The Three Pillars of the Godhead
By James Scott Trimm
Part 3 The Trinities of Christendom
Now as shown in part one, the Aramaic “New Testament” refers to the components of the Godhead as K’NUMA (sing.)/K’NUMEH (plural). As we have learned both the Biblical and Jewish model of the Godhead contains two contrasting K’NUMEH/GAUNIN and a third K’NUMA/GAUN which was a combination or harmonization of the other two. This third K’NUMA/GAUN is the Son of Yah.
The original Aramaic followers of Yeshua maintained that there were three K’NUMEH and one PARSOPA or one KYANA. This Aramaic terminology continued to be used by the Aramaic speaking Assyrian Christians of the Church of the East (and still is).
The early Greek speaking believers used the Greek words HYPOSTASIS for K’NUMA and PROSOPON for PARSOPA. They maintained a belief in a Godhead with three HYPOSASIS (aspects, substances) and one PROSAPON (person). The earliest Greek “Church Fathers” also used these terms. However the later Greek “Church Fathers” inverted this formulation creating a Godhead of three PROSAPONS (persons) who are one in HYPOSTASIS (essence). Finally the Latin “Church Fathers” formulates a Trinity with three PERSONAS (persons) and only one SUBSTANTIA (essence. Substance).
Now by the year 362 C.E. the Roman Church had become embroiled in a crisis. The conflict in terminology was becoming a problem for Rome. Rome was promoting a Trinity with three persons (PERSONA) in one substance (SUBSTANTIA) but this formula was in conflict with the early Greek “Church Fathers”, a formulation which many Greek speaking Christians still held to. This left the Greek speaking Christians in a dispute. Some held to a Godhead with three aspects (HYPOSTASIS) and one person (PROSPOPON) while others held to a Trinity with three persons (PROSOPONS) who are one in substance/essence (HYPOSTASIS). The Ecclesiastical Council of Alexandria was held in 362 to resolve this dispute. The whole matter was wept under the rug at this council when Rome ruled that both Greek schools were using different words to say the same thing. Rome ruled that the “Old School” Greeks MEANT “PERSONA” when they used HYPOSTASIS and that they had MEANT “SUBSTANTIA” when they used the term PROSOPON. Thus Rome had succeeded in transforming the triune Godhead of three aspects in one person into three persons who are one in substance/essence.
The Mormons have taken this process a stage further. They teach a “Godhead” of three persons who are not one in essence but are one only in “purpose”. This variation brings Rome’s Trinity of three persons firmly into the territory of Tri-Theism.
So is it valid to say that there are three “persons” in the Godhead in English? It depends on what one means by “person”. There are several definitions of the word “person” in English. If you look in a Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary you will find that the first and most common definition of “person” in English is “a human being”. Certainly Elohim is not three “human beings”… in fact He is not even ONE “human being”. The last definition in the Unabridged Dictionary is “any of the three modes of the Trinity”. So one might argue that the aspects of the three pillars of the Godhead may be called “persons” by virtue of a special definition of the word in English apart from any other meaning of the word. However use of the word “person” in English creates confusion because it strongly implies agreement with the Roman Trinity of three persons who are one in essence. More accurate terms are “three pillars”; “three aspects”; “three GAUNIN”; “three K’NUMEH” or “three Tzachtzachot (splendors)”.
Now the Orthodox Christian Trinity with three “persons” who are one in essence has certain problems.
In Isaiah 9:6-7 the Son (the Messiah) is called “everlasting Father” while 1Cor. 15:45; 2Cor. 3:17 and Rom. 8:9-11 taken together seem to identify the Son with the Spirit.
According to the NT we as believers are immersed in the Messiah (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27); we have the “Spirit of Messiah” which raised Messiah (Rom. 8:9-11) in our hearts (Gal. 4:6; Eph. 3:17), which is the “Spirit of God” (1Jn. 4:12-13) or the “Holy Spirit” (1Cor. 6:19; 1Thes. 4:8). This also would seem to identify the Messiah with the Holy Spirit.
Finally Col. 2:9 states of Messiah “in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead”.
These passages pose problems for the Orthodox Christian trinity of three “persons”.
How can the Messiah be called “everlasting Father” if they are different persons? How can the Messiah be identified with the Holy Spirit if they are different persons? And finally how can the Messiah have “all the fullness of the Godhead” dwelling within him if he is only one of three persons in the Godhead?
Many of these difficulties with the Orthodox Christian trinity have led to the advent of a doctrine known as “Oneness Theology” in certain Christian circles. Oneness theology teaches that the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Son are all one and the same thing.
However “Oneness Theology” has other problems. For example Messiah stated that the Father is greater than he (Jn. 14:28). But this cannot be the case if they are one and the same.
The distinction between the three K’NOMEH of the Godhead is clear in a number of other passages as well:
The Father sends the Spirit (Jn. 14:26); Messiah sends the Spirit (Jn. 15:26); the Father sends Messiah (Jn. 17:8; 20:21) and in Jn. 14-16 we read that Messiah would have to leave so that the Holy Spirit cold come.
Moreover as shown earlier, in Hebrews 9:14 Messiah presents himself through the Spirit to “Elohim”. This would not be possible if they were all one and the same.
In other examples:
Yeshua could not have been praying to himself in the garden when he said “let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as you will.” (Mt. 26:39)
Is. 11:1-2 says that Messiah would have the “fear of YHWH”… did he fear himself?
In. Mt. 13:32 the Son does not know the day nor hour of his return but the Father does. They cannot be one and the same.
In Rev. 5 the Lamb takes the sealed book from the right hand of the figure on the throne… but how could this be if they are one and the same?
Finally the Messiah is frequently described as sitting or standing at the right hand of the Father (a clear allusion to Ps. 110:1, 4) how could this be if they are one and the same?
Clearly Christian “Oneness Theology” cannot stand… the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not one and the same thing, they are different aspects of the one Elohim.
Conclusion: The True Understanding of the Godhead
The true understanding of the Godhead resolves all of the difficulties found in both the Orthodox Christian and Oneness Christian models.
The true understanding of the Godhead understands the Son as the combination of the Father and the Spirit and thus the Son can be identified with either. However as a combination of these two he is a third, unique and distinct aspect within the one person of the Godhead. Thus the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three K’NUMEH or three GAUNIN (aspects), which are but one PARSOPA (person).
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