Sunday, August 6, 2023

Post #3 The Doctrine Of God - How The Names Of God Point To His Triune Nature



    In our last post, we considered how the two main names referencing God in the Bible reveal His nature and power. Names in the Bible often speak to the nature of someone or particular acts or situations associated with their identity. 

    In the Old Testament, the general name "Elohim" (and its New Testament counterpart "Theos") give us access to God's power and introduction to His attributes such as "omnipotence". These names are translated by the general term "God". 

    The other set of names, translated "LORD", derive from the Hebrew name "Yahweh" in the Old Testament and its New Testament counterpart "Kurios". This set of names spoke of God's self-existence, transcendance, and thus His nature as the only being without need nor dependance. In today's post we will once again take a closer look at these two categories of God's names, noting how they point us to the doctrine of the Trinity. 

How the New Testament authors came to use the Old Testament names for God "Elohim" and "Yahweh".

    The underlying Greek word for "God" in the New Testament is "theos" (whence we get our word "theology" - i.e. "the study of God"). According to the Liddle and Scott Greek Dictionary, the noun "theos" derives from the Greek verb "tithemi" which means "to put, place, assign". Thus, God ("theos") speaks in similar terms of the Hebrew name "Elohim" to God's power establish creation, life, and salvation. 

    Here again we see reference to God's existence in how He uniquely can do things by His power that no other being could ever accomplish. Theologians refer to this contrast between God and everything else as the "Creator/creature divide", meaning there are things that only God can do and ways that only God can be in contrast to everything else. So much like what we saw with "Elohim", the Greek equivalent of "theos" speaks to us of God's unique power.

    Then of course we arrive at the second consideration of God's nature, already explored in the Old Testament Hebrew name "Yahweh" and found similarly in the New Testament name "Kurios"- i.e "LORD". This other common New Testament name for God, "Kurios", is a translation of the Old Testament name for God we've already considered - "Yahweh". The term "Kurios" was used to translate the Hebrew "Yahweh" in the Greek translation of the Old Testament - The Septuagint. Further, the New Testament authors would have had familiarity with the Septuagint, and thus when composing the inspired New Testament books, utilized this title as referring to the Divine nature of God Himself.

How the New Testament authors used "Kurios" and "Theos" to develop the doctrine of the Trinity

    As to the Triune identity of the Biblical God, it is interesting to note that these titles "God"(Theos) and "LORD" (Kurios) came to distinguish the Divine Persons of the Godhead, respectively the Father and the Son. The doctrine of the Trinity asserts three main ideas.

1. First, there is one God by nature.

2. Second, this One God exists as three interrelated Persons that are each truly God by nature, equal in glory, power, and attributes.

3. Thirdly, these three persons are distinguished by their personal properties that makes the Father "Father", the Son "Son", and the Holy Spirit "The Holy Spirit", all the while never eliminating the fact that all three in identity are One true God in being.

    As we consider the Trinity, the relationship between the Father and the Son is the starting point, and where these two names "theos"(God) and "kurios" (LORD) become relevant.

    We find this title "LORD", kurios, used some 400 times. It is the New Testament's way of distinguishing between Jesus and the Father in terms of their identity, while at the same time expressing their unity in nature and equality of glory within the Godhead. 1 Corinthians 8:6 is a prime example,

"yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him."

    As a final note, we must not neglect the the Person of the Holy Spirit. He is also designated in the Old Testament by the terms "Elohim", God (Genesis 1:2) and Yahweh "LORD" (Isaiah 63:11), along with the New Testament terms "Theos", God (Acts 5:4-5) and "Kurios", LORD, (2 Corinthians 3:16-17). These observations serve to show the equality of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son in regards to His being, while distinguishing Him as a Divine Person in His own right from the Father and the Son.

    In our next post, we will consider further God's existence by how human beings possess an inner awareness of His existence.

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