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Yahweh as the Sent One from Yahweh

Examining the Trinitarian Implications of Isaiah 48:16 Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Throughout the Holy Scriptures God declares his absolute sovereignty and unique Deity. The inspired prophetic writings emphasize the point of Yahweh being unlike anything in creation, especially the false gods worshiped by the nations:

“There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things, you alone are God.” Psalm 86:8-10

"Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Yahweh, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to Yahweh? Who among the heavenly beings is like Yahweh, a God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible above all that are round about him? O Yahweh God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Yahweh, with your faithfulness round about you?” Psalm 89:5-8

“Who is like Yahweh our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down upon the heavens and the earth?” Psalm 113:5-6

“To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? … To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Isaiah 40:18, 25-26

“Who is like me? Let him proclaim it, let him declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be.” Isaiah 44:7

“There is none like thee, O LORD; you are great, and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you.” Jeremiah 10:6-7

One area which brings out Yahweh’s uniqueness quite clearly is his Being or mode of existence. The prophetic writings testify that Yahweh is multi-personal in nature, i.e. the true God is an eternal Being who exists as more than one Divine Person, which is unlike any other being in all creation.

For example, in one particular text the prophet Isaiah not only refers to Yahweh as the One who created the cosmos but also speaks of Yahweh being sent by Yahweh and his Spirit!

“… I will not yield my glory to another. Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called:  I AM he; I am the First and I am the Last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together. Come together, all of you, and listen: Which of the idols has foretold these things? Yahweh's chosen ally will carry out his purpose against Babylon; his arm will be against the Babylonians. I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him. I will bring him, and he will succeed in his mission. Come near me and listen to this: From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; from the time it came to be I have been there. And now the Lord Yahweh has sent Me, with his Spirit. This is what Yahweh says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’” Isaiah 48:11b-17

Needless to say many Christians over the centuries have taken this passage as an OT witness to the Trinity, as can be seen from the following commentaries.

and now the Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me; in the fulness of time, in the likeness of sinful flesh, to preach the Gospel, fulfil the law, and to redeem and save the Lord's people. Here is a glorious testimony of a trinity of Persons in the Godhead; Christ the Son of God is sent in human nature, and as Mediator Jehovah the Father and the Spirit are the senders of him; and so is a proof of the mission, commission, and authority of Christ, who came not of himself, but was sent of God, (John 8:42), it may be rendered, "and now the Lord God hath sent me and his Spirit"; both were sent of God, and in this order; first, Christ, to be the Redeemer and Saviour; and then the Spirit, to be the Convincer and Comforter; see (John 14:26) (15:26) (16:7,8) (The New John Gill Exposition of the Holy Bible; underline emphasis ours)


sent me--The prophet here speaks, claiming attention to his announcement as to Cyrus, on the ground of his mission from God and His Spirit. But he speaks not in his own person so much as in that of Messiah, to whom alone in the fullest sense the words apply (Isa 61:1; Joh 10:36). Plainly, Isa 49:1, which is the continuation of the forty-eighth chapter, from Isa 48:16, where the change of speaker from God (Isa 48:1, 12-15) begins, is the language of Messiah. Lu 4:1, 14, 18, shows that the Spirit combined with the Father in sending the Son: therefore "His Spirit" is nominative to "sent," not accusative, following it. (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible; underline emphasis ours)

There were several renowned Church fathers who also believed that this text was an explicit witness to the blessed and glorious Trinity.  

(3) Origen of Alexandria

That the Savior and the Holy Spirit were sent by the Father is made clear in Isaiah when, speaking in the person of the Savior, it is said, And now the Lord God sent me and his Spirit (48:16).  It must, however, be recognized that this passage is ambiguous. Either God sent, and the Holy Spirit sent the Savior, or as we understand it, the Father sent both the Savior and the Holy Spirit.

(4) Origen of Alexandria

Isaiah declares: And now the Lord God sent me and his spirit (48:16). This passage is ambiguous. Does it mean that the Father and the Holy Spirit sent Jesus, or that the Father sent Christ and the Holy Spirit? In my view the second interpretation is correct. First, the Savior had been sent, then the Holy Spirit was sent, and in this way the prophet’s saying might be fulfilled; and, to insure that the fulfillment of the prophecy should also be made known to posterity, the disciples of Jesus recorded what happened.

(5) Augustine

If both the Son and the Holy Spirit are sent to where they already are, the question arises what can really be meant by this sending of the Son or of the Holy Spirit – the Father alone is nowhere said to have been sent. About the Son the apostle writes, When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law (Gal 4:4). He sent His Son, made of a woman – by woman of course, as presumably every Catholic knows, he did not intend to suggest loss of virginity, but merely difference of sex according to Hebrew idiom. So then, by saying that God sent His Son, made of a woman, he shows plainly enough that it was in being made of a woman that the Son was sent. Thus inasmuch as he was born of God he already was in this world; in that he was born of Mary he was sent and came into the world.

Furthermore, he could not be sent by the Father without the Holy Spirit. On principle, when the Father sent him, that is, made of a woman, he cannot be supposed to have done it without his Spirit. And in any case there is the clear testimony of the answer given to the Virgin Mary when she asked the angel, How shall this happen? The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the Might of the Most High shall overshadow you (Luke 1:34-35), and Matthew says, She was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18). There is even a prophecy of Isaiah in which Christ himself is to be understood as saying about his future coming, And now the Lord God, and his spirit, has sent me (48:16). (The Church’s Bible – Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators, translated and edited by Robert Louis Wilken with Angela Russel Christman and Michael J. Hollerich [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge UK, 2007], pp. 360-361)


THE LORD SENT ME AND HIS SPIRIT JEROME: When all things were made by the Father, he [the Son] was there with him, in whom the Son rejoiced when he said, I am he who always was with the Father and in the Father and never was without the Father, and who now speaks, and due to the weakness of the flesh I assumed, I say that 'the Lord has sent me and his Spirit.' In this short verse we are shown the mystery of the Trinity. COMMENTARY ON ISAIAH 13:16. (Isaiah 40-66: Old Testament (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture), edited by Mark W. Elliot, Thomas C. Oden general editor, IVP Academic (September 30, 2007), Volume XI, p. 104)

Yahweh sends Yahweh to save and judge

Isaiah wouldn’t be the only prophet who believed that Yahweh could send Yahweh since we find another instance of this very same phenomenon in a post-exilic prophetic writing:

“Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon! For this is what Yahweh of hosts says:After He has honored Me and has sent Me against the nations that have plundered youfor whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye- I will surely raise My hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent Me. Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,’ declares Yahweh. Many nations will be joined with Yahweh in that day and will become My peopleI will live among you and you will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent Me to you. Yahweh will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before Yahweh, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.’” Zechariah 2:7-11

Here, Yahweh sends Yahweh to dwell with his people and to judge the nations who have plundered them!

Isaiah’s Multi-Personal Creator and Maker

There is plenty of evidence from the inspired book of Isaiah itself for viewing Isaiah 48:16 as a revelation of the Trinity in the OT period.

In the immediate context of Isaiah 48 Yahweh claims to be the One who laid the foundations of the earth and spread out the heavens, which is simply another way of saying that Yahweh created/fashioned/made and sustains the heavens and the earth. This is a point that Isaiah often makes:

“Thus says God, Yahweh, who created (bōrē’) the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:” Isaiah 42:5

“Thus says Yahweh, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am Yahweh, who made all things (ōśeh kōl), who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth by myself” Isaiah 44:24

“Thus says Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker (wəyōsərō): ‘Will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands? I made (āśiti’) the earth, and created (bara) man upon it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.’” Isaiah 45:11-12

“For this is what Yahweh says— he who created (bōrē’) the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned (yoser) and made (wə‘ōśāh) the earth, he founded it; he did not create (bara’ah) it to be empty, but formed (yəsārāh) it to be inhabited — he says: ‘I am Yahweh, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, “Seek me in vain.” I, Yahweh, speak the truth; I declare what is right.’” Isaiah 45:18-19

However, in one specific text Isaiah refers to Yahweh as Israel’s Makers:  

For your Husbands are your Makers (bō‘ălayikə ‘ōśayikə) — Yahweh of hosts is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the Gods of all the earth (Elōhêy kāl-hā’ārets).” Isaiah 54:5

Here Isaiah uses the plural for ba’al (to marry, rule over, own, possess etc.) and asah (to make, fashion, produce, work etc.), indicating that Israel’s God is a multi-personal Being.

Interestingly, the oldest extant copy of Isaiah that was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls contains a variant reading which further corroborates that Yahweh is multi-personal:  

Thus says the God (ha El) AND God (Elohim) who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread the earth and its produce, who gives breath (neshamah) to the people upon it, and spirit (ruha) to those walk on it.” Isaiah 42:5 (The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible – The Oldest Known Bible Translated For The First Time Into English, translated and with commentary by Martin Abegg Jr., Peter Flint & Eugene Ulrich [HarperOne; 1 edition, November 17, 1999], p. 337; bold and capital emphasis ours)

This version of the text clearly distinguishes God (ha El) from the God (Elohim) who made the heavens, thereby implying that there were actually two distinct Divine Persons who were speaking to and through Isaiah!(1)

Isaiah wasn’t the only inspired writer to refer to a plural Maker and Creator:

“Remember also thy Creators (bōrə’eykā) in days of thy youth, While that the evil days come not, Nor the years have arrived, that thou sayest, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” Ecclesiastes 12:1 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

In this text the author uses the plural of bara (to create, fashion, form, shape etc.). And:

“But none says, ‘Where is God my Makers (‘osaay), who gives songs in the night,’” Job 35:10

The word ‘osaay is the plural participle of asa’, thereby indicating that the inspired writer of Job was aware that God is multi-personal. In fact, this same writing speaks of the Spirit of God as creating man and fashioning the heavens:

By his Spirit (ruho) the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.” Job 26:13

The Spirit of God has made me (ruha-’el ‘āśātənî), and the Breath (neshamat) of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4

In this last passage the author equates God’s Spirit with his Breath, an important connection as we shall see.

The Psalms also attribute the work of creation and restoration to the Spirit of God: 

“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath/spirit (ruham), they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit (ruhaka), they are created (yibare'un); and you renew the face of the ground.” Psalm 104:29-30

These passages are obviously echoing and reflecting on what the Genesis account of creation says concerning Yahweh creating by his Spirit:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters… Then God said, ‘Let US make (na'aseh) man in OUR image, after OUR likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:1-2, 26-27

“Then Yahweh God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (neshamat chayyim); and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

By interpreting these texts in light of one another it is apparent that Yahweh was speaking to the Spirit who was present at creation, inviting him to assist Yahweh in creating man in their own image and likeness. This helps us understand what the inspired author of Genesis meant when he said that Yahweh breathed the breath of life into the first man, i.e. this is simply a metaphorical way of describing Yahweh sending forth his Spirit to animate the body of the first man and to give him a rational spirit or soul of his own. After all, Yahweh is not a physical being and therefore doesn’t physically breathe.    

This further helps us to better appreciate the connection that Job 33:4 makes between Yahweh’s Spirit and his Breath, e.g. the Spirit is the Breath of God and is therefore simply two ways of speaking of the same Divine entity through whom God gives life to his creatures.

We will have a lot more to say concerning the Divine Personhood of the Holy Spirit shortly.

A Triune Creator?

Another interesting fact to consider is that, according to Genesis, Yahweh also used his spoken Word to bring things into existence. 

And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

This, perhaps, explains why we find references in the canonical Scriptures to God creating by his Word as well as his Spirit:

By the Word of Yahweh the heavens were made, and all their host by the Breath/Spirit (ruha) of his mouthFor he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood forth.” Psalm 33:6, 9

We find this same point repeatedly made throughout the non-canonical Jewish writings:

“Let your every creature serve you; for you spoke, and they were made, You sent forth your Spirit, and they were created; no one can resist your Word.” Judith 16:14

“And I said, O Lord, thou spakest from the beginning of the creation, even the first day, and said thus; Let heaven and earth be made; and your Word was a perfect work. And then was the Spirit, and darkness and silence were on every side; the sound of man's voice was not yet formed.” 4 Ezra 6:38-39

“O you that have made the earth, hear me, that have fixed the firmament by the Word, and have made firm the height of the heaven by the Spirit, that have called from the beginning of the world that which did not yet exist, and they obey you.” 2 Baruch 21:4

And according to one Jewish source it was the Word of Yahweh who created and formed the heavens and earth, and who also created man in his own image!

“From the beginning with wisdom the Memra (Aramaic for ‘Word’) of the Lord created and formed the heavens and the earth... and a Spirit of mercy from before the Lord was blowing over the surface of the water… And the Memra of the Lord created the man in his (own) likeness.” Genesis 1:1-2, 27 Targum Neofiti   

What these preceding examples show is that specific OT writers, as well as non-canonical Jewish sources, believed and understood that creation was brought into being by three distinct entities, i.e. God, his Word and his Holy Spirit were responsible for creating all things. In other words, these Jewish authors believed that it was the Trinity that brought creation into existence!

Some of these sources even go so far as to describe God’s Word as a living, conscious personal entity, i.e. Philo, the Targums, Wisdom of Solomon etc. 

This is where the NT comes in since, not only do the NT writings agree that the Word of God created all things, the inspired Greek Christian scriptures take it a step further and claim that this very Word became a flesh and blood human being whose name is Jesus Christ!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men… He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” John 1:1-4, 10, 14

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life -- the Life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the Eternal Life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us -- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:1-3

Someone may interject and say that the Hebrew Scriptures testify that Yahweh also used both his wisdom (also equated with his knowledge and understanding) and power to create the universe,

“O Yahweh, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24

“Yahweh by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke forth, and the clouds drop down the dew.” Proverbs 3:19-20

“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.” Jeremiah 10:12

Wouldn’t this prove that God is more like a quintinity?

Not at all since the NT not only teaches that the Lord Jesus is the eternal Word but it also states that he is God’s Wisdom and Power:

“but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24

Since Jesus is identified as both the Power and Wisdom of God this means that the Word, Wisdom, and Power that God used to make and fashion all created things refer to one and the same Divine Person, namely the Son of God!   

Isaiah’s Tri-personal God in Action

Returning to the book of Isaiah, there is one passage where the prophet attributes the work of salvation to three distinct entities: 

“I will tell of the kindnesses of Yahweh, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all Yahweh has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, ‘Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me’; and so HE became their Savior. In all their distress HE too was distressed, and the Angel of his Presence saved them. In HIS love and mercy HE redeemed them; HE lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them. Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people— where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious Arm of power to be at Moses' right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble; like cattle that go down to the plain, and the Spirit of Yahweh gave them rest. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name. Look down from heaven and see from your lofty throne, holy and glorious. Where are your zeal and your might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us. But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, O Yahweh, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.” Isaiah 63:7-16  

Here we find mention of Yahweh saving his people by the Angel of his Presence or Face, which is an obvious reference to the Angel whom Yahweh says bears his very name or essence and who appears all throughout the Pentateuch, or the five books of Moses: 

“Behold, I send an Angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my Name is in him. But if you hearken attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. When my Angel goes before you, and brings you in to the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Per'izzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jeb'usites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. Exodus 23:20-24

“Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, ‘Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the adversity that has befallen us: how our fathers went down to Egypt, and we dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians dealt harshly with us and our fathers; and when we cried to Yahweh, he heard our voice, and sent an Angel and brought us forth out of Egypt; and here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your territory.” Numbers 20:14-16

We also have a reference to Yahweh’s Holy Spirit whom the inspired prophet describes as having personal attributes, such as emotions, and granting rest to God’s people, i.e. the Holy Spirit of Yahweh saved and led the Israelites during the time of Moses even though they rebelled and grieved him.

What makes these specific claims concerning the Spirit rather amazing is that other inspired writings testify that Yahweh was responsible for granting his people rest and that he was the One whom the Israelites grieved and rebelled against in the wilderness! 

“And he said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:14

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested him again and again, and provoked the Holy One of Israel. They did not keep in mind his power, or the day when he redeemed them from the foe; when he wrought his signs in Egypt, and his miracles in the fields of Zo'an. He turned their rivers to blood, so that they could not drink of their streams. He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them, and frogs, which destroyed them. He gave their crops to the caterpillar, and the fruit of their labor to the locust. He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamores with frost. He gave over their cattle to the hail, and their flocks to thunderbolts. He let loose on them his fierce anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, a company of destroying angels. He made a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death, but gave their lives over to the plague. He smote all the firstborn in Egypt, the first issue of their strength in the tents of Ham. Then he led forth his people like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And he brought them to his holy land, to the mountain which his right hand had won. He drove out nations before them; he apportioned them for a possession and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents. Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God, and did not observe his testimonies, but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers; they twisted like a deceitful bow. For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their graven images.” Psalm 78:40-58

It is clear from these examples that the blessed prophet ascribes to the Holy Spirit language that is explicitly and uniquely used of Yahweh! This leads us to our next section.

The Binitarian Implication of Isaiah 48:16 – The Divine Personhood of the Holy Spirit

There are some who reject the view that in Isaiah 48:16 it is Yahweh who says that Yahweh has sent him and his Spirit. These expositors and scholars take the position that it is actually the prophet himself who is speaking and interjecting his comments at this point.

II. The prophet himself, as a type of the great prophet, asserts his own commission to deliver this message: Now the Lord God (the same that spoke from the beginning and did not speak in secret) has by his Spirit sent me, Isaiah 48:16. The Spirit of God is here spoken of as a person distinct from the Father and the Son, and having a divine authority to send prophets. Note, Whom God sends the Spirit sends. Those whom God commissions for any service the Spirit in some measure qualifies for it; and those may speak boldly, and must be heard obediently, whom God and his Spirit send. As that which the prophet says to the same purport with this (Isaiah 61:1) is applied to Christ (Luke 4:21), so may this be; the Lord God sent him, and he had the Spirit without measure. (Matthew Henry Complete Commentary)


(6) Theodoret of Cyrus

It is the prophet who speaks here. I do not speak in my own name, he says, but as one who has been sent by the God of all and the all-holy Spirit. He clearly shows that there is another being referred to besides the person of God [the Father]((the person of the Spirit, so as to refute the Jews and the mad ravings of Sabellius)).... For he says: The Lord sent me and his spirit (48:16). Often he speaks of the one God. For example: I am the first, and I am forever (48:12). And: Before me there was no other god, nor shall there be any after me (43:10). He also speaks of the properties of the persons, sometimes of the Son and the Father, sometimes the Father and the Holy Spirit. So on the subject of the Son and the Father, he said: Because God is in you, and there is no god besides you (45:14). And on the subject of the Father and the Spirit: The Lord sent me and his spirit (48:16). (The Church’s Bible – Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators, p. 361; comments within double parentheses ours)

This position would still be supportive of God being multi-personal since we would still end up with two distinct Divine Persons, e.g. Yahweh and his Spirit whom he sends to empower his prophets to successfully carry out their missions, a point repeatedly made throughout the prophetic literature:

“Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel: ‘The Spirit of Yahweh speaks by me, his word is upon my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me:’” 2 Samuel 23:1-3a

You gave your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst… Many years you did bear with them, and did warn them by your Spirit through your prophets; yet they would not give ear. Therefore you did give them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.” Nehemiah 9:30

“And the hand of Yahweh 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 Yahweh 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.’” Ezekiel 3:22-24

And the Spirit of Yahweh fell upon me, and he said to me, ‘Say, Thus says the LORD: So you think, O house of Israel; for I know the things that come into your mind.’” Ezekiel 11:5

“But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of Yahweh, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.” Micah 3:8

“They made their hearts like adamant lest they should hear the law and the words which Yahweh of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from Yahweh of hosts.” Zechariah 7:12

In fact, Isaiah not only claims that the Spirit has emotions and grants salvation to the people of God, the prophet also speaks of the Spirit restoring or regenerating the earth. Isaiah also believed that the Spirit gathers all of God’s people to Yahweh and enables them to keep covenant faithfulness:

“The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks, till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest.” Isaiah 32:14-15

“Look in the scroll Yahweh and read: None of these will be missing, not one will lack her mate. For it is his mouth that has given the order, and his Spirit will gather them together.” Isaiah 34:16

“This is what Yahweh says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Isaiah 44:2-3

“‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,’ declares Yahweh. ‘As for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says Yahweh. ‘My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,’ says Yahweh.” Isaiah 59:20-21

The only way that the Spirit could replenish or restore the earth and empower countless numbers of individuals to walk in obedience to God is if he is omnipotent and omnipresent, which are exclusively Divine attributes!

Isaiah even describes Yahweh’s Spirit as an incomprehensible and omniscient Being who needs no one to instruct or counsel him:

“Who has understood the Spirit of Yahweh, or instructed him as his counselor?” Isaiah 40:13

In light of the above it is absolutely certain that the prophet believed that the Spirit of Yahweh is a fully Divine Person who has all of God’s essential attributes, e.g. the Spirit creates, regenerates, replenishes, empowers, saves, guides, instructs, preserves, has emotions etc.

Hence, even if one were to deny that Isaiah 48:16 is a Trinitarian “prooftext” this wouldn’t undermine the fact that this passage is still an explicit witness to God being multi-personal in nature.

This concludes the first part of our discussion. Please move on to part 2.


(1) The following verse may be another example where we have two distinct Divine Persons speaking to and through the prophet:

“Thus says Yahweh, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, Yahweh of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides me there is no god.’” Isaiah 44:6

The phrase, “and his Redeemer” either refers to Israel, i.e., Israel’s Redeemer, an interpretation that is brought out more clearly by the following translation:

“This is what the LORD says — Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” NIV

Or it actually refers back to Yahweh, meaning Yahweh’s Redeemer. If the second explanation is the correct one then this means that there are two Yahwehs in view, namely, Yahweh the King of Israel and the Redeemer whom Yahweh has appointed whose name is Yahweh of hosts. As we shall see in the second part of our analysis this latter interpretation has the support of the over all context of both Isaiah and the prophetic Scriptures, as well as the witness of the NT which refers to God the Father sending forth his fully Divine Son to become a man in order to save God’s people and the world:

“But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus (Yeshua – ‘Yahweh is Salvation’), for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:20-23

“But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” Galatians 4:4-6

“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.” 1 John 4:13-14

For more on this point please see Part 2.