There are many people who are misinformed on what the doctrine of the Trinity is. The purpose of this information is to give a Biblical account of what Christians believe concerning the Trinity doctrine. If you are a Christian my goal is to help clarify and explain the Trinity in a way which you will be edified in your faith and be equipped to share this with others. This is also for those who may be searching for information on what the Trinity is and who want to know if this is truly a Biblical doctrine.
When reading the Scriptures the method of study most common is using the New Testament to interpret the Old Testament. What that means is that the Old Testament is revealed through the New Testament Scriptures. The Prophecies of the Messiah to come were fulfilled through Jesus the Christ and that was revealed in the New Testament. When a person looks at the Prophecies in the Old Testament they are understand by what the New Testament Scriptures have revealed and instruct us to believe. The New Testament is in fulfillment of what the Old Testament Scriptures teach and foretold. This is for our instruction and guidance. What does the New Testament teach about who God is? What does the Old Testament teach about who God is? These questions will be answered.
Monotheism – The belief in one God
Deuteronomy 4:35-39 “35 “To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him. 36 “Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire. 37 “Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power, 38 driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today. 39 “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.”
The prophet Moses wrote from what he was told from God first hand. He wrote that the LORD is God alone, for there is no other. Christianity affirms the Monotheism of God, God is over heaven and earth, and there is no other God.
Isaiah 44:6 “6 “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: `I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.”
The prophet Isaiah wrote direct revelation from the LORD of Hosts. He wrote that the LORD is God alone and that He is the first and the last, which means He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the One who is above all. This affirms the Monotheism of God and that there is only one true genuine God.
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”
The Monotheism here is combined with a compound unity of God being one. In other words God is one, but not literally in number but in substance. The Hebrew word here is the word ‘Echad’ which means compound unity and an absolute. The Scriptures have this Hebrew word ‘one’ which is ‘Echad’ and is used in other Scriptures in reference to a unity. For example you find the word ‘Echad’ in: Genesis 1:5 (morning and evening one day) & 2:24 (man and woman become one flesh), Ezra 2:64, (whole assembly was one) Ezekiel 37:17. (two sticks are one) Another Hebrew word for one is ‘Yachid’ which means one in number. ‘Yachid’ is used differently in the Scriptures than ‘Echad.’ For example: Genesis 22:2 & 12, Judges 11:34, and Psalms 22:21. These Scriptures address the issue of ‘one’ being of number not of unity. Clearly Deuteronomy 6:4 is not teaching the absolute of God being one in personage, because if that was so than Moses would of used ‘Yachid’ not ‘Echad’.
The Tri-Unity of God – God Identified as three Distinct Persons
The New Testament reveals the truth of God being three distinct persons in the one God. Remember the Old Testament is to be understood through revelations of the New Testament. The New Testament gives the clear understanding of who God is.
The Father is identified as God
Jude 1:1 “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:”
In Christianity the Father is God, and almost all those who believe in the Bible agree that the Father is God. Many believe that only the Father is God, and that Jesus is not Deity, but the first of God’s creation. Christianity from the beginning of the Church until now affirms the Monotheism of God being both one and Triune.
Jesus is God
John 1:1-3&14 “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being…14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The Bible has revealed that Jesus and the Father are distinct persons and that Jesus is by nature God the Creator of all things. Jesus is the Word who became flesh and was with God (The Father) in the beginning (before there was anything created) and was God. (The Son) Jesus was with the Father in verses 1-2. This shows that Christianity does not believe that Jesus is literally the Father, but distinct from the Father and both are God. Jesus according to the apostle John here says 6 key things in these verses.
1) Jesus was in the beginning before anything was created which affirms what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Both the Apostle John and Paul affirm that Jesus is before ‘ALL’ things and therefore shows that Jesus was not apart of creation, but before all creation and the Cause of all creation as will be shown.
2) Jesus was in the beginning with the Father therefore they are two distinct persons.
3) Jesus is God and was with the Father this shows the Unity of God being not a literal one but a compound Unity (“Echad”).
4) Jesus is the Creator of all things, the Cause and Origin of all things created in the heavens and on earth. Look at what Paul said in Colossians 1:16: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.” This shows the very Deity of Jesus for the Scripture says in Isaiah 44:24 “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone.”
The LORD God is the One who created all things ‘alone’ and the Scriptures teach that Jesus is the very One who created all things, thus showing the Tri-Unity of God being one not in number but in Unity. For the Scriptures teach that the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are all the Cause of creation. (Romans 11:36 Father, John 1:3&Colossians 1:16 Jesus, Psalms 104:30 Holy Spirit, Isaiah 44:24 One Creator)
5) Apart from Jesus ‘NOTHING’ was created proving that Jesus is by nature God. (John 1:3)
6) Jesus who was the Word in the beginning before anything was created, came to this earth and took on flesh and became in the likeness of man. Paul writes in Philippians 2:6-7: “6 who, although He existed in the form of God,M did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
The Apostle Paul affirms what John wrote of Jesus being God before coming to earth, and taking on flesh. Paul wrote that Jesus existed in the form (Morphe in Greek) of God which means that Jesus was by nature God before He came to earth. Paul writes that Jesus humbled Himself and took on the likeness of men and that Jesus was not prideful to regard His equality with God a thing to be grasped or to cling to but set aside for a time His glory, and became a man in our likeness. That is the Gospel, that Jesus took on flesh and died for us on the cross and rose again that we may have eternal life in His name and faith in Him as our Lord and Savior.
The Holy Spirit is God
One of the things in the Trinity that has been most misunderstood I believe is the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person from the Father and Jesus.
John 16:7-15 “7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
In these 9 verses Jesus shows without any doubt the distinctions of the Father, Himself, and the Holy Spirit being three distinct personages. Jesus identified Himself 13 different times here, the Father two times, and the Holy Spirit 15 different times. This shows without any doubt the Unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit not being the same person as some wish to teach. Also this shows very clearly that Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit was not an ‘it’. Jesus identified the Holy Spirit as being a personality, not a thing. The Holy Spirit is the One who will convict people of sin, and will lead people to Jesus Christ. Some groups believe that God was the Father in the beginning of creation, and then the Father became Jesus in our redemption through the cross, and that Jesus became the Holy Spirit in our regeneration, that is what is known as Oneness Pentecostals or the United Pentecostal Church International. That teaching is heresy, and un-Biblical.
Acts 13:1-4 “1 Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”
According to the Church the Holy Spirit was not some mystical force or an it, but a real personality. Here the text is very clear that the Holy Spirit has a will, and said set apart for ‘Me’ and for the work which ‘I’ have called them, making it very clear the Holy Spirit was a real personality.
1 Corinthians 12:11&18 “11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills…18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”
The Apostle Paul in writing this letter to the Corinthians wrote that the Holy Spirit is the One who gives the gifts to the body of Christ as He wills. And Paul continued by saying it is God who has placed the members in the body and give them various gifts as He desires. This shows that Paul firmly believed that the Holy Spirit was by nature God.
Acts 5:3-4 “3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
The Apostle Peter gives a very fascinating revelation here concerning the Holy Spirit.
1) The Holy Spirit can be lied to, which only persons can be lied to thus showing the personality of the Holy Spirit.
2) Peter says they have not lied to men, but to God! Peter says they lied to God the Holy Spirit and equates them together in the same context.
Overview of the Trinity
The Trinity is very Biblical and is not illogical or confusing. Some say “Just take it by faith”. But the fact is that God has revealed Himself to us through His Word, through His presence in the Old Testament, and through Jesus in the New Testament, and through the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin and leading us to Jesus Christ for salvation. The Bible teaches the Trinity just as it teaches Monotheism even without either word being in the Scriptures. The Trinity can be understood. If a person seeks the Word of God, and seeks to know for sure, and in time they will grow understanding. Those who reject the Trinity have not received spiritual understanding and guidance from the Holy Spirit. True revelation comes from the Holy Spirit, and it is not until they are born again that they can comprehend these things: “12 But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Corinthians 2:12-14)