The Oneness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

 

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4)

“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

 

A foundational truth of the Bible is that there is only One God, or that God is One, a Oneness that cannot be divided:

 

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5).

The above Scripture is referred to as the Shema Yisrael (Hebrew, meaning Hear Israel). It is the Jewish confession of faith that sums up the first and second commandments of the Ten Commandments.1 It emphasizes the Oneness of God, which is essential to understanding the true relationship of God the Father, God the Son, and the Spirit of the Holy One (Holy Spirit). Never is there a separation of one from the others, nor an independent will or action. This essential oneness is not clear from the trinity concept, but can be better explained and understood from a Hebraic perspective.

 

God is echad, the Hebrew word meaning “one.” Father, Son, and Spirit of the Holy One are one in essence, operation, and power. One of the problems with the trinity concept is that pagan religions—past and present—have their own trinity of three individual gods in a polytheistic relationship. This concept was adapted by Christianity in an attempt to explain the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which are not three individual gods. The pagan concept fails to properly explain the Godhead, and has been the source of much confusion, as well as a stumbling block to those who recognize its polytheistic characteristics.

 

To say God is three “persons” opens the door to a gross misunderstanding of God. God is Spirit and cannot be reduced to the concept of a person. While the Father, Son, and Spirit are spirit in nature, only the Son became incarnate and therefore took on a flesh body in the form of man. At no time in Scripture is God the Father referred to as any form other than Spirit (John 4:24). The Spirit of the Holy One is the very essence of the power of God the Father and not some separate spiritual entity.

 

Both Old Testament and New Testament references reveal the essential Oneness of Father, Son, and Spirit of the Holy One. This understanding comes from the Hebraic context of Scripture and is consistent with the fundamental Oneness of God.

 

THE PREEXISTENCE OF YHVH/YESHUA

 

The preexistence of Yeshua as YHVH, the LORD God, is clearly stated in Scripture (John 1):

v. 1      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

v. 2      He was in the beginning with God.

 

In verse 1, “the Word” refers to Yeshua, Who embodies the Word of God. This verse clearly states that Yeshua is God and is One with God, from the beginning, prior to Creation. In Hebrew, the Word of God is called Torah, and signifies guidance and instruction, primarily referring to the Five Books of Moses.2 Every word concerning the promised Messiah in the Torah is embodied in Yeshua. The Torah reveals everything humanity needs to understand about God, including His nature, His relationship to man, and His plan of redemption.

Yeshua was in the beginning with God (Elohim, in Hebrew). Elohim is a plural word, and consists of: 1.) El, the Father, representing judgment alone, i.e., Father without mercy, 2.) YHVH, the Son, representing infinite mercy, i.e., Son without judgment, and 3.) Ruach HaKodesh, the Spirit of the Holy One, the very essence of the power emanating from Elohim. In the Old Testament Hebrew, the Tetragrammaton (the four-letter name of God), YHVH, is translated LORD God (see Glossary). Every time YHVH appears in the Old Testament, it is referring to the preincarnate Yeshua.

In John 1:15, John the Baptist bears witness of Yeshua’s preexistence as YHVH before the incarnation:

v. 15    John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ”

For John the Baptist to say Yeshua existed before him is to make reference to Yeshua’s Eternal Being in the Oneness of Elohim. In fact, Scripture reveals that YHVH/Yeshua is the Creator and Sustainer of Creation!

 

THE CREATOR AND SUSTAINER OF CREATION

 

Let us examine Scriptural references that reveal YHVH/Yeshua is the One Who spoke all of Creation into existence (John 1):

v. 3      All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

John clearly states that Yeshua is the Creator. This is confirmed by Paul (Colossians 1):

v. 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 by Him and for Him.

v. 17    And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

In the Genesis 1 creation account, the Hebrew word translated “God” is Elohim. However, in Genesis 2, the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, YHVH, appears as the “LORD God” in reference to the creation of heaven and earth (Genesis 2:4), and the creation of man (Genesis 2:7). The Hebrew clearly reveals that it is YHVH, preincarnate Yeshua, Who is the Creator.

Preincarnate YHVH/Yeshua was in Elohim, even as Creation was a mere thought in El’s mind. The will of El was then brought forth through YHVH, by the power of the Spirit of the Holy One. At no time were El, YHVH, and the Spirit of the Holy One existing or operating as separate entities outside the Oneness of Elohim (God)! Not only is YHVH/Yeshua the Creator, but moment-to-moment, He “holds” Creation together. Without this Oneness of Elohim, there could be no Creation, and Creation would cease to exist. This is not a case of an impersonal God or force creating a universe that is subsequently left to “run” on its own, as a wound-up clock. The Creator is intimately connected to His Creation and in total control of it at all times.

 

IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD AND FIRSTBORN OF CREATION

 

Yeshua is the image of the invisible God, and in Him the fulness of God is revealed:

v. 15    And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation (Colossians 1).

v. 18    No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him (John 1).

The “image of the invisible God” refers to the spiritual image of God, because God is Spirit, and has no physical bodily form. YHVH/Yeshua is God, and has all the attributes of God (the fullness of God).

The word “firstborn” (Colossians 1:15) is translated from the Greek word, prototokos. It means to be preeminent in position, rather than to have been created or have a beginning of one’s existence.3 It indicates a birthright position over all creation, which is why Yeshua is referred to as “the firstborn of creation”. And, in fact, we have already seen that Scripture reveals YHVH/Yeshua is the One Who spoke Creation into existence.

Prior to Creation, YHVH/Yeshua was “brought forth” from the Father. The Hebrew word rachem means “womb.” It can also be understood to refer to the deepest and purest form of love and compassion that exists, as the love of a mother for her child, the child that she carried in her womb and to whom she gave birth. The plural form of the word rachem is rachamim, and means “mercies,” not as one mercy, but in the plural signifying the infinite mercies of God. And YHVH/Yeshua is the embodiment of the infinite mercies of God.

Yeshua came forth from God the Father, revealing the greatest love and mercy of the Creator for His Creation (John 17):

 

v. 7      “Now they have come to know that everything Thou hast given Me is from Thee;

v. 8      for the words which Thou gavest Me I have given to them; and they received them, and truly understood that I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me.

 

THE INCARNATION OF MESSIAH YESHUA

 

The greatest and most profound event of human history is the revelation of God in the person of Messiah Yeshua. Since Yeshua took on a bodily form, He can properly be referred to as a “Person.” John makes a statement that “the Word became flesh” (John 1):

 

v. 14    And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

The preexistence of Yeshua as YHVH has been previously explained. Therefore, to say that the Word became flesh “asserts the deity and real humanity” of Yeshua.4 On the other hand, John’s reference to “the only begotten from the Father” is not a reference to Yeshua’s incarnation, but rather to His eternal relationship to the Father. 5 Matthew testifies to the incarnation of God in Yeshua:

 

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

 

Matthew’s words refer to the utlimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy:

 

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

 

Yeshua was not conceived as are other human beings, but by the Spirit of the Holy One. Both deity and humanity exist in the Person of Yeshua. In an analogous way, as God dwelt among His people in the Tabernacle, God, in the Person of Yeshua, dwelt in a flesh-body “tabernacle” among men.

 

MESSIAH YESHUA, REDEEMER OF HUMANKIND

 

It was God the Father’s will that the Son not only create the cosmos, but in fact enter His creation for the purpose of revealing and fulfilling God’s plan of redemption for humanity. The depth of God’s love and mercy was revealed in His Son Yeshua, who embodied the infinite mercies of YHVH, the LORD God.

In Genesis 22:8, God revealed His ultimate plan for the salvation of mankind:

v. 8      And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”…

In Abraham’s response to Isaac, God was revealing His master plan of redemption: the sacrifice of His much beloved Son, Yeshua. The original Hebrew may also be accurately translated:

God will provide Himself as the lamb.

 

Messiah Yeshua is that promised Lamb of God, sent as The Sacrifice for the sins of humanity, to bring humankind back into a personal relationship with God. John 3:16-17 says it all:

v. 16    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

v. 17    “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”

The LORD God, YHVH, manifested in the flesh as Messiah Yeshua. What the sacrifice of animals could not accomplish was accomplished in Yeshua’s sacrifice, once and for all time, according to the will of God the Father. There is no salvation by any other means other than what God Himself provided in the sacrifice of His Son. As God incarnate, Messiah Yeshua came to redeem all humankind, and there is no other way to God the Father except through the Son:

…“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but though Me” (John 14:6).

 In making the above statement, Yeshua is actually making reference to His deity. Several other times during His ministry, Yeshua makes similar references to His deity by these “I am” declarations (John 6:35 {the bread}; 8:12 {the light}; 10:7, 9 {the door}, 11, 14 {the good shepherd}; 11:25 {the resurrection}; 15:1, 5 {the true vine}). Furthermore, Yeshua identifies Himself as YHVH, the Lord God, by unique “I AM” statements (John 4:25-26; 8:18, 24, 58; 13:19). As the I AM, He identifies Himself as the same I AM/Lord God Who spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 3:14):

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58).

 

YESHUA’S ONENESS WITH THE FATHER

 

The works of Yeshua consistently reveal His Oneness with God the Father, for they are always in accordance with the will of the Father (John 14:7-11):

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me” (John 10:25).

“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

“… the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (John 10:38).

At no time was Messiah Yeshua ever separated from Oneness with God the Father. During the crucifixion, Yeshua’s last words are sometimes misunderstood to show that He was separated from God the Father. But the real intent of His last words was to refer to His prophetic fulfillment of the crucifixion, as prophesied by King David in Psalm 22 (Chapter 9, “The Meaning of Yeshua’s Final Words”). Neither was Yeshua separated from the Father (El) when He descended into Sheol (Chapter 13, “Yeshua Descends into Sheol Paradise”). Yeshua descended into Sheol Paradise, where those who had put their trust in the promised Messiah were waiting. (They were not in Sheol Torment, also called Hell Torment, where only those who reject God await their final judgment.) Yeshua’s spirit never died; He only gave up His physical body. If Yeshua had ever been separated at any time from this Oneness with the Father, Creation itself would have ceased to exist, because He is the One Who holds Creation together.

 

GOD’S PURPOSE OF CREATION

 

Before sin entered creation, there was no need of a mediator to God. God had formed man in His own spiritual image and thus communion was direct. However, God did not create robots or puppets, but freewill beings with the choice of obedience or disobedience.

Man’s choice to rebel against God resulted in a painful and tragic spiritual separation from his Creator. The effects can be seen from the Fall through today, including all evil that exists in the world. But why did God give man free will if it could result in evil?

 

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan provides an insightful response:

Why did God create the world?

Obviously, it would be utterly naive to believe that we could ever fully answer this question.…

Yet, we can understand God’s reasons to the extent that they have been revealed by Him in the Torah. The account of creation ends with the words, “God saw everything that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). This and similar passages teach us that God’s purpose in creation was to do good. In order to express His love and goodness, God had to create a world.…

But since God is infinitely and ultimately good, it would stand to reason that if He wanted to give good to His creation, it would have to be the highest possible good. What is that? What is the highest ultimate good?

The answer should be perfectly obvious. This ultimate good is God Himself. God thus created a world to which He could give of Himself.

But how is this possible? In what way can God give of Himself? How can a mere man partake of God?…

 

It is for this reason that God gave man free will. If man did not have free will, he would be poles apart from God. He would be little more than a robot or puppet.… In giving man free will, God gave him the ability to imitate God and thus ultimately partake of Him.

Therefore, just as God chose good as a matter of free will, so can man. But in order for this choice to be real, God had to create the opposite of good. He therefore created the possibility of evil, so that man would be free to choose between good and its opposite. God Himself speaks of this when He tells His prophet, “I form light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil—I am God; I do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

God’s ultimate purpose, however, is to do good, and to bring about a world ‘’where all is good.” The destiny of evil is to be transformed ultimately into good.” 6 God created the world in order to give good to His creation, and that the ultimate good is God Himself. What greater goodness, love, and mercy could God give humanity than to send His Son, Messiah Yeshua—God Himself—into Creation for the purpose of dying in our place for our sins, in order to reconcile us in right relationship with Him. Messiah Yeshua says: 

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

God gave human beings a free will so that they could choose to partake of God. What greater goodness, love, and mercy could God give humanity than the freewill choice to partake of God’s salvation in Messiah Yeshua, to become a part of the Family of God, and to have eternal life with Him?

 

God’s ultimate purpose is to bring about a world where all is good, so that “the destiny of evil is to be transformed ultimately into good.” This clearly is the future reality, as described in the Book of Revelation (21:1-7), when the Lord God, Messiah Yeshua, creates a New Heaven and New Earth, the New Jerusalem comes down to Earth from Heaven, and He dwells among His people.

 

ONE GOD—ONE WAY TO GOD

 

The search for God and union with God is revealed in all forms of spiritual and religious pursuits in the world. But which path truly leads to God?

 

For those who insist that “all paths lead to God,” God’s Word is clear:

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12).

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Messiah Yeshua Himself says (John 14:6):

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

The absolute perfection of God’s Master Plan leads to the one true Messiah, the only Mediator between man and God. Every detail of God’s Master Plan points to Messiah Yeshua. To those who earnestly seek Him in spirit and in truth, God reveals the truth. However, He allows each one the free choice to seek and accept that truth.

“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23).

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

It is the authors’ prayer that this book provides the reader with a solid foundation in spiritual truth that leads to the only true Messiah and eternal life with God:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).

The sinless God-Man Messiah, Yeshua ben Joseph (son of Joseph, referred to as the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53), paid the price for each human being’s sins so that each person could be restored spiritually to God. And the Messiah will come again, as Yeshua ben David (son of David) to establish the Davidic Kingdom God promised. Thus, Yeshua fulfills the dual aspects of the Messiah.

 

MESSIAH YESHUA—THE ALEPH TO TAV

 

The purpose of this book has been to reveal the beauty, logic, and precision of God’s Master Plan. From the first light of creation, the Light of Messiah, every detail of God’s plan of salvation reveals, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the existence of a personal and loving God. And this perfect plan of salvation is brought to completion in Messiah Yeshua:

“Who has performed and accomplished it, calling forth the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am first, and with the last. I am He.’ ” (Isaiah 41:4).

When the Lord refers to Himself as “the first and the last,” He is showing Himself to be the source and end goal of all Creation. Recall that whenever the Tetragrammaton, YHVH, the Ineffable Name of God, appeared in Scripture, it was considered too sacred to be spoken. Because of this, the word Adon, the Hebrew word which translates as Lord, was substituted in its place. Therefore, in the Isaiah passages quoted above and below, Lord refers to YHVH, embodied in Yeshua:

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his [God’s] Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god (Isaiah 44:6).

Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called: I am He; I am the first, and I am the last (Isaiah 48:12).

In the Book of Revelation, the Lamb of God, Messiah Yeshua, refers to Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 1:8). This is identical in meaning to “the first and the last,” as it refers to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Greek being the language in which Revelation was written. Had this book been written in Hebrew, however, He would have said: “I am the Aleph and the Tav.” This is its real meaning, which can only be adequately expressed in the Hebrew language. The idiom, “from aleph to tav,” refers to:

something that is expressed or analyzed in its entirety.…the very order of the letters represents profound… concepts. The use of an alphabetical sequence to praise God, or describe a person or concept, denotes totality and perfection.7

From this, we are to understand that Yeshua embodies spiritual totality and perfection. In Yeshua is the completion of God’s Master Plan of redemption for humankind. (Note: In the following Scriptures, the Hebrew letters Aleph and Tav are used instead of the Greek letters Alpha and Omega.)

“I am the Aleph and the Tav,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Aleph and the Tav, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6).

“I am the Aleph and the Tav, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13).

Notes

1.         Philip Birnbaum, Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts, p. 620.

2.         Birnbaum, p. 630.

3.         W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Vol. 2, p. 104.

4.         Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. V, p. 13.

5.         Robertson, Vol. V, p. 13.

6.         Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Tzitzith: A Thread of Life, pp. 55-57.

7.         Rabbi Michael L. Munk, The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, p. 34.