The most difficult thing about the Christian
concept of the Trinity is that there is no way to adequately explain it. The Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any
human being to fully understand, let alone explain. God is infinitely greater than we are; therefore, we should not expect
to be able to fully understand Him. The Bible teaches that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that
the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also teaches that there is only one God. Though we can
understand some facts about the relationship of the different Persons of the Trinity to one another, ultimately, it is incomprehensible
to the human mind. However, this does not mean the Trinity is not true or that it is not based on the teachings of the Bible.
What then does it mean that God exists as the Trinity? It
is a basic principle of our biblical faith that there is only one God. “Hear, O Israel! The LORD
our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The unity of the Godhead cannot be questioned. God does
not consist of parts. He is one. But
Scripture reveals that there are, in that one divine essence, three eternal distinctions.
Those distinctions seem best described as persons, known as the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit. All three have identical attributes, however, and therefore they are one—not
merely one in mind and purpose, but one in substance. To possess all the exact same attributes is to be one in essential
nature. The three persons of the Godhead possess identical attributes. They are one in substance and one in essence, and therefore they are one God.
The Trinity is one God
existing in three Persons. Understand that this is not in any way suggesting three Gods. Keep in mind when studying this subject
that the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture. This is a term that is used to attempt
to describe the triune God—three coexistent, co-eternal Persons who make up God. Of
real importance is that the concept represented by the word “Trinity” does exist in Scripture. The following
is what God’s Word says about the Trinity:
In Isaiah 48:16 and 61:1, the Son is speaking while making reference to the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Compare Isaiah 61:1 to Luke 4:14-19 to see that it is the Son speaking. Matthew 3:16-17 describes the event of Jesus' baptism. Seen in this passage
is God the Holy Spirit descending on God the Son while God the Father proclaims His pleasure
in the Son. Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 are examples of three distinct
persons in the Trinity.
The undeniable biblical testimony to the Trinity is simply
that all three persons are referred to as divine. First, the Father is called God. He is referred to as “God the Father”
(Galatians 1:1), “God our Father” (Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2), and “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). His deity is unquestioned. But the Son is likewise referred to as God. He
possesses the attributes of deity such as eternality, immutability, omnipotence, omniscience, and
omnipresence. He bears the names of deity such as Jehovah, Lord, Immanuel, and the Word. He even permitted Thomas to
call Him “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28). He exercises the prerogatives of deity such as forgiving sins, raising the dead, and judging all men.
And He accepts worship reserved only for God.
3) The members of the Trinity are distinguished one from another
in various passages. In the Old Testament, “LORD” is distinguished from “Lord” (Genesis 19:24; Hosea 1:4). The LORD has a Son (Psalm 2:7, 12; Proverbs 30:2-4). The Spirit is distinguished from the “LORD” (Numbers 27:18) and from “God” (Psalm 51:10-12). God the Son is distinguished from God the Father (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9). In the New Testament, Jesus speaks to the Father about sending a Helper,
the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). This shows that Jesus did not consider Himself to be the Father or the Holy Spirit. Consider also all the other
times in the Gospels where Jesus speaks to the Father. Was He speaking to Himself? No. He spoke to another person in the Trinity—the
Jesus claimed that He deserved the very same reverence that
was reserved for God the Father. He was not a liar or a lunatic, so He must have been who He claimed to be—God the Son,
equal with the Father and worthy of the same honor as the Father. The Father Himself addressed His Son as God: “But
about the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever’” (Hebrews 1:8). Paul further explains that “in Him dwells all the
fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). The Greek word translated “godhead” is theotēs which
means “divinity,” so the totality of divinity (God) is in Jesus. The prologue to John’s gospel tells us
one reason Christ came to earth: to make the Father known, to reveal God to men (John 1:18). We
can know more of what God is like by examining the person of Jesus Christ. He was God in flesh. As we explore Scripture and
seek to discover who God is, we cannot neglect the earthly life of Jesus Christ. He is God the Son.
the Holy Spirit is also part of the Godhead. His name is “the Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2). He too possesses the attributes of deity and performs the works of deity.
While He is the Spirit who proceeds from the Father (John 15:26), He is at the same time called “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9). He is coequal with both the Father and the Son. The apostle Peter clearly
viewed Him as God when he said to Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the
Holy Spirit? . . . You have not lied to men, but to God” (Acts 5:3-4). If the Father, the Son, and the Spirit all bear the names of God, possess
the attributes of God, and perform the works of God, then there is no alternative but to acknowledge that our one God exists
in three persons.
5) There is subordination within the Trinity. Scripture shows
that the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son, and the Son is subordinate to the Father. This
is an internal relationship and does not deny the deity of any person of the Trinity. This is simply
an area which our finite minds cannot understand concerning the infinite God. Concerning the Son see
Luke 22:42, John 5:36, John 20:21, and 1 John 4:14. Concerning the Holy Spirit see John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, and especially John 16:13-14. .
Sending the Son. All three members of the Trinity were active in the incarnation. When Mary questioned the angel about the
possibility of a virgin birth, the angel answered her, “The angel answered, ‘The Holy
Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the
Son of God’' (Luke 1:35). The power of the Father, ministered through the agency of the Spirit, resulted
in the birth of the Son into the world. This close association in the birth of the Savior is further indication of their oneness.
Identifying the Messiah. At precisely the proper moment, Jesus Christ was revealed to Israel as her Messiah. John the Baptist
was the chosen instrument and the act of baptism was the chosen means (Matthew 3:16-17). As the Spirit came upon the Son, the Father’s voice was heard from
heaven expressing His approval. It was another powerful testimony to the eternal triune Godhead.
Redemption. Two central passages bring the three members of the Godhead together in providing for man’s eternal salvation. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself
unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14). It was the offering of the Son to the Father by the power of the Spirit.
The Apostle Peter taught, furthermore, that God the Father chose us to salvation, God the Son paid for it by shedding His
blood, and God the Spirit set us apart unto the obedience of faith (1 Peter 1:1-2). Without each person of the Godhead doing His part, we would remain in our
• Proclaiming Salvation. In the early years of the church, God did some spectacular things to verify the
gospel message which the apostles were preaching. The writer to the Hebrews tells us: “How
shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to
us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts
of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:3-4). It was the same message that was first spoken by the Son Himself. When the
apostles proclaimed it, the Father bore witness to its truthfulness by bestowing miraculous gifts through the Spirit. It was
not only a powerful witness to the truth of the message, but another demonstration of the triune God at work.
Sending the Spirit. The three persons of the Trinity are so interwoven in sending the Spirit into the world that it is difficult
to distinguish between them. In one passage it is stated that the Father would send the Spirit in Christ’s name and
that He would testify concerning Christ (John 14:26). In another it is said that the Son would send Him from the Father (John 15:26). In yet another, the Father sends Him and calls Him the Spirit of His Son
(Galatians 4:6). What a picture of unity—such perfect unity that the actions of one
are considered to be the actions of the other. The Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. But all three are vitally
involved in His coming.
• Indwelling Believers. Jesus taught His disciples that both He and His Father would
make their home with them (John 14:23). But their indwelling would be in the person of the Comforter, the Spirit
of truth (John 14:16-17). As the Spirit of both the Father and the Son, His indwelling is the indwelling
of the Godhead. That would not be possible unless the three are one.
• Baptizing Believers. In our Lord’s
commission to His disciples He said, “Therefore go 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). The unity of the Godhead is declared by combining them in one “name”
(singular). Yet the distinctiveness of the persons is maintained by listing them separately. It is another link in the long
chain of evidence that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one God.
• Entering God’s Presence. All
three members of the Godhead are intimately involved in the believer’s access into the presence of God. Speaking of
Christ, the apostle Paul taught, “For through him we both have access to the Father by one
Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18). Both Jews and Gentiles can approach the Father through the merits of the
Son with the help of the Spirit.
• Blessing Believers. In Paul’s final remarks to the Corinthian Christians
he linked the three members of the Godhead together in a beautiful benediction: “The grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). Unless the three are one, eternally and equally supreme, there would be little
reason to put them together on an equal basis like this in a divine blessing. The apostle certainly considered them to be
The doctrine of the Trinity has been a divisive
issue throughout the entire history of the Christian church. While the core aspects of the Trinity are clearly presented in
God’s Word, some of the side issues are not as explicitly clear. The Father is God, the Son is God,
and the Holy Spirit is God—but there is only one God. That is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Beyond that,
the issues are, to a certain extent, debatable and non-essential. Rather than attempting to fully define the Trinity with
our finite human minds, we would be better served by focusing on the fact of God's greatness and His infinitely higher nature.
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34).