Our Thursday posts focus on material from the New Testament. As part of our fourfold priority of history, integrity, truth, and Scripture we consider it important to read and review significant scholarly work with both the Old and New Testaments. Some scholars consider trinitarian theology to be a relatively late development of the Christian period. Today we consider Dr. David Scaer’s suggestion that the concept of the trinity was present from the very start of the Christian period, but was described more fully for readers who had more experience in theology.
Scaer, David P. Discourses in Matthew: Jesus Teaches the Church. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 6, “The Development of the Trinity in the Gospel of Matthew” Loc. 4124-4314.
In this chapter Scaer traces the development of the Trinity in Matthew’s Gospel. In all the New Testament it is only Matthew 28:19 which gives the formula “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Scaer 2004, Loc. 4124). Yet in Matthew’s prologue there is not a hint of the idea. He develops that idea fairly slowly. “Only after Matthew introduces Jesus as a man, the son of Abraham and David, does he say that this man is God” (Scaer 2004, Loc. 4136). Jesus is recognized as God’s Son by his actions which fulfill prophecy (Scaer 2004, Loc. 4158). The Father is not initially identified as such for Christians. “Jesus’ Father becomes the Father of Jesus’ followers not directly but because they are in Jesus, whose Father is God” (Scaer 2004, Loc. 4191). The relation of Father, Son, and Christian is developed suddenly in Matthew 11:25-30, where the interrelation and reciprocal knowledge of Father and Son are made clear (Scaer 2004, Loc. 4191). The Holy Spirit is identified as God in passages such as Matthew 3:16; 12:828; and 12:32 (Scaer 2004, Loc. 4214). “So the Son and the Spirit relate to and originate in God in similar ways” (Scaer 2004, Loc. 4224). Scaer observes that Jews prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 were more accepting of the idea of God the Father and a separate person of God the Holy Spirit (Scaer 2004, Loc. 4237). Later the passages suggesting plurality of persons were downplayed. The divine name, however, referred to the full understanding of God from the Scripture. In Matthew 28:19 that Name is the Trinity (Scaer 2004, Loc. 4248).
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