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Project Trinity A Symposium on the Trinity

15 lectures about the trinity in the Bible

"God, The Son and The Spirit. Three distinct persons, co-eternal, equal, omniscient,
omnipresent, omnipowerful. God is a community."
1. Preface Jiri Moskala, ThD, PhD.
2. Introduction Denis Fortin, PhD
3. The God We Worship Jo Ann Davidson, ThD
4. Toward Trinitarian Thinking in the Old Testament Jiri Moskala, ThD, PhD
5. The Holy Spirit in the OT id.
6. Proverbs 8 and the Trinity Richard Davidso, ThD
7. Trinity in the Book of Daniel Paul Gregor, ThD
8. Trinity of the Godhead in the Bible (focus on NT) Ranko Stefanovich, ThD
9. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament id.
10.Trinity in the Book of Revelation id.
11.Trinity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit (Church History focus) Jerry
Moon, PhD
12.The Trinity in the Church Fathers - John Reeve, PhD
13.The Trinity in the Spirit of Prophecy Merlin Burt, Dr.
14.EGW and the personhood of the Holy Spirit id.
15.Why the Trinity matters for the Church and for Salvation Woodrow W.

Introduction Denis Fortin, PhD.

Spring, 2006 God, the Trinity and Adventism: an introduction to the issues
Paper 58-R. In my PaperShelf.
Theres been a rise of arianism, modalism and antitrinitarianism recently.
Arianism says that Jesus had some kind of beginning in the past, derived form
the Father.
Modalism says there is oneGod who manifests Himself in different ways along
the history (God in the OT, Jesus in the OT and Holy Spirit in the Church times).
Representative of these points of views are Joseph Bates, for example. He
couldnt believe that the God, The Son and The Spirit could be the same person:
Respecting the Trinity, I concluded that it was impossible for me to believe that
the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, was also the Almighty God, the
Father, one and the same being.
Because of this, churches are being immersed in this debate, what can cause
some harm to our community if we dont have the right pillars.
The expression is not in the Bible, but its a convenient term to express the
teaching that we find throughout the Bible, it has been found a convenient
designation for the one God self-revealed in Scripture as Father, Son, and Holy
The Bible is full of texts that confirm the exclusivity and uniformity of God, like
Dt 6.4 (the shema), Gn 1.26, 11.7, Is 42.1; 48.16.
But all these biblical evidences to the triune God become somewhat ambivalent
for some people because the Holy Spirit is often referred to with metaphors of
objects: a dove (Matt 3:16), the wind (John 3:8), fire (Isa 6:6, 7), water (John
7:3739), and oil (Matt 25:14). Moreover, adding to this ambivalence are some
New Testament statements that appear to refer to Jesus as having had a
beginning when he is referred to as begotten (monogenes) or firstborn of all
creation (prototokos) (John 3:16; Col 1:15).
Also in the history of church we have this concept well defined, like in Tertullian,
when he says substance is what connects the trinity, personhood is what
distinguishes it.
Augustine, came with the concept of relationship, developing the idea of love
among the members of trinity, denying any concept of subordination.
By the end of the fifth century, the early church had reached a consensus
regarding the doctrine of the Trinity that has remained Christianitys official
position for centuries.. But the debate never ended.
But the less aware of Gods trinity we are, the less aware of Gods reality we are.

Maybe Hes just a force. Just a form.

100 yrs ago our own church was shaked by a pantheisc controversy. People
started thinking maybe Gods not so different from nature. Could it be a
reminiscence of the the modalist debate, the idea that the Holy Spirit is just a
power in the nature?
This debate are still present today. Some claim the same words of some of our

The God We Worship Jo Ann Davidson, Ph.D

The picture of what we know of God is very reduced compared to what He has
Hes not honored by lazy thinking about Him. Though its true we cant fully
comprehend God, we can know what He showed us.
As one church father puts: For if you have been able to fully comprehend God,
you have comprehended something else instead of God. If we have been able to
comprehend Him in our thinking, we have deceived ourselves.
The doctrine of trinity is not explicit in the Scriptures, as many other doctrines.
But many writers of the Bible speak of One God and three persons.
This doctrine is concerned with:
- Who God is;
- What He is like;
- How He works;
- How He is to be approached and worshipped.
We have 3 kind of evidences in the Bible, for this marvelous doctrine:

Evidence that there is only one God;

OT examples: Ex 20.2,3,5; Dt 6.4 these verses show clearly indication of
ONE divinity, no more.
NT examples: James 2.19; I Co 8.4,6

Evidence that there are three persons who are one God;
The deity of the Father (no much debate over it);
The deity of the Son;
His coming announcement in Is 9.6
He spoke of the angels of God (Lk 12.8-9;15.10) as His angels (Mt
He regarded the kingdom of God (Mt 12.28, 19.14,24; 21.31,43)
He claimed to forgive sins (Mk 2.8-10)
He claimed to judge the world (Mt 25.31) and to reign over it (Mt
24.30; Mk 14.62)
I AM in Jn 8.58 and other texts. He likes it, I am the bread of life, I
am the light of the world, etc.
At His trial (In Mk 14.63 Jesus makes a direct claim. So much that the
High Priest tore his clothes for he understood what He meant. The claim
makes two direct references to the way God named Himself to Moses and to
the appearance of the divine being, the Son of Man, in Daniel)
After His resurrection in His appearance to Thomas (Jn 20.28). Even
angels wouldnt accept this kind of treatment but Jesus did, for He knew
who he was.
The deity of the Spirit (will be deepened in further lectures)
The Spirit speaks, talks to people, do things. Its not an it.

The baptism formula ONE name, three persons;

Acts 5.3-4, in the episode of Ananias and Sapphira the words God and
Holy Spirit is used interchangeably. You can lie to Him. You cant lie to a
thing, to a power.

Evidence of three-in- oneness;

Elohim: The Hebrew language adds ot or im in the ending to
indicate plural. This words reminds of a plurality in God. It doesnt tell
us the number 3, but it shows this mysterious plurality in God. The
word hovering is used only twice by Moses, for the Spirit hovering over
the waters and when he makes his farewell speech and speaks about
God hovering about Israel as a mother over her nest.
The word Elohim is seen in Gn 1.27, 11.7;
Also in Is 6.8, when God asks Who shall I send? Wholl go for us?
In Dt 6.4 its used altogether with echad, a word that means
composed unity, like in Gn 2.24. There are two words that can mean
one in Hebrew. Theres yachid, which is a singular one, like one kid,
and theres echad which means a plural singularity, like an army.
We also have Acts 2.33,38, the Pentecostal sermon, when Peter (a
monotheistic jew) clearly distinguishes the three persons. Also in I
Peter 1.1-2 he again quotes the three persons.
Paul (another monotheistic jew) does the same in 2 Cor 1.21-22. He
used to do it, quote the three persons of trinity in a different order. The
organization of his letter also show that, for example:
Judgment of God upon all (1.18-3.20)
Justification through faith in Christ (3.21-8.1)
Life in the Spirit (8.2-30)
Part of Galatians in a similar pattern:
God is one (3.20)
Jesus Christ (3.26-4.11)
Holy Spirit (5.16-25)
Also in Jude vv20-21, the author closes the letter with a clear reference
to the Trinity.

There are some Christians who have difficulty with the word trinity. The word is
simply a contraction of Tri-unity. Philip Cary identifies seven key propositions of
Trinitarian theology, contained in the word trinity:
(its an interesting way to teach the trinity without using the word)
1. The Father is God
2. The Son is God


The Spirit is God

The Father is not the Son
The Son is not the Spirit
The Spirit is not the Father
There is only one God

Its useless to wait for God to give a textbook of systematic theology teaching
His nature. No. Thats not the way God reveals Himself. He embeds Himself in
the middle of every event, every teaching and our task is to excavate the
jewels of His knowledge.
Investigating the unity of the trinity, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
nowhere else is the error more dangerous, the search more laborious, and the
results more rewarding.
And also, Whoever denies the Trinity is in danger of losing his salvation;
whoever tries to understand it, is in danger of losing his mind. (Augustine,
SERMONS, p.263)
And we also must remember that the trinity is not only an end-doctrine, but a
through-doctrine: we must see all the rest through the lenses of God as three
persons in one.

Toward Trinitarian Thinking in the Old Testament Jiri Moskala, Th.D, Ph.D.
Toward Trinitarian Thinking in the Hebrew Scriptures, JATS 2010, paper 69-R in my
What can be found in the OT about the trinity?
Well, not the word. But there are clear glimpses about it.
We can know God because He revealed Himself to us (Dt 29.29, Ex 34.6-7). We also
can see His power and majesty in nature (not in a complete way, different from the
tomist view, for example). We also need to remember that the scriptures assume
God, not prove Him.
There are some people who really wish to put an infinite God into our system of
thinking. We must consider our limitations all we can know about Him can be true,
though incomplete. And we can know only what He chooses to reveal.
Maybe the major text that gives us this hint is Dt 6.5
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [ELOHIM], the LORD is one [echad].
This is a statement on monotheism in the polytheistic society (cf dt 4.35,39; Isa
45.21). Israelites were not henotheistis (belief in many gods, but above them was
the true God of Israel).
Does this OT statement on monotheism allow for the Trinity or is it categorically
There are people who also like to say that ELOHIM is already an allusion to the
trinity. But we must be careful.
There are different titles, designations, and names for our living God: Yahweh, El
Shaddai, Adonay, etc. However, ELOHIM is grammatically speaking in a plural form
(also Adonay, but never used for designating pagan gods).
ELOHIM is a plural form of EL or ELOAH.
We cant just say that as its in plural its an argument for trinity. The term is used in
the Hebrew Bibe for a designation of a true God but also for false gods (Ruth 1:1516).
Its significant, however, that the name ELOHIm is mainly used with a verb in the
singular, which is a grammatical contradiction and thus is an indication for the true
e.g. Gn 1.1 In the beginning God (grammatical plural) created (singular) the
heaven and the earth.
Is there indication of plurality in the verb, in hebrew?
And also And God (plural) said (singular) which is a key phrase used 10 times in
Gn 1.

We must also have the proper understanding of the term echad. The stress in on the
oneness and unity and not on the numbers, as seen in Gn 2.24. it is a description of
the quality of the relationship. Unity in diversity. God is this, and not yachid, which
means only, solitary, single. It is pivotal to understand why God is love.
We also have 4 texts in the HB where God speaks about Himself in the form of we:
1. Gn 1.26 Let us make []
2. Gn 3.22 [] like one of us []
3. Gn 11.7 Let us go down and confuse []
4. Is 6.8 Who will go for us? []
3 times stated in cohortative forms (let us make; let us go down) and twice
with prepositions (of us; for us) what is its meaning? The possibilities are
many: they could be indication polytheism, henotheism, tritheism or a Trinitarian
What can we safely say about these biblical texts? How to understand
3 options:
1. Overlook them.
2. Alter them, like in the Targum of Isaiah, removing the plural.
3. Interpret them.
Seven main Interpretative Proposals for Gn 1.26
1. Mythological Reminiscence
a. Reminiscence of pagan origin: one god is addressing another god (or
pantheon of gods) in planning to create humans (like in the
mythological texts of Emuna elish or Athrahasis creation epic).
b. Johan Gabler already in 1795 proposed the theory that in Gn 1.26 one
has remnants of Semitic polytheism. These mythological fragments
would have surprisingly survived within the monotheistic belief.
i. However, the Pentateuch and particularly the book of Genesis is
anti mythological! There is no room in Genesis for evolutionary
thinking from polytheism (first belief) to monotheism (later
2. Reference to Christ
a. Attested already in the Epistle of Barnabas and in Justin Martyr. Also,
the 1st council of Sirmium in A.D. 351 not only affirmed that Gn 1.26
was addressed by the Father to the Son as distinct person, but also
excommunicated those who denied it!
3. Adressing Earthly Elements
a. Some jewish scholars in the past, like Joseph Kimchi or Maimonides
were suggesting this hypothesis.

4. Plural

i. But why would the earth be a partner to God in creation, when

according to Gn 2.7, He took the ground of the earth and from it
created humans?
of Majesty (pluralis majestaticus)
According to this theory, God spoke in a solemn way abut Himself like a
king in a plural form.
It is a young interpretation. The proponents of this explanation: C.F
Keil, August Dillmann, Samuel Driver, Martin Buber, etc.
It is proposed in correspondence to the medieval speeches of European
kings (they spoke about themselves in plural forms): We, the king of
England or we are not amused (the queen of England).
i. As a defense, some use the text of Ezra 4.18 but its clear that
the expression sent us refer to the King and his government.
ii. However, Paul Jouon correctly asserts that we as a plural of
majesty is never used with a verb in the Bible. And also there is
no evidence that ANY king in the bible spoke this way.

5. God address His heavenly court

a. God speaks to His officials in heaven, and together they are going to
act in creating life and humans. It is a very popular interpretation,
defended, eg, by Walter Brueggeman, who calls it the plural of
i. This idea is ruled out because of the exegical syntactical
argument. There is parallelism between Gn 1.26 and 27: The
GOD saig, Let us make man IN OUR IMAGE, in our likeness
and then So God created man in his own image, in the IMAGE
1. We were created in the image of GOD solely, and not in
the image of angels
ii. Theological argument: God is the only creator in the universe,
and theres no one who can be designated as co-creator with
Him. Created beings cant be co-creators.
6. Plural of Self-exhortation (encouraging Himself)
a. It is God speaking to Himself as we sometimes do by saying Lets
see; Lets do it. He is contemplating aloud what He is going to do.
Defenders: Humberto Cassuto, P. Jouon, Claus Westermann, Steck,
Gross, Dion, John Currid, etc.
i. The parallelism of texts give us little confidence on the rightness
of this view.
7. Plural of fullness
a. God spoke within the Godhead; He is in dialogue between the different
members/ persons of the Deity.
b. The term plural of fullness was coined by Derek Kidner in his 1967
Genesis commentary. Other scholar support this view, like G. F. Hasel
and K. A. Mathews.
c. D.J.A Clines argues for the deliberation between God and the Holy
Spirit (Gn 1.2) on the basis of the context in Gn 1. He points Gn 1.2 as
a background to Gn 1.26.

i. It is possible the the epistle of John may shed some light to thie
talk, however.
d. This view is also called intra-divine deliberation.

God presented Himself as We.

The divine We creates people in His image, which means that this divine
We also makes humans as we (as husbands and wives) - not as isolated
individuals but persons in relationship to Him and to each other.
God creates humans into a close fellowship and creates them as male and
female (we are sexual people).
This divine We is a plural of fellowship.
This us expression does not contradict(!) but allows for the Trinitarian
thinking, though it does not announce so plainly as the NT.

So, the hints of the plurality of God in the OT:

1. God speaks of Himself as we (4 texts)
2. Someone is coming from God is God (Is 7.14; Is 9.6)
3. The Angel of the Lord speaks and acts as God! ( Gn 16.7-11; 21:17; 22:11,15;
24:7,40;28:12-15;31:3,11,13;32:22-30 (Hos 12:3-4); 48:15; Exod 3:2,4,7;
3:16-4:17; 14:19; 15:11;23:20-21;32:34; Num 22:22-36; Joshua 6:1-4; Judg
2:1-2;6:11,14,22;13:3,13,22;2 Kgs 1:3-6; 1 Chr 21:16; Zech 3:1,2; etc)
a. Compare with 1 Cor 10.1-4
b. Some of these passages distinguish between the Angel (Messenger)
Who is sent [pr-incarnate Christ] and the One Who sends [the
Father] as Yaweh or Elohim. Angel/Messenger is sent by Yaweh, and
the one who is sent is Yaweh!
4. Allusions to two persons and three persons
a. Two persons:
i. Gn 12.24 (God and the Lord with Abraham); Ex. 23.23; Ps 45.6-7;
Ps 110:1; Pv 8.22-31 (Wisdon represents the second person of the
Godhead); Pv 30.4; Dn 7:9-10, 13-14 (Ancient of Days and the son
of man); Hosea 1.7; Zc 3,2; Zc 10.12; Ml 3.1
b. Three persons:
i. Gn 1:1-32 (God, Spirit and his Word [Christ]); Is 11.1-2; is 42.1; Is
48:16; is 49.6 ; Is 53; Is 61.1-2; Is 63.8-11; Haggai 2:4b-7
The fresh investigation of the Old testament Trinitarian thinking leads to a stunning
conclusion. Even though the divine expression of we do not testify directly abut
the Trinity, they hint to a unite and complexity within the being of God. This plurality
within the deity is well attested and developed in the NT (as well see in further
lectures). The biblical monotheistic belief does not think about God in terms of His
solitude or His singleness but presents Him as We, or in fellowship within the
Godhead. God created humanity in His image; He made humans in fellowship with
each other, particularly husband and wife in a close intimate relationship, because
He is fellowship, He is in relationship within Himself. This divine plural of fellowship
suggests plurality of persons and points to the unity in His nature. This intra-divine
fellowship of one God within plurality is an unique characteristic of our God. He is in

communication with Himself and with His creation. We can build a personal
relationship with this God of relationship.
The doctrine of trinity is not completely developed in the OT, but we find impressive
hints to it. And also, it does not contradict the biblical monotheism and the
Trinitarian thinking.
What is latent in the OT is made plain in the NT.
John 17.3 appoints to an existential and experimental knowledge of God.

The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament: A Comprehensive View

Jiri Moskala, Ph.D, Th.D
Objection: To speak about the Holy Spirit in the OT seems, for many Christians, an
oxymoron (contradiction) or anachronism(mistiming).
This misunderstanding happens because of two ideas:
1. They think that the activity of the Holy Spirit occurs only from the
Pentecost onward (Acts 2). They presuppose that the Spirit works merely
in the New Testament era.
2. They point to the statement of Jesus in Jn 7.39, where He says that the
spirit would come only after the glorification of Jesus.
First, we must start noting that its highly significant to recognize that in comparison
to the written material from ANE texts, the biblical teaching about the Spirit of God
has no parallel.
Lloyd Neve correctly observes: No other nation in the ANE spoke of gods as having
a spirit. In a peculiar people with a singular Lord it was a unique concept. Nowhere
in those texts can one find an expression the spirit of [such and such god or gods]
(The Spirit of God in the Old Testament, Tokyo, Japan: Seibunsha, 1972.
Its an unique concept.
But its hard to speak about the Spirit of the Lord. For Hes a very humble person,
He doesnt speak much about Himself, but is only pointing to Another; He stays in
the background, influencing and inspiring. He is, for example, the ultimate author of
the Scriptures.
Some statistics
The HB uses the word RUACH to refer to the spirit of God. It can mean a variety of

Natural: wind, breeze, air, blast

Human: spirit, life, breath, mind, attitude, character
Divine: Spirit (of God/ the Holy Spirit)
Supernatural: unclean or evil spirit, ghost
Abstract: spirit of falsehood, lying spirit, spirit of prostitution, spirit of
judgment, spirit of wisdom
6. Spatial: side, direction
But we are interested only in how the RUACH relates to the Divine.

The word occurs 389 in the OT (378 in hb. And 11 in ar.)

Some texts are quite difficult to categorize, and depend on the interpretation and
theology one assumes.
In a maximalist approach, RUACH appears:
About 105 times with a natural meaning;
About 130 times related to the human spirit;
About 11 times with a supernatural meaning (referring to an evil spirit, eg)
About 10 times related to abstractions
About 123 times it points to divinity.
Only three texts speak directly about the Holy Spirit:
1. Ps. 51.11
2. Isa 63.10
3. Isa 63.11

The other texts are referred in the OT as the Spirit of the Lord (27 times in the OT)
or the Spirit of God (19 times in the OT). When we consider the NT, the first
phrase (pneuma theous) appears 19 times, and the second (pneuma kuriou)
appears 5 times. The word pneuma is used 379 times, but pneuma hagiou (Holy
Spirit) occurs 90 times in the NT, while only 3 in the HB.
Now lets look to the HB to see what we find about the Holy Spirit.
Its interesting to note that the HB is divided in 3 parts: the Torah (5 books of
Moses), the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) and the Latter
Prophets( Isaias, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the 12 minor prophets) and, at last, the
Writings (Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther,
Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles).
The Torah
1. Gn 1.2 The Spirit of God was hovering the creation;
2. Gn 6.3 My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are flesh
(hb. Beshegam must be understood in its root shagag (to sin) plus the
pronominal suffix their resulting in rendering in their going astray. Lt. My
Spirit will not strive with man forever in their going astray; he is flesh.
3. Gn 41.38 Can we find anyone like this man? One in whom is the Spirit of
God. (the Spirit was in Joseph).
4. Ex 15.8,10 its like an anthropomorphic picture of the sea being opened by
the breath of God.
5. Ex 28.3 And you shall speak to all the skillful persons (hb. Khakmey leb)
whom I have endowed (lit. filled; hb. male) with the spirit of wisdom (hb.
Ruakh khokmah), that they make Aarons garments to consecrate him, that
he may minister as priest to Me. Note the vocabulary used in the text:

people are filled with the Spirit (they receive special skills to properly do
Gods work).
6. Ex 31.3 II have filled him with the Spirit of God
7. Ex 35.31 repetition of above
8. Numbers 11.17,25,26,29 descriptions of how Moses has the Spirit
9. Numbers 24.2 For the 1st time the Spirit was coming upon someone (a clear
prophetic formula).
10.Numbers 27.18 Talks about the Spirit in Joshua
11.Dt 34.9 Joshua was filled (hb. male) with the Spirit.
Isaiah and Ezekiel have the most elaborate references to the Spirit.
Ez 36.27 is the best text about the Holy Spirit and also sanctification.
For the rest, its better to read the article. The lecture got hermetic and
too fast.
The bingo question is: in the OT, is the Holy Spirit a power, an influence
or a person?
Its true that nowhere in the Bible is the Holy Spirit explicitly designated as a
person; however, He acts, behaves, and does things only a person can
accomplish. These hints or allusion in the HB help to uncover his identity. Lets
consider some examples, where his is associated with some personal
1. He teaches and instructs (Neh 9.20, 28.12)
2. He leads and guides Gods people (Ps 143.10; Isa 63.11-13)
3. He can be angry (Mic 2.7)
4. He encourages and admonishes (Neh 9.30)
5. He gives different skills (Ex 31.3; Ez 2.2, 3.12)
6. He reacts to human evil (Gn 6.3)
7. He spoke through his servants (2 Sm 23.2)
8. He lives among Gods people (Hag 2.5; Isa 63.11)
9. He came to, raised and transported Ezekiel (Ez 8.3; 2.2;3.14;11.1,21;43.5)
10.People can grieve him (Isa 63.10; Ps 106.33)
Now, how is it possible for it to be just an inanimate power? (Zech 4.6 The
Spirit is not mere power or force!)