Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in him; it was that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "Lord (Yahweh), who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord (Yahweh) been revealed?" Therefore they could not believe. For Isaiah again said, "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and turn for me to heal them." Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (John 12:37-41).
The Trinitarian Claim
Some Trinitarians claim John's words, "Isaiah saw his glory" are proof that "Jesus is Yahweh."
The Claim vs. The Facts
The Scriptural facts show us plainly that John is referring to the fact that the prophet Isaiah saw the future Messiah's glory.
The Problem with the Claim
1. The Trinitarian Interpretation: A Narrow Minded Assumption
John quotes two different passages from the prophet Isaiah. Trinitarians focus only upon John's second quotation where John quotes Isaiah chapter 6:
For Isaiah again said, "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and turn for me to heal them. John 12:40
In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is YAHWEH of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory. And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven." Then 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!" He said, "Go, and tell this people: `Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." Isaiah 6:1-10.
Having seen that Isaiah 6:9-10 is the source of the quotation, Trinitarians then observe that Isaiah saw God's glory at the beginning of the chapter and conclude that John was referring to Isaiah seeing the glory of God. Therefore, they conclude, Jesus must be Yahweh God whom Isaiah saw in verse 1.
However, Trinitarians are making an assumption here and they look no further to check and see if their assumption is correct and has any merit.
2. Where's the Father? Indeed, Where's the Triune God?
One has to wonder what the Trinitarian is actually thinking. In Trinitarian doctrine, the one true God, Yahweh, is the Triune Being. But somehow, in the Trinitarian mind, Yahweh sitting on His throne in Isaiah 6 is not the Triune God, not God the Father, but only one person: Jesus.
Where does God the Father fit in this picture? Are we to suppose that God the Father and the Holy Spirit are just not there? Are we to forget they exist, or suppose they are off somewhere else, and suppose just one single person is sitting on this throne and this person is Jesus? Are we to become temporary Modalists to suit this occasion? And where is the Triune God? We can't forget about Him. The Trinitarian claim does not even make sense on the surface of things.
3. John has been emphasizing Humanity not Divinity
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? "Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour." v.27
How can you say that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? v.34
John also quotes from Isaiah 53 which describes the suffering servant, the human being Jesus who died on a cross.
Behold, My servant will prosper, he will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So his appearance was marred more than any man and his form more than the sons of men.... Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows... Surely our griefs he himself bore, and our sorrows he carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon him, and by his scourging we are healed... He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open His mouth... he was cut off out of the land of the living... the LORD was pleased to crush him, putting him to grief... he poured out his soul unto death. Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
Whether you are a Trinitarian or not, the theme of Isaiah 53 is a suffering servant and suffering humanity, not divinity sitting on a throne. From Isaiah's perspective, the human Christ was a future reality.
4. Isaiah said "these things." John Quoted two verses not One
John quotes two passages from Isaiah to make his point. He quotes from both Isaiah 53 (v.38) and from Isaiah 6 (v.40). Isaiah 53 is the well known Suffering Servant passage which prophetically describes the suffering of God's Christ. But when Trinitarians interpret John 12:41 to conveniently support their doctrine, they intentionally ignore the relevance of John's quotation of Isaiah 53 and focus instead upon his quotation from Isaiah 6. But John says that Isaiah said "these things" And after John states what Isaiah said in Isaiah 53, he says, "For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again,"He has blinded their eyes...."
It is therefore quite clear that "these things" refer to both verses from Isaiah the prophet. So both Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 6 are "these things" which Isaiah said. Therefore, Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus with respect to both Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 6. Moreover, John says that Isaiah said these things when he saw his glory. Whatever glory Isaiah saw, the glory he saw must be seen in Isaiah 53. Trinitarians simply disregard this fact since it does not suit their claim.
These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory.
5. John's Purpose in Quoting these Two Verses: Fulfillment of Prophecy
The context makes it quite plain that John's purpose in quoting these two verses is to show how the disbelief of the Jews had been prophesied by Isaiah and this prophecy was now being fulfilled.
"But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet.... Isaiah said these things...."
John is not talking about an event which occurred during Isaiah's lifetime but events the prophet saw which will occur in the future. These things which Isaiah spoke were now being fulfilled.
6. Trinitarians Contradict their own Doctrine
In Isaiah 6, the Lord who was sitting on his throne, the King, the LORD of Hosts, is also the one who says the following to Isaiah:
[The LORD] said, "Go, and tell this people: `Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." (Isaiah 6:9-10).
Trinitarians claim the Lord in Isaiah 6 is God the Son who is speaking. However, this claim conflicts with the Holy Scriptures which say it was the Holy Spirit who said these words:
And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word,"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.
In Trinitarian doctrine, the Son is most definitely not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Son. Acts 28:26 tells us the Holy Spirit spoke these things at Isaiah 6:9-10. This completely rules out the possibility that the Lord in Isaiah 6 is the Son for two reasons:
1. The Trinitarian claim contradicts the Scriptures which say the Holy Spirit said these things not the Son.
2. The Trinitarian claim contradicts their own doctrine because the Son is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Son in Trinity doctrine.
Therefore, the Trinitarian claim is demonstrably false since the claim contradicts both Scripture and their own doctrine This Trinitarian claim is self defeating..
7. The Trinitarian Claim Doesn't Even Make any Sense
John says that Isaiah said these things about Jewish unbelief because he saw the Messiah's glory. Now, how does it make any rational sense to suggest Isaiah spoke about future unbelieving Jews because he saw a pre-existent Yahweh the Son sitting on a throne seven centuries before? It doesn't make any sense whatsoever. It only makes sense that Isaiah saw the future Messiah, his future glory, and the Jewish disbelief in response to that future Messiah.
Analysis of the Facts
1. The Immediate Context
In the immediately preceding context, John is talking about the fact that people were not believing in him although he had done many signs (v.37) and all this happened to fulfill the word spoken by Isaiah:
But though he had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke,
"Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" v.38
For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again,
"He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.
These things Isaiah said because he saw his glory, and he spoke of him.
It should be plainly obvious what the context is about. John quotes two passages from Isaiah which prophesied the Jewish unbelief to show that these prophecies were now being fulfilled. Note how verse 38 and verse 41 are saying the same thing, "to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke.... he saw his glory and spoke of him.
Also note these very important words from Jesus in the context which immediately follows:
And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in me, believes not in me but in the One who sent me. And he who sees me sees the One who sent me." (12:44-45).
The immediate context is about belief vs. unbelief. Even though the man Jesus had done may signs, they did not believe in him. And so John indicates this is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecies in Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 53. And Jesus responds with a teaching on seeing and believing - to see Jesus is not to see Jesus but to see the Father. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus explains he was one with the Father in the works he did in his Father's name. People saw the Father at work in Jesus (14:10-11; cf. Acts 2:22). Even further, John said, "though he had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in him (v. 37).
2. John is referring to Fulfillment of Prophecy
We are explicitly informed that the quotations from Isaiah are a fulfillment of prophecy.
But though he had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke.... (v. 37).
Isaiah's statements are prophetic and they clearly refer to the future when people would not believe in Jesus although he had done many signs before them . Therefore, when we read the words "Isaiah saw his glory and spoke of him," it should be clear that Isaiah prophetically saw the glory of the future Christ who was doing these signs.
A key fact is that John tells us the current Jewish unbelief had fulfilled the things Isaiah had prophesied and that Isaiah had prophesied these things having seen Jesus' glory. It doesn't make any sense at all to claim that Isaiah said these things about the future Jewish unbelief because he had seen Yahweh the Son in the Temple at Isaiah 6:1. It is incoherent babble. Isaiah said these things about the current Jewish unbelief because he had seen the glory of the future Messiah and prophesied about the Jewish unbelief in response to the glory manifested to them in the signs he had done.
3. What Glory is John talking about?
Note the immediate context of the Septuagint for John's quotation of Isaiah 53:1.
Behold, my servant shall understand, and be exalted, and glorified exceedingly. As many shall be amazed at thee, so shall thy face be without glory from men, and your glory shall not be honoured by the sons of men. Thus shall many nations wonder at him; and kings shall keep their mouths shut: for they to whom no report was brought concerning him, shall see; and they who have not heard, shall consider. O Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? Isaiah 52:13-53:1
The Contextual Glory of John 12:41
The context makes it quite clear what glory John has in mind when he writes John 12:41, the glory manifested in the signs Jesus was doing. And even thought he manifested his glory in doing these signs, they would still not believe.
And Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves me, he must follow me and where I am, there my servant will be also; if anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, `Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." 12:23-28.
Jesus' Signs Manifest His Glory
Note how the word "glory" is used in John. It refers to the glory of the works Jesus was doing in his Father's name.
we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 1:14.
Unless you see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe. 4:48.
I glorified You on the earth, having finished the work which You have given me to do. 17:4.
But though he had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in him. 12:38.
This, the first of the signs Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. John 2:11
Jesus' signs manifested his glory. The works of the Father which he did manifested his glory. This is exactly what John has been talking about in the context of John 12:41, "although he had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in him" (v. 37). And then John quotes Isaiah 6 and 53 to show that this unbelief is a fulfillment of prophecies of Isaiah. The entire account is about fulfillment of prophecy, not something Isaiah saw in the Temple at Isaiah 6:1.
The contextual facts tell us beyond any reasonable doubt that the glory which John was talking about is the glory of the signs Jesus was performing before these people. And in fulfillment of Isaiah's two prophecies, these people did not believe in him. John is telling us that Isaiah saw the glory of the future Christ in terms of the signs which manifested his glory and how these first century Jews would still not believe in him even though he had manifested that glory before their eyes.
I glorified You on the earth, having finished the work which You have given me to do.
The Trinitarian claim not only doesn't make sense but results in a contradiction with their own doctrine. The contextual facts also tell quite a different story than Trinitarians are telling.
John said Isaiah said "these things." Isaiah 53:1, the suffering servant passage, is one of those two things Isaiah prophesied. John is telling us that these two prophecies are now being fulfilled. In Isaiah 6 and 53, Isaiah saw the glory of a future suffering servant who did many signs manifesting his glory but these people still would not believe in him. This also fits with the glory Jesus is talking about in the preceding context. John quotes two passages from Isaiah to show how his prophecies were fulfilled by the Jewish unbelief in response to the manifestation of his glory in the signs Jesus did. The facts tell us that the signs which the Messiah was doing manifested his glory, this is the glory of the future Messiah which Isaiah saw, he prophesied how these Jews would still not believe in response seeing this glory, and John is showing us how these prophecies of Isaiah were now being fulfilled.