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Trinitarianism, Binitarianism, Unitarianism - Which?

We have all heard of the trinity. Most churches who call themselves Christian believe that God or the Godhead is composed of three co-equal persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Is this belief true?

Today, we'll look at this theory.

Let's start by looking at the spurious scripture 1 John 5:7.

[NKJV] For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

We'll refer to it as we go along but suffice it to say now, this scripture was inserted into the Bible many centuries after the book of First John was written. Though this spurious scripture does not appear in any manuscripts before the sixteenth century, it did appear about that time in margins of some Latin copies. After that time, it began to creep into other texts.

Few have even heard of the word "Binitarianism", let alone understand what it might mean. The word is so unknown that it exists in few dictionaries, but the concept is well known. Most who have any experience with the Churches of God pretty well understand its meaning even though they have not heard of the word. Binitarianism is the belief that the Godhead is composed of two co-equal persons: Father and Son.

Most of us have heard of Unitarianism. Beside being the name of a rather liberal church, it's a belief that the Godhead consists of only God the Father.

Which belief is true? Or, are any of these true? Let's look at these beliefs and see what the Bible says about them.

First of all let's look at the word "God". We see the word in the Bible many times - in about 4000 verses of the KJV. But if we look at the translations of the word, we find that there are several. Let's look at a few scriptures to see how this word has been translated..

Gen 1:1 (KJV) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Here the word "God" comes from the Hebrew word "'Elohim" which is a plural word. In other words, more than one. But this word is not used consistently in the Old Testament. Over fifty times its singular equivalent "'elowah" is translated "God"; for instance:

Psa 18:31 (KJV) For who <is> God ['Elowah - H433] save the LORD [YHWH - H3068 - or Jehovah or Yahweh]? or who <is> a rock save our God [Elohim - H430]? [This verse contains the words 'Elowah, Yahweh, and Elohim.]
Isa 44:8 (NKJV) Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared <it>? You <are> My witnesses. Is there a God ['Elowah] besides Me? Indeed <there is> no other Rock [The KJV uses the word God here, but Rock is the correct translation]; I know not <one>.' "

The use of the word "Rock" in these two verses is significant, as we will discuss later.

Dan 11:37 (KJV) Neither shall he regard the God ['Elohim] of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god ['elowah]: for he shall magnify himself above all.

Notice that Daniel describes the true God as 'Elohim and "any other god" as 'elowah.

The book of Job also has many instances of the use of "'elowah".

Now let's look at another verse, this time from Proverbs 30:

Prov 30:4-5 NKJV Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son's name, If you know? 5Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him

This sounds like a scripture in Revelation 19. Let's look at it:

Rev 19:12-13 NKJV His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

Looks like "His Son's name" in Prov 30:4 equates to the name "The Word of God" in Rev 19. Also notice that Prov 30:4 is another example where the Son of God was acknowledged in the Old Testament. The eyes of Judaism are blinded or they could see that too.

Deut 32:8-9 ASV When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, When he separated the children of men, He set the bounds of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel. 9For Jehovah's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

The Most High is translated from the Hebrew word Elyown' meaning "the Supreme", H5945. It is one of God's names. Verse 9 accurately translates the word Jehovah, H3068.

We mentioned the definition of the word LORD in Psa 18:31 as meaning Jehovah, or actually the tetragramatton YHWH. Some pronounce the word "Yahweh". When the word "Lord" is written using lower case letters, it means "Adonai", which means lord or master or sovereign and applies to either humans or divine beings.

The New Testament word for Lord, using either lower or upper case letters is the Greek word "kurios", G2962. The New Testament Greek word for God is "Theos", G2316.

The word Jehovah is used in the KJV four times. Why the KJV translators elected to use the word LORD (all caps) most of the time, I don't know. Both come from the same Hebrew word. We should keep in mind that the word Lord is a title, while the word Jehovah or Yahweh or YHWH is His name. Perhaps the translators were appeasing Anglican church authorities.

Exo 6:3 (KJV) And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by <the name of> [description of] God Almighty, but by my name [YHWH or Yahweh or Jehovah] was I not known to them.

Now, how does all this tie into people's belief in the trinity? Let's first see how many Gods there are.

Deu 4:33-35 (NKJV) "Did <any> people <ever> hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live? {34} "Or did God <ever> try to go <and> take for Himself a nation from the midst of <another> nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? {35} "To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD [Jehovah or YHWH or Yahweh] Himself <is> God [Elohim]; <there is> none other besides Him. [There is only one God - Elohim (a plural word).]
Isa 44:8 (NKJV) [which we just read] Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared <it>? You <are> My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed <there is> no other Rock; I know not <one>.' "

How can there be another God?

Isa 43:10 (NKJV) "You <are> My witnesses," says the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I <am> He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me.
1 Cor 8:4-6 (NKJV) Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol <is> nothing in the world, and that <there is> no other God but one.{5} For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), {6} yet for us <there is> one God, the Father, of whom <are> all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom <are> all things, and through whom we <live>.

Paul uses the expression "God the Father" to make the distinction. Most of the time, when we use the word God, we are referring to the one Supreme Being above all others - the one Jesus [Yeshua in Hebrew] addressed as "Father". By definition, there can only be one being who is supreme. But through the vagaries of language, the same word can be used for others.

Heb 1 (NKJV) God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, {2} has in these last days spoken to us by <His> Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; {3} who being the brightness of <His> glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, {4} having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. {5} For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You"? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son"? {6} But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him." {7} And of the angels He says: "Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire." {8} But to the Son <He says>: "Your throne, O God, <is> forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness <is> the scepter of Your Kingdom.

The Father called Christ "O God." More on that in a moment.

{9} You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions."

In verse 9 Paul describes the Father as God too. Are the Son's companions angels? Was Christ once an angel too?

{10} And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. {11} They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; {12} Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail." {13} But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool"? {14} Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? [The Saints]

Let's look at verses 1 and 2. We see God the Father and His Son. That's two individuals. Not three. Not one. Also notice that God the Father has spoken to us by His Son. That makes Yeshua (Jesus) the spokesman for God the Father. Who is the One who "by Himself purged our sins"? Who is the "Majesty on high" in verse 3? Notice how the two of them sit in relation to each other. How do you picture them? - as one individual or two? There seem to be two distinct individuals which are considered as one while retaining separate identities. Sort of like a family. Sort of like Gen 2:24. Verse 8 is taken from Psalms 45:6-7 in which the Psalmist recognizes that the Messiah is considered a member of the God family. The word "God" is Elohim, H430. Even Judaism accepts this.

Gen 2:24 (NKJV) Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

They are two individuals but one flesh. However, one is head of the other. In the case of Christ and His Father, they are both part of the Godhead, the Elohim, but the Father is superior to the Son. In Hebrews 1:8, both are called Gods, not because they are both the same person, but because they are both part of the Godhead, which, for instance, the angels are not. As we just mentioned, Hebrews 1:8 is believed to be taken from Psalms 45:6-7.

Ps 45:6-7 NKJV Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. 7You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

This scripture, like Hebrews 1:8, refers to the Father's Son as God. Again, I believe they are both a member of the God-head, not equal, not the same person, but both referred to as God and both with the same thoughts and values.

The doctrine of the trinity attempts to explain how God can be one while Christ is also God and one with God, along with the Holy Spirit per the spurious scripture 1 John 5:7.

The doctrine of Binitarianism believes the same thing but without the Holy Spirit. But is it possible for the Father and the Son to be one and yet retain separate identities? As we read what Yeshua (Jesus) said in John 10, remember the husband and wife family analogy.

John 10:30 (NKJV) "I and <My> Father are one."

Let's look at John 17:

John 17 (NKJV) Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, {2} "as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. {3} "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. {4} "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. {5} "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. {6} "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. {7} "Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. {8} "For I have given to them the words which You have given Me [again, Jesus was a spokesman]; and they have received <them>, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. {9} "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. {10} "And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. {11} "Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We <are>[like a family except all of the same mind]. {12} "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. {13} "But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. {14} "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. {15} "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. {16} "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. {17} "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. {18} "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. {19} "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. {20} "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; {21} "that they all may be one [like a family], as You, Father, <are> in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. {22} "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: {23} "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. {24} "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. {25} "O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. {26} "And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare <it>, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

The term "only true God" seems to imply that Jesus was brought in to join God the Father as the Godhead. The disciples were to be one. How could this be except that they were like a family - of one mind? Let's now turn to John 1:1

John 1:1-5, 14 (NKJV) In the beginning [i.e. the beginning of time] 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 nothing was made that was made. {4} In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. {5} And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.......{14} And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

In John 14, Christ makes a very important point:

John 14:9 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

Christ had come in the flesh as the Spokesman for the Father and because He was a member of the God-family, the analogy could be made.

We can see clearly here that Jesus Christ (Yeshua ha Mashiach) was with the Father and was part of the God-head from the beginning. We can also see His function as the Creator.

Additionally, Christ cleared up the question of who it was that had appeared to mankind on various occasions - e.g. on Mount Sinai, etc.

John 1:18 (NKJV) No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared <Him>.

The Hebrew expression "who is in the bosom of the Father" means being in a very close and personal relationship with the Father, sort of like a hug. But the important points of this verse is that no one has seen the Supreme Divinity, the Father, at any time and that Christ is and was the Spokesman for the Father. He declared Him; spoke for Him.

Now let's assume you are Judaic and don't believe in Jesus and so do not believe the New Testament......Explain to me then what Psalm 110 means.

Psa 110 (NKJV) The LORD [YHWH- H3068] said to my Lord [Adonai-H113], "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." {2} The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! {3} Your people <shall be> volunteers In the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. {4} The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You <are> a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." {5} The Lord <is> at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. {6} He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill <the places> with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries. {7} He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; Therefore He shall lift up the head.

How could anyone miss the meaning of these verses? Jesus Christ (Yeshua ha Mashiach) sits at the right hand of God the Father and did at the time of David and long before that. Also notice that Christ was of the order of Melchizedek, which ties him in with Gen 14.

Now let's talk a little more about Yeshua ha Mashiach, Jesus Christ, the Spokesman of God the Father.

John 6:38 (NKJV) "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Christ came as a representative of God the Father. A representative is not the same as the person represented but does express the words and wishes of the one represented as though He were expressing it Himself.

We read earlier of the spiritual Rock. In 1 Corinthians, Paul spoke of that same spiritual Rock.

1 Cor 10:1-4 (NKJV) Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, {2} all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, {3} all ate the same spiritual food, {4} and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

Paul was not speaking of the material rock from which the water flowed, but the spiritual Rock that caused the water to come forth: And that Rock was Christ. Christ was with the Israelites in the wilderness. The miracles came from Him.

Let us now read about a different "handle" for Christ:

Judg 2:1-4 (NKJV) Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: "I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, 'I will never break My covenant with you. {2} 'And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? {3} "Therefore I also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be <thorns> in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.' " {4} So it was, when the Angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.

These verses refer to the comments of an "angel". The Hebrew word is mal'ak and is defined as: to despatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically of God; i.e. an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher): ambassador, angel, king, messenger. Can we see Jesus Christ in these definitions? He is a deputy and a messenger of God the Father. He is a prophet. He is a priest. He is a teacher. He is an ambassador to the world. He is a King. I think we are talking here about Yeshua ha Mashiach, Jesus Christ, as a messenger of Our Sovereign Father.

Exo 3:2 (NKJV) And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush <was> not consumed............{6} Moreover He said, "I <am> the God of your father; the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.

Verse 2 describes Him as an Angel, but verse 6 describes Him as God.

Since the New Testament tells us that God the Father (the Supreme Sovereign) was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Acts 3:13), it is obvious that the Angel who spoke to Moses was acting as the Spokesman of the Supreme Sovereign. When Moses asked, "What is your name?", the Angel, speaking for God, said "I AM THAT I AM". In John 8:58, Jesus was identifying Himself as the One who appeared to Moses and spoke on the authority of the Supreme Sovereign when He said:

John 8:57-58 (NKJV) Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" {58} Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

The Being who became Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was the God of the Old Testament.

But God repeatedly told Israel that there is no God but one. Note these scriptures:

Deu 32:39 (NKJV) 'Now see that I, <even> I, <am> He, And <there is> no God [Elohim, H430] besides Me; ........
Isa 45:5 (NKJV) I <am> the LORD, and <there is> no other; <There is> no God [Elohim, H430] besides Me............

How can these scriptures fit with what we have just been reading about Jesus being the God of the Old Testament?

First: Jesus Christ, Yeshua ha Mashiach, is the Spokesman of God the Father. He speaks for Our Father just as the President's cabinet Secretaries speak for him within their own departments.

Second: In the scriptures we just read, God is comparing Himself with pagan gods, not with another member of the God Family.

When Jesus, the Spokesman, speaking on behalf of the Supreme Sovereign, says, "There is no God besides me", He, the Spokesman, is certainly to be included with the Supreme Sovereign as the one Source. The God-head consists of two Beings, God the Father, the Supreme Sovereign; and Jesus Christ, the Spokesman, Creator, High Priest, King, and Savior.

Let me read one other verse which says there is no God except Jehovah or Yahweh:

Isa 44:6 (NKJV) "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 [Elohim].

But this verse says something else too. The LORD is claiming to be the First and the Last. Ring a bell? Let's turn to the book of Revelation.

Rev 1:8 (NKJV) "I am the Alpha and the Omega, <the> Beginning and <the> End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
verse 11 (NKJV) saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send <it> to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
Rev 21:6 (NKJV) And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
Rev 22:10-14 (NKJV) And he said to me, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. {11} "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still." {12} "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward <is> with Me, to give to every one according to his work. {13} "I am the Alpha and the Omega, <the> Beginning and <the> End, the First and the Last." {14} Blessed <are> those who do His [the Father's] commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

So what do we see in these last four groups of scriptures? Both Jesus Christ [Yeshua ha Mashiach] and God the Father (if you agree that Rev. 21:6 are the prophesied words of the Father) are claiming to be the Alpha and Omega - the First and the Last. Even if you think Rev. 21:6 are only the words of Christ, the point cannot be missed that Jesus Christ was included with the First and the Last of Isa 44:6.

But did we leave something out of our discussion about the Trinity? What about the Holy Spirit? In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is called the "Spirit of God", the "Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead", the "Comforter", the "Spirit of truth", the "Spirit of Christ", the "mind of the Lord", the "finger of God", and the "power of the Highest".

In the Old Testament the word "spirit" is the translation of the Hebrew words "ruach" [H7307] or "neshamah" and generally denotes "breath; air; strength; wind; breeze; spirit; courage; temper; Spirit (with a capital S). Let's look at a few scriptural examples:

Gen 2:7 (NKJV) And the LORD God formed man <of> the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [neshamah] of life; and man became a living being.
Psa 33:6 (NKJV) By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath [ruwach] of His mouth.

There are many more examples which describe spirit as invisible forces that affect us, an inner disposition, or an invisible force that animates, possesses, overwhelms, or inspires. In view of this general definition, one would naturally conclude that the "Spirit of God" is a force or power that comes from God, not a person who is somehow distinct from other persons within the Being or family called "God".

In Isaiah God compares the pouring out of His Spirit with the pouring out of water:

Isa 44:3 (NKJV) For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring;

If "God" is a trinity, then this description of God pouring out His Spirit is misleading, for it suggests that the Trinity (i.e. the entity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) will pour out His Spirit. This makes no sense.

Let's look at another scripture to see how the Holy Spirit is equated with spiritual presence, power and activity of God:

Isa 63:11-12 (KJV) Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, <and> his people, <saying>, Where <is> he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? Where <is> he that put his holy Spirit within him [i.e. Moses]? {12} That led <them> by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?

We need to consider the emphasis on the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament before we look at the New. Why? Principally because the apostles and writers of the New Testament (who were all Jewish, as was everyone in the early church) spoke of the Holy Spirit as something everyone was familiar with and they could have only learned of it from the Old Testament. Most people today think of the Holy Spirit as something unique to the New Testament; something first given at the first Pentecost. As I mentioned earlier, the Old Testament describes the Holy Spirit as the power of God and as the means through which God is present with His people. It is not a separate Person, distinct from the One from which it proceeds. The New Testament writers would not hold a different view of the Spirit of God. We should never ignore the Jewish roots of the New Testament church.

Now let's consider the New Testament references to the Holy Spirit. Turn first to Luke 1:35.

Luke 1:35 (NKJV) And the angel answered and said to her [i.e. to Mary - Miryam in Hebrew], <"The> Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Notice that the Holy Spirit is described as the power of the Highest. Also notice that the Holy One will be called the Son of God. This implies He wasn't at the time. He was simply the Spokesman and Creator. It probably goes without saying that Yeshua (Jesus) was to be the Son of God, not the Son of the Holy Spirit, as He would have been had the Holy Spirit been a third Person of the Trinity.

After the Holy Spirit filled the disciples on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter declared "....this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh...." What did "my Spirit" mean to Peter? New Testament scriptures describe Zacharias and Elizabeth being filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus being full of the Spirit, and God promising to pour out His Spirit. It is obvious these scriptures don't refer to the Spirit being a third Person of the Trinity.

In the 14th through 16th chapters of John, Jesus refers to a "Comforter" or "Counselor" or "Helper". What does this mean?

John 14:16-17 (NKJV) "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; {17} "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Chapters 14-16 simply state that Jesus will not leave his disciples without any help after He ascended to His Father. Those who obeyed the commandments would be guided by the Holy Spirit which He would implant in those who believed in what He taught and obeyed Him. Yeshua (Jesus) and the Father would be with them in Spirit. In line with His use of figurative language in His proverbs, He was describing spiritual presence of God, both Father and Son in converted Christians.

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus spoke of baptizing repentant believers in the name of the Holy Spirit.

Mat 28:18-20 (NKJV) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. {19} "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, <even> to the end of the age." Amen

What is He saying here? He mentioned the Holy Spirit because the Spirit is His (and the Father's - John 14:23) spiritual presence - the ever-present power, or authority, by which His disciples were to preach the gospel and baptize believers. In effect, Jesus said to His disciples, "The Father has given me all authority in heaven and on the earth; therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in recognition of the authority and teachings of the Father, who is in heaven, and of the Son, who is in heaven, and of the Holy Spirit, which is my spiritual presence with you as you do the work I have given you to do on this earth."

So to be baptized in the name of the Father, or unto the Father, means publicly, by a significant rite, to receive His doctrine; to bind the person to obey His laws; to be devoted to Him; to receive, as the guide and comforter of the life, His instructions, and to trust to His promises. To be baptized unto the Son, in like manner, is to receive Him as the Messiah - our Prophet, Priest, and King - to submit to His laws, and to receive Him as our Savior. To be baptized in the name the Holy Spirit is to accept this spiritual presence and be committed to following it.

Many recently written books question Matthew 28:19's reference to baptism in the Name of the Holy Spirit. Among the most notable are:

1. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible which states that baptism should be administered only in the name of Jesus Christ and references Acts 2:38; 10:48; Gal 3:27; and Rom 6:3.

2. The New Encyclopedia Britannica which states that some scholars doubt the accuracy of the quotation in Matthew 28:19 regarding the Holy Spirit.

3. The New Bible Commentary which also doubts its accuracy.

4. Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words states that "baptizing them into the Name" would indicate that the "baptized" person was closely bound to, or became the property of, the one into whose name he was "baptized." That is, actually, the effect of God guiding and directing one's life through the power of His Holy Spirit.

There are many commentators who suggest the Mat 28:19 clause regarding The Holy Spirit was inserted into the verse many centuries after it was written, as was 1 John 5:7. There is common opinion that the clause referring to the Holy Spirit is totally at odds with all other New Testament descriptions of baptism and the Holy Spirit.

It is my belief that the inclusion of the term "into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" simply means that repentant believers are baptized into the beliefs and teachings of the God family (the Father and the Son) as they are led by the Father and Son via the power of their Holy Spirit. We should keep in mind that "in the name of either Jesus Christ or the Father" implies we are led by that Personage and are committed to keeping His teachings.

As you study your Bible and hear other's opinions about the Holy Spirit, don't become confused about the so-called "personage" of the Holy Spirit. Study all subjects from what the Bible tells you, not from the slant of what trinitarians have told you. Many "new" translations of the Bible carry with them this very slant. Keep a clear mind as to the Personage and teachings of God when you study your Bible.

Note: portions of this sermon were adapted, with permission, from Hebrew Roots.
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Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
April 25, 2009

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