Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Witness of the Holy Spirit

16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true.18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me."- John 8:16-18 (cf. John 5:31-32, 37)
From the above verses Unitarians have argued against the doctrine of the Trinity because the Holy Spirit doesn't witness to Christ in that passage. They argue that if the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, then he should testify to Christ along with the Father and Christ's own self testimony; since both Jesus and the Old Testament (which Jesus alludes to) say three witnesses are also sufficient. If two witness are sufficient, then surely three witnesses are better. Therefore, what better place for Jesus to teach or hint at there being three persons in the Trinity? Since Jesus doesn't do so, therefore the doctrine of the Trinity is false and merely man made.

However, this misses the fact that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be sent afterwards and then bear witness to Him.

"But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.- John 15:26
This delayed testimony of the Holy Spirit is evidence for His personality, His full deity and for the doctrine of the Trinity. See my blogpost titled "The Holy Spirit Contradicts the Accidence of Personality" for how the underlying Greek further supports the Trinity:

The Holy Spirit Contradicts the Accidence of Personality

So, the very argument that Unitarians use to try to refute Trinitarianism, actually lends supports to the doctrine of the Trinity. Since, only persons can testify, therefore the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons who testify and bear witness to the truthfulness of Jesus' message to His being God's Son and Savior of the world. An impersonal force cannot bear witness in a court of law. This proves the personhood of the Holy Spirit, along with lending support for His divinity (see my blog on that topic HERE).

It's interesting that the Old Testament doesn't stop at two witnesses as being sufficient. It also mentions three witnesses. Obviously, more than three witnesses would be even better in a court of law. However, the specific mention of three might be a Hebrew remez hinting at the Trinity. According to David H. Stern's Jewish New Testament Commentary:

(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
 I've also noted in other blogs the following regarding the theme of threes in the Old Testament. Whether, the repetition of "holy" in both the Old and New Testaments, or the three references to God in the Shema, or the three references to God in the Aaronic Blessing etc.

[It's] often pointed out that the use of triples in the above passages doesn't necessarily allude to the Trinity since the same grammatical repetition is used of other things in the Old Testament and in the Hebrew language in general. That's true. But we have to ask ourselves why three rather than two or four or five is the number of times to be used for the full, complete and highest degree of absolute emphasis? Might it be that God Himself implanted, directly or indirectly by His providence, in the historical development of the languages and Semitic cultures of that time a 
subconscious echoing knowledge and understanding of the Absolute, the ultimate reality? That is, of the reality of  God as a Trinity? Might it be the other way around? That rather than the use of triples in reference to God MERELY being a hinting at and pointing toward the Trinity, might it also ultimately be the case that the Trinity itself is the very source and grounding of that linguistic feature found in various Semitic cultures?
Here are other passages that teach the Holy Spirit testifies and bears witness as a person.

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."- Acts 5:32

except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.- Acts 20:23

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,- Rom. 8:16

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,- Heb. 10:15

 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories- 1 Pet. 1:11

6 This is he who came by water and blood---Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.- 1 John 5:6-8

The following passages might not be as strong an indication of the Holy Spirit's witness. They may or may not depending on interpretation.

I am speaking the truth in Christ---I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit--- - Rom. 9:1

 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.- Rom. 19:10

 See the following links for more evidence for the full deity of the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit Contradicts the Accidence of Personality

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