We are celebrating Trinitytide (the liturgical tide or time following Trinity Sunday) by offering an overview of the Progressive Revelation of God's Being.
Today: Intimations of the Trinity in Holy Scripture, Part 1
At the time of Jesus death and resurrection, AD 33, the followers of Jesus, all of them Jews, accepted monotheism, and that the one and only God communicated, revealed, and acted in history.
The New Testament reflects this theocentric (God-centered) understanding; even though the New Testament is about the Good News of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, it is neither Christocentric (Christ-centered) nor Pneumaticentric (Spirit-centered— after the Greek word pneuma, which may be translated as breath, wind, and spirit, depending on the context).
The Trinity— that the one and only God is mysteriously a unity of Three— is only implicit: the New Testament doesn't have a doctrine (teaching) about the Trinity; it does have all the ingredients necessary for such a teaching.
The first Christians even found intimations of the Trinity in the Old Testament.
One of the writers of the Old Testament always uses the Hebrew word Elohim for God— and Elohim, unlike the other names for God (like Yahweh) is plural— suggesting to Christians that already the one God of Jewish monotheism was, somehow, "plural."
2. Genesis 1:1-3
"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters.
Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light."
The beginning of John's Gospel echoes the beginning of Genesis, and John interprets God's speaking the universe into being as the activity of God's Word made flesh in Jesus:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. . . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-5, 14).
3. Genesis 1:26
"Then God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness'" (Genesis 1:26).
Although God is a singular noun, God uses plural pronouns and adjectives.
4. Genesis 18:1-3
"The LORD [singular] appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, "My lord [singular] if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant" (Genesis 18:1-3) .
The word Lord, when it appears with all capitals [LORD], or a big initial L and small capital letters for ord (which this software can't replicate), stands for the Hebrew word Adonai.
In the Old Testament, one of the names for God is YHWH.
The Jews took the consonants of YHWH and added the vowels from Adonai, their word for "my lord."
When a German Christian scribe transliterated the Hebrew name for God (Y=J, H, V=W, H) and Lord (Adonai) into medieval Latin, the result was JeHoVaH, or Jehovah.
Today, modern translations use "Yahweh."
Adonai, or LORD came to be used as a substitute for the name of God to show respect and reverence.
Christian Trinitarians have long been tantalized by this early story of the one LORD appearing as three men.
Tomorrow: Intimations of the Trinity in Holy Scripture, Part 2
Do you know that a single orchid has three petals? In other words, that an orchid could symbolize the Trinity?
Here, then, are lots of symbols of the Trinity, taken at the Keukenhof Gardens on April 9, 2016: