Q. Is Yeshua and the Holy Spirit God?
A. The Scriptures are very clear that they are, but there are many believers who have a different idea on this concept called the “trinity” (not a biblical term but describes this concept) but we believe the Scriptures are very clear about it. Contrary to popular belief, there are ancient Jewish views on this that are very consistent with how the “trinity” is viewed, and is basically a Jewish doctrine. It is found in the Tanach and the Torah and was not considered an idolatrous concept. It is also found in the Talmudic and Rabbinic writings. In the Torah in Gen 1.26, it clearly shows us this doctrine with the word “Elohim” which is plural and the pronoun “us” in the verse. The word ‘Elohim” is plural, and the singular form is “Eloah.” This word was also used in the Scriptures in Deut 32.15-17 and Habukkuk 3.3. This singular form could have been easily used consistently. However, it is used 250 times, while the plural form is used 2500 times. The greater use of the plural form turns the argument in favor of the plurality of the Godhead. The word “us” can also be seen in Gen 11.7 where we have the story of the Tower of Babel and the Lord saying, “Let us go down and there confuse their language.” This can also be seen in Gen 3.22 and Isaiah 6.8. Deut 6.4 uses the word “echad” for “one” which is a composite unity. Gen 1.5 combines evening and morning into “one” (echad) day. Gen 2.24 a man and woman become “one” (echad) flesh. In Ezra 2.64 we are told that the whole assembly was “one.” Ezek 37.17 gives us a graphic picture of two sticks becoming “one.” The Hebrew word “yachid” does mean an absolute unity or “oneness” and that could have been used.
God manifested himself as the “word” in 1 Sam 3.15-21 and Prov 30.4-5, and the “Spirit” who inspired the prophets. There is a very interesting teaching about the three-headed Hebrew letter Shin and the this concept of a triune Godhead. In 2 Sam 7.23 it says “God went” but in literal Hebrew it is “they went.” In Psa 58.12 it says, “Surely he is God (Elohim) who judges..(literally “they judge”). We know that Yehovah is God, but there is another personality called the “Angel of Yehovah” who is also called Yehovah. In Gen 16.7 he is referred to as the Angel of Yehovah, but in 16.13 he is called Yehovah himself. He is the Angel of Yehovah in Gen 22.11, but Yehovah in 22,12. In Exo 23.20-23 this angel has the power to forgive sin because God’s own name is in him and he has obeyed without question. This cannot be said of any other angel. In John 20.27 and Phil 2.5 Yeshua is called “God.”
There are plural descriptions of God in Ecc 12.1 where “creator” is “creators” in Hebrew. Psa 149. 2 has “maker” but it is “makers” in Hebrew. This is also the case in Job 35.10. Josh 24.19 has “holy God” but it is literally “Gods” and Isa 54.5 has “for your Maker” but it is literally “makers,husbands” in Hebrew. In Jer 30.5 it says “I have heard” but it should read “We have heard.”
The Holy Spirit (Hebrew “Ruach ha Kodesh”) is a third “personality” that comes forth in the Scriptures. The Spirit of God is mentioned in Gen 1.2, 6.3; Job 33.5; Psa 51.11,139.7 and Isaiah 11.2. In Acts 5.3 we have Peter telling Ananias that he has lied to the Holy Spirit. Now, if the Holy Spirit was just a force or a “power” how could Peter say that Ananias has lied to the Holy Spirit? You can’t lie to a “force” or a “power.” Believers were immersed in the name of the Holy Spirit (Matt 28.29) and you can’t be immersed in the name of an “it” or “force” or “power.” So, the Holy Spirit is a someone not a something. In Eph 5.30 it says that the Holy Spirit can be grieved, and in Acts 13.2 it says that the Holy Spirit speaks. In John 4.14 and 2 Cor 3.17 the Lord is called “Spirit.” In Rom 8.26 he intercedes for us and is called God in Acts 5.4; Gen 1.2; Psa 137.7 and 1 Cor 12.11.
When you read the beginning of many epistles Yeshua is listed with the Father as a co-equal, and if he wasn’t it would be blasphemous to say that. So, what does all this mean? God is one in essence (his being), distinct in “persons”, not some multi-faceted manifestation of one being, or “person” if you will. In Jewish mysticism like Kaballah, this multi-faceted idea of one person is taught through the idea of the “ten sephirot” or “emanations” but this is just man’s feeble attempt to explain the Godhead. The Father is unique (Dan 7.13), the Son is unique (Psa 40.7-8) and the Spirit is unique (Rom 8.26). All possess a full, equal share of the status of Deity (Matt 28.19-20; Gen 1.26; 2 Cor 13.14). All three have been revealed uniquely in Scripture as God; Deut 4.35 (Father); Titus 2.13 (Son); Acts 5.4 (Spirit). His nature is the composition of his essence (his being) having been revealed as infinite, a spirit, immeasurable, omniscient, all powerful, omnipresent and so on. His character is the “traits” of his essence, having been revealed to us as perfect, holy, good, just, merciful, truth, sovereign, love and light.
So, in conclusion, the concept of the “trinity” and the three divine “persons” of the Godhead is a biblical concept clearly taught in the Scriptures. We should not go beyond the boundaries set in how God describes himself. This is not an exhaustive explanation of all the Scriptures that teach this concept, but there is enough here to verify this teaching as biblical.
Q. In John 1.48 it says Yeshua saw Nathanael “under the fig tree.” What does this mean?
A. Being under the fig tree is a Hebrew idiom for peace, and more specifically, the Messianic Kingdom or the Atid Lavo. In John 1, Yeshua is looking for his “talmudim” or students. They didn’t choose him, he chose them. Followers of Yeshua never choose him, it is the Lord who finds us. He says to Nathanael, “an Israelite in whom there is no guile” which means he has no false estimation of himself and that he was honest. Nathanael asks him “How do you know me?” Yeshua answers and says in v 46 that “before Phillip called you (v 45) when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael knows the meaning of the idiom “under the fig tree” and immediately declares Yeshua a “king” by saying “you are the son of God.” Kings were seen as adopted sons of God based on 1 Chr 28.5-7. He then clarifies this idiom by saying that Yeshua was the King of Israel. The term “sitting under the fig tree” is an idiom for peace found in several Scriptures. Micah 4.4 says that in the Messianic Kingdom each person will sit under his fig tree, with nobody making them afraid. It will be a time of study, meditation and peace. If you are sitting under a fig tree you aren’t building walls for a defense. In 1 Kings 4.25 it says Judah and Israel live is safety, every man under his vine and under his fig tree during Solomon’s reign. You will see this concept in Isa 36.16 where an Assyrian envoy tries to convince those in the besieged city of Jerusalem to surrender and says that if they make peace, then each person can eat of his own vine and of his fig tree, and drink from his own water cisterns. Eating and sitting under the fig tree symbolized peace. In Zech 3.10 it says that “in that day (the Day of the Lord), declares the Lord of Hosts (armies), every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.” So, when Yeshua saw Nathanael “under a fig tree” he is seeing Nathanael as a righteous man who is in the Kingdom of God. Nathanael saw something in Yeshua and declared Yeshua the King of Israel through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is also possible that Yeshua was studying or thinking about Jacob’s Ladder found in Gen 28 and that is why Yeshua immediately goes into the imagery found there and ties Jacob’s Ladder to himself. in John 1.51.
Q. I want to explain to a friend about divorce. Is Matt 5.32 and 19.3-9 accurate translations because I have heard so many opinions?
A. The area of divorce can be a difficult issue to understand if one does not have the proper foundation. The basis for most ideas about divorce is that you are forbidden to obtain one, and if you do and remarry, you are committing adultery. But, is this accurate? We will try to explain what Yeshua, and even Paul, were teaching on this subject. The basis for understanding biblical divorce and remarriage can be found in Deut 24.1-4. The word for “uncleanliness” is “ervah” and it means an proper behavior, and can be translated as “indecency” in other versions, but it does not mean adultery or any uncleanliness found in Lev 18 because those were punishable by death so a divorce would not have been needed. The word used hear means anything that makes life together impossible. Staying together is going to lead to abuse, hatred and cruelty. Exo 21.10-11 gives other reasons for a divorce that clarifies what this word “indecency” or “uncleanliness” can mean. If a husband marries a woman he cannot reduce her food (abuse), her clothing (non-support) or her conjugal rights. He must support her. If he doesn’t, she can initiate a divorce if she is not supported by her husband. Deut 21.14 says that he cannot mistreat his wife. So, with that back-round, a divorce can be initiated if life together becomes impossible due to various, serious reasons. Adultery was punishable by death, not a divorce. So, what is going on in the verses you cited above?
Yeshua is freeing up Deut 24.1-4 from all the false interpretations of the religious teachers of his day, in particular the Pharisees from the school of Hillel. They were very “liberal” about a divorce. Yeshua says that if you divorce someone for any other reason than “ervah” of Deut 24.1 he causes her to commit adultery (“moicheie” in Greek) because it is not a biblical divorce. The Greek word for fornication is “porneia” and as you can see they are two different words, and porneia is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ervah. In the first century, people were abusing the meaning of the word “ervah” and stretching it to mean that if you were disappointed in your wife for any reason, you could divorce her. To do that was just “adultery” covered up by a divorce. Another school of the Pharisees called the school of Shammai disagreed with how the Pharisees from the school of Hillel interpreted this and Yeshua agreed with the interpretation from Shammai. He usually agreed with the school of Hillel, but on this point he did not. The common people, for the most part, agreed with what the school of Hillel taught because it was to their advantage to and more expedient for them to have “loose” divorce laws. Yeshua is giving the people what God originally intended through Moses.
One thing we need to remember, when reading the Scriptures and you see the Pharisees, or any group, you need to remember that there were many groups of Pharisees and they did not believe the same thing. To know which group is being addressed, you need to know what the different groups believed and what the context of what is being discussed is. Then you will know which group is being addressed. Paul was from the school of Hillel, so his views would have been in conflict with the believers from the school of Shammai, and we see evidence of this when he discusses the ritual circumcision of non-Jews.
Divorce and remarriage was always permitted if done according to the Scriptures. In Matt 19.3-9 this comes up again. The debate here is not over the right to remarry, all the rabbi’s and teachers, including Yeshua, agreed that you could. The argument is over the legal grounds for the divorce. Divorce, war and slavery was never God’s plan from the beginning because it does not reflect his perfect character as stated in 19.4. It is because of the hardness of our hearts certain things were allowed, and under certain conditions. There are boundaries for doing it the right way when you divorce, go to war and to have slaves. In Matt 19.8 Yeshua says that you had to divorce for biblical reasons that have been stated already in the Torah. We don’t stone people today for adultery, but that breaks the marriage agreement completely and that would be a biblical reason for divorce. Non-support, cruelty and refusal of conjugal rights and abuse (emotional, substance, physical) are other reasons, and there are more. That’s why the Lord uses the word “ervah” because it covers so many areas that can make life impossible together. In the English translations of the Greek, “porneia” is used and it is the equivalent of ervah. The problem is, some translations into the English will use “adultery” for “porneia” but that is the Greek word “moicheie” and it gives a wrong interpretation to what Yeshua was really saying. He is addressing some of the wrong interpretations of “evrah” done by the Pharisees, especially from the school of Hillel. As we have said before, Paul was from the school of Hillel and probably had to change his views on divorce as seen in 1 Cor 7. We know that he the Torah to the Corinthians (1 Cor 11.1-2) and that he wanted them to “hold on” to what he taught them. The word for “traditions” in 1 Cor 11.2 is the Greek “paradosis” which means the Jewish laws and traditions that did not violate the Scriptures.
The Corinthians were well versed in the pagan culture of Greece and Rome and they were getting divorces for many of the same reasons the Jews were, only worse. In 1 Cor 7.10-11 he says that it is not his opinion but “the Lord’s” (that means it can be found in the Scriptures, like Deut 24.1-4; Exo 21.10-11) that the wife should not leave her husband for trivial, unscriptural reasons, and if she has, she can’t remarry or else she needs to be reconciled to her husband. This is not referring to a wife who has a biblical and legal grounds for divorce, but to one who has just abandoned her husband on her own and there were no reasons for it according to the Scriptures. This verse is taken out of context by those who do not understand all the Scriptures. Remember, Paul is a trained rabbi who was an expert in Jewish hermeneutical interpretation and would have had all the Scriptures relating to divorce in mind when he instructed them. This was not his opinion, but what the Lord was saying through the Scriptures.
So, divorce and remarriage is permissible in the Scriptures for all cases where the marriage cannot go on die to some of the reasons already mentioned. If it continued, there would be abuse, cruelty and hatred and that is never good in a relationship. We need to remember one thing, the Lord is more interested in people than he is in the marriage. This should be entered into with much prayer and sound biblical counsel that is founded on the principles the Lord has laid down in his Word. This does not scratch the surface of this difficult subject. Many are suffering from a lot of guilt because they have been instructed wrong about this subject, so hopefully, this will help those who read this that may be suffering from this guilt.