Orthodox doctrinal understanding is important because there are many heretics and false teachers who would rise up and attempt to lure people away by exposing their ignorance. I submit that we do not necessarily need a class in Comparative Religion, nor Counter-Cult Apologetics, but rather if we understand the word of God, we can also understand why we believe orthodox doctrines that are often misrepresented by Christian cults. One of the consistencies among Christian cults is that they deny the doctrine of the trinity. Unfortunately, they are usually better trained in trinitarian theology than many Christians, so that when a Jehovah’s Witness knocks on our door, the normal Christian is likely going to be steam rolled. I would like to expose these heretical groups simply by shining a light on the strength of the doctrine of the trinity in light of the scriptures. So then, is the trinity in the Bible?
I think it is profitable to first define some terms, because many groups, out of either ignorance or blatant deception, tend to misrepresent the doctrine of the trinity in saying that the trinity is the view that there are three gods. But the trinity is not the view that there are three gods, and in fact there are no mainstream Christian groups who believe that there are three gods. So when we look at Deuteronomy 6:4, which says that the Lord is one God, most Christians believe it just as passionately as anybody else. The view that there are three gods is not the trinity, but rather that is what is known as tri-theism, and it is only represented by Mormonism, insofar as I know.
Far from abandoning monotheism, trinitarian theology very firmly holds to the concept that there is one God. The only difference is that there is one God, who is eternally existent in three persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is a person (which is to say that he is self-aware and has a will), the Son is a person, and the Holy Spirit is a person, and each are God. There is only one God, and he is made up of three persons, who are equal in nature, distinct in person, and subservient in duty.
Therefore I would like to answer the question, is the trinity in the Bible? by looking at each one of these aspects.
Equal In Nature
The Father Is God: I doubt that there is even a debate over this statement. The Father and God are often used interchangeably, and indeed there are innumerable verses where the term God The Father is used, such as Ephesians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:3, and 2 Corinthians 1:3.
The Son Is God: The apostles often used Old Testament passages that referred to Yahweh, to described Jesus. A few examples of this phenomenon: Romans 10:13, compared against Joel 2:23. 1 Corinthians 1:31, compared against Jeremiah 9:24. 1 Corinthians 2:16, compared against Isaiah 40:13. 1 Corinthians 10:26, compared against Psalms 24:1. 2 Corinthians 10:17, compared against Jeremiah 9:24.
For more on this, see my article Jesus Is God, Not The Father.
The Holy Spirit Is God In Acts 5:34 and 1 Corinthians 2:10, God and the Holy Spirit and used interchangeably and displays even traits such as omniscience (or, knowing everything).
Distinct In Person
When it is said that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct in person, it means that while they are all God, they each possess their own consciousness and will. They are not different roles that God plays or different modes that he takes, but rather they are all distinct in personhood. We see this in examples such as John 10:30, wherein Jesus said “I and the Father are one,” which of course is not to say “I am the Father,” but rather it is to say that one person (Jesus) is one with another person (the Father). This continues, such as in John 14:6 where Jesus tells his disciples that nobody comes to the Father, except through him.
After his death, Jesus’ disciples continue this precedent, including in their salutations that both the Father and the Son blessed them (Ephesians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:3, and 2 Corinthians 1:3). Further, I would argue that in their commentary in the gospels, they taught the distinctness of persons, such as in John 1:1-2, wherein John writes that the Word was God, and was with God. This indicates both equality in nature, and distinction in person. To this Oneness Pentecostals will reply that Jesus existed in the mind of God, and thus was with God in the beginning. However this is defeated by the first part of the sentence, namely the Word was God. The Word was God, the Word was not just an expression of God’s mind.
This distinction of persons is represented in the Old Testament as well, with cases such as Genesis 1:26 where God refers to himself in plural form in saying, “Let us make man in our own image.” To this many will reply that God was with the angels, but this I think is incorrect because that would imply that the angels were creating alongside God. If God said, “Let us make…” that means that they are creating with God. Further, in Genesis 18, God and two angels appeared to Abraham, and they were not referred to with the same singularity, so the idea that the angels were creating alongside God in Genesis 1:26 is inconsistent with Genesis 1:27, Genesis 18, and Isaiah 45:12 which says that God alone created the world.
Where does this leave the Holy Spirit? Well the Holy Spirit is taught to be a person as well in that he is referred to as a Comforter, and Advocate, and a Helper; roles that only a person could fulfill. He is also included in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19; Jesus commanded to baptize in the name of the Holy Spirit as well as the Father and the Son. If the Spirit was just a description of the Father’s power, baptizing in the name of the Father would fulfill baptism in the name of the Spirit.
Subservient In Duty
When it is said that the members of the trinity are subservient in duty, it means that they willingly submit to each other to fulfill their ultimate will.
Jesus Submits To The Father. I might appeal to the Doctrine Of Kenosis as found in Philippians 2:6-11, which says that Jesus willingly shed his attributes, including omniscience and omnipotence, for the sake of men. He was subservient to the Father, and I think this is best demonstrated in John 5 when he said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
The Holy Spirit Submits To Jesus. Just as Jesus is subservient to the Father, the Holy Spirit is subservient to Jesus, and in this way we can be encouraged that when the Holy Spirit calls on our hearts and witnesses to us, that is because Jesus Christ himself pointed at us, and the Spirit obeyed (While we cannot see Jesus Christ today, we can know that he loves us through the internal witness of the Spirit, and this is something that Christians ignore far too often. It is equivalent to Jesus standing on the beach telling us, “Come, and I will make you fishers of men.”). This is evident in John 15:26 when Jesus said, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father–the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father–he will testify about me.”
Is the trinity in the Bible? Yes, in fact, God is a trinity. He is one God, who is eternally existent in three persons, and those persons are equal in nature, distinct in person, and subservient in duty.
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