The Trinity always proves to be a difficult subject. It is also one of the two most brilliant revelations of the Living God (the other is the Gospel). We can learn so much about God from this revelation that it is very important to review it. Also, the Bible is much more clear if we first spend time discerning the parts of the Bible that reveal the Trinity. Most heresies can be avoided and/or refuted through a correct Biblical view of God. The objective of this post is to convey that the Bible teaches that God is triune (a trinity).
There are going to be three parts to this post – one God (what), three Persons (who), one God.
Three Persons. In both the Old and New Testaments there is mention of distinctions in God. One of the first is in Genesis 1:2. The same is done in the New Testament. There are many occasions. I will only point out a few. In the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19, Jesus marks out the three Persons of God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Another is John 14:26 when Jesus tells about the “Helper” coming from the Father. The word used in 14:16 to describe the Helper as “another” is a Greek word that sets Jesus and the Helper as equals. In both passages Jesus establishes equality and separation among the three Persons.
One God. Given that the Bible describes these two characteristics of God, it is our job to reconcile them. On the one hand, there is One God. On the other hand, there is equality and separation within the One God. The early church leaders chose to call the separations “persons” because of the personal nature they each convey. We must understand that this is not a contradiction. There are two different categories being discussed, God and Persons.
It may help to review some common examples.
First, there is one woman. She is a mother, daughter and wife. This is an attempt to show the unity of God. Where it is strong in unity, it fails in division. God is not One in the sense that He can be viewed in three different relationships. There are actual distinctions. When Jesus talks to the Father, He is not talking to Himself (John 17:1-3, Jesus praying to the Father for you). There is a real separation, a real relationship between the Father and Jesus.
Second, there is a chain. It has three links. God is more than a compilation of Persons. God is One in the sense that His essence is One. The three Persons are One is essence.
Third, math offers examples. 1+1+1=3 but that is not true with God. More of a likeness would be 1 x 1 x 1 = 1. Another would be a triangle. There are three corners but one triangle. This also borders the chain example but is closer.
Lastly, I have heard it best stated this way: The Father is God; Jesus is God; The Holy Spirit is God; The Father is not Jesus; The Father is not the Holy Spirit; Jesus is not the Father; Jesus is not the Holy Spirit; The Holy Spirit is not the Father; The Holy Spirit is not Jesus. God is One is essence and three in Person. We are answering the questions, “What?” and “Who?” – One What: God; three Who’s: the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit.
For further study see John 1:1-3;14, note verse 14 – Jesus is the Word – and verse 3 where all things came into existence through Him, which means He could not be one of the created or it would be everything except one.