Who or what was the dovelike form symbolized during Christ’s baptism?

Many well meaning Christians believe that the Holy Spirit which, descended upon Christ during His baptism was a distinct, separate personal being. Trinitarian Christians claim that Christ’s baptism was an occasion where Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were all present at the same time whereby the scene clearly delineated the three persons of the Godhead hence constituted a description of Trinity. Let re-examine to see what the Scriptures and the Inspired Testimonies reveal.

Matthew 3:13-17:

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:9-11:

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Luke 3:21-22

21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

According to Ellen White, the dovelike form was none other than the Spirit of God the Father, manifesting in the form of a dove, emblematical of the character of Jesus (not another individual called, “God the Holy Spirit”). Notice the following quote:

“Never before have the angels listened to such a prayer. They are eager to bear to their loved Commander a message of assurance and comfort. BUT NO; THE FATHER HIMSELF WILL ANSWER THE PETITION OF HIS SON. DIRECT FROM THE THRONE ISSUE THE BEAM OF GLORY. The heavens are opened, and upon the Saviour’s head descends a dovelike form of purest light,–FIT EMBLEM OF HIM, THE MEEK AND LOWLY ONE. Of the vast throng at the Jordan, few except John discerned the heavenly vision. Yet the solemnity of the divine Presence rested upon the assembly. The people stood silently gazing upon Christ. His form was bathed in the light that ever surrounds the throne of God. His upturned face was glorified as they had never before seen the face of man. From the open heavens a voice was heard saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” {Desire of Ages p. 112}

“Never before had angels listened to such a prayer as Christ offered at his baptism, and they were solicitous to be the bearers of the message from the Father to his Son. But, no; direct from the Father issues the light of his glory. The heavens were opened, and beams of glory rested upon the Son of God, and assumed the form of a dove, in appearance like burnished gold. THE DOVE-LIKE FORM WAS EMBLEMATICAL OF THE MEEKNESS AND GENTLENESS OF CHRIST. While the people stood spell-bound with amazement, their eyes fastened upon Christ, from the opening heavens came these words: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The words of confirmation that Christ is the Son of God was given to inspire faith in those who witnessed the scene, and to sustain the Son of God in his arduous work. Notwithstanding the Son of God was clothed with humanity, yet Jehovah, with his own voice, assures him of his sonship with the Eternal. In this manifestation to his Son, God accepts humanity as exalted through the excellence of his beloved Son. {2SP 60.2}

“Never had angels listened to such a prayer. They were solicitous to bear to the praying Redeemer messages of assurance and love. But no; the Father himself will minister to his Son. Direct from the throne proceeded the light of the glory of God. The heavens were opened, and beams of light and glory proceeded therefrom and assumed the form of a dove, in appearance like burnished gold. The dove-like form was emblematical of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. {YI March 1, 1874, par. 4}

“The divinity of Christ was as a hidden treasure. At times when he was upon earth, divinity flashed through humanity, and his true character was revealed. The God of heaven testified to his oneness with his Son. At his baptism the heavens were opened, and the GLORY OF GOD IN THE SIMILITUDE OF A DOVE LIKE BURNISHED GOLD HOVERED OVER THE SAVIOUR, and a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” {E.G. White, YI Aug 22, 1895}

“When Christ bowed on the banks of Jordan after His baptism and offered up prayer in behalf of humanity, the heavens were opened; and the Spirit of God, LIKE A DOVE OF BURNISHED GOLD, encircled the form of the Saviour; and a voice came from heaven which said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” {Child Guidance 525.3}

Note: Above we have several statements, all describing the same event. According to these statements, the dove-like form (“purest light”, “burnished gold”) was none other than the Father Himself who answer the petition of His Son by sending His own spirit directly from His throne. The appearance of a dove was not an entirely different individual (aka God the Holy Spirit) but that it was “emblematic of the meekness and gentleness of Christ’s character,” “fit emblem of Him, the meek and lowly One.”

Holy Spirit is the omnipresence of either the Father or the Son in their own Spirit:

“BY THE SPIRIT the Father and the Son will come and MAKE THEIR ABODE WITH YOU. [John 14:23 quoted]” — (E.G. White, BEcho, Jan 15, 1893)

Psalms 139: 7-10 “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

Psalms 51:11 “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

While Christ was on earth, He gave up his omnipresence but the Father was still omnipresent by His own Spirit. It is the Father’s Spirit
that descended upon Christ as SOP describes.

After Christ’s ascension, the Comforter comes to us as the Spirit of Christ; the Father’s Spirit is in Christ and it is through the medium of Christ’s own Spirit that the Holy Spirit comes to us.

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Jn 14:18

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and WE will come unto him, and make OUR abode with him.” Jn 14:23

” I[Christ] in them, and thou[Father] in me” Jn 17:23

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