What Does the Bible Say About the Trinity?
Does the Bible Use the Term or Name Trinity?
What is the Trinity? Or, Who is the Trinity?
Is the Trinity in the Bible?
Let’s start with some common ground!
These are questions that have ruffled the feathers and boggled the mind of believers and critics alike, for like, a really, really long time.
If it weren’t for God’s intentional and purposed revelation of himself in the Scriptures, we could not even fathom the identity or personhood of God. Just the fact that He is God, makes him completely incomprehensible apart from his limited personal revelation to us. I say limited, because we can only understand so much. If we could fathom and understand all that God is, He would cease to be God and we would be of equal understanding. This is a stumbling stone of faith for so many, because they can’t accept that they can’t fully understand and contain God. God is a mystery, but not a complete mystery.
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
He has revealed enough through Scripture that we can understand: His character, will, desires, love for us, and His plan of redemption for humanity through Jesus. And, yes, a lot more! So, let’s agree that God is greater than our ability to contain or fully understand Him, but we have enough knowledge of Him to rely on.
What we see in Scripture is that, God is one. He is the almighty one true God!
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Is the word or term of Trinity used in the Bible? No, it is not!
However, it is a theological term used to describe what we clearly see in Scripture as the revealed identity of God, as expressed in the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. This is what is called the doctrine of the Trinity, that defines God as being one God existing in three coequal, coeternal, coexistent, consubstantial persons; they are three distinct persons sharing one unified singularity of one essence. Some would say, the three-persons aspect defines who God is, while the one essence defines what God is.
The absence of the term “Trinity”in Scripture is also a major criticism by some who reject the term “Trinity” however rejection is not valid since we see this relationship clearly exhibited in Scripture permitting us to use a term or label as man’s best attempt to capture this Biblical truth and understanding of this great mystery. Yes, the Trinity is a mystery though we observe its truth.
Again, The word “Trinity” is a term used to describe the Christian doctrine that God exists as a unity of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of the persons is distinct from the other, yet identical in essence.
What is God like?
In the Bible we see over 950 names and titles of God that all describe an attribute of His personhood. Each name and title is also a promise to His followers. For example, He is called the “Prince of Peace.” That is His name, “Prince of Peace”, and yet it is also a promise that He will bring you peace, everlasting peace.
Clarifying the Trinity
The Old Testament Plurality of God is NOT to be confused with polytheism.
And God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”
And the Lord God said, “The man is become as one of us, to know good and evil”
“Come, let us go down, and there confound their language.”
Incidentally, “come” in the Hebrew text is plural, so that the divine spokesman must be addressing and acting in union with at least two others.
“And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
You will notice the use of the Oneness of God by the use of an “I” statement, and a transition to a revelation of the plurality, or triune nature of God, through the use of the “us” statement.
New Testament Plurality of God
The book of Hebrews is probably the clearest and most intentional on the defining of the nature of Jesus. The author of Hebrews starts off with the understanding that Jesus is the Son, and coequal, coeternal, and coexistent.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
In speaking of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.”
But about the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.”
He also says,
“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
Jesus’ Revealed Ministry in Scripture
- No Hope without Jesus
- He paid your bill
- He restored your relationship with Him
- He is praying for you
Jesus God and Human
He claimed to be the embodiment of the biblical God in human form.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
A major criticism often made by Muslims and Jehovah Witnesses is, the FALSE claim that Jesus never called himself God.
So… Did Jesus Ever Call Himself God?
No, not in that term, he actually said it more powerfully in an indisputable way. He claimed himself as the one true God.
- Jesus made some BIG claims
Jesus claimed equality with God the Father.
In John 10:24-33, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”
The Jews who heard Him make that statement knew well that He was claiming to be God, as witnessed by their reaction: “His Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him.” (John 10:24-33)
When He asked them why they were attempting to stone Him, they said, “For blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Stoning was the penalty for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16), and the Jews plainly accused Jesus of claiming to be God.
- So, What Did Jesus Say About Himself?
He said something greater! Rather than simply saying “I am God,” He called Himself something far greater. In a day with lots of visual false gods, He was specific of who He really is. He called himself the Great “I Am!”
Jesus’ teaching about Himself in John 8:27-28 is the big bomb shell:
They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
Again, Jesus didn’t just simply say He was God, because it could have been confused with a variety of many different false gods under Roman rule. To just say He was God, Jesus would possibly be misunderstood as saying he was one of the many known false gods under Roman rule.
Jesus called Himself God in the clearest sense. He used the title “I Am,” the first name God gave Moses (Exodus 3:14). The name that distinguished the one true God from all the false gods. Jesus made another statement claiming to be God when He said,
“Very truly I tell you, … before Abraham was born, I am!”
The Jews, upon hearing Him, clearly understood that He was claiming preexistence and, more than that, to be Yahweh, the great “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. On this occasion, they tried to stone Him for blasphemy.
“I AM” was His claim!
To say He is the “I AM” is to say He is the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. With this title there would be no denying who He is. He claimed to be the one true God of Israel and Creator of everything.
Remember, when God told His name to Moses, the name given was “I AM”
God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: “I AM has sent me to you.”
- Yahweh is the “I AM”
- He is Without Equal
- He is Preexistent
In the Hebrew grammar, Yahweh means: “I am”, “I was”, and “I will be”.
He is seen as a promise; “I will be with you always.”
- The Apostle Thomas Worships Jesus. (John 20:24-29)
This is important because Jesus allowed himself to be worshiped as God, on more than one occasion. If Jesus allowed himself to be worshiped and was not God, He would have sinned. Scripture says He was sinless and allowed worship, affirming His deity.
- Jesus reveals Himself to the High Priest
..Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven…”
Jesus tells the high priest who He is. They understood he was claiming equality with God. That’s why they wanted to kill Him for the charge of blasphemy.
- Jesus again claimed equality with God.
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Further Scriptures That Support His Truth Claim of Being God:
While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.
John 4:25-26 Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well:
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
He calls himself Messiah & Christ (Savior & anointed one)
He made the claim to be God in many different ways, and those who heard Him knew exactly what He was saying
The Holy Spirit
- Personhood and Ministry
Jesus teaches about the Holy Spirit, his personhood and revealed ministry.
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:
about sin, because people do not believe in me;
about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
- Jesus equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit
Jesus further claims equality with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in His commission to the Church to baptize new converts after the moment of salvation or positional sanctification.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Holy Spirit in the early Church
We see the Holy Spirit’s ministry at work in the early Church.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them
- The Holy Spirit in Genesis
The Holy Spirit didn’t just pop up at Pentecost. We see Him first revealed in the beginning.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
- Role/Function/Ministry of the Holy Spirit:
- Draws men to God through conviction
- Empowers man for Godly living (sanctification)
- Empowers believers supernaturally for a life of ministry
The Holy Spirit is revealed to love, have emotion & distinction. The Holy Spirit manifests love & emotion & intellect, and again, a distinction in personhood.
They experienced a real person. He is a personality with an intellect and emotion.
The Apostles wrote a letter:
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than with anything beyond the following requirements…
This verse teaches that the holy spirit thinks, makes choices and decisions. They consulted him for direction and wisdom.
They experienced God, the third member of the Trinity.
Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the Spirit, to join fervently with me in prayer to God on my behalf.
The Apostles experienced power as seen in the Pentecost story (Acts 2:1-13), and a deeper love for God and people, as supported by the fruits (Galatians 5:22-25) and gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) of the spirit.
What the Holy Spirit is not:
They realized the Holy Spirit
- Is not spooky
- He’s not controlling
- He doesn’t take over you
- He not a feeling or just some power that emanates from God
- He isn’t a force.
- He isn’t mythical or magical
He is God and works on your behalf!
What Picture Do We See of God From Scripture?
The Godhead, known as the Trinity, has distinct differences we can see in personhood, roles and functions.
- He is unique and the only way.
- He clarifies the uniqueness of Jesus as the only bridge to salvation.
- God is a real Person to be experienced, not just a doctrine to believe.
The Triune God is not just a doctrine to be believed, but a person to be received.
A very simple easy picture to understand the revealed role or ministry
roles in the Trinity is:
- As the Father, God set the plans of salvation and redemption in place. He created the world through the Son.
- As the Son, He redeemed the world and is priest over it.
- As the Holy Spirit, He sanctifies the elect and grows the Church by empowering it.
I hope this helps in answering the question, “What is the Trinity?”
Or, maybe it just raises more questions! LOL
No, this was not an exhaustive answer, but was an attempt to answer the question in a palatable way that is helpful in understanding.
Hope it helps the believer to grow and cause the thinker to think!
God is a mystery and so is the doctrine of the Trinity. Again, it’s just a theological term used to describe what we clearly and plainly see revealed in Scripture.
For more relevant content on this topic, go to Fusion Church’s Message Library: