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More on the Trinity, Part 5
by Karl Kemp  
10/25/2011 / Bible Studies

We will continue the discussion of Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 1 Cor. 1:13 with Matt. 28:19 from Part 4:

It was totally appropriate for them to baptize in (or, into) the name of Jesus in that setting (on the Day of Pentecost). Jesus was the Messiah God had sent, and Israel (centering in most of its leaders) had rejected Him. They must submit to the One who had died for them, bearing their sins. He was the only One who could bring them to the Father and to His new-covenant salvation. (I had a footnote: Ananias, who had been sent to Saul/Paul, said to him, "Now why do you delay: Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name" [Acts 22:16].) It is appropriate for us to call on the name of God the Son, who condescended to become the God-man and then, after living a sinless life, died for us bearing our sins with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin) so we could be born-again and begin to live in the righteousness and holiness of God, on the road that leads to eternal glory.) And, as Acts 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; and 1 Cor. 1:13 show, they continued to baptize in the name of Jesus Christ (or the Lord Jesus) for many years. Some may have been baptizing in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (with Matt. 28:19 it wouldn't be surprising), but no examples are recorded in the New Testament.

Based on Matt. 28:19, most Christians think we should baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and I agree. There is nothing wrong with baptizing in the name of Jesus (we do a lot of things, including praying in the name of Jesus, and we have Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5 and 1 Cor. 1:13), but why exclude the Father and the Holy Spirit when we have Matt. 28:19? God the Father has the preeminent role in the Trinity, and we are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us as born-again Christians. Through the Lord Jesus, with whom we are united when we become Christians, and through whom we come to God the Father, we become born-again children of God the Father, and the Spirit of God dwells in us.

It is important to see that Peter made a clear distinction between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in his message on the Day of Pentecost, which is a distinction consistently made throughout the Bible. He spoke of the two Persons of God the Father and the Lord Jesus in Acts 2:22-24. So too we see God the Father and the Lord Jesus in the words of Psalm 16:8-11 that Peter quoted in Acts 2:25-28, verses that prophesy of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. (The word "LORD" [Yahweh in the Hebrew] near the beginning of Acts 2:25 refers to God the Father.) We also see God the Father and the Lord Jesus mentioned in Acts 2:30-32, in Acts 2:33 (where we see the Trinity), in Acts 2:34, 35, and in Acts 2:36. You don't have to strain to see the two Persons of God the Father and God the Son. The Bible is literally packed with examples. You have to really strain though to try to see one Person.

We have a big problem with the typical oneness Christian interpretation of Matt. 28:19 in our day. I'll quote Matt. 28:19 again, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." They believe that, based on the passages in Acts and 1 Cor. 1:13, we can see that Jesus is the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and that there is only one Person. (At least some oneness Christians in our day speak a lot about the divine nature and the human nature of the one Person - Jesus - interacting with one another.) They totally reject the idea of the distinct Persons of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. That view may fit a few verses OK, but there are a very large number of passages throughout the Bible that show that that view is wrong.

For one super-important thing, the name Jesus is never used for God the Father, the Holy Spirit, or the Trinity in the Bible, nor would it be appropriate to use that name for God the Father, the Holy Spirit, or the Trinity. The name Jesus, which is the same as the name Joshua, (more accurately "Yeshua" or "Yehoshua" in the Hebrew) is used 911 times in the New Testament of the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition. (One of those 911 uses, in Col. 4:11, refers to a different person, and three times the NASB translated "Joshua," not "Jesus," in Luke 3:29; Acts 7:45; and Heb. 4:8.) The name Yeshua (Jesus) means "Yah [which is short for Yahweh] saves," or "Yah is salvation." That name was given to the God-man by revelation (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31) when the Son of God took upon flesh, and it is still used for Him after He was glorified and went back to sit at the Father's right hand.

The word "name" is singular in Matt. 28:19, which emphasizes the perfect unity of the Trinity, with the three Persons. We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches on every topic. For one thing, the Bible does not teach three Gods. The subordinate roles of God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, who are fully deity with God the Father, help demonstrate why we don't worship three Gods. The Trinity with three Persons is totally different than three independent Gods. I am not suggesting, by the way, that we have enough information (or the ability) to fully understand the Trinity. But then again, it isn't difficult to believe. We are not saying three equals one or anything like that.

It is important to understand that essentially every person who was there on the Day of Pentecost, very much including Peter and the other apostles and the three thousand souls who were added to the Body of Christ that day, would have rightly understood that the name of Jesus Christ referred exclusively to Jesus the Messiah. None of them (including those who submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ that day and those who didn't) would have thought that the name Jesus could include God the Father (or the Holy Spirit). They knew the difference between the Messiah and the One who sent Him. And Jesus Himself consistently made it clear that He was a Person distinct from the One who sent Him (and from the Holy Spirit). Those Jews weren't about to make that mistake.

Also, the Samaritans who were converted through the preaching of Philip and the Gentiles who were converted through the preaching of Peter, who were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (in Acts 8:16; 10:38), although they wouldn't have had as much background information as the Jews, would have understood that the Lord Jesus was a Person distinct from God the Father (and the Holy Spirit). So too for those converted through the apostle Paul who were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5; 1 Cor. 1:13). Paul consistently taught about the Persons of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (See the next two headings, for example.)

1 Corinthians 8:4 (with 8:5, 6). "Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one." I have heard this verse used to argue for a oneness view of God, but it doesn't teach that at all, as the following verses demonstrate. We clearly see the Persons of God the Father and God the Son in 1 Cor. 8:5, 6, as we so often do. And we see the preeminent role of God the Father, which we so often see throughout the Bible. I'll read 1 Cor. 8:5, 6, "For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on the earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords [There are evil beings behind many of the gods, idols, and religious, or occult practices of peoples, but they are enemies of the one true God (see 1 Cor. 10:19-22, Acts 16:16-19, for example).], (6) yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things [compare Rom. 11:36], and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by [It would be much better to translate "through" instead of "by." The Greek preposition ("dia") that I would translate "through" here with the NIV and NKJV is the same preposition translated "through" in John 1:3; Col. 1:16, for example.] whom are all things, and we exist through Him."

The apostle Paul shows what he meant when he said "there is no God but one" in 1 Cor. 8:4 and "for us there is but one God, the Father" in 1 Cor. 8:6. He was referring to God the Father, who is a Person distinct from the Lord Jesus Christ, in these verses. There are quite a few verses like this in the New Testament (see John 17:3; Rom. 16:27; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5, 6; 6:13-16; and Jude 1:25). And there are a large number of passages throughout the Bible that speak of the preeminent role of God the Father. (For many examples, see my papers titled, "Who Do We Pray To?" and "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son.")

I must hasten to point out, however, that the writings of the apostle Paul (in agreement with the rest of the Bible) strongly teach the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son. Paul mentioned here in 1 Cor. 8:6, for example, that, "through [Him] are all things, and we exist for Him," which confirms His full deity. The word "God" is typically used of God the Father in the New Testament, and the name "Yahweh" was typically used of God the Father in the Old Testament, but the fact that both words were sometimes used of the Son of God, along with many other considerations, strongly teach the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:8-10. "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (9) For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form [Colossians 1:19 is an important cross-reference, "For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him." All of the wisdom, authority, power, etc. that is included in what the word deity means is available in the Lord Jesus.], (10) and in Him you have been made complete [I prefer the translation, "you have been made full," with the margin of the NASB. The NIV has, "you have been given fullness." The Greek noun "pleroma" translated "fullness" in verse 9 was derived from the Greek verb "pleroo," which is used in verse 10. Verse 10 has a perfect participle formed from this Greek verb joined with a verb that would normally be translated "you are." These are the words that I would translate "you have been made full," or the equivalent. However we translate the verb we should recognize the connection between the fullness of verse 9 and our having been made full of verse 10.], and He is the head over all rule and authority." If He didn't have the authority "over all rule and authority," some evil ruler might be able to thwart God's plans, including His plans for each Christian.

Colossians 2:9 is one of the few key verses used to argue for a oneness view of God. I suppose they typically use the translation of the King James Version, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." I would translate "Deity" with the NASB, instead of "the Godhead." (Whether we translate Deity or the Godhead, it must be understood that everything that is available in the Trinity, is available in the Lord Jesus Christ.) Under the Greek noun ("theotetos"), which is only used this one place in the New Testament, the BAGD Greek Lexicon gives "deity" as the meaning in this verse.

I don't see this verse offering any real support to the idea of oneness. The fullness of deity dwells in God the Son. He is fully deity with God the Father and God the Spirit, and everything that God the Father and the Holy Spirit have are available in (and through) God the Son. And this is true of God the Son even though He greatly humbled Himself and temporarily laid aside His glory (see Phil. 2:5-8; John 17:3-5, for example) and became the God-man with a physical body. Note the words at the end of verse 9, "in bodily form." Now that He has been resurrected and taken up to the right hand of God the Father, He has a glorified body, but He is still "in bodily form" and always will be.

If God the Son had not become a man (the God-man) with a body and lived a sinless life and died for us, bearing our sins with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin), we could not be saved. See Col. 2:11-15, for example. I'll read verse 15, "When He [God the Father] had disarmed the rulers and authorities [speaking of the evil rulers and authorities, starting with Satan], He [God the Father] made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him [through His unique Son, the Lord Jesus Christ]. (We see the two distinct Persons of God the Father and God the Son here, as we so often do throughout the Bible.) Satan had gained his authority over man through our sin, especially the sin of Adam (see Rom. 5:12-21), but God "disarmed the rulers and authorities" through the all-important atoning death of His Son. Freedom from sin and from these evil rulers is part of what God the Father has provided for us in the Lord Jesus and new-covenant salvation. After the Lord Jesus [God the Son, who became the God-man] had completed His assigned work, which centered in His all-important atoning death, He was resurrected, then after forty days He was taken up in glory to the right hand of God the Father. Some ten days later He received from God the Father the promised Holy Spirit and He poured out the Spirit, which enabled new-covenant salvation to begin.

The apostle Paul knew that some of the Christians at Colossae were being tempted to modify the gospel and to look other places for truth, victory over sin, help, etc., rather than to stick with God's new-covenant plan of salvation that centers in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom God the Father has provided EVERYTHING we need. That's what verse 9 is all about, "in Him [in Christ, with whom all true Christians are united (see Rom. 6:1-11; Col 2:10-15, for example)] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form." There is absolutely nothing that we could ever need that has not been provided in Christ. Like Paul said in verse 10, "in Him [we] have been made full." Of course we must abide in Him, which includes abiding in the truth and righteousness of God by His grace through faith, or we will not be able to partake of the fullness He has provided for us.

When Christians face problems they are often tempted to look somewhere else for help (I'll mention some examples from the apostle Paul in a minute), but that always is a mistake, and sometimes it is a gigantic mistake, because if we aren't very careful, we may end up looking to the work of the devil and his demons for "help." The devil is very "generous" with such help, and it can look good; he is a liar and a deceiver. That kind of "help" may seem to help for a while, but it is designed to destroy us.

In verse 8 Paul warned against "[being taken] captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." In verse 4 he said, "I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive arguments." And in verses 16-23 he added quite a few other items to the list. I'll quote these verses, "Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - (17) things which are a mere shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (18) Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize [The BAGD Greek Lexicon says regarding the Greek verb used here ("katabrabreuo"), which is not used anywhere else in the New Testament, " 'decide against' (as umpire), and so 'rob of a prize,' 'condemn' someone...."] by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshy mind [that is, his thinking is not at all in, and by, the Holy Spirit], (19) and not holding fast to the head [the Lord Jesus, in whom "all the fullness of Deity dwells" (Col. 2:9) and "in Him you have been made full" (Col. 2:10); at least the fullness is available to Christians in Christ, and no where else.], from whom the entire body [the body of Christ] being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. [The joints and ligaments, through which the body is supplied and held together, probably refers to the ministries that Christ has placed in the body.] (20) If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, (21) 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (22) (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) - in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men [not God]? (23) These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." In fact they are manifestations of the flesh (which can include the work of demons). The only place we can find the authority and power to overpower sin (and our sins can be equated with "works of the flesh"; see Gal. 5:19-21) is in Christ and by the Holy Spirit in Him.

Throughout his writings, very much including the first two chapters of his Epistle to the Colossians, the apostle Paul repeatedly speaks of God the Father and God the Son (who has now been crucified, resurrected, glorified and ascended to the right hand of God the Father) as two distinct Persons. (Paul certainly didn't intend to deny the two distinct Persons of God the Father and God the Son in Col. 2:9.) I'll give a few examples from Colossians chapter 1. Paul mentions both Persons in Col. 1:1, 2, and 3, for example, and in Col. 1:13 he says, "For He [God the Father] rescued [or delivered] us from the domain [or, better, from the authority] of [the] darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son," referring to the kingdom of His now glorified Son, who is at His right hand. All true Christians are in that kingdom, which is here now in an early form of that kingdom (compare Luke 17:21; Rom. 14:17).

In Col. 1:16 Paul says, "For by Him [by God the Son, who existed with the Father before any creating took place (see John 1:1-3, 10, 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2, 3)] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or rulers or authorities [This includes Satan's extensive kingdom of evil, but it must be understood that they were not created evil. They rebelled against God and His Son. Anyway, the Creator has the authority and power to judge and remove beings He has created, which He will do at the proper time. That is the easy part, but God's plan included working things out is such a way that He would save a gigantic number of people (the elect) and give a powerful demonstration of the fact that there is no room for rebellion and sin in His world.] - all things have been created through Him [God the Father created all things through God the Son, who existed with Him before any creating took place.] and for Him [for God the Son]."

Colossians 1:17 says, "He [God the Son] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Obviously "He is before all things" in time since all things were created "by Him" and "through Him" (Col. 1:16). God the Son is also before all things in His exalted position over them. And Col. 1:17 also informs us that God the Son has been active in holding things together, since they were created. We are talking about a Person, God the Son, not a thought, or a word, etc. in the mind of God. These verses that speak of the preexistence of God the Son with the Father should suffice in themselves to show that the oneness view of God is wrong. My article, "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son: The Name Yahweh and a Listing of Some of the Large Number of Passages in the Hebrew Old Testament Where We Can See God the Son Along with God the Father," gives many example where we see God the Son existing as a distinct Person along with God the Father and actively engaged in the things that were taking place throughout the Old Testament.

May God's will be fully accomplished through this paper and His people be edified.

Karl Kemp
September, 2011

Copyright by Karl Kemp Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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