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Question 5

In the old testament when God is referred to, are the writers referring to the Trinity or a specific Person of the Trinity? In the first chapters of genesis God refers to "our image" so that's obviously a reference to the Trinity but in other places where God speaks and acts, whom is referred to?      



Answer to Question 5


In the Old Testament God is neither referred to as Father or Son or Holy Spirit: God is simply God. Only in the New Testament is God revealed as being triune. Christ reveals to us the Father and that in his divinity as the Son of God he is equal to the Father. Christ also hinted at the Holy Spirit partially revealing him as another person of the Holy Trinity.  St. Gregory Nazianzen says: “The Old Testament manifested the Father plainly, the Son obscurely. The New Testament revealed the Son and hinted at the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Today the Spirit dwells among us and makes Himself more clearly known. For it was not safe, when the Godhead of the Father was not yet acknowledged, plainly to proclaim the Son; nor when that of the Son was not yet received to burden us further [if I may use so bold an expression] with the Holy Spirit… but rather that by gradual addition, advances and progress from glory to glory, the light of the Trinity might shine upon the more illuminated…”  In the light of the New Testament we understand many of the Old Testament passages as part of this progress of slowly revealing God as Trinity. In the first chapter of Genesis there is clear testimony that God is triune. God is represented as speaking in the plural and carrying on dialogue with other persons: "Let Us make man according to Our image and according to Our likeness." (Genesis 1: 26) In chapter two God says: "It is not good that the man should be alone; let Us make for him an help meet for him." In chapter three after eating of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, God again speaks in the plural saying: "Behold, Adam is become as one of Us" (Genesis 3: 22), and again in Chapter eleven “Come, and let Us go down and confound their language” (Genesis 11: 7). If there was only one occasion of God speaking in the plural, then we could say that it was a grammatical error, but can four occasions with six plural pronouns be considered a mistake? The Prophet Moses, the great leader and lawgiver of Israel and author of the Book of Genesis, would not have made such a simple mistake, to attribute to God a plural character four times, if he was not inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so. Also, if it was accidental, why didn’t the God-inspired prophets of Israel notice and rectify the mistake? Another testimony from the Old Testament is the Thrice-holy hymn of the Seraphim “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Sabaoth” (Isaiah 6: 3), which certainly indicates the triune character of the Godhead.