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Subject: Question about trinity
I read with interest your article that refutes trinity in the story of Abraham and Sodom and Gomorrah at: http://www.bibleanswerstand.org/QA_trinity.htm. I totally agree with your position that Jesus Christ is not GOD Almighty. However, a friend of mine, who disagrees with my position, forwarded me a passage of Old Testament scripture found in Judges 6:11-23; he is using this narrative to support his own personal belief that Jesus is GOD Almighty, who came to earth in a ‘human form.’
In the verses of Judges 6:11-23, one passage starts off saying that it was the, “Angel of the LORD.” But then it says YAHWEH Himself spoke with Gideon:
“...Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord GOD! For now, I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face. ’ BUT THE LORD SAID TO HIM, ‘Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.’”
My friend's point is this: Since Yahweh came to earth in the Old Testament by revealing His plans to Gideon, and because Yahweh did so by using an angel, which appeared to Gideon in human form, then why can't He become a man in the New Testament? Do you have an answer to my friend’s point about Yahweh becoming an angel, (or perhaps even a man), as depicted in Judges 6:11-23?
In other words sir, in the Old Testament past, did Yahweh take on different forms? If so, do any of these visible forms relate to the Trinity, (i.e. – Father, Son & Holy Spirit)?
Thank you so much.
----- Original Message -----
Subject: Question about trinity
Thanks for asking your questions in a manner that adequately addresses your friend’s doctrinal position.
1. My friend's point is this: Since Yahweh came to earth in the Old Testament by revealing His plans to Gideon, and because Yahweh did so by using an angel, which appeared to Gideon in human form, then why can't He become a man in the New Testament?
Foremost to this discussion is the fact that Yahweh, who alone is the only true God, cannot, will not, does not ever “become” a man.
Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? New King James Version
Psalms 15:4 Despised in his sight, is the reprobate, but, them who revere Yahweh, he doth honour, he hath sworn to his neighbor, and will not change. Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible
There’s no need for Yahweh to reveal Himself thru manifestations that were needed in the old covenant because Jesus Christ did away with the requirements of the Law. You need only one major proof of this to debunk this argument, which is found in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 below.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. NASU
Notice verse five of the passage above refers to “one God” and “one mediator.” The “one mediator” is the “man Christ Jesus,” not the, “deity Christ Jesus.”
2. Do you have an answer to my friend’s point about Yahweh becoming an angel, (or perhaps even a man), as depicted in Judges 6:11-23? In other words sir, in the Old Testament past, did Yahweh take on different forms? If so, do any of these visible forms relate to the Trinity, (i.e. – Father, Son & Holy Spirit)?
His argument for the preincarnate existence of Christ (as Deity) in the Old Testament passage (Judges 6:11-23) is based solely upon the ambiguous, illogical doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity teaches one God, who exists as three, distinct, yet co-equal and co-eternal ‘Persons’ of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The co-equal nature of the doctrine demands that if one Person of the Trinity becomes ‘human’ then it logically follows that all three must do so unanimously, or else the Trinity ceases to exist. From the text of Judges 6:7-23, where are the other two ‘Persons of the Trinity’ supposed to fit in?
Restating his theological position, your email appeals to the text of Judges 6:11-23, with special emphasis on key words and phrases in select verses to demonstrate how the messenger of Yahweh alternately speaks third person singular grammar (e.g. – “the LORD (Yahweh) is with you…”) and first person singular, on Yahweh’s behalf, (e.g. – But the LORD (Yahweh) said to him…”). This is not problematic, because every one of Yahweh’s prophets in the Old Testament spoke on His behalf using first person singular tones, “Thus saith Yahweh…” The nature of their prophetic calling assumes they have been delegated (i.e. – given) authority by Yahweh Himself to speak in His stead as the bearer of His message.
We don’t imagine Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Haggai, Zechariah, or Malachi as being “Deity” when they speak on behalf of Yahweh, using the first person singular, “Thus says Yahweh,” so why should we use the passage in Judges 6:11-22 any differently? Your friend’s approach is called, ‘selective interpretation,’ and it demonstrates the poorest form of hermeneutics, hardly worthy of serious consideration.
Numbers 22:27-28 And, when the ass saw the messenger of Yahweh, she sank down under Balaam; then was Balaam’s anger kindled, and he smote the ass with the staff. 28 And Yahweh opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, “What have I done to thee, that thou hast smitten me, these three times?” Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible
Balaam’s ass spoke on behalf of Yahweh to warn him of the unseen, “messenger of Yahweh,” (i.e. – the angel of Yahweh) and we certainly would not then attribute this as a potential for God’s becoming a donkey. There are numerous incidents in scripture that are mentioned concerning Yahweh’s dealings with mankind before Jesus Christ. I do not purport to be the expert on the meaning of every manifestation of Yahweh, but one thing is certain, once Christ died, was raised from the dead BY God, and then, after he ascended to the Father’s right hand, and given a position of authority, there remains no other mediator between God and men.
Since your questions about your friend’s doctrinal position are directed specifically to the text of Judges 6:121-23, it would have behooved him to read the verses that precede verse 11, and he would have discovered that this alleged “angel” isn’t an angel at all, but is a human prophet!
Judges 6:7-10 And it came to pass, when the sons of Israel cried unto Yahweh, on account of Midian, 8 then sent Yahweh a prophet unto the sons of Israel, who said unto them, “Thus, saith Yahweh, God of Israel, I, led you up out of Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of servants; 9 Yea I rescued you out of the hand of Egypt, and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, that I might drive them out from before you, and I gave unto you their land; 10 Yea and I said to you, ‘I, Yahweh, am your God, ye must not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye are about to dwell, but ye have not hearkened unto my voice.” Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible
The problem with the remainder of the text of Judges 6:11-27 is the mistranslation of the word ‘angel,’ as in the, “angel of Yahweh.” The original Old Testament scriptures are written primarily in the Hebrew language, and in the context of Judges 6:11-22, most Bible versions have mistranslated the Hebrew word mal'ak by depicting it as ‘angel’ in Judges 6:11, 12, 20, 21(twice), and in verse 22 (twice). Strong's Expanded Hebrew Dictionary defines the Hebrew word mal'ak (OT:4397) as meaning, “to dispatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically, of God, i.e. an angel, but also a prophet, priest or teacher.”
To give you an idea of how context governs whether the Hebrew word mal'ak should be rendered “angel” or “messenger” we need look no further than Judges 6:35 and Judges 7:34 which uses this same Hebrew word, referring to human messengers sent by Gideon:
Judges 6:34-35 But, the spirit of Yahweh, clothed Gideon, so he blew with a horn, and Abiezer was gathered after him. 35 Messengers (mal'ak) also, sent he throughout all Manasseh, and, they also, were gathered after him, messengers (mal'ak) also, sent he throughout Asher, and throughout Zebulun, and throughout Naphtali, and they came up to meet them. Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible
Judges 7:24 And, messengers (mal'ak), did Gideon send through all the hill country of Ephraim, saying—Go down to meet Midian.” Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible
The reason Bible translators in most Bible versions render the Hebrew word mal'ak as “angel” earlier in the chapter is called, ‘translator bias.’ In other words, most Bible translating committees consist of trinitarian Hebrew and Greek scholars, so if a word falls in line with their own preconceived doctrinal prejudices, including that of the Preincarnate Christ, they err in judgment, and oftentimes will mistranslate. I don’t believe this is done with malicious intent, in most cases, but it shows just how much the deception of the Trinity has infected the Christian church world.
If you are familiar with the Old Testament books, those in the canon commonly as the ‘prophets’ include, ‘Malachi,’ the last prophetic book in the Old Testament. Malachi is a direct transliteration of a word relative to the Hebrew word ‘mal’ak’ and of this word; Strong’s offers the following definition:
Malachi = OT:4401 Mal'akiy (mal-aw-kee'); from the same as OT:4397; the meaning of the word is, “ministrative,” and used for Malaki, (i.e. – Malachi) a prophet.
I thought this little
tidbit of information would be interesting to you, and show that the word
itself has strongly human connotations when applied to Yahweh’s prophets. In Judges 6:6-10, the sons of Israel
would not listen to Yahweh’s prophet, who was sent to deliver His message; the
sons of Israel were unwilling to hearken (obey) Yahweh’s message thru the prophet,
so He then sent the same prophet, also described in the text of Judges 6:11-25
as the, “messenger of Yahweh,” to a faithful man named Gideon.
6-10 Thus was Israel greatly impoverished, because of Midian, and the sons of Israel made outcry unto Yahweh. 7 And it came to pass, when the sons of Israel cried unto Yahweh, on account of Midian, 8 then sent Yahweh a prophet unto the sons of Israel, who said unto them, “Thus, saith Yahweh, God of Israel, I, led you up out of Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of servants; 9 Yea I rescued you out of the hand of Egypt, and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, that I might drive them out from before you, and I gave unto you their land; 10 Yea and I said to you, —I, Yahweh, am your God, Ye must not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye are about to dwell, but ye have not hearkened unto my voice.”
11-13 Then came the messenger of Yahweh, and sat down under the oak which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite; and, Gideon his son, was beating out wheat in the winepress, to escape the notice of the Midianites; 12 so the messenger of Yahweh appeared unto him, and said unto him, “Yahweh, is with thee, thou mighty man of valor!” 13 And Gideon said unto him, “Pardon, my lord! If Yahweh be with us, then wherefore hath all this befallen us? And where are all his wonders, which our fathers have recounted to us, saying, ‘Was it not, out of Egypt, that Yahweh brought us up?’ But, now, hath Yahweh abandoned us, and delivered us into the hand of Midian.”
Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible
Notice Sam, I used Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible version; as most Bible version are poorly translated, and thereby render one’s interpretation in a faulty manner. Below, I have highlighted in red several words taken from the text above that are vital to establishing the chronological sequence of events. These words are critical to biblical hermeneutics and are referred to as, ‘time keys,’ because they help establish when certain events occur by depicting movement of persons from one location to another. Below is a list of key words and brief description of the chronology:
Judges 6:6 …because of Midian… the sons of Israel made outcry unto Yahweh.
Judges 6:7 … when the sons of Israel cried unto Yahweh, on account of Midian
Judges 6:8 THEN sent Yahweh a prophet unto the sons of Israel
Judges 6:8 who said unto them, “Thus, saith Yahweh, God of Israel…”
Judges 6:10 “Yea and I said to you, —I, Yahweh, am your God… but ye have not hearkened unto my voice.”
Judges 6:11 Then came the messenger of Yahweh, and sat down under the oak… which belonged to… Gideon
Judges 6:12 …so the messenger of Yahweh appeared unto him, and said unto him, “Yahweh, is with thee…”
In this context we find the movement of the prophet of Yahweh after he first delivers Yahweh’s message to, “the sons of Israel,” in Judges 6:7-10. The implication of the prophet’s final words to the sons of Israel, “But ye have not hearkened unto my voice,” demonstrate their rejection of Yahweh’s communication to them. Therefore, Yahweh’s prophet moves on to his next assignment, which is to deliver Yahweh’s message to Gideon, beginning in Judges 6:11.
In Judges 6:11 the opening words, “Then came…” imply a continuance of the prophet’s earlier activity; to wit, the “prophet” of Yahweh mentioned earlier in the text, “then came,” (as the messenger of Yahweh) to where Gideon was working, sat down beneath the oak tree, and subsequently greeted Gideon with the words, “Yahweh is with thee…”
In Judges 6:11, the common Hebrew verb bo' (OT: 935) is translated as, “Then came,” and from its construction in the Hebrew text (as Wayaabo'), it means, “then came,” or, “then went.” The Hebrew verb connotes movement in space from one place toward another and this same Hebrew verb is used earlier in Judges 6:4 & 5 (used twice in vs. 5) of the movement of the Midianites from one location to the next, as they ravaged the land of the Israelites. This is an important point because it establishes the identity of the prophet of Yahweh as being the same individual as the, “messenger of Yahweh.”
Using the, “angel of Yahweh,” (in Judges chapter Six), as a precedent for God “becoming human” in the New Testament, such as your friend has done, is purely fictional and based upon a faulty premise, poor translating (Bible versions), corrupted doctrine (i.e. – the Trinity) and poor logic. Your question about manifestations of Yahweh in the old covenant, and whether or not they have applicability in the new covenant is answered in the text of Hebrews 1:1ff, which in effect says, “in these last days,” God speaks to us only in His son Jesus. God speaks to His people thru Jesus Christ, which now includes the members of Christ’s spiritual body, known as the church.
In Judges 6:12, notice the messenger of Yahweh uses third person grammar, saying to Gideon, “Yahweh is with thee…” Gideon replies to the messenger with these words, “Pardon, my lord! If Yahweh be with us, then wherefore hath all this befallen us?” The words Gideon spoke to the prophet, “Pardon my lord,” are tantamount to you or me addressing a gentleman as, “sir,” but with the weight of authority duly acknowledged. The Hebrew word for, “lord,” here is a masculine noun ‘adon’ (OT: 113) and has both human and divine applications in the Hebrew Old Testament, depending upon the context.
Adon means lord or master, and its most frequent usage is of a human lord; it is also used in titles for God. Generally, adon carries a tone of authority, such as the depiction of the “prophet” mentioned here in Judges chapter Six, and is not typically used to connote ownership. When used of humans, it refers to authority over slaves, such as the depiction found later in Judges 19:11. In this case, Gideon recognizes that a man of spiritual importance is speaking to him, and consequently, his initial greeting of, “adon,” shows an attitude of respect for the messenger of Yahweh.
Just the same, if we read the entire context of the narrative in Judges 6:11-27, only later, after the prophet performs a miraculous ‘sign’ for him, does Gideon truly understand this is indeed the emissary of Yahweh, as described in Judges 6:22.
Judges 6:14-27 And Yahweh, turned unto him, and said, “Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel, out of the hand of Midian, —have I not sent thee? 15 And he said unto him—Pardon, O my Lord! How, shall I save Israel? Lo! my thousand, is the poorest in Manasseh, and, I, am the youngest in the house of my father. 16 And Yahweh said unto him—I will be with thee, —so shalt thou smite the Midianites, as one man. 17 And he said unto him, If, I beseech thee, I have found favour in thine eyes, then wilt thou work for me a sign, that it is, thou, who art speaking with me. 18 Do not, I beseech thee, withdraw from hence, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said: I, will tarry until thou return. 19 So, Gideon, went in, and made ready a kid of the goats, and, of an ephah of meal, unleavened cakes, the flesh, he put in a basket, and, the broth, he put in a pot, —and brought them forth unto him, under the oak, and presented them. 20 And the messenger of God said unto him—Take the flesh and the cakes, and set them on this crag, and, the broth, do thou pour out. And he did so. 21 Then the messenger of Yahweh put forth the end of the staff, that was in his hand, and touched the flesh, and the cakes, and there came up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh, and the cakes, and, the messenger of Yahweh, had departed out of his sight. 22 Then saw Gideon that, the messenger of Yahweh, it was, —so Gideon said, “Alas, My Lord Yahweh! Forasmuch as I have seen the messenger of Yahweh, face to face! 23 And Yahweh said unto him—Peace be unto thee! Do not fear, —thou shalt not die. 24 So, Gideon built there an altar unto Yahweh, and called it, ‘Yahweh-shalom.’ Unto this day, it remained, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
“25 And it came to pass, on that night, that Yahweh said unto him—Take the young bullock that belongeth to thy father, even the second bullock of seven years, —and throw thou down the altar of Baal, that belongeth to thy father, and, the sacred stem that is by it, shalt thou cut down. 26 Then shalt thou build an altar, unto Yahweh thy God, on the top of this fort, with the pile, —and shalt take the second bullock, and cause it to go up as an ascending-sacrifice, with the wood of the sacred stem which thou shalt cut down. 27 So Gideon took ten men from among his servants, and did as Yahweh had spoken unto him, —and so it was that, as he too much feared the house of his father, and the men of the city, to do it by day, he did it by night.” (Judges 6:1-27 Rotherham)
Trinitarians have no problem when an Old Testament prophet, who is human, speaks directly for Yahweh; they do not associate or assign divinity to these men, nor do they assume them to be manifestations of the Preincarnate Jesus Christ, (i.e. – the second Person of the Trinity). The Old Testament scriptures are replete from beginning to end with utterances by these chosen men, who as prophets, speak for Yahweh in the first person singular, saying, “Thus says Yahweh.” Yet only where the text has a degree of mysticism or ambiguity do we find Trinitarian proponents quick to join the cause. Why? Because they revel in the ‘mysterious’ and can never be assured that what they believe is provable.
Honest biblical study logically understands that prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Samuel, and many others are simply human vessels. Prophets are mortal men, which are chosen by Yahweh to be His voice, just as an ambassador is chosen by the king or ruler of a nation to be his official bearer of news. In this case, the prophet, though unnamed, speaks as Yahweh’s spiritual attaché, and Gideon uses his own spiritual discernment by recognizing the prophet’s God-given authority to speak directly on behalf of Yahweh.
In closing, let me illustrate the strong, prejudicial sentiment of those who promulgate the doctrine of the Trinity, by quoting from a sermon delivered on September 22, 1878, by the renowned Charles H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, titled, ‘Adoption - The Spirit and the Cry – Galatians 4:6, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” We do not find the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity set forth in Scripture in formal terms, such as those which are employed in the Athanasian creed ; but the truth is continually taken for granted, as if it were a fact well known in the church of God.” (from Spurgeon's Sermons, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
Words have meaning Sam firm and the Old Testament scriptures were originally written in the Hebrew script. Nowhere in the Old Testament is Yahweh (God) mentioned as having, “become,” an, “angel,” or having, “become,” a man. In fact, your friend’s use of these terms belies his ignorance of the Hebrew verb hayah, (hayah, meaning, ‘to be’ or ‘to exist’ is the root cognate of Yahweh), which never depicts Yahweh as ‘becoming’ or coming into existence as a man. Yahweh cannot ‘become’ anything other than His intrinsic existence; otherwise, He ceases to be unchangeable.
Just so we agree on the meaning of terms, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary uses its primary definition for ‘become’ (below) with two examples from scripture that I thought you’d find interesting:
BECOME - To pass from one state to another; to enter into some state or condition, by a change from another state or condition, or by assuming or receiving new properties or qualities, additional matter, or a new character: e.g. a) The Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of like and man became a living soul. b) To the Jew, I became a Jew.
There are three main views within Christendom concerning the pre-existence of Jesus Christ as Deity in the Old Testament:
1. Those who believe Jesus is God as the second Person of the Triune Godhead.
2. Those who believe Jesus is God as Yahweh of the Old Testament but reject trinitarianism.
3. Those who believe Jesus is an archangel in the Old Testament.
All three views above are false; those who believe in view #1 are groups like the Roman Catholic Church, mainline evangelical Christian churches, mainline charismatic church denominations, etc. Those who espouse view #2 are groups like the United Pentecostal Church, the Apostolic Faith-type church organizations, etc. Those who promulgate view #3 are groups like Kingdom Hall, Watchtower Society, also known as ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses,’ and some splinter groups of the same; also, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the ‘Mormon Church’ holds to a strange form of doctrine that is founded on the ‘pre-existence’ of Jesus and that of all mankind.
The correct view from scripture is that Jesus is a man, and in no way whatsoever is he ‘God’ or subsisting in any type of co-equality with God, as is commonly alleged in the teachings of all trinitarian dogma. Jesus did not always exist, as alleged, because the New Testament scriptures specify the exact time of his earliest beginning or starting point, which happened when he was conceived (Read Matthew 1:18-20).
The problem I see with the state of affairs between your friend’s interpretations and your own lies in the undefined framework as basis for discussion. You introduced the Trinity into the equation, revealing to me the underlying reason for your friend’s interpretation. My suggestion to you is to read the available apologetic teaching I have posted online at The Bible Answer Stand Ministry website. The high volume of inquiries I receive daily forbids lengthy response, and your questions are framed in a manner that span a wide girth of theological and Christological conflict. The following links are listed in the section titled ‘CRAIG’S BIBLE STUDIES.’
Jesus is the "Gift" of the Holy Spirit:
These studies deal with all of your questions and much more, including thorough exegesis on why Christ cannot be ‘God’ or ‘Yahweh’ manifested in the Old Testament scriptures, who and what the identity of the angel of Yahweh is, why the doctrine of the Trinity is false, and foundational proofs from scripture, the historical record, archaeology, the ancient writings of Plato, Philo, and others that laid the groundwork for the current Christian perception of God as a triune Being, and Jesus as a ‘Pre-Incarnate’ deity, subsisting as the Second Person of the Trinity.
I hope this is helpful to you Sam. I will pray for your understanding of scripture to deepen thru prayerful, diligent study, obedience to God, and a life directed to Him thru His son, Jesus the Christ.
1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.