From the second century to the present age, many people have found the biblical doctrine of the Trinity hard to understand. The doctrine of the Trinity recognizes that God is ONE but co-existing in three distinct Persons of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. But is this doctrine biblical?
Primarily, the Holy Catholic Church infallibly defined the existence of the “Three Persons in One Godhead.” And yet the biblical term “Godhead” (theiotes) is used three times in Scripture — in Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9. Note that the word “Trinity” is the theological word that Christians used to refer to the Godhead.
“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:29).
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20)
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
But there are many arguments espoused by those who reject the Trinitarian doctrine, and the most prevalent is: How can God be One God and at the same time be three Persons?
The problem with that question is that it is based in ignorance of what God has said about Himself. The Holy Bible, in fact, clearly reveals the plurality in the oneness of God. The truth of the Trinity is a revealed truth that was established in the credibility of God Himself.
In Matthew 28:19-20, The Lord Jesus Chist gave His disciples the Great Commission, stating that they were to teach and baptize in the Holy Name of the God:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Further, St. John states in his first letter (5:7): “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Some Bible critics have stated that this passage is not authentic because it is not found in some older manuscripts. This verse is found in mss, 61, 88mg, 629, 634mg, 636mg, omega 110, 429mg, 221, and 2318 along with two lectionaries (60, 173) and four Church Fathers — Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome mentioned it. However, the biblical doctrine of the Trinity does not rest only on one scriptural verse, but is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. Yet, the afore-mentioned verse accurately states the doctrine of the Trinity that God is ONE in three Persons.
The fact that God did not inspire the authors of the Holy Scripture to use the modern word “Trinity” does imply that it is not a biblical truth. However, there are many words and phrases that Christians use to express biblical doctrines that are not found in the Bible. One of them is the word “Bible”. Would Christians dismiss the existence of the Bible just because the word is not found in Scripture?
Those who deny the Trinity are denying the Godhead. They argue that it is physically impossible for three distinct persons to be one. One reason they held is the absolute Oneness of God citing the book of Deuteronomy (4:35-36, 6:4) but rejecting His three Persons.
“Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him. Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.” (Deuteronomy 4:35-36)
“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6)
“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)
“I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.” (Isaiah 43:11)
But, if God really taught that He is only One and that He has no three Persons, then did Christ blaspheme when He said that He should be loved above all (cf. Matthew 10:37), that He is the Alpha and the Omega (cf. Revelations 22:13), and that He is the Savior (cf. Luke 19:10)?! Think.
Overwhelmingly, the Bible teaches the Trinitarian concept of one God existing as three divine Persons. But, the holy book neither teaches Polytheism/Tritheism, which says that there are three separate Gods called the God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit nor Sabellianism or Messalians/Euchites, which says that God is only one Person who took three forms or that the God the Father became the Son, who then became the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not even teach Patriapassianism, which says that the Father and Son are only one Person or Arianism, which says that Jesus is not God but only God’s created Son. Those are heresies of old which were already condemned by the undivided Church. Why, then, believe in those heresies?
Below are the passages in the Old Testament that certainly teach Plurality in One God:
God as Echad not Yachid
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
The Bible, in this verse, emphatically states there is only one God. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (see Mark 12:29). Literally, the verse says, “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our Elohim is a united Yahweh.” The Hebrew word used for ONE is Echad, which “stresses unity while recognizing diversity with that oneness.” This same word was used in Genesis 2:24, as it reads: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one (Echad) flesh.” Therefore, God says that two individuals, Adam and Eve, were one flesh. Exodus 24:3 states: “All the people answered with one (Echad) voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.” Note that all the people, which were a great multitude, replied with one voice. There are many other instances where the word is used to show the oneness of many individuals (e.g. Genesis 2:24; Genesis 11:1; Genesis 11:6; Genesis 34:16; Exodus 24:3; Numbers 13:23; Ezra 2:64; and Jeremiah 32:38-39). In other words, the Hebrew word Echad allows for plurality within oneness, allowing God, who is emphatically described as one God, to be three Persons who are One God.
There is another Hebrew word for One and that is “Yachad.” This word is always singular and can only mean one and so its use allows no plurality. God could have used this word in Deuteronomy 6:4, but chose Echad instead, which allows the concept of God being One God who is in essence is three individual Persons. Thiessen says, “A unity is, however, not inconsistent with the conception of the trinity; for a unity is not the same as a unit.”
God as Elohim
“I am the LORD your God [Elohim], who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods [Elohim] before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3).
The Hebrew word translated “God” is the word El or Elohim. Elohimis the plural form of El. The plural form is used 2607 of the 2845 times the word “God” is used in the Old Testament. Not only is the word for God usually used in the plural form, but several verses refer to God as “Us”:
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'” (Genesis 1:26)
“Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'” (Genesis 3:22)
“Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Genesis 11:7)
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'” (Isaiah 6:8)
God in distinct Persons
The Lord talked to the Lord:
“The Lord (Father) said to my Lord (Son), ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.'” (Psalm 110:1)
God anointed God:
“You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God (Son), Your God (Father), has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” (Psalm 45:7)
God would save Israel by the Lord their God:
“Yet I [God] will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen.” (Hosea 1:7)
The Lord rained fire from the Lord:
“Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of the heavens.” (Genesis 19:24)
God was sent by God:
“For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.’” (Zechariah 2:8-9)
God sent the Lord, His Messenger:
“Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)
Based on the afore-mentioned verses, would you still say that God is absolutely One and has no three Persons?
God in Tri-Unity
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth […] and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters […] Then God said, ‘Let there be light; and there was light.’” (Genesis 1:1-3)
NOTE the presence of the three Persons — the Father, His Spirit, and His Word.
“Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens. When I call to them, They stand up together. Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me. Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.'” (Isaiah 48:12.16-17)
NOTE that in the passage above the speaker is God who has been sent by the Lord God and the Holy Spirit.
“I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD And the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses. For He said, ‘Surely they are My people, Children who will not lie.’ So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them All the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; So He turned Himself against them as an enemy, And He fought against them.” (Isaiah 63:7-10)
NOTE that in the above verse, the Lord became the Savior but it wasn’t the Father, but the Angel of His Presence (A term referring to the physical manifestation of God), and we also have the Holy Spirit who was grieved when the people rebelled.
“Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.” (Genesis 18:2)
In the text above, Abraham was visited by three individuals, one being Yahweh and the other two angels. Here there was God was on the earth (Jesus) and God in heaven (Father) sending down fire from heaven. This incident, when Abraham met with the Lord God, is what Jesus referred to when He said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). The unanimous opinion of the apostolic Fathers was that Jesus visited Abraham in Genesis 18 and 19.
“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.” (Isaiah 42:1)
NOTE that God said He would put His Spirit on Jesus and the ministry would eventually go beyond the Jews. So there were three Persons involved, the one speaking – He will put His spirit on Jesus, His servant.
Below are the passages in the New Testament that teach the Trinity:
The New Testament clearly states that Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14); the Father is God (Philippians 1:2); and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). Since the Son speaks to the Father, they are separate persons (John 17). Since the Holy Spirit speaks also (Acts 13:2), He, too, is a separate person. There can be no question that the New Testament proclaims there is only One God and that He exists in three distinct persons.
Connections between Father, Son, and Spirit:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19)
“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'” (Luke 3:21-22; see also Mark 1:10-11; Matt 3:16-17; John 1:32)
The Holy Spirit, as the “Spirit of Truth” and the “Paraclete,” is intimately related to the Father and the Son (John 14-16; see esp. 14:16-17; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7, 13).
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7)
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ–if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17)
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Corithians 13:14)
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God… God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him […] By this we know that we abide in Him He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent His Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God.” (1 John 4:2, 9, 13-15)
Peter writes to those “who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in abundance. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Peter 1:2-3a)
“Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.” (1 John 5:5-6)
THE verses presented and many others clearly teach that God is One God. These passages state that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are also God. Thus the Bible affirms one of the most important doctrines in Scripture that God is one God existing in a unity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The full importance of understanding and accepting this truth is found in the Epistle of 1 John:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:1-3).
It must be noted that the phrase “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” is a direct reference to His deity and that GOD came to the earth in flesh. All men are “born in the flesh,” therefore this verse has no significance unless it is referring to God coming in the flesh. John says those that deny this revealed truth of the Trinity are not of God and the denial of this doctrine comes from the spirit of the antichrist who is directed by Satan.
The biblical doctrine of the Trinity was not invented by man or the Holy Catholic Church. Its origin is in the plain and unmistaken statements made throughout the Bible. It is revealed truth and a part of salvation.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
The false teacher asks foolish questions, which causes people to doubt the Word of God. The true teacher encourages people to believe the Word of God despite whether its teachings seem perfectly reasonable to human understanding or not. The problem is not with what the Bible reveals, but with man’s unwillingness to accept and understand what God has stated as fact.