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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


Part IX


Vol.5: The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation

Part V


Table of Contents

Chapter 1.  The Significance of the Pronoun "Us" in the Old Testament
Chapter 2.  The Use of the Term "Lord" for the Trinity in the New Testament
Chapter 3.  The Appearance of the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament
Chapter 4.  The Evidence of Two Persons in the Old Testament
Chapter 5.  Jesus as Jehovah
Chapter 6. The "Angel of the Lord" and the "Voice of the Lord"
Chapter 7.  Specific Old Testament References to the Trinity
Chapter 8.  Some Conclusions


Publishing history:
1959:  Doorway Paper No. 42, published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1977:  Part V in The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5 in The Doorway Papers Series, Zondervan Publishing Company
1997:  Arthur Custance Online Library (html)
2001: 2nd Online Edition (design revisions)

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There is but one living and true God,
     without body, parts, or passions;
     of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness;
     the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible.
     And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity.

                                                                                  Article I, Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.



     IN EVERYDAY speech we use some words that, although they are full of meaning, are almost impossible to define. How can one define the word "wonderful," for example? Though pure wonder may often be seen in the face of a child, as we grow older the faculty seems to be corrupted by being directed toward the wrong things. We tend to wonder more and more at the things of man and less and less at the things of God. Yet in the truest sense the Incarnation was full of wonder. The wonder of it lies in the true identity of Jesus.
     However, besides being wonderful, the Incarnation is a matter of supreme importance in Christian Theology. If Jesus Christ was merely a perfect man, and no more, His sacrifice could be applied vicariously for some sinful man, but only one sinful man, for this is the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But because the Lord Jesus Christ was God made man and because the life of all men collectively has been derived from God, His sacrifice was sufficient for all men -- not just for one. It is as though in payment of a debt, the Benefactor did not merely write a cheque to cover a particular sum: He wrote a blank cheque, redeemable out of the inexhaustible account of the sacrifice of God Himself. And because He was the eternal Son of God, it was as though this cheque was left undated that it might never become invalid. The identity of Jesus Christ as God is thus supremely important, and this involves His pre-incarnate existence.
     When God the Son died for our sakes, God the Father raised Him from the dead. If there had not been at least one other such Lord in heaven when the Lord on earth died, the universe would have come to an end. There must be more than one Person in the Godhead. But the existence of three Persons in the Godhead is not proved by argument from necessity. It is revelation that clearly shows that this is a fact.
     This Paper, however, is not a theological dissertation, but a Bible study. It will require close attention, but I believe it is well worth the effort. The writing of this Paper was a sheer delight, because of the wonder of it all. May the Lord rejoice the reader's heart as He rejoiced ours in the contemplation of these things.

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     WE WERE sitting around a wood stove. It was well on into the fall and just nicely cold. It was the kind of day that old-fashioned heating systems serve the peculiarly happy duty, by reason of their very inefficiency, of drawing people together. This was a student conference and we were discussing the first chapter of John. Having the privilege of leading the discussion, I was underlining John's statement that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. God with God. And John says, All things were made by Him. And subsequently John adds that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
     By drawing attention in a slightly different way to these words, a sudden realization came to one of the students, a native of India and not a Christian, that Jesus of Nazareth was God, the Creator, and had shared eternity with God the Father. To him this new insight became a source of great wonder, and several times during that weekend conference he came back to me and expressed his amazement. This was a new discovery and to his philosophic mind the implications of it were tremendous.
     While we understand by faith something of what John meant, how many of us have realized how much the Old Testament has to say about the pre-incarnate existence of the Lord Jesus? I often used to wonder how it could be said that no man has seen God at any time (John 1:18), when it seems clear that men repeatedly saw the Lord in Old Testament times. Of course, the marginal explanations tended to leave one with the impression that men did not really see the Lord at all, but only a kind of ethereal something, the awfulness of which clearly signified the presence of God. But then I got to thinking about the story of Eden. Is this what Adam and Eve experienced, or did

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they really speak with God face to face? Can one suppose they would have hid themselves from some brilliant cloud, imagining that bushes would conceal them? Does not their action indicate that a Person was indeed walking in the Garden "in the cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8)?
     The Jewish people had a very spiritualized apprehension of God's Person. They did not feel that He would deal directly with physical things. They believed that God dealt indirectly with the universe through an agency which they called The Word. It is generally held that John adopted the terms he did because of Greek influences, but actually the use of this title for the Agency by which God created the worlds is quite native to Hebrew thought. The Hebrew verb "to speak" or "to say" is amar, and from this root form was derived the noun memra, an Aramaic form. This word means "word." In the Targums they used this noun in many places where it seemed to them that God was spoken of as having direct and concrete dealings with the physical world. In the Targum of Onkelos it is used, for example, in Genesis 3:8, 10 and 24. In verse 8 the text reads, "And they heard the voice of the Word (memra) walking in the Garden in the cool of the day." Even more striking in this Targum is the rendering of Deuteronomy 33:27 in which the words "underneath are the everlasting arms" are replaced by the words, "and by His Word was the world created." This is, of course, exactly the thought in John 1:10. Altogether this term is substituted for the name of the Lord about 170 times in the Targum of Onkelos.
     Similarly, the Targum of Jerusalem substitutes "Word" for "God" in Genesis 1:27 (the creation of man); Genesis 3:9 (where Adam is sought in the Garden), and in Genesis 3:22 (where a conversation in heaven is revealed in which it is decided that Adam and Eve must be expelled from the Garden). This particular Targum employs this title for God nearly 100 times.
     In the Targum known as Pseudo-Jonathan the word "memra" is employed over 300 times, the first occurrence being in Genesis 2:8 where it is written, "And the Word planted a Garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed." (See further on this in Appendix 1).
     One wonders how it came about that this understanding of the meaning of Scripture was lost by the Jewish people. Most of us, I think, have been under the impression that the existence of more than one Person in the Godhead was not really clearly revealed until New Testament times. But I believe it was, and I should like to present some of the evidence for the existence not merely of more

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than one Person in the Godhead -- evidence which is familiar enough to many readers -- but to draw attention to a number of passages which quite clearly point to the Trinity, and indeed the relationship (in so far as it is stated in anthropomorphic terms for our sakes) between the Persons within that Trinity.
     This, then, is more of a Bible study than a theological dissertation, and I believe that anyone who will read Scripture carefully with the clues which will be presented here will find many other passages besides those which we shall consider. But this will be true only if the reader takes the Word of God very seriously and assumes that God meant to say exactly what He did -- not approximately, but exactly.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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