Excellent site with brilliant lessons and answers.
Question: Many Trinitarians argue that Genesis 19:24 is evidence that two persons are addressed as, “Jehovah.” Doing a Google search with, “Genesis 19:24 Trinity,” I have read a few good explanations that refute the idea that the verse imply a trinitarian interpretation.
How do you understand
these verses to refute the trinitarian interpretation?
February 26, 2005
Thanks for asking this question Sezan. Before I can offer a refutation to trinitarian interpretations, allow me to restate the trinitarian doctrinal position. I will address the question you asked about Genesis 19:24, a familiar argument presented by the trinitarian camp, but first, I think it is prudent to lay a foundation that accurately represents the overall context in which verse 24 appears. Your questions and comments are only a small fragment of the trinitarian views regarding Genesis 19:24, because ‘triune’ dogma teaches the three men who approached Abraham’s tent near Mamre are, in fact, the trinity! (Read Genesis 18:1-3). The doctrine of the trinity teaches there is one God coexisting as three distinct persons; all three persons are said to be co-equal, co-eternal, co-omniscient, co-omnipresent, etc. This is no small point because later it will be used to show how fragmented and contradictory the trinity position concerning Genesis 19:24 really is.
Trinitarian doctrine reasons that three men in the accounts of Genesis chapter 18 & chapter 19 refer to the trinity for the following reasons (all of which I disagree wholeheartedly).
1. In Genesis 18:1 Yahweh appeared to Abraham.
2. In Genesis 18:2 Three men appear at the same time Yahweh appeared to Abraham; trinitarians say this is one and the same as the trinity, but merely a different type of manifestation. Each person is recognized as distinct, corresponding to the triune nature of the Trinitarian Godhead. Trinity doctrine says God is divided into three co-existent persons of God; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three are said to be co-equal, co-existing as one, and therefore inseparable.
3. In Genesis 18:3, Abraham addresses these three men using a singular noun saying, “My lord (singular)…” Trinitarian teaching asserts this is the Triune God appearing to Abraham as three persons in what is called a, ‘tri-theophany,’ or ‘three-in-one divine appearance.’
4. In Genesis 18:5 the 3 men speak collectively to Abraham in acceptance of his hospitality to them; trinitarian doctrine says this proves the trinity because it illustrates how one God is a ‘united one’ (i.e. – meaning a united three-persons-in-one-God Deity) and he (they) works cooperatively as three persons, each distinctly God.
This is the basic framework of the trinitarian argument. Based on this explanation, we can refute this erroneous trinitarian teaching quite clearly and readily. Here’s the beginning refutation:
In Genesis 18:9 the scripture describes the three men that ask Abraham where his wife is by using the plural pronoun, “they.”
Genesis 18:9 Then they said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, "Behold, in the tent."
In Genesis 18:10 however, only ONE of the men speaks and promises Abraham “he” will return saying to Abraham, “I will surely return to you at this time next year…”
Genesis 18:10 And he said, "I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. NAS
There is a clear distinction between, “they said,” in Genesis 18:9 and, “he said,” in Genesis 18:10. In 18:9 only two of the men ask Abraham where Sarah is, but in 18:10, only one of the men says, “I will return next year.” This distinction means this is not the trinity in focus, otherwise the pronouns would not shift back and forth from singular to plural.
Below Genesis 18:13-14 are first mention of Yahweh and are a continuation of one man speaking apart from the other two men.
Genesis 18:13-14 And the LORD (Yahweh) said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?' 14 Is anything too difficult for the LORD (Yahweh)? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." NAS
This is Yahweh speaking to Abraham, and it is the angel (singular) of Yahweh, whom Abraham recognized because prior in earlier chapters of Genesis the angel of Yahweh appeared to Abraham’s mistress and Sarah’s maidservant in Genesis 16:7, 9, 10, & 11 promising her she would bear children. Later this same singular angel of Yahweh came to Abraham to deliver Yahweh’s messages to him in Genesis 22:11, 15
Genesis 22:11 But the angel of the LORD (Yahweh) called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." NAS
Genesis 22:15 Then the angel of the LORD (Yahweh) called to Abraham a second time from heaven. NAS
Further proof this is not the trinity involved is found in verse Genesis 18:14 where Yahweh speaks to Abraham thru the angel (singular) of Yahweh using the singular pronoun, “I,” NOT the plural pronoun, “we.” Yahweh is mentioned and uses only SINGULAR pronouns for the remainder of chapter 18
Genesis 18:16-17 Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. 17 And the LORD (Yahweh) said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” NAS
Abraham escorts all three men on the way to Sodom; however only two of the men actually go into Sodom; the other man (angel) speaks as Yahweh, and he uses singular pronouns in Genesis 18: 17, “And the LORD (Yahweh) said, "Shall I…”
The other two men that go down to Sodom are identified as, “angels,” whereas one man stays with Abraham, and speaks to him as, “Yahweh.” This is concrete proof that only ONE man (angel) is speaking as Yahweh, and the other two are merely angels sent to accompany the singular angel of Yahweh in their visit to and with Abraham and his wife Sarah.
The role of the two angels changes when they go to Sodom to rescue Abraham’s nephew named Lot. They are being directed on a different mission as agents acting directly on behalf of Yahweh to fulfil two purposes; first, to warn Lot and rescue him and any of his family that pays heed to the warning, and secondly, to act on behalf of and with the authority to use the power of Yahweh to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with brimstone and with fire.
Genesis 19:1-2 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 And he said, "Now behold, my lords (lords = PLURAL, not LORD singular), please turn aside into your servant's house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way." They said however, "No, but we shall spend the night in the square." NAS
These two “angels” were the same men that had earlier been with Abraham and Sarah; the third man stayed with Abraham. These two angels come in the form of men, evidenced by the fact that Lot wanted to wash their feet. Angels appearing in the form of men is not unheard of in scripture, because angels appear as men in numerous places throughout both Old & New Testaments.
When Lot greets these two angels, he addresses them by using the PLURAL noun, and saying, “My lords.” Because Lots calls them by the plural, “my lords,” this proves there is no such thing as the trinity in this context. The Hebrew noun (adonay) that Lot uses to call these angelic visitors, “lords,” is the common plural form of the Hebrew title of respect.
Adonay does not mean divinity; it is a general Hebrew word to address someone of dignity, or someone as, ‘master.’ For example, Sarah called Abraham, “my lord,” in Genesis 18:12 using the same form of Hebrew word, “adon.” Do you suppose trinitarian dogma would identify Abraham as one member of the trinity, simply because his wife Sarah called him, “lord?” Of course not, but this shows the total absurdity of this false teaching.
Furthermore, the fact that Lot addresses these two angelic messengers (sent in the form of men) as, “my lords,” (plural), is absolute proof there is no mention of the trinity, because the third person was not present with them, which by trinitarian standards reduces their co-equality and their co-omnipresence to nothing.
Also, note in Genesis 19:2 the two angels speak to answer Lot and they said, "No, but we shall spend the night in the square." Because “they” use a plural pronoun, “we” while speaking collectively, this is irrefutable evidence that only two angels exist in Sodom, while the third angel who had earlier spoken to Abraham for and on behalf of Jehovah (or Yahweh) is not with them.
The reason I mention this is simply to point out that the three men or angels did not stay together, which violates the fundamental doctrine of co-omnipresence taught by trinitarian doctrine. Furthermore, since one speaks as Yahweh, and they other two remain silent as he speaks, this nullifies the trinitarian principle of co-equality amongst the three persons of the triune Godhead.
The way this can be proven is by looking at the Genesis 19:29, “Thus it came about, when God (Elohim) destroyed the cities of the valley, that God (Elohim) remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.” Trinitarianism teaches that the Hebrew word, “Elohim,” means, “a united one,” and is used to represent the three persons of the trinity eternally united and inseparable. Oops. Now two of the angels split off and went to Sodom at the command of the angel of Yahweh that stayed behind with Abraham, thereby nullifying the “united” three persons of the trinity.
The third angel, known throughout the OT as “the” angel of Yahweh is mentioned separately and distinct from these two angels. The third angel stayed behind to talk with Abraham; he IS referred to throughout the last half of Genesis chapter 18 as, “Yahweh.” This point will be mentioned again when I answer your question concerning the use of Yahweh in Genesis 19:24. The other two angels were sent to rescue Lot and his family from the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
So far I have proven by simple breakdown of plural and singular nouns and pronouns that there is no such thing as the trinity with its err of three co-equal, co-omnipresent persons of “God” in the context of Genesis chapters 18-19. The three men that came to visit Abraham and his wife Sarah were two angels in the form of men, and a third angel in the form of man, but with considerably greater authority, who speaks for and on behalf of Yahweh, and is recognized as one and the same as the, “angel of Yahweh,” throughout the OT.
This means that during the initial meeting with Abraham and Sarah the other two men are angels sent to accompany the angel of Yahweh to speak to Abraham. Perhaps this is so they can act as witnesses to the promise of Yahweh to Sarah, that she would become pregnant and bear a son within the next year. Following the meeting with Abraham, one angel stays with him, while the other two angels are then sent separately into Sodom to rescue Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family before the city was to be destroyed by Yahweh THROUGH them (i.e. – thru these two angel Yahweh destroys Sodom and Gomorrah).
Now let’s deal with Genesis 19: 24; according to the information you gave me from the web site you visited, the trinitarian interpretation of this verse is as follows:
TRINITARIAN VIEW: In Genesis 19:24 the scripture states, “Then Yahweh rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven.” The Trinitarian argument is this: One person of the trinity we will call Yahweh #1 rained brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah One person of the trinity we will call Yahweh #2 rained fire from out of heaven. They believe that because Yahweh is mentioned twice in one verse, the conclusion is that there is more than one person of God doing the raining of brimstone and fire.
I don’t know where they find any reason to identify more than one person of Yahweh in Genesis 19:24; neither the English nor Hebrew text supports their argument, and there is no distinction by virtue of plural nouns or pronouns in verse 24 to support such an interpretation. So the best way to decipher any argument is to begin with context.
I can appreciate that you are going about from one site to the next to find information, which is fine and can be profitable. But I want to help and encourage you take your level of study higher; therefore, my suggestion to you is that you begin your own individual study apart from the hermeneutics of others, as it is always the most gratifying and makes a more vivid and permanent imprint of the word of God on your own heart and mind because you had to personally dig for the truth. There’s an old saying that has application here; it goes like this brother:
“Give a man a fish, and feed him for the day; but teach the man how to fish, and he’ll feed himself for a lifetime.”
You are a very respectful and courteous brother, and I enjoy helping you out. My desire is to see you put to use the good mind God has equipped you with to lay groundwork for future use by God as a teacher in scripture, something woefully lacking in today’s church. Read the context of Genesis 19:12-29 below, and then pay close attention to the following:
Plural or singular nouns (e.g. – “men” versus “man” or “angel” versus “angels” OR “angels” versus “the LORD”) and pronouns (e.g. – “I, he, him” versus “we, us, they, them”)
Ask yourself, who is speaking & to whom OR who is acting on behalf of whom?
I have highlighted in red some of the key pronouns for your consideration:
Genesis 19:12-29 Then the men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; 13 for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD (Yahweh) that the LORD (Yahweh) has sent us to destroy it. " 14 And Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the LORD (Yahweh) will destroy the city." But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting. 15 And when morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two daughters, who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city." 16 But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD (Yahweh) was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. 17 And it came about when they had brought them outside, that one said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, lest you be swept away." 18 But Lot said to them, "Oh no, my lords! 19 "Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest the disaster overtake me and I die; 20 now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved. " 21 And he said to him, "Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar. 23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the LORD (Yahweh) rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD (Yahweh) out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife, from behind him, looked back; and she became a pillar of salt. 27 Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the LORD (Yahweh); 28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. 29 Thus it came about, when God (Elohim) destroyed the cities of the valley, that God (Elohim) remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived. NAS
I think you’ll find the answers to your questions self-explanatory if you carefully segment all the words highlighted in red. Here’s some simple refutations that easily and logically dispel the trinity myth:
Refutation #1: In verses 12 & 13 the men said to Lot… we are about to destroy this place, because the LORD (Yahweh) has sent us to destroy it. " Recall now that the third angel who stayed behind with Abraham was the angel of Yahweh. He is the spokesman for Yahweh to whom these two angels refer when they spoke to Lot saying to him, “the LORD (Yahweh) has sent us to destroy it. " This is answer enough to eliminate every trinitarian argument in the entire chapter of Genesis 19!
What proves these two angels who came in the form of men are Yahweh’s representatives is how they act on behalf of Yahweh’s command when granting Lot’s request. In verse 16 Lot has second thoughts and he hesitates, so to save him the men (i.e. - the two angels) seize Lot’s hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters.
As the angels take his family by the hand, and lead them outside of the city, this act of deliverance is described in the last half of verse 16 saying, “… for the compassion of the LORD (Yahweh) was upon him (Lot); and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.”
Here we see that “Yahweh’s compassion” is demonstrated thru the actions of these two angels disguised as men; keep in mind however, that these two angels are “sent by Yahweh,” so therefore the reference to the “compassion of Yahweh,” is redirected to the third angel that stayed with Abraham, because he is the auditory spokesman for Yahweh (i.e. – he speaks directly for Yahweh).
This shows how scripture sometimes uses the actions of others to describe the compassion of Yahweh, but it certainly does not prove there are more than one person of God in a triune Godhead, as purported by trinitarian dogma.
Refutation #2: In verse 17 it reads, “And it came about when they (the 2 angels) had brought them (Lot’s family) outside (of Sodom), that one said, (meaning one of the angels) "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, lest you be swept away." Since they are now outside of the city, the “one” speaking is the angel of Yahweh, who is the third angel that had remained outside of the cities, as he stayed behind with Abraham.
Even though only one of the angels speaks to Lot, in a typical display of Middle Eastern cultural respect, Lot responds to the one speaking by addressing ALL three of the angels in verse 18 by calling to them, "Oh no, my lords!”
Safe temporarily outside of Sodom and now in the presence of all three angels, Lot goes on to plead with them in verses 19 & 20, to let him retreat to a smaller city nearby saying, “"Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life…”
This leads to my point in verse 21, which reads, “And he (he meaning Yahweh) said to him (Lot), "Behold, I (Yahweh) grant you this request…” Recall earlier that only ONE angel spoke. The context does not say which of the three angels is speaking for and on behalf of Yahweh, but the fact is, only one speaks, and earlier this was the angel of Yahweh, so the logical conclusion is that it is the original angel of Yahweh speaking again.
Because only one angel speaks, and the other two angels said they had been “sent by Yahweh” to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, the principle of co-equality in the triune Godhead is ruined by this fact, because only one of the two angels speaks, and the fact remains the other two personages are subservient to him, not co-equal.
Therefore, any alluding to “Yahweh” twice in verse 24 is simply the two angels alternately working on behalf and directly for Yahweh, who sent them with power to destroy the cities with brimstone and fire. So simple even a child could figure it out.
One last note about verses 13-14 when Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law. In verse 13 the two angels told Lot, “… for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD (Yahweh) that the LORD (Yahweh) has sent us to destroy it. " In verse 14 Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the LORD (Yahweh) will destroy the city." As far as Lot knew, there were only two angels involved, since he had not met the third one as the angel of Yahweh yet.
The fact then that Lot refers to these two angels of destruction and deliverance collectively as, “Yahweh,” blows the ‘three-in-one’ trinity argument out of the water! If the trinitarian dogma says this is proof for more than one person of Yahweh in the context, then the blessed three has been reduced to a mere two, and instead of a trinity, we now have a twinity!
That’s about all I can say Sezan; I hope this is a helpful exercise for you to develop a system of your own to break down verses easily and logically, thereby refuting the triune nonsense the devil has foisted upon the Christian churches.
Craig L. Bluemel - The Bible Answer Stand Ministry (www.bibleanswerstand.org)
Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do so courteously & respectfully. 1 Peter 3:15