It is written:
Isaiah 9:6-For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The Book of Isaiah contains many beautiful and powerful prophecies of Jesus Christ. Indeed, Isaiah’s Book is so filled with Messianic prophecy that Isaiah is often called “the Messianic Prophet” by some! One profound example is found here in Isaiah 9:6.
In describing the Messiah’s Nature and what He would accomplish in the world of man when He entered into it, Isaiah makes an intriguing reference to the Messiah being “Everlasting Father.”
What does he mean?
Before we embark on a detailed investigation of that question, let’s first notice some of the evidences from the text that this is actually a prophecy of the Messiah.
The Messiah In Isaiah 9:6-7
In recent days, many who reject Jesus Christ claim that Old Testament prophecies have been hijacked by Christians and twisted out of context to try and prove that Jesus Christ is the Messiah when in actuality He isn’t. One man who truly looked into this was named Michael Brown.
“In November of 1971, as a rebellious, proud, heroin-shooting, rock-drumming, drumming, Jewish sixteen-year-old, I discovered something I was not looking for, and the course of my life was completely altered. I found out that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah! I learned that he was the one spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures, that he was God’s way of salvation for Jew and Gentile alike, and that through faith in him my life could be transformed-even though I didn’t want it to be transformed. I loved my sinful ways! But God’s goodness overcame my badness, and in a matter of weeks, I was a brand-new man. My parents were thrilled-and relieved-to see the tremendous change in my life. I had fallen so far, so quickly, since my bar mitzvah at age thirteen, and my parents had been deeply concerned. But the positive transformation was more radical and dramatic than was the fall. The only problem for my parents-especially for my father-was was that in their opinion I had joined a foreign religion. So my father, thrilled with the change in my life but very much wanting me to come back to our traditions, brought me to the local Conservative rabbi in early 1972 (1 was still not yet seventeen). But rather than attacking my beliefs, this twenty-six-year-old rabbi befriended me. He told me that in his opinion he was not as spiritual a person as I was, although his beliefs were right and mine were wrong. In his view, Judaism, meaning traditional, Orthodox, observant Judaism, was the only true faith for our people, and he felt that the key for me would be to meet some very religious-and zealous-traditional Jews. And so the journey began! In the summer of 1973, the rabbi brought me to Brooklyn to spend an afternoon with some ultra-Orthodox rabbis. It was a real eyeopener for me! I was impressed with the devotion and kindly demeanor of these men, and I was challenged by their scholarship. How could I, Just eighteen years old and barely able to read the Hebrew alphabet, tell them what our sacred Hebrew texts meant? They had been studying the Scriptures all their lives; I had been a believer less than two years, although by then I had read the Bible cover to cover roughly five times and memorized more than four thousand verses. But they had memorized the original; I was dependent on English translations. What business did I have telling them that Jesus was actually the fulfillment of the prophecies of our Hebrew Bible? This was my predicament: I was sure my faith was sound and that Jesus really was our Messiah, but I could find almost no literature (and almost no people) to help me. When I did find solid academic works by Christians dealing with Messianic prophecy and related subjects, they tended to be insensitive to the traditional Jewish objections I was hearing. On the other hand, the few books (really, booklets) I found specifically addressing Jewish objections tended to be popular, short, and nonscholarly in their approach. I was in a quandary! How could I effectively answer the questions of the rabbis and refute their objections? And what about my own conscience? Could I really be at peace with myself without being able to provide intellectually solid responses to my own people, especially when the rabbis told me that if I could read the original texts, I would never believe in Jesus? So it was that I began to study Hebrew in college, ultimately making it my major and continuing with graduate studies until I earned a doctorate in Semitic languages. And all through my college and graduate years, I was constantly dialoging with rabbis and religious Jews, sometimes in public debates, other times one on one. I wanted to understand exactly why my own people rejected Jesus-Yeshua-as Messiah, and I wanted to answer them with truth as well as with love. In the providence of God, I became somewhat of a specialist in Jewish debate and dialog, and in the late 1980s and early 1990s, my Messianic Jewish friends and colleagues began to ask me, “When are you going to put all this in writing?” In fact, one friend in particular, Sid Roth, lovingly badgered me for years, asking me almost every time we talked, “So Mike, when are you going to write the book”-implying that everything else I was writing was of secondary importance! Finally, in 1996 I felt the release to begin the work in earnest, and as word started to get out, I was amazed at the level of interest expressed by many of my Christian friends: “I want to read your book and then give it to one of my Jewish friends who doesn’t believe in Jesus! When is it coming out?” At last I can answer, “Now,” with only one caveat. It’s no longer a book; it’s a series of three books. There was simply too much material to cover, and after all this time-especially given the fact that no comparable work exists-I felt that it was better to be too thorough than not thorough enough. Following this volume, two more volumes should come out in six-to-nine-month intervals, meaning that, God willing, by the end of 2000 or the beginning of 2001, all three volumes should be in print. If there is sufficient reader interest, these three volumes will then be combined into a one-volume reference edition, with some special studies and further notes added. It is with great joy that I release this first volume to you. May you be blessed, edified, strengthened, and stretched as you read, study, think, and pray. Perhaps this will be the beginning of an important spiritual and intellectual journey for you too!…It is my prayer that the public of this series, representing the fruit of more than a quarter of a century of dialog with my own Jewish people, will provide encouragement first and foremost to every Jewish believer in Jesus around the world. My dear brothers and sisters in the Messiah, this is for you! (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: General and Historical Objections, Vol. 1, 60-97 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Some Jewish philosophers even go so far today as to claim that there are no Messianic prophecies in the Bible at all. Yet this modern day claim is just that: a heresy born from the mindset of those who cannot stand the Nazarene Messiah Who alone has fulfilled these prophecies, and which claim is easily refuted by a study of historical Judaism.
“I am aware also that in recent times many intelligent Jews, backed by rationalistic, so-called Christians, who, in this respect, are even less conscientious and consistent than their Israelitish champions, deny that there is the hope of a Messiah in the Old Testament Scriptures, and assert that the prophecies on which Christians ground such a belief contain only “vague anticipations and general hopes, but no definite predictions of a personal Messiah,” and that consequently the alleged agreement of the gospel history with prophecy is imaginary. But on this I may be permitted to ask, first of all, How is it that it is only within very recent years, since special efforts were beginning to be made on the part of Christians to show that in Jesus of Nazareth the predictions have received their fulfilment, that attempts are made on the part of some representatives of the synagogue to eliminate the Messianic meaning from those predictions? Does it not appear very much as if this new mode of interpretation was adverted to as a convenience and for argument’s sake rather than from a desire to arrive at the truth or from a sincere belief that it is more in accordance with facts? The famous Joseph Albo, of the fifteenth century, author of the “Hikrim,” quotes Hillel as an authority when he reproves Maimonides for laying down the belief in a Messiah as a fundamental doctrine of Judaism, and goes on to say, “And there is neither in the law or in the prophets any prediction that must necessarily indicate the appearance of a Messiah” (“Sepher Ikarim Oratio IV” c. 42). A rather bold assertion this! and as for Hillel, had Maimonides lived he might have replied that his (Hillel’s) view was an isolated one in the Talmud. Since Albo there have been such isolated cases as Slavador and others of the rationalistic school who have held the same views, but their numbers have increased at the present day to legion, and in many cases they have been driven to it out of a feeling of despair and of hope deferred….That it is a novel mode of dealing with Messianic predictions is easily seen from Jewish sentiment on the subject as depicted in the New Testament, which, I suppose, our enemies even would agree, is at least valuable, inasmuch as it pictures to us the Jewish life and thought of the period; and from the Talmud, which declares that “all the prophets have only prophesied concerning the days of the Messiah” (Sanhedrin XXXIV. col. 2).” (David Baron, Rays Of Messiah’s Glory, 55-86 (Kindle Edition)
Now, what evidence is there to show us that this prophecy in Isaiah 9:6-7 is actually Messianic?
First, there are the clear indicators in the passage that imply the Individual under discussion as being both human (“son,” “child”) and Divine (Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace). Especially interesting in this connection is how the word “Wonderful” is joined with “counsel” in the Book of Isaiah.
Isaiah 8:29-This also comes from the LORD of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.
Notice the connections between “wonderful” and “counsel,” and the identification of this with Deity.
Second, the fact that this Person’s government would continually expand is a powerful indicator of the Messianic scope of the passage:
Isaiah 9:7-Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Indeed, this fact is one of the reasons why we know that the passage is not about any mere human being. Some have tried to claim that the passage is a prophecy of King Hezekiah; however, as Brown points out, this doesn’t fit the text at all:
“Putting aside for a moment the name of the child in 9: 6[ 5], Delitzsch is right in stating that it is understandable if Isaiah’s contemporaries thought for a time that Hezekiah might indeed be this promised son of David. The Talmud even states that God wanted to make Hezekiah the Messiah and make Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, Gog and Magog—but Hezekiah was unworthy. 96 In reality, it would seem that his birth was heralded with great excitement and anticipation, with a lofty prophetic oracle of glorious proportions. And Hezekiah was mightily used by the Lord, cleansing the Temple, restoring the holy days and feasts, and experiencing God’s supernatural deliverance from the Assyrians (see 2 Kings 18-20; 2 Chron. 29-32). This was quite an impressive resume, but not impressive enough, since (1) Hezekiah’s reign came nowhere near fulfilling the prophetic word; (2) his son, Manasseh, was the most wicked king in Judah’s history; and (3) within four generations, the nation was in exile in Babylon. Yet Isaiah declared that “of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” The only way the famous medieval refutationist Isaac Troki could argue against this was to claim that the words don’t really mean what they say. He writes first that the words “without end” are “a mere figure of speech,” and then continues: We find, similarly, in Isaiah ii. 7, “And his land was full of silver and gold, and there was no end to his treasures; and his land was full of horses, and there was no end to his chariots.” Thus we also find in Ecclesiastes iv. 8, “There is One, and no second, and he has neither son nor brother; and there is no end to all his troubles.” 97 Then, concerning the promise that through this royal son the kingdom of David would be established “with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever,” Troki states that this expression “shows that his dominion—that is the dynasty of David—will never perish. And though an interruption occurred during the time of the captivity, the government, nonetheless, will, in the days of the Messiah, return to the scion of David” 98 But neither of Troki’s arguments is compelling in the least. Regarding the expression “without end, no end” (Hebrew, eyn kets), it is clear from the examples he cites that these words refer to something that can hardly be counted or measured because it is so vast and boundless, like the riches of Solomon or the troubles of an afflicted man. How then can this prophecy that states “of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” apply to Hezekiah? Even granting that the words “without end” do not have to be taken literally in terms of an eternal kingdom—although this would be a perfectly good way of expressing that concept in Hebrew—they simply do not describe Hezekiah’s reign, which was quite limited in international scope and influence. As for Troki’s contention that Isaiah’s prophecy need not refer to an uninterrupted reign of David’s son, I can only ask in reply, How could Isaiah have been more clear? Is there no significance to the words “from that time on and forever”? Putting all this together, and taking the words at their face value, it would seem that an unbiased reading of the text points to an everlasting, worldwide reign for this son of David, a king whose nature transcended human bounds. We explored this deep, biblical truth in volume 2, 3.2-3.3, discussing at some length the divine nature of the Messiah, explaining how God made himself fully known to man through Yeshua, literally pitching his tent among us and walking in our midst.” (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus : Volume 3: Messianic Prophecy Objections, 36-37 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books)
Third, there is undeniable evidence that this prophecy was understood historically as being Messianic prophecy:
“Is. ix. 6 [For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace] is expressly applied to the Messiah in the Targum, and there is a very curious comment in Debarim R. 1 (ed. Warsh., p. 4 a) in connection with a Haggadic discussion of Gen. xliii. 14 [and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved], which, however fanciful, makes a Messianic application of this passage—also in Bemidbar R. 11.” (Alfred Edersheim edited by Robert C. Newman, Messianic Passages in the Old Testament as Cited in Rabbinic Literature (IBRI Occasional Papers Book 35, 834-838 (Kindle Edition); Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute)
Having established that this is indeed a description of the Messiah, let’s move on to investigate the meaning of the phrase “Everlasting Father.”
Why does this passage refer to Jesus in this way?
Could it be that the text is saying that Jesus (i.e., the Messiah) is actually God the Father?
This is certainly the claim of some.
For example, the group known as Oneness Pentecostals claim that this text teaches that Jesus and the Father are the same Person.
First, let’s look at the phrase translated here as “everlasting Father.” A literal rendering of this phrase is “Father of eternity.” Ron Rhodes (former Jehovah’s Witness) has well written of this (and of its’ implications):
“Now, if the Father and the Son are distinct, then in what sense can Jesus be called “Everlasting Father”? “Everlasting Father” in this verse is better translated “Father of eternity.” The words Father of in this context carry the meaning, “possessor of eternity.” Father of eternity is here used “in accordance with a custom usual in Hebrew and in Arabic, where he who possesses a thing is called the father of it. Thus, the father of strength means strong; the father of knowledge, intelligent; the father of glory, glorious.”[ 44] Along these same lines, the father of peace means peaceful; the father of compassion means compassionate; and the father of goodness means good.[ 45] According to this common usage, the meaning of Father of eternity in Isaiah 9: 6 is “eternal.” Christ as the Father of eternity is an eternal being.[ 46] John A. Martin thus rightly concludes that the phrase Everlasting Father is simply “an idiom used to describe the Messiah’s relationship to time, not His relationship to the other Members of the Trinity.”[ 47] Further support for this view is found in “the Targums”—simplified paraphrases of the Old Testament Scriptures utilized by the ancient Jews. It is highly revealing that the Targum of Isaiah renders Isaiah 9: 6: “His name has been called from of old, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, He who lives forever, the Anointed One (or Messiah), in whose days peace shall increase upon us.”[ 48] Clearly, the ancient Jews considered the phrase “Father of eternity” as indicating the eternality of the Messiah. There can be no doubt that this is the meaning Isaiah intended to communicate to his readers.” (Ron Rhodes, Christ Before the Manger: The Life and Times of the Preincarnate Christ, 37-38 (Kindle Edition))
“Notwithstanding the above, there is an alternative way of translating these two words. Gary Smith correctly notes that the expression may also be translated as a genitive phrase (“ father of eternity”). 50 This translation indicates that the newborn son is actually the author or creator of time, clearly an attribute of deity. Hence, Rydelnik and Spencer state, “The child born here is not to be confused with the Father in the Triune Godhead. Rather, the Son of God is the creator of time, the author of eternity.” 51 In either case, “everlasting” is a term that refers to God or God’s promises (2Sm 7: 16), not to mere human beings. Kaiser comments, “Thus the one who will arrive later is one who has been here from the beginning of time and more!”” (Edward E. Hindson, “The Deity Of The Messiah,” in Michael Rydelnik & Edwin Blum, The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament, 837 (Kindle Edition); Chicago, IL; Moody Publishers)
One former Oneness Pentecostal preacher, carefully studying this text, came to the same conclusion:
“Seen in this light, it becomes clear, as virtually every reputable commentator on Isaiah has seen, that Isaiah’s use of “father” (av or ab) has nothing to do with the formal title of “Father,” which develops in the New Testament out of Jesus’ unique and revelatory relationship with God. “Father” wasn’t even a standard title of God in the Old Testament! In short, this verse does not teach that Jesus is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”; it does not, in other words, teach that Jesus is his own Father. This title, as well as the other titles employed in Isaiah 9: 6, denotes the coming Messiah’s character. This is what the Semitic concept of “name” (shem) refers to when it says, “his name shall be called . . .” (Alexander, 203). There are two ways in which the divine title used here of the coming Messiah might be interpreted, neither of which would make Jesus his own Father. The first understands the expression to mean something like “everlasting Father” (KJV), “father-forever” (Leupold), or “father for all time.” In this interpretation, the verse therefore “describes the nature of his rule” and amounts to saying that the coming Messiah, in contrast to all other presently reigning kings, will not be “a despot” (Herbert, 75; cf. Leupold, 186). It describes the coming Messiah’s “paternal role” (Mauchline, 114) and is roughly equivalent to “good shepherd” (Young, 334; see Wainwright, 42). The unexpected reign of this king, in other words, will be a reign of paternal love and care. The love and rule of this one is to be like the “rule” of a shepherd over his flock or a loving father over his children (cf. John 10: 11–14; 13: 33; 1 Peter 2: 25). The second interpretation translates the expression as “father of eternity” or “father of all ages” or the like. According to this interpretation, the coming Messiah is described as eternal in nature, perhaps implying that he is the Creator, the Lord of time and history (Barnes, Isaiah, 193; Bowman, Oneness, 22, 23). Obviously, neither of these interpretations has anything to do with Jesus’ supposed identity as God the Father.” (Gregory A. Boyd, Oneness Pentecostals and the Trinity: A world wide assessment by a former Oneness Pentecostal, 1048-1064 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Another researcher, homing in on the specific Hebrew of this passage, writes:
“It is true that Hebrew names are used descriptively, and it is true that in this context the messiah is described with a series of names. However, what is not true is that Jesus is called the Father. This passage is one of those unique passages in Hebrew where, when general principles of translation are used, it can lead to a confusing conclusion. The two words, “eternal” and “Father,” are joined in a special way in Hebrew called “in construct.” While words in construct are usually translated as a noun and its adjective, it is in reality similar to a genitive. For example: if the words, “pine and tree”, were in construct, they would be translated “pine tree.” However, a literal translation would be “tree of pine”. In most cases where “constructs” are translated as a noun and an adjective there is no exegetical problem. The passage is easier to read in English. However, in some cases the two words together are laden with meaning in and of themselves, and the translation can be misleading. This passage is an example. It is not saying that Jesus is the eternal Father (Noun and adjective), but that Jesus is the father of eternity (genitive). The meaning of “father of eternity” is the begetter or originator of time. Quite simply, the passage is saying that Jesus is eternal.” (Bruce Tucker, Oneness Pentecostal Churches:Their Doctrine and Practice-An Examination Of The Oneness Pentecostal Movement, 1157-1164 (Kindle Edition); Xlibris Corporation)
From a grammatical point of view, the Messiah here is not being identified as God the Father. However, it is interesting to notice that the Messiah (while being shown as distinct from God the Father) is also being shown to be Divine! Indeed, this is one of the interesting things we find throughout the Old Testament: there is an obvious plurality in the Godhead hinted at, but not fully expounded upon until the New Testament!
For example, notice these intriguing references in Genesis to two Persons shown to be separate Beings in two separate places, yet identified simultaneously as “Jehovah.”
Genesis 19:24-Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.
Genesis 21:17-And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.
Speaking of these passages, one author has written:
“Genesis 19: 24 was a common text used by early Christians to show the distinction between the Father and the Son. In fact, it was one of the most common, being used by almost every major Church Father of the early church (see the Appendix at the end of the book). For example, Justin Martyr—one of the earliest of the Fathers—wrote in his defense of Christianity to the Jew Trypho: Therefore neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob, nor any other man, saw the Father and ineffable Lord of all, and also of Christ, but [saw] Him who was according to His will His Son, being God, and the Angel because He ministered to His will; whom also it pleased Him to be born man by the Virgin; who also was fire when He conversed with Moses from the bush. Since, unless we thus comprehend the Scriptures, it must follow that the Father and Lord of all had not been in heaven when what Moses wrote took place: “And the Lord rained upon Sodom fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven.” (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 127) Earlier he had said, I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things—above whom there is no other God—wishes to announce to them … If I could not have proved to you from the Scriptures that one of those three [men who met Abram at the Oaks of Mamre in Gen 18] is God, and is called Angel, because, as I already said, He brings messages to those to whom God the Maker of all things wishes [messages to be brought]. (Dialogue 56) The importance of this needs to be apprehended. Justin is using a verse where he sees two Yahwehs, saying that one of them is the Second Person of the Trinity. This is not a NT proof-text but goes back to the very first book of the Bible, which is what you would expect when trying to prove the deity of Christ to a Jew. It also follows perfectly with what we saw the passage do as it shortened “The Angel of the LORD” to simply “The LORD.” If the Fathers are correct, then the author of Genesis knew a Second Yahweh. He knew different Persons to be the LORD. Moses was a Monotheist, but not a Unitarian. Neither were the Patriarchs. For as Vos said, the Angel is the most important form of revelation in their days. They interact with the Angel on a regular basis. But what could their stories add that will help us understand this figure of the Angel of the LORD even better?” (Douglas Van Dorn & Matt Foreman, The Angel of the LORD: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Study, 32-34 (Kindle Edition): Dacono, Colorado; Waters Of Creation Publishing)
(Remember this quote for later when we will learn that the early Christians clearly defended the doctrine of the Trinity long before the time of Constantine).
There are indeed numerous other examples of this scattered throughout the Old Testament. The following lengthy quotation from Heiser provides several examples:
“The startling reality is that long before Jesus and the New Testament, careful readers of the Old Testament would not have been troubled by the notion of, essentially, two Yahwehs—one invisible and in heaven, the other manifest on earth in a variety of visible forms, including that of a man. In some instances the two Yahweh figures are found together in the same scene . In this and the chapter that follows, we’ll see that the “Word” was just one expression of a visible Yahweh in human form. 1 The concept of a Godhead in the Old Testament has many facets and layers… (speaking of Genesis 22:10-18, M.T.) The first thing to notice is that when the angel of Yahweh speaks to Abraham, Abraham recognizes the voice. He does not ask the identity of the speaker, as though the voice is unfamiliar. He does not fear that he is harkening to the voice of another god. The reader, however, knows that the source is not Yahweh per se, but the angel of Yahweh. The word translated “angel” here is the Hebrew word mal’ak , which simply means “messenger.” The next observation is very important. The Angel speaks to Abraham in verse 11 , and so is distinguished from God. But immediately after doing so, he commends Abraham for not withholding Isaac “from me .” There is a switch to the first person which, given that God himself had told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac ( Gen 22:1–2 ), seems to require seeing Yahweh as the speaker….Genesis 32:28–29 makes it apparent that the “man” with whom Jacob wrestled was a divine being. The mysterious combatant himself says “you have striven with elohim ,” a term we know can be translated either “God” or “a god.” The narrative nowhere says Jacob’s encounter was only a vision. This elohim is tangible and corporeal. Hosea 12:3–4 confirms the divine identity of Jacob’s opponent—but then adds two surprising details. 5 Note the way Hosea uses parallelism to express the thought: 3 In the womb he [Jacob] deceived his brother, and in his manhood he struggled [Hebrew, sarah ] with God [ elohim ]. 4 He struggled [Hebrew, yasar ] with the angel and prevailed: he pleaded for his mercy. He met him at Bethel, and there he spoke with him. 6 Not only does Hosea describe Jacob’s elohim opponent as an angel, but the last line of this quotation identifies this angel with Bethel…We’ve seen this “confusion” of God with an angel before. It is deliberate. The point is not that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is a mere angel. The reverse is the case. This angel is Yahweh . We have one more passage to consider. The way it fuses Yahweh and the angel is nothing short of amazing. Genesis 48 records Jacob’s deathbed words of blessing to Joseph’s children. The passage references the God who had appeared to him at Bethel, who, readers know from Genesis 31:13 , is called an angel. It’s all set up for the thunderbolt in the section in bold below (vv. 15–16 )…The parallel position of elohim and mal’ak (“angel”) is unmistakable. Since the Bible very clearly teaches that God is eternal and existed before all things, and that angels are created beings, the point of this explicit parallel is not to say that God is an angel. On the other hand, it affirms that this angel is God. 9 But the most striking feature is the verb (“may he bless”). In Hebrew, the verb “bless” in this passage is not grammatically plural , which would indicate two different persons are being asked to bless the boys. Rather, it is singular , thereby telegraphing a tight fusion of the two divine beings on the part of the author. In other words, the writer had a clear opportunity to distinguish the God of Israel from the angel, but instead merges their identities . As we leave this chapter, the implications of what we’ve seen are staggering. The patriarchal stories create an astonishing picture for us. If there is only one God—one Yahweh—then why does the writer fuse Yahweh and the angel in some passages, but have the angel refer to God in the third person in others? Why blur the distinction between Yahweh and this angel and yet keep them distinct? What’s being communicated? When the biblical text does this, it pushes us to wonder whether there are two Yahwehs, one invisible in heaven and one visible on earth. We’ll see next that this is precisely the point. The God of Israel is God, but in more than one person….(Speaking of the burning bush in Exodus 3, M.T.). The text quite clearly states that “the angel of Yahweh” was in the bush (v. 2 ). But when Moses turns to look at the bush (v. 3 ), the text has Yahweh observing him and calling to him—“from the midst of the bush” (v. 4 ). Both the Angel—the visible Yahweh in human form—and the invisible Yahweh are characters in the burning bush scene. Interestingly, verse 6 tells us that Moses was afraid to look at God. This suggests that he had discerned something other than fire in the bush—most likely, the human form of the angel. The New Testament affirms this description in Acts 7:30–35 . The martyr Stephen twice tells us that there was an angel in the bush (vv. 30 , 35 ). In the conversation that ensues, Yahweh (v. 7 ) reveals his covenant name to Moses: I AM ( Exod 3:14 ). If Yahweh is speaking to Moses, one has to wonder why the Angel was needed. If Yahweh is doing the talking, why does he need a messenger? Or perhaps when the writer says Yahweh is speaking, he means the Angel. Like the passages in Genesis we’ve already seen, Exodus 3 includes Yahweh and his angel in the same scene as distinct figures, but then creates ambiguity between them. Are there two or one? Are the two the same but different? The reader is being prepped for something dramatic to come. He won’t have long to wait….(Speaking of Exodus 23:20-22, M.T.). There’s something strange about God’s description to Moses that tells us that this is no ordinary angel. This angel has the authority to pardon sins or not, a status that belongs to God. More specifically, God tells Moses that the reason this angel has this authority is “my name is in him” (v. 21 ). What does this curious phrase mean? Moses knew instantly. Anyone thinking of the burning bush account does as well. When God told Moses that his name was in this angel, he was saying that he was in this angel his very presence or essence. The I AM of the burning bush would accompany Moses and the Israelites to the promised land and fight for them. Only he could defeat the gods of the nations and the descendants of the Nephilim whom Moses and Joshua would find there. Other passages confirm that this reading is correct. This angel is Yahweh. Perhaps the easiest way to demonstrate this is to compare Old Testament passages about who it was that brought Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land.…(Speaking of Joshua 5:13-15, M.T.). An important clue to identifying this “man” as the angel of Yahweh is the drawn sword in his hand. The Hebrew phrase here occurs only two other times: Numbers 22:23 and 1 Chronicles 21:16 . Both explicitly name the Angel of Yahweh as the one with “drawn sword” in hand….The most familiar way to process what we’ve seen is to think about the way we talk about Jesus. Christians affirm that God is more than one Person, but that each of those Persons is the same in essence. We affirm that Jesus is one of those Persons. He is God. But in another respect, Jesus isn’t God—he is not the Father. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. Nevertheless, they are the same in essence. This theology did not originate in the New Testament. You’ve now been exposed to its Old Testament roots. There are two Yahweh figures in Old Testament thinking—one invisible, the other visible and human in form. Judaism before the first century , the time of Jesus, knew this teaching. That’s why ancient Jewish theology once embraced two Yahweh figures (the “two powers”). 6 But once this teaching came to involve the risen Jesus of Nazareth, Judaism could no longer tolerate it.”(Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, 2476-2804 (Kindle Edition); Bellingham, WA; Lexham Press)
There are many passages in the Old Testament which document this plurality in the Godhead.
Second, there is another fascinating dimension to contemplate when studying about the “everlasting” quality of the Messiah in this passage. It describes the ability of the Messiah to bestow eternality to His people! Recall that later in Isaiah, God describes Himself and His people that He will save in this way:
Isaiah 57:15-For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Please notice here that Jehovah (the High and Lofty One) inhabits eternity, and what will He do? He will bestow this gift to His people!
With this in mind, consider what Geisler and Howe have written regarding Isaiah 9:6:
“This verse is not a Trinitarian formula that calls Jesus Christ the Father. Actually, it is easier to grasp the idea when the phrase is rendered literally into English, “Father of eternity.” The first part of verse six makes reference to the incarnation of Jesus. The part that lists the names by which He is called expresses His relationship to His people. He is to us the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Father of Eternity, the Prince of Peace. Considered in this way, we see that Jesus is the One who gives us eternal life. By His death, burial, and resurrection, He has brought life and immortality to light. Truly, He is the Father of eternity for His people. The name “Father of eternity” indicates that, as a loving father provides for His children, so Jesus loves us and has provided for us by giving us everlasting life.” (Norman L. Geisler & Thomas Howe, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation, 3240-3242 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Third, recall that the Prophet Isaiah goes on to describe the redemptive work of the Messiah later in chapter 48. The text tells us:
Isaiah 48:12-13-“Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. 13 Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, And My right hand has stretched out the heavens; When I call to them, They stand up together.
Now, using the New Testament, we can clearly identify the Person speaking. Please notice that the Apostle John clearly names Jesus as the First and the Last (i.e., the Alpha and the Omega):
Revelation 1:8-I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 1:11-saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
Revelation 1:17-And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
Revelation 2:8-And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
Revelation 22:13-I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
Again, we are told clearly that Jesus (along with the Father and the Spirit) was instrumental in creating the universe:
John 1:1-5-In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Colossians 1:16-For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Now, having identified the Person in Isaiah 48:12-13, look what Isaiah says:
Isaiah 48:16-Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.”
Notice that the Messiah (Jesus) is sent on His mission to rescue humanity.
And Who sends Him?
The Lord GOD (the Father) and His Spirit (the Holy Spirit).
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Please notice that the text makes it clear that these are not the same Person, but (as we have further seen in various passages in the Old Testament) three Persons.
Isaiah 9:6 does not teach that Jesus is the Father. Instead, it teaches that He is the Father of Eternity, and the One Who gives this blessing of eternity to His people.
The New Testament On The Matter
Well, we have seen numerous passages from the Old Testament which hint at a plurality in the Godhead.
Does the New Testament teach that Jesus is the same Person as the Father?
Or does the New Testament teach the plurality in the Godhead?
Let’s have a sample of evidence on the matter.
The Baptism Of Jesus
The Bible says:
Matthew 3:16-17-When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
If Jesus and the Father are the same Person, then what happens here?
Is Jesus being the ultimate ventriloquist, throwing His voice from Heaven?
The Oneness theory cannot account for this; however, the teaching of the Trinity that we have seen throughout the Old Testament does.
Passages Where Jesus And His Father Are Clearly Contrasted As Separate Persons
There are many examples in the New Testament where Jesus and His Father are clearly contrasted and shown to be separate Persons. Here are a few to consider:
John 5:18-24-Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Matthew 17:5-While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
Mark 13:32-But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
The Apostle John wrote:
John 1:18-No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
John 17:1-Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,
(If the Oneness doctrine is true, then Who did Jesus continually pray to throughout His life?)
John 17:5-And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
John 17:24-Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
Mark 16:19-So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
Colossians 3:1-3- If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Acts 7:55-But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
Hebrews 3:1-3-God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
1 Corinthians 15:24-28-Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
1 Timothy 2:5-For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
1 John 2:1-My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
These passages could easily be multiplied to fill several pages of text. The point is, we clearly see several examples where Jesus is shown to be separate from His Father. Furthermore, detailed study of numerous texts reveal the same truths.
For example, Jesus declared:
John 14:16-17-And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Notice the word “another.” It is the Greek word “allos.”
“allos (243), and heteros (2087) have a difference in meaning, which despite a tendency to be lost, is to be observed in numerous passages. Allos expresses a NUMERICAL DIFFERENCE and denotes “ANOTHER OF THE SAME SORT”; heteros expresses a qualitative difference and denotes “another of a different sort.” Christ promised to send “another Comforter” ( allos , “another like Himself,” not heteros ), John 14:16.” (W.E. Vine with F.F. Bruce, W.E. Vine’s New Testament Word Pictures: A Commentary Drawn From The Original Languages-Matthew To Acts-Every Verse Explained, 42525-42538 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers).
By using this word, Jesus makes it absolutely clear that He, His Father, and the Holy Spirit are of the same Nature (i.e., God). Yet by using this word, He also makes it clear that they are three separate Persons.
The Apostle John really makes it clear with these words:
1 John 5:7-For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
Many deny the authenticity of this passage; however, there is a great deal of textual evidence to support it.
“Only 300 of the 5, 300 plus manuscripts have 1 John. Of these 300, only ten Greek manuscripts ranging from the fourteenth century to the eighteenth century, contain the Johannine Comma; Manuscripts 61, 629, 918, 2318 , 2473, 88, 177, 221, 429, 636. Nine Latin manuscripts, ranging from the 10th to 16th centuries include the Comma. These facts are used by some scholars to teach that the Comma was never in the original text of 1 John…..First John 5: 9 10 refer to the event recorded in Matthew 17:5 where God the Father spoke out of heaven and testified that Jesus was His Son. If we leave the Comma in, we have the witness of the Trinity and the witness of man in verses 7- 8. Verse 9 contrasts the witness of men, described in verses 6 and 8 with the witness of God in verse 7 and 10- 11. If we leave out the Comma, we have verses 10- 11 referring back to a non-existent clause…Several ancient church fathers quote or allude to this passage. Cyprian says: The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one;’ [ John 10:30 ] and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘and these three are one ’ [1 John 5:7- 8]. Cyprian, Unity of the Church 6, AD 250…Jerome commented in his Latin Vulgate that the Greek church created a controversy when they decided to leave out the Johannine Comma. His Greek copies, now non-existent, contained the Johannine Comma and he refused to alter the Scriptures! The general epistles are not the same in the Greek Church as they are for the Latin Church…The general epistles have been correctly understood and faithfully translated into Latin [from the Greek] in their entirety, without ambiguous or missing information; especially the verse about the unity of the Trinity found in 1 John. Unfaithful translators have created much controversy by omitting the phrase “Father, Word, and Spirit,” while leaving the phrase “water, blood and spirit, ” which only serves to strengthen our faith and show the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of the same substance. I do not fear those who call me a corrupter of Scriptures; I refuse to deny the truth of Scripture to those who seek it. Jerome, Prologue to the Canonical Epistles, Codex Fuldensis, AD 541- 546…Tertullian stated that 1 John 5:7 is saying these three are one in substance, and this is what Jesus meant when He said that He and the Father are One in John 10:30. Jesus did not mean He was the Father. “‘These Three are one’ in essence, not one Person, as it is said, ‘I and My Father are One,’ in respect of unity of substance, not singularity of number.” Tertullian Against Praxeas 25, AD 200…We have 86,000 quotes of Scripture from the ancient church fathers (AD 32- 325). Here are just a few of the ones who either quoted, or alluded to, the Johannine Comma. 215, Tertullian, Against Praxeas 25 250 , Cyprian, Unity of the Church 6 250, Cyprian, Epistle to Jubaianus 635, Athanasius, Books 1 & 10, cited three times 380, Priscillian, Liber Apologeticus 385, Gregory of Nazianzus, Theological Orientations (Holy Spirit) 390, Jerome, Prologue to the General Epistles 450, Author Unknown, De divinis Scripturis suie Spaculum 500, Jerome, Codex Freisingensis 527, Flugentius , De Trinitate.” (Ken Johnson, Ancient Word Of God: KJV Only Or Not? 112-117 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added M.T.))
Even an early enemy of Christianity refers to 1 John 5:7!
“We have seen that there is a list of early writers who all attest, directly or indirectly, to the genuineness of the verse 1 John 5: 7. The list begins with Theophilus of Antioch who wrote in the latter half of the 2nd century, and goes all the way up to the Council of Arles and beyond which sat at the beginning of the 4th century (see n. 12 below)….“What is needed to settle the matter is an independent witness to the early presence of 1 John 5: 7; one who was patently not a Christian; preferably someone who was an actively anti-Christian pagan writer (making him a hostile witness); someone who pre-dates even the earliest of the Christian apologists (namely Theophilus of Antioch in this case); and whose writing directly refers to or even quotes from 1 John 5: 7-and, moreover, just to make things really difficult, one whose hostile testimony was produced within just fifty years of the close of the Eyewitness Period during which John wrote his first epistle. Produce such a witness as that–one who fulfils every one of these thoroughly unreasonable criteria–and we will surely and truly believe that 1 John 5: 7 was no late interpolation, but an integral component of the first epistle of John from the very beginning. Do that and the argument will surely be settled. Now, that is what we may call a tall order, a very tall order indeed-and a most unreasonable one at that. Where can we possibly hope to find such a writer-one who is pagan and a hostile witness to Christianity, who wrote demonstrably within just fifty years of John, and who quotes from or directly alludes to 1 John 5: 7? It is a tall order indeed, and seems impossible to meet. Providentially, however, it is one that is met on every point by the anti-Christian satirist Lucian of Samosata, whose too-little-publicised satire, Philopatros, has survived to the present day. It is a most intriguing document. Firstly, there is its date. Mainly for the fact that it mentions a punitive expedition into Persia by the Romans, there are two emperors under which the Philopatros could have been written. The first is Trajan who was emperor from AD 98-117; and the second is Marcus Antoninus, who reigned from 161-180. Expeditions into Persia took place under both emperors, so which one was it? Critics generally plump for the latter of the two simply because this removes the witness further from the scene. But interestingly, the dialogue of the Philopatros undoes the notion by mentioning the taking by the Romans of the Persian city of Susa–the Shushan of the Book of Esther–which occurred under Trajan in the year 116. Marcus Antoninus’ incursion into Persia was to descend into farce before it had even begun, with nothing taken by Rome at all apart from a very bloody nose. Thus it is the taking of Susa under Trajan which dates the Philopatros, giving it an earliest possible year of writing of AD 116, within just 46 years of the close of the Eyewitness Period during which John wrote his first epistle. 19 And then there is its intriguing title, Philopatros. It is Greek for ‘love of the Father,’ and is powerfully reminiscent of John’s repeated allusions to the love of the Father which appear in his first epistle (throughout but particularly in 1John 2: 15; & 3: 1). Clearly, and on this ground alone, we may conclude that Lucian of Samosata was familiar with the first epistle of John, very familiar indeed. But there’s more–much more. Remarkably, and out of all the verses of the New Testament that he could have parodied, Lucian satirises for us our disputed verse, 1 John 5: 7. He puts his own satirical slant on it, to be sure, but he has clearly taken 1 John 5: 7 and made it the focus of his parody. Even after he has done his work, the close resemblance between the contents of what Lucian has written and 1 John 5: 7 is truly remarkable, and leaves no room whatever for any notion of coincidence or happenstance. One wonders why the critics never mention it. 20 But let’s see how Lucian deals with the verse. 1 John 5: 7 has: “For there are Three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these Three are One.” (King James Version) Satirising the verse, Lucian has: “The mighty god that rules on high, Immortal dwelling in the sky, the son of the father, spirit proceeding from the father, three in one and one in three. Think him your Zeus, consider him your god.” 21 Interesting, isn’t it? Lucian’s satire (by which he meant to mock the Word of God) contains not just Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but he even tells us that these Three are One, exactly as John does in the 7th verse of his first epistle’s 5th chapter, though in parody, thus unwittingly–I should say Providentially-vindicating the Word of God in one of its most controverted statements. Why, he even uses the neuter gender for ‘three’, as does John, a usage which Porson and so many of his ilk have needlessly and foolishly choked upon. Lucian could not have copied his material from any early 1 John 5: 7 apologist, for the earliest of those (Theophilus of Antioch) did not appear on the scene for another fifty years, and the verse was not to be publicly challenged by the Arian heresy for a further 300 years; which leaves only one possible source for his satire, namely John’s first epistle. How else could he have made use not only its content and unique turns of phrase, but also its grammar? Could a better witness than this be had from anywhere in the ancient world? Dating as it does from within just fifty years of the Eyewitness Period–long before our earliest Christian apologist for this verse-and coming as it does from the hand of a decidedly hostile witness, is it possible to ask for more? We may not think so. This is a truly excellent testimony to the authenticity, and indeed the antiquity of 1 John 5: 7–a source of evidence which our critics strangely forget to tell us about. Curious, isn’t it? Philopatros has been available to them since 1506, yet they would rather have us believe that 1 John 5: 7 is a spurious interpolation and no true part of the New Testament, not having appeared for several centuries after the New Testament period. Yet this astounding and unsuspected source of evidence meets all of the unreasonable evidential demands that are made upon it and is, in every sense, as plain as day. I shall leave the reader to guess why it has gone unmentioned all these years. 22”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity of the New Testament Part 2: Acts, the Epistles and Revelation, 1423-1485 (Kindle Edition))
The Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity.
The Pagan Origin Of The Oneness Doctrine
Where did the idea that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the same Person come from?
One researcher on church history, David Bercot, has answered that question powerfully.
“The term “monarchianism” (or, more technically, “modalistic monarchianism”) refers to the belief that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all different modes or revelations of one and the same person. This belief is also known in theological circles as Modalism, Patripassianism, and Sabellianism. In popular use, this belief is generally referred to as “Jesus only” or “oneness” theology….Two of the early teachers of monarchianism were Noetus and Praxeas.”. (David Bercot, A Dictionary Of Early Christian Belief, 17046-17068 (Kindle Edition); Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers Marketing)
What did the early Christians believe about these beliefs? Bercot lists several quotations from the early church fathers. Notice a few examples (from David Bercot, A Dictionary Of Early Christian Belief, 24278-24432 (Kindle Edition); Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers Marketing):
“Those persons who declare that the Son is the Father are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son.” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.184)
“Some others are secretly introducing another doctrine and have become disciples of one Noetus who was a native of Smyrna and lived not very long ago. . . . He alleged that Christ was the Father Himself and that the Father Himself was born, suffered, and died. Yet, see what pride of heart and what a strange inflated spirit had insinuated themselves into him. From his other actions, then, the proof is already given us that he did not speak with a pure spirit. For he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit is cast out from the holy inheritance. This same Noetus also alleged that he was himself Moses and that Aaron was his brother. When the blessed presbyters heard this, they summoned him before the church and examined him. . . . But he stood out against them, saying, “What evil, then, am I doing in glorifying Christ?” And the presbyters replied to him, “We too know in truth one God; we know Christ.” . . . Then, after examining him, they expelled him from the church. And he was carried to such a pitch of pride, that he established a sect.” (Hippolytus (c. 205, W), 5.223.)
“We have been already able to show that the Father and the Son are two—not only by the mention of their individual names as Father and Son, but also by the fact that He who delivered up the kingdom, and He to whom it is delivered up . . . must necessarily be two different Beings. But since the Monarchians will have the two to be but one (so that the Father is deemed to be the same as the Son), it is only right that the whole question respecting the Son should be examined.” (Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.600)
“The Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son, inasmuch as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is another. Likewise, He who sends is one, and He who is sent is another. He, again, who makes is one, and He through whom the thing is made is another.” (Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.604)
It is often claimed that the doctrine of the Trinity was a pagan doctrine, started by Constantine in the fourth century A.D. However, Bercot quickly explodes that myth with references from the church fathers who defend the doctrine of the Trinity centuries before Constantine was already born! Here are a few examples:
“Do we not have one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? Clement of Rome (c. 96, W), 1.17.
The most true God, is the Father of righteousness. . . . We worship and adore Him, the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, along with the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like Him), and the prophetic Spirit. Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.164.)
Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men called atheists who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order? Athenagoras (c. 175, E), 2.133.)
Christians know God and His Logos. They also know what type of oneness the Son has with the Father and what type of communion the Father has with the Son. Furthermore, they know what the Spirit is and what the unity is of these three: the Spirit, the Son, and the Father. They also know what their distinction is in unity. Athenagoras (c. 175, E), 2.134.)
We acknowledge a God, and a Son (His Logos), and a Holy Spirit. These are united in essence—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Now, the Son is the Intelligence, Reason, and Wisdom of the Father. And the Spirit is an emanation, as light from fire. Athenagoras (c. 175, E), 2.141.)
The three days which were before the luminaries are types of the Triad of God, His Word, and His Wisdom. Theophilus (c. 180, E), 2.101.)
It is the Father who anoints, and it is the Son who is anointed by the Spirit. The Spirit is the unction. Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.446.)
I have also largely demonstrated that the Word, namely the Son, was always with the Father. Now, that Wisdom also, who is the Spirit, was present with Him before all creation, He declares by Solomon: “God by Wisdom founded the earth, and by understanding He has established the heaven. By His knowledge, the depths burst forth, and the clouds dropped down the dew.” And again: “The Lord created me the beginning of His ways in His work. He set me up from everlasting, in the beginning, before He made the earth.” . . . There is therefore one God, who by His Word and Wisdom created and arranged all things. Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.488.)
God is powerful in all things. At that time, He was seen prophetically through the Spirit and adoptively through the Son. However, he will be seen paternally in the kingdom of heaven. The Spirit truly prepares a man in the Son of God, and the Son leads him to the Father. Finally, the Father confers upon him incorruption for eternal life. Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.489.)
It is after the image and likeness of the uncreated God: the Father planning everything well and giving His commands, the Son carrying these into execution and performing the work of creating, and the Spirit nourishing and increasing. Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.521, 522.)
One God the Father is declared, who is above all, through all, and in all. The Father is indeed above all, and He is the Head of Christ. But the Word is through all things and is Himself the Head of the church. While the Spirit is in us all, and He is the living water. Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.546.)
They ascend through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father. And in due time, the Son will yield up His work to the Father, even as it is said by the apostle. Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.567.)
The universal Father is one. The universal Word is one. And the Holy Spirit is one. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.220.)
Thank the one only Father and Son, Son and Father. The Son is the Instructor and Teacher, along with the Holy Spirit. They are all in One, in whom is all, for whom all is One, for whom is eternity. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.295.)
It is protected by the power of God the Father, and the blood of God the Son, and the dew of the Holy Spirit. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.601.)
We pray at a minimum not less than three times in the day. For we are debtors to Three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Tertullian (c. 198, W), 3.690.)
For the very church itself is—properly and principally—the Spirit Himself, in whom is the Trinity of the One Divinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Tertullian (c. 212, W), 4.99.)
We . . . believe that there is only one God, but under the following dispensation or “economy” [Gr. oikonomia], as it is called. We believe that this one only God has also a Son, His Word, who proceeded from Himself, by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. Him we believe to have been sent by the Father into the virgin, and to have been born of her—being both man and God, the Son of man and the Son of God. . . . And the Son also sent from heaven from the Father, according to His own promise, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.598.)
This heresy [Monarchianism] supposes itself to possess the pure truth, in thinking that one cannot believe in only one God in any other way than by saying that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the very selfsame Person. As if in this way also One were not All, in that All are of One, by unity of substance. In this manner, the mystery of the “economy” is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However, this is not in condition, but in degree. It is not in substance; but in form. It is not in power, but in aspect. Yet, they are of one substance, one condition, and one power—for as He is one God from whom these degrees, forms, and aspects are reckoned under the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. How they are susceptible of number without division will be shown. . . . The simple, . . . who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the “economy,” on the ground that their very rule of faith withdraws them from the world’s plurality of gods to the only true God. They do not understand that, although He is the one only God, He must yet be believed in with His own “economy.” . . . How does it come to pass that God is thought to suffer division and severance in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, who have the second and the third places assigned to them, and who are so closely joined with the Father in His substance? . . . Do you really suppose that those, who are naturally members of the Father’s own substance, pledges of His love, instruments of His might, . . . are the overthrow and destruction thereof? You are not right in thinking so. Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.598, 3.599.)
As for me, I derive the Son from no other source than from the substance of the Father. And I believe He does nothing without the Father’s will and that He received all power from the Father. So how can I possibly be destroying the Monarchy from the faith, when I preserve it in the Son just as it was committed to Him by the Father? . . . Likewise with the Third Degree, for I believe the Spirit is from no other source than from the Father through the Son. Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.599.)
For God sent forth the Word, as the Paraclete also declares. This is just as the root puts forth the tree, the fountain the river, and the sun the ray. For these are emanations of the substances from which they proceed. I should not hesitate, indeed, to call the tree the son or offspring of the root; or the river, that of the fountain; or the ray, that of the sun. . . . Now, the Spirit indeed is third from God and the Son. Just as the fruit of the tree is third from the root, or as the stream out of the river is third from the fountain, or as the apex of the ray is third from the sun. Nothing, however, is alien from that original source from which it derives its own properties. In like manner, the Trinity, flowing down from the Father through intertwined and connected steps, does not at all disturb the “Monarchy,” while it at the same time guards the state of the “Economy.” Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.603.)
I testify that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are inseparable from each other. . . . My assertion is that the Father is one, the Son is one, and the Spirit is one—and that they are all distinct from each other. . . . The Father is not the same as the Son, for they differ one from the other in the mode of their being. For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole, as He Himself acknowledges: “My Father is greater than I.” Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.603, 604.)
However, that there are two Gods or two Lords, is a statement that at no time proceeds out of our mouths. Not as if it were untrue that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and each is God. . . . Now, if there were found in the Scriptures but one Personality of Him who is God and Lord, Christ would justly enough be inadmissible to the title of God and Lord. For there was declared to be none other than one God and one Lord. Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.608.)
In the “Economy” itself, the Father willed that the Son should be regarded as being on earth, and the Father Himself as being in heaven. Actually, however, He is everywhere present. Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.619.)
Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, distinct one from another. These Three are one in essence—not one in Person. For it is said, “I and my Father are One,” in respect of unity of substance, not singularity of number. Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.621.)
He commands them to baptize into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—not into a unipersonal God. Tertullian (c. 213, W), 3.623.)
The earth is moved by three things: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hippolytus (c. 205, W), 5.174.)
Who will not say that there is one God? Yet, he will not on that account deny the Economy. Hippolytus (c. 205, W), 5.224.)
Therefore, a man . . . is compelled to acknowledge God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God—who, being God, became man, to whom also the Father made all things subject (Himself excepted)—and the Holy Spirit; and that these are three [Persons]. However, if he desires to know how it is shown that there is still one God, let him know that His power is one. As far as regards the power, therefore, God is one. But as far as regards the Economy, there is a threefold manifestation. Hippolytus (c. 205, W), 5.226.)
We accordingly see the incarnate Word. And we know the Father through Him. We also believe in the Son, and we worship the Holy Spirit. Hippolytus (c. 205, W), 5.228.)
If, then, the Word was with God and was also God, what follows? Would one say that I speak of two Gods? I will not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one. I speak of two Persons, however, and of a third Economy—the grace of the Holy Spirit. For the Father indeed is one, but there are two Persons, because there is also the Son. And then there is the third, the Holy Spirit. The Father decrees, the Word executes, and the Son is manifested, through whom the Father is believed on. The Economy of harmony is led back to one God. For God is one. It is the Father who commands, and the Son who obeys, and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding. The Father is above all, the Son is through all, and the Holy Spirit is in all. Hippolytus (c. 205, W), 5.228.)
“Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” By this, He showed that whoever omits any one of these three, fails in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, and the Spirit manifested. Hippolytus (c. 205, W), 5.228.)
However, many of those who profess to believe in Christ differ from each other not only on small and trifling matters but also on subjects of the highest importance. I mean, for example, the things concerning God, or the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. . . . For that reason, therefore, it seems necessary first of all to fix a definite limit and to lay down an unmistakable rule regarding each one of these [Persons]. . . . The particular points that are clearly delivered in the teaching of the apostles are as follows: First, that there is one God, who created and arranged all things, and who, when nothing existed, called all things into being. . . . Secondly, that Jesus Christ Himself, who came, was born of the Father before all creatures and that—after He had been the minister of the Father in the creation of all things (“ for by Him all things were made”), He in the last times divested Himself and became a man. He was incarnate although still God. . . . And thirdly, the apostles related that the Holy Spirit was associated in honor and dignity with the Father and the Son. But in His case it is not clearly distinguished whether He is to be regarded as born or unborn—or also as a Son of God nor not. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.240.)
The Savior Himself rightly says in the Gospel: “There is no one good but only one, God the Father.” By such an expression, it should be understood that the Son is not of a different goodness, but of that one goodness that exists in the Father, of whom He is rightly called the Image. For He proceeds from no other source than from that primal goodness. Otherwise, there might appear to be in the Son a different goodness than that which is in the Father. . . . Therefore it is not to be imagined that there is a kind of blasphemy, as it were, in the words, “There is no one good except one only, God the Father.” For it is not as if thereby it might be supposed to be denying that either Christ or the Holy Spirit are good. Rather, as we have already said, the primal goodness is to be understood as residing in God the Father, from whom both the Son is born and the Holy Spirit proceeds. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.251.)
Saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all. That is, it is made complete by naming the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In this, we join the name of the Holy Spirit to the Unbegotten God (the Father) and to His OnlyBegotten Son. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.252.)
Having made these declarations regarding the Unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, let us return to the order in which we began the discussion. God the Father bestows existence upon all. Participation in Christ, in respect of His being the Word of reason, renders them rational beings. . . . To begin with, they derive their existence from God the Father. Secondly, they derive their rational nature from the Word. Thirdly, they derive their holiness from the Holy Spirit. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.255. There is no nature, then, that may not admit of good or evil—except the nature of God, the Fountain of all good things, and of Christ. . . . In like manner also, the nature of the Holy Spirit—being holy—does not allow pollution. For it is holy by nature, or essential being. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.266.)
The Father generates an uncreated Son and brings forth a Holy Spirit—not as if He had no previous existence, but because the Father is the origin and source of the Son or Holy Spirit. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.270.)
As to what movements of their will leads God so to arrange all these things, this is known to God alone, and to His Only-Begotten Son (through whom all things were created and restored), and to the Holy Spirit (through whom all things are sanctified). He proceeds from the Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.344.)
Isaiah, too, knowing that the beginnings of things could not be discovered by a mortal nature—not even by those natures which are more divine than human, yet were nevertheless created or formed themselves. . . . For my Hebrew teacher also used to teach in this same manner. [He said] that the beginning or end of all things could be comprehended by no one, except only our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.375, 376.)
Let everyone, then, who cares for truth not be concerned about words and language. For in every nation there prevails a different usage of speech. Rather, let him direct his attention to the meaning conveyed by the words (rather than to the nature of the words that convey the meaning), especially in matters of such importance and difficulty. . . . The “substance” of the Trinity that is the beginning and cause of all things . . . is altogether incorporeal. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.376.)
All things that exist were made by God and there was nothing that was not made—except for the nature of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. . . . For the Father alone knows the Son. And the Son alone knows the Father. And the Holy Spirit alone searches even the deep things of God. Origen (c. 225, E), 4.380.)
The Savior and the Holy Spirit were sent by the Father for the salvation of men. Origen (c. 245, E), 9.486.)
We are not ignorant that there is one God; and one Christ, the Lord (whom we have confessed); and one Holy Spirit. Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.323.)
“Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” He suggests the Trinity, in whose sacrament the nations were to be baptized. Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.380.)
If a person baptized by heretics were sanctified, he would also be made the temple of God. I ask, “of what God?” If of the Creator, he could not be. For he has not believed in Him. If of Christ, he could not become His temple, since he denies that Christ is God. If of the Holy Spirit, how can the Holy Spirit be at peace with him who is the enemy either of the Son or of the Father? For the three are one. Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.382.)
The Lord says, “I and the Father are one.” And, again, it is written of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: “And these three are one.” Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.423.)
The three children, along with Daniel, . . . observed the third, sixth, and ninth hours (as it were) for a sacrament of the Trinity, which was to be manifested in the last times. For the first hour in its progress to the third declares the completed number of the Trinity. Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.456.)
. . . baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The very same Trinity who operated figuratively through the dove in Noah’s days, now operates spiritually in the church through the disciples. Treatise against Novatian (c. 255, W), 5.658.)
The false and wicked baptism of heretics . . . is a blasphemy of the Trinity. Seventh Council of Carthage (c. 256, W), 5.568. . . . the invocation of the Trinity—of the names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Firmilian (c. 256, E), 5.392.)
The individual names uttered by me can neither be separated from one another, nor parted. . . . They are ignorant that the Father, in that He is a father, cannot be separated from the Son. For that name is the obvious grounds of bonding. . . . Nor can the Son be separated from the Father, for the word “father” indicates an association between them. Furthermore, there is obviously a Spirit who can not be disjoined from the One who sends. . . . Thus, indeed, we expand the indivisible Unity into a Trinity. Dionysius of Alexandria (c. 262, E), 6.93, as quoted by Athanasius.”)
The quotations from the church fathers demonstrate several things.
First, the doctrine of the Trinity was taught and expounded by the early church directly from the Apostolic Age.
Second, the Source for the teaching of the Trinity was directly from the Word of God (both Old and New Testaments).
Third, the teaching of the Trinity was being promoted by the church nearly three hundred years before Constantine was born.
Fourth, the origin of the Oneness doctrine was around the mid to late second century after Christ, and was a direct result of Gnosticism (an attempted mixture of Christianity and paganism).
Fifth, the early Christians firmly opposed the doctrine of Gnostic modalism (the teaching that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the same person instead of the Biblical teaching that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are three persons and one God).
Sixth, the teaching of modalism survived and morphed into the oneness doctrine of the modern religious age.
Isaiah 9:6 does not teach that Jesus is the same Person as God the Father.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.