The Holy Trinity- A look at Deuteronomy 6:4
The Holy Trinity-A look at Deuteronomy 6:4
I would like to take a moment and show from scripture why I believe that the Bible teaches us that God is three separate persons, yet at the same time, He is one God. Christians refer to this unity as the "Trinity" or Tri-unity. Three in One. The purpose of this writing is not to define who makes up the Godhead. Rather I wish to show that the trinity is declared in Old Testament scripture.
For clarification purposes, allow me to explain how I visualize the trinity. Some envision the trinity as God simply being whoever he needs to be at any given moment. Kind of like taking off a mask or changing hats. One moment he is Jesus and the next, if need be, he is God the Father and the next moment He is the Holy Spirit. One God three different job descriptions. Others see it as three separate god's who have agreed to work together and formed a corporation. I do not believe the Bible supports either of these conclusions. I believe that the trinity is one God yet three separate persons. Each person has a different purpose and name. Yet they exist as one being. It's a mind bender for sure.
To start with, I need to explain that often our English language fails to give us an adequate understanding of scripture. In order to grasp the meaning of some scriptures we have to try to understand the original language. The Bible is broken up into two parts. The Old Testament and the New Testament. Originally the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. Deuteronomy 6:4 is a perfect example of the inadequacy of the English language. It also happens to be the perfect verse to show the plurality of the Godhead.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! Deuteronomy 6:4
On the face of it. It would appear that I am in trouble. This scripture clearly seems to contradicts the Christian teaching that God is plural since God is one. However, in truth this statement of oneness actually implies plurality. Let me explain.
First, lets look at the word "one". In this verse "one" is translated from the Hebrew word "echad" which demonstrates compound unity of oneness or corporate oneness. It gives us a picture of a group acting as one. Let me give you a few specific examples in scripture where the word echad was used to express unity or oneness.
- For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one [echad] flesh. Genesis 2:24
- Now the whole earth used the same [echad] language and the same [echad] words. Genesis 11:1
- And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one [echad] people, and they all have the same [echad] language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Genesis 11:6
- Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one [echad] voice, and said, "All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!" Exodus 24:3
How would the Hebrew be different if God had wanted to express absolute oneness? The Hebrew word, yachid, is used to express the idea of absolute oneness. Examples of it are shown below:
- And He said, "Take now your son, your only [yachid] son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." Genesis 22:2
- When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only [yachid] child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. Judges 11:34
- When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only [yachid] son in the sight of my mother, Proverbs 4:3
- daughter of my people, put on sackcloth And roll in ashes; Mourn as for an only [yachid] son, A lamentation most bitter. For suddenly the destroyer Will come upon us. Jeremiah 6:26
- "Then I shall turn your festivals into mourning And all your songs into lamentation; And I will bring sackcloth on everyone's loins And baldness on every head. And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only [yachid] son, And the end of it will be like a bitter day. Amos 8:10
Ok, my point is this, the word "one" in Deuteronomy 6:4 is actually telling us that God is "as one" [echad] not an "absolute one" [yachid]. Please note that neither I, nor the translators of the King James Bible, have tampered with this scripture. This can be confirmed in the Torah or the Hebrew Bible. To the Jews, it is known as the "Shema Yisreal"
Now lets brake the verse down a little further, by looking at the word " Lord and God"
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one
This phrase "The Lord God" shows up for the very first time in Genesis 2:7. There, God is introduced to the reader as “ The Lord God” or in Hebrew, Jehovah, Elohiym.
· “And The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7)
The word Jehovah, is used more like a title then a name. It shows our relationship to God. He is our Lord, our King our God. It expresses our relationship to him, as it relates to His authority.
The word God is translated from the Hebrew word Elohiym.It is pronounced el-o-heem'. It is the name that introduces God in Genesis 1:1. and is the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:4.
·In the beginning God [ Elohiym] created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
You can divided the word into two parts. The first part, "El" meaning God. It is connected to His might, power, majesty, glory, and authority. Ohiym speaks of plurality. You could actually say the word means "Mighty Trinity."
In light of this let us now take another look at Deuteronomy 6:4
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord [Jehovah] our God [Elohiym], the Lord [Jehovah] is one [echad]!
Moses is actually declaring God's plurality, as oneness. In short, He is saying "Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, they are one God!"
In closing, Remember we can't establish doctrine on one verse alone. This one verse could be misleading, in that, it seems to give a picture of the corporate God. We must take this verse and set it in its place like a piece to a puzzle. Allowing its understanding to add to the bigger picture.
If a teaching is sound it will be consistent throughout the bible. The Trinity doctrine is woven into the fabric of scripture like a bright red thread. It is not hard to find. One need only to take the time to look.
Your Brother in Christ