by our [human] traditions.

Mike Gantt said in his blog "The Biggest Problem with the Trinity"

The biggest problem with the concept of trinity is that it obscures the light of Christ.

He who is called the “second” person of the Trinity is taught by the New Testament as coming to have “first place in everything.” (Colossians 1:18)

How does it specifically "obscure the light of Christ". I don't see how it does since Trinitarianism teaches the full deity of Christ. I don't know what you (Mike) believe about Jesus. So, it's difficult to compare and contrast our beliefs. A person who denies the full deity of Christ would argue that the doctrine of the Trinity gives too much honor to Christ by affirming his full deity. Since you're claiming the doctrine of the Trinity takes away from the honor of Christ, I'm guessing you hold to the full deity of Christ. If so, then I would have to ask you what you believe the relationship is between Jesus and the Father. Are they the same person? I can only guess that you possibly hold to a Modalistic understanding of God. If so, then I highly recommend the book "Jesus Only Churches" by E. Calvin Beisner and Alan W. Gomes. It deals with Oneness Theology (AKA Jesus Only theology). Modalism doesn't take serious the distinct personalities of the Trinity. It doesn't adequately explain how God has eternally been love since there's only one person prior to creation. Who was there for the uni-personal God to love from all eternity before creation? Why did Jesus pray when he prayed to God the Father if Jesus IS the Father? How can the Father witness to the Son (John 5:32, 37; 8:18) when it takes two or three witness according to Scripture to verify something? How was the Word "WITH" God as John 1:1 states if the Word was the same person as God? If Jesus is the Father, why didn't he simply say, "I am the Father" or "I AM the Father"? Why his constant reference to the Father as if the Father were some other person? Jesus' statement "...he that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9) is not equivalent to "I am the Father." Jesus says in John 6:46 "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father."

Mike Gantt said in his blog "Six Objections to the Trinity"

The Trinity concept contends for attention with the New Testament’s focus on Christ (that is, it obscures God’s mystery, Christ, and replaces it with man’s mystery, the Trinity).

Again, I don't know what that means. How does it contend for attention? What do you mean by the Trinity obscuring "God's mystery"? What do you mean by "God's mystery"?

The apostles did not articulate it as it has been articulated by post-apostolic fathers and people today (i.e. it is not explicitly taught in Scripture, that is, not explicitly taught by prophets, apostles or the Lord; and it is an inadequate and unsatisfying explanation of what is taught by them).

I answered this above. I would disagree that it's an unsatisfying explanation of what they taught.

There was not a Binity recognized in the Old Testament even though the Father and Holy Spirit had been revealed. If we should accept a Trinity from the New Testament, there should be a Binity in the Old Testament.

I don't understand why there should have been a Binity in the OT if we're to accept a Trinity in the NT. How does that follow. That seems like a non-sequitur. It seems to me that we would expect a Trinity revealed or at least hinted at in the OT if the NT teaches a Trinity. And that's what I think we do find. There are various passages in the OT that alludes to multiplicity with respect to God. Sometimes triple plurality. I would point to the fact that one of the words for God is "elohim" which is plural. As I've posted elsewhere:

Here are some examples of plurality with respect to God implied in the Old Testament-

Genesis 19:24 "Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens."

This passage suggests that there are two persons with the name [or who share the name of] YHWH. One on earth who had been speaking to Abraham and one in heaven.

Isaiah 54:5: "For your Maker is your husband…" [Literally: makers, husbands.]

Ecclesiastes 12:1: "Remember now you creator…" [Literally: creators.]

Psalm 149:2: "Let Israel rejoice in their Maker." [Literally: makers.]

possibly Job 35:10 too, see John Gill on that verse

Joshua 24:19: "…holy God…" [Literally: holy Gods.]
John Gill says of this verse, "In the Hebrew text it is, 'for the Holy Ones [are] he': which may serve to illustrate and confirm the doctrine of the trinity of, persons in the unity of the divine Essence, or of the three divine holy Persons, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit, as the one God..."

Hosea 1:7: "Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen."

Here YHWH speaks about another person as YHWH.

Zechariah 2:8-9: "For thus says the LORD of Hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he that touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me."

This passage could be referring to the prophet (Zechariah) himself, or (possibly) it has YHWH speaking and saying that another person who is YHWH has sent Him (i.e. YHWH).

Isaiah 48:16
" Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD [YHWH] and His Spirit Have sent Me."

Here's another passage where YHWH is speaking and says that another person whose name is also YHWH and YHWH's Spirit (evidently the Holy Spirit) has sent Him (i.e. YHWH who was speaking).

There are places where God speaking speaks of "Us" as if there's a plurality in the Godhead.

Gen. 1:26 "Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..."

Gen. 3:22 "22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us..."

Isa. 6:8 "Also 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."

Also, I've recently heard the following argument that is based on Hebrew from an episode of the John Ankerberg show I watched on I've posted the link that directly goes to the part in the video where the argument is made (at minute 1, second 13).

In essence it said that there are three ways to say "god" in Hebrew. "EL" (singular), "ELOHIAM" (dual) and "ELOHIM" (three or more). "ELOHIAM" (dual) is never used of God in the Old Testment while "ELOHIM" which means 3 or more is used of God over 2000 times. Ankerberg cites Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar p. 244 which state "[The dual] in Hebrew, however, it is almost exclusively used to denote those objects which naturally occur in pairs." If this argument is true, then that would support (though not prove) the doctrine of the Trinity. However, I'm not sure this argument is true. I need to confirm it since I believe this is the same Gesenius who some claim foisted the anachronistic hoax that pluralis majestiticus (royal plurality of majesty) was a concept known and used by ancient Semitic cultures. This is according to Robert Morey in his book Trinity: Evidence and Issues. Though Morey's scholarship is itself suspect at times (cf. his so-called "scholarship" on Islam).

The Trinity concept defies understanding and logic (How can 3=1?)

That's because the doctrine teaches that God is one (1) in a different sense than God is three (3). As explained above, God is one in the sense of being, and three in the sense of person. That's why it's not a contradiction.

it must simply be accepted without understanding (to say 3 persons in 1 being is dodging the Deuteronomy 6:4 issue with verbal gymnastics).

The word for "one" in Deut. 6:4 is "echad" which allows for "composite unity". The same word is used in Gen. 2:24 - “They [two persons] shall be one [echad] flesh,” or Gen. 1:5 - “the evening and the morning were the first (or one) [echad] day,” or Numbers 13:23 - “one [echad] cluster of grapes.” If the Holy Spirit wanted to indicate that God's unity was absolute oneness, then he could have inspired the use of the Hebrew word "yachid". Even then, Notice what the verse says:

""Hear, O Israel! The LORD [1] is our God [2], the LORD [3] is one!" (NASB) It could also be translated "Here O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD alone!" Or, "Here O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD!" Regardless of how it's translated, notice that God is mentioned 3 times in this verse which is called "the Shema" (meaning "Hear") by the Jews because it is the centerpiece of their monotheistic creed and theology. Yet, as I noted, God is mentioned 3 times! This might hint at the tri-personal nature of God.

Scripture may instruct us to accept a stated truth that we cannot understand, but there is no reason for us to infer propositions from it that cannot be understood.

Regardless of whether the doctrine of the Trinity is true or not, the doctrine itself can be understood even if it cannot be exhaustively comprehended. I would recommend James Anderson's book "Paradox in Christian Theology: An Analysis of Its Presence, Character and Epistemic Status"

Here's a link to Paul Manata's review of the book:

There are no types, patterns, or analogies for it in Scripture (and perhaps elsewhere either) even though God commonly gives types, patterns, and analogies for those things He wants us to learn.

This isn't so much a good objection to the doctrine of the Trinity, more than an unfufilled expectation. But we have to understand that in the Old Testament God wanted His people to avoid all forms of idolatry. This could include likening God to some analogy. Especially since it would be difficult to find such an analogy since God is sui generis (unique and one of a kind being). If God wanted to indicate that he was singular in every sense (one in person and one in being) then God could have only inspired and only sanctioned the use of the word "el" (the singular generic word for deity) to refer to himself. Yet, God allows himself to be referred to in the plural over 2000 times (2249 times)! Also, various languages have different way to emphasize things. In English we might highlight something, or make it bold, or place an exclamation point at the end of it. In Hebrew, the way to emphasize something was to repeat it. For example, "woe, woe" or "truly, truly". To emphasize something to the superlative degree one would repeat things three times. I find it interesting that God is described as "Holy, Holy, Holy", that is trice Holy, in Isaiah chapter 6. The same chapter that alludes to the multiplicity of God in various other ways. Compare that with Rev. 4:8 "..."Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come." God is often called, "Lord", and "God" and the "Almighty". Yet we have here God being called the "Lord [1] God [2], Almighty [3], who was [1] and who is [2] and who is to come [3]. This too might hint at (not prove) the Triunity of God.

Revelation 22:1 says, "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." Here you have mentioned God [evidentally the Father], the Lamb [clearly a reference to Jesus] and the pure river of the water of life [which is a clear reference to the Holy Spirit]. Compare that verse with John 4:10ff and 7:37ff.

John 7:
37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"
39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Isa. 44:3 'For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants;

It seem to me that Revelation 22:1 strongly hints at the Trinity.

The Trinity concept is an impractical way to relate to a God who wants us to trust, love, and obey Him (i.e. when you’re praying do you pray to your Father or your Lord; or do you just pray to the two of them knowing they will say the same thing, and if they’ll say the same thing, why do you need two of them – why doesn’t one of them do something else while you are praying?)

There are Biblical examples of prayer directed to the Father. Just as there are prayers directed to the Son. Just as there are prayers directed to the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the New Testament [specifically the post cross/resurrection/ascension epistles] teaching on prayer is prayer TO the Father, THROUGH the [mediatorship of the] Son, BY the [power, presence and accessibility of the] Holy Spirit [who dwells in you and prays through you]. All 6 of the objections made have been addressed hundreds of times by real Trinitarian theologians, pastors, scholars, apologists and philosophers (unlike myself a pseudo-theologian/scholar/apologist/philosopher).