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"GOD IN THREE PERSONS" OR A THREE-PART ELOHIM?
Julio Dam
Rébe Judio Mesiánico Renovado

"GOD IN THREE PERSONS"

 

OR A THREE-DIMENSIONAL

 

ELOHIM?

 

By Julio Dam

                                      Messianic Renewed Rabbi

 

   


If there is one mystery worth revisiting, surely it is the mystery of the nature of Elohim's Trinity. Theologians throughout the ages have devoted themselves to delve into this arcana with--fervorous enthusiasm albeit meager results--many a times.

 

    These Christian sages' inquiries revolved around ponderous themes. Among these themes are questions such as the following, which have not been examined thoroughly, however, if one were to judge from the end results. How did this "Three-Persons-in-One-God” originate? And a Divine Person? Is Elohim a three-in-one Elohim? And, if so, in what way? Does indeed Elohim possess three Persons or is He a Three-Dimensional Elohim?

 

THE ORIGIN OF THE “THREE-PERSONS OF GOD” FORMULA

 

    Where did the Church pick up the "three Persons-in-One-God" formula? Let us state it right at the beginning:

    It is not based on Scripture nor is it derived from it; and unfortunately, as we will try to show, it is an erroneous one.

 

    Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Origen pursued the study of the Trinity. In fact, the former is responsible for the

    formula of "One Substance in three Persons" in the fourth century A.D. Now then, where did this "God: One

    substance in three Persons" come from? From Tertullian, a gifted theologian and writer. [Surely, if the "three

    Persons" Dimension of the Tertullian phrase is not quite accurate, in its present connotations, then his whole phrase

    may fall aDimension in a second.] Athanasius proclaimed it as the faith of the church at the Council of Nicea in 325

    A.C. as a riposte to the onslaught of Arrianism. Augustine devoted fifteen years of his life to meditating on it

    and wrote De Trinitate. He reformulated it as the "Athanasian Creed". John Calvin took it up and after him it

    become part of the Reform.

 

    What really happened is that Tertullian used the Latin word "persona" for its legal connotations, at his time,

    which meant "Part of a litigation." That is to say, that what he thought, when he said "...in three Persons,"

    what "..in three parts." That is absolutely correct. The problem began when the word "persona" took on its

    modern meaning, as we shall see below. (For a brief discussion of this semantic change from "Part" to

    "Person," see History of Christianity, by Kenneth Scott Latourette, Vol. 1). If we stick to his original

    formulation, there is no problem at all, since Elohim does have three Dimensions. As a Elohim in three Dimensions, He made us

    "in His shadow/tzel and likeness," also with three Dimensions. Surely, nobody would argue that we have three persons.

 

                                 1. WHAT IS A PERSON?

 

    Any successful theological explanation regarding Elohim's Persons should, perhaps, satisfy two preconditions.

    First, it should be found in Scripture, as clearly and free of dogmatic interpretations and manipulations, and

    as unmistakably as possible.

 

    Second, it should be fit to be understood via the digestion organs of man's mind, which are, after all,

    Elohim-given. Blind faith should come after the understanding. Believers should not be forced to swallow "by

    faith" something which it cannot digest with her collective mind in the first place, especially if this "blind

    faith" is used to cover up something totally unscriptural. Let us see how these two preconditions meet our

    case.

 

    What is a person? Webster's Dictionary defines it "as individual man, woman or child". Then, the word

    "individual" (as in "individual man" above) is defined as coming from the Middle Latin word individuus,

    meaning not divisible, "existing as a separate thing or being." Thus, a person is a separate being, distinct from

    another person or being. Therefore, if Elohim has three Persons, it should somehow be referred to in Scripture.

 

    However, nowhere in Scripture does the word "person" as such appear in the original languages. In the

    Tanakh [the "Old" Covenant] the word used is "ben Adam", meaning, "son of Adam" i.e., "man". In the New

    Covenant, there are three words, sometimes translated as "person", but none in fact, meaning so. The word

    usually translated for "person" is the Greek word prosopon, which according both to Vine Dictionary and

    Thayer's Lexicon of Greek Words, means "a face". Moreover, the word antropos, really means "man" not,

    "person", as in the word "antropomorphic", manlike.

 

    Also, a person is supposed to have a personality. The word "personality," according to Webster's Dictionary is

    "what it takes for a person to be a person," i.e., certain characteristics that make him what he is and

    distinguish him from his next-door neighbor. Now, what do we make of a guy who has not one, but three

    personalities? The scientific world would call him "schizophrenic," and the Bible a "double-minded man"

    (James 1:8) Thus, it follows that a Elohim with three Persons should necessarily possess three personalities.

    What are we implying?

 

    Regarding the use of the word "Person" as referred to Elohim. The New Bible Dictionary quite convincingly

    states its case against it: "Person' is, however, an imperfect expression of the truth inasmuch as the term

    denotes to us a separate rational and moral individual. But in the being of Elohim there are not three individuals,

    but only three dimensional self-distinctions within the one divine essence. Then again, personality in man implies

    independence of will, actions, and feelings, leading to behavior peculiar to the person. This cannot be thought

    of in connection with the Trinity." [R.A.F., New Bible Dictionary, Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, 1962,

    p. 1300.]

 

    We have to agree with the Bible dictionary commentator, since the word "person" automatically implies a

    "separate rational and moral individual", with the operational word being separate. Elohim is not made of three

    separate Persons, no matter how attuned they are to each other, since Elohim does not possess three

    Personalities. That is Tritheism, a belief in three Elohims.

 

    In addition, nowhere in Scripture is there a verse which specifically states that Elohim has three Persons. We

    must make up our minds, and Protestantism has long ago decided against it, whether we will believe in

    something which is clearly not in Scripture just because it has come down from a long line of tradition.

    Moreover, time and again, commentators urge their readers to "have faith" in a Elohim who is both One and

    Three, without any further explanation about how this can be plausible. Our minds, thus, clearly reject this.

 

    In sum, first, Tertullian hit the right formula with his "...in three Dimensions." The problem has been with the

    subsequent connotations of the word "persona." Second, the word "person," semantically, means a human

    being separate from another, and it never appears even once as such in the whole of Scripture. Third, there are

    no verses specifically saying that Elohim has three Persons. As the Bible Dic- tionary quoted above says:

    "Scripture does not give us a fully formulated doctrine of the Trinity." [The New Bible Dictionary, op. cit.

    p. 1298.] Fourth, the given explanation of a three-Person Elohim who is at the same time One does not sound

    plausible.

 

2. WHICH CHARACTERISTICS MAY A PERSON POSSESS?

 

    We have seen above how a person possesses certain characteristics which constitute his personality. Which

    characteristics may a person have? A person, as "a separate being" has an ego, a self; he is morally and

    rationally separate from any other person; he has a self-will [which might coincide or not with somebody's

    will]; a distinct culture, mother tongue, and an upbringing and background (childhood, adulthood) which is

    different from that of any other person, just as different as his unique fingerprints.

 

    For instance, you and I are two separate persons. Aside from the fact that we are both human beings, we have

    very few things in common. We do not share an identical moral and scriptural code, since we were brought up

    in different denominations. Neither do we share the same will, culture, mother tongue, upbringing, or

    background since we have not even met. In short, there is very little that we do have in common. Thus, we can

    hardly say we are the same person, nor can we say this about any other person on the face of the earth. We are

    unique.

 

    Last, but not least, one of the most important traits a person possesses as a human being is the fact he is

    made up of three Dimensions, according to I Thess. 5:23: "And the very Elohim of peace sanctify you oloteleis

    ["perfect, complete in all respects";Thayer's Lexicon] and I pray Elohim your olokleron ["complete in all its

    Dimensions; entire" Thayer's Lexicon] spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our

    Lord Jesus Christ."

 

      

 3. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PERSON AND A PERSON'S DIMENSIONS

 

    What the above verse from I Thess. means is that a human being, a person is made up in its entirety of a spirit,

    a soul, and a body; these are his three Dimensions. In other words, a person's body is not the complete person; he still

    lacks his spirit and soul. And viceversa. A person's spirit does not constitute the entire person; he still lacks

    his body and his soul. Similarly, his spirit is not a person, but a third of his person, which is likewise for his

    soul and body. Not even your body and your soul is your whole person; you still need your spirit to make a

    whole person. Thus, a person's olokleron, "complete, entire" being is made of these three Dimensions, and no less

    than three because Scripture says so.

 

    When we see a person vis-a-vis a person's three-Dimensional being, we may begin to clear our minds about their

    differences. Let me give you a "for instance" that I hope will suffice to clarify matters in your mind. Your

    body may wish to eat right at the time you are in church, but both your soul (made up of your mind, your

    feelings, and your will) and your spirit may want to remain seated where you are, enjoying the Lord's peace.

    Thus, you may appreciate the difference between a person and a person's three Dimensional being.

 

    Who is the one who wishes to leave church? Your whole per- son? No, it is only a third of your being, your

    body, being hungry, who signals you to leave. Both your soul and your spirit tell your whole person: "Don't.

    Stay until it is finished. Enjoy the Presence of the Lord."

 

        4. GOD'S THREE PERSONS OR ELOHIM'S THREE DIMENSIONS?

 

                 TRINITARIANISM AND UNITARIANISM COMBINED

 

    Trinitarians and Unitarians have waged a centuries-old war of words regarding paradoxical verses, i.e.,

    apparently contradictory ones, such as the following. But there is a way to unite the two extremes and still

    come up with the truth.

 

                                       ELOHIM IS ONE

 

    "Shma Israel, Yahveh Eloheinu Yahveh ekhad. Hear Israel: Yahveh our Elohim Yahvheh is one" (Deut. 6:4)

    [the translation from the original Hebrew is the author's.]

 

    "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true Elohim, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast

    sent." (John 17:3)

 

    "yet for us there is but one Elohim, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is

    but one Lord, Yeshua Messiah, through whom all things came and through whom we live" (I Cor. 8:5-6)

 

    "one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one Elohim and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all"

    (Eph. 4:5-6)

 

ELOHIM IS THREE

 

    "...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Mt. 28:19)

 

    "May the grace of the Lord Yeshua Messiah , and the love of Elohim, and the fellowship of the Ruach ha Kodesh be

    with you all" (II Cor./Korintiim Beth 13:14)

 

    On the other hand, in Gen. 1:26 it is written: "And Elohim said, Let us make man in our image, after our

    likeness..."

 

    It follows, as mathematicians say, from the two verses above that if Elohim made us in His image, after His

    likeness, what we are made of He is made of. Thus we can conclude by saying that Elohim also has three Dimensions, a

    Spirit, a Soul and a Body, since He created us in His image and likeness.

 

    What are these three Dimensions of Elohim? ADONAI, Elohim the Father, Yeshua, Elohim the Son, and the Ruach ha Kodesh of

    Elohim. It remains to be ascertained which Dimension of Elohim corresponds to which Dimension of His Holy Being. Let us take

    the simplest one to figure out. Which Dimension of the Three is the Spirit Dimension of Elohim? Why, the Ruach ha Kodesh, of

    course. Which Dimension of Elohim is the Body? Let us see what it says in Yochahan/John 1:1,14: "In the beginning

    was the Davar [the Word], and the Davar was with Elohim, and the Davara was Elohim...And the Davar was

    made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] among us..."

 

    The word Logos might be conceived as the tabernaculization, the embodiment of the Supreme Thought of

    Elohim, a Dimension of Himself. Since, as we will see next, ADONAI Elohim the Father is the Soul Dimension of Elohim, this Soul

    (Mind, Feelings, Will, Judgment, Ego, Social Ego, and Moral/Conscience) of Elohim needs a vehicle to be made

    visible, for putting flesh and blood, so to speak, unto His Thoughts; this carnalization of His Supreme

    Thought is Yeshua Himself. And Scripture says so in Yochanan/John 1:14: "...And the Logos was made

    flesh, and dwelt among us..."

 

    It is clear from Yochanan/John 1:14 that Yeshua is Elohim manifested [phaneros], made visible, and He is in

    such manner described in I Timothy 3:16: "And without controversy great is the mystery of Elohim-liness: Elohim

    was ephaneroze [manifested, made visible] in the flesh..." Even His name in Hebrew is extremely revealing,

    and that is precisely why Elohim«s enemy has struggled so hard to hide it under its Greek-derived translations, as

    Jesus. Yeshua comes from: "Y" (IHVH) plus "Yeshua," meaning "salvation/deliverance/victory." (See

    Vine«s Dictionary, Vol. 3, p 316; and Ben-Yehudah«s Hebrew-English Dictionary, p. 123).

 

    So, we may conclude that Yeshua is the Bodily Dimension of Elohim.

 

    What remains is only the Soul Dimension of Elohim; since there is only one name left, that of ADONAI, Elohim the Father,

    we may safely say that ADONAI Elohim is the Soul Dimension of Elohim.

 

ELOHIM IN THREE DIMENSIONS REVEALED IN THE TEMPLE`S STRUCTURE

 

    Elohim has chosen remetz (allusion) as a way to share these truths with His sons, the believers. One of these

    allusions is the Jerusalem Temple. We must not forget that both the Tabernacle in the desert as well as the

    Temple of king Shlomo (Solomon) in Jerusalem was made up of three Dimensions: the Kadosh Kadoshim (The

    Holy of Holies), the Holy Place (Makom ha Kadosh) and the Outer Court, or Court of the Women.

 

    There is no coincidence here that it is made up of Three Dimensions: It corresponds exactly with the three Dimensions of

    Elohim, and also with the three-Dimension man, His creation. The Holy of Holies is the place reserved for Yahveh, Elohim

    the Father. That is why only the High Priest could enter it, and only once a year, on Yom Ha Kipurim. Then

    there was the Holy Place, representative of the Holy Spirit. And there is the Outer Court, representative of

    Yeshua, who is the only One who put His feet on this earth, as the Outer Court is the

 

    most accessible Dimension of all three Dimensions of the Temple.

 

  

 

ELOHIM IN THREE DIMENSIONS REVEALED IN THE THREE GREAT YEARLY FEASTS

 

    Another remetz (allusion) Elohim used were His three great yearly feasts referred to in Vaikrah/And

    Called/"Lev." 23, when the eight feasts mentioned there were compacted into three yearly feasts, and one

    weekly feast, the Shabat.

 

    These three great yearly feasts were: Pesach/Passover, in remembrance of Yeshua the Messiah, who gave His

    life for us; Shavuot/Pentecost, in remembrance of the Holy Spirit, as it was in Shavuot/Pentecost that the

    Jewish woman called Israel was born again in the spirit; and Sukot/Cabanas/Tabernacles, in remembrance of

    ADONÁI, Elohim the Father. (See A Staircase to Heaven, by the author).

 

             ELOHIM IN THREE DIMENSIONS REVEALED IN THE LETTER ALEPH

 

    Even the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the Aleph, reveals the three-Dimensional nature of Elohim. The aleph (a) is made up of three strokes, as seen from right to left. The first, right-hand stroke, which never touches the Earth

    (represented by the writing line) is representative of ADONAI, Elohim the Father. Then there is a middle, long

    stroke from left to right coming down from above and touching the writing line, which represents the Holy

    Spirit. And the third stroke issues from the second stroke and puts its "foot" on the writing line, a symbol of

    Yeshua Messiah. One letter made up of three Dimensions. One Elohim made up of three Dimensions.

 

CONCLUSION

 

    To sum it up, Elohim, like us humans, made in His image and likeness, has three Holy Dimensions: a Spirit, the Holy

    Spirit; a Soul Dimension, ADONAI ("The LORD"); and a Body Dimension, the only one of the three who was made flesh,

    Yeshua. Once we thoroughly understand this, there is no need to entangle ourselves with the mistaken notion of Elohim's having three Persons.

 

    ADONAI Elohim, the Soul, a Third of Elohim, is not the olokleron, the complete Elohim. There still remains His Spirit,

    the Second Third, the Ruach ha Kodesh, and His Body, His final Third, Yeshua; and the same goes for each of the

    Holy Dimensions of Elohim. Just one Third of Elohim is not the Whole Elohim.

 

    In this manner, Yeshua, for instance, as a Dimension of Elohim, and not as a separate and distinct Person, does not

    possess a culture, language, background and upbringing which is different from the Father's, or from the Ruach ha Kodesh. The same thing happens to us as a triDimensionite being. Our body does not possess a separate upbringing or

    background from our soul (mind). Your body, dear reader, was brought up in the same house, within the

    same family, and heard the same words as your soul and your spirit--precisely because you are not made up of

    three different persons, but only three different Dimensions.

 

    Elohim is One, just you and I are one; and He is made of three Holy Dimensions, just as Tertullian first formfulated it,

    and just as you and I are made of three (unholy) Dimensions. It is only when we perceive Elohim as one Elohim made up

    of three Dimensions that all the apparent contradictions dissolve into nothingness! It is only when we realize that

    Yeshua is Yahveh made flesh that we begin to understand "in spirit and in truth" the nature of the Trinity. It

    is only then than Trinitarianism and Unitarianism come together and evolve into something higher: a

    three-Dimension Elohim. Let us hope this view helps Christiandom and even some quarters in Messianic Judaism understand our Elohim better.

 

 

 

        MESSIANIC RENEWED RABBI JULIO DAM IS THE SPIRITUAL LEADER OF THE BEIT SHALOM

        MESSIANIC CONGREGATION, IN ASUNCION, PARAGUAY.

 

        HE IS AVAILABLE FOR TEACHING  FREE SEMINARS ON THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS: 1) THE TRUTH ABOUT

        “ANTICHRIST” AND ARMAGUEDDON; 3) HOW TO ACHIEVE A CLOSER, MORE INTIMATE

        RELATIONSHIP WITH ELOHIM; 4) ADVANCED SPIRITUAL WEAPONRY AND DELIVERANCE.

 

        IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE HIM IN YOUR MESSIANIC SYNAGOGUE FOR ONE OF THESE TEACHING

        SEMINARS, OR COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE EMAIL HIM AT: jdam@beitshalom.org


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El Rabino Dam es el líder espiritual de la kehiláh Mesiánica Renovada Beit Shalóm (Familia de Paz/Completación) en Asunción, Paraguay, Sudamérica.

Ha escrito 'La Verdad Sobre El Anticristo Y Armaguedón'. Y varios libros ya publicados en español: 'Mi Amigo Hashém', '¿Jesús Era Un Niño Cristiano Que Iba A La Iglesia Todos Los Domingos? ¿Cuántos Errores Puede Usted Detectar En Este Libro? ¡Hay Cuatro!', 'Matitiáhu: Una Traducción Con Comentarios Judíos Mesiánicos Renovados', y una serie de libritos de comentarios de 'Romanos'.

El Rabino Dam además brinda seminarios gratuitos sobre los siguientes temas: 1) Judaísmo Mesiánico Renovado; 2) La Verdad Sobre El Pseudo-Salvador 'Anticristo' Y El Armaguedon; 3) Como Llegar A Ser Amigo De Elohím; 4) Armas Avanzadas De Liberación Y Guerra Espiritual; 5) El Hebreo Como Herramienta Para Entender Mejor Las Escrituras; 6) Las Diferencias Entre El Cristianismo, El Judaísmo Mesiánico y El Judaísmo Mesiánico Renovado; 7) ¿Hay Errores En El Nuevo Testamento?; 8) La Verdad Acerca de 'Romanos'.

Para mas información, Contactenos.


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