Matthew 3:16, 17

These verses state: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God

descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Without adding human bias or wishful thinking, what may we discover from reading this passage?

It is pretty clear that there is two persons present one is Jesus and the other is the owner of the voice which declares “this is my beloved Son.” Clearly, the speaker is God the Father.”

What is the identity of Jesus according to the passage?

God, himself, identifies Jesus as “my beloved Son,” not as the second person of a coequal Trinity. This alone denies the assertion that we find a Trinity here.

However, does this passage demonstrate the Holy Spirit to be a personal being apart, or separate, from the Father? Are there three persons present?

While the Son is clearly a person and the Father is a person, what may we discover from the symbol used to represent the Holy Spirit?

Here, the Spirit is represented as a dove. Never is the Holy Spirit represented by any symbol which indicates that it is a person. In the common sense, it is represented by oil, water, wind, fire, and in this verse as a dove. It really is stretching the imagination to suggest that here in this verse we see a third person. In actual fact, the passage declares that it is the Spirit of God! It is the Spirit which belongs to God. Here, as everywhere else in Scripture, the Holy Spirit is represented as belonging to someone, as being the property of God, rather than being an individual person with his own identity.

Ellen White sheds light on this point. She says,

“Never before had angels listened to such a prayer as Christ offered at his baptism, and they were solicitous to be the bearers of the message from the Father to his Son. But, no! direct from the Father issues the light of his glory. The heavens were opened, and beams of glory rested upon the Son of God and assumed the form of a dove, in appearance like burnished gold. The dove-like form was emblematical of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. While the people stood spell-bound with amazement, their eyes fastened upon Christ, from the opening heavens came these words: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.””(The Review and Herald, January 21, 1873).

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