While in the plains of Mamre, Abraham got a visit from three men. When Abraham saw them, he ran out to meet them. Abraham ran up to them and identified one of them as Lord. Some have used this passage to teach the trinity. Others have used this passage to teach tritheism. Was this an appearance of God? If so, how? Who were the three men that Abraham saw?
Let’s look at the passage:
(Gen 18:1-3 KJV) And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
In verse 22, two of the men leave for Sodom and Jehovah stays to talk to Abraham.
(Gen 18:22 KJV) And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
If we look at Genesis chapter 19 we see two angels arriving in Sodom.
Gen 19:1 KJV And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
This shows clearly that one of the men was Jehovah and the other two men were angels.
In verse 24 it almost seems like there are two LORDs, and many have used this verse to describe two persons within the Godhead, but there are too many verses that tell us there is one LORD (Dt 6:4, Mark 12:29, Eph 4:5, etc), so there must be another explanation. Let’s look at verse 24:
Gen 19:24 KJV Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
This isn’t one LORD on Earth asking another LORD in heaven to rain fire from heaven. This verse is simply stating that the fire was from the LORD and the LORD sent the fire. It’s actually a restatement in order to show that the fire is from the LORD.
This point is clearly seen in the NLT:
Gen 19:24 NLT Then the LORD rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah.
And in the NET:
Gen 19:24 NET Then the LORD rained down sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was sent down from the sky by the LORD.
The fire was sent by the LORD. This verse doesn’t imply two LORDs, but it simply states and restates that the LORD sent the fire and brimstone.
Genesis 18:1-3 does not support three persons in the Godhead, nor does it support more than one God. Placing this verse in its proper context we see that God visited Abraham in a Theophany and was accompanied by two angels.
Likewise, Genesis 19:24 does not support more than one LORD. This verse does not contradict the many verses that tell us there is one LORD. It is simply a restatement.