What is the Trinity Doctrine?
Is The Trinity Biblical? What does the Bible teach?
There are many people who are misinformed about the Trinity Doctrine and many groups teach that the Trinity Doctrine is false and is not taught in the Bible. They are wrong because the Trinity Doctrine is true, confirmed by scripture, and the purpose of this article is to give a Biblical account that will show this is a fact.
One of the most commonly used methods for reading the Scriptures is to let the New Testament interpret the Old Testament. In other words, the Old Testament teachings are understood through the New Testament Scriptures. One example how this method is applied is the fulfillment of the Messianic Prophecies in the Old Testament through Jesus the Christ revealed in the New Testament. Using this method to prove the Trinity, we need to ask the following questions: Who is God according to the New Testament? Who is God according to the Old Testament? Once we answer those questions we will see how God has revealed Himself through His Word.
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.
This is the firsthand account that was given to the prophet Moses from God Himself. It says 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 Shema)
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), 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. 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 then Moses would have 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 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 they both are God. The apostle John says 6 key things in these verses about Jesus
Jesus was in the beginning before anything was created. This 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.
Jesus was in the beginning with the Father. Therefore they are two distinct persons.
Jesus is God and was with the Father. This shows the Unity of God not being a literal “one” but a compound unity (“Echad”).
Jesus is the Creator of all things, the Cause and Origin of all things created in the heavens and on earth. See 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 proves the Deity of Jesus, for the Scripture also 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. Therefore, this confirms the Tri-Unity of God being “one”, not in number, but in unity. 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)
Apart from Jesus 'NOTHING' was created, therefore Jesus is, by nature, God. (John 1:3)
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, 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 John’s assertion that Jesus was 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. According to Paul, Jesus humbled Himself and took on the likeness of men. He was not prideful to regard His equality with God a thing to be grasped or to cling. He set aside His glory for a time 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 Him as our Lord and Savior.
The Holy Spirit is God
The Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that has been most misunderstood. 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."
Jesus shows us, 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 is identified twice, and the Holy Spirit 15 different times. It is clear to see the Unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit while also being distinct from one another. These verses also prove that the Holy Spirit is not an “it” as Jesus identified Him 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. This is what is known as Oneness Pentecostals or the United Pentecostal Church International. That teaching is heresy, and unbiblical.
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 as He used the words “set apart for Me… for the work which I have called them”. This makes it very clear the Holy Spirit is 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.”
In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul said that the Holy Spirit is the One who gives the gifts to the body of Christ as He wills. He continued by saying it is God who has placed the members in the body and gives 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. Since only persons can be lied this shows 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
If you take the time to study the Scriptures, they show that the Trinity is Biblical, 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, 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. Some Christians understand more than others just like some know more about outer space than other people do. Just because some people know more about outer space does not mean outer space does not exist, and the same concept applies the Trinity. If a person studies the Word of God with an open mind, in time they will grow to understand. 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)
Analogies of the Trinity
The Trinity has been compared to many things in nature: Below are a few examples of things that are triune, yet one in nature. Sometimes the things that we see everyday can be useful tools to help us understand the things that we can’t see.
Bird's Egg: Besides the germ and yolk, the eggs of birds contain an albuminous mass, the white, which is an additional source of nourishment for the developing chick. The egg is enclosed in a tough double membrane, the membrana putaminis, which in turn is covered by a hard, three-layered shell chiefly composed of calcium carbonate. The shell protects the egg from the weight of the parents' bodies during incubation.
There is an analogy for the egg that shows the three in one view of the Trinity. You separate the shell, the white, and the yolk, and put each of them into three different bowls. How many eggs do you have? There is still one egg but it is separated into three distinct parts, while still one in essence and nature. This is just like the Trinity being one God yet three distinct persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Shamrock: Common name for any of several trifoliate clovers native to Ireland. The shamrock was originally chosen as the national emblem of Ireland because of the legend that Saint Patrick used the plant to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity. Most shamrocks, particularly the small-leaved white clover, have been considered by the Irish as good-luck symbols since earliest times, and this superstition has persisted in modern times among people of many nationalities. Shamrocks or various representations of the plant are worn by celebrants on Saint Patrick's Day, March 17 of each year. The hop clover is widely accepted as the original shamrock picked by Saint Patrick.
Fruit: Fruits vary widely in physical appearance, but their basic structure is the same. The ripened ovary wall that forms the fruit is composed of three layers, which can be thick or thin, dry or moist, fused or separate. The outermost layer is called the exocarp; the middle layer is the mesocarp; and the inner layer, the endocarp. These three regions together are called the pericarp. A peach that has been cut in half clearly reveals these layers: the soft, fuzzy skin is the exocarp, the juicy, meaty part of the peach is the mesocarp, and the pit, which encases the seed, is the endocarp.
Water: Water is the only substance that occurs at ordinary temperatures in all three states of matter, that is, as a solid, a liquid, and a gas. As a solid, or ice, it is found as glaciers and ice caps, on water surfaces in winter, as snow, hail, and frost, and as clouds formed of ice crystals. It occurs in the liquid state as rain clouds formed of water droplets, and on vegetation as dew; in addition, it covers three-quarters of the surface of the earth in the form of swamps, lakes, rivers, and oceans. As gas, or water vapor, it occurs as fog, steam, and clouds. Atmospheric vapor is measured in terms of relative humidity, which is the ratio of the quantity of vapor actually present to the greatest amount possible at a given temperature.
Space: Dimension, in geometry, a property of space. In common experience the world is three-dimensional. Three measures breadth, width, and depth are needed to define a volume.
What other Groups teach about the Trinity
Jehovah's Witnesses: "Trinity is defined as three gods in one. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, all three equal in power, substance and eternity." (Let God Be True, page 101, 1946
Mormons: "Latter-day Saints believe in God the Father; his Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost. These three Gods form the Godhead, which holds the keys of power over the universe. Each member of the Godhead is an independent personage, separate and distinct from the other two, the three being in perfect unity and harmony with each other." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Godhead)
Oneness Pentecostals: "In distinction to the doctrine of the Trinity, the UPCI holds to a oneness view of God. It views the Trinitarian concept of God, that of God eternally existing as three distinctive persons, as inadequate and a departure from the consistent and emphatic biblical revelation of God being one." Oneness Pentecostals teach that God was the Father in creation, the Father became the Son in redemption, and the Son became the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Three different modes or manifestations of God, not three distinct persons. Quote, "God is manifested as Father in creation and as the Father of the Son, in the Son for our redemption, and as the Holy Spirit in our regeneration." These references are found at the official UPCI website. The link is http://www.upci.org/about.asp
Does the Bible teach Trinity Doctrine? Yes, the Trinity is Biblical, it is Scriptural, and it is truth. God is said to be One God in Deuteronomy 6:4. God is said to be the only God from all eternity and no others were made or formed in Psalms 90:2 and Isaiah 43:10. Looking at Genesis 2:24 we see a Biblical way to see how the word 'one' can be used and applied within what the context says. The Bible says there is only one eternal God and has been identified through three distinct personages. The Father is God in Jude 1, Jesus is God in John 1:1&14, and the Holy Spirit is God in Acts 5:3-4.
If you are a Christian our hope is that this information has helped to 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. If you still need help in understanding who God is, please contact us.