The Bible was written to be understood by the everyday common person. Both the Old Testament and the New were originally written in the everyday language of the original recipients.
James Moulton and George Milligan, in their work “The Vocabulary Of The Greek Testament”, page XV, write, “It is however, in the matter of Vocabulary that the new gains make themselves most fully felt, and prove most clearly that we are dealing with a book written in the common speech of its day.” Therefore, the common person could easily read and understand it.
It is only after thousands of years of religious tradition, misunderstanding of the ancient languages, culture, idioms, figures of speech and customs, misinterpretations and scribal errors that we find ourselves in a quagmire of confusion and why the Christian Church has assigned the term “mystery” to things they cannot explain and insist that they be “taken by faith.” So it is with the doctrine of the Trinity.
We all grew up learning mathematics in school, “the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations”(Merriam-Webster dictionary).
With mathematics we measure, calculate and explain the details of Yahweh’s creation. Mathematics is orderly and constant, it is based on rules and laws which are constant. The same is true for the creation. As I taught my boys as they were growing up, math doesn’t lie.
Yet, the doctrine of the Trinity teaches that 1+1+1=1 or God + Jesus + The Holy Spirit = one. It must be taken by faith, it is a mystery. Hold out a banana, a cookie and a toy to a child and ask him or her what you are holding in your hands. The child will say a banana, a cookie and a toy…3 distinct individual things. Every schoolboy and girl knows that 1 cannot be 2 nor can it be 3 and 3 cannot be one. At least not according to the math that verifies the constant laws inherent in the very creation that we are supposed to observe and study and recognize the loving Creator behind.
For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—are clearly seen, being understood through the things he has made, so that they are without excuse.Romans 1:20 (REV)
Every Hebrew child learned “Shema Israel“, from Deuteronomy 6:4, at a very early age. The Shema is at the very heart of Hebrew thinking.
“Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone!Deuteronomy 6:4 (REV)
The Hebrew word translated “alone” is echad, which can be translated “one, only and alone,” indicating numerically 1 and also singularity. It is a very clear and easily understood statement. Yahweh certainly knew who and what He was when He told Moses to write it and Moses did not object to the usage of echad when writing it. The Shema speaks to God’s sovereignty, His singularity, He Himself alone.
If we, everyday people, are to clearly understand Scripture as it was intended, then we should take it literally whenever and wherever we can without “mystery” and obscurity.
Deuteronomy 6:4, the very foundation of the Jewish faith, the word to Yahweh’s people, was communicated clearly and literally. For God to do otherwise would have been disingenuous and misleading as He desired their devotion and worship.
2“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.3 You must not have any other gods besides me.”Exodus 20:2- 3 (REV)
In the Septuagint, translated in about 250 BCE, the translators used the Greek word heis for “one” or “alone” in Deuteronomy 6:4. According to the BDAG Lexicon, heis has a range of meaning:
- a single person or thing, with focus on quantitative aspect, one.
- a single entity, with focus on uniformity or quality, one (as a unified body of individual. Author’s addition)
- an unspecified entity, some/one.
- marker of something that is first, the first.
Meaning number 2 can be seen in Galatians 3:28:
28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28 (REV)
We know that in the Body of Christ, the Church, there are still biological males and females. There still are people from “Gentile” Greek lineage as well as Jewish. Even free Christians and those living under tyranny and oppression. But what Paul is speaking about in Galatians 3:28 is that in the Body of Christ there are no classes of people, no ranking, and no one is any better or more important that anyone else. We are one, unified, one in purpose. Just as when an army moves into battle, they move as one. Or a football team when it moves down the field, we say they play as one. Yet we know that individually they are autonomous in nature.
One of the verses that is used to support the Trinity is John 10:30:
John 10:29 & 30 (REV)
29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”John 10:29- 30 (REV)
Are we to understand that Jesus is saying that he and his Father are one and the same in nature, or the same entity or parts of the same entity? No, because the word heis, used here in John has the same meaning as in Galatians 3:28. They are one in purpose, one in desire or will, unified as Jesus always did the Father’s will (see John 5:30 and 8:29).
This is no different than what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:8:
8Now the one who plants and the one who waters are one (1 Corinthians 3:8 (REV)
heis), but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
Paul (in context) is talking about himself and Apollos. Is this verse saying that Paul is really Apollos or vice versa? No, nor do the scholars say that. They are one in purpose, unified. Many of the translations say “one purpose”, “same purpose” or the like.
New International Version
The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.
New Living Translation
The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.
Berean Study Bible
He who plants and he who waters are one in purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
Contemporary English Version
The one who plants is just as important as the one who waters. And each one will be paid for what they do.
Good News Translation
There is no difference between the one who plants and the one who waters; God will reward each one according to the work each has done.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
International Standard Version
The one who plants and the one who waters have the same goal, and each will receive a reward for his own action.
The one who plants and the one who waters work as one, but each will receive his reward according to his work.
GOD’S WORD® Translation
The one who plants and the one who waters have the same goal, and each will receive a reward for his own work.
I once sat with a local pastor discussing different doctrines and sections of Scripture. We agreed on many, even most areas. Then I mentioned that I was a Biblical Unitarian. He asked me what I meant. I replied that I did not believe that the Scriptures say that Jesus is God. He then said, “I wish you knew my Jesus”. My reply was, “Oh, but I do, he is the one that I am endeavoring to be one with.”
So you also must consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but in union with Christ Jesus, alive to God.Romans 6:11 (REV)
Yahweh is one, only, alone God. Likewise Jesus is Messiah, Christ, the final substitutional sacrifice for all who believe…only, alone. He is the one that paid the price, who saved his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).