The Trinitarian Claim
Concerning Genesis chapters 18 to 19, there are three distinct claims which come from Trinitarians.
1. Trinitarians have claimed the three men at 18:2 are the three persons of the Trinity.
2. Trinitarians have claimed that one of the three men at Genesis 18:22 is Jesus.
3. Trinitarians have claimed that Yahweh on earth at 19:24 is Jesus while Yahweh in heaven is the Father.
Examination of the Claims
Claim 1: The Three Men are the Three Persons of the Trinity
Now YAHWEH appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, "My Lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass by your servant." (18:1-3).
Many Trinitarians, true to form, seem to think that counting "one, two, three," somehow amounts to a single three person God. So here they see that YHWH appeared to Abraham, Abraham addresses these three in the singular as "my Lord" and they read that three men appeared to Abraham so they conclude that these three men are the three persons of the Trinity. Such are the reasonings of Trinitarians.
The first claim is quickly dismissed. First, we read that three men appeared to Abraham. Angels are depicted as "men" througout the Scriptures while we also read that God is not a man (Hosea 11:9). Secondly, if we follow through on the story and keep reading, we discover two of these men leave to go to Sodom and when they come to Lot's house we also discover what is already obvious: they are explicitly identified as two angels (19:1-2).
behold, three men were standing opposite him.... then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom.... Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.
Claim 2: The Third Man is not an angel but is Jesus
"and the [two] men turn from there and go towards Sodom and Abraham is yet standing before YAHWEH.... the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. "
When it is demonstrated that these two men who went to Sodom were angels, Trinitarians are confronted with the fact that they cannot imagine these three "men" are the three persons of the Trinity. So they resort to a second claim which is to eisegetically imagine a different concept into the text and wishfully suppose that one of these three is one of the persons of the Trinity. Now, the third "man" who remained behind with Abraham while the other two went to Sodom, is somehow different than the other two, and that the third man is indeed Jesus the second person of the Trinity.
The fact that these three identities in question are all identified as "men" should tell us that they are each the same type of being. However, when it is pointed out that two of the three are explicitly identified as angels, Trinitarians simply ignore such facts and imagine that the third man who remained behind with Abraham is not an angel. So Trinitarians wish to deny the obvious implication that these three "men" are called "three men" because they are the same type of being and rather insist that one of the three is different and is not the same type of being as the other two.
The problem with this claim is manifold. First, Trinitarians have conveniently forgotten that Abraham addressed all three men as singular adoni, "My Lord," and two of these three are explicitly identified as angels. Second, we read that there were "three men" not "two men" and two of these three men are explicitly identified as angels. Third, angels are often depicted as "men" in Scripture. We should therefore conclude that the third man is the same kind of being as the other two. Foruth, Trinitarians have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Jesus is standing before Abraham at Genesis 18:22. They simply resort to their imaginations and imagine Jesus into the text. Fifth, the Hebrews writer tells us that God had spoken to Israel through the prophets in the days of old but in these last days, He has spoken to us in a Son. The implications of those words are clear: Yahweh was not speaking to Israel in a Son.
A whole host of facts is ignored by Trinitarians in order to imagine Jesus into the text.
Claim 3: Yahweh on earth is Jesus
In addition to the above two claims, Trinitarians claim that Yahweh who rains down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gommorah at Genesis 19:24 is not an angel of God but is God and they also imagine it is God the Son, the person Jesus. Once again they simply imagine their doctrine into the text at will. Additionally, they will also often claim that this is the same identity as Yahweh who was standing before Abraham at 18:22 while the two angels went to Sodom.
When we read the account in Genesis 19 carefully, we find that it is the angels who will destroy Sodom.
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom....they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them.... Then the two men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here?".... for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before Yahweh that Yahweh has sent us to destroy it." (Genesis 19:12-13).
What is so seriously wrong with all three claims is that they are all based on the Trinitarian's imagination. He has absolutely no evidence three persons of the Trinity came to Abraham or that Jesus was the identity standing before Abraham or that Jesus was the one raining fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah. He simply wishes it were so and by an act of his own will he eisegetically reads these things into the text.
Analysis of the Facts
1. Reading Comprehension Required
Observe how Yahweh says He will go down to Sodom and see if what is taking place is true. And then carefully note what the context says, "the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom:
And Yahweh said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me and if not, I will know.” Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom.
When the two angels go down to Sodom, it is clear this is how Yahweh is going down to Sodom to see if they have done according to its outcry. It is a matter of simple reading comprehension.
2. The Context of Genesis 19:24
When we actually examine the account carefully, it becomes crystal clear what is happening in these two chapters. In the following account, notice how Yahweh is identified.
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom....they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them.... Then the two men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here?".... for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before Yahweh that Yahweh has sent us to destroy it." Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for Yahweh will destroy the city.".... Then Yahweh rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven (Genesis 19:12-14).
First, carefully observe who destroys Sodom: Yahweh destroys Sodom. (19:24). Now, carefully observe who says they will destroy Sodom: the two angels (19:13). Also carefully observe how Lot understands the angels when they tell him they will destroy Sodom. When the angels say they will destroy Sodom, Lot understands this to mean Yahweh will destroy Sodom (v. 14). It is quite clear, if we actually read the account in reasonable honesty, that these two angels destroying Sodom are Yahweh who rained down brimstone and fire. In other words, as sons of God, sons of Yahweh, we are to understand these angels are theophanies of Yahweh, that is, not that one person Yahweh the Father, but manifestations of Yahweh himself since that is what sons of Yahweh are.
3. Angels in Scripture
It is not at all uncommon to find angels depicted as "Yahweh" in the Scriptures. Carefully read the following two accounts. Also remember that Stephen did not suppose the angel who appeared to Moses was Jesus but was just an angel.
Now an angel of Yahweh found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai." Then the angel of Yahweh said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority." Moreover, the angel of Yahweh said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count." The angel of Yahweh said to her further, "Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because Yahweh has given heed to your affliction. "He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone's hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers." Then she called the name of Yahweh who spoke to her, "You are a God who sees"; for she said, "Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?" (Genesis 16:7-13).
An angel of Yahweh appeared to Moses in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush. And he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up." When Yahweh saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." He said also, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Yahweh said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt.... God said to Moses, "I AM THAT I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, `I AM has sent me to you.' " (Exodus 3:1-14).
Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. (Acts 7:30).
4. Shaliach: The Principle of Agency
The angels were SENT by YHWH. Angels are messengers, messengers of Yahweh with a message from Yahweh. In the Scriptures, it is very common for us to find an angel, or angels, sent by YHWH who are respected as if they were YHWH Himelf. This is because it is known that they were messengers sent by YHWH and to honor these angels is to honor the One who sent them: YHWH.
The shaliach principle of agency is very common in the Bible. In fact, Jesus teaches about this principle. To honor the one sent is to honor the one who sent him. Angels appear in the name of YHWH to do YHWH's will. They are MESSENGERS of Yahweh. And so people are expected respond to these angels as if they are responding to YHWH Himself.
5. Adoni ("My Lord")
When Abraham met the three men, he addressed them as adoni, "my Lord" (18:3). While there are three men, the Hebrew singular word adoni is used by Abraham and he is addressing plural "men" in the singular as if they were one person. This is because Abraham recognizes they are messengers of One, Yahweh, and their message is from One, Yahweh Himself. We have just read that the LORD appeared to Abraham, that is, Yahweh appeared to Abraham. So when Abraham speaks to these three messengers, He understands they are sent from one person, Yahweh, and so he speaks to them as if he is speaking to one person, Yahweh, and he does so because Yahweh sent them.
Verse 18:3 is not the only place this occurs. Again at verse 19:18, we read, "And Lot said to them, my Lord, please no!" Again, the word is the singular word adoni and both these two angels are together addressed with singular adoni as if they were one Lord. At this point, it becomes absolutely clear what has been going on since Abraham first met the three under the oaks of Mamre. Because Lot addresses two of these of "men" as singular adoni, and we know these two are angels, it is quite clear why Abraham addresses the three as adoni when he first met them. He addresses these messengers, whether one, two, or three, as "my Lord" because they were sent from his Lord Yahweh and he is speaking back to his Lord Yahweh who sent these three messengers.
Trinitarians imagine Jesus into the text. But in Genesis 19, it is clear to reasonable minds that the three who met Abraham were angels and that the angels are being identified as Yahweh raining down brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven. When the angels inform Lot that they will destroy Sodom, Lot understands this to mean Yahweh will destroy Sodom. And then we read that Yahweh in fact destroys Sodom. It is also unreasonable to suppose that the angels therefore did not destroy Sodom. Moreover, we know that it is common for the Bible to refer to an angel as Yahweh. Also, Stephen does not suppose the angel in the burning bush is anything more than an angel nor does he give us any indication that he supposes it is Jesus as Trinitarians wishfully like to think.
In the language of the Bible, we might read that King X destroyed the city. It would not, however, necessarily mean King X was even present at the scene. If King X stayed at home and the sons of King X went and destroyed the city, the language of the Bible would be that King X destroyed the city because the subjects of King X, his sons and his servants, represent King X and the Kingdom of King X. And it is no different concerning Yahweh and the angels who are the sons of God. In each case, their identity is wrapped up in their King and their progenitor just as all our children today bear the surname of their father.
The three identities in question are identified as "three men." This in itself should lead us to believe that all three of these identities are the same kind of identities rather than two of one kind and one of another kind.
Moreover, Abraham addresses all three with the singular "my Lord" while Lot addresses the two angels in the same way, "my Lord." This tells us for certain that all three were the same type of being and we have no reason to imagine one of the three was a different kind of being. And since it is quite clear that the two angels are Yahweh raining down brimstone and fire, we should also conclude that Yahweh standing before Abraham is simply a third angel. Three angels of Yahweh appearing to Abraham are understood to be Yahweh appearing to Abraham and therefore can be addressed as one Lord since they represent one Lord. Two of these angels are understood to be that one Lord by Lot, and just as three angels appearing to Abraham are understood to be Yahweh appearing to Abraham, Lot understands two angels destroying Sodom as Yahweh destroying Sodom. The facts tell us that all three are understood to be "Yahweh appeared to Abraham" simply because each of them are a messenger of Yahweh, just as we find in several other passages. When all the facts are honestly appreciated, and when we do not read or imagine our doctrines into the text for the sake of our tradition, we cannot come to any other conclusion other than that all three of these "men" are the same type of being, three angels who are representing Yahweh the God of Abraham.
"Now the two angels came to Sodom..... for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before YAHWEH that YAHWEH has sent us to destroy it.... Lot... said... "YAHWEH will destroy the city".... YAHWEH rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from YAHWEH out of heaven."
Last Updated: January 8, 2014.