Faith Basics: The Trinity

With Dr. Nathan LeMaster

Posted by Dan Jarms & Dr. Nathan LeMaster on June 28, 2023
Faith Basics: The Trinity
00:00 00:00

In this episode, Dr. Nathan LeMaster from The Master's Seminary joins Dan to help us see the doctrine of the Trinity throughout the Bible, beginning in Genesis and all through the Old and New Testaments. 

Scriptures referenced include: 

  • Genesis 1:1
  • John 1:1
  • John 1:14
  • Colossians 1:15-20
  • Hebrews 1
  • Acts 5:1-11
  • 1 Corinthians 6:11
  • Genesis 1:26
  • Genesis 11:7
  • Exodus 33:11 
  • Exodus 33:17-23
  • Genesis 18
  • Matthew 22:41-46
  • Isaiah 48:16
  • John 10:31-39
  • John 8:58

Also referenced is the Nicene Creed.

  • Automated Transcription
  • Dan Jarms 0:00
    Today on Faith Matters, we will continue our Faith Basics series, we're going to talk about the Trinity. And I'll have Nathan LeMaster here to talk about the Trinity in the Old Testament.

    Dan Jarms 0:16
    I'm Dan Jarms. And you're listening to Faith Matters a podcast to help update you on matters of Faith Bible Church, as well as equip you in matters of the Christian faith.

    Dan Jarms 0:35
    Let's talk about the Trinity just a little bit to give a brief overview. The idea of the Trinity is very scriptural and biblical, although the word at Trinity is not. In the Old Testament, God was often referred to, he wrote about himself in plurality. So from Genesis one, let us make God in our own image, and so on. We have the plurality. There are places in Isaiah, where the Spirit is speaking about to other members of the Godhead. And Nathan and I will talk about that as we go into it in a little bit. So you have Old Testament references to the Trinity. What I want to do is Overview The doctrine of the Trinity and some just key scriptural context for it. So here's what the Trinity is, and this is how it's historically been defined one God, in three persons. And so one God having one essence, or one nature or as, as the Nicene Creed, which is an ancient articulation of Trinitarian doctrine, one being so we have one God, and this really comes from Deuteronomy six, four, here, O Israel, the LORD our God, the Lord is one. So there was this idea, we have one God, one being with three persons. No, there is no good analogy as much as people try. But with three and one, they all share the same attributes. So the three persons of the Trinity classically called God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit, they all share the same attributes. They're all to be worshipped. And they all share one essence, one nature, one being now in the personhood, they have different roles. So the father is often considered, the maker or architect maker is what it is in the Nicene Creed. And Genesis one one, we have God creating the heavens in the earth, and we have the Holy Spirit, who is empowering, the Spirit of the Lord is moving over the water. So you have two people, two persons of the Trinity directly mentioned there. In the New Testament, we have that in the person of Jesus, John one, one, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And you notice that they're not all the same. So Jesus isn't just a manifestation of God, he is he the Word was with God, the Word was God. So with means he wasn't the God he was with God. So we have the person of the word, and then God, God the Father, and right away and John, we find that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, his name was Jesus. So Jesus is the Son of God is eternally God, according to John one. And if you were to look at other passages like Colossians, 115, through 20, we find Jesus as CO creator. If you look at Hebrews one, one, he is the one who has come to speak the message. So we have God the Father, and what is God the Father his role? God, the Father begets the son. And that's an eternal it's that's not like having a child. So Jesus was never a created being he always existed, but in relationship to the Father, we call God the Father, the one who begets and then later the one who sends his son. And so Jesus is the only begotten is the only one and only Son from the Father. And Jesus role is CO creator, but also Redeemer, his major role was and is to enter human history and take on human flesh. We call that the Incarnation now in that Jesus ends up with two natures of divine nature and human nature, which he keeps forever. And in that he dies for our sins and He rises from the dead. And so Jesus is, is the Redeemer, the one who paid the price for our sin, the Holy Spirit's role is illuminator. He is the one who shows he's the one who empowers. He is the one who seals there are many, many things that God the Holy Spirit does for us. Quick proofs of the spirit being God instead of just a manifestation or an energy source from God. There's this little passage in Acts chapter five, in which Ananias and Sapphira sell a piece of property claimed to give all of it to the church but they They hold back half. And Peter says something that that gives you this clear idea why have you lied to the Holy Spirit, this is in five, three, you have not lied to man. This is in five, four, but to God, so the Holy Spirit is directly acquainted with God. You find them all together many, many times throughout the New Testament. And the classic one is in Matthew 2818, through 20, which is the Great Commission. And we are to baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. So the name of all three together, and you could find out many, many places, the introductions of almost all of the letters include something about God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit all listed out together. There's an interesting one, as we have studied through First Corinthians chapter six, about what all three have done, it says, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God. So here we have all three mentioned in one and their, their work together. So that's just a basic overview, one God, one essence, one being in three persons, those three persons have different relations to each other different roles, but they're all equally God, all equally to be worshipped. So that gives us an overview, a very high level overview of the Trinity. Now we're going to turn our attention to an interview that I did with Nathan LeMaster, who is a professor of Old Testament and academic dean at the Masters seminary, and he was with us earlier in the spring back at graduation, time for Masters seminary, and he's going to talk about the Old Testament references to the trinity or the Trinity in the Old Testament.

    Dan Jarms 6:52
    So welcome, Nathan, thanks for joining us.

    Dr. Nathan LeMaster 6:54
    Thank you very much. I appreciate you having me on. And I love I love the Old Testament, I love teaching from the Old Testament and thinking about the Old Testament. So this is this is a real treat for me.

    Dan Jarms 7:06
    Nathan, we're going through our series on faith basics. And we're in a section on the doctrine of God. And the Trinity is always one of the crucial sections, trying to get our minds around it, see what the Bible says about it. And we're not trying to be exhaustive today about our definition of the Trinity. But what we're going to try to do is show some of the places where the Trinity shows up in the Old Testament. So Nathan, we want to look at the evidences from the Old Testament of the Trinity, and help us think through. It's not a surprise doctrine in the New Testament. Right. So that's usually people think I just showed up out of New Testament. It's not a surprise doctrine there. So walk us through some of the major ways you think about seeing the Trinity in the Old Testament.

    Dr. Nathan LeMaster 7:53
    Yeah, and this is, this is really a fantastic question to think about it takes, it takes a while to think through this and really dig deep into the Old Testament. The first thing we want to note off the bat is that the Trinity is a mystery to us we can, we can attempt to define the Trinity. But when we're talking about God's nature, when we're talking about who God is, from our finite perspective, from our limited perspective, this is a mystery to us. And so it's not easy to speak in terms of Trinity. We see it in Scripture, we see it clearly in the Old Testament, we see it in the New Testament. And we're trying to understand exactly what this looks like. And this is part of the fascination with studying God's character is He's not someone that we put into a box, He's not someone that is, you know, just a big, powerful version of a person, as a human, you know, as we think God's nature is really a mystery to us. And so we want to see, how does the Old Testament portray God? What does that look like? And try to understand God's character from from that?

    Dan Jarms 8:56
    Yeah, I was just reading a little book from church fathers. And the idea of the incomprehensibility of God was first applied to the Trinity. Yeah. So you know, if you think it's beyond you, you're not the only one. So they actually had a term for God's greatness called his incomprehensibility. Like we can't get our minds around it exactly. But it doesn't mean it's not real and accessible. So why don't you give us a couple of ideas where you go to let's see it in Scripture right from the Old Testament, right? So

    Dr. Nathan LeMaster 9:23
    yeah, in the Old Testament, we we see reflections of God's character again, it's it's this is hard to define, but we do see clear reflections of God's character from the very beginning Genesis, Let us make man in our image, there's a plural there in the Hebrew, it's a very important plural for us, because there's no reason for that to be there. Unless it's a reflection of who God is. And there's a he's not talking about, you know, God singular with the angels, or anything like that, because it's Let Us make man in our image. We're not made in the image of an angel. We're made in the image of God and so the fact That plural is their points towards this kind of a, it's kind of an, not an early indication, but kind of a teaser to, you know, this is God's character, this is who he is, let us go down Genesis 11 is another great example of that. So, we see, we see some of those kinds of aspects are trying to understand, you know, let's, let's put ourselves in the shoes of a Jewish man who's studying His Torah in 400 BC. And what did he understand as he's studying the Old Testament as he's studying His Torah. And he's, he's reading, hopefully, he's reading deeply into the Old Testament trying to understand what's going on there. And he's seeing a statement like that let us make man in our image. And he has to make sense of that in some way, as a reflection of God's character and who he is. One other one other really fascinating text to me. Exodus 33. I, I study this and kind of dwelled on this several years ago, but it keeps coming back to me if we look at Exodus 33. This is the 10 of meeting Moses. Moses is, it says in verse 11, that he's meeting with the Lord. So verse 1130, Exodus 3311. Thus, the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. The word there is, is Yahweh. Thus Yahweh used to speak to Moses face to face. Well, we jumped down just a little bit, in starting in verse 17, and that section there, Moses asks, in verse 18, please show me your glory. And, And Yahweh responds, he says, I'll make all my goodness pass before you and proclaim before you my name, Yahweh, and I'll be gracious to whom I'll be gracious, I'll show mercy on whom I show mercy. But he said, You cannot see my face for man cannot see me and live. But he just talked about Moses speaking with Yahweh face to face. So either that's a either that's an issue in the text, you know, contradiction, which we wouldn't hold to that, or there's a very intentional and purposeful juxtaposition, putting those two texts together, saying, well, there's something going on here God is God, Yahweh is speaking with Moses face to face, but then right after that, saying that, that no one can see my face and live. So who is that intermediary who is referred to as Yahweh, but is, you know, seemingly to act as that kind of intermediary with Moses? So there's glimpses like that, that we see in the Old Testament that are very important if

    Dan Jarms 12:42
    if we used the word Theophany or Christophany. So I think it's done, isn't it? Genesis 19 where Abraham meets with supposedly three men. Yeah, eventually calls one of them. Xboard. Exactly. So we have right what is a theophany? And if you read it backwards to have likely a Christophany. Yep. Of the second person of the trinity or another person they are so Exactly. We're just Trinity aren't showing up. Yeah. And we're not clearly defining Father, Son and Spirit. Yeah, but yet we have to. And spirit. Okay. Absolutely. So that's, that's kind of the idea. Yeah. Follow? Yeah.

    Dr. Nathan LeMaster 13:21
    I would move forward also to the New Testament, when we look at Hebrews. If you're talking about Christology, and talking about defining who Christ is, I always tell my tell my students think of the, the three ones, right, you've got John one, you've got Colossians one, and you've got Hebrews one. And these are really Pinnacle texts for understanding who Christ is. Well, and Hebrews one, the author of Hebrews is trying to define who Christ is and pointing to these Old Testament texts and saying, you really should know that Christ is divinity from the Old Testament, and he pulls on these Old Testament texts as, as his his research his sources to say, hey, these guys in the Old Testament, they looked at Christ, the writers of the Old Testament looked at Christ looked at Messiah, as as being God. You know, the quoting from Psalms, let all God's angels worship him, I will be to him a father, and he shall be to Me a son, you are my son, today I have begotten you. You Lord laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, speaking about Christ's speaking about, you know, the, the Messiah. So in Hebrews one, he's really just pulling on those sources and saying, you should have understood from the Old Testament that we we have Trinity, we have Messiah, who is God called Yahweh. And so we really see glimpses of this throughout the Old Testament. That's

    Dan Jarms 14:52
    that so how the writers of the New Testament understood the Old Testament exactly makes that that clear, I think, have one example from Jesus Himself in Matthew 23. It's the last time the Pharisees really want to ask Jesus any questions because Jesus asked them a question. Yeah. Matthew 23. He says, What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? They said to Him, the son of David, he said to them, Well, how is it then that David, in the Spirit inspired by God, the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, The Lord has said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet? If then David calls him Lord, how is it? How is he his son? So there's this mystery, that as already known now, as well, you're gonna have to deal with sonship? Yeah. From the Psalms. Yeah.

    Dr. Nathan LeMaster 15:42
    There's that our text that we were chatting about in Isaiah, yeah,

    Dan Jarms 15:46
    yeah. So then, I think of one of the clearest places in Isaiah, because Isaiah 4048 16, and God is speaking. And Isaiah 4015. He says, I even I have spoken and called him this talking about the servant of the Lord, I have brought him and he will prosper in his way. And then the person says, this draw near to me here this from the beginning, I have not spoken in secret. From the time it came to be. I have been there. So here we're talking about whoever the speaker is, is has been around right from the beginning from the beginning. Yeah. And now the Lord God has sent me so the speaker has been sent by the Lord God, and His Spirit. Yeah. So we have someone being sent. We have the Lord God, and we have the spirit. Yeah. All in one passage. So if you're looking for a silver bullet, yeah, for a reference to the Trinity in the Old Testament, this is a pretty good one, right?

    Dr. Nathan LeMaster 16:45
    Yeah, it's pretty good. And even after even right after that bus that says Yahweh, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, I am Yahweh your God. And so, you know, we're seeing again, we're seeing this reflection of God's character in the Old Testament, whether it's Old Testament or New Testament, we're seeing this reflection of who God is. And the Trinity is certainly not something that was contrived or brought about in the New Testament by New Testament authors. This is something that's been established from the beginning.

    Dan Jarms 17:16
    What was the what's the passage in John, where Jesus says that I'm your way? Where he says, That's me.

    Dr. Nathan LeMaster 17:25
    Okay. John 10, verse 31, the Jews picked up stones again to stone Him, Jesus answered them, I have shown you many good works from the Father, for which of them are you going to stone me? And then Jews answered him, it's not for a good work that you're going that, that we're going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God. So the Jews, even after that, you know, you they say, you are blaspheming? Because I said, I am the Son of God. If I am not doing the work, so my father, then do not believe me. So Jesus, Jesus comes clearly points to at this points to his father, Yahweh, speaking of Yahweh, and the way in which Jesus speaks of himself with those I am statements, the Pharisees understood, he was saying, He's making himself to be God. And, and again, Jesus is pulling from the Old Testament as well, and the imagery that's in the Old Testament, but he's saying you should have known these things, just as the author of Hebrews says,

    Dan Jarms 18:30
    yeah, that that one statement before Abraham, I am, is a pretty definitive statement about his eternal existence, but he uses the I am or Yahweh. So in the Nicene Creed, the title to God is Father Almighty, the title to Jesus is Lord. And the history of that is that that they meant that was Yahweh. Yeah. Right. So Jesus was your way. So anybody who is trying to say, do you see Jesus in the Old Testament? The answer is every time you see the word, Yahweh, by Jesus statement here, yeah. And that's how the early church understood it. So whenever you see Yahweh, well, there's Jesus, right? Yeah. Is that a stretch to me? No, no, no,

    Dr. Nathan LeMaster 19:14
    that's, and again, that's a reflection of God's character. If we're seeing Trinity in the Old Testament, then we're seeing the character of God on display. We're seeing Christ on display in the Old Testament. And we need to, again, recognizing God's nature doesn't change. If we're seeing Trinity clearly, in the New Testament, we're seeing in the Old Testament, that there's no change at all and God's character, and God's nature. And so yeah, we're seeing the Trinity clearly in those areas.

    Dan Jarms 19:42
    That's really helpful. We wanted to give you a number of scriptures. If you have more questions about the doctrine of God, the doctrine of the Trinity, as I'm sure you will, we'll be happy to answer those you can. You can email us at info at epi Nathan may not be able to join us on those and later on So let's but we will try to pick those up knees you need and thank you for joining us today.

    Dr. Nathan LeMaster 20:03
    Oh now glad to be here. Always happy to talk about the Old Testament

Dan Jarms

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane. He has been married for over 30 years to Linda, and has three adult children. He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B.Ed. at Eastern Washington University, M.Div and D.Min in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary. His other interests include NCAA basketball, gardening, brick oven cooking.

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Dr. Nathan LeMaster

Dr. LeMaster teaches Advanced Hebrew Readings and Greek Exegesis, among other courses for The Master's Seminary at the main campus in Los Angeles. He also oversees the seminary’s distance education program.

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