Who was at the Baptism of Jesus?

Good Questions!

For many years, believers in the trinity have carefully planned out arguments that were sure to finally put an end to the annoying oneness doctrine that just won’t go away. They plot against it with scripture (and without it when necessary) to try and defeat it in a match of doctrinal chess, in which they hope for the favorable end result, the always desired checkmate. They use one piece until it has been taken off of the board by their opponent and then skillfully they move to the next one, usually without even allowing for the point to be proven or explained. They wish to jump around from one topic to the next, never dwelling upon one for too long. Once the defeat is imminent, so is moving to another topic. And so, another piece off the board. This never stops them running a pawn down to your side to retrieve an old piece and bring it back into the game.
 
In the process of trying to overcome the doctrine of the oneness of the Godhead, they have used debate tactics and arguments that have never ceased to exist. In fact, the ones they bring up are just the same old questions in a recycled form. Solomon had it right when he said, “there is no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). There is never a new question for us to answer. This is because there are only so many scriptures that can be even remotely misunderstood to be speaking of a plurality in the Godhead. These passages of the holy word of God that are “showing us the trinity” are very easily understood when looked at from a biblical viewpoint. It doesn’t take much to see it once we look at it through the light of the whole counsel of the word, not just segregated scriptures.

When we rightly divide the word of truth, we soon see that there is but one God and that He is not in any way, shape or form triune in persons. There is no plurality concerning who God is or what His nature and essence are. When examining the holy writ we see that God is absolutely one and He is very clear about that fact. Even in the so-called “trinitarian passages”, it is plain to see that Christ is God the Father manifest in the flesh.

Let us take a look at these age old questions presented by the three-person proponents. When we have finished examining those questions, they will have one to ponder themselves – are there ‘Any More Questions?’

(Matthew 3:13-17)
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and earnest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. The he suffered Him. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.

The Trinitarian Question
Let us start off by getting right to the heart of the argument. The place where every trinitarian secretly thinks, that they are presenting to us for the first time, a revelation of the three persons. They all want to take us to see the baptism of Jesus. In this baptism, we are supposed to believe that we are seeing three divine persons at work. We are supposed to be in awe of the great glory of the trinity. The problem is that two out of three of the divine persons are not in attendance. There is only one divine person present and that was Jesus.

Why Baptism?
Here at this momentous occasion as Jesus is being baptized by His cousin John the Baptist, we see an inspiring scene of the power of the Almighty at work. Jesus had no need of repentance seeing He was a perfect man (I think we still agree on that), yet He was going down in the water for baptism. What we see is Him setting the precedent for what all believers would do during the reign of His great church on earth. Who can deny water when the Lord Himself subjected his own sinless life to the rite of water baptism?

Types and Shadows
Not only was Christ being baptized for an example for believers to come, but was also fulfilling the types and shadows of ages past. The tabernacle, the exodus, the flood, the story of Jonah, the first murder and the sower all had heavenly light cast upon them showing us the shadows of God’s plan in heaven (Heb. 8:5). Every one of these stories and many more show the death, burial and resurrection as God’s plan of the ages. Each element of this gospel plan having its own significance in each of the shadows is fulfilled in a part of each story. Eventually, these types would no longer just be shadows, but would be fulfilled in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. Once the church began, we see the same plan in effect as sinners were introduced to the gospel message (Acts 2:38). We see repentance, water baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost clearly identifying the gospel message that saves us (1 Cor. 15 1-4) to these same events in Jesus’ Calvary experience. Death = Repentance, Burial = Water Baptism, Resurrection = Spirit Baptism.

In the tabernacle, the altar was the first place that the priest would stop, offering a sacrifice, thereby, identifying with the death and repentance. His next stop would be at the Brazen Laver as he washed himself before entering the inside. This is an obvious identification with the water baptism and burial. This is what Jesus was fulfilling at His baptism before entering into the ministry. The last place the priest would go was the Holy of Holies, being a type of heaven, but before he could go in he had to stop at the candlestick. The candlestick is a representation of the Holy Spirit baptism. We see the flames at Pentecost on the people’s heads. All of these stories show the elements of the gospel when light are cast upon them. (Ex. 38-40)

At The Baptism
Now that we know why Jesus was being baptized in the first place, let us look at the baptism actually taking place. We look and see Jesus in the water; we see a dove descending upon Jesus; we hear a voice speak saying “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”, and we see John the Baptist as the baptizer.

What oneness believers are missing, according to the trinitarians, is that the voice IS the first person (Father) and the dove IS the third person (Holy Spirit). However, like many of the claims that they make, the bible simply doesn’t say that. My question is, if these occurrences are actually the persons of the Father and the Holy Spirit, first and third respectively, why doesn’t the bible indicate so? Why doesn’t it say that “the Father” spoke from heaven and the “Holy Spirit” was a dove? It says there was a voice, but doesn’t specify the voice to a first person. It says that the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus “like a dove”.

Further, it is very interesting that we must have missed in the scriptures where the “person” of the Holy Spirit was actually not a person, but a dove. So far, according to this passage, where we were sure to be convinced of the three person trinity, we have an invisible person who speaks but doesn’t actually appear, another person in the water, and a bird. So we don’t actually have three divine persons, we have one divine person, a voice and a bird.

This is the very reason why oneness proponents insist on using biblical vernacular. Using unbiblical terms such as persons is very damaging to scriptural understanding.

Oneness uses, instead of the word persons, the term manifestations; a very biblical word (1 Tim. 3:16). What we actually see here is not three divine persons, but one divine person. We see the Omni-present Spirit of God simultaneously producing a voice from the heavens, and manifesting in the likeness of a dove as a representation of the anointing coming upon the ministry of Christ.

Listen To The Voice
Let’s listen to the voice for a second. Firstly, this is not the first time that God speaks from an unlikely place. He spoke from a donkey in Numbers 22. He spoke from a bush in Exodus 3. He also said that stones could cry out in Luke 19. Is the donkey, the bush or the stones going to be added to the list of persons next? Further, He now speaks from within the heart of Spirit-filled men (1 Cor. 12). So unless we are going to become as Mormons and call ourselves gods or “persons in the Godhead”, this voice cannot be classified as a divine person. It is a manifestation of the voice of God speaking from the heavens, for the heavens are His to speak from.

Taking a closer look, we not only hear a voice, but actually have the words that the voice said recorded. “This is my beloved son IN whom I am well pleased.” Colossians 1:19 says, “For it pleased the Father that IN Him (Jesus) should all fullness dwell.” Paul was surely schooled on what happened at the baptism. When He said these words it was a clear parallel to the words of the voice at the baptism. What exactly was the Spirit of God saying? It pleased Him to dwell in this man Christ in all fullness. This shows that the Spirit didn’t actually speak from heaven out of necessity, because of His location, for He was IN Christ as well. This doesn’t mean that there were two spirits, one in heaven and one in Christ. No -it meant that the same Spirit that allowed His voice to be heard from heaven was also in Christ, therefore making “hrist the dwelling place of the Father (Col. 2:9).

 The Heavenly Dove
Now; on to the dove. First of all, there was no dove. It was the Spirit of God that descended like a dove. It was not actually a dove, it just moved like one. It literally perched itself upon Jesus like a bird. The dove was not a description of what John saw, but how John saw it move.

The Spirit like a dove was a symbol to John that the Messiah was in front of him. It was a manifestation with a purpose. The purpose wasn’t to show us a third person, but to show John in whom the Spirit dwelt. It was to show John who was going to take away the sins of the world. How do we know this? John says so, “Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Also, right after Paul said that it pleased the Father to dwell in Christ (Col. 1:19) he went on to say why. “And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things to Himself (Father)…” (Col. 1:20). The Father was the one taking away the sins of the world. He was the one doing the reconciling. He was doing it in Jesus. Once, Jesus told a man he was forgiven of his sins and the Jews called him a blasphemer. Their reason, “Why does this man speak these blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mk. 2:7). “…God (Father) was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself…”(2 Cor. 5:19).

In other places in the bible, the Holy Spirit is likened unto a dove, fire, clouds and even breath (Dt. 1:33, Jn. 20:22). So with this understanding we must assume that fire, clouds and even breath are all persons of the Godhead as well. So what John should have said was “the one who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with a person.” Or, since we know that the person the fire represents is the Holy Ghost, it should more accurately read “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with the Holy Ghost.”

Conclusion
They will stop at nothing to get three divine persons to be present at that baptism, but no matter how long they endure in following this course, they will always end up with only one divine person in attendance. It is the one being baptized; Jesus the Christ.

Scripture References

Hebrews 8:5
Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, see, sayeth he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee on the mount.

Acts 2:38
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preach unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, ho that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Exodus 38-40
Chapters referenced from the Authorized KJV of the Bible.

1 Timothy 3:16

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory.

Numbers 22:28
And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times ?

Exodus 3:4
And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

Luke 19:40
And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, z, hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

1 Corinthians 12:11
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Colossians 1:19
For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell;

Colossians 2:9

For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

John 1:29

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and sayeth, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Colossians 1:20
And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.


Mark 2:7
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?

2 Corinthians 5:19
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Deuteronomy 1:33
Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by.

John 20:22
And when He has said this, He breathed on them, and sayeth unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Published by

Dr. Larry L Yates

Dr. Larry L Yates is a Minister, Author and Bible Teacher with Doctorates in Theology, Religion, and Ministry. He is President of Mineola Bible Institute as well as a member of the Board of the International Apostolic University-London, in the UK. He is the author of numerous books on apostolic theology, prayer, and healing.

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