The Facts Concerning the Trinity

The Bible reveals to us that God is presented as three “persons” in one (unity) and they are of the same essence of deity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all completely God. There are some that believe that the Father and Son are God, but the Holy Spirit is just a source of power. We are going to take a very brief look at the subject of the Trinity, but it should give you a good idea of the veracity of the concept. The term “trinity” is the term used to explain that God exists in three, distinct persons. But let’s start with some verses that proves that the Holy Spirit is God to start off with, then go from there.

In Acts 5.3 we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They lied about some land that they gave and Peter says to Ananias “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.” Now, you can’t lie to a “force” or be baptized in the name of a “force” (Matt 28.19). And you will see in that verse that you can’t be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit if not all three were persons. The Holy Spirit can be “grieved” (Eph 4.30) and he speaks (Acts 13.2). He can intercede for us (Rom 8.26). He is called God in Acts 5.4. Now, with that in mind, let’s look at how all three relate together in what is called “the Godhead.”

There is a concept in the Bible called “overlapping deity” in that the Father is associated with the Son on deified terms. For example, many Epistles talk about grace, peace and mercy coming from the Father and the Son (1 Cor 1.3; 2 Cor 1.2; Phil 1.2; Eph 1.2). The Son is associated with the Holy Spirit in John 16.7-15.  So, if A (Father) equals B (Son), and B (Son) equals C (Holy Spirit) , then A (Father) equals C (Holy Spirit) as God, they “overlap.”  

The Father is a God of truth (Isa 65.16), so is the Son (John 14.6) and so is the Holy Spirit (1 John 5.7). All three are included in the “us” and “our” of Gen 1.26. All three are mentioned in Isa 48.16 where it says “and now the Lord God (Father) has sent me (Messiah) and the Spirit himself” (Holy Spirit, Rom 8.26).  In Isa 44.6 it says that the Lord, the King of Israel and his redeemer (Messiah), the Lord of hosts, says that they are the first and the last and there is no God besides them. God is one in essence (being), distinct in persons and not a multi-faceted manifestation of one person like the “oneness” movement teaches.

The Father is unique (Dan 7.13), the Son is unique (Psa 40.7-8) and the Holy Spirit is unique (Rom 8.26). They possess full and equal status as deity (Matt 28.19-20; Gen 1.26; 2 Cor 13.14).  All three are uniquely revealed as God. For example, the Father (Deut 4.35), the Son (Titus 2.13) and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5.4; 1 John 5.7).

The Holy Spirit has the same nature or composition of essence as the other two, in that, he is infinite, spirit, immeasurable, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. The character traits of essence of the Holy Spirit are the same as the other two, in that, he is perfect, good, holy, truthful, sovereign, loving, righteous and just. The Bible clearly teaches that the Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are divine and unique beings who are coequal and coeternal. The Lord has chosen to reveal this doctrine carefully and gradually. It is a guarded revelation due to our limitations. Wrong ideas have produced heresies and threatened the Faith at times. Titles for the Lord like “elohim” (plural in Hebrew for “gods” and “judges”) is a collective, plural title. YHVH (Hebrew letters yod, hey, vav, hey) is singular, but it can be used for the Father, Son or Holy Spirit individually.

The Father (Deut 32.6), the Son (Rom 8.14) and the Holy Spirit (John 3.1-8) represent their individual roles for us in order to help us understand the relationship and functions of the three, divine beings. These roles should not be pushed beyond their clear, intended relationships. For instance, “Son” does not mean subordinate in essence to the Father. The “Spirit” is not an inanimate force or “wind.” Father is a position of authority, the Son is the intercessor and the Holy Spirit is a comforter. These terms are used to help us understand the Lord and what their roles are in relation to the redemption and should not be pushed beyond that.

There will be certain things that we will never be able to fully understand in this life and trying to explain the essence of the Godhead is one of them. However, the Bible is very clear about what the Lord says about himself and this should always be where we find out the answers to any question we have.

Here is a list of other Scriptures that will help and you can study them out: Job 35.10 (“maker” is plural); Ecc 12.1 (“creator” is plural); Psa 149.2 (“maker” is plural); Isa 63.7 (Father), v 9 (Son), v 10 (Holy Spirit); Psa 2.12; Isa 6.8 (“us”); Micah 5.2 (Messiah is from days of eternity= the L’Olam Va’ed); Deut 6.4 (“one” is “echad”= is a plural unity). So, let’s look into these verses and more as we explore this concept.

What would we expect to find if the authors believed that God was multi-personal (echad)? What would we expect to find if the authors believed in one (yachid) God? The word “echad” refers to a compound oneness (Gen 1.5, 2.24, 3.22, 11.6, 34.16; 2 Chr 30.12; Ezra 2.64; Jer 32.39). These are a few examples where echad is used of compound oneness. A person who believed that God was just one would never used echad, they would use yachid. But if the writers believed that God was a composite unity, they would use echad.

Now if that is true, why do the Jewish people reject the doctrine of the Trinity? Because prior to the days if Moses Maimomides the unity of God was expresses by echad. When Maimomides wrote his thirteen articles of faith he wrote that the unity of God is expressed in the word yachid, which the Tanak never uses to describe the unity of God. So, when you look at it and see that echad is always used to describe the unity of God, and yachid is never used, it is obvious that God is a composite unity.

When it comes to plural words and pronouns, adjectives and verbs a denier of the Trinity would never refer to God as “them, us, our or we.” And yet, if God is a composite unity we would expect to find this, and we do. The plural form of “El” is used in Gen 1.1 (Elohim). This word is translated as “gods” hundreds of times in the Scriptures. Adonai is almost as popular and this is a plural noun. Job 35.10 refers to God as “makers” of mankind in Hebrew. In Psalm 149.2 David uses the plural “makers” to refer to the Lord of Israel. Ecc 12.1 tells us that we are to remember our “creators” and Isa 54.5 speaks of God as the “makers” of Israel. A “oneness” person would never speak of God as “makers” or “creators.”

Does the Lord ever speak of himself using first person plural forms such as “us, we and our?” He does in Gen 1.26-27, 3.22, 11.7-9 and Isa 6.8. There are other places where two divine persons are called God. One is in Psa 54.6-7 where David is addressing the Lord when he says “thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” This is not an earthly throne of some king. Then David goes on to say that God is being anointed by God! How can God sitting in heaven be anointed by God? For those who believe in a Trinity this is no problem, but for a “unitarian” it is a huge problem.

Another passage is Isa 48.12-16, where the speaker is clearly God because he is identified as “the first and last.” Then in verse 16 he says, “And now the Lord God has sent me (the speaker is God the Son) and his Spirit (the Holy Spirit). So, God the speaker and God the Spirit are sent by the Lord God. Hos 1.7 says that the speaker (“I”) will have compassion (as God) on Judah and deliver them by Yehovah their God.” The “I” is the first person promise to do something for “you” as the second person through Yehovah being the third person. Yehovah who is speaking is clearly a different person than the Yehovah their God, but this exactly what a believer in the Trinity (a “trinitarian”) would expect to find.

The deity of the Father is found in Isa 64.8 and Deut 32.6 and Mal 2.10. He is a father who has a first born son in Israel (Exo 4.22-23; Jer 31.9 and Deut 14.1). The deity of the son is seen in Prov 30.4 and Psa 2.1-11. God the Father publicly declared this son to be his son at his immersion in Matt 3.17 and in Rom 1.4. The Holy Spirit as a person is seen in Isa 63.10-11, Mic 2.7, 2 Sam 23.1, 1 Kings 22.24, Neh 9.30 and Psa 51.11, Exo 31.3, Isa 11.20, Judges 3.10 and Zech 12.10. The deity of the Spirit is seen in Job 33.4, Psa 104.30, 1 Sam 10.10, 2 Sam 23.2 and Zech 7.12.

The Trinity can be seen at the creation. The Spirit is introduced as the one who actually formed the earth in Gen 1.2. The word “was moving” in Hebrew (marachefet) means to hover over something. It is used in Deut 32.11 to describe an eagle hovering over its young in the nest. It shows us that the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) was the one who supervised each phase of the creation. In other words, the creation of the universe was a joint effort by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Ecc 12.1 uses “makers” in Hebrew). They work together in the Redemption (Isa 48.16, Isa 61.1, 63.8-10).

The Tanak reveals that God is a composite unity made up of three persons called the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the Jewish people had this belief. These are just a few passages that a person who believes in the Trinity would expect to find if the Scriptures were written by people who believe in the Trinity. There is much more and we haven’t even touched on how this concept of the Trinity can be seen by passages in the Septuagint, the Targums, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Pseudepigrapha, the Mishnah, the Talmud and of course the Brit Chadashah (the Renewed or “new”) Testament.

One who does not believe in the Trinity (a unitarian) would never have written the Bible, or these extra-biblical works, in the form and fashion they were written. Yehovah tells us in the Scriptures who he is and we should not resort to our own expectations. But some people have their own mind made up and don’t want to be confused by the facts, and to them we say, “To the Torah and to the Testimony (prophets)! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no light of understanding (Isa 8.20).

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament

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