The Doctrine of the Trinity

trinity-1

Introduction

Those who don’t hold to the Trinity (Godhead) doctrine will quickly state the word Trinity as not being in the Bible. It’s true the word Trinity is not found in our Bibles, but just because it’s not mentioned does it mean it’s not true?

What’s the doctrine of the Trinity? The Lord Jesus and the apostles taught this. The early Christians believed in one God who’s revealed Himself as three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

How can God be three distinct persons? To answer this question it’s always best to dive into the scriptures and see what the word of God says. It doesn’t matter what I say or anyone else, it’s what God says that matters. Before we get into the scriptures let’s establish what is the Trinitarian beliefs. And let’s look at another view which opposes it, let’s begin.

Trinitarian Definition

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity holds that God is one God, but three coeternal persons the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit as “one God in three Divine Persons”. The three Persons are distinct, yet are one in substance, essence or nature. In this context, a “nature” is what one is, a “person” is who one is.

The concept of the Trinity is that there’s no way to perfectly and completely understand it. It’s impossible for any human being to fully comprehend. As God is infinitely greater than we are; therefore, we cannot expect to be able to fully grasp the totality of God.

The doctrine of the Trinity doesn’t come from a council or creed as some believe it came from the council of Nicea, on the contrary, the understanding of the Trinity is embedded in the word of God. The council of Nicea’s main focus was to deal with the heresy of Arianism.

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:”

1 John 5:7 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

Sabellianism

Sabellianism is the belief that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three different modes of God, as opposed to a Trinitarian view of three distinct persons within the Godhead.

Sabellius taught the oneness of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three different manifestations of one divine person. An easy way to understand the thought behind Sabellianism is to imagine a person having three different masks. And switching between those mask as needed.

The early church excommunicated Sabellius and cast him out of the church as a heretic. Sabellianism while heretical still exist among certain groups which operate today in our age.

Groups who deny the Trinity

Here are some groups who deny the nature of the triune God, Unitarians, Jehovah Witnesses, Armstrongites, Mormons, Buddhist, Hindus, Moslems and Jews are just some of those who deny the distinction of persons within the Godhead.

God in 3 distinct persons (Old Testament)

The word for God in Hebrew is ‘elohiym a plural word.

Stong’s definition (God) אֱלֹהִים ʼĕlôhîym, el-o-heem’; plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God.

The opening verse in the Old Testament (Torah) already has a distinction of persons

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Before the creation, God always existed as the Almighty Creator of all things.

Immediately following in verse 2 we see the Spirit of God’s involvement in the act of creation.

Genesis 1:2 “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

God then after creating light Day, darkness Night, Earth, Seas, tree yielding seeds and animals of the air land and waters, He then creates man in His own image.

Genesis 1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

It’s clear that the word “us” speaks to a plurality of person’s in the Godhead.

Biblical usage of the words “Let us make” meansto do, fashion, accomplish, make”. Qal=to do, work, make, produce or Niphal=to be done.

Another time we see this plurality in the Old Testament is during the tower of Babel.

Genesis 11:7 “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

In the book of Isaiah God is speaking and ask who will go for us?

Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

God then sent the prophet Isaiah to the cities to preach against the nation telling them of their sin.

We also have in the book of Daniel a vision of the Son of man riding on the clouds of heaven coming to the Father the ancient of days.

Daniel 7:13 “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.”

There’s too much evidence to cover everything but as you see the Old Testament does, in fact, show a plurality in the Godhead and as we move into the New Testament we have a full revelation of the distinct persons in the Godhead.

God in 3 distinct persons (New Testament)

John’s gospel begins with the classic opening verse speaking of the beginning before all of creation began.

John 1:1–3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

A proof text regarding the Lord Jesus as the eternal Word and God. The below definitions will give more insight into what the Greek states in the original language.

Beginning ἀρχή archḗ, ar-khay’; from G756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concretely) chief (in various applications of order, time, place, or rank): — beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule.

With πρός prós, pros; a strengthened form of G4253; a preposition of direction; forward to, i.e. toward (with the genitive case, the side of, i.e. pertaining to; with the dative case, by the side of, i.e. near to; usually with the accusative case, the place, time, occasion, or respect, which is the destination of the relation, i.e. whither or for which it is predicated): — about, according to , against, among, at, because of, before, between, (where-)by, for, at thy house, in, for intent, nigh unto, of, which pertain to, that, to (the end that), together, to (you) -ward, unto, with(-in). In the comparative case, it denotes essentially the same applications, namely, motion towards, accession to, or nearness at.

In the book of Matthew, we have a commandment given by the Lord Jesus in which He gave for baptism.

Matthew 28:19 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”

The construction of grammar in this verse requires us to acknowledge the distinction of persons using Granville Sharp’s rule.

Statement of the rule

“The following rule by Granville Sharp of a century back still proves to be true: `When the copulative KAI connects two nouns of the same case, if the article HO or any of its cases precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle; i.e., it denotes a further description of the first-named person.’” (A Manual Of The Greek New Testament, Dana & Mantey, p. 147)

Matthew 28:19 Go ye G4198 therefore, G3767 and teach G3100 all G3956 nations, G1484 baptizing G907 them G846 in G1519 the name G3686 of the Father, G3962 and G2532 of the Son, G5207 and G2532 of the Holy G40 Ghost: G4151

John 8:58 “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

The Holy Ghost

Is a person and God according to the text. He speaks, only a person can speak not an active force as Jehovah Witnesses believe. Additionally, you can only lie to a person, not a force as we see in the following verse.

 Acts 5:3, 4 “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.”

Acts 13:2 “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”

Acts 21:11 “And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”

Hebrews 3:7–11 “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)” 

The Father, The Lord Jesus and The Holy Spirit

In John’s gospel, we have one of the most intimate chapters when Jesus Christ is telling His disciples He must go in order for the Comforter to be sent from the Father and Himself. The verse here shows a clear distinction of persons, the Comforter being sent from the Father and Son and calls the Comforter “he”.

John 15:26 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:”

The following chapter Christ calls the Comforter “him”.

John 16:7, 8 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”

As you can see a force cannot be called “him” or “he”.

God the Father calls the Son God

The scriptures in Hebrew shows a dialogue between the Father and Son before the incarnation or virgin birth.

Hebrews 1:5–10 “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:” 

If God calls the Son God then we must do the same, anyone who doesn’t honour the Son doesn’t honour the Father.

John 5:23 “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”

One of the greatest promises which speak of the imminent return of Christ is found in John chapter 14. Speaking to His disciples told them He would return for all believers but first He was going back to His Father to prepare a place for us in Heaven.

John 14:1–3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

God is called the first and the last in the Old Testament (Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, 48:12). The Lord Jesus Christ is also called the first and the last in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 1:8 “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:11 “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”

Revelation 21:6 “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”

Revelation 22:13 “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

But the best portion of these verses in Revelation is this wonderful truth here.

Revelation 22:16 “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”

He identifies Himself as “I Jesus”. O worship Him all ye His saints!!!

John 17:5 “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

Conclusion

Heresies such as Arianism, Oneness, Modalism, Polytheism or Monarchianism and any other belief which rejects any part of foundational biblical doctrine will not stand, there will be contradictions. Those who believe in the Trinity doctrine can stand firm because we can both prove the Oneness of God and the Triune Godhead of the distinction of persons in the Godhead.

Example a person taking the Oneness position has a contradiction when asked if Jesus is both the Father and Holy Spirit then who was He praying to in the garden of Gethsemane? This is not a problem for the Trinity position because Jesus was praying to God the Father, not Himself.

The Lord Jesus Christ is God, just as the Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God. All 3 distinct person’s of the Godhead, all equally God, all share the same divine nature.

If you haven’t trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, to be saved from your sins now’s the time. I’ll leave you with this verse from Paul.

1 Corinthians 15:3, 4 “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”


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