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Tri-unity in trinity: Using biblical Hebrew to explain

By Oloruntoba Olatunji
26 June 2022   |   2:45 am
In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1). God is the omnipotent Creator! The name for “God” found in Genesis 1:1 is the Hebrew word “Elohim” (el-ō-heem).


In the beginning, God created” (Genesis 1:1). God is the omnipotent Creator! The name for “God” found in Genesis 1:1 is the Hebrew word “Elohim” (el-ō-heem).

The ending of this word (“…im”) is a plural ending (“plural” means more than one). In the English language “s” is a plural ending. We make English words plural by adding the letter “s.” Likewise, we make words plural in Hebrew by adding “im,” e.g., CherubIM, SeraphIM, TeraphIM, etc.

The Hebrew word Elohim is a plural word. Many times it is used in the Bible to describe gods (false gods) – “Thou shalt have no other “Elohim” before Me” (Exod. 20:3).

“And make no mention of the name of other “Elohim” (Exod. 23:13).

“… then will they turn unto other “Elohim” (Deut. 31:20; see also verse 18).

“God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other “Elohim” (Josh. 24:16; cf v 2)

When Elohim is used to describe the true God (as in Genesis 1:1), it is translated “God” though it remains plural in its form. 

Since the word “Elohim” is plural and since “Elohim” is sometimes translated “gods,” should Genesis 1:1 be translated “In the beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth”? How many true Gods are there (Mark 12:29-30; 1 Cor.8:5-6; Deut. 4:39; Isa. 44:6-8; 45:5-6)? Did three Gods create the universe? There is only One God, and there is only One Creator, and it is correct and proper to translate “Elohim” as “God” in Genesis 1:1.

In Genesis 1:1 the verb “Created” is a Singular verb, and it means “He (singular) Created.” Two answers may be given to the question, “Who created the heavens and the earth?” He Did (singular) because the verb means “He Created,” not “They Created.”
God Did (plural) because the word Elohim is a plural word!

So, there is a sense in which God the Creator is singular.  There is only one God and He is the Creator.  There is no other God.  It is also true that there is a sense in which He is plural. This brings us to our next point.
God Is A Plural Unity

Deuteronomy 6:4 says:  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord (singular) our God (Elohim-plural) is one Lord.” Because our God is One Lord, we can love Him with All our heart (Deut. 6:5). If there were more than one God, then our love would be divided among them and each one would not get our full devotion. God is One and He deserves and demands our complete, undivided love and devotion.

The Hebrew word “one” found in Deuteronomy 6:4 is a word that can be used to describe a plural (composite) unity (a unity made up of more than one component).  This is easily illustrated in Genesis 2:24 where the same word “one” is found: “Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.” Here we have a plural unity. It is a Oneness made up of two persons—a husband and a wife. They (plural) shall be one (singular) flesh. The two are one. 

Another example of a plural unity is found in Genesis 11:5, “Behold, the people is one.” The people (plural) at Babel were united together as One. It was a Unity, but it was made up of many people (a plural unity).

Just as Genesis 11:5 speaks of a plural unity (many people being One), and just as Genesis 2:24 speaks of a plural unity (two people being One), so also Deuteronomy 6:4 describes God in a Plural Unity. 

Later we will learn that this plural unity is actually a Tri-Unity.

The Work Of The Triune God In Salvation
The Father – He planned our salvation (Rom. 8:28-31); sent His Son (1 John 4:9-10); gave His Son (John 3:16; Rom.8:32).2. 

The Son – He did the actual Work of salvation (John 17:4; 19:30), was the Great Saviour (Titus 2:13-14); died to provide salvation (1 Tim. 2:6).

The Holy Spirit – He gives the saved person a New Life (2 Cor. 3:6); gives the saved person a New Birth (John 3:5; Tit. 3:5); garnishes and makes the sinner beautiful by placing him In Christ (2 Cor. 5:17); and thus provides him with the beautiful garments of redemption, sanctification and justification (1 Cor. 6:11, and see 1 Cor. 1:30).

Emeritus Dean Oloruntoba Olatunji is lecturer in Hebrew and Greek Biblical Languages

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