God: One or Three? (Part 3)

One of the most difficult issues in understanding the nature of God is understanding the number of God.  Is God one or three?

In the previous lesson, it was concluded that there is a distinction between the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The unitarian position that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the same person (an intelligent, thinking existence) seems contrary to scripture.

Let us continue our study –

God, The Father

The Father is referred to as “God” in scripture.  Jesus taught, “Do no labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (John 6:27).  Why trust the message of Jesus?  Because God the Father set His seal on Him.  Guy N. Woods comments, “To seal anything is to attest by some sign or mark that it is indeed authentic… The Father sealed the Son by (a) direct testimony; (b) by signs and wonders and (c) by his resurrection from the dead” (Woods, A Commentary on the Gospel According to John, p. 124).  Notice that the passage speaks of “God the Father.” Other passages also so speak (e.g. John 20: 17; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 1:1; Philippians 2:11; 1 Peter 1:2).

God is the Father of mankind.  Malachi asked, “Have we not all one Father?  Has not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:1 cf. 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6).

The Father – Son terminology is used of the relationship between God and Jesus.  However, this language seems to be only used in connection with the incarnation and after; it does not seem to be used of the pre-incarnate Logos.

God, The Son

The Son is referred to as “God” in Scripture.  Isaiah foretold of the birth of a child, who would be called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  The wording “mighty God” is used of Jehovah (e.g. Isaiah 10:20-21; Jeremiah 32:18).  Paul referred to the Christ as “the eternal blessed God” (Romans 9:5).  Other passages could be considered (e.g. John 1:1 cf. 1:14; 20:28; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-6; Titus 2:13 – See Granville Sharp Rule; Hebrews 1:8).

It is true that the use of the word “God” for Jesus does not prove that Jesus is of the Godhead (Divine Nature).  The term “god” (el, elohim, theos), for example, is sometimes used of men in positions of power and authority (e.g. Exodus 7:1-2; 22:28 A.S.V.; Psalm 82; Ezekiel 31:11; John 10:34).

However, let us also consider: (1) Jesus used the words “I am” to describe His existence (John 8:58 cf. Exodus 3:14).  (2) Jesus seems to be called Jehovah (Malachi 3:1 cf. Matthew 11:10; 1 Peter 3:15 A.S.V. cf. Isaiah 8:13; Hebrews 1:10-12 cf. Psalm 102:1-2, 25-27).  (3) Jesus is the first and the last (Revelation 1:11; 2:8 cf. Isaiah 44:6).  (4) He is the heart searcher (Revelation 2:23 cf. Jeremiah 17:20; 20:12).  (5) He is the Holy One (Acts 3:14 f. Isaiah 43:3).  (6) He had power to raise Himself (John 10:18).  (7) He is worthy of honor and worship (John 5:23a; Romans 14:11 cf. Isaiah 45:23; Ephesians 5:19 cf. 5:20; Hebrews 1:6b; Matthew 4:10 cf. – Matthew 2:2; 2:11; 8:2; 15:25; 28:16-17; John 9:38).

God, The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit seems to be referred to as “God” in Scripture.  Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…?… Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?  You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:34).  Notice that the Holy Spirit is juxtapositioned with God.

Moreover, consider: (1) The Holy Spirit is closely joined with the Father and the Son in Scripture.  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).  Neither the name of mere men or angels are included.  Notice that the name or authority is singular.  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).  Again, no mere men or angels are included in the benediction.  (2) The Holy Spirit possesses qualities one would expect of deity.  The Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10), and omniscient (Isaiah 40:13-14).

The unitarian position which denies the Divine Nature of the Son and the Holy Spirit [This position is sometimes called Arianism.  It is named for Arius (256-336 A.D.), a North African theologian] seems at odds with the information we have considered.

We will continue to study this issue next time.  Continue reading.

If one desires additional information defending the deity of the Holy Spirit, consider my article The Holy Spirit: An Impersonal Force?

If one desires additional information defending the deity of Jesus, consider my articles – Jesus: His Pre-Existence, Jesus: A Created Being?, JESUS: a god?, and Jesus: Divine Language.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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