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Particulars of Christianity:
302 The Trinity


The Trinity: Survey Examining
Eternal Past Existence


Introductions
The Angel of YHWH as YHWH God
The Angel of YHWH as Distinct from YHWH God
Immediate Interactive Dialogue
A Consistent Expectation about Seeing God's Face
Survey Examining Eternal Past Existence
Establishing Eternal Past Existence
Distinction of the Spirit of YHWH
Ancient Jewish Recognition of Trinitarian Facts
The Trinity in the New Testament
Addendum 1 & 2
Addendum 3


Repeatedly throughout this study we have established the major proof against Modalism. Specifically, we have demonstrated from numerous, early, and prominent Old Testament passages that one consciousness of YHWH exists simultaneously with, verbally distinguishes himself from, and even at times intercommunicates with another consciousness of YHWH. This fact contradicts Modalism in large part since Modalism revolves around the idea that the different Persons of the Trinity are not really different persons at all but simply alternate roles or forms of the same, singular Person of YHWH. Consequently, if two consciousness of YHWH exist at the same time and themselves express their own awareness of distinction from one another, then it becomes difficult to sustain the Modalist concept that YHWH is alternating between forms at different times or that these distinctions are merely an illusion that results finite human experience. Consequently, Modalism crumbles.

However, there is one potential remaining refuge for Modalism. And that refuge springs from the suggestion that perhaps “additional” conscious figures of YHWH (such as the angel of YHWH) are “recent” emanations from an originally singular, eternal consciousness. In other words, the suggestion is made that there is only one eternal Person to YHWH God and other figures or persons of YHWH are new additions that came into being only a finite time ago in concert with God’s creative work. This concept is closely related to Arianism, which regards the “additional” persons of YHWH as mere created beings, although perhaps deeming them to be high-level sub-deities of some kind. However, a thin line of distinction remains between Arianism and Modalism on these points given that Modalism regards the “additional” persons, although recent additions, as part of God’s own Being whereas Arianism regards them as separate beings. Nevertheless, the Modalist suggestion that “additional” consciousnesses of YHWH are not eternal but are merely recent emanations is an attempt to recognize the scriptural facts described in the previous sections while at the same time retaining the denial of multiple eternally existing consciousness in YHWH. The result is the suggestion that figures like the angel of YHWH (or even Jesus Christ in the New Testament) are loosely defined as extensions of YHWH’s being. According to this view, as extensions of God’s own being, they are a part of God’s being in a direct way and in a way that is distinct from the rest of creation. (The rest of creation is not considered a part of God’s being.) However, in this view, these extensions were created and were not always present as part of God. Thus, although they are extensions of himself, they are not co-eternal with the original, eternal Person of YHWH. Coupled with this idea may be the additional concept that such “created” or finite extensions of YHWH’s being may at one time be folded back up into YHWH and cease to exist in any distinct manner.

Ultimately, all such Modalist concepts meet the same reckoning, as does Arianism. The central question is this: have the “additional persons” of YHWH existed eternally or are they merely extensions or creations that have only come into being at some point in time as part of God’s work in creation? Answering this question about their beginning (or their lack of a beginning) also answers any questions about whether they will one day fold into a single Person of YHWH God. For, if they have always existed consciously distinct, there is utterly no basis and no room for suggesting they will one day cease to be distinct.

Because of the issues that will be covered in this section, we want to be clear up front. First, we believe that YHWH God has always existed, never had a beginning, and was not created. Second, we believe that all three Persons of the Trinity also always existed, never had a beginning, were never created, and have always been (and always will be) distinctly three Persons, coequal and coeternal (as well as coessential, always sharing the same essence of being). And third, we believe that scripture dictates these truths.

However, as in all doctrinal issues, claims of “beginning-less” existence must be based upon clear statements in the text. For instance, suppose a non-Trinitarian is attempting to support their view that there is only one eternally existing Person to the Godhead and in the effort to do so they pointed to a passage using a Hebrew or Greek word for “everlasting” that can mean either eternity past or eternity future. Such a passage would not provide them any support. The passage simply cannot substantiate that the Father, for example, is unique in having existed forever into the past since the vocabulary might very well only be commenting on his existence never having an end rather than never having a beginning. And since the same Hebrew or Greek words for “never-ending” can be applied not only to the Word and the Spirit as well but to men also, the use of that particular Hebrew or Greek word with regard to the Father would not constitute proof of the Father’s uniqueness concerning the trait of having no beginning. Conversely, in offering proof that the Persons of the Word and the Spirit have always existed, never had a beginning, and were never created, it likewise does no good to offer passages using a Hebrew or Greek words that can mean either “no beginning” or “no ending.” Since the vocabulary might only refer to “no ending,” the text would not constitute inarguable proof of no beginning.

In addition, offering up proof from passages, which don’t necessarily prove anything, ultimately undermines the very position you are trying to prove. When the suggested passages are shown not necessarily demand the position, it creates the impression that the position is wholly unwarranted. Consequently, it is best to identify only those passages, which do explicitly and necessarily demand the particular conclusion rather than proceeding through a series of proofs that are ultimately indemonstrable, exaggerated, or empty.

For reasons such as these, it is important to identify exactly what does and what does not constitute proof that a being had “no beginning.” By avoiding evidences that are legitimately debatable, we can also identify and focus instead on the evidences that are undeniable. To accomplish this goal, we performed a survey of both Old and New Testament texts in search of comments that necessarily, irrefutably demonstrate eternal past existence. The survey began with a search for virtually any English word that might be broadly connected or conceivably used in a phrase that describes God’s eternal existence in the past. Those words included “old,” “olden,” “beginning,” “beginnings,” “ancient,” “for ever,” “never,” “everlasting,” “age,” “ages,” “times,” “goings forth,” “afore” (“gone afore”), “aforetime,” “beforetime,” “former,” and “eternal.” This English word survey then resulted in a list of Hebrew and Greek words that appeared for each English search term. There were 18 Hebrew words and 15 Greek words. A secondary search was then performed for all the occurrences of the Hebrew and Greek words, which produced a mammoth collection of verses.

Although a few telling passages were found (which will be discussed individually below), the bulk of these Hebrew and Greek terms as well as the passages they were found in ultimately revealed no definitive proofs concerning either the eternal past existence of God in any form or fashion or any supposed creation or coming into being of any Person of God in any form or fashion, regardless of which Person of the Trinity might be in view. This meant that all these passage could not constitute evidence for the eternal past existence of God in general. But more importantly, these passages could not constitute proof of the Modalist claim that only one particular Person of the Godhead is eternally uncreated while other extensions of the Godhead are recent or created.

To highlight this fact, below we have placed a list of these Hebrew and Greek terms accompanied by their definitions, example passages, and a notation explain why the vocabulary doesn’t constitute proof either way on this issue. Again, this is not to say that there are no clear proofs in the Old or New Testament that God and specifically all three Persons of the Trinity are eternally uncreated and have always existed. There is indeed such proof. It is simply not found in these passages or in these Hebrew or Greek terms, which might commonly be pointed to in error on this topic. And while up to this point, we have focused our attention on the Trinity in the Old Testament, in order to avoid being redundant later on, we will cover the New Testament in our survey here as well. So, without further explanation, here is the list of examples.

Old Testament (Hebrew)

05769 owlam
“long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world”
Psalms 25:6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old 05769.
Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old 05769, men of renown.
NOTE: The fact that God’s lovingkindness is said to be “of old” could be taken to mean that God and his love have existed eternally into the past. However, the fact that the same Hebrew word is applied to mighty men reveals that this term only necessarily indicates a long duration in the past, not the eternal past. Thus, this term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

06440 paniym
“face…as adv of loc/temp, before and behind, toward, in front of, forward, formerly, from beforetime, before”
Deuteronomy 2:20 (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time 06440; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims.
NOTE: As can be seen from Deuteronomy 2, “paniym” can refer to items that have a finite existence in the past. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

07221 ri’shah
“beginning time, early time”
“Ezekiel 36:11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings 07221: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
NOTE: While “ri’shah” can refer to the beginning of something, it is never applied to God, and therefore, it is never used to indicate any Person of the Godhead had a beginning.

07223 ri’shown
“first, primary, former (of time)”
Isaiah 41:4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning 07218? I the LORD, the first 07223, and with the last 0314; I am he.
Deuteronomy 19:14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time 07223 have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.
NOTE: As can be seen by the second example passage, this term can likewise denote a period long ago in history, such as the long-ago placement of a landmark, but not necessarily the eternal past. In contrast, although “ri’shown” is used to refer to God as “the beginning” in the phrase “the beginning and the end” in Isaiah 41, this no more implies that God had a beginning than the verse implies that God will have an ending. Moreover, this statement clearly identifies God as the beginning of other things, but does not convey that God himself had a beginning. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past nor would it indicate that God or any Person of the Godhead themselves had a beginning.

07225 re’shiyth
 “first, beginning, best, chief”
Genesis 10:10 And the beginning 07225 of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
Proverbs 8:22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning 07225 of his way, before his works of old.

NOTE: While “re’shiyth” can designate the start of something as in the alternate example, and it is applied to God’s wisdom in Proverbs 8, Proverbs 8 suffers from multiple problems that prevent it from being understood as a reference to any Person of the Trinity being created. However, due to the length of this list of problems, Proverbs 8 will be discussed in greater detail at the end of this survey.

05957 ‘alam
“perpetuity, antiquity, for ever”
Daniel 6:26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living 02417 God, and stedfast for ever 05957, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
Ezra 4:15 That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old 05957 time: for which cause was this city destroyed…19 And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old 05957 time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.
NOTE: Although “alam” is applied to God, since it can refer to finite items, like cities, that do have a beginning. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

06924 qedem
“east, antiquity, front, that which is before, aforetime”
Nehemiah 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old 06924 there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
NOTE: The term “qedem” can refer to the finite past, such as the days of bygone generations as in this example. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

06927 qadmah
antiquity, former state or estate or situation, before, origin”
Isaiah 23:7 Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity 06927 is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn.
NOTE: The term “qadmah” also can refer to cities, which have only a finite past. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

06931 qadmowniy
“former, ancient, eastern”
Malachi 3:4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former 06931 years.
NOTE: As with previous examples, “qadmowniy” can refer to cities, which have only a finite past. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

05703 ‘ad
“perpetuity, for ever, continuing future”
Psalms 104:5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever 05703.
NOTE: The term “ad” is here applied to the earth, which has not always existed but had a beginning. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

07350 rachowq
“remote, far, distant, distant lands, distant ones…of a distance, time”
2 Samuel 7:18 Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? 19 And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come 07350. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?
NOTE: The term “rachowq” can refer to items that have an unending future but nevertheless had a beginning in the finite past, such as David’s household and family having the greatness of royalty forever into the future which it did not always have. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

0865 ‘ethmowl
yesterday, recently, formerly”
2 Samuel 5:2 Also in time past 0865, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.
NOTE: The term “ethmowl” simply refers to past durations of time and it can be applied to finite durations in the past, such as the days when King Saul ruled over Israel. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

07218 ro’sh
“head, top, summit, upper part, chief, total, sum, height, front, beginning”
Exodus 12:2 This month shall be unto you the beginning 07218 of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
Judges 11:11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head 07218 and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh.
2 Chronicles 13:12 And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain 07218, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.
NOTE: The term “ro’sh” can mean “beginning” or “first” in the sense of the first Hebrew month of the year, the month that began their year. However, it can also mean chief in rank or leader, in the sense of a military leader. When the term is applied to God in 2 Chronicles, it refers to God as a captain or leader of the people. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not indicate that God had a beginning.

05704 ‘ad
“as far as, even to, until, up to, while, as far as…of space…of time…of degree”
1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for 05704 ever 05769.
NOTE: The term “ad” can refer to items that have a finite past and a beginning but will extend forever into the future, such as the kingdom of Saul had the potential to do. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

01755 dowr
“period, generation, habitation, dwelling”
Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations 01755, and Noah walked with God.        
NOTE: The term “dowr” denotes simply a duration or period of time and it can be applied to finite durations such as the days of Noah’s life, which certainly were not perpetual into the past. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

08543 t@mowl
“before, before that time, beforetime, heretofore, of late, of old, these days, time(s) past, yesterday, day before yesterday, recently, formerly”
Exodus 5:7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore 08543: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
NOTE: The term “temowl” refers to things that were previously or before just as in the example the Israelites were previously given straw to make bricks. However, as the example illustrates, this term can be applied to durations that had a beginning. The Israelites were not always making bricks with straw perpetually into the past. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

08032 shilshowm
“day before yesterday, three days ago…and idiom for ‘heretofore in times past’”
Joshua 4:18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before 08032.
NOTE: The term “shilshowm” is applied to things that have occurred in the past, such as a river previously overflowing its banks. However, this example demonstrates that the term can be applied to finite things, since the river did not always existed and did not overflow its banks going backward into all eternity past. Consequently, this Hebrew term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

06268 ‘attiyq
“ancient, advanced, aged, old, taken away”
Daniel 7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient 06268 of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire…13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient 06268 of days, and they brought him near before him…22 Until the Ancient 06268 of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
NOTE: In this famous passage in Daniel, the title “Ancient of days” is applied to YHWH God. Although the phrase inherently refers to the longevity of his existence, the term “attyq,” which is the word translated as “ancient,” does not necessarily or inherently indicate uncreated status, but simply denotes great age. Consequently, to the more skeptical, this title would not inherently prove that God existed perpetually into the past, even though the use of this phrase as a proper and monumental title strongly indicates that “eternal, past existence” is indeed the meaning this phrase is intended to convey.


New Testament (Greek)

744 archaios
“that has been from the beginning, original, primal, old ancient…of men, things, times, conditions”
Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time 744, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment…27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time 744, Thou shalt not commit adultery.
NOTE: The Greek term “archaios” generally denotes previous durations of time and it can be applied to things of a finite existence, such as certain sayings or laws among the Jewish people that come down out of the Old Testament. However, these laws had a beginning and their being said among the people of Israel also had a beginning. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

1074 genea
“fathered, birth, nativity…the several ranks of natural descent… an age (i.e. the time ordinarily occupied by each successive generation)…years”
Acts 14:16 Who in times 1074 past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten 3439 Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
NOTE: The term “genea” refers to the idea of parenting offspring or being born or generated and it also conveys the duration of time that each generation of men spans. It is in this sense of the durations of human life spans and generations that the term is used in Acts 14. Since human life spans and generations have a beginning, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past. In addition, the related term “monogenes” (Strong’s No. 3439) is applied to the Word but only in terms of the coming into being of his human nature. It is used in reference to the incarnation only and does not convey that the divine Word came into being at a finite point, was created, or had a beginning. We will discuss this point later on when we examine the application of the title “Son” to the Word of God.

4218 pote
“once i.e. formerly, aforetime, at some time “
John 9:13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime 4218 was blind.
NOTE: The term “pote” can be applied to finite things, such as a man being previously blind. Neither the man nor his blindness always existed. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

1597 ekpalai
“from of old…of a long time”
2 Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old 1597, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
NOTE: The term “ekpalai” can be applied to items, which have a finite beginning such as the heavens and the earth as they were before the Flood. These items were created at a certain time and had a beginning. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

3819 palai
“of old, former…long ago”
Mark 15:44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while 3819 dead.
NOTE: Like “ekpalai,” the term “palai” can refer to items of a finite past duration, such as how long Jesus had been dead on the cross. Of course, he had not always been dead on the cross. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

746 arche
“beginning, origin”
Matthew 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning 746 made them male and female,
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning 746, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning 746 and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

NOTE: The term “arche” refers to an item having a “beginning,” such as the creation of Adam and Eve. It is applied to Jesus Christ directly in passages such as Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:8 but in those passages its meaning is identical to the Hebrew word “ri’shown” in Isaiah 41:4, where it is used in the phrase “the beginning and the end.” As stated earlier, these statements are meant to convey that Jesus Christ is the beginning of other things, not that he himself had a beginning. Similarly, the phrase occurs in Revelation 1:8, where it is used in conjunction with “alpha and omega.” “Alpha” corresponds to the concept of “beginning” and “omega” corresponds to the concept of being after or beyond. These terms are referring to God as the source from which creation sprang and as being beyond creation, existing before it and beyond it. They no more imply that God had a beginning then they imply that he will have an end. And the same is true concerning their New Testament application to the Word. However, “arche” is used in a very explicit manner in another passage proving that the Word did not have a beginning, but we will cover that passage in detail later on.

165 aion
“for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity…the worlds, universe…period of time, age”
Luke 1:70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since 575 the world began 165.
NOTE: The term “aion” can be applied to items that have a beginning, such as the world itself. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

1336 dienekes
“continuously, continuous”
Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually 1336 make the comers thereunto perfect.
NOTE: The term “dienekes” refers to continuous or frequent occurrence and it can be used with regard to items of a finite duration. The sacrifices of the Old Testament certainly had a beginning. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

4413 protos
first in time or place, in rank…at the first”
Matthew 22:25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first 4413, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother.
Matthew 20:8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first 4413.
Mark 10:44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest 4413, shall be servant of all.
Luke 15:22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best 4413 robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
NOTE:
The term “protos” can refer to the first to be born or come into being, such as in Matthew 22:25 concerning the first brother to be born. However, it can also refer to simply the first in chronological order, such as with the hiring of the servants in Matthew 20:8, the first in rank, such as the chief in rank among God’s servants in Mark 10:44, or the first in quality, such as the robe given to the prodigal son in Luke 15:22. Consequently, the application of “protos” to the Word would not necessarily denote being “born” or “created” first. It could simply and just as accurately refer to his existing first in the same sense that God existed before creation, to his being supreme in rank (in the sense that God is superior in rank), or to his humanity being of superior quality to other men since he did not sin.

In addition, coming out of the Old Testament, the concept of the “firstborn” came to denote the chief among the heirs. In Deuteronomy 21:16, a commandment is given that “he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated.” The chief heir was given more property than the other sons. This chief heir was understood to be the “firstborn.”  In essence, this passage states that in the Law of Moses, the eldest had to be deemed the “firstborn” and younger sons could not be given this designation, even if they were more beloved. Of course, this rule was not always in existence, for even Isaac from whom the Israelites descended, was the younger son of Abraham but was treated as the firstborn and chief heir over his older brother Ishmael. The application of this term to the Word’s humanity would therefore seem to be yet another example in which the New Testament returns to the standards of the covenant of Abraham over the covenant of Moses. Similarly, the related Greek word “prototokos” (Strong’s No. 4416) is applied to the Word in Romans 8:29 and Colossians 1:15, 18. However, here this term clearly refers to Jesus as first in rank and as the chief heir, just as in Galatians 3:16 Paul specifies that the promise of Abraham was given to one singular seed, Jesus Christ, and that the rest of us only receive as “co-heirs” with him and through him. And Colossians 1:18 is clear that the application of “prototokos” to the incarnate Word is a reference to his position of preeminence “in all things,” not to his being created. Consequently, neither the term “protos” nor “prototokos” would necessarily indicate that the Word had a beginning, particularly in light of more explicit passages that demonstrate his uncreated status.

166 aionios
“without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be…without beginning…without end, never to cease, everlasting
Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting 166 punishment: but the righteous into life eternal 166.
NOTE: The term “aionios” can mean either without beginning or without ending or both. However, it can be applied to items that have a beginning, such as human eternal punishment and human eternal life. Those humans who receive such things certainly were not always experiencing them but only begin to at a certain point in time. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

3944 paroichomai
“to go by, pass by”
Acts 14:16 Who in times past 3944 suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
NOTE: The term “paroichomai” refers to the general concept of things transpiring or occurring, including things that have transpired in the past. It is applied to finite items such as the existence of nations and how long God has patiently endured their sins. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

2540 kairos
“due measure…a measure of time, a larger or smaller portion of time…a fixed time”
Matthew 8:29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time 2540?
NOTE: The term “kairos” can refer to a particular, appointed moment in time or a fixed duration of time, and it is applied to items that have a beginning point, such as the tormenting of demons mentioned in this passage, which was not to begin until a certain time. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

4181 polumeros
“by many portions, by many times and in many ways”
Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry times 4181 and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.
NOTE: The term “polumeros” refers to multiple past periods of time. It is applied to finite durations that have a beginning, as in the example where it is clear that God was not speaking through prophets into all eternity past but only began to do so after the creation. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

126 aidios
“eternal, everlasting”
Jude 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting 126 chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
NOTE: The term “aidios” conveys the idea of everlasting or eternal, however, it can be applied to items that had a beginning and did not always exist, such as the chains that keep fallen angels in the darkness of the abyss. These chains did not always exist, nor did the angels, nor were the angels always in such chains. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.

104 aei
“perpetually, incessantly…invariably, at any and every time”
2 Corinthians 4:11 For we which live are alway 104 delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
NOTE: The term “aei” refers to “perpetually” in the sense of frequency but it does not necessarily convey perpetual existence into the past. In the example, it is applied to the persecution of the Christians unto death, a phenomenon that only began at a certain point. Consequently, this Greek term would not necessarily constitute proof that God existed perpetually into the past.


Focus on Proverbs 8

The survey above focused primarily on Hebrew and Greek terms that do not inherently or automatically convey eternal past existence despite the fact that many of these terms do inherently convey great durations of time and even eternal existence into the future. The failure of such words to inherently or automatically indicate that God existed eternally into the past largely deprives the Modalist of any statement that would declare one figure of God uniquely to be eternal and uncreated. As we will see below, the remaining proofs for God’s uncreated, eternal past existence pose problems for Modalism because the statements apply specifically to the persons known as the angel of YHWH and the Spirit of YHWH, making them eternal and uncreated rather than finite or created extensions of YHWH. However, in the absence of passages that declare only one figure of YHWH to be uniquely uncreated, Modalism might turn to a few passages as indicators that other figures of YHWH are created. For these reasons, in this section we will turn our attention to Proverbs 8 and Micah 5, two critical passages on this issue. We will start with Proverbs 8.

During our survey, we promised to return to Proverbs 8 and address the reasons why it cannot be understood as an account of the creation of the Word or the Spirit of God. The central problem involves the simple fact that this passage is poetic personification, not a literal narrative recounting of history surrounding an actual sentient being known as “wisdom.” There are several indicators of this fact.

First, if we are to understand wisdom here as an actual sentient being rather than a mere personification of a virtue, then we would have to conclude that “prudence” is also a sentient being that dwells with wisdom (Proverbs 8:12).

Proverbs 8:12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

Second, according to similar statements in Proverbs 4:5-13, particularly verse 13, we’d also have to include that “instruction” is another sentient entity alongside wisdom and prudence.

Proverbs 4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. 9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. 10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. 11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. 12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. 13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.

Third, if this passage were literally recounting the coming into existence of wisdom, then we would have to conclude that prior to this point in time God did not have wisdom. Fourth, since verse 14 states that this being known as wisdom “is” also “understanding,” we’d have to conclude that prior to its creation, God didn’t have understanding either. Fifth, since chapter 2:1-4 similarly identifies wisdom as “knowledge” also, we’d have to conclude that prior to its creation, God didn’t have knowledge.

Proverbs 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures…

Sixth, Proverbs 9:4 states that wisdom has maidservants that are sent out to invite men, who would also have to be interpreted as real sentient beings.

Proverbs 9:1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: 2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. 3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, 4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him…

Seventh, Proverbs 8 makes it clear that wisdom is being depicted as a woman. Verses 1-3 begin by repeatedly establishing this gender identification.

Proverbs 8:1 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? 2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. 3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors

Moreover, chapters 1:20-21, 2:1-4, 3:13-15, 4:5-13, 5:4, and 7:4 all establish early on that wisdom (who is also understanding and knowledge) is being described as a female.

Proverbs 1:20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying

Proverbs 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures…

Proverbs 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. 14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. 16 Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. 19 The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. 20 By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.

Proverbs 4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. 9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. 10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. 11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. 12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. 13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.

Proverbs 5:4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:

Likewise, chapter 9:1-4, again states describes wisdom as female.

Proverbs 9:1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: 2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. 3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, 4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him…

This is extremely important since both the Word and the Spirit are referred to using the male gender in the Old and the New Testament. (Not to mention that suggesting the Word was a female entity who was later incarnated as a human male raises even more perverse implications.) Consequently, the coming into being of wisdom here cannot be interpreted in any way as a reference to the Word or the Spirit and we would still be without any indications that the Word or the Spirit came into being at some point.

Ultimately, since God cannot truly have been without wisdom, knowledge, or understanding at any point and since wisdom is described as a female while both the Word and the Spirit are identified as male, Proverbs 8 simply cannot be interpreted as an account of the creation of the Word or the Spirit. Instead, it should be understood as poetic personification used to compare the desirableness of wisdom and understanding in terms of the desirableness of women. In fact, the comparison of wisdom over the desirableness of women occurs throughout these chapters and even later in Proverbs (Proverbs 2:16-19, 5:3-8, 18-21, 6:23-32, 7:5-27, 9:13-18, 22:14, 23:33).

Proverbs 2:16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger 05237 which flattereth with her words; 17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. 18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. 19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.

Proverbs 5:3 For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: 4 But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. 6 Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. 7 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. 8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house… 18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. 20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger 05237? 21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: 24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman 05237. 25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. 26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. 27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. 30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; 31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. 32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

Proverbs 7: 5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger 05237 which flattereth with her words. 6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, 7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, 8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, 9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: 10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. 11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, 14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. 15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. 16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. 19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: 20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. 21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; 23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. 24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. 25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. 26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. 27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

Proverbs 9:13 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. 14 For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, 15 To call passengers who go right on their ways: 16 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, 17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. 18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

Proverbs 22:14 The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.

Proverbs 23:33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.

In the contrast present in these chapters, we understand why wisdom is being personified here, not because wisdom is an actual sentient being, but in order to compare the desirableness of wisdom to something men understood very well, the desirableness of women. Furthermore, the book of Proverbs is attributed to Solomon.

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; 3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; 4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

This contrast between wisdom and the desirableness of ungodly women was one of the principle struggles in King Solomon’s life who was known for both his wisdom and for his waywardness with strange women. Even the word for “strange women” (used in 1 Kings 11:1) to describe Solomon’s wives is identical to the word used often throughout Proverbs. (This can be seen from the Strong’s Concordance numbers denoted in the passages above and below.)

1 Kings 4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

1 Kings 11:1 But king Solomon loved many strange 05237 women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Since Solomon is announced in Proverbs 1:1 as the author of these chapters, it is necessary that we understand his reference to wisdom as a woman in terms of his own struggles with the desirableness of women in general. To ignore this and instead conclude that Proverbs was intended to narrate the creation of an actual sentient feminine being known as wisdom is plain error. As such, Proverbs 8 is neither describing nor providing any basis for the idea that the Word or the Spirit might have been created.


Focus on Micah 5

In our previous section, we saw that Proverbs 8 simply cannot and does not in any way refer to the creation of the angel of YHWH (the Word of YHWH) or even the Spirit of YHWH but must be regarded strictly as fictitious personification of the mental attribute known as wisdom. Consequently, the task of analyzing Micah 5 remains.

In Micah 5:2, we arrive at the critical assertion, which states concerning the Messiah (the “ruler in Israel” from David’s birthplace of Bethlehem), that his “goings forth have been from of old.”

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth 03318 unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth 04163 have been from of old 06924, from everlasting 03117 05769.

The Hebrew term for old here is “qedem” (Strong’s No. 06924), which we have seen already in our survey. As we noted before, it can be applied to items with a finite past, such as the days of David and Asaph, in Nehemiah 12:46, which certainly did not exist uncreated into eternity past.

Nehemiah 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old 06924 there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.

But more important than “qedem” is the Hebrew word for “goings forth,” which is “mowtsa’ah” (Strong’s No. 04163). Here is its definition.

04163 mowtsa’ah
from 04161; TWOT-893d; n f
AV-draught house 1, goings forth 1; 2
1) origin, place of going out from
1a) origin
1b) places of going out to or from
1b1) privy
The first item of note from this definition is that “mowtsa’ah” can mean “origin.” And herein lies the Modalist objection, and the Arian objection as well. Whether the Messiah is regarded as extension of God’s being or as a separate being, the basic argument is the claim that by using “mowtsa’ah,” Micah 5:2 is asserting that the Messiah had a point of origin. He originated at some point. He was created.

However, given what we have already seen concerning the history of the angel of YHWH we need to examine this claim further. First, as we noted a moment ago, “qedem” is the Hebrew word for “ancient” and here it is being used to denote time periods long ago from the point of view of Micah’s day. Second, from the definition above, we can see that “mowtsa’ah” only occurs twice in the entire Old Testament, once here in Micah 5 where it is translated “goings forth” and once more in 2 Kings 10:27, where it is translated quite differently as “draught house.”

2 Kings 10:27 And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house 04163 unto this day.

The difference between these two translations of the same word is drastic and it requires explanation. And so, we have to delve still deeper into the meaning of this word.

Third, we note from the definition above that although “mowtsa’ah” only appears twice in the entire Old Testament, “mowtsa’ah” is itself the derivative of another word, “mowtsa” (Strong’s No. 04161, noted in the second line of the definition above). “Mowtsa” occurs a total of 27 times in the Old Testament, which provides much more insight into its own meaning and into the meaning of its derivative “mowtsa’ah.” Below is the definition for “mowtsa.” Notice first of all that unlike “mowtsa’ah,” this root word does not convey the idea of “origin” at all. Instead, “mowtsa” simply means the general “act or place of going out or forth.”

04161 mowtsa’
from 03318; TWOT-893c; n m
AV-go out 7, go forth 5, spring 3, brought 2, watersprings + 04325 2, bud 1, east 1, outgoings 1, proceeded 1, proceedeth 1, vein 1, come out 1, watercourse 1; 27
1) act or place of going out or forth, issue, export, source, spring
1a) a going forth
1a1) rising (sun), going forth of a command
1a2) goings forth, those going forth
1a3) way out, exit
1b) that which goes forth
1b1) utterance
1b2) export
1c) place of going forth
1c1) source or spring (of water)
1c2) place of departure
1c3) east (of sun)
1c4) mine (of silver)

Fourth, Hosea 6 applies “mowtsa” directly to YHWH himself by name, in which case it clearly cannot and does not mean that YHWH God had an origin or was created.

Hosea 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. 3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth 04161 is prepared as the morning; and he shall come 0935 unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

Fifth, as can be seen in Hosea 6:3, the use of “mowtsa” with regard to YHWH is a reference to his coming to his people. In other words, it is a reference to his “going forth” in the sense of his movement or traveling, not in the sense of originating or coming into being. (Incidentally, here again we see that the New Testament teaching that God would dwell with his people is really originally an Old Testament teaching.) And since the application of “mowtsa” to YHWH himself does not and cannot be understood to refer to him originating at some time, the application of the derivative word “mowtsa’ah” to the Messiah should likewise not be interpreted as a reference to the Messiah originating or being created at some time.

Sixth, from other passages where “mowtsa” is used, we can see that this term likewise generally conveys the idea of journeys back and forth. In Ezekiel 12:4, for example, “mowtsa” is used to refer to those who “go forth” from their home into captivity.

Ezekiel 12:4 Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth 04161 into captivity.

Similarly, in Numbers 33, Moses records the “goings out” of the people of Israel. The word for “goings out” is “mowtsa” and the context clearly demonstrates that it is a reference to “journeys” or travels.

Numbers 33:2 And Moses wrote their goings out 04161 according to their journeys by the commandment of the LORD: and these are their journeys according to their goings out 04161.

Seventh, this meaning of “mowtsa’ah” in the sense of a journey or movement explains the divergent translations of “mowtsa’ah” as “goings forth” in Micah 5:2 and as “draught house” in 2 Kings 10. In both passages, “mowtsa’ah” conveys the concept of going from one location to another. In 2 Kings 10, it refers to the water coming from the house outward. In Micah 5:2, it refers to the Messiah’s ancient travels from heaven out over the earth. Consequently, although translated obscurely, the second usage of “mowtsa’ah” in 2 Kings 10 does inform us of how this word is meant in Micah 5:2 concerning the Messiah. Like its root word “mowtsa,” which describes YHWH’s coming to his people, “mowtsa’ah” simply describes the Messiah’s ancient comings and goings as he visited and interacted with men. It does not in any way convey that the Messiah originated or was created at some point in time. But it does at least strongly hint that the one who would be Israel’s Messiah, would be the same figure who came to and spoke with the patriarchs and the people of Israel in old times, the angel of YHWH.