Skip to main content
Bible Q

Does Isaiah 48:16 teach the Trinity? “from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.”

Does Isaiah 48:16 teach the Trinity? 

“Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.” Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go. (Isaiah 48:16-17)

A typical Trinitarian exposition will run as follows:

“To understand this verse look at verse 12 of this chapter: Isaiah 48:12 “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.”

Now look at: Isaiah 44:6 “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” The reference is of Father and Son.

Further Jesus is referenced in: Revelation 22:13 “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

Notice what I have put in bold in verse 16 of Isaiah 48 : “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.” The reference is Jesus and He is the speaker. “The Lord God” references Father God “and his Spirit”, references the Holy Spirit. So yes, the Trinity is referenced in this verse.”

(Trinitarian contributor on Quora website 2019)


Is that really 3 persons?

The first problem with the example quoted above – which should be obvious – is that no Jewish reader has ever identified the Trinity in Isaiah 48:16 simply because it appears, in the bolding given by the Trinitarian commentator above “am I” + “Lord GOD” + “his Spirit” that you can count three things in one verse. Well there are three things, but if you read the whole chapter the third person in 48:16 is clearly the nation of Israel, as shown by the seed as the sand – a reference back to the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. …. 19. Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me. (Isaiah 48:12…19)

That is God putting his breath (Hebrew ruakh, spirit or wind) in the nation of Jacob. There is no preexistent “God the Son” present in Isaiah, nor in any other part of the 66 books of the Bible.

The bigger background – The Servant in Isaiah ch. 42 to 53.  

The second background problem with a Trinitarian reading is that even if Isaiah 48:12, 16-17, and Isaiah 44:6 had reference to the Messiah, not to God himself, they would only do so in the context of of Isaiah 44 and 48 occurring among the section of Isaiah that contains Messianic prophecies which like the Immanuel-Wonderful Counsellor prophecies in Isaiah 7,8 &9 have first application to Hezekiah, and second application to Jesus, without equating either Hezekiah or the Lord Jesus with Yahweh.

It’s common among Christian commentators on Isaiah to single out four “Servant Songs” of Isaiah that describe the service, suffering, and exaltation of the Servant of the Lord, the anointed One, in Hebrew the Messiah, in Greek the Christ. These four songs emphasize the character of the Anointed, the Messiah, as God’s Servant. Although he is an anointed king, he is also a king-priest, atoning for his people,  who will deliver those who believe in him from the prison of sin. These Servant Songs are found in Isaiah 42:1–9; Isaiah 49:1–13; Isaiah 50:4–11; and Isaiah 52:13—53:12.

But it a mistake to see only those four “Servant songs” as containing messianic content in this section of Isaiah. Although the reference is to the nation of Israel and the promises to Jacob, even so chapters 44 and 48 also contain messianic content – it’s simply that the suffering servant aspect isn’t so emphasized as much as Israel itself in those two sections. It’s a further mistake to pull individual verses like Isaiah 44:6 or Isaiah 48:16 out and make them into Trinitarian proof verses when all they are saying is that God’s anointed (be it Hezekiah first, then in fulness Jesus) looks forward. It does not mean that Jacob, nor Hezekiah, nor the ultimate fulfilment in the Lord Jesus, was literally present before the prophecy.

A passage like “I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there” refers to God’s plan, God’s wisdom, God’s word (in the broader Logos sense which includes the word of creation in Psalm 33:6 etc.), it is not the indication of a semi-secret second being lurking in the Old Testament.

No Comments yet!