Biblical Reflections On The Doctrine Of The Trinity -- By: Don Garlington

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 10:3 (Summer 2001)
Article: Biblical Reflections On The Doctrine Of The Trinity
Author: Don Garlington

Biblical Reflections On The Doctrine Of The Trinity1

Don Garlington

Foreshadowings In The Old Testament2

According to Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to 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 in saying, for example, “We are pleased to grant your request.” However, in the Hebrew Old Testament 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. Another suggestion is that God is speaking to angels here. But angels did not participate in the creation of man, nor was man created in the image and likeness of angels, so this suggestion is not convincing. The best explanation is that in the first chapter of Genesis we already have an indication of a plurality of persons in God himself. We are not told how many persons, and we surely have nothing approaching a complete doctrine of the Trinity, but what is implied indicates that more than one person is involved. The same can be said of Genesis 3:22, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” Consider as well Genesis 11:7: “Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there,” and Isaiah 6:8, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Note the combination of singular and plural in the same sentence in the Isaiah passage.)

Moreover, there are passages where one person is called “God” or “the Lord” and is distinguished from another person who is also said to be God. In Psalm 45:6–7, the psalmist says, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.... You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” Here the psalm passes beyond describing anything that could be true of an earthly king and calls the king “God” (verse 6), whose throne will last “forever and ever.” But then, still speaking to the person called “God,” the author says that “God, your God, has set you above your companions” (verse 7). So two separate persons are called “God” (Hebrew Elohim). In the New Testament, the author of...

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