Question: Is the Trinity taught in the Old Testament?
Scripture: Genesis 1:2, 26; 3:22; 11:6-7; 19:24; Deut. 6:4; Job 33:4; Psa. 2:7; Isa. 63:16;
Overview. Those who reject the Trinity sometimes point to the Old Testament for support insisting that the doctrine is not taught there and therefore should be rejected.
While it is true that the Old or New Testament neither use the word “Trinity” nor give a direct statement of the doctrine, there is ample evidence in both to support it. This is easily seen when those Scriptures which relate to the subject are carefully studied and properly interpreted. Below are four lines of arguments (there could be others) that the Trinity is taught in the Old Testament.
Explanation. The Trinity is implied by the plural form of the divine name. The term Elohim, the plural form of El or Eloah, is used in excess of 2500 times in the Scripture in the general sense of deity. In the opening chapters of Genesis (1:2, 26; 3:22; 11:6-7), Elohim conveys the idea of the unity of God by taking its verb in the singular, “God said”. On the other hand, God’s plurality is conveyed by the use of the plural pronoun, “Let us make man” (cf. Isa. 6:8).
The Trinity is implied in the use of the word “one” when used of God. The Hebrew word is ‘ehad, which emphasizes unity but at the same time can recognize diversity within that oneness. It can refer to a single person or thing (Gen. 27:38; Judg. 13:2) but also to a plural idea within one (Gen. 2:24 [man and wife, one flesh]; 11:6 [one people]; 2 Chro. 30:12 [a multitude with one heart]). It sometimes refers to God (Job 31:15; Mal. 2:10) and is the word used in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel. The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”
The Trinity is implied in passages where more than one person is addressed as God. Genesis 19:24 reads: “Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” From earliest times, the church has held that here is a reference to two persons of the Trinity. God the Son brought down brimstone and fire from God the Father. Psalm 45:6-7 mentions the “throne of God.” Hebrews 1:8-9 clearly identifies this one as the Son. Isaiah 48:16 refers to all three persons of the Trinity; the Lord God, the One whom He sent [the speaker of the passage] and His Spirit.
The Trinity is implied in various passages where the individual persons are identified with deity. The Lord who delivered the Israelites from Egypt is “our Father” (Isa. 63:16) as is the “one God who created us” (Mal. 2:10). The Son of Psalm 2:7 is identified in the New Testament as Jesus Christ (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). Likewise, He is the object of homage, has wrath to be feared and offers refuge to the blessed (vs. 12). The Son that is given (Isa. 9:6-7) is a wonder [supernatural] of a counselor, mighty God, eternal Father, Prince of Peace (cf. vs. 7 with Luke 1:30-33). The Spirit’s work in creation is called the “breath of the Almighty in Job 33:4 (cf. Gen. 1:2) and His omnipresence is emphasized in Psalm 139:7-8 (cf. Jer. 23:24; Amos 9:2-4).
Concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, a couple of observations are in order. First, even if the doctrine were not taught in the Old Testament, in no way should this be construed to suggest that the doctrine is to be rejected. In view of the fact that all Scripture is inspired by God, including the New Testament, along with the teachings of the New Testament on the Trinity, one can rest assured that the doctrine is valid.
Second, those who reject the Trinity most likely do so on the basis of rational thinking. “The concept of the Trinity defies logic,” they argue. However, those who believe in the divine inspiration of Scripture accept the Trinity, not as the result of rational thinking, but as the result of divine revelation. They accept it because the Scripture teaches it, and remembering the words of Isaiah 55:8-9 where God said “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” they find no difficulty in doing so.
By Leon Davis
Aug 1, 2002