WERE JESUS’ DISCIPLES PROFESSING TRINITARIANS?
Some creedal statements uttered by Jesus’ disciples can be found in the gospels. They are listed below:
Nathanael: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” (John 1:49)
Martha: “Yes, Lord; I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” (John 11:27)
Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt 16:16)
See also parallels:
“You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29); “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:20)
An initial glance at these texts does not seem to reveal anything about those disciples’ doctrine of God. They make no mention of the Unitarian creed of Israel. But why should they? To do so would have been superfluous. As orthodox Jews they were already Unitarians before they ever believed in Messiah. No change in that Unitarian confession was required by Jesus. As was noted in the previous section, Jesus instructed his disciples to hold fast to the Mosaic law (Matt 23:1-3) and thus to the Unitarian creed of its first commandment. So all that those disciples would have had to confess to become Christians in their Old Covenant context was the additional information which, once believed, took them from being good law-abiding Jews to being excellent Jews rightly recognizing Jesus to be their long-awaited Messiah.
The implications of this are simple. Under the Old Covenant, which remained in force until Jesus’ death on the cross, all those who believed Jesus to be the Messiah were Unitarians. So the search for that elusive first Trinitarian will have to be continued in the New Covenant era.