First, we need to understand from the context what is meant with “one.” Christ said that the Father and He are ONE (John 10:30). Christ was not saying that the Father and He were one being. Rather, He addressed the concept of complete unity between the Father and Him. There was and always will be total harmony between the two members of the God Family. In fact, Christ won a legal argument with the Pharisees by proving that the Father and He, although “one,” were TWO beings (John 8:17–18).
Christ prayed to the Father that His disciples should become “one” (John 17:20–23). He did not pray that they should all become one being, but that they should become totally unified. We also read that Adam and Eve were to become “one” flesh (Genesis 2:24). Again, they were not to become one being. We can learn from these examples that Christ’s disciples, or Adam and Eve, were to reach, or achieve, oneness in mindset, in purpose, and in action.
Some claim that Scriptures like Deuteronomy 6:4 reject the concept that God is more than one being. However, this is not the case.
We are quoting from our free booklet, God Is A Family:
“Deuteronomy 6:4 reads: ‘Hear, O Israel, The LORD [‘Yahweh’] our God, the LORD [‘Yahweh’] is one!’ Many perceive that this Scripture teaches monotheism—that is, the existence of only one God. And indeed, it does. There is only one God. But… God is a Family, consisting of more than one being. Since God does not contradict Himself in His Word, what can we learn from Deuteronomy 6:4? ‘Yahweh’ is one being. The being who dealt directly with Israel was Jesus Christ. He was called ‘Yahweh’—He was and is one being. So, it is true that ‘Yahweh’—Jesus Christ—is one being.
“In addition, ‘Yahweh’ refers to the Father as well—and the Father is, of course, also one being. Thirdly, since ‘Yahweh’ refers to both the Father and the Son, they are also ‘one’—one in purpose, goal, mindset, willpower and determination. They are unified. There is no division in the God Family…
“Further, many commentaries, including the Jewish Bible or Tanakh, feel that the passage in Deuteronomy 6:4 should be translated, ‘The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.’ This would make sense too, given the fact that both God the Father and Jesus Christ are referred to as ‘LORD’ or ‘Yahweh’ in Scripture. In this sense, the prohibition is against worshipping other gods. Deuteronomy 6:4 definitively DOES NOT teach that there is only one God being, as this would contradict all the other Scriptures in the Bible that establish a duality in the Godhead.”
To elaborate, let us review several commentaries to see how they understand this passage, based on the original Hebrew. Bear in mind, however, that the commentaries that we will quote believe in the false concept of the Trinity—one God in three persons—whereas the Bible teaches that God is a Family, consisting of TWO persons, not three (The Holy Spirit is not a person, but the power of God, emanating from the Father and the Son).
Still, the following commentaries do understand that there is a PLURALITY in the Godhead and that Deuteronomy 6:4 actually teaches this plurality, rather than the concept that the God Family is just one BEING.
For instance, the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary states:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord—or, as the words may perhaps be better translated, ‘Hear, O Israel: Jehovah [our comment: Yahweh is the better rendition of the Hebrew YHWH than Jehovah] is our God (Elohim, plural), Jehovah alone’… The basis of their religion was an acknowledgment of the UNITY of God… it is observable that a belief in the UNITY of God was a fundamental principle not of their faith only, but of their political constitution. The social fabric in all other contemporary nations rested upon the assumed truth of polytheism…”
The New Unger’s Bible Handbook adds:
“This is the most significant verse for orthodox Jews, who call it Shema after the first word, ‘Hear!’ ‘The Lord [YHWH] our God, the Lord is ONE,’ the one, ‘ehad,’ expressing COMPOUND UNITY not ‘yahid,’ meaning a single one, thus not supporting Jewish and Unitarian denial of the Trinity [better, the duality in the Godhead]…”
Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible states:
“Hear, O Israel… shema Yisrael, Yehovah Eloheinu, Yehovah achad… Many think that Moses teaches in these words the doctrine of the Trinity [better: duality] in Unity. It may be so; but if so, it is not more clearly done than in the first verse of Genesis [where we read that God–“elohim” in Hebrew–created the heavens and the earth]… When this passage occurs in the Sabbath readings in the synagogue, the whole congregation repeat the last word… achad for several minutes together with the loudest vociferations… but all their skill… can never prove that there is not a plurality expressed in the word… Eloheinu, which is translated our God… it would apply more forcibly in the way of conviction to the Jews of the plurality of persons in the Godhead, than the word achad, of one… some Christians have joined the Jews against this doctrine, and some have even outdone them, and have put themselves to extraordinary pains to prove that… Elohim is a noun of the singular number! This has not yet been proved. It would be as easy to prove that there is no plural in language.”
Gill’s Exposition of the Bible states:
“These are the words of Moses, stirring up the people to an attention to what he was about to say of this great and momentous article, the UNITY of God, to prevent their going into polytheism and idolatry… they no ways [i.e., in no way] contradict the doctrine of a trinity [better: duality] of persons in the unity of the divine essence, the Father [and the] Word… which [two] are one; the one God, the one Jehovah, as here expressed…”
Deuteronomy 6:4 does not teach that there is only one God BEING, as this would contradict the myriads of Scriptures proving the opposite. Rather, Jesus Christ, the God of the Old Testament, in expressing the direct mandate from God the Father, warned the Israelites not to practice idolatry and polytheism, but to recognize and worship the one true God who led them out of the land of Egypt (compare Exodus 20:2-3). It is true that at that time, most Israelites did not even understand that God is a Family, and they falsely believed that Jesus—the God being dealing directly with them–was God the Father. Jesus came later to reveal the existence of the Father to them (Matthew 11:27; compare also John 1:18; 5:37; 6:46).
One might ask, why would God the Father have allowed the Israelites to worship and pray to the Word, Jesus Christ, erroneously thinking that they were worshipping God the Father? This was all part of God’s great plan. When Adam and Eve sinned, they cut themselves off (and man in general) from God the Father. It would be Jesus Christ who was to deal directly with the ancients and the nation of Israel in Old Testament times. Though some of the ancients understood that God is a Family, consisting of the Father and the Son, most did not. But even those who understood dealt directly with Christ—as mentioned above, none of them has ever heard the voice of the Father or has seen His form. However, there is, always has been, and always will be complete love, unity and harmony within the Godhead, and God the Father was in no way “jealous” of His Son, when Israel worshipped Christ instead of Him.
Christ came to this earth to teach very clearly that His disciples are to worship God the FATHER in spirit and in truth, and that they are to pray to Him, but they are told to do so in Christ’s name. Christ made it clear that the Father is the highest Personage within the God Family. Again, there is no jealousy within the God Family, and Christ is most certainly not jealous of the Father that it had to be revealed that He, rather than Christ, must be prayed to. Christ will always recognize His Father as the Highest, but remember, God is one. The members of the God Family live without any jealousy towards each other. They live in love, harmony and complete unity with each other.
Deuteronomy 6:4 does not negate the existence of two beings within the God Family, but it emphasizes the UNITY of the true God. It also includes the timeless prohibition against a belief in polytheism (consisting many times of pagan gods fighting each other) and against the worship of other gods beside or instead of the one true God (Family).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link