We’ve covered the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament, with God the Father speaking to God the Son (Immanuel, Jesus), and the Spirit of God/Spirit of the Lord being a reference to the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, we see the Trinity displayed beautifully surrounding the birth of Christ and the birth of the New Testament church, as the work started by the ministry of Jesus and His gospel is spread throughout all the world by His disciples that He chose and commissioned (Judas excepted, of course).
The Doctrine of the Trinity is practically accepted by most Christian churches today (the majority, with some exceptions; there are almost always exceptions), which makes this undertaking important as it discusses a major doctrine for the church.
In the New Testament, we see God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God the Father speaks from Heaven (He never leaves the throne), the Son of God, Jesus, comes down to walk among men, perform miracles, preach the good news (gospel) of the Kingdom, dies on the Cross for the sins of the world, and is then resurrected from the dead to prove His divine nature and Lordship. He commissions the eleven disciples who remain, then ascends into Heaven from where He came. Before leaving earth, Jesus foretells of the Holy Spirit and His new work in the post-resurrection era: that the Holy Spirit would testify of Jesus, point to Jesus, never to Himself, that He would lead and guide the church into all truth, that He would confirm the good news of the gospel with signs and wonders, that He would equip believers and empower them to do His work. The Spirit of the Lord in the Old Testament accomplishes great tasks, but the New Testament focus is about not just the external work of the Holy Spirit but also His internal work. We see that the Holy Spirit indwells believers in the Old Testament, but we learn more about this indwelling through sanctification, the fruit of the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit in the New Testament. The emerging role of the Holy Spirit in the last 27 books of the Bible demonstrates progressive revelation — that we learn more about the Spirit over the pages of Scripture than we knew initially. Thus, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Godhead, three in one, the Triune Godhead, comes to light in multiple ways here in the New Covenant.
While we’d love to cover all of the New Testament in one article, one article alone can’t do it justice. Thus, we’ll start our coverage of the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Gospel of Matthew.
The Gospel of Matthew
Matthew 3: The Trinity at Jesus’ baptism
In the opening pages of the New Testament, we see the Trinity appear at a significant event: the baptism of Jesus. Jesus goes down in the water and comes up, and immediately after He emerges from the waters of the Jordan River do we see the Father and the Holy Spirit confirm Him as a member of their “Tri-unity”:
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
At Jesus’ baptism, we see “the Spirit of God” who comes on His shoulder. The voice from Heaven is only identified by what He says. What’s most interesting is that, rather than confirm or identify who He is, He points to and emphasizes His Son: “This is My beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). Paul notes that God the Father confirms His Son above the angels in his letter to Jewish Christians:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5 For to which of the angels did He ever say:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”?
“I will be to Him a Father,
And He shall be to Me a Son”?
6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:
“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
7 And of the angels He says:
“Who makes His angels spirits
And His ministers a flame of fire.”
8 But to the Son He says:
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”
“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
11 They will perish, but You remain;
And they will all grow old like a garment;
12 Like a cloak You will fold them up,
And they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not fail.”
13 But to which of the angels has He ever said:
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?
14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:1-14)
Paul notes that the Son is the one who “Himself purged our sins” and sat down at the right hand of God (v.3), a reference to none other than Jesus, who cleansed our sins by dying on the Cross and giving His life, shedding His blood for the remission of sins. Here we see that the Lord Jesus has a better name, a greater name, than the angels. None of the angels has God the Father ever called “Son” (v.5), or “Lord” (vv.8-12), or given a seat at the right hand of the throne of God (v.13).
In Matthew 4, we see the Wilderness Temptations, where “the Spirit,” the Holy Spirit, leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. These temptations are an important part of the work of Jesus — for they show our Lord being tempted and remind us that we too, will be tempted, as His followers.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Matthew 6 brings us to “The Lord’s Prayer,” a prayer instituted by the Lord Jesus Himself who taught the disciples how to pray to God the Father in Heaven:
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place;and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:5-15)
Here in Matthew 6, the Lord tells the disciples to pray “Our Father,” words that indicate that God the Father is also Jesus’ Father — and thus, makes Jesus “the Son.”
Matthew 7: Jesus confirms His Lordship
In Matthew 7, we see Jesus confirming that He is Lord and that all humanity will have to give an account before Him:
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says that there are some who call Him “Lord, Lord” but will not enter Heaven. In the same sentence, He refers to “My Father in heaven,” a reminder that God the Father is His Father (He is the Son), and that His Father is from Heaven, which is where Jesus is from also. The fact that He refers to Himself as “Lord” and says that many will come to Him and call Him “Lord” shows that Jesus sees Himself as deity, that He too, is God, and that He, as God’s Son, has the same divine nature as His Father.
Matthew 8: Jesus is worshipped as Lord, called “Son of God” by demons
Jesus is also called “Lord” in Matthew 8, as He is worshipped by a leper whom He heals (Matthew 8:2). At the end of the chapter, Jesus meets two demon-possessed men whose demons speak to and acknowledge the divinity of Jesus:
28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men,coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”
32 And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.
33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region. (Matthew 8:28-34)
The demons of the two men refer to Jesus as “Jesus, You Son of God” (Matthew 8:29), a reference that shows His divinity and verifies His name. It’s one thing to call yourself “Jesus,” but another when the demons verify the name and then call Him divine. The demons ask Jesus “Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (v.29), a question that indicates the demons are aware of their final end — that torment awaits them.
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! 26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. (Matthew 10:16-26)
In Matthew 10:20, “the Spirit of your Father” refers to God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. The reference shows us that the Holy Spirit here is the Father’s to give at this point. Jesus will be able to give the Holy Spirit to mankind after His death and resurrection, since He, as the Son, inherits all things from His Father. Apart from that, He will be the reason why the disciples are hated and why they’ll be put on trial.
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matthew 10:32-40)
Jesus says here in Matthew 10 that He is in Heaven, who will confess believers before “My Father who is in Heaven” (v.32). If Jesus is the one who must confess believers before God the Father, then He is the one who has access to the Father and is the One that believers must go through in order to get to the Father. In verse 38, He says that believers must “take his cross and follow after Me,” a sign that Jesus is connected to salvation (one cannot be saved without faith in Jesus).
In verse 40, He says that “he who receives me receives Him who sent Me,” a reference to God the Father (the Father sent Jesus on His earthly mission to come die for mankind). Jesus’ mission from the Father shows us that the Father has given orders to Jesus and Jesus has been obedient to the will of His Father.
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30)
Jesus praises God the Father with the words, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth” in verse 25, reminding us that God the Father is “Lord of heaven and earth.” God the Father is God, the one true living God. He calls God the Father “Father” again in verse 26, and then connects Himself to God the Father in verse 27 with the words “all things have been delivered to Me by My Father.” As I said regarding the giving of the Spirit, Jesus gives the Spirit after His resurrection because He inherits all that the Father gives. The Father and the Son know each other, and He says that “the Son wills to reveal Him” to those He chooses in verse 27.
In verse 28, He says that He can give them rest “for your souls” (v.29), what we know to be the eternal rest for the people of God. This same rest that Jesus gives is the eternal rest that the Israelites in the wilderness missed because of unbelief:
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:1-10)
There is an eternal rest for the people of God, and it goes to those who believe and yield to the words and pleading of the Holy Spirit.
22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:22-32)
In Matthew 12:28, Jesus says that He casts out demons “by the Spirit of God,” and then He distinguishes between Himself as “Son of Man” (of the Trinity and Triune Godhead, only Jesus is born among men) and the Spirit as “the Holy Spirit” (v.32). His reference to the Spirit of the Lord as the Holy Spirit here alerts us that there are two other persons of the Trinity at work here — apart from God the Father.
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20)
At this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus asks the disciples who they believe Him to be. First, He asks what others have said about Him, which leads to the claim that He could be one of the prophets such as Elijah or John the Baptist. And then, when He asks them who they believe Him to be, Simon Peter says “You are Christ, the Son of the living God” (v.16). Jesus says that flesh and blood did not reveal this truth to Peter but “My Father who is in Heaven” (v.17). Jesus acknowledges that God the Father is His with the pronoun “My.”
Next, we see Jesus go into His plans for the church: “on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (vv.18-19). Jesus will build the church, and it is “My church,” the word “My” implying possession (that the church belongs to Him). Then He says that “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” which is a statement that shows that Jesus has power over the kingdom of heaven. Since He is God, and the church is His church, He has the power to give to Peter. The church will be built upon the confession that Jesus is the Christ, so we see Jesus here acknowledging His deity and His Lordship.
In verses 24-28, Jesus acknowledges His role as judge, that He will judge every man and give him based on his works:
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.28 “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28)
Jesus refers to someone coming after Him, someone taking up his cross “For My sake,” again referring to Himself as the one to do it all for. In verse 27, Jesus says that “the Son of Man” will return “in the glory of His Father with the angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” This statement shows us that “the Son of Man” refers to Jesus as the God-man, with the phrase “His Father” connecting Him to God the Father and claiming to be His Son. He will reward each man according to his works, a claim that Jesus makes to acknowledge that He is the coming judge who will reward or punish individuals and the nations. Jesus says the same later on in Matthew’s Gospel in Matthew 25:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
“Son of Man” is a title Jesus uses of Himself in Matthew’s Gospel as we’ve seen earlier (Matt. 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 32, 40; 13:37, 41; 16:13, 27, 28; 17:9, 12, 22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18, 28; 24:27, 29, 30, 37, 39, 44; 25:13), so we’re not surprised to see it appear here. What it tells us is that Jesus can command the angels (the angels will come with Him), that He is the Judge of all the nations (He’s God, for only God is called “the Judge of all the earth”). While there were human judges throughout Israel’s history, only God was the Judge over all:
12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:12-16)
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 3 Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. 4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.
5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.” (Genesis 16:1-5)
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:22-25)
Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!”
2 And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
3 So she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her.” 4 Then she gave him Bilhah her maid as wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.”Therefore she called his name Dan. (Genesis 30:1-6)
45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 Then Jacob said to his brethren, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48 And Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me this day.” Therefore its name was called Galeed, 49 also Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another.50 If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us—see, God is witness between you and me!”
51 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Here is this heap and here is this pillar, which I have placed between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53 The God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of their father judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. (Genesis 31:45-53)
17 But he said, “You are idle! Idle! Therefore you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Therefore go now and work; for no straw shall be given you, yet you shall deliver the quota of bricks.” 19 And the officers of the children of Israel saw that they were in trouble after it was said, “You shall not reduce any bricks from your daily quota.”
20 Then, as they came out from Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. 21 And they said to them, “Let the Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:17-21)
36 “For the Lord will judge His people
And have compassion on His servants,
When He sees that their power is gone,
And there is no one remaining, bond or free.
37 He will say: ‘Where are their gods,
The rock in which they sought refuge?
38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices,
And drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise and help you,
And be your refuge.
39 ‘Now see that I, even I, am He,
And there is no God besides Me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
40 For I raise My hand to heaven,
And say, “As I live forever,
41 If I whet My glittering sword,
And My hand takes hold on judgment,
I will render vengeance to My enemies,
And repay those who hate Me.
42 I will make My arrows drunk with blood,
And My sword shall devour flesh,
With the blood of the slain and the captives,
From the heads of the leaders of the enemy.” (Deuteronomy 32:36-42)
23 ‘And now the Lord God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel; should you then possess it? 24 Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the Lord our God takes possession of before us, we will possess. 25 And now, are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel? Did he ever fight against them? 26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities along the banks of the Arnon, for three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? 27 Therefore I have not sinned against you, but you wronged me by fighting against me. May the Lord, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.’”28 However, the king of the people of Ammon did not heed the words which Jephthah sent him. (Judges 11:23-28)
“For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
And He has set the world upon them.
9 He will guard the feet of His saints,
But the wicked shall be silent in darkness.
“For by strength no man shall prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces;
From heaven He will thunder against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
“He will give strength to His king,
And exalt the horn of His anointed.” (1 Samuel 2:8b-10)
22 Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. 24 No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord’s people transgress. 25 If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them. (1 Samuel 2:22-25)
8 David also arose afterward, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed down. 9 And David said to Saul: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’? 10 Look, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it. 12 Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? 15 Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.” (1 Samuel 24:8-15)
31 “When anyone sins against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath, and comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this temple, 32 then hear in heaven, and act, and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked, bringing his way on his head, and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness. (1 Kings 8:31-32)
There are many references in the Old Testament to God as Judge, showing that He is the One that will judge all. So in Matthew 25, we see Jesus in His role as Judge, thus confirming that He is God and is a member of the Triune Godhead (Trinity).
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”
10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. 12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:1-13)
It is here in Matthew 17, at the Mount of Transfiguration, that Jesus’s glory is beheld by the disciples: “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” It’s none other than Jesus, and John, present at the Mount of Transfiguration, witnesses this in the Book of Revelation:
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. (Revelation 1:12-18)
In Revelation 1:13, we see that John sees “the Son of Man,” and in verse 16, “His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” The one whose countenance is like the sun in Matthew 17 is the same one John sees in his vision while exiled on the isle of Patmos. Revelation 1:18 tells us that the Son of Man of verse 13 is “He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore,” a statement that could only be made by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
In the Transfiguration event, Jesus is talking with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:3), a sign that He can contact Moses and Elijah who have passed beyond this life. Jesus has power over life and power over death, and He can access Moses and Elijah — though no human on earth can. While Moses and Elijah have died and passed from this life, they are not beyond the reach of Jesus. Thus, Jesus has power over life and death and even has access to the Old Testament saints. In verse 4, Peter wants to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, making the Old Testament patriarchs (Moses and Elijah) equal to Jesus, but the voice from Heaven reigns down audibly and says,
5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5)
Matthew sets up nothing short of excellent Old Testament theology here — and we would expect him to, since his Gospel shows the Jewishness of Jesus. First, there is the bright cloud that overshadows them, a reminder of the cloud that overshadowed the Israelites when God spoke from Mount Sinai:
9 And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever.”
So Moses told the words of the people to the Lord.
16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.20 Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
21 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord, and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.”
23 But Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain and consecrate it.’”
24 Then the Lord said to him, “Away! Get down and then come up, you and Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest He break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them. (Exodus 19:9, 16-25)
The Lord talked to the Israelites through a cloud, and the same happened at the Mount of Transfiguration. The Lord chose to talk with Moses in the cloud, which means that the cloud was where the Lord chose to give revelation. The same happens here in Matthew 17: it is out of the mountain that God gives the revelation that Jesus is His Son: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. Hear Him!”
This isn’t the first time we hear God the Father’s audible voice from Heaven; we’ve heard it earlier in Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus is baptized (see Matthew 3 and our section on Matthew 3 in this article).
God the Father makes a statement here worth discussing: Jesus, His Son, is greater than Moses and Elijah. He’s not just another one of the prophets, He’s not just a representative for God; He IS God Himself! In other words, Jesus is superior to Moses and Elijah. Peter wanted Moses and Elijah to have tabernacles built alongside of Jesus’, a sign that Peter didn’t quite understand who Jesus was. God the Father’s audible confirmation of Jesus is designed to make Jesus stand out from Moses and Elijah. Jesus is talking with them in the vision, but He isn’t “one of them” as though He’s only a prophet but nothing more; no, He isn’t only a prophet, but He is Prophet, Priest, and King!
Even Moses confirmed that a Prophet greater than he would come:
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,16 according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’
17 “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-22)
In Deuteronomy 18:15, the Lord says that He would raise up a Moses-like Prophet. The Lord repeats this again in Deuteronomy 18:18-19 with more detail: He says that “whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.” This is the one that the people are to hear. Well, here in Matthew 17, we see that God the Father has told the disciples, “Hear Him,” the pronoun “Him” referring to Jesus. At the Mount of Transfiguration, the Lord connects Jesus to Moses and Elijah while making Jesus superior to them. As Paul says (and I’ve quoted it in the article before now, but it bears repeating):
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:1-3)
God “spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,” (vv.1-2), a reminder that Jesus is the Prophet that supercedes all prophets. He is the greatest and final revelation of God’s Law, in a way that the Old Testament prophets could never be. Peter, though not getting the superiority of Jesus in Matthew 17, gets it when he writes his epistles years later as an apostle with holy boldness:
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:6-12)
The prophets of the Old Testament were “searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:11), a sign that the Old Testament prophets preached of Christ, the One who would be greater than them.
How does the superiority of Jesus relate to the Trinity? Jesus is God, He’s more than a prophet. No matter how great the prophets are, Jesus is the One about whom the prophets prophesied and preached. He is thus, greater than them because they, in the spirit of John the Baptist, point the way to Jesus Christ.
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matthew 19:23-30)
The rich young ruler walks away from salvation because he is told by Jesus to give away all his goods to feed the poor, and come and follow Jesus to have treasure in Heaven. He walks away, which leads to Jesus’ conversation that it is hard for the rich and wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. In verses 28-29, the Lord refers to Himself as “Son of Man,” but shows that He is God (“His glory”, verse 28), says that He will give the twelve disciples twelve thrones to judge the Israelite tribes, and then says that those who have abandoned all for Him will “receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” Again, those who follow Him will be given possessions and eternal life by Jesus Christ Himself. Only God can give eternal life, so if Jesus is the one who can give eternal life and forgive sins (Matthew 9:2), and God can give both eternal life and forgiveness of sins, then Jesus is God and worthy of worship.
Matthew 22: The Son of David is Lord
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”
They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’?
45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore. (Matthew 22:41-46)
Jesus poses a question to the Pharisees that they are unable to answer. They said that the Christ was “the Son of David,” but Jesus reminds them with a passage from Psalm 110 that the Son of David is called “Lord” by David. “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” This is the question. The answer is that the Son of David, the one that came from the lineage of David, is Lord, that Jesus, being the Christ, is both human (from the lineage of David) and divine (David’s Lord). What this tells us is that there’s nothing contrary about Jesus possessing both human and divine natures, that there’s no conflict or contradiction, that His human nature didn’t rob Him of His divinity and deity.
Matthew 23: Jesus exalts Himself above the Pharisees
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Jesus tells His disciples here to not be like the Pharisees, to not crave being called “Rabbi” because “One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren” — a statement that says, in effect, mortals cannot exalt themselves because Christ, God, deity, is greater than mortals. This shows us that, despite Jesus’ human nature, He isn’t just a man but is God incarnate. No one is exalted above God, and Christ tells us that His disciples are mere men while He is greater than all men. Verse 9 tells us that no man should be called father because “for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” The context here means that we’re not dealing with labeling someone your paternal parent, but rather, that you would call someone “Daddy” in the context of being the source of all spiritual blessings, or that you would refer to a priest as “Father.” The “Father” label for priests is irreverent to God because God alone is Father. Remember the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught His disciples? It began with “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9). In verse 10, the disciples were not to call themselves teachers because Christ is their teacher. Again, we see Jesus reminding the disciples that they are mortals while also reminding them that God is greater than men, they are men, and that Christ and the Father are both God — emphasizing the Triune Godhead’s superiority and reverence over that of mere mortals. Men are not to exalt themselves because only God is worthy of exaltation.
Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:1-2)
Matthew 26 begins with Jesus referring to Himself as “the Son of Man,” and we’ve seen this label before.
Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus for burial
After Jesus’ reference to Himself as “Son of Man,” we now see a woman anoint His head while He’s at the house of Simon the leper:
6 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”
10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Matthew 26:6-13)
Jesus makes this statement about the woman with the alabaster flask as though it’s well known regarding the Son of Man. He knows that He is soon to be crucified, and this woman’s anointing shows that she, too, is well aware that her Savior will be crucified. There are some other details provided on this woman (such as her name) that will be uncovered in examinations of the other Gospels.
Jesus confirms His deity once more at His last supper with the disciples
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:26-30)
Jesus refers to “My blood” as that “shed for many for the remission of sins” (v.28), a sign that He is human. And yet, He refers to God the Father as “My Father,” and says that God the Father has a Kingdom and that “I drink it new with you” (a reference to the fruit of the vine). In other words, Jesus says He’ll be in His Father’s Kingdom, and the disciples will be there, too. Again, Jesus is from Heaven, God the Father is His Father, and the disciples will see Jesus again in Heaven someday. Here we see Jesus’ humanity (shedding of blood) and divinity (His Father’s kingdom, the assurance He will be there).
Later in the chapter, we see the power that Jesus has, such that He can command an army of angels to free Him from being arrested and captured by the chief priests:
47 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”
Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. 51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. 56 But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled. (Matthew 26:47-56)
The time comes for Judas, Jesus’ “friend,” to betray Him and hand Him over to the powers of darkness. It is at this moment that Jesus shows what He is capable of. He says that “I can[not] now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels,” asking it as a question (v.53). He need only pray and God the Father would dispatch twelve legions of angels to His side. As for how many angels “twelve legions” would be, estimates place it at a minimum of about 60,000 angels (perhaps more in a precise count). Jesus isn’t an ordinary man because, what ordinary man could do this? Thus, Jesus shows His divinity by saying that He has the power to call thousands of angels to aid Him if He needed to, if He wanted to. And yet, if He did, Scripture wouldn’t be fulfilled. Scripture is the only thing that puts His power in check because, whatever Jesus does with His divine power, He can’t cause the Scriptures to fall or err in what they’ve said regarding Him. Scripture is infallible, but we see here that Jesus, being God, has a high view of Scripture (which is the Word of God from the lips of God, breathed out by God).
Jesus has to be superior to the angels in order to command the angels. If He were merely an angel, He wouldn’t have any more power than Michael the archangel — but He wouldn’t be God. God can command the angels to come to His side and can command worship, and Jesus, being divine and God, can command worship and command the angels. Remember, in Heaven, the angels do the Lord Jesus’ bidding; that didn’t change, even when He was on earth.
Jesus’ trial takes place next, where He is falsely accused before the Sanhedrin:
57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.
59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, 60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”
62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?”
They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.”
67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?” (Matthew 26:57-67)
In verse 61 of the above excerpt, we see that the false witnesses quote Jesus’ statement about His body but are likely using it to accuse Him of insurrection. In Matthew 26:64, Jesus says that He is the Son of God (which is what He was asked to verify), followed by “hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” We know Jesus is the “Son of Man” because Matthew, writing on the Jewishness of Jesus in his Gospel, says so over a dozen times (see earlier references to “Son of Man” in the article for more information).
Matthew 26:64 is intriguing for more than just the Son of Man reference, however; it is intriguing because the words quoted by Jesus are reminiscent of the words regarding the Son of Man in the Book of Daniel:
13 “I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
Jesus gives credence to the dreams and prophecies of Daniel, particularly with regard to Himself. The Ancient of Days in Daniel 7 is the one who judges mankind (Daniel 7:10), but what’s interesting to note is that the Ancient of Days, none other than God the Father Himself gives the Son of Man, Jesus, “dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him” (Daniel 7:14). Why would God the Father give all power over to someone if the person in question wasn’t God Himself? It wouldn’t make sense for God to give the Son of Man, both human and divine, power over all peoples, nations, and languages unless this two-nature individual is God and deity. For Jesus to reference this very statement at His trial shows that He is God and is acknowledging that He is the Son of Man of the Old Testament prophecy in Daniel.
Let’s look at Matthew 26:64 again —
64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64)
“The right hand of the Power” in Greek appears to say “right hand of power,” referring to the right hand as a place or position of power. When Jesus sits down at the right hand of the throne of God, He sits in a place of power with all authority given to Him. The Scriptures refer to the right hand as one of power:
12 So Joseph brought them from beside his knees, and he bowed down with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14 Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:
“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh. (Genesis 48:12-20)
In Genesis 48:17-18, we see that the right hand of the patriarch was often placed upon the head of the greater. Joseph, though the second to youngest of his 12 brothers, wanted the oldest, Manasseh, to receive the right hand of Jacob on his head. And yet, Jacob makes it clear that Ephraim, the younger, will be greater than Manasseh, the oldest — which explains why Jacob’s hand was placed on Ephraim’s head rather than that of his older brother Manasseh. Again, the right hand was considered to be a sign of greater blessing, of dominion, of superiority, and Jacob’s right hand on the head of the younger signaled that the younger would be greater than the older.
In Exodus 15, as the Israelites celebrate their victory over the Egyptians, the Israelites praise God for His might with His right hand:
“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.
7 And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You;
You sent forth Your wrath;
It consumed them like stubble.
8 And with the blast of Your nostrils
The waters were gathered together;
The floods stood upright like a heap;
The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.
11 “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?
12 You stretched out Your right hand;
The earth swallowed them.
13 You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation. (Exodus 15:6-8, 11-13)
Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said:
“The Lord came from Sinai,
And dawned on them from Seir;
He shone forth from Mount Paran,
And He came with ten thousands of saints;
From His right hand
Came a fiery law for them.
3 Yes, He loves the people;
All His saints are in Your hand;
They sit down at Your feet;
Everyone receives Your words.
4 Moses commanded a law for us,
A heritage of the congregation of Jacob.
5 And He was King in Jeshurun,
When the leaders of the people were gathered,
All the tribes of Israel together. (Deuteronomy 33:1-5)
As Moses said before his death, the Lord’s right hand brought “a fiery law,” meaning that God displayed His power by giving the Israelites His Law on Mount Sinai (what we know as The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20).
In Job 40, we see the Lord tell Job in His speech to him that, if Job were God, his right hand could deliver him:
7 “Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me:
8 “Would you indeed annul My judgment?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
9 Have you an arm like God?
Or can you thunder with a voice like His?
10 Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor,
And array yourself with glory and beauty.
11 Disperse the rage of your wrath;
Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him.
12 Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low;
Tread down the wicked in their place.
13 Hide them in the dust together,
Bind their faces in hidden darkness.
14 Then I will also confess to you
That your own right hand can save you. (Job 40:7-14)
The Lord says to Job that, since he is mortal, his right hand cannot save him. God’s right hand can save and deliver because His right hand is a demonstration of His power.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:8-11)
David says that “the Lord…is at my right hand” (Psalm 16:8), and we know that Jesus sits at the right hand of God. David here is talking about Jesus being ever before him. Peter picks up on Psalm 16’s Messianic reference in his sermon:
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him:
‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;
Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:22-36)
Peter says that David was a prophet who was told that the Christ would come from his body, his loins, and in his foresight, writes Psalm 16 about Jesus who was to come. Jesus was the one who was “exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33). So when David says that “the Lord is at my right hand,” he’s referring to Jesus, the One who would come from his lineage.
The “right hand is a place of power and a position of authority,” and His claim in Matthew 26:64 about Himself at His trial shows that He believed that He was God, that He would be seen in all His power and authority in the end, that the end of time would tell all, and that He would be seen for the deity that He is. Again, He is God, a member of the Trinity and Triune Godhead.
Matthew 27: Jesus is forsaken by God the Father, physical signs accompany His death
45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
47 Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” 48 Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.
49 The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.”
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
55 And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. (Matthew 27:45-56)
In Matthew 27, we see Jesus is being crucified, on the Cross, and soon to die. He cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (v.46), a reference to His abandonment by God the Father. This cry from Jesus is unusual, which makes it pertinent to our study of the Trinity. After all, it only makes sense in the context of understanding that God the Father had been with Jesus all this time. Jesus had always been able to talk to God the Father and feel the Father’s presence with Him. Remember, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Matthew 3, the Father confirmed that Jesus was “My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” The Father confirmed Jesus once more in Matthew 17 on the Mount of Transfiguration, when Peter sought to worship not only Jesus but also Moses and Elijah. The Father told the disciples to “Hear Him” (Jesus), a reminder that Jesus is God’s final revelation for the world.
Now, at His crucifixion, the Father has abandoned Him because Jesus has taken upon Himself the sins of the whole world. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus became sin for us so that we could take on His righteousness in Christ. He stood in our place and took on our sin, and the Father can’t look on sin. Thus, the Father “turns His face away,” go the lyrics in “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”
Not only do we see Jesus’ deity in that the Father forsakes Him as opposed to having been with Him all this time, but we also see nature react to Jesus’ crucifixion and death: the temple veil splits, an earthquake results and splits rocks, the graves opened, and dead persons arose and went into the city and appeared to other persons (vv.51-53). The temple veil splits, a sign that the old sacrificial system was no longer needed, that the Jews no longer needed a high priest who could only go into the Holy of Holies once a year, because Jesus was now the High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1; 4:14, 15; 5:1, 5, 10; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1; 9:11; 10:21).
An earthquake comes and splits rocks, a sign that even nature came apart at the death of Jesus. The reason? Jesus is Lord of Heaven and earth, He is Lord of all creation (Romans 1:20; 2 Peter 3:1-7). When the graves open and the dead rise out of the graves and appear to people in the city, it can be seen that Jesus is The Resurrection and the Life, as He proved when He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:17-44).
Jesus has been crucified, but rises on early Sunday morning. The women see Him (Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary,” Matthew 28:1), hold His feet (where the nail scars were), and worship Him. Jesus tells the women to tell His disciples to meet Him at a certain mountain in Galilee, and they arrive to find Him.
It is at this point that Jesus gives them one of the most beloved passages in all of Scripture:
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:16-20)
In Matthew 28:18, Jesus says “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth,” a statement that shows that His death and resurrection achieved something that couldn’t have been the case if He hadn’t died and risen. If Jesus has “all authority…in heaven and on earth,” then He must be God because no one but God would control Heaven and earth.
In verse 19, Jesus tells the disciples to “go and make disciples, baptizing…teaching,” a statement that shows what the Great Commission is all about. He tells the disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” showing that all three names are those of Deity. “The Father” refers to God the Father, whom, as we’ve seen, confirmed His Son audibly from Heaven on more than one occasion; “the Son” refers to Jesus Christ, the one who, as a result of His death and resurrection, now has all power in Heaven and on earth; “the Holy Spirit” refers to the third Person of the Trinity and Triune Godhead, the one who conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb, the one who enabled Jesus to perform miracles, and the one who raised Jesus from the dead.
It is this trinitarian doctrine, espoused from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, that has become an indelible doctrine of the New Covenant and the New Testament church.
1. God in Three Persons: The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament
2. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Gospel of Matthew
3. “In the Beginning was the Word”: Trinitarian Theology in the Gospel of John