Chapter 7. OLD TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS
In the preceding chapters we presented the basic Bible truths about God. We have asserted that He is essentially one and that the fulness of God dwells in Jesus. In this chapter we will discuss a few Old Testament passages that some trinitarians use in an attempt to contradict these basic truths. We will examine these references to show that they do not contradict, but rather harmonize with, the rest of the Bible. Chapter 8 - NEW TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS: THE GOSPEL and Chapter 9 - NEW TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS: ACTS TO REVELATION will do the same for some New Testament verses of Scripture.
The most commonly used Hebrew word of God is Elohim. This is the original word in almost every Old Testament passage where we see the English word God. It is the plural form of the Hebrew word Eloah, which means God or deity.
Most scholars agree that the use of the plural word Elohim indicates God's greatness or His multiple attributes; it does not imply a plurality of persons or personalities. The Jews certainly do not see the plural form as compromising their strong monotheism. Flanders and Cresson explain that the plural usage in Hebrew has a certain function other than to indicate plurality: "The form of the word, Elohim, is plural. The Hebrews pluralized nouns to express greatness or majesty." 
The Bible itself reveals that the only way to understand the plural form of Elohim is that it expresses God's majesty and not a plurality in the Godhead, both by its insistence on one God and by its use of Elohim in situations that definitely portray only one person or personality. For example, Elohim identifies the singular manifestation of God in human form to Jacob (Genesis 32:30). The Israelites used the word elohim for the golden calf they made in the wilderness (Exodus 32:1, 4, 8, 23, 31), yet the Bible account makes it clear that there was only one golden calf (Exodus 32:4, 5, 8, 19-20, 24, 35). The Old Testament often uses elohim for singular pagan gods such as Baalberith (Judges 8:33), Chemosh (Judges 11:24), Dagon (Judges 16:23), Baalzebub (II Kings 1:2-3), and Nisroch (II Kings 19:37). The Bible even applies Elohim to Jesus Christ (Psalm 45:6; Zechariah 12:8-10; 14:5), and no one suggests there is a plurality of persons in Jesus. So the word Elohim does not indicate three persons in the Godhead. Only one being called Elohim wrestled with Jacob, only one golden calf was called elohim, and one Lord Jesus Christ is God made manifest in flesh.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image." (Genesis 1:26)
Why does this verse use a plural pronoun for God? Before we answer this, let us note that the Bible uses singular pronouns to refer to God hundreds of times. The very next verse uses the singular to show how God fulfilled verse 26: "So God created man in his own image" (Genesis 1:27). Genesis 2:7 says, "And the LORD God formed man." We must therefore reconcile the plural in 1:26 with the singular in 1:27 and 2:7. We must also look at God's image creature, which is man. Regardless of how we identify the various components that make up a man, a man definitely has one personality and will. He is one person in every way. This indicates that the Creator in whose image man was made is also one being with one personality and will.
Any interpretation of Genesis 1:26 that permits the existence of more than one person of God runs into severe difficulties. Isaiah 44:24 says the LORD created the heavens alone and created the earth by Himself. There was only one Creator according to Malachi 2:10. Furthermore, if the plural in Genesis 1:26 refers to the Son of God, how do we reconcile this with the scriptural record that the Son was not born until at least four thousand years later in Bethlehem? The Son was made of a woman (Galatians 4:4); if the Son was present in the beginning who was His mother? If the Son be a spirit being, who was His spirit mother?
Since Genesis 1:26 cannot mean two or more persons in the Godhead, what does it mean? The Jews have traditionally interpreted it to mean that God talked to the angels at creation.  This does not imply that the angels actually took part in creation but that God informed them of His plans and solicited their comments out of courtesy and respect. On at least one other occasion God talked to the angels and requested their opinions in formulating His plans (I Kings 22:19-22). We do know that the angels were present at the creation (Job 38:4-7).
Other commentators have suggested that Genesis 1:26 simply describes God as He counseled with His own will. Ephesians 1:11 supports this view, saying that God works all things "after the counsel of his own will." By analogy, this is similar to a man saying "Let's see" (let us see) even when he is planning by himself.
Others explain this passage as a majestic or literary plural. That is, in formal speaking and writing the speaker or writer often refers to himself in the plural, especially if the speaker is of royalty. Biblical examples of the majestic plural can be cited to illustrate this practice. For example, Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar, "We will tell the interpretation thereof before the king" even though Daniel alone proceeded to give the interpretation to the king (Daniel 2:36). King Artaxerxes alternately referred to himself in the singular and the plural in his correspondence. Once, he wrote, "The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me" (Ezra 4:18). In a letter to Ezra, Artaxerxes called himself "I" in one place (Ezra 7:13) but "we" in another place (7:24).
The use of the plural in Genesis 1:26 also may be similar to the plural Elohim in denoting the greatness and majesty of God or the multiple attributes of God. In other words, the plural pronoun simply agrees with and substitutes for the plural noun Elohim.
Still another explanation is that this passage describes God's foreknowledge of the future arrival of the Son, much like prophetic passages in the Psalms. We must realize that God does not live in time. His plans are real to Him even though they are in the future as far as we are concerned. He calls those things that are not as though they are (Romans 4:17). A day is as a thousand years to Him and a thousand years is as a day (II Peter 3:8). His plan - the Word - existed from the beginning in the mind of God (John 1:1). As far as God was concerned, the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world (I Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8). It is not surprising that God could look down the corridors of time and address a prophetic utterance to the Son. Romans 5:14 says that Adam was a figure of Him who was to come, that is, Jesus Christ. When God created Adam, He had already thought about the Incarnation and created Adam with that plan in mind.
Taking this idea a step further, Hebrews 1:1-2 says that God made the worlds by the Son. How could this be, seeing that the Son did not come into existence until a point in time much later than creation? (Hebrews 1:5-6). (See Chapter 5 - THE SON OF GOD.) To paraphrase John Miller (quoted in Chapter 5 - THE SON OF GOD), God used the Sonship to make the world. That is, He hinged everything on the future arrival of Christ. Though He did not pick up the humanity until the fulness of time was come, it was in His plan from the beginning, and He used it and acted upon it from the start. He created man in the image of the future Son of God, and He created man knowing that although man would sin the future Sonship would provide a way of salvation.
God created man in the beginning so that man would love and worship Him (Isaiah 43:7; Revelation 4:11). However, by reason of His foreknowledge God knew that man would fall into sin. This would defeat God's purpose in creating man. If this was all there was to the future, then God would have never created man. However, God had in His mind the plan for the Incarnation and the plan of salvation through the atoning death of Christ. So, even though God knew man would sin, He also knew that through the Son of God man could be restored and could fulfill God's original purpose. It is apparent, then, that when God created man he had the future arrival of the Son in mind. It is in this sense that God created the worlds through the Son or by using the Son, for without the Son, God's whole purpose in creating man would have failed.
In summary, Genesis 1:26 cannot mean a plurality in the Godhead, for that would contradict the rest of Scripture. We have offered several other harmonizing explanations. (1) The Jews and many Christians see this as a reference to the angels. Many other Christians see it as (2) a description of God counseling with His own will, (3) a majestic or literary plural, (4) a pronoun simply agreeing with the noun Elohim, or (5) a prophetic reference to the future manifestation of the Son of God.
Other Plural Pronouns
There are a few other Old Testament uses of plural pronouns by God, namely Genesis 3:22, 11:7, and Isaiah 6:8. A reading of these verses of Scripture will show that they can easily mean God and the angels (all three verses) or possibly God and the righteous (Isaiah 6:8). Any of the first four explanations given for Genesis 1:26 could adequately explain these plural usages.
The Meaning of One (Hebrew, Echad)
Without wavering, the Bible states that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Some trinitarians suggest that one in respect to God means one in unity rather than absolutely one in numerical value. To support this theory they appeal to the Hebrew word echad, which the Bible uses to express the concept of one God. The word apparently can mean both one in unity and one numerically, for Strong defines it as "united, one, first." Biblical examples of the word used in the sense of absolute numerical oneness are enlightening: a list of Canaanite kings each designated by the word echad (Joshua 12:9-24); the prophet Micaiah (I Kings 22:8); Abraham (Ezekiel 33:24); a list of gates each designated by echad (Ezekiel 48:31-34); and the angel Michael (Daniel 10:13). Certainly, in each of the above cases echad means one in numerical value. In view of the many Old Testament passages that describe in unequivocal terms God's absolute oneness (see Chapter 1 - CHRISTIAN MONOTHEISM, especially the scripture references in Isaiah), it is evident that echad as used of God does mean the absolute numerical oneness of His being. To the extent that echad does convey a concept of unity, it connotes a unity of God's multiple attributes, not a cooperative union of separate persons.
If echad does not mean one in number, then we have no defense against polytheism, because three (or more) separate gods could be one in unity of mind and purpose. However, it is clearly the intent of the Old Testament to deny polytheism, and it does use echad to mean one in numerical value.
A theophany is a visible manifestation of God. (See Chapter 2 - THE NATURE OF GOD.) Since God is omnipresent, He can manifest Himself to different people in different places at the same time. It does not take a concept of more than one God to explain any of the theophanies; the one God can manifest Himself in any form, at any time, and in any place.
Let us analyze some specific theophanies or supposed theophanies often used to support the concept of a multi-person Godhead.
Appearance to Abraham
Genesis 18:1 says Jehovah appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre. Verse 2 says Abraham looked up and saw three men. Some trinitarians try to use these three "men" to prove a trinity of God. However, verse 22 reveals that two of the "men" left Abraham and went towards Sodom, but Jehovah remained to talk with Abraham a little longer. Who were the other two men? Genesis 19:1 says that two angels arrived in Sodom that evening. Clearly, the three human manifestations that appeared to Abraham were Jehovah and two of His angels.
Some interpret Genesis 19:24 to mean two persons: "Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven." However, this does not mean one LORD on earth asked another LORD in heaven to rain down fire, because there is only one LORD (Deuteronomy 6:4). Rather, it is an example of restatement. Many passages in the Old Testament phrase one idea in two different ways as a literary device or as a means of emphasis. There is no evidence that after God's temporary manifestation to Abraham He lingered around and traveled to Sodom to oversee its downfall. The Bible only says the two angels went to Sodom. The NIV shows more clearly that Genesis 19:24 merely repeats the same idea in two ways: "Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah - from the LORD out of the heavens." We should note that both statements describe the LORD as one being in one place doing one thing - in heaven, raining down fire.
The Angel of the LORD
We have discussed this subject in Chapter 2 - THE NATURE OF GOD. Many passages that describe a visitation of the angel of the LORD also indicate that the angel was really a manifestation of Jehovah Himself. There is no problem with this; it is easy enough for the one God to manifest Himself in angelic form.
A few passages describe the angel of the LORD as a separate being from the LORD. Therefore, these passages must refer to a literal angel, whatever "the angel of the LORD" may be in other passages. Indeed it is possible to interpret most (and some believe all) the "angel of the LORD" passages to mean a literal angel and not a manifestation of God. Under this view, the passages that attribute acts of the LORD to the angel do not mean the angel is the LORD Himself. Rather, they mean the LORD performed the acts by delegating them to an angel to do. For example, the LORD spoke or the LORD appeared by sending an angel to speak or appear.
So there are two ways to explain the "angel of the LORD" passages in a way that is consistent with one God. First, we can agree that the angel of the LORD is a manifestation of God in some passages, but only an angel in passages that clearly describe two beings Alternatively, we can assert that the angel of the LORD does not describe an actual manifestation of God but only an angel who acts as an agent and messenger for God. The Hebrew and Greek words for angel simply mean messenger.
There is an interesting problem related to the appearance of the angel of the LORD to David at Oman's threshing floor (II Samuel 24:16-17; I Chronicles 21:15-30; II Chronicles 3:1). II Samuel 24:16-17 clearly describes the angel of the LORD as being separate from the LORD, yet the passage in II Chronicles says the LORD appeared to David. There are three ways to reconcile this. First, we should note that "the LORD" appears in italics in II Chronicles 3:1 in the KJV This means the translators supplied a word not actually in the original, but either implied therein or necessary for a proper English sentence. Possibly the subject of the sentence actually should be "the angel of the LORD" instead of "the LORD." Second, we can use an explanation similar to one advanced in Chapter 2 - THE NATURE OF GOD. Namely, it is proper to say the LORD appeared to David when He sent His angel to David, just as it is correct to say the LORD speaks to someone when He uses an angel, an audible voice, or an impression on the mind rather than a direct conversation with a visible manifestation of God. This is similar to prophecies in which the writer or speaker uses the first person ("I") even though the source is clearly God. Third, one could say that both the angel and the LORD appeared to David, with I Chronicles describing the former and II Chronicles describing the latter. In any case, these passages cannot show more than one LORD.
The most complex passages relating to the angel of the LORD are in Zechariah. Zechariah 1:7-17 describes a vision seen by the prophet. In the vision, he saw a man on a red horse standing among myrtle trees. An angel then began to talk to Zechariah. The man among the myrtle trees was identified as the angel of the LORD. Presumably he was the angel talking to Zechariah, although some think two angels were present. In any case, the angel of the LORD spoke to the LORD and the LORD answered him (verses 12-13), thus proving the angel of the LORD was not the LORD, at least in this passage. Then, the angel talking to Zechariah proclaimed what the LORD said (verses 14-17). Thus, the angel was not the LORD; rather, he simply acted as a messenger and repeated what the LORD had said. Zechariah called the angel lord (verse 9, Hebrew adon, meaning master or ruler), but he did not call him Lord (Adonai) or LORD (Yahweh or Jehovah). Of course, lord is not a term reserved for God alone, as Lord and LORD are; for one properly can address even a man by the title lord (Genesis 24:18).
Zechariah 1:18-21 describes two other visions. In his vision of four horns, Zechariah asked a question, the angel answered it, and the LORD gave a vision of four carpenters (verses 18-20). Then Zechariah asked a second question and "he" answered (verse 21). The "he" of verse 21 was the same angel that had been talking all along - the same "he" of verse 19. If "he" in verse 21 was actually the LORD, then the LORD was speaking in that verse by using the angel. So, in this passage, the LORD gave the visions and the angel did the actual explaining. This does not require the angel to be God.
In Zechariah 2:1-13 we find a second angel who declared the word of the LORD in Zechariah's hearing to the first angel. Again, this does not mean the second angel was God but only that he was transmitting God's message. This indicates that the first angel definitely was not God or he would have already known what God's message was.
Zechariah 3:1-10 presents a new situation. First, Joshua the high priest stood before the angel of the LORD and Satan (verse 1). "And the LORD said unto Satan, the LORD rebuke thee" (verse 2). The easiest way to explain this is to say the prophet wrote "the LORD said" meaning that the LORD said it through the angel. This is why the spoken words were "the LORD rebukes thee" instead of "I rebuke thee." Next, the angel began to speak to Joshua as if he were God (verses 3-4). Perhaps the easiest explanation is that the angel was a messenger transmitting God's word.
Finally, the passage more clearly portrays the angel as a messenger for God and not God Himself, because the angel began to use the phrase "saith the LORD" (verses 6-10).
The most logical explanation of the angels in Zechariah can be summarized as follows. Throughout the Book of Zechariah, the angel of the LORD was not the LORD but a messenger of the LORD. Sometimes this is obvious from the angel's use of phrases such as "thus saith the LORD," while other verses omit this qualifying or explanatory phrase. The LORD spoke in all these passages by using His angel. There are other possible explanations, such as the following three: The angel was not the LORD but had the name of the LORD invested in him; the angel was not the LORD in chapters 1 and 2 but was the LORD in chapter 3; or the LORD spoke directly in Zechariah 3:2 and 3:4 while the angel stood by silently. In sum, we do not need to accept two persons of God to explain the "angel of the LORD" passages. Certainly the Jews have no problem in reconciling the angel of the LORD with their belief in absolute monotheism.
The Son and Other References To the Messiah
There are a number of references to the Son in the Old Testament. Do they signify a duality in the Godhead? Do they prove a pre-existent Son? Let us analyze these passages to answer these questions.
Psalm 2:2 speaks of the LORD and His anointed. Psalm 2:7 says, "I will declare the decree: the LORD bath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Psalm 8:4-5 speaks of the son of man. Psalm 45:6-7 and Psalm 110:1 also contain well known references to Jesus Christ, the former describing Him both as God and as an anointed man and the latter describing Him as David's Lord. Proverbs 30:4, Isaiah 7:14, and Isaiah 9:6 also mention the Son. However, a reading of these verses of Scripture will show that each of them is prophetic in nature. Chapters 1 and 2 of Hebrews quote every one of the above passages in the Psalms and describe them as prophecy fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
Thus the passages in the Psalms are not conversations between two persons in the Godhead but are prophetic portraits of God and the man Christ. They describe God begetting and anointing the man Christ (Psalm 2:2-7), the man Christ submitting to the will of God and becoming a sacrifice for sin (Psalm 45:6-7), and God glorifying and giving power to the man Christ (Psalm 110:1). All of this came to pass when God manifested Himself in flesh as Jesus Christ. (For more on supposed conversations in the Godhead, see Chapter 8 - NEW TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS: THE GOSPEL. For a full explanation of the right hand of God mentioned in Psalm 110:1, see Chapter 9 - NEW TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS: ACTS TO REVELATION.)
The passages in Isaiah are clearly prophetic since they are in the future tense. In sum, the Old Testament references to the Son look forward into the future to the day when the Son would be begotten. They do not speak of two Gods or two persons in God, but rather of the humanity in which God would incarnate Himself. Similarly, other Old Testament references to the Messiah are prophetic and represent Him as both God and man (Isaiah 4:2; 42:1-7; Jeremiah 23:4-8; 33:14-26; Micah 5:1-5; Zechariah 6:12-13). Any duality seen in these verses of Scripture indicates a distinction between God and the humanity of the Messiah.
For a discussion of the fourth man in the fire (Daniel 3:25), see Chapter 2 - THE NATURE OF GOD. That passage does not refer to the Son of God begotten in the womb of Mary, but to an angel, or possibly (but doubtfully) to a temporary theophany of God.
The Word of God
No one can maintain seriously that the Word of God in the Old Testament is a second person in the Godhead. God's Word is a part of Him and cannot be separated from Him. The Word of God does not imply a distinct person any more than a man's word implies that he is composed of two persons. Psalm 107:20 says, "He sent his word." Isaiah 55:11 says, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth." From these verses of Scripture, it is obvious that God's Word is something that belongs to Him and is an expression that comes from Him, not a separate person in the Godhead.
The Wisdom of God
Some see a distinction of persons in descriptions of the wisdom of God, particularly those in Proverbs 1:20-33, 8:1-36, and 9:1-6. However, these passages of Scripture merely personify wisdom as a literary or poetic device. We are all familiar with many examples in literature where an author personifies an idea, emotion, or other intangible thing for the sake of emphasis, vividness, and illustration. The utter fallacy of trying to make the Bible's literary personification of wisdom imply a personal distinction in God is plain for all to see, for all the above passages personify wisdom as a woman! So if wisdom is the second person in the Godhead, the second person is female.
The proper way to view wisdom in the Bible is to regard it as an attribute of God - part of His omniscience. He used His wisdom in creating the world (Psalm 136:5; Proverb 3:19; Jeremiah 10:12). Just as a man's wisdom is not a separate person from himself, so God's wisdom is not a separate person from God. Wisdom is something that God possesses and something that He can impart to man.
Of course, since Christ is God manifested in flesh, all the wisdom of God is in Christ (Colossians 2:3). He is the wisdom of God as well as the power of God (I Corinthians 1:24). This does not mean Christ is a separate person from God, but rather that in Christ dwells all of God's wisdom and power (along with God's other attributes). Through Christ, God reveals His wisdom and power to man. Wisdom is simply an attribute of God described in the Old Testament and revealed through Christ in the New Testament.
Holy, Holy, Holy
Does this threefold repetition in Isaiah 6:3 somehow hint that God is a trinity? We do not think this theory is very credible. Double or triple repetition was a common Hebrew literary practice, and it occurs many times in Scripture. Basically, it was used to give added emphasis. For example, Jeremiah 22:29 says, "O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD." Certainly this verse of Scripture does not indicate three earths. (If the triple repetition of the word holy has any other significance, it is a suggestion of the past, present, and future existence of God recorded in Revelation 4:8.) We conclude that "holy, holy, holy" strongly emphasizes God's holiness and does not imply a plurality of persons.
Repititions of God or Lord
Is there evidence of a plurality of persons from repetitions of God or LORD in the same verse, such as threefold repetitions (Numbers 6:24-26; Deuteronomy 6:4) and twofold repetitions (Genesis 19:24; Daniel 9:17; Hosea 1:7)? A reading of these passages of Scripture will show they do not indicate a plurality in the deity. Let us analyze them briefly.
Numbers 6:24-26 is simply a threefold blessing. Deuteronomy 6:4 says God is one. Two of the repetitions in that verse are "LORD God." Does this mean two persons of God are indicated every time the phrase LORD God appears? Of course not. It just identifies the one God as none other than the LORD (Jehovah) worshiped by Israel. We have already discussed Genesis 19:24 in this chapter. In Daniel 9:17, the prophet merely speaks of God in the third person, and in Hosea 1:7 God speaks of Himself in the third person. This is not unusual, for in the New Testament Jesus spoke of Himself in the third person (Mark 8:38). In summary, all passages of Scripture that repeat the words God, LORD, or some other name for God follow common, normal usage. None of them suggests a plurality in the Godhead.
The Spirit of the LORD
A number of Old Testament passages mention the Spirit of the LORD. This presents no problem, for God is a Spirit. The phrase "Spirit of the LORD" merely emphasizes that the LORD God is indeed a Spirit. It further emphasizes the LORD's work among men and upon individuals. It does not suggest a plurality of persons any more than when we speak of a man's spirit. Indeed, the LORD makes this plain when He speaks of "my spirit" (Isaiah 59:21).
The LORD God and His Spirit
This phrase found in Isaiah 48:16 does not indicate two persons any more than the phrases "a man and his spirit" or "a man and his soul." For example, the rich fool spoke to his soul (Luke 12:19), but this does not mean he consisted of two persons. "LORD God" means the sum total of God in all His glory and transcendence, while "his Spirit" refers to that aspect of Him with which the prophet has come into contact and which has moved upon the prophet. The very next verse (Isaiah 48:17) speaks of the "Holy One of Israel," not the holy two or holy three. Isaiah 63:7-11 talks about the LORD and "his holy Spirit," while Isaiah 63:14 speaks of "the Spirit of the LORD." Clearly, no personal differentiation exists between Spirit and LORD. (See Chapter 9 - NEW TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS: ACTS TO REVELATION for many New Testament examples in which and does not mean a distinction between persons.) The LORD is a Spirit, and the Spirit of the LORD is simply God in action.
The Ancient of Days And the Son of Man
Daniel saw a vision recorded in Daniel 7:9-28, in which he saw two figures. The first being Daniel saw was called the Ancient of Days. He had a garment as white as snow, hair like pure wool, a throne like fire, and wheels like fire. He sat upon the throne and judged thousands upon thousands of people. Then Daniel saw "one like the Son of man" coming to the Ancient of Days. This man was given an everlasting dominion over all people and an everlasting kingdom. Some trinitarians interpret this to be a vision of God the Father and God the Son. However, let us look at the account a little more closely.
In the Book of Revelation, it appears that the Ancient of Days is none other than Jesus Christ Himself! Revelation 1:12-18 describes Jesus Christ as clothed in a garment, with hair as white as wool, eyes like a flame of fire, and feet like fine brass as if they burned in a furnace. Moreover, many scriptural passages explain that Jesus Christ the Son of man will be the judge of all men (Matthew 25:31-32; John 5:22, 27; Romans 2:16; II Corinthians 5:10). Furthermore, Jesus will sit upon the throne (Chapter 4). In Daniel's vision, the horn (antichrist) made war until the Ancient of Days came (Daniel 7:21-22), but we know that Jesus Christ will come back to earth and destroy the armies of the antichrist (Revelation 19:11-21). In sum, we find that Jesus in Revelation fits the description of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7. If the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7 is the Father, then Jesus must be the Father.
In Daniel 7:13, one like the Son of man comes to the Ancient of Days and receives dominion from Him. Who is this? The scene appears to be a vision of a man who represents the saints of God. This explanation is probably the one most consistent with the chapter. Daniel received the interpretation of the vision beginning with verse 16. Verse 18 says the saints of the most High shall possess the kingdom for ever and ever. Then verse 22 says the saints will possess the kingdom. Verses 26-27 say the kingdom and dominion (same words as in verse 13) shall be given to the saints of the most High, and this kingdom is an everlasting one. Of course, verse 27 concludes by saying all dominions are ultimately under God.
Daniel 7:16-28, therefore, gives us the interpretation of 7:9-14. By its own terms, the chapter identifies the "one like the Son of man" as a representation of the saints of God. The NIV translates the phrase in verse 13 as "one like a son of man." We should note the lack of the definite article (the) in this translation, which reflects a lack of the same in the original language. We should also bear in mind that in the Old Testament "son of man" can refer to any individual man (Ezekiel 2:1) or to mankind in general (Psalm 8:4; 146:3; Isaiah 51:12). In Psalm 80:17 the phrase connotes a man to whom God has given sovereignty and power. So the interpretation that "son of man" represents the saints is consistent with the use of the phrase in other passages of Scripture.
Some equate Daniel's "one like the Son of man" with Jesus Christ, since Jesus often called Himself the Son of man. However, this identification ignores the interpretation that Daniel 7 itself gives. If Daniel meant to refer to Christ, why did he not call Him the Messiah as he did in 9:25? Furthermore, even if the "Son of man" in Daniel were Jesus Christ, "one like the Son of man" need not be. In fact, the phrasing could indicate that the man in Daniel's vision is not Jesus, but someone like Him, namely the saints or the church. We know that the saints are sons of God, joint heirs with Christ, brothers of Christ, conformed to the image of Christ, and like Christ (Romans 8:17, 29; I John 3:1-2).
In any event, we must remember that Daniel's vision was prophetic in nature and not descriptive of an actual situation in his time. If we assume that the man in Daniel 7 is Jesus Christ, then at most the vision shows Jesus' two roles of Father and Son. It cannot teach two persons because the Ancient of Days is identified as Jesus in His divinity. At most this passage may portray the dual nature and role of Jesus, much like the vision in Revelation 5 of the One on the throne (God in all His deity) and the Lamb (Jesus in His human, sacrificial role). (See Chapter 9 - NEW TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS: ACTS TO REVELATION for a full explanation of this passage in Revelation.)
In conclusion, "one like the Son of man" or "one like a son of man" in Daniel 7 represents the saints who will inherit the kingdom of God. If it does refer to Jesus Christ, then it describes Him in His human role just as the Ancient of Days describes Him in His divine role.
Fellow of Jehovah
In Zechariah 13:7, the LORD spoke of the Messiah and called Him "the man that is my fellow." The key to understanding this verse of Scripture is to realize that the LORD described a "man." That is, He was speaking about the man Christ Jesus, saying this man would be His companion or one close to Him. This verse does not describe one God calling another God "my fellow God." This is even plainer in the NIV and TAB. The former translates the phrase as "the man who is close to me," while the latter has it as "the man who is My associate." Only the sinless man Christ Jesus could approach the holy Spirit of God and be truly close to God. That is why I Timothy 2:5 says, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Of course, through Christ, we can all achieve fellowship with God.
The Old Testament does not teach or imply a plurality of persons in the Godhead. We can satisfactorily explain all Old Testament passages used by some trinitarians to teach a plurality of persons, harmonizing them with the many other passages that unequivocally teach strict monotheism. Certainly the Jews have found no difficulty in accepting all the Old Testament as God's Word and at the same time adhering to their belief in one indivisible God. From start to finish, and without contradiction, the Old Testament teaches the beautiful truth of one God.
The Oneness of God