"...And God Said"
When confronted with any issue of interpretation and/or dispute concerning a point of doctrine, the final court of arbitration, of necessity, has to be; “What does the Bible say about it?” Every false doctrine is the offspring of neglecting this principle. And what does God say? Consider Deuteronomy 6:4.
“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.” ( KJV, emphasis mine)
There are two words here that must be understood Hebraically for one to gain an accurate understanding of what is being conveyed in this passage.
The word translated God in this passage is the English translation of the Hebrew word “elohim.” This word is a plural noun, revealing the plurality of persons within the Godhead. Further, this proper noun in the plural number, indicating “more than one,” is accompanied throughout the Old Testament by a singular verb when referencing the true God.
Literally, elohim can and has been translated “gods” in over 200 passages throughout the Old Testament, such as:
- Jeremiah 2:11 – “Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods?”
- Genesis 3:5 – “…ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Because this word is occasionally translated “gods” in the Old Testament, this by no stretch of the imagination implies that such can be done when speaking of the Almighty God. This is so for one very important reason……..............SENTENCE STRUCTURE!!!
Although elohim is a plural noun, when used in specific reference to the One True God it is always structured without the qualifying definite article. For example:
- Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God,” not “In the beginning the gods.”
- Genesis 1:3 – “And God said,” not “And the gods said.”
You will also find that whenever elohim is used in relation to the Almighty God, the sentence is always structured as if it were a singular rather than a plural noun. For example:
- Genesis 17:8 – “I will be their God,” rather than, “We will be their gods.”
- Numbers 23:19 – “God is not a man that He should lie,” rather than, “The gods are not men that they should lie.”
- Isaiah 46:9 – "For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,” rather than, “We are the gods and there are none else; we are the gods, and there are none like us.”
Many cultists who reject the plurality indicated by the usage of the word “elohim” in these passages often cite the phenomenon identified as the “Pluralis Majestaticus”1 in an attempt to deflect away from the clear indication of the plural relationship this noun points to when used in relation to God.
Literally, the Majestic Plural is illustrated in the usage of the pronouns we or us in relation to a royal or monarchical sense, as when the King or Queen of England would perform an official function such as bestowing knighthood on someone, they would declare, "We dub thee a knight of England." The problem with assigning this connotation to the elohim of the Old Testament is that there are no corroborative recorded instances of the usage of a plural of majesty in any form, not only the B.C. period, but also in the Classical Greek or Roman eras as well. Adherents of the errant application of this definition to the Old Testament revelation of God have only their uncorroborated assertions to support this contention. The objective student of both history and theology must needs, of necessity then, accept that when God defines himself as Us or We, that is exactly what He means.
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater…”2
This word is the English translation of the Hebrew word “echad.” The apologia of those who oppose the doctrine of the trinity being allowed for in Deuteronomy 6:4 hinges upon the meaning of this word.
Every cultist from Modalists to Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Nation(s) of Islam cite the word “one” in this passage as a bulwark by which they can refute the doctrine of the trinity. They believe that it shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the God of the Bible is in fact “one person.” But quite the contrary; it reveals itself to be a bulwark FOR the doctrine of the trinity.
There are three words in the Hebrew language that are translated one. They are:
- CHAD – This word means one as in “single.” It is never used to describe the relationship between the “persons” of the Godhead.
- ECHAD – This word means one as in “compound unity,” as in the relationship of a man and his wife: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one,(echad,) flesh.” (Genesis 2:24 [emphasis and parentheses mine])
- YACHAD – This word means one as in “to unite as one.” It is never used to describe the relationship between the “persons” of the Godhead.
Thus, in light of the clear evidence that this information provides, when God reveals himself as “One Lord” in Deuteronomy 6:4, He doesn’t mean “one single person who is Lord,” as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims would have us believe; nor is He indicating that He is “multiple Lords united into one” as Mormons and the Nation(s) of Islam would have us believe. Rather, He is clearly revealing the relationship between the persons of the Godhead to be a compound unity. An absolute agreement of preference, purpose, and power that has existed from eternity past with no division, disparity, or disagreement between them. Further, in the 9th & 10 verses of the 5th chapter of the 1st Epistle of John, the Apostle writes:
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for
this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who
believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does
not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed
the testimony that God has given of His Son.” (emphasis mine)
And what is the “testimony” that God has given of His Son concerning the oneness shared between them?
In the 17 chapter of the Gospel of John, during Christ’s prayer to The Father, Christ speaks directly to the type of unity that is shared between He and The Father. In verses 20 through 22, while addressing His desires for all who would come to faith in Him, Christ says:
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in
Me through their word; that they all may be one, 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. And the glory which You gave Me I have given
them, that they may be one just as We are one.” (emphasis mine)
Christ didn’t pray here that we would be “one in a reasonable facsimile of He and the Father.” Nor did he distinguish between the oneness he desired for us and that which He shares with The Father. Quite the contrary; He prayed that we would be one “Just as (they) are one.”
Therefore, we have it on the direct, and irrefutable “testimony” of Jesus Christ Himself, while speaking to The Father, that the oneness they share is NOT a sameness of person, but rather, a compound unity. That is, unless one believes that Christ didn’t understand His relationship with The Father. To contradict this direct testimony of the Son is to call The Father a liar as per I John 5:9&10. To such, I would remind them of God’s words as recorded in Proverbs 30:5&6:
“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do
not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.” (emphasis mine)