In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:1
God had revealed the foundation of His pluralistic oneness in the very first sentence of the Bible (One God in three persons). The word “God” is translated from the Hebrew word Elohim Gen 1:1 (click to view Hebrew sentence), which is the plural subject of the sentence, yet is connected to the singular verb bara, “created”. In English, this should be read, “the Gods, he created…” Dt 6:4 states “…The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” How can we reconcile this apparent contradiction? Is God one or many?
The Hebrew word in Dt 6:4 (click to view Hebrew sentence) for “one” is ’e·ḥāḏ, the same word used in Gen 2:24 (click to view Hebrew sentence). That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. In marriage, man and woman are described as one flesh (a “united” one in body 1 Co 6:16) but are two in persons, a unity of one. God is one in essence—His DNA is identical in all three Persons of the Godhead, yet each Person is distinct.
God gives another hint of His triunity in Gen 1:26, Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image…” but in the next verse Gen 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image.”
God said let us, not let me make mankind, again demonstrating that God is one essence but with multiple persons, three to be exact. Critics would say that God was referring to the angels (let us), however angels cannot create new life, as they, themselves were created.
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts… Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created. Ps 148:2,5
Furthermore, the first verse of Scripture demonstrated that God’s creation, the universe, is also a trinity. “In the beginning” inferred the conception of time, “heavens” the introduction of space, and “earth” the formulation of matter. One universe containing three physical entities: time, space and matter. Digging even deeper, we discover each entity is also a trinity. Time is past, present and future. Space is length, width and height. Matter is energy in motion which produces phenomena.
An example of matter is the sun. Its source is chemical energy, which travels as light, but is felt as heat. The sun is also a trinity of rays which reveals a truth about the Persons of the Godhead. Chemical rays are like the Father in heaven Mt 6:9 whose power creates through planning Ac 4:28, but He cannot be seen Jn 6:46. Jesus is like the moving light rays, the light of the world Jn 8:12 that can be seen by all Jn 14:9; 1 Jn 1:1. The Holy Spirit is like heat waves that can be felt Ac 1:8 but not often seen Jn 3:8.
Another analogous example would be identical triplets, each having the same human DNA, yet they are three unique persons (one human DNA in three persons). The Persons in the trinity differ not in character (spiritual DNA) but in roles. The Father plans (chooses), the Son executes plan (shed blood/Redeemer), and the Holy Spirit completes plan (sanctifies those who believe in Christ) 1 Pe 1:2.
Thus God is a unified God, who exists as three distinct persons, which can be demonstrated in the baptism of Jesus Mt 3:16,17. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. Jesus is God the Son. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. The Spirit of God is God the Holy Spirit. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, (Father speaking) whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” The heavenly Father Mt 6:9 is God the Father.
Evidence of the unity of God is found in Mt 28:19. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The noun “name” is singular, making God a unified one, while the Persons are distinct: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If the verse declared the plural form, “names,” God would not be a unified God but three separate Gods: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
God can manifest in the natural realm appearing as three separate persons, such as in Mt 3:16,17 (Jesus in the water, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the Father’s voice heard from the heavens), but He is still one unified God in His essence. God the Son manifested as Jesus, a man Php 2:7,8. Rather, he (God the Son) made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man… However, Jesus never stopped being God Jn 1:1,14. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
God’s essence is spirit—lacking physical form, as a spirit doesn’t have flesh and bones Lk 24:39 NASB. Yet, Jesus became a man Mt 2:1, the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire Ac 2:3,4, and the Father’s glory passed by Moses Ex 33:22,23, but that doesn’t negate the oneness of spirit. God remains one unified spirit who can manifest into different forms in the physical realm while remaining one in the spiritual realm. For a deeper study click here Trinity Truths.
An important truth is revealed here. When Jesus died, He did not cease to be part of the Godhead. Jesus died spiritually Mt 27:46, then physically Jn 19:30; Jas 2:26 at Golgotha. Spiritual death is separation from the fellowship of the God (which Christians permanently Jn 14:16,17 enjoy 2 Co 13:14; 1 Jn 1:3, and Old Testament saints experienced but could lose 1 Sa 16:14; Ps 51:11). The second death is permanent separation from God Rev 21:8. Adam died spiritually the day he sinned Gen 2:17, losing the fellowship of the Holy Spirit which was breathed in Adam at creation Gen 2:7. He didn’t die physically until many years later Gen 5:5. God restored the ability for temporal fellowship by killing an animal to cover Adam’s sin Gen 3:21. But, until Adam’s sin was taken away (judicially forgiven by Jesus’ death), the tree of life was guarded to prevent Adam from gaining eternal life in a wrathful state Gen 3:22-24; Jn 3:36.
All born after Adam were born spiritually dead Gen 5:1,3; Eph 2:1,2,3—separated from the life of God Eph 4:18. By believing in Jesus’ sacrifice we can avoid the second death Ro 6:23. In order for Jesus to be Saviour, He had to endure both spiritual and physical death. When He took upon His body our sins, He experienced spiritual death Mk 15:34 as all of us have since our birth Ps 51:5 separated from the life of God—the indwelling Holy Spirit. He then tasted physical death when He paid for our sins Heb 2:9.
We were made a tripartite being—body, soul and spirit 1 Th 5:23. When Adam was created, God made his body out of dust Gen 2:7. After breathing into his nostrils, Adam became a living soul (given consciousness—a personality consisting of mind, will, and emotions to communicate with other living souls in the social realm). But, God also gave Adam a human spirit along with his soul Heb 4:12 and breathed in His Spirit, the breath of “lives” (Gen 2:7 click to view the Hebrew: under the English “of life” and the Hebrew “ḥay-yîm”, notice under Morphology is “N-mp” meaning noun-masculine plural. The addition of “im” in the Hebrew word hay-him makes the word plural, meaning “lives” not life. Thus God breathed in both physical and spiritual life, so that Adam could commune with God in the spiritual realm. That is why Adam died twice, spiritually when he sinned Gen 2:17, Gen 3:6, and physically at the age of 930 Gen 5:5.
Why did Jesus cry out My God, My God—twice? Why not once, or three times? The number three infers completeness (three lines make a closed figure-triangle; God is a trinity). When worshippers praised the triune God, holy, holy, holy was spoken three times to demonstrate God’s total holiness Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8 and its praise directed at the three Persons of the Trinity 2 Co 13:14. Here, My God is shouted twice not three times because Jesus was addressing the Father and the Holy Spirit. Previously when intimate with the Father, Jesus had always addressed Him as Father or Abba Mk 14:36, but on this one occasion He cried God, who was in the role of judge Isa 53:4.
When Jesus cried out My God (Father), My God (Holy Spirit) why have you forsaken me Mt 27:46, both Persons abandoned Jesus Isa 59:2; Hab 1:13; not in essence but in intimate fellowship, as Jesus was about to bear the sin of the world.
As a human illustration, consider a father, who is disciplining his toddler for wrong behaviour (sin). He may separate the boy by sending him to his room, apart from the rest of the family. He still has the family’s genes but is separated from the family’s presence.
God is holy and commands separation from sinful circumstances 2 Co 6:14,15,16 (Jesus taking upon Himself the world’s sin). Therefore, the Father and the Holy Spirit abandoned—turned their backs on Jesus (their presence) during this event, but God’s essence would not have been diminished.