Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Is the Godhead a Trinity?
Is the Godhead a Trinity or a family? Was Yeshua the Messiah God, or merely a man? Was the Messiah the born son of YEHOVAH God, or only an adopted son? Is the holy spirit a person or the creative power of YEHOVAH God? These questions about the nature of God and the Messiah, and the Christian Israelite's ultimate destiny, are answered in this article.
by HOIM Staff
The central doctrine of most Protestant and Catholic churches for many centuries has been that of the Trinity. This doctrine is so important that the Catholic Encyclopedia states:
"This [the Trinity], the Church teaches, is the revelation regarding God's nature which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came upon earth to deliver to the world: and which she [the Catholic Church] proposes to man as the foundation of the whole dogmatic system."
Both Catholic and Protestant theologians quote Theophilus of Antioch (circa 180 A.D.) as the first person to write about this most important doctrine. But isn't it strange that such a major doctrine was avoided in religious writings for nearly two centuries? That is almost as long as the United States has been a nation!
Furthermore, Theophilus' allusion to the traditional Trinity -- "the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost" -- is quite nebulous at best. Notice what Theophilus wrote in commenting about the fourth day of creation in the first chapter of Genesis --
"And as the sun remains ever full, never becoming less, so does God always abide perfect, being full of all power, and understanding, and wisdom, and immortality, and all good. But the moon wanes monthly, and in a manner dies, being a type of man; then it is born again, and is a crescent, for a pattern of the future resurrection. In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom" (Ante-Nicene Fathers, "Theophilus to Autolycus").
Here is the first statement by a theologian that is supposed to teach the doctrine of the Trinity. But does his statement really teach this? Read it -- simply. He does NOT say that YEHOVAH God is a Trinity of persons, or that the holy spirit is a part of that Trinity. He just refers to YEHOVAH God, His Word and His wisdom.
Theologians have tried to imagine into this unusual statement "their Trinity" -- and yet even the editors of the Ante-Nicene Fathers state in a footnote that the word translated "wisdom" in English is the Greek word sophia which Theophilus elsewhere used in reference to the Son, not the holy spirit.
Theophilus could not possibly have gotten the idea of a Trinity from the Bible -- if he really did have a Trinity of persons in mind, which appears unlikely from the preceding statement -- as the Bible NOWHERE even alludes to YEHOVAH God being a Trinity.
From the time of Theophilus, it was several hundred years before this doctrine became a part of the Catholic dogma. It was in the last twenty-five years of the FOURTH century that "what might be called the definitive trinitarian dogma 'one God in three persons' became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought" (New Catholic Encyclopedia, "Holy Trinity").
From this it is evident that the "central doctrine" of Catholicism and Protestantism was NOT a part of the "faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) during or prior to the time of Jude, but was ADDED by later theologians.
The doctrine of the Trinity was NOT what Yeshua the Messiah was charged with "to deliver to the world" of Israel. He preached the GOOD NEWS of the soon-coming KINGDOM OF YEHOVAH GOD -- he established his true ecclesia -- he gave his life as a sacrifice for all those of Israel who repent -- he became a conduit for YEHOVAH's holy spirit to those who are baptized, the spirit that empowers Israelite believers to be ONE with the ONLY true God and His adopted Son Yeshua the Messiah.
However, the belief that YEHOVAH God is one substance, yet three persons, is one of the CENTRAL doctrines of the so-called Christian religion. The concept of the Trinity is believed by most professing "Christians" today -- whether Catholic or Protestant.
A Gallup Poll taken in 1966 found that 97% of the American public believed in God. Of that number, 83% believed that God is a Trinity. A recent Internet poll entitled "Who is Jesus" returned the following statistics --
The son of the living YHVH -- 16.78%
One third of a Triune God -- 4.9%
ALL of the above -- 74.13%
Yet for all this belief in the Trinity, it is a doctrine that is not clearly understood by most Christian laymen. In fact, most have neither the desire nor the incentive to understand what their church teaches. Few laymen are aware of any problems with the doctrine of the Trinity. They simply take it for granted -- leaving the mysterious doctrinal aspects to theologians.
And if the layman was to investigate further, he would be confronted with discouraging statements similar to the following:
"The mind of man cannot fully understand the mystery of the Trinity. He who would try to understand the mystery fully will lose his mind. But he who would deny the Trinity will lose his soul" (Harold Lindsey and Charles J. Woodbridge, A Handbook of Christian Truth, pp. 51-52).
Such a statement means that the concept of the Trinity should be accepted or else. But, merely to accept it as doctrine without proving it would be totally contrary to Scripture. YEHOVAH God inspired Paul to write:
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Peter further admonished Christians of Israel:
"...Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you..." (1 Peter 3:15).
Therefore the Christian Israelite is duty bound to prove whether or not YEHOVAH God is a Trinity.
Clear Explanation Difficult
If you were to confine yourself to reading the articles on the Trinity in popular religious literature for laymen, you would conclude that the Trinity is everywhere and clearly taught in the Bible. However, if you were to begin to read what the more technical Bible encyclopedias, dictionaries and books say on the subject, you would come to an entirely different conclusion. And the more you studied, the more you would find that the Trinity is built on a very shaky foundation indeed.
The problems inherent in clearly explaining the Trinity are expressed in nearly every technical article or book on the subject.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia begins:
"It is difficult, in the second half of the 20th century, to offer a clear, objective, and straightforward account of the revelation, doctrinal evolution, and the theological elaboration of the mystery of the Trinity. Trinitarian discussion, Roman Catholic as well as other, presents a somewhat unsteady silhouette" (Vol. XIV, p. 295). (Emphasis ours throughout article)
But why should the central doctrine of the Christian faith be so difficult to understand? Why should such an important doctrine present an unsteady silhouette? Isn't there a clear biblical revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity? Didn't the Messiah and the apostles plainly teach it?
Surely the Bible would be filled with teachings about such an important subject as the Trinity. But, unfortunately, the word "Trinity" never appears in the Bible.
"'The term 'Trinity' is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine" (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, article "Trinity," p. 3012).
Not only is the word "Trinity" never found in the Bible, there is no substantive proof such a doctrine is even indicated.
In a recent book on the Trinity, Catholic theologian Karl Rahner recognizes that theologians in the past have been:
"...embarrassed by the simple fact that in reality the Scriptures do not explicitly present a doctrine of the 'imminent' Trinity (even John's prologue is no such doctrine)" (The Trinity, p. 22).
Other theologians also recognize the fact that the first chapter of John's Gospel -- the prologue -- does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity. After discussing John's prologue, Dr. William Newton Clarke writes:
"There is no Trinity in this; but there is a distinction in the Godhead, a duality in God. This distinction or duality is used as basis for the idea of an only-begotten Son, and as key to the possibility of an incarnation" (Outline of Christian Theology, p. 167).
The Apostle John makes plain the fact that we find no Trinity discussed in this chapter.
More Biblical "Proof" for the Trinity?
Probably the most notorious scripture used in times past as "proof" of a Trinity is 1 John 5:7. However, many theologians recognize that this scripture was added to the New Testament manuscripts probably as late as the eighth century A.D.
Notice what Jamieson, Fausset and Brown wrote in their commentary:
"The only Greek MSS. [manuscripts], in any form which support the words, 'in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth...' are the Montfortianus of Dublin, copied evidently from the modern Latin Vulgate; the Rauianus copied from the Complutensian Polyglot; a MS. [manuscript] at Naples, with the words added in the margin by a recent hand; Ottobonianus, 298, of the fifteenth century, the Greek of which is a mere translation of the accompanying Latin. All old versions omit the words."
The conclusions arrived at in their commentary, written over 100 years ago, are still valid today. The more conservatively oriented The New Bible Commentary (Revised) agrees, though "quietly" with Jamieson, Fausset and Brown.
"...The words are clearly a gloss and are rightly excluded by RSV [Revised Standard Version] even from its margin" (p. 1269).
The editors of Peake's Commentary on the Bible wax more eloquent in their belief that the words are not part of the original text.
"The famous interpolation after 'three witnesses' is not printed even in RSV, and rightly. It cites the heavenly testimony of the Father, the logos, and the Holy Spirit, but is never used in the early Trinitarian controversies. No respectable Greek MS contains it. Appearing first in a late 4th century Latin text, it entered the Vulgate and finally the NT [New Testament] of Erasmus" (p. 1038).
Scholars clearly recognize that 1 John 5:7 is not part of the New Testament text. Yet it is still included by some fundamentalists as biblical proof for the Trinity doctrine!
Even the majority of the more recent New Testament translations do not contain the above words. They are not found in Moffatt, Phillips, the Revised Standard Version, Williams, or The Living Bible (a paraphrase).
It is clear, then, that these words are not part of the inspired canon, but rather were added by a "recent hand." The two verses in 1 John should read:
"For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water and the blood: and these three agree in one."
Three things bear record. But what do they bear record to? A Trinity? We shall see.
Bear Record to What?
The spirit, the water and the blood bear record of the fact that Yeshua the Messiah, the adopted Son of YEHOVAH God, is living his life over again in those of us of Israel. John clarifies it in verses 11-12:
"And this is the record, that God hath given to us [of Israel] eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
But how do these three elements -- the spirit, the water, and the blood -- specifically bear witness to this basic biblical truth?
"The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we [of Israel] are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).
Water is representative of baptism, which bears witness of the burial of the old self and the beginning of a new life (Romans 6:1-6).
The blood represents the Messiah's death by crucifixion, which pays the penalty for our sins, reconciling us to YEHOVAH God (Romans 5:9, 10).
Now understand why the Messiah commanded the apostles to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit (Matthew 28:19). First of all, Yeshua did not command the apostles to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the spirit as an indication that YEHOVAH God is a Trinity. No such relationship is indicated in the Bible.
Why, then, were they to baptize using these three names? The answer is clear.
They were to baptize in the name of the Father because it is the goodness of YEHOVAH God that brings us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and because the Father is the One "of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Ephesians 3:15). In the name of the Son because he is the one who died for our sins, and in the name of the spirit because YEHOVAH God sends His spirit, making those of us of Israel His begotten Sons (Romans 8:16).
Many theologians have misunderstood the part that the Father, the Son and the holy spirit play in each person's salvation. The doctrine of the Trinity is the result of that misunderstanding.
The Trinity is not a biblical doctrine. It has no basis in biblical fact. Then how did this doctrine come to be believed by the Church?
History of the Trinity
In the minds of the religious authorities the ancient idea of monotheism was shattered by their misunderstanding of the claims of the Messiah in the first century A.D. Here was someone who claimed he was the Son of God. But how could he be they reasoned? The Israelite people believed for centuries that there was only one God. If the claims of "this Yeshua" were accepted, then in their minds their belief would be no different from that of the polytheistic pagans around them. If he were the pre-existent Son of YEHOVAH God, their whole system of monotheism would disintegrate.
When the Messiah plainly told certain Judahites of his day that he was the Son of YEHOVAH God, some, in their ignorance, were ready to stone him for blasphemy (John 10:33).
To get around this assumed problem of a plurality in the God-head, the Judean community simply rejected the Messiah.
But the "new" Christian religion was still faced with the problem. How would proponents explain that there was only one God, not two?
"The determining impulse to the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity in the [false] church was the church's profound conviction of the absolute Deity of Christ, on which as on a pivot the whole [so-called] Christian concept of God from the first origin of Christianity turned" (International Standard Biblical Encyclopedia, article "Trinity," p. 3021).
It all started with the FALSE doctrine of the Deity of the Messiah -- but even this ERROR does not mean that a doctrine of the Trinity is necessary, as we shall soon see.
Roots in Greek Philosophy
Many of the early church fathers were thoroughly educated in Greek philosophy, from which they borrowed such non-biblical concepts as dualism and the immortality of the soul. However, most theologians, for obvious reasons, are generally careful to point out that they did not borrow the idea of the Trinity from the Triads of Greek philosophy or those of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians.
But some are not so careful to make such a distinction.
"Although the notion of a Triad or Trinity is characteristic of the Christian religion, it is by no means peculiar to it. In Indian religion, e.g., we meet with the Trinitarian group of Brahma, Siva, and Visnu; and the Egyptian religion with the Trinitarian group of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, constituting a divine family, like the Father, Mother and Son in medieval Christian pictures. Nor is it only in historical religions that we find God viewed as a Trinity. One recalls in particular the Neo-Platonic view of the Supreme or Ultimate Reality, which was suggested by Plato..." (Hasting's Bible Dictionary, Vol. 12, p. 458).
Of course, the fact that someone else had a Trinity does not in itself mean that the Christians borrowed it. McClintock and Strong make the connection a little clearer.
"Toward the end of the 1st century, and during the 2nd, many learned men came over both from Judaism and paganism to Christianity. These brought with them into the Christian schools of theology their Platonic ideas and phraseology" (article "Trinity," Vol. 10, p. 553).
One such man was Justin Martyr. Born around the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. in what is now known as the city of Nablus in the West Bank, Justin Martyr was a adult convert to Christianity. He was a student of Greek philosophy, but found little intellectual satisfaction in his studies. After "conversion" he wrote extensively in defense of the current form of Christianity, trying to convince emperors that they should stop the persecution of Christians and, instead, embrace the new religion. This, he maintained, was the TRUE philosophy!
According to Barrie Wilson
"he set his sights on two opponents: Greek philosophy and Judaism....Judaism, he asserted, had no scriptures of its own, and the church alone was the true Israel. This effectively stripped Judaism of its entire theological heritage. His position represented an OUTSTANDING TOUR DE FORCE, and he presented it audaciously in the context of 'a dialogue' with, of all people, a rabbi, Trypho" (How Jesus Became Christian. St. Martin's Press, N.Y. 2008, p. 205).
A part of Justin Martyr's methodology was to strip Isaiah 7:14 of its historical context and use it as a "proof" for the virgin birth of the Messiah. "Justin Martyr," writes Wilson, "seized upon the Greek translation [the Septuagint], ignoring the original Hebrew text, and proceeded to use this proof text" (ibid., p. 208) to bolster the myth of the virgin birth.
"The method Justin Martyr used to establish these points seems alien to us today and completely unconvincing: selected proof texts, passages torn out of context, and heavy allegorizing....Scholars today would not give this fanciful methodology any credence whatsoever..." (ibid., p. 206).
Justin Martyr, however, was very influential during his time. Although embarrassed by the similarities between the virgin birth of the Messiah and divine-human tales from his own culture, he concluded his Dialogue with Trypho with the following words designed to reassure Trypho: "And when I hear, Trypho," said I, "that Perseus was begotten of a virgin, I understand that the deceiving spirit counterfeited also this"!
In his book, A History of Christian Thought, Arthur Cushman McGiffert points out that the main argument against those who believed that there was only one God and that the Messiah was either an adopted or a created being was that their idea did not agree with Platonic philosophy. Such teachings were
"offensive to theologians particularly to those who felt the influence of the Platonic philosophy" (ibid., p. 240).
In the latter half of the third century, Paul of Samosata tried to revive the Biblical idea that the Messiah was a mere man until the spirit of YEHOVAH God came upon him at baptism making him the Anointed One, or Messiah. In his beliefs about the person of Yeshua the Messiah, he:
"rejected the Platonic realism which underlay most of the Christological speculation of the day" (ibid., p. 243).
At the end of his chapter on the Trinity, McGiffert concludes:
"...It has been the boast of orthodox theologians that in the doctrine of the Trinity both religion and philosophy come to highest expression" (Vol. I, p. 247).
The influence of Platonic philosophy on the Trinity doctrine can hardly be denied.
However, Trinitarian ideas go much further back than Plato.
"Though it is usual to speak of the Semitic tribes as monotheistic; yet it is an undoubted fact that more or less all over the world the deities are in triads. This rule applies to eastern and western hemispheres, to north and south. Further, it is observed that, in some mystical way, the triad of three persons is one....The definition of Athanasius [a fourth-century Christian] who lived in Egypt, applied to the trinities of all heathen religions" (Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, by James Bonwick, F.R.G.S., p. 396).
It was Athanasius' formulation for the Trinity which was adopted by the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. Athanasius was an Egyptian from Alexandria and his philosophy was also deeply rooted in Platonism.
"The Alexandrian catechetical school, which revered Clement of Alexandria and Origen, the greatest theologians of the Greek Church, as its heads, applied the allegorical method to the explanation of Scripture. Its thought was influenced by Plato: its strong point was theological speculation. Athanasius and the three Cappadocians had been included among its members..." ( Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church, by Hubert Jedin, p. 29).
In order to explain the relationship of the Messiah to YEHOVAH God the Father, the church fathers felt that it was necessary to use the philosophy of the day. They obviously thought that their religion would be more palatable if they made it sound like the pagan philosophy that was extant at the time. These men were versed in philosophy, and that philosophy colored their understanding of the Bible.
It was the doctrine of the Trinity -- colored by the philosophy of the time -- that was accepted by the Church in the early part of the fourth century -- over three hundred years after the Messiah's death.
Even theologians recognize that the Trinity is a creation of the fourth century, not the first!
"'There is recognition on the part of exegetist and Biblical theologians, including a constantly growing number of Roman Catholics, that one should not speak of Trinitarianism in the New Testament without serious qualification. There is also the closely parallel recognition -- that when one does speak of unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to say, the last quadrant of the 4th century. It was only then that what might be called the definitive Trinitarian dogma 'one God in three persons' became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought" (New Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Trinity," Vol. 14, p. 295).
The Council of Nicaea
It was at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 that two members of the Alexandrian congregation, Arius, a priest, who believed that the Messiah was not a God, but a created being; and Athanasius, a deacon who believed that the Father, Son and spirit are the same being living in a threefold form (or in three relationships, as a man may be at the same time a father, a son and a brother), presented their cases.
The Council of Nicaea was not called by the church leaders, as one might suppose. It was called by the Emperor Constantine. And he had a far from spiritual reason for wanting to solve the dispute that had arisen.
"In 325 the Emperor Constantine called an ecclesiastical council to meet at Nicaea in Bithynia. In the hope of securing for his throne the support of the growing body of Christians he had shown them considerable favor and it was to his interest to have the church vigorous and united. The Arian controversy was threatening its unity and menacing its strength. He therefore undertook to put an end to the trouble. It was suggested to him, perhaps by the Spanish bishop Hosius who was influential at court, that if a synod were to meet representing the whole church both east and west, it might be possible to restore harmony. Constantine himself of course neither knew or cared anything about the matter in dispute but he was eager to bring the controversy to a close, and Hosius' advice appealed to him as sound" (A History of Christian Thought, Vol. I, p. 258).
The decision as to which of the two men the church was to follow was a more or less arbitrary one. Constantine really didn't care which choice was made -- all he wanted was a united church. (Arius was banished, but later recalled by Constantine, examined and found to be without heresy.)
The majority of those present at the council were not ready to take either side in the controversy.
"A clearly defined standpoint with regard to this problem -- the relationship of Christ to God -- was held only by the attenuated group of Arians and a far from numerous section of delegates, who adhered with unshaken conviction to the Alexandrian [Athanasius'] view. The bulk of the members occupied a position between these two extremes. They rejected the formulae of Arius, and declined to accept those of his opponents...the voting was no criterion of the inward conviction of the council" (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., article "Nicaea, Council of," p. 641).
The council rejected Arius' views, but they had nothing with which to replace it. Thus the ideas of Athanasius -- also a minority view -- prevailed. The rejection of Arianism was not blanket acceptance of Athanasius. Yet, the church in all the ensuing centuries has been "stuck," so to speak, with the job of upholding -- right or wrong -- the decision made at Nicaea.
After the council the Trinity became official dogma in the Catholic Church, but the controversy did not end. In the next few years more Christians were killed by other Christians over that doctrine than were killed by all the pagan emperors of Rome. Yet, for all the fighting and killing, neither of the two parties had a biblical leg to stand on!
Who Was the Messiah?
What Did the Early Church Believe?
According to Judahite thought of the early 1st century, what the expected Messiah must accomplish is formidable. He must help to overthrow foreign authority, establish an independent Israelite state, be the Davidic king and, with YEHOVAH's help, usher in an era of universal peace, establishing the universal rule of YEHOVAH God -- the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. During this time the wicked of Israel will be eradicated and the righteous will be rewarded. The righteous dead of Israel will suddenly reappear and the world will experience a peace never before realized, and all humanity will acknowledge and worship the ONE true God.
This was the messianic dream of ancient Israel, and it had fantastic appeal. Writes Barrie Wilson --
"In Jewish terms, a Messiah is a leader anointed by God to act as an AGENT or political catalyst, to assist in bringing about God's rule. Most messianic expectations were that the Messiah would be HUMAN: he would be born and he would die. He would not have a special birth, and, while a righteous individual, he would not be a divine being. He would have to be a political leader, as a descendant of David, who would help establish the supremacy of Israel. God would work through him in bringing about this wonderful new era in human history. The world would be a dramatically different place as a result of his efforts. Anyone living at the time would be able to detect tremendous changes in the political and religious structures of the world after the Messiah appeared" (How Jesus Became Christian, St. Martin's Press. N.Y. 2008, p. 60)
Somewhat later, in the 2nd through 4th centuries, the Israelite followers of the Messiah who sought to retain what they had been taught by the Messiah and the apostles and disciples, were referred to by their opponents as the Ebionites or as the Nazarenes. They were successors to the original church led by James and other disciples of the Messiah after his death in 31 A.D.
It is a strange fact of history that their beliefs are not well known today, and what has come down to us shows that they differed markedly from the TRADITION of contemporary Christianity -- notice!
"The Ebionites followed the Torah, as required of all Jews. In obeying Torah, they undoubtedly felt they were observing the religion taught and practiced by Jesus. They were distinguished from other forms of Judaism by their attachment to the teachings and example of their rabbi, Jesus. But whatever that meant, it did not mean the abandonment of the ancient covenant expressed through the Torah.
"Believing Jesus to be the promised Messiah, they waited for him to come to restore Israel to prominence and bring about the long awaited end-time....They held that Jesus, like all who are holy and righteous, was resurrected" (ibid., p. 100).
Wilson goes on to say:
"...they held to traditional Jewish views of resurrection and redemption. This concept projected that at the end-time, when the Kingdom would come upon earth, the righteous dead [of Israel] would be resurrected. They would then join the righteous people [of Israel] who were alive when that great event happens. In the meantime, the [Israelite] dead were dead, awaiting God's judgment at the end of history. Jesus' resurrection, however, was proof that resurrection does occur and that the end-time must soon be approaching."
"Jesus was FULLY HUMAN, they thought," continues Wilson, "born in the usual way, having Mary as his mother and Joseph as his father. Their preferred gospel text was the Gospel of Matthew, written in Aramaic but WITHOUT the virgin birth story, unlike our version of this gospel, which, like Luke, includes a virgin birth narrative. In fact, they DID NOT ACCEPT THE VIRGIN BIRTH STORY AT ALL since this mythology does not find its roots in Jewish thinking. So, unlike later Christians, THEY DID NOT SEE JESUS AS A DIVINE BEING. Nor did they think that Jesus "preexisted" his human form in any fashion" (How Jesus Became Christian, p. 100).
According to the Ebionites the Messiah was like you and me -- HUMAN in all respects, feeling our pain, joy, sorrow and gladness. They believed he became YEHOVAH God's CHOSEN Messiah because YEHOVAH judged him more righteous than any other person.
Adds Barrie Wilson --
"The emphasis on the full humanity of Jesus, to the EXCLUSION of any aspect of divinity, set apart the Ebionites from other forms of Christianity in the second through fourth centuries....For the Ebionite community, however, Jesus had only ONE nature: FULLY HUMAN. That simplified matters [and was Biblically correct], for it avoided all the intricate Trinitarian formulas that were being bandied about in the third and fourth centuries, and all the cantankerous disputes associated with pinning down the correct way of speaking of the person of Jesus" (ibid., p. 100-101).
Who Was the Messiah's Father?
While the Ebionites -- as the successors of the New Testament church led by James -- were correctly following Old Testament or Tanakh theology, what about the New Testament? Does the New Testament teach a fully human Messiah that never pre-existed? We will now look at the question of WHO the Messiah was descended from.
Notice what Matthew says in 1:16:
"...and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of WHOM [Joseph and Mary] was born Jesus, who is called Christ" (NIV).
There is no doubt that Matthew, in his phrasing of "Jacob the father of Joseph", leaves no question as to whose son Joseph was, and likewise there is no doubt as to the expression of words in "Joseph, the husband of Mary." Where Luke's genealogy speaks of Joseph being "the son of Heli", Matthew uses a stronger quote in "Jacob the father of Joseph." Matthew adds in his genealogy showing who Joseph was and shows it by his affirmative writing.
Turn now to Luke 2:33:
"And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him."
Because of the phrasing of this verse, the skeptic may say "it does not say 'Joseph, his father.'" True, but there are plenty of other verses saying Joseph was the Messiah's father. His father and his mother marveled together of the things that were spoken of him. The following verse should eliminate any doubt from the skeptic's mind as to whose son the Messiah really was. Notice Luke 4:22:
"Everyone was speaking well of him and marveling that such appealing words were coming from his mouth. They were even asking, 'Can this be Yosef's [Joseph's] son?' (Jewish New Testament)"
When the Messiah came to his home city of Nazareth, in the synagogue he read to the congregation from scripture Isaiah 61:1 and added "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." Yeshua had told the people that he was the promised Messiah, but they found it hard to believe. Did they not know Yeshua? Was he not the son of a common man named Joseph? There was no question among those who knew him in childhood that he was the son of Joseph. It was because of this knowledge that they wondered at his words, him being the son of a common man.
Since the Ebionites did not accept the first two chapters of Matthew's gospel, let's go to Matthew chapter 13, verses 54 to 56 and see what they say:
"When Yeshua had finished these parables, he left and went to his home town. There he taught them in their synagogue in a way that astounded them, so that they asked, 'Where do this man's wisdom and miracles come from? Isn't he the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother called Miryam [Mary]? and his brothers Ya'akov [James], Yosef [Joses], Shim'on [Simon] and Y'hudah [Judas]? And his sisters, aren't they all with us? So where does he get all this?'" (Jewish New Testament).
Again, we have another question: Because of Joseph's common background, that is, being a mere carpenter, and not a priest or a scribe, where did the Messiah gain all the wisdom that proceeded out his mouth? It appears these Judeans did not remember their scriptures very well. The spirit of the LORD (YEHOVAH) would have to be upon one to speak as he did. The scriptures had said that he, the Chosen One would not only be humble and meek, but so would his home environment around him be common. Joseph was a commoner, but blessed as his wife Mary was, for they had a large family of five sons as well as daughters. But let us not deter from the proof that his neighbors in Nazareth had NO doubt as to whom Yeshua's father was -- and there was no question that he, Joseph, was his legitimate father.
"They said, 'Isn't this Yeshua Ben-Yosef [the son of Joseph]? We know his father and mother! How can he now say, "I have come down from heaven?"'" (John 6:42).
The Messiah referred to himself as the bread which came down from heaven prior to the Judeans making the previous comment. The bread of life spoken of in this chapter is the Word of YEHOVAH God, the manna from heaven. The children of Israel were given manna from heaven to save them when they hungered, but they died because they failed to continue in YEHOVAH's commandments -- even after YEHOVAH God supplied the manna and quail. But our salvation is of that bread which is in the Messiah, Yeshua. He, Yeshua, became the bread (or Word) of life from heaven, his bodily shell receiving the spirit -- not partially but fully. The Judeans did not understand what the Messiah was saying, but they did know where he physically came from. They knew his father and his mother, that is, they knew he was the son of a carpenter by the name of Joseph. In the last verse quoted, the Judeans were saying they knew Yeshua's father and mother from whom he had come by the flesh.
In the following verse of John 1:45, Philip states, without any expression of doubt, that Yeshua the Messiah was Joseph's biological son:
"Philip found Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and about whom the prophets also wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph'"
When Philip said "we have found the one," he spoke of the promised Messiah, King and Prophet of YEHOVAH God, who came from the city of Nazareth. He was of the seed of David through Joseph.
That the Messiah was 100% man cannot be doubted from the writings of Paul either. This Hebrew writer describes the Messiah's humanity like this --
"Therefore, since the children shared blood and flesh, he likewise partook of those things, so that through death he might deprive of his energy the one who has the strength of death -- that is, the Accuser...For surely he does not take hold of messengers, but he takes hold of Abraham's seed. Consequently, he was bound to be made in all ways like his brothers, so that he would become a merciful and trustworthy high priest regarding the things that lead toward God -- to the point of making atonement for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:14, 16-17, emphasis mine).
These verses do not say that the Messiah was formed in some ways like his brothers but in "all ways." This knowledge, then, fashions the dilemma of this discussion. Since no other humans have been described as "God incarnate" by many (the Bible describes no person in such terms), or have claimed to be such in the holy writ, it makes it hard to reconcile a theology that claims that the Messiah was just that -- literally "God in the flesh."
Did the Messiah Pre-Exist?
What about the so-called "pre-existence" of the Messiah? Does the New Testament address this subject at all? Biblical scholar and author John Knox states this enigma quite well --
"You can have a human Jesus without pre-existence or a non-human Jesus with pre-existence. There is absolutely no way of having both" (The Humanity and Divinity of Christ, p. 106).
The very commonly held belief that the Messiah was alive before his conception raises, of course, a number of questions about his nature. Is it possible to be a human being in any meaningful sense if one does not originate in the womb of one's mother as the result of a human father's sperm? A number of leading scholars have recently thought not.
As stated clearly in the quote above, we can have the humanity of the Messiah without the pre-existence, and we can have the pre-existence without the humanity -- there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY OF HAVING BOTH! Angels belong in a category different from human beings precisely because of their origin OUTSIDE the system of human procreation. If Yeshua the Messiah was really a being who changes himself (or is changed by YEHOVAH God) in order to enter the human race through Mary, he clearly belongs to a category of being different from the rest of humanity!
Now since the early New Testament church -- including the Ebionites -- based their theology on the Hebrew scriptures, are there any passages in the Old Testament that show the Messiah in a pre-existent form?
As you read through the Old Testament portion of the Bible, never once do you read the name Yeshua the Messiah. You read, of course, of YEHOVAH (YHVH), the LORD God, the Creator God of Israel -- but the words "Yeshua the Messiah" are simply NOT there! Was Yeshua, in his pre-human form, a part of the Hebrew scriptures? Was Yeshua one of the Old Testament characters, or did he come into existence in the New Testament?
A careful reading of the Old Testament demonstrates that there appears to be only ONE Creator God mentioned -- the One found in the First Commandment:
"I am YEHOVAH...You shall have no other gods before Me."
Or the Creator God found in the Fourth Commandment:
"...for in six days God [YHVH] created the heavens and the earth."
And yet many so-called Bible scholars think that certain of the Hebrew scriptures imply there were TWO Old Testament Gods: God #1, the Father, and God #2 the Son, who would function as the God of the Old Testament, and later be born as a human being and die as our Savior. Are there any Old Testament scriptures that even remotely imply Yeshua was God before his human existence, or that allow for two Gods instead of just one?
Religious Jews are adamant that there was only ONE God in the Hebrew scriptures -- a monotheistic view that is completely in step with scripture except for a very few verses. These verses include --
1) Elohim and the "us"
scriptures of Genesis.
2) "The LORD said to my Lord" scripture in Psalm 110:1.
3) "Mighty God" and Everlasting Father" in Isaiah 9:6.
4) God "sent a messenger before himself" in Malachi 3:1.
This small handful of scriptures is just about ALL that the Two-God adherents can find in the Old Testament to support their erroneous view that Yeshua the Messiah was the God of the Old Testament. So let us look into these verses and see if they present any evidence at all that the Messiah was the God of the Old Testament. Or, is YEHOVAH God the Father the God of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament?
The Genesis Scriptures:
"God" in the Hebrew scriptures is the Hebrew word Elohim which is the plural form of El. Elohim is a plural word that can refer to ONE, two or many gods. Elohim is used in the SINGULAR FORM in virtually every verse of the Old Testament, and it is clear that each use of Elohim refers to ONE Being -- NOT two or more! The only plural usage of Elohim is found in three Genesis scriptures where these "us" references seem to imply a plurality of beings. Notice!
1) Genesis 1:26 --
"And God said, Let US make man in OUR image and after OUR likeness..."
2) Genesis 3:22 -- "The Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of US."
3) Genesis 11:5-7 -- "And the Lord came down...and said, Behold, the people is one...Come let US go down, and there confound their language..."
The above three verses show the Creator God making statements that seem to involve other Beings (one or more). Is this the "One who became Yeshua the Messiah" as the Creator referring to Himself and to His Father? This is certainly one possibility -- especially in the first two verses.
In Genesis 11:7 is Yeshua the Messiah -- one of Two Gods -- telling God the Father to accompany him and "let US go down, and there confound their language..."? The context implies that "the LORD" is the One God, YEHOVAH, and possibly some angels in the service of the Creator. If there was only one God, "our" could mean either "the One God and His angels," or it could mean "the majesty of YEHOVAH God." The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states --
"The plural ending is usually described as a plural of majesty and not intended as a true plural when used of God. This is seen in the fact that the noun 'elohim' is consistently used with SINGULAR verb forms and with adjectives and pronouns in the SINGULAR."
Whatever the case, these scriptures in and of themselves DO NOT prove there was more than one God in the Old Testament. Even though Elohim is a plural word, it is still an ASSUMPTION to entertain the idea that this means there are two or more Gods being referred to in the "us" scriptures. Elohim is in a SINGULAR FORM throughout most of the Hebrew scriptures -- which is solid proof that there is only ONE God instead of two or more as some churches believe.
Almost the only indication of more than one God in the Old Testament is found in Genesis 1:26:
"Let US make man in OUR image after OUR likeness..."
Why, some ask, is "us" and "our" mentioned unless there were two or more Gods? The word translated "God" comes from Elohim which is plural for the general term "gods" (El is the singular, translated "god").
There is an answer to the plural form of God, but it involves a rather large subject that we don't have the space for in this article. It revolves around the ORIGINAL name of the Creator in the Hebrew scriptures. The premise is that "every place the name Elohim refers to the Creator could instead be rendered YHVH, a SINGULAR name -- which would then make Genesis 1:26 read in this fashion --
"And YHVH [YEHOVAH] said, Let Me make man in My image, after My likeness..."
The bottom line is that the Creator's original Hebrew name, YHVH [YEHOVAH] was changed to a generic, almost meaningless title that puts the True God in the same category as all the pagan gods. This change made a plurality of Gods seem possible with Genesis 1:26. However, in the original form it is clear there was ONE God: the Father with the Messiah coming into being about 4,000 years later.
Even though Elohim is a plural word, its usage DOES NOT mean there are two or more God Beings in the Hebrew scriptures since Elohim is used in the SINGULAR FORM virtually every time it is used. Elohim is merely a TITLE for the God of the Old Testament whose name is YEHOVAH (YHVH). And YEHOVAH is almost always used in the singular throughout the Hebrew scriptures. There is ONE God in the Old Testament -- and that God is the One God, YEHOVAH! The Genesis scriptures DO NOT support the Messiah as God of the Old Testament!
There is an intriguing scripture in the Book of Psalms that reads as follows:
The LORD [YHVH] said unto my Lord [Adon, #113]. Sit you at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool (Psalm 110:1).
Writes David M. Hay --
"Having reviewed the evidence, Billerbeck concluded that [a] MESSIANIC interpretation [of Psalm 110] was the norm for rabbis of the first century. In part his argument is that the psalm's language is so exalted that Jews of that time would naturally think of the Messiah. In part his argument hinges on NT evidence. Every early Christian writer who mentions the psalm interprets it messianically, a circumstance easily explained if that was the standard Jewish interpretation as well. Of particular importance is Mk 12:35-37 par; Billerbeck and many commentators urge that Jesus' argument reveals the ubiquity of the messianic exegesis in first-century Judaism" (Glory at the Right Hand: Psalm 110 in Early Christianity. Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1973, p. 29).
While most monotheists and Two-Gods believers agree that this verse is talking about YEHOVAH God the Creator and Yeshua the Messiah -- the question is the TIMING of this event. Is YEHOVAH God speaking to the Messiah in Old Testament times, meaning they co-existed and there were TWO Gods during this time? Does this scripture prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Messiah pre-existed his humanity?
Even though it is generally accepted that this is YEHOVAH God the Father speaking to the Messiah, it is PURE ASSUMPTION to think that this means it happened during Old Testament times. Whatever implications can be derived from this verse, the PRIMARY meaning is quite straightforward -- we are reading one of many Old Testament prophecies that refer to the coming Messiah.
The entirety of Psalm 110 is a prophecy that shows YEHOVAH God the Father will defeat the enemies of the Messiah ("I will make your enemies your footstool") after which the Messiah will rule over his Father's people Israel. The time setting is yet FUTURE -- just before the beginning of the Millennium, the 1,000-year rule of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah on this earth.
The second "Lord" mentioned in this Psalm is verified as the coming Messiah:
"You [the 2nd "Lord"] are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110:4).
Melchizedek means "King of Peace." David is prophesying under the inspiration of YEHOVAH's holy spirit that the Father will give His adopted Son -- the Messiah -- rulership as a king over His people Israel after a terrible end-time battle with the enemies of YEHOVAH God.
Those who believe there were two YEHOVAHS (one of whom was the Messiah) in the Hebrew scriptures use Psalm 110 as a major proof. But Psalm 110 DOES NOT prove the Messiah was one of two YEHOVAHS -- it proves just the opposite! In the New Testament when the Messiah says "the LORD said to my Lord" (quoting from Psalm 110:1), the word "Lord" is translated from the SAME Greek word (kurios) in both cases. In the Old Testament the two references to "Lord" are two DIFFERENT Hebrew words!
The first is "LORD" which is YHVH (YEHOVAH) and obviously refers to the Father since the second "Lord" is Adon which clearly refers to the Messiah. David appears to be making a distinction between these two beings. (Note the difference between LORD and Lord). Is YHVH the Father, or the Son? In Psalm 110:1 it is clear that YHVH has to be the Father. What about the rest of the Hebrew scriptures? Is YHVH the Father -- or the One who later became the Son?
YHVH, which is translated LORD throughout the Old Testament, refers to ONE God-Being -- as evidenced by the SINGULAR context of each usage of YHVH. The Hebrew scriptures proclaim that there is ONE GOD, and that God is YHVH (YEHOVAH). And, according to David in Psalm 110:1, YHVH MUST be the Father.
1) It is purely an ASSUMPTION to conclude that this Psalm proves there were two God-Beings talking to each other -- both co-existing in Old Testament times.
2) A study of the Hebrew scriptures shows that this Psalm of David is one of MANY scriptures that prophesies of the Messiah TO COME -- being not yet born.
3) The CONTEXT of Psalm 110 is the end-time warfare that the future Messiah would assist his Father in waging. The context is the Father addressing the Son at the time of the Messiah's second appearance.
4) While Psalm 110 may be a bit unclear, the Messiah clarified and magnified it by saying that David referred to a FUTURE Messiah who would be born as one of David's descendants -- which prophecy the Messiah fulfilled.
5) Psalm 110 clearly shows that YHVH must be God the Father, which strongly upholds the position that it is the Father the ONE GOD, who was the God of the Old Testament.
What About Isaiah 9:6?:
The Bible is filled with scriptures that show there is ONE True God. Notice what the Messiah stated in John 17:3 --
"And this is life eternal, that they might know you THE ONLY TRUE GOD [YHVH -- YEHOVAH] , and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
And the apostle Paul wrote:
"For there is ONE GOD, and ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS" (I Timothy 2:5).
That one God is the Father of the New Testament who was YHVH in the Old Testament if there is only One True God. Yeshua, the prophesied Messiah and Savior, died and was resurrected by YEHOVAH God to become His spirit-Being Son. The Messiah TODAY is God -- the firstborn of many brethren (Romans 8:29), although he was NOT the Creator God.
Any scriptures (known as Two-God scriptures) that seem to indicate that Yeshua the Messiah was God of the Old Testament, or that he pre-existed his human birth, can easily be refuted by the context or other means. Any passage that seems to say that the Messiah was a divine Being prior to his birth as a human baby should be looked upon with much skepticism. Which brings us to the 6th verse of the 9th chapter of Isaiah --
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6, KJV).
Isaiah 9:6 seems to say that the Messiah is called "the mighty God" and "the everlasting Father." This is illogical and impossible -- YEHOVAH God the Father is the Mighty God and Everlasting Father, NOT the Messiah! A closer look at this verse will uncover some drastic translation errors that completely change the meaning of it.
Many scholars have admitted over the years that the King James Version of the Bible contains literally thousands of errors -- some unintentional translation errors and some intentional errors to propagate a certain religious viewpoint. But even though some scholars admit these facts no one, it seems, wants to buck the system and purge the translations we have of these errors. No one wants to be different and incur the scholarly persecution of their peers that would follow.
The word "Wonderful" in Isaiah 9:6 is not an adjective in the original Hebrew, but the NOUN "wonder" -- and is part of the phrase pele-yaotz (see the Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, by Brown, Driver & Briggs). Now the word "Counsellor," although relatively accurately translated, is translated from the Hebrew word yaotz -- but this word is part of the above phrase and doesn't have a separate meaning! Therefore, the phrase pele-yaotz actually means "wonder of a Counsellor. The "wonder" of the Counsellor is the future Messianic ruler (the Messiah) foretold to appear, first in human form and then in his resurrected form, at the end of the age.
So who, then, is this "Counsellor" of whom this child who is to be born is to be a "wonder" of? In the next mistranslated words in this verse we will find the answer to this question. The words "mighty" and "God" in the King James Version (as well as in other mistranslated versions) were translated from the Hebrew words gabur and el. The word gabur means "mighty," while the word el -- in this particular instance -- means "judge" -- see The Soncino Talmud, The Babylonian Talmud, Seder Nezikin, Sanhedrin, 94a, translated by Dr. I. Epstein.
Acts 10:38-42 emphatically tell us that judgment has been given into the hands of Yeshua the Messiah. He will be the judge of Israel appointed by YEHOVAH God whose judgment -- in keeping with YEHOVAH's judgments -- will bring peace to Israel at the end of the age. And because Yeshua the Messiah will command that each and every word YEHOVAH has spoken is to be obeyed completely, he (the Messiah) will be "The Prince of Peace."
The Hebrew words el and gabur, properly translated, should read "judge of the Mighty." With these mistranslations properly squared away we can correctly translate Isaiah 9:6 in the following fashion:
"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And his name will be called the wonder of the Counsellor, the judge of the Mighty Everlasting Father -- the Prince of Peace."
The Counsellor, as pointed out, is the Mighty Everlasting Father -- YEHOVAH God Himself! Isaiah 9:6 is pointing out that this "wonder" (Yeshua the judge) of the "Counsellor" (YEHOVAH God the Father) -- Yeshua the Messiah -- was yet to come when this prophecy was spoken! Yeshua the Messiah did NOT exist in the time of Isaiah the prophet, but he was prophesied to come later. Yeshua the Messiah was NOT "The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father" -- as the translators of of the King James Version would like for you to believe.
When Isaiah 9:6 is PROPERLY translated, it agrees TOTALLY with all the other inspired scriptures of YEHOVAH God. It was not the inspired prophets of YEHOVAH God who were trying to teach of a pre-existent god-savior. It was the PAGAN GREEK TRANSLATORS, adding to or deleting from the ORIGINAL inspired word of YEHOVAH God, who caused this grave ERROR to be taught to the entire deceived "Christian" world as "doctrine."
Isaiah 9:6 does NOT prove that the Messiah was a pre-existing God who co-existed with the Father during Old Testament times. Rather, it was a PROPHECY of a child to be born who would eventually assume the mantle of government over Israel and be given many offices -- some of which are mentioned in this scripture.
What Does Malachi 3:1 Say?
It is quite easy to read Malachi 3:1 and not even realize that it might attempt to prove that the Messiah was the God of the Old Testament -- notice:
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts."
Here is what this scripture may be saying --
"Behold I [God of the Old Testament] will send my messenger [John the Baptist] and he shall prepare the way before ME [God of the Old Testament]; and the Lord [the Messiah], whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant [the Messiah]...he shall come says the LORD of Hosts [God of the Old Testament]."
Malachi 3:1 -- as enhanced above -- has two possible interpretations:
1) The TWO-GOD VIEW: The God of the Hebrew scriptures (The Messiah) will send John the Baptist to prepare the way before Him (the Messiah), and the Lord (the Messiah) whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant (the Messiah)...he shall come says the LORD of Hosts (the Messiah).
2) The MONOTHEISTIC VIEW: The God of the Hebrew scriptures (YEHOVAH God the Father) will send John the Baptist to prepare the way before Him (YEHOVAH's new covenant aspect of His Plan), and it is the Lord (the Messiah)...the Messenger of this new covenant...He is the one who will represent the Father -- all this says the LORD of Hosts (YEHOVAH God the Father).
Since both of these views are possible, it would be a MAJOR ASSUMPTION to believe that Malachi 3:1 proves Yeshua the Messiah is the God of the Hebrew scriptures. Either view could be correct. While this verse fits both the Monotheistic and the Two Gods models, it is the Monotheistic model that is correct and makes logical sense. Who sent the messenger (John the Baptist) in New Testament times? Just as YEHOVAH God the Father chose the Messiah as a messenger of His Plan for His people Israel, it makes sense that that He also chose John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Messiah.
In Psalm 110:1, 4 we found the Father speaking to the Son in a prophecy --
"The LORD [YHVH] said unto my Lord [adon]..."
One conclusion that can be reached based on these two different Hebrew words for "Lord" is that YHVH in the Hebrew scriptures is YEHOVAH God the Father and NOT the Messiah -- who was called Adon or Adonai. Can this be applied to Malachi 3:1? Here we find that the speaker is YHVH (YEHOVAH -- LORD of Hosts), while the one coming suddenly to the temple is Adon (Lord whom you are seeking). If this is an exact parallel with Psalm 110:1 then YHVH is God the Father and Adon is the Messiah -- which means that the Father is the God of the Old Testament!
Why does it say in Malachi 3:1: "...the Lord [Adon] whom you seek [this is the Messiah in New Testament times] shall SUDDENLY COME to his temple...behold he shall come..." Is this referring to the Messiah's first appearance, or his second appearance? It is almost certain that this verse says in effect:
"Behold I [YEHOVAH God the Father] will send my [special] Messenger [the Messiah], and he shall prepare the way [at his first appearance as a human being] before me; and the Lord [Adon] whom you seek [the ruler of Israel in the Kingdom] shall suddenly come to his temple [at his second appearance in a glorified spirit form], even the special Messenger of the New Covenant [the Messiah], whom you delight in; behold he [the Messiah] shall come [a first time and later a second time], saith the LORD [YHVH] of Hosts [the God of the Old Testament -- YEHOVAH the Father]."
The Father -- the God of the Hebrew scriptures -- sent both messengers -- one at the beginning of the New Testament times, and the other just before the 1,000-year time of peace -- BOTH of whom are the same: Yeshua the Messiah!
Malachi 3:1 is a PROPHECY of the Messiah which tells us that YEHOVAH God the Father (YHVH) will send a messenger to clear the way for His eventual return to Jerusalem to rule the earth from His Temple on Mount Zion. This scripture simply DOES NOT and CANNOT prove that the Messiah was God of the Old Testament. It proves that YEHOVAH God the Father was the God of the Old Testament, with the Messiah not yet even born, although he was the major and key element in the whole Plan of YEHOVAH God for His people Israel!
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