In the third study we saw that throughout the Old Testament God (Yahweh) has revealed himself as invisible yet visible. The whole idea of “a double Yahweh” of two eternal and equal powers in the heavens is completely consistent with the Old Testament. The Lord Jesus Himself had a belief in “the Two Powers of Heaven.” He knew about this because He spoke of God as being His Father and being one with Him in every way and in every divine attribute. He also spoke about His eternal relationship with the Father when He said; “No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven— the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (John 3:13) Clearly He identified Himself as the Yahweh of heaven.
We also saw that the Lord Jesus, the visible image of the invisible Yahweh, before He took upon Himself a flesh and blood body, revealed Himself as the Angel of the Lord who appeared in human form to men and women in the Old Testament.
We also saw that He is the eternal Word of God who appeared in physical form and spoke to His servants in the Old Testament especially when He came to visit the prophets and spoke personally with them.
We also saw that the rider in the clouds or in the heavens was the invisible Yahweh and that the visible Yahweh coming in the clouds of heaven to earth was the Lord Jesus Himself. As the rider on the white horse coming in the clouds of heaven the Lord Jesus identified himself as Yahweh and equal with Yahweh. Now we need to continue looking at the Lord Jesus as He is revealed in the Old Testament. He is all through the whole Bible and it is all about Him. He is the grand central theme and figure revealed in both Testaments as the visible image and the exact representation of the invisible Yahweh in the heavens. Together they are Yahweh and one in divine attributes and eternal in nature and the co-creators of the universe. Now we will look at the Lord Jesus in relation to Him being “the only begotten Son of God.”
1. The Only Begotten Son (not created but eternal)
Firstly we need to understand that in the Old Testament and even before it was written there were other “sons of God” but they were not human but they were created spirit beings that were part of God’s council in the assembly of His royal court in the heavens. (Job 1:6; 2:1) They are numbered among the thousands upon thousands who worship God in his royal court in the heavens. (Daniel 7:10) (Psalm 82:1; 89:7) In Genesis chapter 6:1-4 we see a number of the “sons of God” leaving their former state and coming to earth to have sexual relations with human women. For this they were judged and banished to Tartarus, the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked, to be held there in chains awaiting their day of judgement to come. (2 Peter 2:4) (Jude 1:6) Having said this God still has His heavenly family in the spirit world. There are “sons of God” who have not rebelled and myriads of angels and the spirits of the just saints who have physically died and they are all worshipping Yahweh the Father and Yahweh the Son. As the author of Hebrews writes; “You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to myriads of angels in joyful assembly, to the congregation of the firstborn, enrolled in heaven. You have come to God the judge of all men, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)
The Lord Jesus was one of the sons of God but was not a created being as all the other “sons of God” He was around from all of eternity. In fact He was the co-creator of everything as Yahweh the only unique Son of God. They together are one God and the two powers in the heavens revealed in the Old Testament. As Micah writes concerning Him; “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come forth for Me One to be ruler over Israel, whose origins are of old, from the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2) Bethlehem was the place and Mary’s womb the portal through which the Son of God became a flesh and blood human being. “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” (John 1:14) Yahweh had revealed Himself in a human being who would die but be resurrected as a glorified man and sit on Yahweh’s right hand once again where He had previously sat before His incarnation.
As the author of Hebrews writes; “And again, when He (Yahweh the Father) brings the firstborn (Yahweh the Son) into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship Him.” Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of your kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:6-8)
So then, the Lord Jesus was different from all of the other “sons of God” that He and His father Yahweh had created. The term “begotten” means “one who is unique from all others.” He was an Elohim as the other sons of God were but no other Elohim was like Him because He was eternal and had no beginning or end but the other Elohim were all created beings.
Until the late 19th Century and early 20th Century many Biblical Greek scholars assumed that the word for “Only Begotten” was the Greek word “Monogenes” Monos (“only”) gennaw (“to beget”). However, late discoveries of Papyri saw the word translated as Monos (“only”) gene (“kind” or “type” or “one of a kind”). The word has nothing to do with a beginning as Yahweh the Son is eternal as Yahweh the Father and Yahweh the Spirit are eternal and together as One God are all co-equal in all of their divine attributes.
In Hebrews 11:17 we read that Isaac was the “monogenes” of Abraham, Isaac was not the only son but “unique” and different from Ishmael his brother. Isaac was “born after the Spirit” in other words his birth was supernaturally enabled by the Holy Spirit who opened Sarah’s womb to conceive, whereas no supernatural intervention happened with the conception of Ishmael. Even though Ishmael was the firstborn it was the second born one that received the promises of God. In the Bible what really counts is the Second spiritual re-Birth from above, not the first physical birth. (John 3:3) Ishmael’s seed even up until today still persecutes the seed of Isaac. God calls Israel “His first born” and it is fully realised and fulfilled in Yahweh the Son “the only begotten Son, the firstborn and unique Son of Yahweh and the only one of a kind.
So then the “only begotten” language speaks to the uniqueness of Yahweh the Son and not to the point of His origin. As the prophet Micah writes; “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come forth for Me One to be ruler over Israel, whose origins are of old, from the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2) Yahweh the Son like Yahweh the Father has no beginning or end. (Revelation 1:8.17)
So far in these studies we have clearly seen that Yahweh the eternal Son has always existed as the living and eternal Word of God himself, He who was with Yahweh, and was Yahweh and face to face with Yahweh and with Yahweh in the beginning when everything including the universe was created. Before He became a flesh and blood human being Yahweh the Son revealed Himself as the Angel of the LORD and appeared in human form to humans. He was the Word Himself who came to the prophets and instructed them what to say.
The Angel of the LORD in the Hebrew is in the definite article. He was not just an angel but “The Angel”, one without beginning or end and unique from all other spirit-beings which were created. This living Word of God became flesh and tabernacled among us. Yahweh the Son proceeded and came forth from Yahweh the Father and through the portal of Mary’s womb was conceived through Yahweh the Spirit and was born as a human being. In the New Testament we do not see references to this Angel because He became flesh and blood and even now as Yahweh the Son has been restored to His former glory at the right hand of Yahweh the Father in the Royal throne room in the heavens where He ever lives to advocate for and to make intercession for all of the saints (believers). Right now at the Father’s right hand in the heavenly court is a resurrected glorified man! He is the forerunner of all of the sons of God on earth (believers) who are destined to also receive gloried bodies just like His when the rapture and resurrection happen! (1 John 3:2) (Philippians 3:21)
2. Yahweh the Eternal Spirit
Now we need to look at Yahweh the Eternal Spirit. He is clearly seen at work in the Old Testament scriptures and was involved with creation. It is clear that He is equal to and one with Yahweh the Father and with Yahweh the Son. In the New Testament Yahweh the Eternal Spirit is clearly revealed as being equal in all of His divine attributes with both Yahweh the Father and with Yahweh the Son. In fact the Holy Spirit Himself is called “the Eternal Spirit.” (Hebrews 9:14)
A “two person” or “a double Yahweh” in the Godhead is very clear in the Old Testament scriptures and was accepted by Jewish scholars until around 100 AD when the doctrine was declared a heresy by the Jewish religious establishment because of the influence of the Christians.
Once we can see how the Old Testament writers conveyed the idea of “the two Yahwehs” or the concept of “a double Yahweh” being co-equal and eternal in all of their divine attributes within the eternal Godhead, we can see certain passages in both Testaments where Yahweh the Spirit is clearly revealed. The New Testament writers link “the one but two” revelation of the Old Testament with the Spirit and to the eternal Godhead making “three” who are all equal yet one, having the exact same divine attributes. The doctrine of the Tri-Unity (Trinity) within the eternal Godhead was not an invention of the Roman Catholic Church or from the Hellenising of the scriptures by the Italian and Greek Church Fathers. Neither did the Tri-Unity within the eternal Godhead originate from the Greek idea of ‘three gods’.
Now let’s look at Yahweh the Eternal Spirit from the scriptures…
(Isaiah 63: 9-14) “In their entire affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His pity he redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned to be their enemy, and Himself fought against them. Then He remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put in the midst of them His Holy Spirit who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name.”
(Psalm 78:40-41) “How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.”
When the children of Yahweh were in the wilderness they were led by Yahweh and guided by the Angel of His presence and we have seen that the Angel of Yahweh’s presence is the presence of Yahweh Himself. Where the Angel of the LORD was Yahweh was also there dwelling in the Angel. Yahweh’s name was in him and also the authority to forgive sin. (Exodus 23:21) This was Yahweh the eternal Son before His incarnation as a human being.
We have already seen from our previous studies where the Angel of the LORD speaks in the third person and then in the first person in the same passage of scripture clearly revealing that the Angel of the LORD and Yahweh are one and the same. In the texts above when we read “they grieved the Holy Spirit” and “they provoked the Holy One” it is the same word in the Hebrew in that the Holy Spirit is equal to the Holy One clearly revealing that the Spirit is also Yahweh and the third person within the Godhead being eternal and equal in His divine attributes with Yahweh the father and with Yahweh the Son.
The Tri-Unity within the Godhead is not just a New Testament doctrine. The Old Testament was the Bible of the first century Church and the apostles who wrote the New Testament based their revelation of the Tri-Unity within the Godhead on the Old Testament Scriptures. Added to this, the fact that the Holy One Himself also being the Holy Spirit could be grieved clearly reveals Him to have all the marks of personality. Yahweh the Spirit is not merely “a force for good in the world” or some kind of impersonal spiritual power to get hold of and use as we like, but an eternal. Loving and sensitive divine person who has feelings, intellect and a will and equal in all of His divine attributes with the other two eternally divine members of the Godhead.
The other thing to notice is in the text of Isaiah is “Where is He who put in the midst of them His Holy Spirit who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths?”(ESV) The NIV says; “Where is he who set His Holy Spirit among them, who sent His glorious arm of power to be at Moses’ right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for Himself everlasting renown who led them through the depths?”
In the Old Testament “the right arm of the LORD” was the invisible Yahweh in human form and He who was one with Yahweh the Spirit. Both the Angel of Yahweh’s presence and Yahweh the Spirit were at the right hand of Moses and working through Moses to deliver the people of the invisible Yahweh dwelling in the heavens. The “everlasting renown” applies to all three members of the Godhead because they are all One God and never act independently from each other. We see this in the New Testament concerning the Lord Jesus who Himself made such statements as; “I and the Father are one” and again He said “He that has seen Me has seen the Father” and again He said “the works I do are not My own but the Father in Me does the works.” And yet again He said; “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him.” The “We” refers to Yahweh the Father and the Son who can dwell in the believer though Yahweh the Eternal Spirit. For these kinds of statements the religious Jews wanted to stone the Lord Jesus because He made Himself equal with Yahweh declaring Himself to be the visible and exact representation of the Invisible Yahweh.
In the Old Testament the invisible Yahweh revealed Himself in the visible Yahweh being the Angel of His Presence and through the ministry of Yahweh the Spirit. In the New Testament we are told that the Lord Jesus “is the image of the invisible Yahweh and the radiance of Yahweh’s glory and the exact representation of His being, upholding all things by the word of His power.” (Colossians 1:15) (Hebrews 1:3)
In this first chapter of Hebrews we are also told that it was through Yahweh the Son that the whole universe was created. (Hebrews 1:2) Added to this the fact that Yahweh the Spirit hovered over the earth when it was formless and void clearly shows He was involved in the creation process. The word “hovers over” used in Genesis in the Hebrew is the same word “to hover over” used in the Greek text in relation to Yahweh the Spirit “hovering over” the womb of Mary to enable her to supernaturally conceive Yahweh the Son. This supernatural act of creation clearly shows us that Yahweh the Spirit is Yahweh Himself at work in and through Yahweh the Spirit.
Added to this Yahweh the Son was also present at creation. At His spoken word Yahweh the Spirit went to work creating everything that exists. (John 1:1-3) (Psalm 33:6, 9) (Hebrews 11:3) The Word Himself spoke and out of nothing came forth creation! Yahweh had a picture on the inside of Himself of what He wanted to create and then through Yahweh the Son spoke it into being. As the KJV reads, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 1:3) What do you do with a picture that you have created? You frame it. As we read in Genesis Yahweh said “Light be, and light was!” Now let’s continue…
(Ezekiel 8:1-4a) “In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord God fell upon me there. Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal. He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem…”
Her we see the invisible Yahweh reaching out to Ezekiel through the hand of the visible Yahweh and Yahweh the Spirit working in unison with the “double Yahweh.” This same encounter with the invisible and visible Yahweh experienced by Daniel (Daniel 10:4-11) the same hand that reached out to Ezekiel reached out to Daniel. Both of these men were seeing the exact visible image and representation of the invisible Yahweh. This makes sense in that no man could look directly upon Yahweh’s face and live. (Exodus 33:20) As the apostle John writes; “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” (John 1:18)
John understood from the Old Testament that the Lord Jesus was the visible image and express representation of the invisible Yahweh that had appeared to men in the Old Testament before He took upon Himself a fully human body. Indeed John writes; “In the beginning was the Word…the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” (John 1:1, 14) John and the other apostles knew that in seeing the Son they had seen Yahweh face to face and yet lived. The deity of the Lord Jesus is abundantly clear in both Testaments! Did not the Lord Jesus say to Philip “He that has seen Me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9)
So then we can see that the Invisible Yahweh in the Old Testament reveals Himself as Yahweh the Father in the New Testament and the visible Yahweh in the Old Testament reveals Himself in Yahweh the Son in the New Testament. We see Yahweh the Spirit revealed in both Testaments and that He is equal with the Father and with the Son in all of His eternal and divine attributes. He is called the eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14) He has several titles given to Him in the New Testament.
He is called “the Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:6-7) “the Spirit of Jesus the Messiah” (Philippians 1:19) “the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:9) “the Spirit of the Messiah” (1 Peter 1:11) then we read in Galatians that “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts” (Galatians 4:6) So then the writers of the New Testament show a correspondence between the Old and the New Testament regarding the Holy Spirit. In the Greek text the nouns “God,” “Jesus” and “the Holy Spirit” are all interchangeable because collectively they are all Yahweh, they are One (Echud) (Deuteronomy 6:4) Within the Oneness there are three that are co-eternal and co-equal in their divine attributes.
When we understand how Yahweh is “two, yet one” in the Old Testament we can see that when the Spirit is described with the same attributes and titles that are applied to Yahweh the Father and to Yahweh the Son we have the Triune God. In the New Testament at times we see the Spirit equated with the “second” Yahweh figure who is the Lord Jesus Himself. So when we include the Spirit of Yahweh into the Godhead we move from two to three and in this we see the basis for the Trinity.
The New Testament writers only had the Old Testament and that was their Bible. In the New Testament they were deliberately linking the Lord Jesus to the God of the Old Testament and to the Angel of the LORD because they are all Yahweh. The Lord Jesus is Yahweh revealed in the flesh but not Yahweh the Father in the heavens and likewise the Spirit is also the Spirit of Jesus but He is not Jesus Himself. They are one yet three and all equal in their eternal divine attributes. We see this clear distinction at the baptism of the Lord Jesus. Yahweh the Father speaks from the heavens, the Spirit of Yahweh comes down and rests upon Yahweh the Son. (Luke 3:21-22) Paul ends his second letter to the Assembly at Corinth with these words; “May the grace of the Lord Jesus the Messiah, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
To sum up in the Old Testament we see Yahweh as invisible and yet visible and communicating with men through “the second Yahweh” being sometimes in human form and especially in the Angel of Yahweh who is attributed with the same divine attributes as Yahweh has Himself and that “The Angel” is fully revealed as the Lord Jesus by the writers of the New Testament. Paul writes that the Lord Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) The writer to the Hebrews tells us that the Lord Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” (Hebrews 1:3) We also see the Spirit of Yahweh at work in creation (Genesis 1:2) and in the virgin birth bringing about the conception of the visible Yahweh in the womb of Mary as a complete human being whom we know as the Lord Jesus, the living and eternal Word of God Himself made flesh and the one who tabernacled among us. (Luke 1:35) (John 1:1-3, 14)