What is the Trinity? Do Christians have one God or three? How can God be three in one? Are all members of the Trinity equal?
Where did the Word Trinity Come From?
While you will not read the word “Trinity” in the Bible, you will find the concept all over, even on page one. Throughout the Old Testament, God appears as multiple persons- distinct yet the same. In Genesis 1 alone, God and the Spirit of God appear, followed by the plural statement, “Let us make man in our image.”
Throughout the rest of the narrative, similar events occur. Such as with the Angel of Yahweh, Yahweh’s Voice, and the personification of wisdom. This “plurality” of God is something Jewish scholars noticed from the beginning. Yet, they never saw it in conflict with the idea that God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Deuteronomy 6:4 NIV
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
So it should be no surprise when the Apostles, wrestling with Jesus’ claims to be both God and the Son of God, conclude that God is three persons in one. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three separate and distinct persons, yet all one God. Read through the New Testament, and you will discover each functioning independently yet in concert. The Biblical authors will show them as different characters yet describe them as one God.
Early Christians, picking up on this clear and agreed-upon portrait of God, assigned it the Latin word “Trinitas,” from which we get our word “Trinity.” Thus you will never see the term itself appear in the text, but the idea is consistent throughout scripture.
What is the Trinity?
Many people have undertaken to create an analogy to describe the Trinity. Some have tried to suggest an egg, using its three parts: the shell, the white, and the yoke. Similarly, the apple has been used with its skin, flesh, and seeds. Even the states of matter, liquid, solid, and gas, have been tried. While having some merit, all these analogies fall short. Each metaphor has three related parts, but none are “three in one.”
The idea that God is one being comprised of three persons is impossible to grasp because there is nothing else in reality that shares that nature. There is no one and nothing like God. He is unique, totally other, and Holy. So the Trinity is not something we “understand”; we believe it by faith because the Bible says it.
What does the Bible say about the Trinity?
- There is only one God, not three: Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5.
- The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are separate from each other: Luke 1:35; Matthew 11:25-27; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 2 Corinthians 13:14.
- The Father, Son, and Spirit are all God: John 1:1; John 1:18; John 17:11; John 17:21; Acts 5.
- The Trinity works together yet performs different tasks: Revelation 4:11; Matthew 1:21; John 16:13.
Our God is three persons, yet one being. It is a mystery, yet what the Bible teaches is clear. Although we can’t understand it in our finite minds, by faith, we believe it.
THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF THE COURSE:
Discipleship 101 is a series designed to explain the basics of our Faith and discuss often-used words and ideas that can be confusing. Topics like; Who is God, What is the Trinity, What is the Bible, and What are the 16 Fundamentals?
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