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Jesus often spoke of Himself in the third person

Posted Dec 11, 2010 by Russell Unterschultz in The Son of God
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The following compilation was extracted largely from a letter titled: "The Trinity Doctrine Weighed in the Balances" by a Brother who identifies himself in the paper by the initials N.M. Some editing has been done by the person posting this article. Also to the readers of this blog, I cannot recommend highly enough the five part publication "Theos" also found on this website written by Elder Gary Hullquist.  Much of the following blog subject content is found in a more comprehensive manner in part five of Elder Hullquist's series: "Theos - The Struggle Over Spirit," starting on page seven.



‘Third person’ is a grammatical term. Jesus often spoke of Himself in the third person:


“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be….And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:27,30.


In this passage (and many others) Jesus was talking about Himself, not someone else. It is Jesus who is the Son of man who will come again. But He was speaking about Himself in the third person, not in the first person. This was not an uncommon way for our Lord to speak. Jesus would at times speak of Himself as if He were speaking of someone else. He would seem to be talking about someone else, yet it would be Himself. Notice (On the walk to Emmaus):


“Thus Christ discoursed to His disciples, opening their minds that they might understand the Scriptures. The disciples were weary, but the conversation did not flag. Words of life and assurance fell from the Saviour's lips. But still their eyes were holden. As He told them of the overthrow of Jerusalem, they looked upon the doomed city with weeping. But little did they yet suspect who their traveling companion was. They did not think that the subject of their conversation was walking by their side; for Christ referred to Himself as though He were another person.” {EGW, DA 800.1}


After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.’ Mark 16:12


When Jesus appeared in “another form” it was still Him. When Jesus talks about “another Comforter” is it possible that it also could be Him?


“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” John 14:16


Who is this “another Comforter”? Who is this “Comforter” that will abide with us for ever? Jesus plainly answers these questions for us:


I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” “And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” John 14:18; Matthew 28:20


“Christ is formed within, and by His Spirit He fulfils the promise, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." {ST, September 27, 1899 par. 9}

Praise the Lord! It is so clear and simple. Jesus is withdrawn from the eye of sense but His personal presence is with us still. You see, Jesus was referring to Himself as though He were another person. The reason is that when He comes as a Comforter He will be in “another form”, that is, Spirit form. Just like Jesus appeared to the two disciples in “another form” which they did not recognize, so He also comes to us to today in “another form”, He is in Spirit form as “another Comforter.” Even though He comes to us by His Holy Spirit as “another Comforter”, yet we should still be able to recognize Him. Notice:


He is coming to us by His Holy Spirit today. Let us recognize Him now; then we shall recognize Him when He comes in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” {EGW, RH, April 30, 1901 par. 8}


“Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent.” {MR14, p. 23}


“The sanctifying power of Christ upon the heart will produce precious fruit, and His Spirit and power will make our works acceptable to God. If by His Holy Spirit Christ abides in the soul, our features, our attitude, our words will reveal Him to the world.”  {ST, January 6, 1898 par. 10}


There is grave danger if we do not recognize Christ now. Like the two disciples of Emmaus, there are many today whose eyes are holden. But little do they suspect who their Comforter really is. It is Christ in the third person.



“That Christ should manifest Himself to them, and yet be invisible to the world, was a mystery to the disciples. They could not understand the words of Christ in their spiritual sense. They were thinking of the outward, visible manifestation. They could not take in the fact that they could have the presence of Christ with them, and yet He be unseen by the world. They did not understand the meaning of a spiritual manifestation.” {The Southern Work, September 13, 1898 par. 2}

Christ walks unseen through our streets. With messages of mercy He comes to our homes. With all who are seeking to minister in His name, He waits to co-operate. He is in the midst of us, to heal and to bless, if we will receive Him.” {MH, p. 107}

Remember that Jesus is beside you wherever you go, noting your actions and listening to your words. Would you be ashamed to hear his voice speaking to you, and to know that he hears your conversation?” {YI, February 4, 1897 par. 3}

Not only Christ, but Ellen White also spoke of herself in the third person. She spoke of herself as though she were another person. (Please note this is Ellen White writing about herself in this passage):


“I understood that some were anxious to know if Mrs. White [third person] still held the same views that she [third person] did years ago when they had heard her [third person] speak in the sanitarium grove, in the Tabernacle, and at the camp-meetings held in the suburbs of Battle Creek. I [first person] assured them that the message she [third person] bears today is the same that she [third person] has borne during the sixty years of her [third person] public ministry. She [third person] has the same service to do for the Master that was laid upon her [third person] in her [third person] girlhood. She [third person] receives lessons from the same Instructor. The directions given her [third person] are, "Make known to others what I have revealed to you. Write out the messages that I give you, that the people may have them." This is what she [third person] has endeavored to do.” {EGW, RH, July 26, 1906 par. 20}


Did you notice how in the same passage she alternates between speaking in the first person (I) to the third person (she, her)? But in the whole passage she is referring to herself, not two people. This is manifestly clear to any who read that passage. Well, Jesus talked in exactly the same way! In His discourse on the Holy Spirit He alternated between speaking in the first person and in the third person. Notice:


“And I [first person] will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he [third person] may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him [third person] not, neither knoweth him [third person]: but ye know him [third person]; for he [third person] dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I [first person] will not leave you comfortless: I [first person] will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me [first person] no more; but ye see me [first person]: because I [first person] live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I [first person] am in my Father, and ye in me [first person], and I [first person] in you.” John 14:16-20.


Yet He was speaking of Himself all the time! How so very wonderful indeed. Anyone with any knowledge of grammar will recognize how simple and clear is the above passage. Notice how Jesus said “he…shall be in you” (v.17) speaking in the third person, and then a few breaths later Jesus says “I in you” (v.20) speaking in the first person. Is that not plain enough for anyone? So it is not strange that the prophet refers to the spirit of God also in the third person.  The expression 'third person' does not mean a trinity when it is harmonized with the Bible and other Spirit of Prophecy quotes.