The Trinity in the Old Testament

trinity

In OT291 The Jewish Trinity: How the Old Testament Reveals the Christian Godhead, Dr. Michael Heiser explores the identity and role of the Godhead in the Old Testament. He discusses the notion that “Two Powers in heaven”—Yahweh and the “second Yahweh figure”—are present throughout the Old Testament, with this second Yahweh figure referred to as the Angel of the Lord, the Name, and the Presence.

Dr. Heiser comments, “There are certain passages in the Old Testament that sounded to the ear like the God of Israel was two. There was this two-ness but yet one sort of idea going on. Rabbis took note of this and referred to the idea as Two Powers being in heaven.” While the Two Powers are evident throughout the Old Testament, there are also hints of the Trinity.

Watch Dr. Heiser introduce the idea of the Godhead in the Old Testament.

Isaiah 63 and Psalm 78

Throughout the Old Testament there are passages where the Angel of the Lord and the Spirit are described using the same motifs and language. Dr. Heiser points out that there are “some cases … where the Spirit is present along with God in the second figure in some way, and you actually have three right in the same passage. … We get the three-in-one and one-but-three idea that is more familiar in the New Testament.”

Psalm 78 recounts the journey through the wilderness on the way to the promised land. In verse 40 we read, “How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 63 is a parallel passage also depicting the wilderness wanderings. In Isaiah 63:10 we read, “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy.”

Dr. Heiser explains the correspondence between these accounts of the wilderness wanderings and connects the passages to the Trinity, noting that, when compared, it seems that there is a “blurring of distinction between the Spirit and God Himself. They’re spoken of the same way. They overlap. We already have the Lord and the Angel in the one scene. So if you superimpose or—pardon the pun—triangulate between Isa 63 and Psa 78, the Spirit becomes part of this picture. … You look at a passage like this, and you get the impression that the Spirit is also in a very tight relationship to God and this second Yahweh. So the Spirit sort of becomes a third Yahweh figure when we look at these passages all together.”

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To learn more about the role of the Godhead in Jewish monotheism, get Dr. Michael Heiser’s course OT291 The Jewish Trinity: How the Old Testament Reveals the Christian Godhead. For a limited time only, OT291 is available for a 20% discount. Order yours today!

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Comments

  1. There is no such thing as a Jewish trinity. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." The One God manifests Himself in different ways. It is really not difficult to understand that the one God is able to show Himself in various ways…angel forms etc. Sometimes we try to hard to explain the unexplainable.

  2. So, you must ask the question then, "Why did the apostles and the writers of the New Testament (who recited the shema every day and held to the strictest monotheism) worshipped their rabbi so soon after the ressurection, and had no struggle with worshipping God the Father and God the Son, theologically (except that they did not expect YHWH to become a human… that they called a mystery).

    I would really encourage you to get this book and give it a read:
    http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-God-Israel-Testaments-Christology-ebook/dp/B001OI2LEU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

    It is the only explanation for this phenomenon that makes any sense at all. I am part way through this class, and my opinion is that the proffessor butchers it and extrapolates way to much from the texts (for example using the argument from how Elohim is used to refer to both God and other spiritual beings). So what? That does not mean that other elohim are YHWH.

    To say God simply manifests himself as Father, Son, and Spirit is called modalism and does not explain how all three often interact with one another simultaneously… or even the creation account in Genesis 1, or proverbs 8 which shows God's wisdom interacting with God and participating in creation.

    • No, there are several other better explanations by Jews and by unitarian Christians (who make a strong case that the Trinity concept was a later Christological idea. We could even say that we see in Pauline letters a dualistic theism; God & His separate son, who would be a subordinate being?

  3. Donovan Neufeldt

    Any worship recorded in the Bible of Jesus is not the worship that only belongs to the only true God who sent Jesus. As to there being one God (in English, God with a capital "G" usually designates "the Supreme Being"). Jesus identified that "one God" as his Father who sent him. (John 17:1,3) He who sent Jesus is the Lord Jehovah of Isaiah 61:1. Paul identified the "one God" as being the God and Father of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 1:3; 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5) The default reasoning is that Jesus is NOT that "one God". The scriptures are fully at hamony throughout without adding the idea that Jesus to Jehovah to the Bible.

    This, however, does not mean that one cannot be "a god", as a mighty one who receives his power, might, from the Source of all Might. The Bible itself shows several usages of the Hebrews for forms of the Hebrew word for God (often transliterated as EL, ELOHIM, etc.). I did a study on this, and I provide the summary below, showing the four basic Hebraic usages for the words that are often translated as "God/god":

    (1) The MIGHTY ONE, the only one who is MIGHTY of himself (not receiving His might from anyone else), which corresponds to our common usage of “God” as meaning “the Supreme Being”, the “Almighty” Jehovah. Only He is the source of all (1 Corinthians 8:6)

    (2) False gods — so-called gods who by nature have no might at all to do anything (Deuteronomy 4:28; Daniel 5:23; Isaiah 45:20; Galatians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 8:5).

    (3) Mighty ones who are such because the only true Supreme Being has given them special power or authority, either directly or by allowance, such as Moses to Pharoah (Exodus 7:1), the sons of the Most High (Psalm 82:1,6; John 10:34-36), and the angels (Psalm 8:5; compare Hebrews 2:7), and others (1 Samuel 28:13; Ezekiel 32:21; 2 Corinthians 4:4), including Jesus (John 1:1, possibly also in Psalm 45:6; John 20:28 and Hebrews 1:8).

    (4) General might, power, great, etc. — Genesis 31:29; Deuteronomy 28:32; Nehemiah 5:5; Psalm 36:6; Proverbs 3:27.

    The NT never speaks of "God the Son".

    The "mystery" in 1 Timothy 3:16 is the mystery of the Christian's devotion to God, not of Jehovah becoming a human being.

    See my studies related to the above at:
    http://jesus-rlbible.com

  4. Cheryl- your view of God is called "modalism" and has been rejected by early church councils- most notably the Council of Constantinople which settled the issue of the Trinity. I would encourage you to study and research more on the topic.

  5. Mike “the Angel of His Presence’ is clear as can be once you understand that God has the ability to “Distribute” His Spirit to the Angel…to the Bush… to the Donkey…and they ALL speak Prophetically for God who is unseen Spirit…just as He appeared as Tongues of Fire at Pentecost…then you will understand the God Head as ONE God who is Omnipresent and also Focus-able in Physical beings such as the “Angel / Messenger of the Lord” and most importantly IN God Son from Conception..the Last Adam..who Immerses Believers in the Promise of the Father…Gods Spirit IN us..the New Beth El or House of God <

    Exo 33:14 And He said, My "PRESENCE" shall go with you, and I will give you rest.
    :15 And he said to Him, If Your presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here.

    Exo 33:20 And He said, You cannot see My face. For there no man can see Me and live.

    Isa 30:27 Behold, the name of Jehovah comes from far, burning with His anger, and uplifting of smoke; His lips are full of fury, and His tongue (Of FIRE at Pentecost ) like a devouring fire.
    :28 And like an overflowing stream, His breath (Spirit) shall reach to the middle of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity. And a bridle will be in the jaws of the people, causing them to go astray. <

    Also Mike ..Jud 1:5 …your forgetting that Jesus was made Lord of the Earth..while God is the Lord of the Universe and beyond < It does NOT say Jesus ..It says LORD <
    Jude 1:5 But I intend to remind you, you once knowing these things, that the Lord having delivered a people out of the land of Egypt, in the second place destroyed the ones not believing.
    Jud 1:5 (MKJV)
    Jude 1:5 But I intend to remind you, you once knowing these things, that the Lord having delivered a people out of the land of Egypt, in the second place destroyed the ones not believing.
    Jud 1:5

    (ASV) Now I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye know all things once for all, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

    Peace and Blessings
    Reg