Here is part one of F.A.Q, “Do the Hebrew Scriptures support the tri-unity of the Godhead?” from the online version of Tom Cantor’s insightful little book “Frequently Asked Questions By Jewish People.”
Tom discusses the Trinity, the unity and plurality of God from the Old Testament, particularly from Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, the book of Isaiah, and the book of Malachi. He covers some Hebrew and give some useful analogies, too.
This topic is not only important in evangelizing Jewish people, but also in reaching Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and even atheists and agnostics. Being able to answer questions (apologetics) is an important part of evangelism.
The book is available free online at Israel Restoration Ministries.
From the book –
1. Do the Hebrew Scriptures support the tri-unity of the Godhead?
The common Jewish mind set is that while Jews believe in only One God, Christians believe in three Gods known as the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The word Elohim shows that God is not just one person.
The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man; the first three words in the Hebrew Bible are Barashith Bara Elohim. The word Elohim is a plural form of the Hebrew word Eloah, meaning “God” or literally “Gods.” Therefore, when used in the Bible, it is best to think of the word Elohim as the word Godhead. In grammar, the subject and the verb should agree in number (i.e. singular or plural). In Genesis 1:1 however, the subject, Elohim, is plural and the verb, bara, meaning “created,” is singular. This confirms the fact that there are multiple persons of the Godhead – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – but those three persons are one, acting in perfect unity.
“And the Spirit of God [Elohim] moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) This introduces the Person known as the Spirit of God, or God the Spirit, one of the members in the Elohim Godhead.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26) Here we are told how God (Elohim) would make man. Instead of referring to Himself as one person, He used plural words such as “us” and “our.” The plural word for God (Elohim) with the plural personal pronouns of “us” and “our,” the singular nouns of “image” and “likeness,” and the singular verb “make” emphasize that God is three persons acting as one in unity.
“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:” (Genesis 3:22) After the fall of man, God had to remove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. God used the word “us” to speak of Himself further revealing that the Godhead is made up of more than one person.
“Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language” (Genesis 11:7). In the account of the Tower of Babel, when man attempted to reach Heaven and make a name for himself, God scattered the people by confounding their languages. Notice the pronoun that is used for God.
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8) Here is just another example of God referring to Himself as “us.”
David, King of Israel, wrote about the different persons of the Godhead in his Psalms.
“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1) God the Father is speaking to God the Son. Here, David mentions two persons in the Godhead.
“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalm 2:12) King David wrote that the Son is God whose anger will punish sinners, but as the Faithful Redeemer, He can also be trusted to save sinners from the eternal consequences of sin.
“Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together…Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.” (Isaiah 48:13, 16) The prophet Isaiah wrote of the three persons in the Godhead. The speaker in this passage is God the Son, who became the Messiah (“sent one”) when God the Father and God the Spirit sent Him from heaven to earth. Isaiah 48:17 goes on to say that this “Sent One” (the Holy One of Israel) was our Redeemer: “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”
The Hebrew words echad and yachid
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” (Deuteronomy 6:4) This is the most famous Jewish prayer, the Shema. I remember as a child, hearing my father sing, “Shema, Yisrael, Adonai, Elohenu, Adonai, Echad.” I was told that the God of the universe was only one God and not three as the Christians say. But here again, the Hebrew teaches that God is three persons in one. The word Elohenu is the possessive form of Elohim, literally meaning, “our Gods.” There are two words in Hebrew for the word “one,” yachid and echad. Yachid refers to one as in sole, whereas echad means a composite unity. The difference can be seen from their use in the Scriptures.
“And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:5) The first time the word echad occurs in the Bible is in Genesis 1:5: Two parts, evening and morning, made up one (echad) day.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) Another use of the word echad: two people, the man and woman, would be one (echad) flesh. A clarification of the word echad is the word “unity.” Using this word, Deuteronomy 6:4 would read, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is a unity.”
“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only (yachid) son Isaac, whom thou lovest.” (Genesis 22:2) Yachid is clearly seen when God called Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham and his wife Sarah, had only one son, Isaac.
In the Shema, by using the words Elohenu and echad, God is teaching us that He is a trinity of persons with each one acting in perfect unity.
Though it is one of the simplest substances on earth, water is a good representation of the trinity (of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.) It exists in three states: solid, liquid and gas. Each is water, yet in three different forms.
There is no way to know about God apart from what He reveals in His Word. Over and over again, the Bible points to the plurality of God’s person. Only one conclusion can be drawn from the previous biblical observations and facts: that Elohim is One God but three persons. These persons are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each perfectly agrees in terms of character, purpose and purity. The tri-unity (or trinity) is Jewish in that it is revealed in the Jewish Scriptures.
The greatest discovery anyone can make in life is to discover that God the Son is the Jewish Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the greatest decision anyone can make in life is to receive Him as his personal Savior and Lord. This was expressed by Solomon, King of Israel, who wrote, “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?” (Proverbs 30:4) and by David, King of Israel, who wrote “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little, Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
(Psalm 2:12) ————— >
Read the all the topics at Israel Restoration Ministries
- Do the Hebrew Scriptures support the tri-unity of the Godhead?
- Is the Jewish Messiah God as a man?
- Is the Lord Jesus Christ God?
- Is it possible for a man to see God the Son?
- How can the Jewish Messiah be identified?
- Do the Hebrew Scriptures support the virgin birth?
- Do all men have a sinful nature?
- Is there a mediator between God and man?
- What is the difference between a Gentile and a Christian?
- What is the difference between Israel and the church?
- What is a Jew?
- Is it possible to be both Jewish and a Christian?
- Why did rabbis never tell Jewish people about Jesus, the Messiah?
- Why do some Jewish people doubt the existence of God?
- Do the Hebrew Scriptures teach on Heaven and Hell?
- What is God’s plan for the salvation of the Jewish people?
- Is baptism a Jewish ritual?
- Is it worth it for a Jewish person to receive the Lord Jesus Christ?
- What is God’s purpose for the Jewish people?
- What peace did Messiah bring to earth?
- Do Jewish people automatically go to Heaven?
- Where was God during the Nazi disaster?
- Can man write and say the name of God?
- Why is the name of Jesus Christ not found in the Hebrew Scriptures?
- Can someone understand the Scriptures without knowing Hebrew?
- Is God needed to understand the truths of the Scriptures?
- Was an oral law given to the rabbis separate from the written law of Moses?
- Who really killed the Lord Jesus Christ?
- Haven’t Christians been responsible for persecuting the Jewish people?
- Does a Jewish person cease to be Jewish by following the Lord Jesus Christ?
- Why do English Bibles translate some prophecy differently than the Hebrew?
- Who is the Servant?
- Does God ever use numbers to send secret messages (numerology) as the Kabbalah and other Jewish mysticism writings teach?
- What does it Mean to Have Eternal Life or to be Saved?