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Is John 12:41 a good proof text for the Trinity?

Re: Is John 12:41 a good proof text for the Trinity?

Postby dizerner » Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:02 am

21centpilgrim wrote:Jesus said that he shared glory with the Father in John 17.
So in Isaiah seeing the glory of the LORD in Isaiah 6 he was also seeing the glory of Jesus, that does not thereby mean that they are one in the same.

Does that help?

It would be a POSSIBLE argument IF John hadn't said "saw his glory AND spoke of him." But as it is, it's just untenable.
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Re: Is John 12:41 a good proof text for the Trinity?

Postby 21centpilgrim » Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:13 am

Isaiah spoke of the suffering servant in Isa. 53 which is quoted in John 12:38. John 12 quotes both Isa. 6 and Isa. 53 and then says saw the glory of Jesus -Isa. 6- and spoke of him- Isa. 53.
So I fail to see what I suggest as untenable.
Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and loved to think about him.
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Re: Is John 12:41 a good proof text for the Trinity?

Postby dizerner » Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:38 am

21centpilgrim wrote:Isaiah spoke of the suffering servant in Isa. 53 which is quoted in John 12:38. John 12 quotes both Isa. 6 and Isa. 53 and then says saw the glory of Jesus -Isa. 6- and spoke of him- Isa. 53.
So I fail to see what I suggest as untenable.

Oh, there's plenty who argue as you do, I'm not saying nobody argues that. But why wouldn't I assume, the way it was written, those both refer to the same event? I have no reason to adopt a different view.
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Re: Is John 12:41 a good proof text for the Trinity?

Postby StevenD » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:48 am

Though this is an older thread, the subject is of interest to me.

Chapter 12 of John includes citations from both Isaiah chapter 6 (Isaiah's calling) and chapter 53 (the fourth 'Servant Song' often referred to as the 'Suffering Servant').

After quoting verses from both of these chapters in Isaiah (comp. John 12:38 with Isaiah 53:1; comp. John 12:39-40 with Isaiah 6:10), John 12:41 summarizes:
"These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him."

I think that John intended his readers to pay attention to the context of both the above verses from Isaiah while thinking through John's summary in 12:41. Earlier in this thread there is some acknowledgement that Isaiah made reference to "the King, Yahweh" (see Isa. 6:5). This thread also includes a claim that Isaiah's vision of the Lord (Isa. 6:1) is distinguished from seeing the glory of Christ (cf. John 17:5). For those who understand the Servant of Isaiah 52:13ff as Christ such a claim is probably necessary in order to maintain a theological position that views Christ as less than God.

One textual link in Isaiah that I didn't see referred to in the thread is a brief phrase that both Isaiah's calling (chapter 6) and Isaiah's fourth Servant Song (52:13-53:12) share in common. Both portions of Isaiah draw into focus one who is "high and lifted up" (Isaiah 6--"the Lord" [v. 1]; Isaiah 52:13--"my servant").

Isaiah 6 states:
"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple" (v. 1).
[It may help to bear in mind that seraphim were present on this occasion crying, "Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of hosts--all the earth is filled with his glory" (v. 3).]

Isaiah 52:13 states:
"Behold, my servant will deal wisely, he will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted."


The difference between Isaiah's phrases is merely one of tense. Isaiah 6:1 employs a perfect tense (i.e. he was "high and lifted up"--רָם וְנִשָּׂא) while 52:13 uses the imperfect form (i.e. "he will be high and lifted up"--יָרוּם וְנִשָּׂא). Isaiah 6 refers back to Isaiah's vision which took place in the past, while Isaiah 52:13 anticipates the coming of the suffering "servant". John looks back at both the vision/calling of Isaiah as well as the prophecy of the servant.

[The Hebrew text might not be John's source as it looks like John (and Paul--cf. Rom. 10:16) draws his citation of Isaiah 52:13 from the Septuagint (or a parent text for the Septuagint). This appears to be the case as both John and Paul include the word "Lord" as the subject of their citations (i.e. "Lord, who hath believed our report?"); a feature not present in the Hebrew MT. Concepts of being "lifted up" and "glorified" are frequently referred to in John 12. The verbs match the Septuagint's rendering of Isaiah 52:13.]

Meanwhile, John appears to link the vision of Isaiah 6 with the prophecy of the servant in Isaiah 52:13ff. The idea of John referring to some glory that is less than Yahweh's glory seems to strive against the plain statement of Isaiah 6:3 which expressly refers to Yahweh and his glory that fills the earth. (Strange as it may seem, even Jewish mystical tradition of the medieval era cited this verse in a work called the Zohar with reference to God as in some sense a triad. :shock: )

Again, John 12:41 reads:
"These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him."


Unless John intended to confuse or mislead his readers, he chose a counter-intuitive way to focus on a measure of 'glory' that belongs to Christ as distinct from Yahweh. Isaiah 6:1-5 draws the glory of Yahweh into focus, vv. 6-12 elaborate on Isaiah's calling, v. 13 makes reference to the holy seed. John quoted v. 10 immediately before making his statement about Isaiah seeing "his glory" and speaking "of him" (12:41). By drawing a link with the servant of Isaiah 53, John appears to highlight a paradox in the relationship between the glory of Christ's sufferings and the vision of Yahweh's glory. John may intend to convey a similar message via Revelation chapters 4 and 5 by describing the four beasts with six wings (like the seraphs of Isaiah) who also cry out, "Holy, holy, holy" (4:8) which seems to reach a crescendo as both the one on the throne and the Lamb become the objects of their worship (5:11-14).

Peace in Christ...
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Re: Is John 12:41 a good proof text for the Trinity?

Postby dwight92070 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:34 pm

Although I do believe in the trinity, I don't see how this verse, even taken in context, and in and of itself, proves it. Even it was an apostle there instead of Jesus, those 2 Old Testament verses could just as easily apply to them preaching the gospel. In verse 41, John is simply giving his commentary on why Isaiah said what he did in those 2 passages, i.e. "because he saw His glory (the Father), and he spoke of HIm (the Father). I don't see any particular reference to Jesus in those O.T. verses.
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Re: Is John 12:41 a good proof text for the Trinity?

Postby StevenD » Wed Jun 14, 2017 3:43 am

Notwithstanding the title of this thread, I am not aware of anyone who sees John 12:41 as proof of the doctrine of the Trinity.

However, taken in context, I think that the verse presents good reason to conclude that John believed in the Deity of Christ.
My reason for thinking so begins with vv. 36-38.

"These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?"


Verse 38 closes that segment with a quote from Isaiah 53:1. The previous verses establish that Jesus is the one whom the people failed to believe.

Bearing the same context in mind, John 12:39-40 introduces the second citation from Isaiah (chap. 6:10).

"Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them."


The running thought seems to be that the people rejected the light of Christ (see vv. 35-36), apparently proving that they were not part of the remnant who would believe. Isaiah was informed that he should anticipate a general rejection of his message (see Isaiah 6:9-12). John emphasizes Christ (the servant) as a significant feature of Isaiah's message (referred to previously: John 12:38 citing Isaiah 53:1).

Finally, John closes with a statement that revisits the context of the Isaiah verses. The context is the glory of the suffering servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) and the glory of the Lord (Isaiah 6:1-4) whom he identifies as Yahweh (v. 3) and even the king, Yahweh (v. 5).

"These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him" (John 12:41).


Working with merely the verses cited in this message, I think it's difficult to make an exegetical case that John intends for his reader to conclude that Christ was not in some sense the object of focus in 12:41. Thus, I suppose one might argue that the verse does support the trinitarian position.

Thanks,
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Re: Is John 12:41 a good proof text for the Trinity?

Postby dwight92070 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:48 am

If you want to prove, or at least demonstrate what appears to be proof of, the trinity, there are so many other verses in the New Testament that will do that. I will not list them now, unless you are interested.

Besides all those verses, years ago, here on this forum, I posted 112 references in the New Testament where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all mentioned at the same time. I think this is very significant that the Holy Spirit, who is the ultimate author of the Bible, saw fit to refer to the 3 persons in the Godhead in the same passage 112 times.

If you are interested, I can repost those 112 references.
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Re: Is John 12:41 a good proof text for the Trinity?

Postby StevenD » Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:40 am

Hi Dwight92070,

It won't be necessary to post the verses you described. My intention in posting on this particular thread was to engage the subject according to material already posted.
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