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What is THE UNITY OF THE GODHEAD?

 In Topics

…The second area to be discussed is the unity of the Godhead, and to show that, while on the one hand the Bible teaches plurality in the Godhead, it never teaches a plurality of Gods as in Polytheism; only a plurality of Persons. There is one God, and this plurality is a unity of only one God.

A. The Unity of the Godhead in the Old Testament

“What is the evidence for the unity of the Godhead?” In dealing with the Old Testament, there are five specific evidences.

1. The Same Image and Likeness

The first evidence is found in Genesis 1:26, which states: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. This passage was cited earlier in this manuscript to show that there is a plurality in the Godhead. This same verse also shows a unity in the Godhead, because the speaker and the one spoken to have the same image and likeness: in our image, after our likeness. The plural pronouns our emphasize plurality. The fact that both the speaker and the one spoken to are of the same image and likeness, emphasizes their unity.

2. The Use of Singular Verbs with Plural Nouns

The second line of evidence for the unity of the Godhead in the Old Testament is the fact that, although the word “God” in Hebrew is Elohim and is plural, it is almost always used with a singular verb, which is contrary to normal Hebrew grammar. The rules of Hebrew grammar require that the verb must agree with the noun in both gender and number. When the noun Elohim is used of the true God, being a plural noun it sometimes has a plural verb according to Hebrew grammar. Several examples of this were cited earlier as evidence of the plurality of the Godhead. But the fact that the vast majority of cases use the singular verb with Elohim emphasizes unity. An example is Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God, Elohim, a plural noun,  created, a singular Hebrew verb. It does not agree with the noun in number, thus violating normal Hebrew grammar. This violation of the normal Hebrew grammar in the majority of cases where the word Elohim is used of the true God also shows unity in the Godhead.

3. The Use of Singular and Plural Forms Together

A third line of evidence for the unity of the Godhead in the Old Testament is the use of El Elohim. El is the singular form, and Elohim is the plural form; but both are used together in one verse of the same God. One example is Genesis 33:20: And he erected there an altar, and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

El is the singular, but Elohe is the construct state of Elohim, which is a plural form. So, literally it reads, “God, the Gods of Israel.” The fact that the singular is followed by the plural and that both words refer to the one true God emphasizes unity.

A second example where both the singular and the plural are used together is Joshua 22:22: The Mighty One, God, Jehovah, the Mighty One, God, Jehovah, he knows; and Israel he shall know: if it be in rebellion, or if in trespass against Jehovah (save you us not this day).
The Hebrew word translated as The Mighty One is the word El, which is the singular word for God. The word translated God is Elohim and it is a plural noun, which means “God” or “gods.” The word translated Jehovah is God’s personal name: El, Elohim, Jehovah. Jehovah is God’s personal name; Elohim emphasizes His plurality; but the singular El emphasizes His unity. So, unity can be seen in the use of El Elohim, the singular and plural used together of one and the same God.

4. The Use of the Compound One

The fourth line of evidence for unity of the Godhead in the Old Testament is in Deuteronomy 6:4; a very famous verse for Jewish people. Deuteronomy 6:4 is called the sh’ma, and it is considered the essence of all forms of Judaism. That verse reads: Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.
This verse, more than any other, emphasizes the concept of a unity. In the field of Jewish evangelism, Deuteronomy 6:4 is often used by Jewish people to teach against the plurality of the Godhead. But, if this verse is studied very carefully, it is evident that it is not teaching an absolute unity, but a compound unity. Rather than arguing against a plurality of the Godhead, Deuteronomy 6:4 actually supports the concept of plurality in the Godhead. To begin with, it should be pointed out that where it reads Jehovah our God the Hebrew word for God is plural, and literally reads, “our Gods.” But, the key word to focus attention on is the word one.

a.  Echad
The Hebrew word for one is echad. By comparing the usage of echad elsewhere in the Old Testament, it is clear that this word refers to a compound one, not an absolute one. For example, Genesis 1:5 states: And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
The combination of evening and morning comprised the unity of echad, or one day.

Another key passage is Genesis 2:24: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. A man and a woman who come together in marriage are said to become one, echad, flesh. There are two personalities, a man and a woman, coming together in marriage, and the two become one. Obviously, they do not become an absolute one, for they retain their separate personalities; however, there is definitely a unity there.

Another example is Ezra 3:1, where the whole assembly of Israel was as one, echad. Although it was comprised of numerous individuals, they were all looked upon as one; obviously a united one.

Another example is Ezekiel 37:17, where Ezekiel is told to put two sticks together, and they are combined to become one, echad,  stick. These examples of the usage of the word echad in the Hebrew text, which is the very same word used in Deuteronomy 6:4, show that it speaks of a compound unity, not an absolute unity.

b.  Yachid
There is another Hebrew word, which does mean an absolute one: yachid. It is used in Genesis 22:2, where it emphasizes Isaac as Abraham’s only, unique son. So, if Moses had wanted to emphasize absolute oneness ofGod, he would have used the term yachid. But he did not use that term for the oneness of God. Deuteronomy 6:4 is, therefore, an argument in favor of the plurality of the Godhead and, at the same time, it teaches the unity of this plurality of the one God.

5.  Jehovah Declared to Be One

The fifth line of evidence of the unity of the Godhead from the Old Testament is, that Jehovah is declared to be one, echad,  in Zechariah 14:9.

MBS050  The Trinity Pg 14-16

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