Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming on him. Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” — Matthew 3:16,17.
The above verses are often cited as supportive of the trinity or oneness (modalist) doctrines. They are often presented along with other scriptures as “expressing the concept of the Trinity.” Some use the above verses in connection with Matthew 28:19 and claim that it proves that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all equal.
Matthew 28:19 & the Baptismal Name
Matthew 28:19 – One Name
According to one trinitarian author regarding Matthew 3:16,17, “What clearer and better proof can we have than this that in the Godhead there are three Persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?” Is this true? Do we find anything at all about the trinitarian concept in the verses cited?
Another author claims: “Matthew 3:16-17 is perhaps one of the most beautiful pictures of the Trinity to be found in Scripture. It is in this passage that the full distinctions and full unity of the three are clearly defined.” In reality, there is nothing at all in Matthew 3:16,17 about a trinity; no such concept is presented or defined in Matthew 3:16,17.
One claims regarding Matthew 3:16,17: “At the baptism of Jesus, we witness one of the clearest pictures of the Trinity.” One of the “clearest pictures”? Since there is nothing at all in Matthew 3:16,17 about a triune God, the alleged one of the clearest pictures of trinity has to be conjured up by means of human imagination, assumptions of what is imagined have to be then added to, and read into, what is stated, before one can “see” any picture of a triune God at all in Matthew 3:16,17, and then what is seen is not what the scripture says, but rather what is being imagined, assumed and added to the scripture.
One trinitarian states: “The Trinity is expressed at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17), in which we see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit present.” While we do find that the only true God is there, and we find the holy spiri of the only true God also mentioned, and the son of the only true God mentioned, what we do not find in Matthew 3:16,17 is any mention of these as constituting three persons of the only true God. Such has to be assumed over what is actually stated.
Another author states regarding Matthew 3:16,17: “As far as I know, this event marks the first manifestation of all three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The word trinity is never used in scripture, but the doctrine is clearly taught.” In actuality, in all the scriptures that trinitarians present, we still find no doctrine of the trinity “clearly taught”. In all the scriptures presented, the trinitarian still has to call upon the spirit of human imagination to formulate a lot of assumptions beyond what is stated, and the trinitarian has to read those assumptions into the scriptures presented.
At most, all we can find in the two verses are that Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God and the God and Father of Jesus are all mentioned. Anything beyond this has to be conjured up in the imagination of men. Indeed, this is what many trinitarians and oneness believers do. Trinitarians, for instance, use human imagination so as to “see” in this that “Jesus” who was baptized by John is the second alleged person of their triune “God”, and that the “Spirit of God” refers to their third person of their triune God, while the “voice out the heavens” is imagined to be the voice of their first person of their triune God. Oneness believers simply imagine that all three are the same person in three different modes or manifestations. There is definitely nothing at all in the verses that “clearly”, or even vaguely, defines “God” as being triune. Another, after quoting Genesis 1:26 and Matthew 3:16,17, states by using a great deal of human imagination: “Here all 3 of the persons in the Godhead are present proving that the doctrine of the trinity is true.”
In Matthew 3:16,17, however, what do we find? Do we find anything that says that these three are all persons of one God, or that they are all one God? Absolutely not! Like all scriptures thought to present such a doctrines, such has to be imagined in the spirit of human imagination. We do find that “God” is presented as one person. How? In the phrase “spirit of God”, who is “God” being presented as? Is the spirit presented as being the spirit of the Father, the Spirit, and the Son? Hardly; such would be self-contradictory. Isaiah 61:1 reveals that it is the spirit of one person, Jehovah (Yahweh), who anoints the Messiah. Most would have to agree that “God” in this phrase, “spirit of God”, refers to the one person who speaks in Matthew 3:17, that is the God and Father of Jesus. Thus, the scripture itself identifies only one person as being “God.”
What we do not find in these verses (or any other verses in the Bible) is any thought that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the God and Father of Jesus are all three one God, or that there are three persons or manifestations all of whom are the one God. Nor do we find anything in the verses, or any other verses in the entire Bible, that “that the doctrine of the trinity is true.” What is actually being presented as proof that the trinity is true is what has to be imagined, assumed, added to, and read into, any and all verses that are alleged to prove that the trinity is true (The same goes for the oneness dogma).
Matthew 3:16,17, however, does reveal the sinless nature of Jesus. Jesus presented himself to God, not just as we might do, but as being the sacrificial lamb of God who was take away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) What was needed for that sacrifice was a proven loyal human, not God, since all mankind had been condemned in the disobedience of man. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Timothy 2:5,6) Once one understands the Biblical basis of the atonement, one can see more clearly that the thought of making Jesus into being a person of his God becomes blasphemous.Click here for reuse options!
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