Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas: It is more than just the birth of a baby

Image courtesy Aussome 7
when asked what came to mind when they think of Christmas, most non-Christians would probably bring up the whole Santa thing, with sleigh bells, eggnog, “White Christmas” and “Ho, ho, ho!” Most Christians, on the other hand, would probably think of Jesus in the manger, and Christmas songs such as “Away in a manger” and “Silent Night.” Some people even have a concept of the combination of the two.

The fact is, Christmas, and especially the nativity of Christ, is much more than just the birth of a baby boy. It is all about Immanuel, God with us!
Let’s have a quick look at Jesus Christ, and who He is.

1. Humanity of Christ

The fact that Jesus was human while on earth can easily be attested to by Holy Scripture.
(18) Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. (19) And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. (20) But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (21) She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (22) All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: (23) "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). (24) When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, (25) but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Mt 1:18-25)
First, the virgin birth of Christ shows that salvation is from the Lord and Him alone. Second, the virgin birth made the uniting of full deity and full humanity in the one person of Christ. Finally, it makes possible the true humanity of Christ, yet without inherited sin.

Jesus had a completely human body with its human weaknesses and limitations. This is shown by the fact that Jesus was born as all other babies are born (Lk 2:7). He also grew through childhood like other children (Lk 2:40). Jesus became tired (Jn 4:6); thirsted (Jn 19:28); hungered (Mt 4:2); became weak (Lk 23:26) and died physically (Lk 23:46).

Jesus had a human mind (Lk 2:52; Heb 5:8; Mk 13:32); a human soul (Jn 12:27; 13:21; Mt 26:38), and human emotions (Mt 8:10; Jn 11:35; Heb 5:7).

Why was the full humanity of Jesus necessary?
  • Jesus became our representative and obeyed where Adam failed. Compare the temptations of Adam (Gen 2:15-3:7) and Jesus (Lk 4:1-13).
(18) Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (19) For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Rom 5:18-19)
  • Jesus had to die in our place and pay the penalty that was due to us.
(16) For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. (17) Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Heb 2:16-17)
  • Jesus became the one mediator between God and Men. This was essential, since we were alienated from God.
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1Ti 2:5)
Even after the death and resurrection, Jesus remains a man (Jn 20:25-27; Lk 24:39-42; Ac 1:11; 7:56; Rev 1:13).

2. Deity of Christ

Even when men like Kenneth Copeland claim that Jesus told them personally in special revelation, “But I didn't claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me,” Scripture abounds with the record of the deity of Jesus.

The word God (Greek theos - ?e?? ) is used of Christ. In the New Testament, the word theos is usually reserved for God the Father. Nevertheless, there are several instances where it is used to refer to Christ (Jn 1:1, 18 – in better manuscripts; see New American Standard Bible, New International Version; 20:28-29; Rom 9:5; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:8; 2 Pet 1:1; Is 9:6).

The word Lord (Greek kyrios - ?????? ) is used of Christ. This word is used in the Septuagint (LXX – the Greek translation of the Old Testament commonly used at the time of Christ and quoted frequently by the writers of the New Testament) as a translation for the Hebrew yhwh (Yahweh). The word kyrios is used 6814 times in the LXX to translate the name of the Lord. Any reader would have recognized its use in the New Testament when appropriate as the Creator and Sustainer of all. (Lk 2:11; 1:43; Mt 3:3; 22:41-45; 1 Cor 8:6; 12:3; Heb 1:10-12; Rev 19:16)

Other claims to Deity: Jn 8:58 – When the Jewish leaders heard Jesus say this they knew that He meant to invoke the claims of their God, yhwh, to be equal to Him as depicted in Ex 3:14. In Rev 22:13 Jesus declares Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, claiming equal deity with God the Father who claimed to be the Alpha and the Omega in Rev 1:8. John claims Jesus to be God in Jn 1:1, but not only that, he also claims Jesus to be “the Word.” This was a term John’s readers would have understood to mean the powerful, creative Word of God in the Old Testament by which the universe was created (Ps. 33:6) and also to be the underlying unifying principle of the universe as understood in the Greek thinking of the day. There are other proofs of the deity of Jesus found in the Bible.

Why was Jesus’ deity necessary?
  • Only the infinite God could bear the full penalty for all the sins of those who would believe in Him. A finite creature would find it unbearable to handle such a task.
  • All of Scripture is designed to show that salvation is all of the Lord, and that no creature could ever save man.
  • The mediator between God and Man could only be one who is fully and truly God (1 Tim 2:5).
Jesus’ Equality with the Father

The Jews knew what Jesus meant when He said that He and the Father were one.
(25) Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, (26) but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. (27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (28) I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (29) My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (30) I and the Father are one." (31) The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. (32) Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" (33) The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God." (Jn 10:25-33)
When Jesus said, “I and the Father are one,” did He mean “one in purpose?” I think not! That is a concoction of the human mind to get past the equality of Jesus to the Father. The response of the Jews was clear as to what Jesus meant, for they knew what He meant when He said those words. It is clear that it was to be understood that Jesus meant to “make [Himself] out to be God.” Concerning the word “one” A.T. Robertson says,
“{One} (en). Neuter,  not masculine (eiv). Not one person (cf. eiv in #Ga 3:28),  but one essence or nature.”1
Paul takes us further in Phil. 2:5-11,
(5) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (6) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but smade himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (8) And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (1)0 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Spiros Zodhiates clears this passage up when he says,
“The entire passage in Phil. 2:6-8 deals with the humiliation of Christ for the purpose of dying. It is brought forth as an illustration of humility (v. 3). This humility is expressed in thoughtfulness of others (v. 4). And then comes the illustration of how Christ humbled Himself and in His death He thought of nothing else but others. Although He was God incarnate and He could avoid death, He did not do it for the sake of man. He allowed Himself to die in His manhood. A translation more expressive of the true meaning of the Greek text of this passage would be, “Who, Christ, being in the form of God.” The word translated “existed” is the Greek hUPARCWN, which means that He was in continuation of what He had been before.. It is not the participle ON, from EIMI (1510), but the verb hUPARCWN from hUPARCW (5225), which in this context means “being what He was before.”  Being in His essential form as God (Jn. 1:1), He continued to be that when He became and continued to be man. And then the second statement is “… did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” He did not consider being equal with God as something to be forceably grasped from God. His essence of deity was not something that He took at any time, but it was something that He always had and never lost.”2
Calvin adds a similar sentiment,
“And the dispute is admirably settled by Paul, when he declares that he was equal with God before he humbled himself, and assumed the form of a servants (Phil. 2:6,7.)”3
More Scriptures from the New Testament will suffice.
(15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (16) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Col 1:15-17)
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, (Col 2:9)
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb. 1:3)
The post-resurrection Jesus claims to be the first and last (Rev. 1:17; 2:8), which is also claimed by God in Is. 41:4; 44:6. This is just more proof that Jesus is equal with the Father.

3. The Incarnation

The teaching of the full humanity and full deity of Christ is so extensive that both have been believed from the earliest times.

Three inadequate views of the Person of Christ 


According to apollinarianism, the one person of Christ had a human body but not a human mind or spirit, and that the mind and spirit of Christ were from the divine nature of the Son of God.


According to Nestorianism, there were two separate persons in Christ. A human person and a divine person.
Eutychianism (Monophysitism)

Eutychianism denied that the human nature and the divine nature in Christ remained fully human and fully divine. The human nature was taken up and absorbed into the divine nature resulting in a third new nature.

The Solution: The Definition of Chalcedon

At the council of Chalcedon in AD 451, this definition guarded against and took care of the three errors mentioned above.
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

The Definition of Chalcedon clarified such seeming contradictions such as: How could Jesus be omnipotent and yet weak? How could He be everywhere, yet He left this earth? If He was omniscient, how could He learn things? The definition speaks of two distinct natures in Christ that retain their separate properties, yet remain in one person. He became what He was not, though remaining what He was.
The incarnation of Christ is by far the greatest miracle of all time.
The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe.4
The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death; yet He Himself, as the Word, being immortal and the Father's Son, was such as could not die. For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection. It was by surrendering to death the body which He had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from every stain, that He forthwith abolished death for His human brethren by the offering of the equivalent. For naturally, since the Word of God was above all, when He offered His own temple and bodily instrument as a substitute for the life of all, He fulfilled in death all that was required. Naturally also, through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all men were clothed with incorruption in the promise of the resurrection. For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all.5
Just because something is difficult to understand, simply does not mean that it does not exist. To deny the existence of the orthodox Trinity on grounds of not understanding it, is to deny the very revelation of God. The same would be to deny airplane flight, simply because one does not understand it! To deny the unipersonality of Christ, would be to deny Christ altogether!

Berkhof gives a clear description as to what is meant by the words “nature” and “person.”
The term “nature” denotes the sum-total of all the essential qualities of a thing, that which makes it what it is. A nature is a substance possessed in common, with all the essential qualities of such a substance. The term “person” denotes a complete substance endowed with reason, and consequently, a responsible subject of its own actions. Personality is not an essential and integral part of a nature, but is, as it were, the terminus to which it tends. A person is a nature with something added, namely, independent subsistence, individuality.6
One nature in Christ does things that the other nature does not do

In order to understand and see the Scriptural evidence for the unipersonality of Christ we will now look at some examples of where the Scriptures speak of things that one nature in Christ does certain things while the other nature does not do these same things.

Human Nature Divine Nature
Ascended to heaven and is no longer in the world (Jn 16:28; 17:11; Ac 1:9-11). Jesus is omnipresent (Mt 18:20; 28:20; Jn 14:23).
Jesus was 30 years old (Lk 3:23). He eternally existed (Jn 1:1-2; 8:58; Col 1:17).
Jesus was weak and tired (Mt 4:2; 8:24; Mk 15:21; Jn 4:6). He is omnipotent (Mt 8:26-27; Col 1:17; Heb 1:3).
Jesus died (Lk 23:46; 1 Cor 15:3). Did not die, but was able to raise himself from the dead (Jn 2:19; 10:17-18; Heb 7:16).
Was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15). God cannot be tempted by evil (Js 1:13).
He had limited knowledge (Mk 13:32; Lk 2:52). He is omniscient (Jn 2:25; 16:30; 21:17).

The great majority of the church throughout its history has said that Jesus had two wills and centers of consciousness, yet he remained one person. Such a formulation is not impossible, merely a mystery that we do not now fully understand. To adopt any other solution would create a far greater problem: it would require that we give up either the full deity or full humanity of Christ, and that we cannot do.7
The Person of Christ does anything either nature does

Whatever is true of either the divine or the human nature of Christ is true of the person of Christ. When Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I am” (Jn 8:58), He did not mean to say “Before Abraham was my divinity existed.” He can talk of anything done alone by His divine nature or done alone by His human nature as something He did! Even though it was the human body of Jesus that died on the cross, still Christ as a person died for our sin as seen in 1 Cor 15:3 “Christ died for our sins.” When Jesus said that He was leaving the world (Jn 16:28), and that He would be with us always (Mt 28:20), it was indeed the person of Christ that said and did these things.

Certain titles indicate that one nature can be used of the person when the action is done by the other

The phrase “Lord of glory” in 1 Cor 2:8 reminds us of the Deity of Christ, yet in this passage it speaks of the crucifixion of the “Lord of glory.” The person of Christ was crucified, but the divine nature of Christ was not. In Lk 1:43 ,Elizabeth calls Mary “the mother of my Lord,” in which the title or name “my Lord” reminds us of the divine nature of Christ. However, Mary was not the mother of the divine nature of Jesus, which is eternal. She was simply the mother of His human nature.

4.   The Trinity

The Nicene Creed says it like this: And I believe
“in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, "begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;"
The Athanasian Creed has this to say of the Trinity:
Now the catholic8 faith is that we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is One, the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit; the Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated; the father infinite, the Son infinite, and the Holy Spirit infinite; the Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet not three eternals but one eternal, as also not three infinites, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one infinite. So, likewise, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty; and yet not three almighties but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God; and yet not three Gods but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; and yet not three Lords but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be both God and Lord; so are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, there be three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son, not made nor created nor begotten but proceeding. So there is one Father not three Fathers, one Son not three Sons, and one Holy Spirit not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less, but the whole three Persons are coeternal together and coequal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity is to be worshipped. He therefore who wills to be in a state of salvation, let him think thus of the Trinity.
To reply to a statement that some people (such as Gwen Shamblin of The Weigh Down diet) make. The statement is thus: The
"word 'trinity' implies equality in leadership, or shared Lordship."
What seems clear to me, is that they have a confused understanding of the "Trinity." If we decide to split the relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit into the Father who has Lordship, the Son who was merely sent to earth, and the Holy Spirit "proceeding" merely from the Father, it is clear that they do not hold to the "faith once and for all delivered." In their scheme of the Godhead (if they hold to such a concept at all), is that Jesus has no part in leadership in the Godhead, and neither does the Holy Spirit.

They also seem to believe that Jesus holds no Lordship, hence their statement
"the word "trinity" implies ... shared Lordship."
This seems so strange to me, that they hold to their doctrine by pulling two verses of the Bible out of context to prove their point, yet the Bible is full of this "shared Lordship" which is ascribed to Jesus. One merely has to read the New Testament as a storybook, with no in-depth motivation behind it, and one will discover that the New Testament itself claims deity for Jesus at the highest level.

Those who believe that the concept of the Trinity is a late development that came about at the Council of Nicea do not have all their facts straight. Tertullian, who lived from AD 145-220, wrote the following:
“As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. How they are susceptible of number without division, will be shown as our treatise proceeds”9
which is a clear indication that the concept of the Trinity is not really a late development.

J. Hampton Keathley III said:
So what’s the issue that faces us? The ultimate issue as always is, does the biblical evidence support the doctrine of the Trinity or tri-personality of God? If biblical evidence supports it, we can know it is true. Comprehending it is another matter. John Wesley said, 'Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God.'10
The issue before us is, in simple terms then, not whether we can actually comprehend the concept of the Trinity, but whether the Biblical evidence supports it.

The Oneness of God

The Scriptures are clear that God is one, and that there are not three gods, or multiple gods. Let us look at the Bible itself.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deut. 6:4)
Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. (2 Sam 7:22)

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me." (Isa 43:10)

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god." (Isa 44:6)

Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.'" (Mk 12:29)

Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "an idol has no real existence," and that "there is no God but one." (1 Cor 8:4)

one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:6)
So, the oneness of God is unequivocally stated in the Bible, and there is no way around the fact that God is one. Therefore, we have to accept the fact that any theology that proclaims the existence of three gods must be heretical.

The Three-in-Oneness of God  
Revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament

Although there is no explicit revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament, we do find implicit revelation of it. Louis Berkhof says,
“The Old Testament does not contain a full revelation of the trinitarian existence of God, but does contain several indications of it. And this is exactly what might be expected.”11
Having read and understood the New Testament, we can now see where in the Old Testament there are messages of the Trinity to be found. Many people think that there is absolutely no revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament, but only in the New, yet several passages suggest or imply that God exists as more than one subsistence. Wayne Grudem says:
“For instance, according to Genesis 1:26, God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' What do the plural verb ('let us') and the plural pronoun ('our') mean? Some have suggested they are plurals of majesty, a form of speech a king would use saying, for example, 'We are pleased to grant your request.' However, in the Old Testament Hebrew there are no other examples of a monarch using plural verbs or plural pronouns of himself in such a 'plural of majesty,' so this suggestion has no evidence to support it.”12
The best explanation for this is that here in the beginning there is an indication of a plurality of subsistence in God Himself. We have not been told how many yet, but it definitely is there. The same type of situation is also found in Gen 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8.

There are also passages where one person is called ”God” or “Lord” and also another who is also called “God.”
(6) Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; (7) you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; (Psa 45:6-7)
The New Testament has something to say about this verse. See how the writer of Hebrews shows that it is God speaking here, calling the Son, “God.”
(8) But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. (9) You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions." (Heb 1:8-9)
Another passage in the book of Psalms that is used in the New Testament is
The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." (Psalm 110:1)
Notice how Jesus confounds the Pharisees about this passage when He questions them about it.
(41) Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, (42) saying, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." (43) He said to them, "How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, (44) "'The Lord said to my Lord,Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet'? (45) If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?" 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Mt 22:41-46)
Jesus did not always claim equality with God. There were times when He taught a certain concept about God where He had to drive home the point that no one is God’s equal. Here Jesus drove home the point that He is God’s equal. Notice how David starts this passage: “THE LORD says to my Lord.” Now, we all know that David was worshipping the One God of his fathers, and all will agree that that God was known to the Hebrews as YAHWEH. David’s Lord was YAHWEH. Look how David here speaks of the “Lord” who speaks to his “Lord.” Surely this shows a plurality of subsistence in the Godhead. This also shows the equality between these subsistences, these Persons. Another clear indication is found in the book of Isaiah 48:16,
Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there." And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit.
In this prophecy by Isaiah, the Lord is speaking, saying, “the Lord GOD has sent Me, and His Spirit.”  About this passage Grudem says,
“The parallel between the two objects of sending (“me” and “his Spirit”) would be consistent with seeing them both as distinct persons: it seems to mean more than simply “the Lord has sent me and his power.” In fact. From a full New Testament perspective (which recognizes Jesus the Messiah to be the true servant of the Lord predicted in Isaiah’s prophecies), Isaiah 48:16 has trinitarian implications: “And now the Lord God has sent me and his Spirit,” if spoken by Jesus the Son of God, refers to all three persons of the Trinity.”13
Another example of the implicit revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament can be found in the “angel of the Lord.” The angel of the Lord came to inform Sarah of her pregnancy that would come, in the passage of Gen. 16:7-13. She recognizes the angel of the Lord as God himself, but notice that the angel of the Lord is separate from God.
So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen him who looks after me." (Gen 16:13)
It is recognized by many that the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament can be identified in many passages to be the pre-incarnate Christ. Similar passages can be found in Ex. 3:2-6; Judg. 2:1-2 and finally Judg 6:11-23,
(11) Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. (12) And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor." (13) And Gideon said to him, "Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian." (14) And the LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?" (15) And he said to him, "Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house." (16) And the LORD said to him, "But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man." (17) And he said to him, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. (18) Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you." And he said, "I will stay till you return." (19) So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. (20) And the angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them." And he did so. (21) Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. (22) Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face." (23) But the LORD said to him, "Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die."
Here we see, probably the pre-incarnate Son, coming to Gideon. Notice when Gideon realizes whom this Angel of the Lord really is; he thinks he is going to die. Why? He would not have thought he was going to die after seeing an angel. He knew, that no-one who sees the face of the Lord will live another day to tell the tale. He doesn’t die, because he came face to face with Christ. Calvin writes of this passage and others like it,
“But if this does not satisfy the Jews, I know not what cavils will enable them to evade the numerous passages in which Jehovah is said to have appeared in the form of an Angel (Judges 6:7; 13:16-23, &c). This Angel claims for himself the name of the Eternal God. Should it be alleged that this is done in respect of the office which he bears, the difficulty is by no means solved. No servant would rob God of his honour, by allowing sacrifice to be offered to himself. But the Angel, by refusing to eat bread, orders the sacrifice due to Jehovah to be offered to him. Thus the fact itself proves that he was truly Jehovah. Accordingly, Manoah and his wife infer from the sign, that they had seen not only an angel, but God. Hence Manoah's exclamation, 'We shall die; for we have seen the Lord.' When the woman replies, 'If Jehovah had wished to slay us, he would not have received the sacrifice at our hand,' she acknowledges that he who is previously called an angel was certainly God. We may add, that the angel's own reply removes all doubt, 'Why do ye ask my name, which is wonderful?'“14
The great John Calvin has this to say about the Trinity being revealed in the Old Testament:
“But though I am not now treating of the office of the Mediator, having deferred it till the subject of redemption is considered, yet because it ought to be clear and incontrovertible to all, that Christ is that Word become incarnate, this seems the most appropriate place to introduce those passages which assert the Divinity of Christ. When it is said in the forty-fifth Psalm, 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,' the Jews quibble that the name Elohim is applied to angels and sovereign powers. But no passage is to be found in Scripture, where an eternal throne is set up for a creature. For he is not called God simply, but also the eternal Ruler. Besides, the title is not conferred on any man, without some addition, as when it is said that Moses would be a God to Pharaoh (Exod. 7:1). Some read as if it were in the genitive case, but this is too insipid. I admit, that anything possessed of singular excellence is often called divine, but it is clear from the context, that this meaning here were harsh and forced, and totally inapplicable. But if their perverseness still refuses to yield, surely there is no obscurity in Isaiah, where Christ is introduced both as God, and as possessed of supreme powers one of the peculiar attributes of God, 'His name shall be called the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,' (Isa. 9:6)."15
Calvin continues:
“There can be no doubt, therefore, that he who a little before was called Emmanuel, is here called the Mighty God. Moreover, there can be nothing clearer than the words of Jeremiah, 'This is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,' (Jer. 23:6).“16
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, and in the minds of those who dare not pervert the Scriptures to their own eisegetical theology, that Jesus Christ is shown in the Old Testament to be known as YAHWEH, and therefore has the same glory, and authority as that of the Father.

5. Conclusion

Just as a conclusion, we have to recognize the fact that when we study God’s Word, we should not impose our human logic on the Scriptures in terms of our own understanding. By this, I do not mean that there is no logic in the Scriptures and that the Bible is unreasonable. No! What I do mean, is that when occasions arise when we simply do not understand a subject, we should take the Bible at face value, and simply believe what it says. This is especially true in the areas of the Trinity, and the incarnation of Jesus. Believe the Scriptures on these points, even if they do not always come with detailed explanations.

This post was adapted from the original.

End Notes

[1] Robertson, A. T., Robertson's NT Word Pictures, Online Bible v8.20.00.05 beta, June 8, 2000.
[2] Zodhiates, Spiros (Executive Editor), Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN, 1990, p 1572.
[3] Calvin, John, Institutes, Book 1 Chapter 13 Section 9, p133.
[4] Grudem, Wayne, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p563.
[5] St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation, lived from AD 295-373.
[6] Berkhof, Louis,  SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY New Combined Edition, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, Fourth Revised and Enlarged Edition, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, Combined edition with new preface 1996, p321.
[7] Grudem, p561.
[8] The word “catholic” has no Roman Catholic connotations in these early writings, and merely means “universal.”
[9] Tertullian, Against Praxeas, AD 145-220.
[10] J. Hampton Keathley III, online @
[11] Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology, Fourth Revised and Enlarged Edition, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p85
[12] Grudem, p227.
[13] Ibid., p228.
[14] Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Book 1 Chapter 13 Section 10, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989, p117-118.
[15] Calvin, John, Institutes, Book 1 Chapter 13 Section 9, p116-117.
[16] Ibid.

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