At this point in our study the question could reasonably be asked: “If elohim is merely a plural noun that doesn’t indicate number, where then did the word trinity come from, in that it is used nowhere in scripture.” The answer is quite simple. The reason that the word trinity is used in relation to elohim is because the concept that the word illustrates IS clearly found in scripture. Examples of this can be found in both the Old and New Testaments, e.g.:
It is clear from verses 11, 12 & 17 that the speaker in this passage is clearly Jehovah God Himself. Yet, after making several assertions that only Jehovah God Himself could make, He then asserts, in the latter portion of verse 16, “And now the Lord God (Jehovah) and His Spirit has sent Me.” The conjunction between the words “the Lord God” and “His Spirit” along with the “Me” being sent, clearly illustrates that there are three persons in this passage identified as God.
In this passage we have Jesus Christ, while speaking to his disciples concerning imminent departure, informing them that they would not be left alone. He assures them that He would “pray the Father” for “another Comforter.” Thus, we have Christ (person 1) praying the Father (person 2) for another Comforter (person 3).
That there are 3 persons indicated in this passage is further confirmed in the usage of the two Greek words translated “another Comforter,” (allon parakletos).
ALLON – This word, along with the Greek word “heteron,” is translated “another” in the Greek New Testament. The difference between these two words, however, isn’t merely quantitative (numerical), it is also qualitative. While allon adds, (another like); heteron distinguishes, (another different from). A good example of the definition and distinction of these two words can be seen the Apostle Paul’s usage of them in the 1st chapter of the book of Galations where he writes:
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (verses 6 & 7)
It is clear in this passage what Paul is indicating. He is expressing his utter surprise that some of these Galations could be drawn away to a gospel that was qualitatively different (heteron) from the one by which they had been converted. He goes on to emphasize that this “perverted” gospel wasn’t “another” that was qualitatively the same (allon) as the one he preached.
Thus it is clear that the distinction between these two words is telling. While allon generally denotes a simple distinction of like subjects; heteron involves a secondary idea of a difference of kind. Thus, when Christ spoke of the coming of “Another Comforter” in John 14, he was indicating another who was numerically distinct from, but qualitatively the same as Himself. This contention is further confirmed in the definition and usage of our second word:
PARAKLETOS – This word is defined as ”One who pleads another’s case before a judge; an advocate.” It is interesting to note here that this word, used in reference to the Holy Spirit in this passage, is translated “advocate,” and is used in reference to Jesus Christ in I John 2:1.
Thus, we find in this passage that the Holy Spirit is revealed as one who, although being a separate person from Christ, is qualitatively the same. This means that if Christ were revealed as God in scripture, and there were no other passages in scripture confirming the deity of the Holy Spirit save this one, this one is sufficient enough to confirm both His separate personhood, as well as his deity.
The subject of this passage is intercessory prayer. There has been some question as late as to exactly what the prayer illustrated here is. Many in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles see this prayer as being in “other tongues.” The text teaches otherwise.
Although it is true that this passage speaks of prayer involving the Holy Spirit, it in no way insinuates praying in tongues. Instead, this passage reveals what I think is one of the most overlooked evidences of the tri-unity of God found in scripture. For a clearer understanding of this passage, several words here need to be understood in Greek. These are:
- Sunantilambanetai – “To jointly help someone.”
- Astheneiais – “Weakness.”
- Katho Dei – “According as is necessary.”
- Stenagmois Alaletois – “Mute sighs.”
Thus, verse 26 of this passage is more clearly translated:
“In like manner the Spirit also jointly helps our weaknesses; for we
know not what we should pray for according as is necessary; but the
Holy Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with mute sighs.”
Contextually, what we have illustrated here is a double intercession. When the believer prays improperly, i.e.;
- Prays to Jesus instead of to the Father in Jesus’ name – John 16:22-24.
- Not praying according to God’s will – I John 5:14, 15.
- Seeking selfish lusts when praying – James 4:3.
In instances such as these, the Holy Spirit jointly helps this inability to pray properly by interceding on our behalf with mute sighs. At this point, Christ, who searches the heart, knowing the mind of the Spirit, makes intercession for us according to the will of the Father.
To be clear, what we have here is a perfect illustration of the Holy Spirit (person 1) interceding between the believer and Christ, (person 2), who then intercedes between the Holy Spirit and the Father, (person 3).
As to the Pentecostal/Charismatic belief that a prayer in tongues1 is being illustrated here, the words “groanings which cannot be uttered” in verse 26 are from the Greek “stenagmois alaletois,” which means; “inexpressible sighs.” Inexpressible means inexpressible, not “inexpressible with normal speech.” The intercession that takes place here is inexpressible in normal speech or in tongues. Furthermore, these inexpressible sighs take place between the Holy Spirit and Christ, not man and God.
11. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; for how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another.
12. "Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last.
13. Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand up together.
14. "All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? The Lord loves him; he shall do His pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be against the Chaldeans.
15. I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him, I have brought him, and his way will prosper.
16. "Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me.''
17. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.” (NKJV)