The Doctrine of the Trinity is difficult to understand because our finite human brains are unable to fully conceive of an infinite being. However, God’s Word gives us everything we need to come to an understanding of the nature of God as a Triune Being.
The Bible teaches that the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God—and that there is only one God. Each Person of the Trinity is Himself distinct. We often simply state this as: The Trinity is one God, existing in three Persons (remember this does not mean three Gods. It means three distinct Persons, ONE God).
The word Trinity is not found in Scripture but the foundation for our doctrinal understanding and definition of it is most definitely found there. Trinity is understood to be synonymous with the term Triune God—three coexistent, co-eternal, and co-equal Persons who are one God. Let’s look at some scriptural references to better understand the Trinity.
There is One God
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD…
1 Corinthians 8:4 …we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
Galatians 3:20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…
The Trinity Consists of Three Persons
1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.(The Hebrew word for God used in Genesis 1:1 is Elohim, a plural word)
1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…
3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil…
11:7 Go to, let us go down…
Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Matthew 3:16-17 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. [In this verse we see the presence of all three Persons of the Trinity: the Son, Jesus, the Spirit descending and the Father speaking]
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. [Only one name, but three Persons]
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. [Again we read of all three Persons of the Trinity]
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.
Three in One
Each Person of the Trinity is God. The Father is God (John 6:27, Romans 1:7, 1 Peter 1:2). The Son is God (John 1:1, John 1:14, Romans 9:5, Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 1:8, 1 John 5:20). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4, 1 Corinthians 3:16).
There is a pattern of subordination within the Trinity, regarding order, but not substance or essence. The Son is subordinate to the Father (Luke 22:42, John 5:36, John 20:21, 1 John 4:14); the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Son and the Father (John 14:16, John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7, 13-14). We need to be careful to understand this subordination in terms of their work, not their Persons, power or position, for they are equal in those. Jesus surrenders to the will of the Father. Or it could be said that He does the work that the Father gives Him to do:
John 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
The Spirit does the work of the Father and the Son:
John 16:7 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.
John 16:13-14 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
Yes, the Trinity is a difficult doctrine. While it can never be fully comprehended it can be well understood by studying God’s Word. Just remember, the three Persons of the Trinity are equal in nature and one in being, but they are distinct in Person and distinguishable in their works.
Understanding the Trinity -- Our Triune God
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