Deuteronomy 6:4 states, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The New Testament carries this theme forward (1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5). Yet Christianity teaches Jesus is God. How can these two seemingly contradictory views co-exist?
First, it is crucial to understand what Deuteronomy 6:4 means when it says, “LORD is one.” The Hebrew word translated “one” in Deuteronomy 6:4 is echad. It means “unity,” not “singularity.” It is also used in Genesis 2:24 in referring to a husband and wife being “one” flesh. A husband and wife are not one as in a singular being. Rather, they are in unity with each other. There is a Hebrew word that means “absolute singularity,” yachid, but it is never used in the Hebrew Scriptures in reference to God.
With that said, it is important to affirm the biblical teaching of one God. From the very first words of Scripture, we are told there is only one God who created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). The controversy is not whether there is only one God versus two gods. The discussion is how Christians understand Jesus as this one true God. Christians believe that the Bible presents one God who exists in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity does not contradict Deuteronomy 6:4. As was said above, the Hebrew word echad means “unity,” not “singularity.” Christians believe the Persons of the Trinity are united in the Godhead.
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He refers to all three Persons functioning as the same God. Another occasion that shows all three Persons of the Trinity operating at the same time is the baptism of Jesus. Luke 3:21–22 reads, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” God the Father speaks from the sky to Jesus who is on earth while the Spirit comes down from the sky upon Jesus. We see the same three Persons equated in Paul’s benediction to the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Each Person of the Trinity is clearly referred to as God. In addition to the Father being called God, Jesus is referred to as God in John 1:1; 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8–9; and 1 John 5:20. The Holy Spirit is also referred to as God in Acts 5:3–4 and 1 Corinthians 3:16.
Some argue that God cannot have a Son. Although God did not give birth to a Son as humans understand birth, God chose the Father/Son relationship to help us understand the inner workings of the Trinity. The Son and Spirit, together with the Father, have existed from eternity past. There is perfect eternal fellowship within the Trinity among all three. God exists in both perfect unity and community.
The presentation of Jesus as God was a difficult teaching for the Jews to accept during the time of Jesus. However, the resurrection of Jesus provided the full evidence that He is both fully human and fully divine. Jesus is the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament who is equal with the Father: “I and the Father are one”” (John 10:30).