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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Isa. 48:16

Isaiah 48:16

Another example of "speaker confusion" I have seen attempted by certain anti-Watchtower trinitarians is found at Is. 48:16 in the KJV.

Is. 48:16 - Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD [Jehovah], and his spirit, hath sent me. - KJV.

Commenting on this scripture some trinitarians will say: "The speaker of Is. 48:16 is Jehovah as identified by context in the first part of the verse and as shown by his identification in verse 17 where he continues to speak. But notice that Jehovah, who is speaking, says: `The Lord GOD [Jehovah] ... hath sent me.' Therefore there must be at least two persons who are Jehovah!"

The answer to such "proof" is obvious: "speaker confusion." Isaiah, like most other Bible writers, often interspersed the conversation of one person with statements by others and often doesn't identify the new speakers. Very often they appear to be comments by Isaiah himself.

That this is very likely the case here is shown, not only by context, but by these modern trinitarian Bible translations: The RSV and the NIV Bibles show by quotation marks and indenting that Isaiah himself made the final comment in Is. 48:16.

The NAB also indicates a new speaker there, and, in the St. Joseph edition of the NAB, a footnote for Is. 48:16 tells us that the final statement was made by Cyrus! And the very trinitarian Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version, World Bible Translation Center, 1992, comes right out and says at Is. 48:16,

" 'Come here and listen to me! ... from the beginning, I spoke clearly, so that people could know what I said.' Then Isaiah said, `Now the Lord [Jehovah] my master sends me and his Spirit to tell you these things.' "

The New English Bible (NEB), The Revised English Bible (REB), and the Bible translation by Dr. James Moffatt (Mo) consider the last statement of Is. 48:16 to be spurious and leave it out of their translations entirely.

Certainly these trinitarian translations would have rendered this scripture (and punctuated it accordingly) to show a two-Jehovah meaning (or given such an alternate rendering in the footnotes) if their trinitarian translators had thought there was even the slightest justification for such an interpretation! (Also analyze Jer. 51:19 - Jacob is the former of all things - Jehovah of hosts is his name, according to this trinitarian-type "speaker confusion" reasoning!)

Some notes by trinitarians on this scripture:

"The prophet himself, as a type of the great prophet, asserts his own commission to deliver this message: Now the Lord God (the same that spoke from the beginning and did not speak in secret) has by his Spirit sent me, v. 16." - Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible, Isaiah Chapter 48 verse 16.


"And, like almost every other prophecy of Christ in the Old Testament, it is subject to all kinds of interpretations. Calvin and many other scholars have seen it as a prophecy of the sending of Isaiah. Barnes agreed with this, stating that, 'The scope of the passage demands, it seems to me, that it should be referred to the prophet Isaiah.'

"However, we believe that Hailey is correct in his declaration that, 'The coming of Jesus is the theme of this prophecy; the entire Old Testament looks forward to Christ's coming to carry forward the purpose of Jehovah; and the Holy Spirit would accompany Christ on that mission, and then complete the work after the Son's return to the Father; let it be remembered that the prophecy is here declaring new things to come in the future.'

"Lowth explained the passage thus: 'Who is it that saith in Isaiah, "And now hath the Lord sent me and his Spirit"? in which, as the passage is ambiguous, is it the Father and the Holy Spirit who hath sent Jesus; or the Father who hath sent both Christ and the Holy Spirit? The latter is the true interpretation.' The Father sent Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem; and the Father sent the Holy Spirit upon the occasion of the baptism of Christ (Matthew 3:16).

"Thus, as Kidner put it, 'This is a glimpse from afar of the Trinity.' [?] As Cheyne expressed it, 'I cannot but think that we have both here and in Gen. 1:2 an early trace of what is known as the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit.' [?]

"The speaker here is therefore, the pre-incarnate Christ who identifies himself as the one sent ... to convey God's message of salvation to mankind. ....

"Jamieson, noting that Isaiah, not Christ, is the author of the passage, stated that, 'Isaiah here speaks not in his own person so much as in that of the Messiah, to whom alone, in the fullest sense, the words apply.'" - Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, Is. 48:16.

1 comment:

T said...


Christian commentators who are looking for trinitarian allusions in the Jewish Scriptures translate part of Isaiah 48:16 as, "The Lord God and His Spirit have sent me." However, a proper rendering of the verse reads: "And now the Lord God has sent me, and His spirit." The last two Hebrew words in this verse are shelachani ve-rucho ("He has sent me, and His spirit"), with "me, and His spirit" being the direct objects of "sent." Even though a definite direct object is usually preceded by the participle 'et, this grammatical rule is frequently not observed in the Bible, e.g., Exodus 15:9; Judges 5:12; Psalms 9:5, 20:3-4, 45:4. In fact, 'et rarely occurs in the poetic parts of the Bible. Thus, the meaning of the verse is that God has sent Isaiah accompanied by His prophetic spirit. There is no mention of the third member of the Trinity doctrine. Instead, Isaiah affirms that God, who has placed within him the power of prophecy, sent him.

The spirit is always at the disposal of God to bestow upon whomever He chooses, as stated in Numbers 11:17, 25, 29; Isaiah 42:1, 44:3; Joel 3:1. If this spirit referred to the third member of a coequal tri-unity god, how could it be ordered about at the discretion of the other members of this group? We see that the Hebrew Scriptures teach that "spirit" does not refer to the third person of a tri-unity god. Thus God says to Moses, "And I will take of the spirit which is upon you, and I will put it upon them. . . . And He took of the spirit which was upon him, and He put it upon the seventy men, the elders, and it came to pass, when the spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied. . . . And Moses said . . . 'would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His spirit upon them'" (Numbers 1:17, 25, 29).

Such a condition makes it obviously impossible to consider the spirit as being an associate of God, let alone coequal with Him.