The Christian Trinity Biblically Explained 1 X 1 X 1 = 1
While the word Trinity does not occur there, the concept is clearly taught in the Bible. The logic of the doctrine of the Trinity is simple. Two biblical truths are evident in scripture, the logical conclusion of which is the Trinity:
1) There is one God.
2) There are three distinct persons who are God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Bible also reconizes a plurality of persons in God. Although the doctrine of the Trinity is not as explicit in the Old Testament as the New Testament, nonetheless, there are passages where members of the God-head are distinguished. At times they even speak to one another. (Psalm 110:1)
No analogy of the Trinity is perfect, but some are better than others. First, some bad illustrations should be repudiated. The Trinity is not like a chain with three links. For these are three seperate and separable parts. But God is niether seperated nor seperable.
Neither is God like the same actor playing three different parts in a play. For God is simultaneously three persons, not one person playing three successive roles. Nor is God like the three states of water: solid, liquid, and gaseous. For normally water is not in all three states at the same time, but God is always three persons at the same ime. Unlike other bad analogies, this one does not imply tritheism.
However, it does reflect another heresy known as modalism.
Most erroneous illustrations of the Trinty tend to support the charge that trinitarianism is really tritheism, since they contain seperable parts. The more helpful analogies retain the unity of God while they show a simultaneous plurality. There are several that fit this description.
A Mathematical Illustration:
One aspect of the problem can be expressed in mathematical terms. Critics make a point of computing the mathematical impossibility of believing there is a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Godhead, without holding that there are three gods. Does not 1 + 1+ 1 = 3? It ceretainly does if you add them, but Christians insist the the triunity of God is more like 1 x 1 x 1 = 1. God is triune, not triplex. His one essence has multiple centers of personhood. Thus, there is no more mathematical problem in conceiving the Trinity than there is understanding 1 cubed (1 to the 3rd power).
A Geometric Illustration:
Perhaps the most widely used illustration of the Trinity is the triangle. One triangle has three corners, which are inseparable from, and simultaneous to, one another. In this sense it is a good illustration of the Trinity. Of course, the triangle is finite and God is infinite, so it is not a perfect illustration.
A Moral Illustration:
Augustine suggested an illustration of how God is both three and one at the same time. The Bible informs us that "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Love involves a lover, a beloved, and a spirit of love between lover and loved. The Father might be likened to the Lover; the Son to the One love, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love. Yet love does not exist unless these three are united as one. This illustration has the advantage of being personal, since it involves love, a characteristic that flows only from persons.
Trinity simply means "triunity." God is not a simple unity; there is plurality in his unity. The Trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Christian Faith. Unlike an antinomy or paradox, which is a logical contradiction, the Trinity goes beyond reason but not against reason. It is known only by divine revelation, so the Trinity is not the subject of natural theology but of revelation.
The Basis for the Trinity
While the word Trinity does not occur there, the concept is clearly taught in the Bible. The logic of the doctrine of the Trinity is simple. Two biblical truths are evident in Scripture, the logical conclusion of which is the Trinity:
1. There is one God.
2. There are three distinct persons who are God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The central teaching of Judaism called the Shema proclaims: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Deut. 6:4). When Jesus was asked the question, "What is the greatest commandment?" he prefaced the answer by quoting the Shema (Mark 12:29). In spite of his strong teaching on the deity of Christ (cf. Col. 2:9), the apostle Paul said emphatically, "there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live" (1 Cor. 8:6). From beginning to end, the Scriptures speak of one God and label all other gods as false (Exod. 20:3; 1 Cor. 8:5-6).
The Bible also recognizes a plurality of persons in God. Although the doctrine of the Trinity is not as explicit in the Old Testament as the New Testament, nonetheless, there are passages where members of the Godhead are distinguished. At times they even speak to one another (see Ps. 110:1).
The Father Is God
Throughout Scripture God is said to be a Father. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Our Father in heaven" (Matt. 6:9). God is not only "our heavenly Father" (Matt. 6:32) but the "Father of our spirits" (Heb. 12:9). As God, he is the object of worship. Jesus told the woman of Samaria, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks" (John 4:23). God is not only called "our Father" (Rom. 1:7) many times but also "the Father" (John 5:45; 6:27). He is also called "God and Father" (2 Cor. 1:3). Paul proclaimed that "there is but one God, the Father" (1 Cor. 8:6). Additionally, God is referred to as the "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 15:6). Indeed, the Father and the Son are often related by these very names in the same verse (Matt. 11:27; 1 John 2:22).
The Son Is God
The deity of Christ is treated below in the section on attacks on the Trinity and most extensively in the article Christ, Deity of. As a broad overview it should be noted that:
Jesus claimed to be Yahweh God. YHWH; translated in some versions Jehovah, was the special name of God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, when God said, "I am who I am." In John 8:58, Jesus declares: "Before Abraham was, I am." This statement claims not only existence before Abraham, but equality with the "I am" of Exodus 3:14. The Jews around him clearly understood his meaning and picked up stones to kill him for blaspheming (see Mark 14:62; John 8:58; 10:31-33; 18:56). Jesus also said, "I am the first and the last (Rev. 2:8).
Jesus took the glory of God. Isaiah wrote, "I am the Lord [Yahweh], that is my name; I will not give to another, or my praise to idols" (42:8) and, "This is what the Lord [Yahweh] says . . . I am the first, and I am the last; apart from me there is no God" (44:6). Likewise, Jesus prayed, "Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began" (John 17:5). But Yahweh had said he would not give his glory to another.
While the Old Testament forbids giving worship to anyone other than God (Exod. 20:14; Deut. 5:69), Jesus accepted worship (Matt. 8:2; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:17; Mark 5:6). The disciples attributed to him titles the Old Testament reserved for God, such as, "the first and the last" (Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13), "the true light" (John 1:9), the "rock" or "stone" (1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Peter 2:68; cf. Ps. 18:2; 95:1), the "bridegroom" (Eph. 5:28-33; Rev. 21:2), "the chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:40), and "the great shepherd" (Heb. 13:20).
They attributed to Jesus the divine activities of creating (John 1:3; Col. 1:15-16), redeeming (Hosea 13:14; Ps. 130:7), forgiving (Acts 5:31; Col. 3:13; cf. Ps. 130:4; Jer. 31:34), and judging (John 5:26). They used titles of deity for Jesus. Thomas declared: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). Paul calls Jesus, "the one in whom the fullness of deity dwells bodily" (Col. 2:9). In Titus, Jesus is called, "our great God and savior" (2:13), and the writer to the Hebrews says of him, "Thy throne, O God, is forever" (Heb. 1:8). Paul says that, before Christ existed as a human being, he existed as God" (Phil. 2:5-8). Hebrews 1:5 says that Christ reflects God's glory of God, bears the stamp of his nature, and upholds the universe. The prologue to John's Gospel also minces no words, stating, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God' (John 1:1).
Jesus claimed equality with God in other ways. He claimed the prerogatives of God. He claimed to be Judge of all (Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:27-30), but Joel quotes Yahweh as saying, "for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side" (Joel 3:12). He said to a paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5). The scribes correctly responded, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (vs. 7). Jesus claimed the power to raise and judge the dead, a power which only God possesses (John 5:21, 29). But the Old Testament clearly taught that only God was the giver of life (Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6) and the one to raise the dead (Ps. 2:7).
Jesus claimed the honor due God, saying, "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the father, who sent him" (John 5:23). The Jews listening knew that no one should claim to be equal with God in this way and again they reached for stones (John 5:18). When asked at his Jewish trial, "Are you the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus responded, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:61-62).
The Holy Spirit Is God
The same revelation from God that declares Christ to be the Son of God also mentions another member of the triunity of God called the Spirit of God, or Holy Spirit. He too is equally God with the Father and the Son, and he too is a distinct person.
The Holy Spirit is called "God" (Acts 5:34). He possesses the attributes of deity, such as omnipresence (cf. Ps. 139:7-12) and omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10, 11). He is associated with God the Father in creation (Gen. 1:2). He is involved with other members of the Godhead in the work of redemption (John 3:5-6; Rom. 8:9-17, 27; Titus 3:5-7). He is associated with other members of the Trinity under the "name" of God (Matt. 28:18-20). Finally, the Holy Spirit appears, along with the Father and Son, in New Testament benedictions (for example, 2 Cor. 13:14).
Not only does the Holy Spirit possess deity but he also has a differentiated personality. That he is a distinct person is clear in that Scripture refers to "him" with personal pronouns (John 14:26; 16:13). Second, he does things only persons can do, such as teach (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27), convict of sin (John 16:77), and be grieved by sin (Eph. 4:30). Finally, the Holy Spirit has intellect (1 Cor. 2:10, 11), will (1 Cor. 12:11), and feeling (Eph. 4:30).
That the three members of the Trinity are distinct persons is clear in that each is mentioned in distinction form the others. The Son prayed to the Father (cf. John 17). The Father spoke from heaven about the Son at his baptism (Matt. 3:15-17). Indeed, the Holy Spirit was present at the same time, revealing that they coexist. Further, the fact that they have separate titles (Father, Son, and Spirit) indicate they are not one person. Also, each member of the Trinity has special functions that help us to identify them.
For example, the Father planned salvation (John 3:16; Eph. 1:4); the Son accomplished it on the cross (John 17:4;19:30; Heb. 1:12) and at the resurrection (Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16), and the Holy Spirit applies it to the lives of the believers (John 3:5; Eph. 4:30; Titus 3:5-7). The Son submits to the Father (1 Cor. 11:3; 15:28), and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son (John 16:14).
Father Son Holy Spirit
Called God Phil. 1:2 John 1:1-14, COL.2:9 Acts 5:3-4
Creator Isaiah 64:8 John 1:3, COL. 1:15-17 Job 26:13, 33:4
Resurrects 1 Thess. 1:10 John 2:19, 10:17 Rom. 8:11
Indwells 2 Cor. 6:16 Col. 1:27 John 14:17
Everywhere 1 Kings 8:27 Matt. 28:20 Ps. 139:7-10
All Knowing 1 John 3:20 John 16:30, 21:17 1 Cor. 2:10-11
Sanctifies 1 Thess. 5:23 Heb. 2:11 1 Peter 1:2
Life Giver Gen 2:7, John 5:21 John 1:3, 5:21 2 Cor. 3:6-8
Fellowship 1 John 1:3 1 Cor. 1:9 2 Cor. 13:14, Phil. 2:1
Eternal Ps. 90:2 Micah 5:1-2 Rom. 8:11, Heb. 9:14
A will Luke 22:42 Luke 22:42 1 Cor. 12:11
Speaks Matt. 3:17, Luke 9:25 Luke 5:20 Acts 8:29, 11:12, 13:2
Love John 3:16 Eph. 5:25 Rom. 15:30
Searches Heart Jer. 17:10 Rev. 2:23 1 Cor. 2:10
"The Athanasian Creed (Quicumque vult) is a statement of Christian Trinitarian doctrine and Christology which has been used in Western Christianity since the sixth century A.D. Its Latin name comes from the opening words Quicumque vult, "Whosoever wishes." It is the first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is explicitly stated," Wikipedia.
1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.
21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.
32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
42. and shall give account of their own works.
43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.