God is a Tri-Unity
Genesis 1:1 states, “God created”. The name God translates the Hebrew title Elohim. Elohim is the plural form of El. The usage of the plural noun Elohim in the statement is unique because it is joined to a singular verb bārā’ (created). Grammatically, there should be noun and verbal agreement (i.e., singular nouns with singular verbs, plural nouns with plural verbs). However, by placing a plural noun with a singular verb, it establishes the uni-plurality of God. Uni-plurality means that there is a plurality within the Godhead, but this plurality acts like one. This uni-plurality is again seen in Genesis 1:26a.
Again, God (Elohim) is plural, and the verb said is singular. Note what God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Us and our are plural pronouns, yet image and likeness are singular nouns. Also, us and our shows communication between persons. Lest anyone think that God is speaking to angels, the singular usage of image and likeness demonstrates that these individuals share in the same essence. Angels are created beings and do no share in God’s essence. The uni-plurality of God is underscored by the revelation of Deuteronomy 6:4.
The name LORD (YHWH) is singular while the title God (Elohim) is plural. When the term one (’echad) is used to join two objects (in this case YHWH and Elohim), it shows plurality within a oneness.1 The uni-plurality of the Godhead is further demonstrated in Genesis 3:22 and 11:6-7.
As to the identities of these persons and their number, Psalm 33:6 confirms that there are three: the LORD, the Word, and the Breath. The term LORD is the only personal name of Elohim, YHWH. This name is never used of any pagan gods or people in the Scriptures. It is derived from the Hebrew verb to be or exist. Hence, it can be implied that this name means the One who is or the One who exists.
The Word of the LORD is none other than Jesus, the Son of God (John 1:1-3; cf. 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:6; Hebrews 1:2). The term Spirit in the Hebrew (ruach) can also be translated as breath.2 The Breath of His mouth is none other than the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13a; 33:4). Much of the book of Job is poetic. Hebrew poetry is known for its parallelism. This parallelism is used to show equality. In Job 33:4, the phrase ‘the Spirit of God’ is parallel to the phrase ‘the breath of the Almighty.’ This shows that the Spirit of God and the Breath of God are equal or the same.
1. This is born out by examining other usages of the term 'echad. In Genesis 1:5, the evening and the morning are one ('echad) day. In Genesis 2:24, the man and the woman become one ('echad) flesh. In Ezekiel 37:17, two sticks are joined to become one ('echad) stick.
2. The term ruach (Hebrew) and pneuma (Greek) can be translated as breath or spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Inspiration (theopneustos) literally means God breathed (pneuma). 2 Peter 1:21 confirms the ministry of the Holy Spirit (pneuma) in the inspiration of Scripture. Also, Joel 2:28 prophesied that God, “will pour out my spirit...” Here, spirit (ruach) is breath. This prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, when God poured out His spirit/breath (pneuma) on the believers (Acts 2:2, 4).
Rev. Gregory G. capel, jr
Pastor of Trinity Bible Church, Administrator of Trinity Biblical School of Theology, and President of Beginning with Genesis Ministries