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Speaking of the “Let us make man in our image” in Genesis 1, Kelly cites George A.F. Knight challenging the modern tendency to deny any trinitarian hint in this text:

Let us dismiss out of hand some the ‘explanations’ of this peculiar phenomenon of a plural word for God made by exegetes whose premises were consciously or unconsciously firmly planted on the speculative approach of the Greeks. Some have suggested, for example, that the word is a plural of majesty. But that is surely to read into Hebrew speech a modern way of thinking. The kings of Israel and Judah are all addressed in the singular in our biblical records. Or again, I have seen the suggestion that here we have the ‘we’ of the newspaper editor!.

And then N.T. Wright suggesting that the idea of numerical oneness in God was a later Judaistic development:

IIndeed, we find strong evidence during this period of Jewish groups and individuals who, speculating on the meaning of some difficult passages in scripture (Daniel 7, for example, or Genesis 1), suggested that the divine might encompass a plurality.

As to whether the NT saw any conflict between their view of God, and that portrayed in the OT, Kelly cites B.B. Warfield:

The New Testament writers certainly were not conscious of being ‘setters forth of strange gods.’ To their own apprehension they worshipped and proclaimed just the God of Israel and they laid no less stress than the Old Testament upon His unity (John 17:3, 1 Co. 8:4, 1 Tim. 2:5). THey do not then place two new gods by the side of Jehovah as alike with Him to be served and worshipped; they conceive of Jehovah as Himself at once Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… Without apparent misgiving they take over Old Testament passages and apply them to Father, Son, and Spirit indifferently. Obviously, they understand themselves, and wish to be understood, as setting forth in the Father, Son, and Spirit just the one God that the God of the Old Testament revelation is…

Some OT passages

The creation account as mentioned above, speaks with some indication of varied activity. God creates, the Spirit hovers, God’s Word performatively commands.

Herman Bavinck suggested that the ‘ontological Trinity’ was necessary for the ‘economical’ work of creation to have occurred ‘outside of the being of God:’ ‘…without generation creation would not be possible. If in an absolute sense God could not communicate himself to the Son, he would be even less able, in a relative sense, to communicate himself to his creature. If God were not triune, creation would not be possible.’

See Kelly 456-471 for an exposition of several facets of OT revelation of the triune God, including the many theophanies. He laments:

Before the rise of biblical higher criticism, the Christian theological tradition, both East and West, Catholic and Protestant, generally understood the Old Testament theophanies to be pre-incarnate appeareances of the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ Himself.


  1. Kelly, Systematic Theology - Volume 1, p. 325
  2. [[ Wright, The New Testament and the People of God ]], p. 259
  3. Kelly, Systematic Theology - Volume 1, p. 450-471
  4. [[ Warfield, Biblical Foundations ]], p. 88, 159