Friday, August 21, 2015

The Trinity At the Beginning of Creation

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.- John 1:1-3

Some Unitarians have denied a connection between John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1. Robert M. Bowman gave 5 reasons why such a connection makes sense.

1. The words en arche occur at the beginning of each book; 
2. The name God (ho theos) occurs in the opening sentence in each book, and frequently thereafter as well; 
3. Both passages speak about the creation of all things; 
4. The name given to the preexistent Christ, "the Word," reminds us of the frequent statement in Genesis, "And God said, 'Let there be...'"—that is, in Genesis God creates by speaking the word, in John he creates through the person of the Word; 
5. Both passages in Greek use the words egeneto ("came into existence"), phos ("light") and skotos or skotia ("darkness"), and both contrast light and darkness. 

These point of similarity taken together constitute a powerful cumulative case for understanding en arche to be referring to the same beginning in John 1:1 as that of Genesis 1:1—the beginning of time itself. 
-Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ & the Gospel of John, pp. 21-22  [The Greek transliterations are not exactly reproduced here]
 Once the connection is accepted, some Unitarians might object and say, if the doctrine of the Trinity is true, "Why isn't the Holy Spirit mentioned in John 1:1?" Bowman wrote:

It is extremely common for JWs [Jehovah's Witnesses] to ask with reference to this text why the Holy Spirit is not mentioned as another person who was also with God. The answer is that John was concerned at that point to write about the Word, not the Holy Spirit. The JWs reason that if the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in John 1:1, then the Holy Spirit either (a) was not there; or (b) was not a person; they opt for the latter explanation. But there is a third explanation: John simply did not care to mention the Holy Spirit at that point.
-Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ & the Gospel of John, pp. 24
 John not caring to mention the Holy Spirit at this point is consistent with his decision to reveal the person, work and divinity of the Holy Spirit later in his Gospel (chapters 14-16). He did the same with respect to the Father and Son as witnesses who personally authenticate the message of Jesus. Early in the Gospel Jesus appeals ONLY to the testimony of the Father and Son (John 8:16-18; 5:31-32, 37) apart from the Holy Spirit. But then later on additionally appeals to the testimony of the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).

See my blogpost titled "The Witness of the Holy Spirit" for why the Holy Spirit's delayed witness is evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity:

The Witness of the Holy Spirit

But more can be said in response to the objection that the Holy Spirit either wasn't at creation or, if present, wasn't a person. When we look as Genesis chapter 1 we see in verse 2 "the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters".

When we combine John 1:1 with Genesis 1:1-3 all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned.

1    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3    And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.- Gen. 1:1-3
God (either as the Trinity or at the very least the Father) is mentioned in verse 1.
The Holy Spirit is then mentioned in verse 2 as "the Spirit of God"
The Word is implicitly alluded to in verse 3 when God SPOKE. In fact, once the doctrine of the Trinity is accepted, it could be argued that the "God" mentioned in verse 3 is the Word Himself (the pre-incarnate Jesus) who spoke the world into existence (cf. Heb. 1:3b; 2c; Col. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 8:6b; John 1:3 etc.)

Psalm 33:6 is probably a remez by God hinting at the doctrine of the Trinity. The word for "breath" in Hebrew can also be translated "spirit" or "Spirit."

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

David H. Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary wrote:
 (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
If the remez is accepted, then Psalm 33:6 includes all three persons of the Trinity 1. IN ONE VERSE,  2. and that IN THE OLD TESTAMENT NO LESS!

That the Holy Spirit creates is taught in the following Old Testament passages: Job 33:4; Ps. 33:6; 104:30.

Again, if Ps. 33:6 hints at the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creation, then it makes sense that the Holy Spirit is a person since "the word of the LORD" would refer to Jesus and the "LORD" of the "word of the LORD" would refer to the Father. If both "the word/Word" and "the LORD" are personal, why wouldn't "the breath of his mouth" be personal too? The word for spirit/breath/wind are all the same in both Hebrew (ruach) and Greek (pneuma). This argument doesn't assume or depend on the truth of Trinitarianism. Even a Unitarian could see a veiled reference to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in this verse. Trinitarians would just see more. There are many other such triadic passages in both the Old and New Testaments (See HERE for documentation).

That the Holy Spirit is the (or also along with the Father and Son) Source of Life is seen in the following verses: John 6:63; Rom. 8:2, 6, 10, 11; 2 Cor. 3:6; Job 33:4; John 3:5-8; Gal. 4:29; 5:25; 6:8; 1 Pet. 3:18 [assuming the "water of life" refers to the Holy Spirit then the following verses also apply John 4:10-14; 7:37-38; Rev. 7:17; 21:6; 22:1, 17]. Compare with God the Father being referred to as "the Living God" (Matt. 16:16 and many other passages) and Jesus referring to Himself as "the Living One" (Rev. 1:18; compare the phrase, "El Chai" ("the Living God"), at Joshua 3:10, Psalms 42:3, 84:3).

The fact that both the Holy Spirit and the Word (the pre-incarnate Jesus) was involved in creation would be evidence of their full deity with the Father by the fact that Jehovah [or Yahweh] stated in Isaiah 44:24

 Thus saith JEHOVAH, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb: I am JEHOVAH, that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth (who is with me?);- Isa. 44:24 ASV

Thus says the LORD [Yahweh], your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD [Yahweh], who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,- Isa. 44;24 ESV
Unitarians are therefore caught in a dilemma. Either Yahweh/Jehovah had no one who aided Him in creation, in which case the Word and the Holy Spirit were not involved [contrary to direct and explicit Biblical teaching]; OR the Word and the Holy Spirit are themselves Yahweh along with the Father.

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