One Two Three, More Or Less

How many different persons of the God family are there mentioned in the Biblical record? Some denominations say there is just one: God. Most others say that there are at least two: God the Father, the God of the living [1 Tim. 4:10; Deu. 5:26; also Luke 20:38], and Jesus Christ, the Son of God of the living [Mat. 16:16; John 6:69]. And others say that the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit makes up the third person of the Godhead.

Without stirring up a firestorm of debate, if at all possible, let’s see what the Biblical record mentions in this regard. Then, you can make up your own mind.

All those who believe in God would, by definition, agree that there is at least one. And those who are Christians would agree that there are at least two inclusive of Jesus Christ as the son of God. And then there are those who say there are three, which is the Trinity.1 But are there others too?

The folks who say God is a trinity make the claim based on the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God being a person. There are others who do not share this view. However, if the Spirit of God is considered the third person in the Godhead, the family of God, then we have to ask why do Paul and the other apostles in their salutations to the churches in their letters, always mention God the Father and Jesus Christ, but never the Holy Spirit? This would appear to be a major slight. In his letter to the ekklesia in Corinth, Paul says “Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Cor. 1:3]. This is typical throughout the New Testament.

However, we read, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went straightway out of the water; and in the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him.” [Mat. 3:16]. In Greek, the Spirit of God is pneuma theos.

If the Spirit of God is considered the third person of the Godhead, then the Godhead would have to be comprised of at least nine persons according to the Biblical record, or a nonagonity rather than a trinity. For we read in Revelation 4:5, “And out of the throne [of God] proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God [pneuma theos].” And in Revelation 5:6, "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." The number seven is a cardinal number meaning seven as in one less than eight and one more than six. And the number seven, Biblically, represents perfection. To be consistent, then, we would have to say there are nine persons of God.

But, this doesn’t include another two dozen spiritual beings described as the “twenty-four elders.” “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” [Rev. 4:4]. While we are not told specifically, these elders appear to be part of the family of God as well especially as their seats are in the presence of the throne of God the Father and they are wearing crowns.

In reference to Christ as the son of God of the living, the Biblical record mentions other sons of God too. In Genesis we read, “That the sons of God [Hebrew ben ‘elohiym, ben being a male child] saw daughters of men [Hebrew bath ‘adam] that they were fair and took them wives of all they chose.” [Gen. 6:2].

Then we read, “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men of old, men of renown.” [Gen. 6:4].

We also read in Job, “Now there was a day when the sons of God [ben elohiym] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.” [Job 2:1]. And in Job 38:7 we read, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” In all this, we’re not told exactly how many sons of God there are. But, we are told,  "God judges among the sons of God ... I have said, You are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." [Psa. 82:1, 6]. And in verse 8 we read, "Arise O [sons of] God, judge the earth: for you shalt inherit all nations." "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." [Mat. 25:34]. And in Rev. 21:7, "He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." [See the Feature article, Three Temple Ages Make A Plan].

Now there are some who claim that these sons of God are really a reference to angels. However, the Hebrew word used for angels or messenger is malak. These messengers or angels are never referred to as ben ‘elohiym as they are not sons of God. “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, ‘You are my son, this day have I begotten you?’ And again, ‘I will be to him a Father and he shall be to me a son?’” [Heb. 1:5].

And to add to this, we read, “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also make alive your mortal bodies by His spirit that dwells in you … For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” [Rom. 8:13, 14]. This isn’t semantics. 

So how many different persons of the God family are there mentioned in the Biblical record? It appears to be a number of which we do not know the answer, at least from what we are given in the Biblical record. But it is interesting to note that the Hebrew word ‘elohiym used for God is a plural noun similar to the word family in English implies more than one person. Thus, it would appear that God, in the plural from what we’ve read above, implies a God family with a Father, a Son, elders and sons of God. Thus, we have no way to know the exact number of those in the God family at this time except it appears to exceed three.

1 The theological concept of the Trinity comes from 1 John 5:7 and the first part of verse 8. These are considered apocryphal words added long after John's first century canonization of the New Testament. "The only Greek manuscripts in any form which support the words, "in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these three are one, [v. 8] and there are three that bear witness in earth" are the Montfortianus of Dublin, copied evidently from the modern Latin Vulgate; the Ravianus, copied from the Complutensian Polyglot; a manuscript at Naples, with the words added in the Margin by a recent hand ... All the old versions omit the words." [JFB Commentary by A. R. Fausset, The First General Epistle Of John]. The Latin Vulgate Bible was written by Jerome in the fifth century for the Roman church. It is a corruption of the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, and John's New Testament canon. See the Feature article, Moving Forward.

The Darby translation has it correctly,

1 John 5:6- "This is he [Christ] that came by water [John's baptism symbolizing death of our old ways of the flesh, at the beginning of his ministry] and blood [the crucifixion and death, at the end of his ministry], Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that bears witness, for the Spirit is the truth.

5:7- For they that bear witness are three:

5:8- the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and the three agree in one."

And the one they agree in is Christ. The three are comprised of the Spirit, the water and the blood rather than a Godhead Trinity. By Christ's blood, our sins were covered. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God ...." [Heb. 9:14]. Then, baptized in the water, and with the laying on of hands, we receive the Spirit of God, the earnest payment [2 Cor. 5:5] of God's promise of the redemption of the House of Israel in this age [see the Feature articles, And It's Still A Mystery, and The Relevance Of The Holy Days In The Plan Of God In The Last Days], and eternal life for all Israel. [Rom. 11:26]. All of this has nothing to do with an alleged Trinity. See Eph. 1:13, 14.

Therefore, rather than the concept of a Trinity, John is pointing out two of the six basic tenets of Christianity as Paul mentions in Heb. 6:1, 2, which are baptism, death of our old way of life in the flesh, and the laying on of hands to receive the Spirit of God, beginning a new life with God's Spirit [Rom. 8:11; see chapter one, p. 47, The Blind Man's Elephant], as they relate to the blood sacrifice of Christ on our behalf as sons of God. See the Sneakers article, Name Those Tenets.

Italics and [ ] are the author's.

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