Where Two or Three Are Gathered
Donde Dos o Tres Estan Reunidos
I – Introductionnderstanding the nature of Yah the Father, indeed, the nature of all the Godhead, has always been one of the primary concerns of this website. As we labor to bring home the children of the Most High, we work always with an awareness that we are not trying to fit converts into a “mold” other than the life of Christ. In contrast to a denominational mindset, the workers for Yahshua are not so much concerned with the “dos” and “don’ts,” of Spirituality; not so much concerned with the methods of worship as we are with knowing WHO it is we worship. Matters of doctrine, lifestyle, even commandments, while important, must necessarily be second to knowing the nature of our Heavenly Creator. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
It is the knowledge itself that is the life. It is the relationship gained between the mind of man and the mind of Yah that allows the resurrection at the last trump, or the translation of our bodies from mortality to immortality when Christ shall return. It is this conscious, willing relationship which transforms the life of the believer, “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5)
If we know not our Father in Heaven, and His Son, our beloved Redeemer, what is it we shall testify to before men? And if we are silent for ignorance’s sake before men, who are made of dust and water, what shall we say before Yah Himself, that “consuming Fire,” when He asks us whose servants we are? The times for shadows and types are long past; the Harvest goes on even now, to gather the wheat from the field, to gather them in to one barn, that single place of unity in both spirit and doctrine. Let it not be said that the knowledge of the nature of the Godhead is less important than any other aspect of Christianity.
So who is the Father? And who is the Son? And what of the Holy Spirit? What do these terms mean, and what is their relationship to each other? From the days of the kings of Israel we have a record of this question being asked, and indeed, even before that, for the Pharaoh of Egypt himself asked this question in contempt, “And Pharaoh said, ‘Who is IHWH, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not IHWH, neither will I let Israel go.” (Exo 5:2) It seems to have been an important question, for knowledge of Yah determines even the actions of kings!
Even today, our own lives depend upon the answer to this question about who God is: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) And we must be able to say, with a surety, “I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Tim 1:12)
We could go into the details of each of the aspects of the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but it might be more to the point that we examine these in conjunction, for therein lies the purpose of this article. What is the nature of the “Trinity?” That is the question I propose to examine with this work, and indeed it is a careful work, for Yah declares, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:9)
The word “Trinity” itself does not appear anywhere in the Bible: not in the Canonized works, and not in the Apocryphal writings. In fact, the first time the word appears in any form is in the writings of Theophilus of Antioch in 180 A.D. Almost 200 years after the birth of Messiah, this concept was first put to paper. Some say that the “reality” of it existed before, even from Genesis, and we will certainly consider this to see if it be true. Of course, we must first very carefully define our terms, else anything we say after this will be very nearly meaningless.
The Trinity, as used here, implies a three-part God. That is to say, He is truly one God (or Godhead, more accurately), but He is partitioned into three separate, co-eternal, co-equal Entities, which have independent Persons, being and life, while at the same time being in perfect harmony with each other in terms of authority and purpose.
This definition, and this concept, most Christian theologians agree, is central to the Christian faith. The Catholic traditions implicitly state that all their doctrine and teachings flow forth naturally from this idea of the Unity of the Three. What this essay calls into question may seem like the least of these matters, the least “hair” of definition of the above paragraph, and yet at the same time, the implications are enormous. The matter is the “Person” of the Holy Spirit, and in some sense the co-equality also.
As stated, the concept of the Trinity as we now understand it did not make its appearance till a century and a half after the death and resurrection of Yahshua. Until that time, it was understood that there was a Father (naturally) and also a Son, whom many of the believers of the first century had seen in the flesh. Of these Two there was no question. The Father and Son, at least, were assuredly They of the plural term “Elohim,” which stated in the beginning, “Let us make man in Our image.” (Gen 1:26) About the Spirit, there seems to have been no clear consensus until the concept of the Trinity was introduced.
Even then, it was not “solidified” as a teaching of the church until the Nicean Council of 325 AD in reaction to something called the “Arian heresy,” which was essentially a doctrine opposing the divinity of Christ. Whereas it was good that this falsehood was refuted, the rapidly “Romanizing” and polytheistic influences exerted upon the Church of Christ paved the way for a ditch to be formed on the other side of the road also. Nor were we left unwarned that such things would happen. Paul wrote, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29)
And has not this very thing not come to pass? Are not Yah’s people only a remnant, a precious few in these last days? It need not be so, Yah is He “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4) The time is at hand when all things pertaining to Godliness and spirituality must be set aright.
In order to examine this doctrine of the Trinity, we can try to look at the writings of early church fathers. We’d come away largely disappointed, because they have remained largely silent on this issue – and with good reason. The doctrine was not taught then. For the modern “House of Israel,” we could look at the writings of early Seventh Day Adventist teachers. But again, even though the doctrine of the Trinity had been around for centuries at the start of the Advent movement... the early SDA church is silent on this point. And with good reason! The doctrine of the Trinity (specifically that of the Holy Spirit being a personal being) was rejected by the remnant church of Yah.
One of today’s more progressive SDA writers has done a useful examination on the church’s dealings with the Trinity issue, and that work can be read here, (and please do give it a read, it’s not very long) but the purpose of this article is not to duplicate or repeat that document. I instead attempt here to consider the Trinity from the Scriptures alone, and in this way introduce the study to a more general audience, who at first might be less than comfortable with the writings of the leaders and teachers of a church that is not their own. For a separate discussion of SDA writers’ statements (including those of Ellen White) regarding the nature of the Godhead, please go here.
So what does the Bible say about the nature of the Holy Spirit? It was certainly there from the beginning, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Gen 1:2) Even there, however, it is referred to as the Spirit of Elohim; that is to say, belonging to the already plural term for God. This will be important as we progressively look at the Scriptures dealing with this matter. As the Spirit was there from the beginning, we can equally apply the verses to It as we do to Christ, which state, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) If therefore the Son was with Yah from the beginning, and as such is to be considered God, so also is the Spirit to be considered God.
The issue is not whether or not the Holy Spirit is one of the aspects of God as surely as the Son is, but whether or not there is a co-equality and person to that third aspect. This seems not to be the case.
We can start by looking at the Old Testament view of Yah (in all His aspects) and then see if that view was ever really expanded upon or improved in the New.
II – The Spirit in The Old Testament
In all their commentary on the Scriptures, no rabbi ever subscribed to a three-part God; not when the nation of Israel was in the full favor of Yah, and not after it had rejected the Messiah sent unto the world. They DID, however, affirm that there were “two Yahwehs,” one seeming to take a subjective role, and the other more consistently in authority. At the very least, He could appear in two manifestations at once. The verses to support this are numerous. In Genesis 19, Yah rains down fire from Heaven unto Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 24) yet at the same time a Man identified as the Lord acted as intercessor with Abraham, who pleaded that the cities be spared if even ten righteous men could be found there. (Gen 18:34) Here we see Yah in two roles. Some have attempted to say that the “three men” that came to Abraham in Gen 18:1,2 were ALL Yah, that is to say, the three aspects of the One (Father, Son and Spirit), but that does not make sense in context.
While one stayed to intercede (the Son’s role) the other two went to destroy the cities. The Spirit’s role was to be intercessor as a replacement for Yahshua after His death (John 14:16,26; 15:26) and that same “advocate” is still declared to BE Christ in 1 John 2:1. We see here that although the Father and Son are distinct, the Holy Spirit is equally identified fully with both. This makes sense only if the Spirit is of them both, and IS them both.
I will explain that statement: by definition, the Holy Spirit is a Spirit. But the Scripture also says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) Of Christ it is equally said, “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2 Th 2:8) From the context, the “Lord” there is the coming Messiah spoken of often enough in Revelation and other places in Paul’s writings.
An even more clear revelation of the two “Persons” of the Godhead in the Old Testament is revealed in this verse: “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Yahweh, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist Him. And Yahweh said unto Satan, ‘Yahweh rebuke thee, O Satan; even Yahweh that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’” (Zech 3:1,2) Verses that reveal the connection between the Angel of Yahweh with Yah Himself are certainly not limited to this passage. We find other examples in places like Gen 16:11-14, Gen 22:15-16 and Exo 23:21-23.
Similarly, in the Sodom and Gomorrah incident alluded to above, we find that “Yahweh rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven;” (Gen 19:24)
One of David’s psalms is quoted in the New Testament to reveal the divinity of Yahshua, “[A Psalm of David.] Yahweh said unto my Adonai [Lord], ‘Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.’” (Psa 110:1 – quoted in Mat 22:44 and Luke 20:42 alluding to Christ as that Adonai) Now where the Spirit comes into this, even in David’s writings, is in a role of being subject to the Elohim. “Create in me a clean heart, O Elohim; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” (Psa 51:10,11) The Spirit was (and is) sent, taken and maintained by God (the Father and Son). It is not Itself a motivated Person.
Looking again at another example we often have the analogy pointed out of Abraham and his son Isaac. Abraham was commanded to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, in a true type of the Father Yah giving Yahshua to the world as an atonement for man’s sin. The similarity does not, however, end there. The next time Isaac is discussed (Gen 24:1-4) it is because his father is planning to get for him a bride. The parallel to Christ should be quite clear. Yahshua was indeed slain for the sins of the world, and thereafter the Church (His Bride) was formed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2.
Now, we know from Genesis 15:2 that Abraham’s servant’s name was “Eliezer,” a name which means (not coincidentally), “God is my Help/Comforter.” The Comforter (see John 16:17) was sent by the father to get the bride for the recently (almost in this case) sacrificed son. Beautiful, simple and clear. But notice that the Comforter here was not equal with the father or son: not in inheritance, bloodline (i.e., substance/nature), or authority. He was a servant to be sent, taken and maintained by either of those two, for Isaac was the full and true heir to Abraham, just as Christ has and will inherit His Father’s Kingdom. The Comforter is a servant of Both.
If one would argue that Eliezer was more Abraham’s servant than Isaac, we need only turn to how Christ considered the Holy Spirit, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Mat 10:19,20) See also Luke 11:13 and John 15:26. We will deal more fully with how the Spirit is truly a servant of Both in the next section.
This was the only concept of the Godhead as revealed in the Old Testament. Even had some of the rabbis understood the mission of the Messiah (to be a slain Son), they would have only come to the conclusion that any Comforter sent thereafter would not be equal to the Two, but subject to them. They were clear on the idea of two “Yahwehs,” (one is sometimes called the “Metatron,” literally “One whose throne is beside the Throne”), or perhaps more accurately, One God who would occasionally appear in two roles at once, but the concept of a many-part deity was completely alien to Yah’s own chosen people, and even Moses who knew Him so well.
So the question becomes, “Did Yah reveal His TRUE and complete nature to men in New Testament times?” That would certainly help to establish the Trinity doctrine on the grounds of progressive revelation. There are many things that were not revealed fully until Yahshua’s appearance. I say revealed “fully,” because the Messiah never really taught anything new. His teachings on the “two greatest commandments” are found quite plainly in the Old Testament also, (Deu 6:5 and Lev 19:17-18), and He truly gave no new commandments; in fact, He more often than not pointed to the ones written already on Sinai as the standard (though not the means) of salvation (see Mark 10:19).
If some new thing about Yah was revealed in the New Testament that would show that the Holy Spirit is a co-equal Third of the Godhead, let it be known. I have recently had a friend collect all the Scriptures she could find which would testify to the Holy Spirit being a Person in the sense that the other Two are. They were all gathered from the New Testament, interestingly enough, so this is a timely place for the discussion of those verses.
III – The Spirit in The New Testament
Now, it is only in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit is apparently referred to with the personal pronoun “He.” In all the Old Testament, where the “Holy Spirit,” or the “Spirit of Yahweh [the LORD],” or “The Spirit of God,” is mentioned (the term “Holy Ghost” doesn’t appear) it is always in the sense of a state of being, a gift given for prophecy, strength or insight. It is never considered a Person by any means.
In fact, in the New Testament, there are only two places where the Holy Ghost is explicitly denoted by a personal pronoun in the Greek texts. We find those here: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26) The other is: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26)Consider that on these two verses the greater part of the Trinity doctrine rests... In John 14:16 the word “He” there is added in the translation to English and did not appear in the original Greek.
The word “He” in both those verses is the Greek “ekeinos,” and it is translated as, “that,” “that which,” “that same,” and “it” in most occurences in the texts. Few times in the 251 occurrences is that word translated as a distinctly personal pronoun. By my count, which was quite generous since I included quotations from the parallel Books where Yahshua recites a parable or teaching that is recorded in the same way in more than one of the Gospels, there were about 93 times it was used to refer specifically to a person. That is approximately 1/3 of the times the word is used. Many times there are reasons for this exception, such as that in Mat 13:11 where it speaks of “them,” but even there it was used in a slightly derogatory sense, for Yahshua was showing the distinction between His followers (them = autos [personal]) and the world (them = ekeinos [impersonal]; referred to as the unfruitful seed in the parable He spoke a few lines before). To be plain, the verses read, “And the disciples came, and said unto Him, ‘Why speakest thou unto them (autos) in parables?’ He answered and said unto them (autos), ‘Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them (ekeinos) it is not given.’” (Mat 13:10,11)
The word is even used of the Messiah, “Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, ‘Where is He (ekeinos)?’” (John 7:11) The point here is not to say that the word cannot be used to refer to a person. Two-thirds of the time, however, it is not, and therefore based upon that one pronoun in those two verses, we cannot conclude that the Holy Spirit is a Person in the same sense that the Father and Son are.
Now there IS a verse where the Holy Spirit’s pronoun SEEMS to be referred to by the Greek “autos.” That verse is this one, and I list also the one before it for continuity and to show the context clearly: “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:16,17) All the words “He” there are “autos.”
Reading both verses 16 and 17, who is the “He” to whom Christ refers? It can’t be the Holy Spirit, because Yahshua says that the Father shall give the Spirit. The apostles did not receive the Holy Ghost in It’s fullness until Acts, yet the rest of the verse talks about them already knowing Him and seeing Him and having Him dwelling in them. So who is the He (autos) that the disciples already saw and knew and dwelt with? Obvious from the context is that it is the Father who is the Person there who will send the Holy Spirit at some future date because the disciples already know Him (the Father). To reword that, Christ said, “Because you already know the Father (a Person), I will pray to Him and then you can receive the Holy Spirit, because you already know Him (the Father). The Father will dwell in you by this Spirit because you already know Him.”
In fact, if we re-read the verses with that in mind, that is the only way we can get the tenses (past and present) to agree. It would go thus, “And I will pray the Father, and He (the Father) shall [future tense] give you another Comforter, that the Father may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth the Father not, neither knoweth the Father: but ye know the Father; for He dwelleth with you [present tense], and shall be in you.” (John 14:16, 17) The world cannot receive the Comforter (Holy Spirit/Spirit of Truth) in the future because it does not yet know the Father in the present. The disciples could receive the Spirit later on only because they did at that time know all they could of the Father, for Yahshua Himself declared unto them just before, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9) One must know the Father and Son, the two Persons, before receiving the Spirit, the third part of the Godhead; see also John 7:39. Reading John chapter 14 in its entirety will make this teaching plain.
If the Spirit of Truth in that verse is a Person, that means that there is also a personal “Spirit of Error,” for that same writer John contrasts the two concepts in this verse: “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6) Essentially, there is nowhere in the New Testament or Old Testament that calls the Holy Spirit a Person. Whether there are other verses that show this to be the case indirectly must now be the question. Let us examine this.
As stated before, a friend of mine gave me a list of verses, including one of the two John quotations above, to provide evidence for the Person of the Holy Spirit. I have taken the liberty of adding a few my own, some which were NOT included in the list, just to be absolutely sure that I have left no stone unturned. And as always, should my reader feel I have given this matter incomplete treatment, I am quite open to revise, reword and even re-do, if I have failed to consider a single relevant passage of the Scriptures.
Here is one I added, “And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” (Acts 21:11) I can add a few more to this, for they are all of the same type: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, ‘Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.’ ‘Yea,’ saith the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.’” (Rev 14:13) “And the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him that heareth say, ‘Come.’ And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev 22:17) Other verses presenting the same idea include Acts 8:29, 10:19 and 13:2.
In these wonderful passages, the Spirit of Yah speaks, just as He “testifies” in some of the John verses discussed above: at one time a warning, at another a comfort, and at a third time the Spirit speaks an invitation. So how does the Spirit speak? We have verses dealing with this matter in both the Old and New testaments.
How does the Spirit speak? “The Spirit of Yahweh spake by me, and His word was in my tongue.” (2 Sam 23:2) “Then the Spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, ‘Go, shut thyself within thine house.’” (Eze 3:24) “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4) “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” (Acts 6:10) “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet 1:21) So you see, the Holy Spirit can speak through us, or can speak TO us from within (after “entering into” us). That is exactly the way the Godhead (be it Father OR Son OR Spirit) speaks with us, except in the rare cases when Yahshua appeared in Person to a disciple as He did with Saul in 1 Cor 15:3-8.
In all these cases, when the Spirit speaks, it is truly God talking, for it is also written, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor 3:17) The Father and the Son are truly the speakers, but when they choose to do so to others using a man (as a prophet), or to the inner-self of the individual hearers (as an awakened conscience or special insight), they do so through their Holy Spirit. In those three verses, it does directly say that the Holy Spirit bears witness, and testifies, and speaks and so on. This is hardly evidence to controvert what I have said, however. One need only refer to a few passages to understand the Biblical pattern of ascribing these exact actions and characteristics to inanimate objects without causing any ripples in the water.
In this verse, the Holy Spirit speaks, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He [Yahshua] had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” (Heb 10:15,16) The verses before those two declare Christ to be the Speaker, and the Holy Spirit to be the Witness. Now consider this verse and see if it is not a fitting parallel: “And Joshua said unto all the people, ‘Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of Yahweh which He spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.’” (Joshua 24:27)
Many other inanimate objects are called witnesses: A heap of stones in Gen 31:48; a song in Deu 31:19; the book of the Law in Deu 31:26; the signs that Moses was to show the Israelites each had a “voice” in Exo 4:8; in the New Testament the rust of gold and silver bears witness against greed (James 5:3). As the Spirit testifies in some verses, so do our sins and iniquities testify against us in Isa 59:12 and Jer 14:7, although they are not persons. According to Paul, the Law of Yah also testifies against us, revealing our sins, as we see ourselves reflected in His holy Commandments.
He writes: “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, ‘Thou shalt not covet.’ But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7:5-12)
Some have said that Paul was anti-law. This was very much not the case. The law is “holy, and just, and good.” It is not the LAW which is death, but the sins that this perfect law reveals. “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law,” he writes in 1 Cor 15:56. The sin, revealing itself to us because we know the law, shows us we are worthy of death. But now, Christ has done away with the penalty of this law which we have all broken by the uncleanness of our past lives, and this is the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2, Rom 6:23). Receiving this great salvation, we walk henceforth in the Spirit, and not in the flesh where the sin resides(Rom 7:23). This message is the Gospel, the Good News and the Victory we teach.
Notice that the law not only testifies, but also speaks in the same manner the Spirit speaks in the verses I mentioned previously. The law said, “Thou shalt not covet,” in Romans 7:7. It is an important point here that the law both speaks and testifies, because this brings us to another verse concerning the Holy Spirit. “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” (Mat 12:31) Verse 32 continues, “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
Here it seems as if Christ is speaking about a Person. How can we blaspheme against something that is not a person? Well, we can surely do that. The Tabernacle of Yah is blasphemed in Rev 13:6. We do not say that the Tabernacle is a Person of the Godhead either. But more to the point, why is it that Yahshua the Son will forgive blasphemy against His Person while the Holy Spirit will not? Is there a Person of the Godhead that will not forgive? That hardly seems in keeping with a true picture of Him! The answer to this is simple: Yahshua can and will forgive, because He can. The Spirit, however, like the Law, cannot forgive, only reveal. Consider it is the Spirit working with the Law that shows us our sin: “And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, ‘Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of Yahweh, that ye cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken Yahweh, He hath also forsaken you.’” (2 Ch 24:20)
Consider the laws of a country. We can break those laws and speak evil of them (by definition blaspheming them), though they are not persons. The law itself cannot forgive us; the judge (who is a person) can cut us a break at judgment and sentencing, but the law itself is quite unable to forgive. Whether it wants to or not is inapplicable: it does not forgive because it cannot forgive. It is the same way with the Holy Spirit; forgiveness comes only from the Persons of the Godhead.
Here are the verses that are left (for we have already dealt with some of the original list) which were given to my friend as evidence of the Person of the Holy Spirit: Mat 28:19, 2 Cor 13:14, 1 Cor 12:7-11, Rom 8:26-27, Gal 4:6, Phil 1:19 and Rom 8:9.
Here is the first of these: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Mat 28:19) I am actually happy that this verse was given to me in that list, else I would have suggested it myself. This is perhaps the passage most advanced as the “proof text” of the Trinity, and would have been as fittingly dealt with at the very beginning of this article. It is good that we have set the foundations in place first, however, so that my reader will be able to readily grasp the simple explanation that follows here:
We are to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The question is, are those personal names? Now, the Father has a personal name, and we have verses for that: “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds by His name YAH, And rejoice before Him.” (Psa 68:4) “And Moses said unto God, ‘Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? what shall I say unto them?’ And God said unto Moses, ‘AYAH ashr aYAH,’ and He said, ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, aYAH hath sent me unto you.’” (Exo 3:13,14)
Likewise, the Son has a personal name, more than one, in fact: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isa 7:14) “And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Yahshua: for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Mat 1:21) In regards to both of these, we have the command, “O give thanks unto Yahweh; call upon His name: make known His deeds among the people.” (Psa 105:1) Can we obey this commandment? Oh, yes. And why? Because we KNOW the Name of the Father (Yah) and Son (Yahshua). Of the Godhead, we know ONLY the names of the Father and Son: “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in His fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Pro 30:4)
We know the personal Names of the Father and Son only. The Holy Spirit does not have such a name. Some have suggested Shekinah, which means “Presence,” but again, that is always spoken of in conjunction with Yahweh; that is to say, the Presence of the Lord. We will discuss what it means to be the Presence (or Spirit) of the Lord when we look at the last three verses from that list. Consider also the relationship that these Two Persons have. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35) The Son reciprocates: “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:15) “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.’” (John 17:1)
The Father and Son have love for each other, and also share a unity, for they are One in the Spirit: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6) “For through [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Eph 2:18) “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.” (Eph 4:4)
So back to the verse in question: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” (Mat 28:19) how can we fulfill this, if the word “name” there means personal name? The answer is simple: we cannot. The word “onoma,” translated name, also means “cause,” or “reason.” It is also singular, by the way; one cause, not the names of the Persons of the Godhead. Truly, the word is most often translated to mean a personal name, but at the same time, we have just eliminated the possibility of that being the case in this verse. If the three are all Persons, and the three all have personal names in which we can baptize converts, we have just been asked to do the impossible: we do not KNOW the name (if there be any) of the Holy Ghost! We are obviously to baptize believers by the authority and purpose and with the witness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which all three can do (as demonstrated above), whether they all be Persons or not.
The nail in the coffin, as it were, of using this verse to support the Trinity doctrine is to be found in every case of recorded baptisms in the New Testament. “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’” (Acts 2:38) “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:5) See also Acts 8:12, 8:16, 10:48, 22:16. The converts were all baptized in the name of the Lord Yahshua, and that Name only is mentioned; the Spirit is the gift which follows baptism into that Name. Were the disciples being disobedient to the Messiah’s command in Mat 28, or did they simply understand the instruction more fully than those who use it as a proof text for their article of faith?
Here is the second verse: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” (2 Cor 13:14) In light of what we have studied before, we need not take too long with this verse. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16) I do not present this verse merely to show that the Holy Spirit might not be a Person. I say it to declare that He has the same function as these other, impersonal “parts” (if they can be considered such) of the Godhead. Of the blood of a man (or Christ) specifically, “And He said, ‘What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.’” (Gen 4:10) “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Heb 12:24)
The blood, the flesh, the communion, and the Spirit of Christ all serve to unite us to the Persons with whom we are called to fellowship.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 speaks about the Holy Spirit distributing gifts to believers: “...to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit... etc.” Does that mean that the Holy Spirit is a person who gives these gifts? Not at all; not by any means. Who is the Person that gives the gifts? And what is the nature of that gift? “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke 11:13) Let the reader see the significance of that verse! It is the FATHER that gives the gifts, and the gift IS the Holy Spirit, only the manifestation within the lives of the believers can be diverse, hence the plural, “gifts.” Matthew, quoting that very verse, records it differently: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Mat 7:11) The Holy Spirit there is equated with “good things,” and neither is this a mistake. Miracles, healings, prophecy and so on are the “good things,” and ARE the manifestations of the one Spirit divided “to every man severally as He will.” (1 Cor 12:11) But the Spirit is not a person... It is a Gift, the good things to be given to we who believe in the Father and Son.
The fourth text: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom 8:26,27)
I dealt with this verse rather extensively in my examination of the Tongues doctrine, and I showed a few verses from 2 Chronicles, where the Spirit both prays on behalf of a man who “knew not what to pray,” and also interceded on behalf of the tribe of Judah. At the same time, this was Yah doing that through His spirit, and interceding through a Levite named Jahaziel. Here are the relevant verses: upon discovering his territory was about to be attacked, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah prayed, “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2Ch 20:12) Now the Spirit did intercede, and did reply: “Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of Yahweh in the midst of the congregation; And he said, ‘Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith Yahweh unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” (2Ch 20:14,15)
Again, the Spirit “spoke” by moving a man to speak. Just as the spirit within flesh becomes a living soul, so the Spirit of God in a human being makes him or her a prophet, or healer, or evangelist, or a Godly wife, husband, daughter, son and so on; a living testimony. Jehoshaphat, by uniting his spirit with Yah’s Spirit, prayed an effective prayer, even though he didn’t have the right words for it. “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor 2:10)
And of course, to be even more conclusive, who was the Personal intercessor for Jehoshaphat? Who is still the Personal Intercessor between Yah and man? Yes, Christ said that when He left earth He would send us “another,” to take His place, but did that mean He was sending another Person to do it? Look at these verses, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1) “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim 2:5) These were both written after the death, resurrection and ascension of Yahshua. Even after He left, even after He sent the gift of the Holy Spirit, He was STILL the One, Personal intercessor between the Godhead and man. The means by which this is done is the Spirit. The Person was, and still is, the Son.
Now we can look at the last three verses together, because they are all conveying the same basic concept: “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Gal 4:6) “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:19) “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” (Rom 8:9) In light of all the discussion we have had before, this trio of verses should already be seen by the reader in their true light.
Christ the Person is intercessor, and His Spirit is the means by which this intercession is accomplished between man and the Father. We can, of course, go still deeper – that there should be no question in the mind of the honest seeker. When I spoke of the possible name of the Holy Spirit being Shekinah or Presence, I said I would tie it in later, and here is where this fits in. To be the Presence or Spirit of Yah is not to be a separate Personal Being.
The word that some use, Shekinah, doesn’t actually appear in the Scriptures. It is a “coined” term, a noun-form of the Hebrew “shakan,” which means “to abide.” It is found in verses like: “And the glory of the Lord abode [shakan] upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.” (Exo 24:16) “At the commandment of Yahweh the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of Yahweh they pitched: as long as the cloud abode [shakan] upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.” (Num 9:18) The Shekinah is therefore literally the “abiding,” or “presence” of Yah.
At the same time, there are verses where the presence of Yah is left: “And Cain went out from the presence of Yahweh, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” (Gen 4:16) “So went Satan forth from the presence of Yahweh, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” (Job 2:7) Even if we stretch the text to imply that Cain disobeyed a personal Being and therefore “went out” from the Holy Spirit, how do we explain Satan, whose initial fall from grace occurred well before Job’s test?
The Shekinah could thus not be the personal name of anything, merely the place where Yah (the Father who is Spirit – John 4:24) chooses to make His presence manifest. Consider also the way in which we received the names of the Father and Son. Yah revealed His own name to Moses (Exo 3:14), and an angel revealed the Messiah’s name to Mary (Mat 1:21). No divine intelligence has revealed the name of the third part of the Godhead, and with good reason. The Holy Spirit is just that, a holy Spirit.
In regards to those three verses specifically, where it speaks about the Spirit of Yahshua, that shows nothing but that it is the Spirit of the Son, which is the SAME as the Spirit of the Father – John 10:30, 17:11. It is OF Them, and it is FROM Them, but it is NOT Them in personhood, only in cause and essence.
IV – Conclusion
As a Servant to be commanded (if we think in anthropomorphic terms), as a Gift to be given or taken away, so the Holy Spirit is sent to all who believe in Yah and have accepted His wonderful salvation. This one Spirit is divided among all the heirs of Heaven, and It manifests Itself within us in different ways, each according to our individual roles and persons as the will of our Creator dictates. The Holy Spirit is not a separate person: it is the part of us (given to us by Yah) that made us fully creatures designed in the image of Yah. It was a part of us before Adam fell (the “breath of life” in Gen 2:7), It is the part of us that was corrupted in the fall (Luke 9:55), and It is the part of us that is returned when we accept the Victory and join the Bride. (Psa 51:10, 1 Cor 2:12) In this way, the Spirit being both part of Yahweh and part of us who are redeemed, we “might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Pet 1:4b)
So it is when we believe in Yahshua the Son, and worship both Him and Yah the Father through Him – in the truth, power and authority of their Holy Spirit, which was given to us to unite us with Heaven. These three mighty Powers can thus cooperate to bring us into full conformity with Heaven’s standard and purpose for our lives. To hold the Trinity doctrine may seem to be a small thing, but it truly does affect our picture of Yah. We have to explain how the “Person” of the Holy Spirit cannot forgive blasphemy, for one easy example, and we may have a much harder time conceptualizing how it is that the Father and Son can dwell in us. Before this doctrine was devised by the already error-ridden, Rome-influenced church in 180 AD, believers knew the Father and Son, and had the gift of the Holy Spirit. In these last days, it will be that way again. This is salvation indeed: “and this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) “Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)