Welcome back to my blog. Today I am writing on a topic of Christianity that is so often misunderstood, yet so central to the faith. Today’s paper is a brief outline of the basic support from Scripture that the doctrine of the Trinity has in favor of it. This post is by no means exhaustive, however I do seek to lay down a solid basis for believing this doctrine to be unequivocally true.
First, we need to lay some groundwork. Before getting into the Biblical evidence, we need to understand not only the nature of that evidence, but also what the Trinity is not. In other words, I seek to dispel myths and misrepresentations of this most precious doctrine.
It is the contention of many that the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, but coined by early church apologist Tertullian of Carthage in the second century. While Tertullian may have very well come up with the word, the etymology is not in question, but whether the doctrine is taught in Scripture. With that, I would also argue the word Bible is not in the Bible.
Second, we need to understand the nature of evidence for the Trinity. Aside from the so called “Johannine comma” (which I firmly believe belongs in the Bible) there are not verses explicitly stating something like:
“I am God, I am a Trinity”
The evidence for the Trinity is a conclusion based upon facts which we must accept. And these facts, two of which I seek to establish in these posts, we will look at.
Also, we must understand what the Trinity is not.
The Trinity is not:
Jesus, the Father, and Mary (as the Quran teaches)
One God revealing Himself in three different “modes” (The Sebellian heresy, in other words, the Father “became” the Son, who “became” the Holy Spirit.)
The Trinity is:
One single Being called God eternally existing and revealed as Three distinct Persons that are in complete unity with One Another.
In light of the plethora of verses saying God is one, we must understand that one can just as easily refer to one entity that is a plurality. In other words when Jesus prayed that the disciples would “be one” (John 17:22) He was not saying they would all somehow physically amalgamate. The church is one yet the church is a plurality. “One” never rules out a plurality.
With this in mind, I shall establish two facts, both of which are denied by unitarians the world over. First, we must, as stated before, realize the Trinity is the conclusion if these facts are true.
- There is one God.
This is not disputed by unitarians.
2. The Holy Ghost is God.
3. Jesus is God.
These two facts are disputed by unitarian groups, and I will look into fact number two in the first segment of this post. If these two facts can be established, in light of fact number one, the only logical inference is that God must be One yet Three.
Moving on, in establishing the Deity of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) we will look at what ancient Hebrews believed a spirit to be. Unitarian groups call into question the consciousness and sentience of the Spirit. In other words, they believe in an “active force” theology, that rules out the possibility of the Spirit, in their teachings, to be alive and sentient.
Nobody would deny, that the Holy Spirit is indeed a Spirit, the question is, in Hebrew thought what exactly is a spirit? More specifically, are spirits sentient?
Let us take a look at some verses that refer to spirits in general, and we can take away from this what the Hebrews knew a spirit to be.
1 Kings 22:21-22
And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
This verse is an actual conversation between God and a spirit of some sort. We see here that a spirit is capable of communication, and therefore sentient. A theme throughout Scripture whenever spirits are mentioned.
Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:
16 It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying,
17 Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?
Again, a spirit here as early as Job is seen communicating.
Acts 23:9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
Spirits were believed to be able to speak to men.
Luke 11:24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.
A spirit is capable of pondering, planning for the future, and traveling. What then of the Holy Spirit of God?
Ezekiel 11:5 And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.
The Holy Spirit (Spirit of the LORD) is seen speaking and says He has knowledge of the minds of the house of Israel. Only a Sentient Being could have this knowledge. If the Holy Ghost is alive and sentient (which He is) then we must note that the Holy Spirit is also distinct from the Father, yet one with Him because He is His Spirit. The two are inseparable yet distinct. As we see in the Baptism of Christ.
And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Paul here actually attributes a verse from Isaiah where Jehovah is speaking, to the Holy Ghost Himself as saying these things. The truth is that unitarian groups believe all the spirits recorded in Scripture are sentient yet when they look at the Spirit of Life Himself they somehow argue against His Sentience. This line of argumentation is a “special pleading fallacy” and not a real argument against the Trinity. Spirits of all sorts were seen as capable of doing the things human beings can. Spirits are indeed alive, and ESPECIALLY the Spirit of God Himself, who is the source of all life. Indeed, as Elihu said, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4)
That’s all I will cover in this part. We must also note that the Spirit of God is said to be capable of being grieved, offended, as well as sending, striving, convicting, teaching, comforting, and being blasphemed. Only God can truly be blasphemed. Indeed, God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and God is Holy (Isaiah 57:15) Therefore the Living God is a Holy Spirit. In the next segment I will cover the Deity of Christ.