Hello everyone. We’re back to continue our study of the doctrine of the Trinity in the Scriptures. We’re in the book of Acts at the moment. We’ve been going through trying to find clues for the Trinity, although trying isn’t the best word as the Trinity is everywhere in the Bible. Today, we’re going to be in Acts 22:17-21.
17“It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance,
18and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’
19“And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You.
20‘And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’
21“And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”
The account here is Paul before the crowd in Jerusalem after he has been accused of bringing Gentiles into the part of the temple where they were not supposed to be. Paul is giving his defense of what he is doing and in doing such, he is recounting the events of what happened to him on the Damascus Road. I invite the reader to read the whole chapter so they can be entirely certain of the context.
Paul describes going back to Jerusalem and being in prayer and then seeing “Him.” Who is “Him?” There’s no reason to believe this is anyone besides Jesus himself, but notice how the conversation goes between Paul and Jesus as we look into this dialogue.
Jesus tells Paul to make haste and escape. The people in Jerusalem will not accept the testimony Paul has to make about Jesus. The interesting aspect of this one is that Paul’s testimony was going to be about Jesus. He had already become the focus of the Christian message.
Paul addresses Jesus and refers to him as Lord. We have no reason to believe Paul is speaking to the Father for earlier in this chapter, he has referred to Jesus as the Lord in the dialogue that happened when Saul was blinded on the road to Damascus. He not only addresses Jesus as Lord but speaks about imprisoning and beating those who believed in Jesus. The distinguishing mark early on was that the Christian was one who believed in Jesus.
Next, Paul speaks about the death of Stephen and tells the Lord that he was the Lord’s witness. Stephen was then a witness of Jesus. Keep in mind that all this is happening in prayer which would seem to indicate that Paul is praying to Jesus or at least speaking to Jesus in prayer. Stephen is identified as the witness of Jesus instead of the witness of YHWH, an interesting concept considering Isaiah 43;10 refers to being a witness of YHWH, a verse the JWs identify themselves with. (Yet one wonders if they could identify themselves as Jesus witnesses, which is what was to happen according to Acts 1:8.
What’s the point in all of this? There was a shift early in the history of the church and practically immediate where Jesus was put on the same level as YHWH. It has been said that this would be the earliest way Christians would see Jesus. He would be included in the divine identity. The material we see in Acts certainly lends itself to that belief.
We shall continue with this tomorrow.