A Look at Isaiah 6 and its Trinitarian Implications

Sam Shamoun

Isaiah chapter 6 is a passage packed with rich theological truths, providing clear evidence of Yahweh being a uniplurality. According to that chapter, Yahweh appeared visibly to Isaiah in order to commission him to be his prophet:

"In the year that King Uzzi'ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’ Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.’ And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for US?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’ And he said, ‘Go, and say to this people: "Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive." Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.’ Then I said, ‘How long, O Lord?’ And he said: ‘Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without men, and the land is utterly desolate, and the LORD removes men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains standing when it is felled.’ The holy seed is its stump." Isaiah 6:1-13

Note the following:

  1. Yahweh appears in a visible form seated on the throne, manifesting his glory to Isaiah.
  2. Yahweh is pronounced thrice holy (known as the Trisagion).
  3. Yahweh uses both singular ("I") and plural ("Us") pronouns.

It is our contention that the reason why God is called thrice holy and uses the plural pronoun is because the prophet Isaiah, as well as the rest of the biblical writers, believed that God is a Triune entity. In other words, books such as Isaiah help us to see clearly that the reason Yahweh used the plural pronoun is in order to help his people know that he exists as a uniplurality, that he is a multi-Personal Being.

For instance, Isaiah knew that God and his Spirit are the Ones who commission and empower prophets and messengers:

"‘Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.’ And now the Lord GOD has sent me and his Spirit." Isaiah 48:16

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;" Isaiah 61:1

Other OT prophets concur:

"And the hand of the LORD was there upon me; and he said to me, ‘Arise, go forth into the plain, and there I will speak with you.’ So I arose and went forth into the plain; and, lo, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory which I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. But the Spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet; and he spoke with me and said to me, ‘Go, shut yourself within your house. And you, O son of man, behold, cords will be placed upon you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people; and I will make your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be dumb and unable to reprove them; for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD"; he that will hear, let him hear; and he that will refuse to hear, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.’" Ezekiel 3:22-27

The above passages echo what we find in the NT scriptures:

"And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down, and accompany them without hesitation; for I have sent them.’" Acts 10:19-20

"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleu'cia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus." Acts 13:2-4

Furthermore, the following passage from Isaiah expressly presents God as a plurality of Divine Persons:

"Who is this that comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he that is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? ‘It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save.’ Why is thy apparel red, and thy garments like his that treads in the wine press? ‘I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption has come. I looked, but there was NO ONE to help; I was appalled, but there was NO ONE to uphold; so MY OWN ARM brought me victory, and my wrath upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.’ I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel which he has granted them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. For he said, Surely they are my people, sons who will not deal falsely; and he became their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, AND THE ANGEL OF HIS PRESENCE SAVED THEM; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved his HOLY SPIRIT; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses his servant. Where is he who brought up out of the sea the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his HOLY SPIRIT, who caused his glorious ARM to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. Like cattle that go down into the valley, THE SPIRIT of the LORD gave them rest. So thou didst lead thy people, to make for thyself a glorious name. Look down from heaven and see, from thy holy and glorious habitation. Where are thy zeal and thy might? The yearning of thy heart and thy compassion are withheld from me. For thou art our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; thou, O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer from of old is thy name." Isaiah 63:1-16

The above text states that God was appalled that he could find no one to intercede, no one to assist him, so he decided to act by himself in order to accomplish his purpose. And yet later in the text Isaiah says that God, the Angel of his very Presence, and his Holy Spirit all worked in unison to accomplish the salvation and redemption of Israel during the Exodus! Basically this means that the Angel and the Spirit cannot be other than God, cannot be mere creatures; if they were created beings then God could not have claimed that he alone brought redemption, since there were creatures that assisted him.

More importantly, notice that the God who acted on behalf of Israel’s deliverance is Triune, i.e. three Persons are said to have acted on behalf of the covenant people: God the Father, the Angel of his Presence, and His Holy Spirit!

Third, Isaiah identifies more than one Person as the Mighty God, and is aware that there is more than one Divine Entity who is Holy!

"In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean upon him that smote them, but will lean upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God (El Gibbor)." Isaiah 10:20-21

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God (El Gibbor), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this." Isaiah 9:6-7

Both Yahweh and the Son, who is given the right to rule on David’s throne, are the Mighty God! Interestingly, the Jewish translators of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek language believed that this Messianic Child, who is clearly identified as the Mighty God in the above text, is actually the Angel of God:

For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger (Greek- Angelos, "Angel") of great counsel: Or I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him. Brenton’s Septuagint (LXX)

Note that the Septuagint translators identify the Child, who is the Mighty God, as the Angel of great counsel. We therefore have strong grounds for assuming that the Angel of God’s Presence and the Messiah are one and the same Person. Furthermore, according to Isaiah 10:20-21, which we just looked at above, the Mighty God who is Yahweh is called the Holy One of Israel, a point reiterated elsewhere:

"For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you… Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘For your sake I will send to Babylon and break down all the bars, and the shouting of the Chalde'ans will be turned to lamentations. I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.’" Isaiah 43:3, 15

Thus, we can infer from this that the Messianic Child is also the Holy One of Israel since he is the Mighty God. Follow our logic:

  1. The Mighty God is the Holy One of Israel.
  2. The Messiah is the Mighty God.
  3. Therefore, the Messiah is the Holy One of Israel.

And this is precisely what we find the NT calling Jesus the Messiah, namely, the Holy and Righteous One:

"and he cried out, 'What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.'" Mark 1:24

"Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.'" John 6:68-69

"But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses." Acts 3:14-15

"Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered," Acts 7:52

"Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.'" Acts 22:14 NIV

Isaiah even expressly says that Yahweh’s Spirit is Holy:

"But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses his servant. Where is he who brought up out of the sea the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his holy Spirit," Isaiah 63:10-11

The NT supplies additional support for the Trisagion being a hint that God is Triune. For example, the book of Revelation provides us with a glimpse of the worship that occurs in heaven:

"And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’" Revelation 4:8

Note the use of the Trisagion by the four living creatures. It is clear from Revelation that this praise of God being thrice holy is intentional in that it is meant to include all the Divine Persons of the Godhead, such as the Father and the Lord Jesus, both of whom are shown to be completely Holy:

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.’" Revelation 3:7-8

"Who shall not fear and glorify thy name, O Lord? For thou alone art holy. All nations shall come and worship thee, for thy judgments have been revealed." Revelation 15:4

"And I heard the angel of water say, ‘Just art thou in these thy judgments, thou who art and wast, O Holy One.’" Revelation 16:5

Thus, from the foregoing we can safely infer that the threefold cry of holy by the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3 was in recognition of Yahweh being a Tri-Personal Being.

The NT also supports our position that the reason why Yahweh used the plural pronoun "Us" (lanu) in Isaiah 6:8 was because he was addressing the other Divine members. For instance, John the Evangelist believed that the Yahweh who appeared to Isaiah was none other than the Lord Jesus!

"Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him." John 12:37-41 NIV

John quotes Isaiah 6:10 and claims that in that particular text the prophet Isaiah had seen Jesus’ glory! In other words, the glory that Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6 was the very glory of the prehuman Son of God!

We are further told that the Holy Spirit was also there in Isaiah 6:8. The apostle Paul, in rebuking the unbelieving Jews, claimed that it was none other than God’s Spirit who spoke in Isaiah 6:9-10:

"So, as they disagreed among themselves, they departed, after Paul had made one statement: ‘The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: "Go to this people, and say, You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them."’" Acts 28:25-27

What the foregoing NT data shows is that the Son of God was the One who appeared to Isaiah and spoke on behalf of the entire Triune Godhead, explaining why the seraphim cried out holy three times and accounts for why Yahweh used the plural pronoun. The Father and the Holy Spirit were basically speaking through the Person of the Son who had manifested his glory in visible form to Isaiah!


As if the above were not enough to establish our thesis, here comes the Prophet Daniel to make our case even stronger. Daniel was given the ability to interpret dreams and visions of the pagan kings, as well as to personally experience some of his own. In one of these dreams, Nebuchadnezzar sees something troubling which he knew only Daniel could explain:

"At last Daniel came in before me -- he who was named Belteshaz'zar after the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods -- and I told him the dream, saying, ‘O Belteshaz'zar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is difficult for you, here is the dream which I saw; tell me its interpretation… I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heavenThe sentence is by THE DECREE OF THE WATCHERS, THE DECISION OF THE WORD OF THE HOLY ONES, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will, and sets over it the lowliest of men. This dream I, King Nebuchadnez'zar, saw. And you, O Belteshaz'zar, declare the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation, but you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.’ … And whereas the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, `Hew down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field; and let him be wet with the dew of heaven; and let his lot be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him'; this is the interpretation, O king: IT IS A DECREE OF THE MOST HIGH, which has come upon my lord the king," Daniel 4:8-9, 13, 17-18, 23-24

From the above we discover the following points:

  1. The king knew that God’s Spirit was inspiring Daniel, even though he identifies the Spirit as belonging to the gods, an obvious reflection of his paganism.
  2. The king sees a watcher come down from heaven announcing God’s decree.
  3. According to the watcher the sentence that will soon come to pass has been decreed by the watchers and decided upon by the holy ones.
  4. Later on in the text we are told that it is the Most High who has decreed this to come to pass.
  5. Therefore, we can assume that the Most High is the same as the watchers, as the holy ones spoken of in the vision.

What we are essentially trying to say is that Daniel knew that God is a uniplurality, a multi-Personal Being. Watchers and holy ones cannot be referring to heavenly creatures since God alone decrees future events which leads us to believe that they most likely refer to God, His Spirit and Angel, who may have been the One that came down to announce the decree to the king.

After all, Daniel knew of the Angel of the Lord, the same One identified as God by the prophet Isaiah:

"He answered, ‘But I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods." … Nebuchadnez'zar said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set at nought the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.’" Daniel 3:25, 28

God sends this same Angel to deliver Daniel from the lion’s den:

"My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong." Daniel 6:22

Daniel even receives a vision in which he sees a human figure whom all the nations serve as he rules over them in an eternal kingdom:

"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14

According to Isaiah 9:6-7 the One who rules forever is the Messiah, the Son of David who, as we saw above, is also identified as the Angel of the Lord by the Septuagint translators. Therefore, the Son of Man must be the very same One who appeared to Daniel and his friends as God’s Son, the Angel, in order to save them.

And all throughout the NT Jesus is identified as the Son of Man!

"But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’" Mark 14:61-62

"Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?" John 6:62

"But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.’" Acts 7:55-56

Moreover, Daniel describes God as the Most Highs, plural, not as the Most High:

"But the saints of the Most Highs (Elyonin) will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever… But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most Highs (Elyonin). His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him." Daniel 7:18, 26-27

The word Elyonin (Most Highs) is the plural of Elyon (Most High).

Some translations render the singular pronouns "his" and "him" found in verse 27 as plural:

"And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most Highs; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them." ESV

These pronouns cannot be referring to the saints who rule but to the nearest antecedent, namely, the Most Highs, since service or worship cannot be rendered unto creatures. The verb which the ESV renders as "serve", with the NIV translating it as "worship", comes from the Aramaic word pelach. This is used all throughout the book of Daniel for the worship which can only be shown to the true God:

"‘There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego. These men, O king, pay no heed to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.’… Nebuchadnez'zar said to them, ‘Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image which I have set up?’ … Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego answered the king, ‘O Nebuchadnez'zar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.’ … Nebuchadnez'zar said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set at nought the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.’" Daniel 3:12, 14, 16-18, 28; cf. 6:16; 20; Ezra 7:24

Thus, since the text of verse 27 expressly says that all dominions will serve or worship the ruler of the kingdom this shows that the pronouns must be referring to God, who is identified here by the plural "Most Highs."

A careful analysis of the immediate context will explain why Daniel referred to God as the Most Highs, as opposed to the singular Most High, since earlier he spoke of the Ancient of Days seated on his throne:

"As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened." Daniel 7:9-10 NIV

Recall that earlier we quoted Daniel 7:13-14 where the prophet saw the Son of Man approaching the Ancient of Days to receive an eternal kingdom. This explains why in the above text Daniel saw more than one throne being set up since both God, whom the prophet identifies as the Ancient of Days, and the Son of Man are occupying thrones.

In fact, the reign of the Son of Man is described in the same manner that the rule of the Most Highs is portrayed:

"I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14 NKJV

"Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him." Daniel 7:27 NKJV

This leads us to conclude that the Son of Man is actually one of the Most Highs that Daniel saw, One who is a distinct Person from the Ancient of Days. This basically helps us understand why Daniel spoke of plural Most Highs (Elyonin), as opposed to singular Most High (Elyon), since in the context Elyonin is a clear reference to both the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man together as they rule over an eternal kingdom!

In conclusion we see that the prophet Daniel knew by inspiration that:

  1. God has a Spirit and an Angel who is also his Son.
  2. The God who decrees all things is identified as a plural entity, i.e. he is called the holy ones and the watchers.
  3. The Son of Man is a Divine Being that rules forever.
  4. The Ancient of Days and the Son of Man are the Most Highs whom Daniel saw ruling over all creation forever.
  5. According to both Isaiah 9:6-7 and the NT scriptures the Son of Man is the Messiah.

Unless noted otherwise, all scriptural quotations taken from the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Holy Bible.

Articles by Sam Shamoun
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