Mark 12:28-34 contains a back-and-forth between Jesus and a scribe.

28 Now one of the scribes had come up and heard their debate. Noticing how well Jesus had answered them, he asked Him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

29 Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 “Right, Teacher,” the scribe replied. “You have stated correctly that God is One and there is no other but Him, 33 and to love Him with all your heart and with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, which is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that the man had answered wisely, He said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

And no one dared to question Him any further.

When the scribe responds to Jesus, he recapitulates Jesus' answer by saying "God is one and there is no other but Him, and to love Him".

According to Trinitarians, was the scribe correct in using a singular pronoun here to describe God? If not, why didn't Jesus use the opportunity to correct the scribe, but instead thought the scribe had answered wisely?

  • 1
    I don't know about pronouns in Aramaic or Hebrew, so I'll just comment on the situation in English. I see no problem with using "Him" to refer to the one God. If one wants to refer to the three divine Persons individually, then "Them" might be appropriate, but that could be misunderstood as meaning several gods. Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 20:31
  • @AndreasBlass That's interesting, thanks for this comment! The Aramaic seems to translate into English the same way. See biblehub.com/hpbt/mark/12.htm , for example. Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 21:13
  • @AndreasBlass Inspired this question christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/89413/… Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 21:26
  • The overwhelming reference to God in Scripture is masculine, singular. Jesus did not tell the Scribe he had nailed it but that he was not far from the kingdom of God. What had the scribe missed? Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 3:17

3 Answers 3


I and the Father are One, saith Jesus, John 10:30.

God is one - a matter of divine nature, a nature shared by three persons in a perfection of unity.

Therefore, without further revelation, as was the person who thought that all he needed was to keep commandments, Jesus instructs him to love God, who is one God.

But with the further revelation of the New Testament, with the revelation of whom Jesus truly is (for those who receive that further revelation) believers appreciate, and love, both the Father and the Son.

The whole point of the inclusion of this incident in Mark, the aspect of Jesus Christ which shows him to be the Messenger of the Covenant, appearing after the Messenger of Preparation (as made clear by Mark's quoting Malachi in the opening verses) the whole point is to highlight the condition unto which the Messenger of the Everlasting Covenant is sent : to those who are still under a covenant of law and works and bondage and death.

Jesus does not 'correct' the scribe because the scribe is not incorrect.

Under the Law, only one God is known. A God far off, behind a thick cloud, on a mountain that smokes and trembles as the offended deity draws near to fallen humanity to make a bargain with humanity to keep an agreement, which agreement will demonstrate upon earth (by ritual and artefact) that an everlasting covenant will be implemented, in the future.

So the scribe speaks the knowledge that he has.

And if he is content with that, he will never know any more.

But if under law, he discovers the 'plague of his own heart' discovers that 'I had not known sin unless the commandment had said - thou shalt not covet, Romans 7,' then he will discover his need of a Saviour.

And if he receive the revelation of whom that Saviour is, he will know 'our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ', Titus 2:13.

And he will come to love Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

And, through Christ, he will discover the Father. And will come to love Him too.

All of this is freely available in the documents relating to the Council of Nicea, and in particular is available in the writings of such as Athanasius.

I write as a lifelong Trinitarian, brought up in the Church of Scotland, then baptised into the Baptist Assembly at sixteen, sojourning in Independent Trinitarianism for twenty five years, and now publishing my own work through my own Trinitarian publishing company.


Whosoever transgresseth (in matters of the doctrine of Christ) and (therefore) abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He hath abideth in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son [2 John 9, KJV]

If a man attempts (as did the scribe) to do what Adam did, and to apply to the knowledge of good and evil (an external rule) as a means of sustaining human life, he transgresses (as did Adam). He fails to apprehend the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden.

Thus he knows not God. He is only aware of a book that refers to 'God'. Or he hears others speak of 'God'. But knows not 'God', himself.

His only way of referring to this entity, is by the grammatical, singular, masculine. It is not a matter of gender, but a matter of grammar. Nor is a matter of personal singularity but of grammatical expression.

An unknown entity, with whom he has neither a personal relationship, nor has he any personal revelation as to form or nature of existence : the scribe refers to this unknown life-form as 'he'.

Only by revelation (in the doctrine of Christ) does a believer enter into a relationship such that he 'hath' both the Father and the Son.

Further EDIT after further COMMENT

Angelic beings are created spirits and thus are separate, individual entities, each with a separate life-force. They cannot be referred to, collectively, as 'he'.

  • 4
    @OneGodtheFather The Trinity is most definitely not a team. Trinitarians would say there is no natural analogy for the singular God known in three persons, so it's not unexpected that our language does not match well at times.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 23:08
  • 1
    Because a team, as most natural understood, is a collection of individuals coming together for one purpose. The persons of the Trinity are never separated from each other, and share one nature.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 23:14
  • 3
    @OneGodtheFather A team is many autonomous individuals united sporadically for a common purpose. The individuals may change while the team remains. The trinity is one God manifesting in 3 and only 3 persons who are neither autonomous nor sporadic nor can they change. The analogy does not work. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 3:10
  • 3
    @OneGodtheFather It is 'different for God' because God is eternal Spirit. (Not a collection of separate human beings in separate bodies.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 7:42
  • 2
    @OneGodtheFather Angelic beings are created spirits and thus are separate, individual entities, each with a separate life-force. They cannot be referred to, collectively, as 'he'. [See my 'EDITS after COMMENTS'.] A number of such beings would be referred to as 'they' grammatically.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 9:16

The scribe answers the way he does because he is a Jewish man educated in the Jewish scriptures. The "greatest commandment" is a part of a well-known and oft-recited text of the Jewish people:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deut 6:4-9

So, when the scribe replies to Jesus that "God is one," the scribe is not making a claim about the Divine Substance (although it is correct to say that the Divine Substance is One) nor about the Divine Persons (as you rightly point out, they are three, though one in substance). Rather, the scribe is saying that he recognizes that this is not a novel teaching, but a clarification of an ancient teaching handed down to the Jews. From a literary perspective, the passage is supposed to remind the reader of the "Shema Yisrael," the "Hear, O Israel" proclamation quoted above. This is why Jesus does not correct the scribe: the scribe understood the point of the lesson. The point of the lesson was not that God is a Trinity, but that the greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor.

  • If you disapprove of my edit please feel free to roll it back. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 3:15

… neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
— Matthew 11:27

"why didn't Jesus use the opportunity to correct the scribe?"

At this time, Jesus told very few people that he was the JHVH of the Hebrew scriptures, or that there even was a "Father". Such statements would have resulted in his death far sooner than he wanted it.

In this specific case, revelation of the Father would have been "off-topic" with respect to the discussion he was having with the scribe. It would have contributed nothing to what was being discussed, and would have distracted from it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .