Sermon on various Old Testament texts, for Trinity Sunday. How is the groundwork laid in the Old Testament for the full revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament? How are they in harmony, and what is the reason we should seek correct knowledge about God as Trinity? How does it relate to us?
Below are some notes from a Bible study I previously did on this topic, and most of the Scripture references from the sermon are found below, along with many others.
The Trinity: Hints and Allusions in the Old Testament
While the revelation of the Trinity is clear and unambiguous in the New Testament, the ancient Christians also gathered testimonies about the Trinity from the Old Testament, “even though they seemed somewhat obscure. They did this in order that they might use them against heretics and to show that from the very beginning God had thus revealed Himself and that the church of all ages had thus known God, invoked and worshiped Him” (Chemnitz, p. 66).
Several guidelines show where such clues or references to the Trinity occur:
- “When Scripture speaks of God in the plural:” Genesis 1:1-3; 1:26, yet at the same time the verbs used of God are in the singular, and Deuteronomy 6:4 stresses the unity and uniqueness of God, apart from all others. There is One God, but more than one person. See also Genesis 3:22; 6:3; 11:5-7
- “Whenever you read in Scripture that God is speaking about God, as a person about a person, there you are safe in affirming that the three persons of the Deity are indicated. For when two persons are named at the same time, the person of the Holy Spirit who is speaking in the Scripture is indicated, in accord with the statement in 2 Peter 1:21.” Cf. 2 Samuel 23:2. Examples: Hosea 1:7; Genesis 19:24; Isaiah 60:19; 42:1; 52:13.
- “When the name of God (Yahweh; LORD) is repeated two or three times in the same sentence, it is certain that a difference in persons is indicated even though obscurely, as in Psalm 67:6-7; Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 6:3; Numbers 6:23-27; Isaiah 33:22.
- Often the context indicates a difference in persons, while united in essence, for example Exodus 23:20-21, the angel of the LORD bears God’s name (Cf. Isaiah 42:8). Exodus 33:17-23. Also, see how God raises up a son, and gives Him the name Yahweh: Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-16. The third person, the Holy Spirit, is indicated as the One speaking, for example Psalm 33:6 “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the Spirit of His mouth.”
Other significant passages: Daniel 9:19; Psalm 2:7; 110:1 (dialogue within the Trinity); Isaiah 48:16; Genesis 18:2, 16-22; Judges 13:15-25; Zechariah 12:10. Many more passages could be added to these, that follow the pattern of the rules above. Others refer to God as Father (ex. Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalm 89:26); still others refer to the Son (ex. Proverbs 30:4; Daniel 7:13-14) or make reference to appearances of the Son of God as the Angel of the LORD, not to mention prophecies of His future incarnation as Messiah. There are also many places that refer to the Spirit of the LORD (ex. Isaiah 11:1-2; 63:9-10).
While these passages in themselves would not present a fully articulated teaching of the Trinity as we find in the New Testament, they show that the NT teaching is entirely consistent with that of the OT, and that hints and clues run throughout the OT.
Chemnitz, M. (1989). Loci Theologici, Vol. 1. (J. Preus, Trans.) St. Louis: CPH.