An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 7 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 97 of 297
protests of the creed itself, and would recognize the gracious condescension
of the one Lord on behalf of us men and for our salvation.  To the
consideration of this most important term, therefore, let us address
Modern usage equates 'person' with 'individual', but how such a
'person' can at the same time be 'without body, parts or passions' passes our
comprehension.  Turning first of all to the usage of the word 'person' in the
A.V. we discover that it translates the Hebrew word adam (Jonah 4:11); ish
man, a male (2 Kings 10:7); enosh mortal (Judges 9:4); methim men (Psa.
26:4); nephesh soul (Gen. 14:21); nephesh adam, soul of man (Num. 31:35).  In
no conceivable way can any of these terms be used of God.  The word baal lord
(Prov. 24:8) is the only term that approaches the subject.  The only other
word employed in the Hebrew, that is translated person, is panim 'face', and
this, we shall discover, approaches nearer to the intention of the word
'person' in the Creed than any other word used in the Old Testament.
Eighteen of the twenty occurrences of panim which are translated 'person'
employ it in the phrase 'regard' or 'accept persons', and it is evident that
the term here does not think so much of an individual, but as of estate,
whether such be high or low, rich or poor.  In the New Testament the Greek
prosopon 'face' is translated 'person' six times, four of which read 'regard'
or 'accept' a man's person; one speaks of forgiving 'in the Person of Christ'
(2 Cor. 2:10).  Other places where 'respect of persons' are found, the Greek
words are prosopolepteo tes lepsia, all being derived from prosopon 'face'.
We discover from Liddell and Scott that prosopeion meant 'a mask' and hence
'a dramatic part, character, and so the Latin persona'.  A mask is not an
individual, neither is a character or dramatic part in a play a 'person' in
the present acceptation of the term.  The Shorter Oxford Dictionary is not a
theological work and has no axe to grind, but gives this definition of the
word 'person'.
'Person.  Latin persona, a mask used by a player, a character acted; in
later use, a human being; connected by some with the Latin personare
"to sound through".  A part played in a drama or in life; hence a
function, office, capacity; guise, semblance; character in a play or
If we therefore speak the Queen's English, we shall mean by 'Three
Persons in the Godhead' three offices, functions, guises and characters
assumed in grace and love by the One True, Infinite and Invisible God for the
purpose of creation, redemption and the ultimate consummation
of the ages, 'that God may be all in all'.  Lloyd's Encyclopaedic Dictionary,
puts the definition 'an individual' seventh in the list, the earlier
definitions agreeing with those of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.  Here is
the first definition:
That part in life which one plays.
'No man can long put on person and act a part; but his evil manners
will peep through the corners of his white robe' (Jeremy Taylor).
Archbishop Trench points out that when this old sense of the word is
remembered, greatly increased force is given to the statement that God
is no respecter of 'persons'.  The signification is that God cares not
what part in life a person plays -- in other words, what office he
fills -- but how he plays it.