The Doctrine of the Trinity is a biblical teaching from scripture that defines a little bit about the nature of God. The bible teaches that there are three separate persons within the one and only God. (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are three separate persons within the one and only God, not three gods.) This study will show that this is taught in both the Old and New Testament and was believed by the early church in the 1st century.
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Overview of content in this section is as follows:
The Trinity defined
The Father is called God
Jesus is called God
The Holy Spirit is called God
The Holy Spirit speaking in New Testament is God speaking in Old Testament
Father, Son & Holy Spirit are all separate
There is only one God
The Father is creator
Jesus is creator
The Spirit is creator
There is only one creator
More plurality in the singular God
The whole Trinity in one passage in the Old Testament
Unity in the New Testament
Trinity hard to understand does not make it untrue
Comparing what they have in common
What about accusations that the Trinity is a doctrine derived from the 3rd or 4th century? (Jehovah Witness doctrine)
Trinity Explanation of the triune God
Historically the nature of God has been referred to as the Trinity. This means that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate persons which constitute only one God. The word "Trinity" is not in the Bible. This simply is the name of a doctrine or idea that is taught in the Bible. Often people who do not believe the doctrine of the Trinity define the word incorrectly. Then they set out to prove that the false definition is un-biblical, which of course it is — because they incorrectly defined it. Let me try to explain the doctrine of the Trinity as clearly as I can:
Jesus the Son is called “God”, but this does not mean that He is the Father nor does it mean He is the Holy Spirit. Jesus is called “God” in John 1:1 and 14 (underline emphasis mine):(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.(14) And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Notice this states that God became flesh. In the context this is Jesus. See also Philippians 2:5-8) Jesus is also called “God” in John 20:27-29 (underline emphasis mine): “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.’” (Notice that Jesus did not rebuke Peter when he called him Lord and God. The conclusion is that Jesus is God the Son.)
The Holy Spirit speaking in New Testament is God speaking in Old Testament
Consider also Hebrews 3:7-11 (underline and bold emphasis mine): “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tried me by testing me, and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; and they did not know My ways'; As I swore in My wrath, 'they shall not enter My rest.'"
(Notice we are told that the Holy Spirit is the one who says He was provoked and swore in His wrath "they shall not enter my rest".)
Psalms 95:6-11 (underline and bold emphasis mine) says,“Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness; When your fathers tested me, they tried me, though they had seen My work. For forty years I loathed that generation, and said they are a people who err in their heart, and they do not know My ways. Therefore I swore in My anger, truly they shall not enter into My rest."
Here we are told that our Lord our maker is God. It is He that was provoked and swore in His wrath "they shall not enter into my rest". The conclusion is God the Holy Spirit said this(see also Numbers 14:22-23) For a similar reference where we have God speaking in the Old Testament and in the New Testament it refers to the Holy Spirit as the speaker, compare Isaiah 6:8-10 with Acts 28:25-27.
We have just seen that the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit are all called “God”.
Father, Son & Holy Spirit are all separate
These three are all called God, yet they are also three separate persons. They are not all the same person. One passage that clearly shows this is John 14:16-17 (underline emphasis mine) (Jesus is the one speaking here):"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you". This passage clearly shows they are three separate persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
All three — the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit — are called God, and they are three separate persons. Yet the Bible does not teach that there are three Gods. There is only one God. These three Persons constitute only one God.
THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD
Isaiah 44:6-8 (underline emphasis mine): "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. And who is like me? Let him proclaim and declare it; yes, let him recount it to me in order, from the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place. Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.'"
Did you notice King of Israel and his Redeemer seem to be speaking of more than one? Then He says, "I am the first and I am the last and there is no God besides Me". This is a singular statement. Then He asks if there are any other Gods besides Him, and states that He (God) does not know of any! How can there be other Gods that even God himself knows nothing about?
Isaiah 43:10: " ‘You are My witnesses,’" declares the LORD, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am He. Before me there was no God formed, and there will be none after me.’”.
(This even states there will be no other Gods in the future!)
So what we have so far is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: three separate persons. All three persons are referred to as“ God”, and there is only one God. We find this in creation also. All three are called the “creator”, and there is only one creator.
THE FATHER IS THE CREATOR
Isaiah 45:18 (underline emphasis mine): “For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), ‘I am the LORD, and there is none else’”
(see also Isaiah 42:5 and 1 Cointhians.8:6).
JESUS IS CREATOR
Colossians 1:13-16:“For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 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 by Him and for Him”
(see also John 1:3, Hebrews 1:2, 1 Corinthians 8:6).
THE SPIRIT IS CREATOR
Job 26:13: “By His spirit He hath garnished the heavens; His hand hath formed the crooked serpent.”
Genesis 1:2:“And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”
(see also Psalms 104:30).
GOD CREATED BY HIMSELF
Isaiah 44:24 (underline emphasis mine):“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.’”He could not say he created "by myself" and "all alone" if the Father, Son,and Holy Spirit were three separate Gods. To some people these verses would seem to be in conflict with each other. They are not however in conflict at all — the answer is these three persons constitute only one God.
Deuteronomy 6:4 (underline emphasis mine): "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”
We find further plurality in the one God in the Old Testament. For example, see
Genesis 1:26-27 (underline emphasis mine):“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.’ And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Notice that "Us" and "Our" are plural, while "His" and "He" are singular. My point again is the plurality in the one God. There are not three Gods, but rather three persons in the one God.
THE ENTIRE TRINITY REPRESENTED IN ONE PASSAGE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Consider Isaiah 48:12-16 (underline emphasis mine):
Notice that in verse 12 God is the speaker, the one who has called Israel. He states, " I am He, I am the first, I am also the last" "I" and "He" are singular.Follow the context down and you will see that the speaker who is God and identifies himself as " I am He, I am the first, I am also the last", is also the same one speaking in verse 16. The context does not change speakers. Then this single person (God) speaking says "And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and His Spirit." In this text God is speaking, but says,‘the Lord God has sent me’. Not only has He sent Him, but He also says, "and His Spirit". What we have here is three separate persons in a singular God.
We find unity in the New Testament in the Trinity as well. See Matthew 3:16-17:“And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” Then, in Matthew 28:19: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” In these passages we can see all three —, Father, Son,and Holy Spirit — are separate and also in unity.
We can see the Trinity in the birth of Christ as well (Matthew 1:20): “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.’” (Underline emphasis mine.)
That which was conceived in Mary was “of the Holy Spirit” — Jesus is not called the “Son of the Holy Spirit”, Jesus is called the “Son of God”. Here again we have all three members of the Trinity represented. Jesus refers to God the Father as His Father, yet that which was conceived in Mary was of the Holy Spirit.
Some people say the Trinity is hard to understand; this lack of understanding makes belief impossible for some. Yet, whether or not the concept of the Trinity is hard to understand is not the point. The point is, does the Bible teach the Trinity? We have seen that the Bible does teach of the Trinity. Should it surprise us that God is somewhat complex? I do not fully understand the law of gravity, but I know if I step off a cliff I will fall — even if I do not understand or “believe” in the law of gravity. The Bible teaches that there are three separate persons that constitute only one God — therefore I believe it.
Comparing more of what they have in common
Following are some Biblical comparisons which sometimes cause people who have not yet grasped the teaching of Trinity to see Scriptural conflicts. First, we will see that both the Father and Jesus are called the first and the last. How many “first” and “last” (“Alpha” and “Omega”) can there be? The obvious answer —that there can be only one beginning and one end — There is only one God (Isaiah 44:8).
GOD THE FATHER AS FIRST AND LAST
Isaiah 41:4 (all underline emphasis mine): "Who has performed and accomplished it, calling forth the generations from the beginning?’I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.'"
Isaiah 44:6: "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.’”
Isaiah 48:12: "Listen to me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.”
JESUS THE SON AS ALPHA AND OMEGA
Revelation 1:7-8 (all underline emphasis mine):“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
(Jesus is the one coming with the clouds; see Matthew 24:30, 26:64; Mark 13:26, 14:62; 1 Thesselonians.4:17.)
Revelation 1:17-18: “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.’”
Revelation 22:13-16: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star."
Next we will see that your body is a temple of God, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and it is Christ that dwells in you. How can this be? ANSWER: These three persons make only one God.
YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE OF GOD
2 Corinthians 6:16 (all underline emphasis mine):“Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’”
1 Corinthians 3:16:“Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (all underline emphasis mine): “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (Jesus\God paid the price, Acts 20:28.)
CHRIST DWELLS IN YOU
Galatians 2:20 (underline emphasis mine): "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”
Next we will see that God will not give His glory to another. Yet Jesus shared this glory with Him (God).How can this be? ANSWER: They are One God.
Isaiah 42:8 (all underline emphasis mine): "I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images...”
John 17:5: "And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”
Who raised Jesus from the dead? The answer is God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit all raised Jesus from the dead.
1 Corinthians 6:14 (all underline emphasis mine):“Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.”
(See also Acts 2:24, Acts 13:30, Romans 6:4.)
John 2:19-21:“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews therefore said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”
(See also John 10:17-18.)
Romans 8:11:“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.” (See also 1 Peter 3:18.)
What about accusations that the Trinity is a doctrine derived from the 3rd or 4th century?
One well-known organization that teaches this misconception is the Watchtower Organization, commonly referred to as the Jehovah Witnesses. It is easy to show that the doctrine known as the Trinity was not derived from the 3rd or 4th century. To do this we will simply quote someone who lived before that time period.
Tertullian was a Christian theologian who lived 155-220 AD. The following quote by him can be found in Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume III, Tertullian Against Praxeas,chapter 25 (all underline and bold emphasis mine):
"What follows Philip’s question, and the Lord’s whole treatment of it, to the end of John’s Gospel, continues to furnish us with statements of the same kind, distinguishing the Father and the Son, with the properties of each. Then there is the Paraclete or Comforter, also, which He promises to pray for to the Father, and to send from heaven after He had ascended to the Father. He is called ‘another Comforter’, indeed; but in what way He is another we have already shown, ‘He shall receive of mine’, says Christ, just as Christ Himself received of the Father’s. Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are one essence, not one Person, as it is said, ‘I and my Father are One’, in respect of unity of substance, not singularity of number." (Vol. 3 PDF pg. 1133-1134)
The following definition of "Paraclete" is by Webster's Collegiate Dictionary10th Edition (see Bibliography):
Par.a.clete n [ME Paraclyte, fr. LL Paracletus, Paraclitus, fr. Gk Parakletos, lit., advocate, intercessor, fr. parakalein to invoke, fr. para- + kalein to call--more at low] (15c): holy spirit A33
Tertullian here is referring to John 14:9-16 where Jesus said He would ask of the Father and He would send the Holy Spirit, also referred to as “another Comforter” in the King James Version of the Bible. We see in this text that Tertullian referred to the Paraclete as the Holy Spirit. Notice he stated that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were three persons that were distinct from one another. He further stated that these three persons were one in essence. Tertullian just defined the Trinity; and remember, he lived 155-220 AD.
Compare what Tertullian said to the following from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary
“TRINITY: The coexistence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the unity of the Godhead (divine nature or essence). The doctrine of the trinity means that within the being and activity of the one God there are three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” C2
We can go back even earlier than this. Ignatius was a disciple of the Apostle John who wrote the Gospel of John; 1,2, and 3 John; and the book of Revelation in the New Testament. Ignatius had the distinct advantage that he could actually ask John questions, to clarify what he meant in his writings. We find that Ignatius also taught the Trinity (and the Apostle John personally taught Ignatius). From Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philippians, Chapter I — “Reason for Writing the Epistle”(see Bibliography for complete reference)
(all underline emphasis mine):
Chapter II.— “Unity of the Three Divine Persons”:
Some cults, such as the Mormons, will take verses out of context to try and show there is more than one God. Jehovah Witnesses and others will also try to argue against the Trinity. Not only is the Trinity a Biblical doctrine, it is the historical teaching of the church
NO OTHER GODS
Mormons try to use the Bible to support the belief in more than one God, as well as the idea that man can become a God.
Mormons teach that there are three separate God’s that make up the godhead that we call the Trinity. Therefore I included this section as well to show there are no other Gods. This section will focus on some text Mormons use as proof text to show there are other gods as well as the Christian response against this false teaching.
The speaker here is Satan; this is what he said to Eve, when he was tempting her to eat what God had already expressly forbidden. The following verse shows what Jesus said about Satan, and should explain why I do not consider Satan’s words a credible source upon which to build a doctrine.
1 Corinthians 8:1-6
Most Mormons I have talked to start reading this text right in the middle of verse 5. The context of this entire chapter concerns eating food that has been sacrificed to idols, as you can see in verse 1 here. In verse 4, Paul said there is no God but one. Then he goes on to talk about the idols, and calls them “so-called gods”, in verse 5, because the people considered these idols gods. When Paul said there are many gods and many lords, he is still talking about the idols. There indeed were many idols that people considered a “god”, or a “lord”. But they were only idols, which amounts to nothing. There are many false gods today; “false” being the operative word. Paul says for us, there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, because the Christian is not supposed to have anything to do with idols.
Satan is also called “god of this world” in 2 Corinthians 4:4, but he is no real God at all. He does not have any of God's attributes. He cannot create, nor does he possess the knowledge or power that God does. Satan’s title in this respect shows his authority or rule over this planet. He is even worshipped as God by some, but he is a false god who will end in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
This text shows that Jesus claimed to be God in verse 30 by saying, “I and the Father are one”. Verse 33 shows that this is how his enemies also interpreted His statement. Jesus then used Psalm 82:6 for his own defense. Let’s look at that passage.
Psalm 82:1-8 (NAS)
In the text that Jesus quoted from, we see that these men who were given the title of “gods” were, in fact, unjust judges. The title of “gods” was referring to their positions of authority as judges. See that in verse 1, God judges in the midst of the rulers. Who are these rulers? They are the ones who are judging unjustly (verse 2). They are then exhorted to act, as they should in their positions of authority (verses 3-5). These judges are reminded that they are called “gods”. Also they are sons of the Most High. We see in verse 7 that in spite of this position, they will die like men. Does this text sound like it is speaking of actual Gods, or judges? Not only does the context speak of actual judges, but also the Hebrew word that is translated as “gods” here is also translated as “judges” in Exodus 21:6 and 22:8-9.
The word “judges” below is the same Hebrew word translated as “gods” in Psalm 82:6.You can verify this using the back of the Strong’s Concordance.
Following are two different definitions of this Hebrew word.
plural of 433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:
KJV-- angels, X exceeding, God (gods)- dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.”
While the Book of Mormon is not the word of God, still I find it interesting that according to it, there are no other Gods.
HOW IS IT THAT GOD IS NOT AWARE OF ANY OTHER GODS, IF IN FACT THEY EXIST?
How can one become a "God”, as the L.D.S. church teaches, if there was no God formed before Him and there will never be a God formed after Him?
1 Samuel 2:2
2 Samuel 22:32
The Mormon “First Article of Faith” (believing that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate Gods) falls apart if there is only one God!
The Bible is very clear that there is only one God not three God’s