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Trinity…equal or hierarchal?

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1. Given that there is God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is there a hierarchy in the Trinity?

 
The short answer is “yes” and “no.” Consider the biblical evidence.

 
Yes – there is a hierarchy in relationship within the Trinity.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” God is recognized honored as the One with Fatherhood.

Jesus tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ” Jesus is recognized as being the Son with the appearance of coming after the Father and with unique characteristics: part man and fully God.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 that “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” Thus the Holy Spirit knows and understands the thoughts and depths of God. And Jesus tells us in John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”

The Father sent the Son whose purpose was to reveal the Father. The Son sent the Spirit whose purpose was to reveal the Son.

NO- no hierarchy exists in nature within the Trinity despite the different functional roles that They play.

Creation. Each personality of the Trinity created the world.

God the Father
Psalm 102:25, “Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” 

Creation of man. Each personality of the Trinity created man.

God the Father
Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

The Incarnation. The power of God, ministered through the Holy Spirit, resulted in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:35, “The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
Matthew 1:18-20, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism of Our Lord. When Jesus Christ was baptized, the Spirit descended on Him and God the Father attested to His Son.

Matthew 3:15-16, “But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'”

Death of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the death of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The Resurrection of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the resurrection.


God the Father

Acts 3:26, “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

1 Thessalonians 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”

Jesus Christ the Son
John 2:19-21, “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”

John 10:17, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.”

Holy Spirit
Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

The Provision of Our Redemption. Each personality of the Trinity is brought together in providing for man’s eternal salvation.

God the Father chose us for salvation, Jesus Christ the Son was the offering to God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit set us apart.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
1 Peter 1:1-2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.”

Indwelling Believers. Both Jesus and God the Father dwell within Believers through the person of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.”

John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”

The Great Commission. The name of each distinct personality of the Trinity is invoked at baptism; but note that they are declared in one name.

Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'”

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/4Trinity/DeityEqualOrHierarchal.aspx

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more about “Trinity – Explained for Muslims“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

 

HOW ANCIENT IS THE TRINITY DOCTRINE?

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by Wesley P. Walters

As different as para-Christian groups or cults are from each other, most have one thing in common: they hate the biblical teaching of the Trinity. They want their God to be simplistic, uncomplicated, and less complex than the world He created. They want a God reduced to terms they can get their finite minds around.

Modern advances in science have shown that the created world is an extremely complex mechanism. Those who work in nuclear physics or molecular biology are continually discovering the complexity of the world God has created.

In fact, some complex, seemingly contradictory data has yet to be fitted into a rational system that explains the relationships. A simple thing like “light” is known to move like “waves” yet strike like “particles.” Atomic physicists are still struggling to put together a theory that can fully explain this apparent contradiction.

Those who work in the complex mathematical equations of quantum mechanics are told by their instructors that “If you think that you really understand quantum mechanics and how it applies to reality, that proves you do not understand it.” One of the basic theorems is that if the speed of a particle is known, then its location can not be known, and the more accurately you know its location, the less accurately you know its speed. This does not seem very logical to the average person, but it works very well in atomic physics, in which scientists get very close to the essence of matter.

Thus, while scientists are continually learning more about how complex and even apparently contradictory the world of created reality is, cults that reject the complexity of the God who made this reality are proliferating. They, along with Moslems and modern Jews, taunt Christians, saying: “How can there be just one God, and yet the Father be God, the Son be God and the Holy Spirit be God? Is He the Son of Himself and the Father of both?”

Even though Christ Himself taught that the name [singular] of God in which we baptize is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), all cults falsely assert that the doctrine of the Trinity is a teaching that grew out of fourth century paganism. So unified are the cults in this assertion that they appear to be using the same erroneous Church history book and parroting one another.

The truth is that by the time of Christ, the first century A.D., the Jews themselves, on the basis of the Old Testament, were coming to an understanding of the complexity of Yahweh.

The Teachings of The Targums

When the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity 450 years before the birth of Jesus, they had adopted Aramaic as their native language. Although it is a dialect of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic is about as different from it as modern Italian is from its classical Latin ancestor. Consequently, during the first and early second centuries A.D., Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Old Testament were made.

These translations, called Targums, were The Living Bibles of their day, an interpretive paraphrase of Scripture. They help us see how these first-century Jews understood their Old Testament.

One of the striking things these Targums show is that first century Jews had come to understand the phrase “the Word of God” as referring to a divine entity within God Himself, yet distinguishable at times from God. J.W. Etheridge, in the introduction to his translations of the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, has given us a number of examples of this Jewish understanding of the term, “the Word” (Aramaic: Memra).

In Genesis 18:1, where the Hebrew Bible says Yahweh (Jehovah) appeared to Abraham, the Targum says, “The Word of the Lord appeared to Abraham.” Further on, where the Hebrew reports “Yahweh rained down upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven,” the Targum states that “the Word of the Lord sent down upon them sulphur and fire from the presence of the Lord out of heaven.” (Genesis 19:24)

In Genesis 16, when Hagar sees “the Angel of the Lord,” the Targum says she saw “the Word of the Lord.” After seeing this “Word” (Memra) she says, “Here has been revealed the glory of the Shekineh of the Lord.” Then, according to the Jerusalem Targum, “Hagar returned thanks and prayed in the name of the Word of the Lord, who had appeared to her.” Thus the Word not only is regard- ed as the presence of deity, but is in some manner personally distinguishable from the Lord.

In Genesis 28:20 the Targum of Onkelos paraphrases Jacob’s vow, “If God will be with me… then Yahweh will be my God” with the words, “If the Word of the Lord will be my help… the Word of the Lord shall be my God.” Again, the Angel of Yahweh who spoke to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14) is designated by the Jerusalem Targum as “the Word of the Lord.”

The distinct personality of this Divine Word is seen pointedly in Jonathan’s Targum of Isaiah 63:7-10. There, where the Hebrew text speaks of Yahweh being their Savior, the Targum reads, “the Word (Memra) was their Redeemer.” (vs. 8) When the Israelites continued to disobey, then “His Word (Memra) became their enemy, and fought against them” — an action ascribed to Yahweh in the Hebrew text. Again in Isaiah 45:22 the Targum of Jonathan exhorts, “Look unto My Word and be saved.”

While this personalizing of the Word was being expressed in Palestine in the Targums of Jesus’ day, Philo, an Egyptian Jew and contemporary of Jesus, was expressing similar thoughts in even more distinct words. In his essay “On the Creation,” Philo states that man was not made in the image of some creature, but in the image of God’s own uncreated Word. He wrote: “for the Creator, we know, employed for its making no pattern taken from among created things, but solely, as I have said, His own Word.”

Philo continues: “Man was made a likeness and imitation of the Word, when the Divine Breath was breathed into his face. (“On the Creation,” XLVIII: 139, Loeb Edition I, pp. 110-111)

In his work on Noah, Philo again expresses the teaching that man is made by “the First Cause” (that is, God) in the image of “the Eternal Word:” “Our great Moses likened the fashion of the rea- sonable soul to no created thing, but averred it to be a genuine coinage of that dread Spirit, the Divine and Invisible One, signed and impressed by the seal of God, the stamp of which is the Eternal Word.”

He continues: “…man has been made after the Image of God (Genesis 1:27), not however after the image of anything created… man’s soul having been made after the image of the Archetype, the Word of the First Cause.” (“Noah’s Work as a Planter,” I:18-20, Loeb III, pp. 222-223)

Thus, the eternal Word is in some sense distinguishable from God, and yet at the same time is, like God, uncreated, rational and the bearer of the divine image. This comes very close to the teaching of the New Testament that the Word was distinguishable from God, and yet was God. As John 1:1 expresses it, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It also appears similar to Paul’s teaching that the Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15); and the writer of Hebrews statement that the Son “is the exact representation of His being.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Philo, however, goes further. He says that God is the king and shepherd of all creation, but rules and controls it through his eternally existing Word, whom Philo calls God’s “First-born Son.”

His “hallowed flock” of created things God directs by his divine laws, setting over it His true Word and first-born son, who shall take upon Him its government like some viceroy of a great king. (“On Husbandry,” I:51, Loeb III, pp. 134-135)

Philo has God expressing Himself in this manner: “I alone… sustained the Universe to rest firm and sure upon the Mighty Word, who is My viceroy.” (“On Dreams,” I:241, Loeb V, pp. 424- 425)

Therefore this eternal Word, God’s first-born Son, is the upholder of the whole creation, “the everlasting Word of the eternal God is the very sure and staunch prop of the Whole. He it is, who extending Himself from the midst to its utmost bounds… keeps up through all its length Nature’s unvanquished course, combining and compacting all its parts. For the Father who begat Him constituted His Word such a Bond of the Universe as nothing can break.” (“Noah’s Work as a Planter,” I:8-9, Loeb III, pp. 216-217)

This reflects the same thought that Paul expressed about the Son as being the one “in whom all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17) It also reminds also reminds us of Hebrews 1:3, which depicts the Son as “sustaining all things by his powerful Word.”

Philo continues his discussion of the Word by maintaining that to those incapable of seeing the supreme cause, God Himself, He appears to them in the form of His Angel, the Word: “For just as those who are unable to see the sun itself, see the gleam of the parahelion and take it for the sun, and take the halo round the moon for that luminary itself, so some regard the image of God, His Angel, the Word, as His very self.” (“On Dreams,” I:239, Loeb V, pp. 422-423) This sounds very similar to the teaching tha t the Son is “the radiance (or outshining) of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3), the only part of God’s nature that people are allowed to see. This is true because “no one has ever seen God,” but “the only begotten God… He has made Him known.” (John 1:18) Thus, Jesus, the Son, can say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

Philo further explained that God, being light, is “the archetype of every other light.” As such He is “prior to and high above every archetype.” Thus He holds the position of “a model of a model,” that is, He is the model for His Word, which Word becomes the model for creation. The Word, therefore, contains all the qualities of God. As Philo expressed it, “the model or pattern was the Word which contained all His fullness — light, in fact.” (“On Dreams,” I:75, Loeb V, pp. 336-337) Paul expressed a similar thought when he wrote that in the Son all God’s fullness dwells. (Colossians 1:19; 2:9)

To Philo, therefore, the Word of God is the eternal, uncreated Word containing all the fullness of God and bearing His image. That divine image which the Word bears is the image in which man was created. The Word is further the sustainer, upholder and ruler of the world, carrying on the governing of all things, as God’s viceroy, and containing all God’s fullness.

While the Word is not a created thing and carries on all the functions of God, Philo is clear that there are not two gods — although he does not attempt to explain how this can be. Philo’s teaching is, therefore, very close to the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Philo reached his conclusions without the aid of the New Testament and certainly without deriving his ideas from pagan notions of deity. The Old Testament teaching that the Angel of Yahweh is really the presence of Yahweh Himself seems to have strongly influenced Philo’s ideas.

To relegate the doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, to a fourth- century adaptation of paganism is to ignore the conclusions that several Jewish theologians and teachers had reached four centuries earlier, from God’s revelations given to Israel before the time of the coming of Christ. At the very time that the Word was becoming flesh (John 1:1, 14), Jewish writers were already beginning to see that God’s Word could in some way be distinguished from God the Father Himself, yet have all the fullness of God contained in Him.

http://www.barr-family.com/godsword/trinity.htm

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