The God Head: One Foundation
By Gordon G. Mallory
Some years ago we chose a house plan to be used for the building of a new home, but specified changes from the plan as originally drawn. Due to improper communication between the builder and his foreman, the foundation was incorrectly laid out and the cement poured into the forms. After a long consultation with the foreman, we concluded the garage could be moved six feet toward the front, so the adjoining room at the rear of the garage could be built six feet wider, at far less expense to the builder. This solution was acceptable, thus solving a difficult situation.
This incident provided an impressive object lesson regarding the necessity of a proper foundation. We believe it is equally essential that a correct biblical foundation be established as a basis for interpreting the Scriptures that relate to a particular subject.
To further illustrate the importance of a proper foundation upon which to build a sound structure or to establish a Scriptural truth, let us turn to the Bible and consider the controversial issue of whether God repents. Those who teach that God literally repents have based their teaching on such verses as: “It repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth, ” (Genesis 6:6, ASV), or the text, “Jehovah repented that he had made Saul king over Israel. ” (I Samuel 15:35, ASV). Since the conclusion that God repents is at variance with many Scriptures relating to the subject, we propose to establish a Scriptural foundation upon which to resolve this seeming discrepancy. Note the following:
“…I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done…” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
“But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the King Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days… (Daniel 2:28).
“Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:18).
“…For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” (John 6:64).
“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. ” (Psalm 89:34).
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).
“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent. (I Samuel 15:29).
“For I, Jehovah, change not;… ” (Malachi 3:6, ASV).
We cannot entertain the use of a split decision to solve apparent or seeming biblical contradictions. Instead, we have established a sound Scriptural foundation consisting of a partial list of texts which are representative of the many Scriptures which relate to our subject. These verses contrast the infallibility of God with the limited understanding of man.
We often find God depicted in the Bible as having human qualities and emotions. He is said to manifest anger, derision, jealousy, and laughter. He is described as repenting, becoming weary, talking face to face with Moses, coming down from heaven to earth, and having eyes that run to and fro over the earth. We read of God’s hands, feet, ears, right hand, and strong right arm.
We believe such language is used to present God in terms of human understanding. If this be true, one is not bound to accept literally the language used in such passages in order to receive and to embrace God’s message to man.
The word “repent” is used of both God and man, and the sacred writers used the word to indicate a change of mind. But God knew from the beginning that man would fail and that man would sin. From man’s point of view, however, God seems to change Ms mind. We would especially note that according to the Scriptures it is as impossible for God to repent as for God to lie.
The cornerstone of the foundation of the traditional Church, upon which the plural God teaching is based, consists of the premise that the numeral “one” when related to God in Scripture shall not be understood nor interpreted as a literal or mathematical one, that God is not revealed in the Bible as a numerical one – but rather that the True God is a “compound unity” and that He is a “unity in plurality,” or a “plurality in unity. ”
As a young man attending Bible College we recall our college dean advising his class of students that we should share our time equally with the Father, the Son and the Spirit when we prayed, because no one of the “three persons” ought to be neglected when addressing our daily petitions.
Can One Be Plural?
Concerning the premise that the oneness of God is not literal, we would emphasize that those who support this premise embrace no law or rule governing the use and meaning of ‘one’. Are we to suppose that every man is a law unto himself regarding the use and meaning of the words of which our English language consists? To say that “one” may not always mean a literal one, without specifying when and how this is true, is to leave us adrift without a harbor in sight. We propose to examine the evidence offered as grounds for compromising the meaning of “one.”
The proffered evidence that “one” may be plural is of two kinds, but of a similar nature, each consisting of sentences where a plural subject or noun is associated with “one.”
First, let us study the use of “one” with what grammarians call “collective nouns.” Collective nouns denote an aggregate or group. Therefore, they indicate plurality, but may not have a plural ending.
Note the following, for example:
(1) One flock; one herd; one assembly.
(2) One duck; one cow; one man.
(3) Two flocks; three herds; four assemblies,
In (1) are three collective nouns associated with “one”. It is assumed that “one,” when used with a collective noun, indicates plurality. Why does “one” not signify plurality in (2) also? The answer to the question is that the plurality in (1) is not indicated by the numeral one, but by the collective noun with which “one” is related.
This is a typical case of attempting to prove guilt by association! Comparing (1) with (3), it is obvious that the use of any numeral except “one” changes the meaning from a single flock, herd or assembly to a plural number of the same.
A more common example of the kind of evidence offered to support the premise that “one” may indicate plurality is found in the first of the following two sentences:
(1) They two are one flesh.
(2) That man is one flesh.
It is contented that “one” in the first sentence indicates plurality. Since both sentences speak of “one flesh,” why does not “one” indicate plurality in the second sentence? The answer is that “one’ never indicates plurality and that the plurality in the first sentence is dictated by the plural subject “they two.”
A proper analysis of the above, and of any and all cases where “one” is associated with a plural or collective noun, will reveal that “one” has been incorrectly credited with plurality. This error is compounded when scholars have arbitrarily ascribed plurality to “one” where that numeral is not used with plural or collective nouns, only and precisely because “one” is used to describe God. It is particularly significant that this deceptive practice is confined to those areas where “one” relates to God.
We shall next cite Scripture in three groups, each group containing “one” translated from a different Hebrew or Greek word, to show that this factor has no bearing upon the meaning of the word in its English form. Because “one” is not associated with a plural noun or subject in any of these sentences, it should also be noted that the literal mathematical meaning of the numeral one in these sentences cannot be successfully challenged by Bible scholars who support the fallacy that “one” may be plural.
(1) “One” translated from the Hebrew ‘echad:’ “Lord (Jehovah) God…took one of his ribs” (Genesis 2:21). “We are all one man’s sons” (Genesis 42:11). “Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign” (Jeremiah 52:1).
(2) “One” translated from the Hebrew ‘iysh:’ “Jehovah watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.” (Genesis 31:49, ASV). “All Israel fled every one to his tent” (11 Samuel 18:17). “Every one that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:9).
(3) “One” translated from the Greek work ‘heis:’ “And they bring unto him one that was deaf’ (Mark 7:32). “And he entered into one of the ships” (Luke 5:3). “Paul called one of the centurions unto him” (Acts 23:17).
Let us now cite a verse from I Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” In this text the numeral one is used in two consecutive clauses. The literal
meaning of “one” in the second clause is not open to question, for there can be only one “man Christ Jesus.” By what rule of logic or consistency do the scholars reject the literal meaning of “one” in the first clause which states plainly, “There is one God”?
A similar example of a Scripture text containing two consecutive clauses using the numeral one is the following: “Now a mediator is not a mediator Of one, but God is one” (Galatians 3:20). Another translation (NAS) reads, “Now a mediator is not for one party only, whereas God is only one. ” The intent and meaning of ‘one’ in the two clauses of this verse are obvious – one equals one.
The learning process consists of going from the known to the unknown. Therefore, the frequent association of “one” with the True God makes this a crucial issue in our understanding of the Creator who became our Savior. If these Scriptures are not met face to face and correctly incorporated into our message of God and Ms Name, there is no logic in being controversial concerning any other areas of the Bible.
It becomes apparent that the question, “Can One Be Plural?” is
addressed to the root of the Trinitarian Creed. A negative answer to
the query has the clearly perceptible result of severing the vein and
of leaving the Creed with a fatally defective foundation. Our study
and analysis of the use and meaning of “one” makes it evident that the
premise that ‘one’ may be plural when used of God is totally
unsubstantiated and cannot properly be used as a basis upon which to
build a biblical message concerning the Name of the One True God.
Jehovah Is Our Rock “The Lord (Jehovah) is my rock-, and my fortress,
and my deliverer;” (II Samuel 22:2). Jesus told the parable of the
wise man who built his house upon the rock: “And the rain descended,
and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and
it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).
To build such a foundation upon which to rest the structure, which is the message of this book, let us return to our opening paragraph under the title, “Israel, Hear! Jehovah Is One” (See Chapter 1). Here we have a description of the traditional Mezzuzah on the door of the Jewish home. The orthodox Jew rightfully regards the text, “Hear, 0 Israel: The Lord (Jehovah) our God is one Lord (Jehovah)” (Deuteronomy 6:4) as fundamental to his worship of Jehovah.
These were the words that Jesus recalled when asked by the scribe, “… Which is the first commandment of all?” And Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, 0 Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord; And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart… (Mark 12:28-30).
The scribe expressed approval of Jesus’ response in these words:
“…Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and
there is none other but he; And to love him … is more than all whole
offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:32-33).
The apostle Paul said simply, “There is one God’ (I Timothy 2:5). Another apostle, James, writes, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19).
Note also the following:
“…Great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst Of thee.” (Isaiah 12:6).
“At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 17:7).
“Against whom hast thou exalted thy voice … even against the Holy One of Israel. ” (Isaiah 3 7:23).
” … and all flesh shall know that I the Lord (Jehovah) am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. ” (Isaiah 49:26).
“. ..I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee.-. ” (Hosea 11:9).
“Art thou not from everlasting, 0 Lord (Jehovah) my God, mine Holy One?… ” (Habakkuk 1:12).
“…behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” (Revelation 4:2).
That the message of the Name of the One True God is not dependent only upon the numeral one is evidenced in these verses:
“Yet I am the Lord (Jehovah) thy God .. and thou shalt know no god but me; for there is no saviour beside me.” (Hosea 13:4).
“…Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord (Jehovah); and beside me, there is no savior. (Isaiah 43:10-11).
“.Thus saith the Lord (Jehovah) the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God ” (Isaiah 44:6).
“Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord (Jehovah) he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.” (Deuteronomy 4:39).
“I am the Lord (Jehovah): that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another… ” (Isaiah 42:8).
“O Lord (Jehovah), there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee… ” (I Chronicles 17:20).
“.That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. (Psalm 83:18).
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. ” (I Timothy 1:17).
The above verses are representative of the many Scriptures proclaiming the Name of the One True God. Not only are God and His Name inseparable, but His Name is magnified and lifted up to I-Es chosen people, the Old Testament Church, consisting of the nation of Israel.
Nor can we escape the verdict that the Jehovah of the Hebrews is the
Jesus of the New Testament Church. No other interpretation can be gleaned from the tremendous andsignificant Scriptures where in Jehovah is declared the Holy One, the First and the Last, the only King and Savior beside whom there is no other, and the One whose glory will be given to no other one.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY REACH PUBLICATIONS, 1996, PAGES 23-34. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH ONLY.