The Trinity Explained in 8 Steps

By Dr. Bob Martin III
Published 2 years ago

What is the Trinity? While not a typical conversation starter, this question is one of the most important we can ask in life.

Why?

Famous pastor and author A.W. Tozer puts it well in The Knowledge of the Holy. He wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

 

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." A.W. Tozer

 

In brief, how we view God will profoundly impact our everyday lives. And the Trinity is an essential doctrine to our understanding of God. It is the unity of the Father, Son, and Spirit as three persons in one Godhead.

 

 

That may sound intimidating but don’t worry I’ll unpack that definition below. The Trinity is more than just a vital doctrine. It is fundamental to our worldview.

While the concept of the Trinity is evident in the New Testament (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Cor. 13:14), the term “Trinity” does not appear. So, in this article, we will look at where the term originated. Then you will learn the distinction between personhood and essence or nature. And then you will read eight critical truths about the nature of the Trinity.

 

I.   Step 1. Origin & Source of the Term “Trinity”

Tertullian coined the term “Trinity” during the second century. He realized Scripture alone is the only way we know about the Trinity (1 Cor. 2:10–11; Heb. 1:1–2).

That is why any discussion of the Trinity is based on Scripture (Ps. 19:7–14; Ps. 119; Prov. 1:7; 2 Tim. 3:14–17). The Bible reveals that God is one, in essence, eternally revealed in three Persons. And these three Persons are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about the Trinity. The Trinity confuses many people. I think the major problem involves not distinguishing two different features of God. Specifically, distinguishing between God’s one essence and his three Persons. Essence and personhood are NOT the same thing.

 

II.   Step 2. The Trinity Is Unique Among Monotheistic Religions

Christianity is a “monotheistic” religion. That means that, as Christians, we believe in only one God. There are two other major monotheistic world religions namely Judaism and Islam. But Christianity’s God is unique. He exists as a Trinity.

Trinity may be a new term for you and can be confusing even for Christians to explain to others. Why?

  • Firstly, because finite humans can’t comprehend an infinite God completely
  • Secondly, because many people confuse God’s one essence with his three Persons

 

Jesus himself spoke of the one-ness of the Godhead when he quoted the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4. He said, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Mark 12:29).

We can never completely understand the Trinities one essence and three Persons. Yet Jesus would not have referenced the Trinity unless it was important. And certainly not if it were a contradiction.

 

III.   Step 3. The Trinity Is a “Mystery,” Not a Contradiction

Among the world’s religions, the Christian faith is unique. That is because it is the only religion that believes in the Trinity. In other words, Christianity is unique among all other worldviews. We believe God is one in essence. And that he is manifest as three “Persons.”

While it is good for us to seek understanding of the Trinity, we cannot fully comprehend God. So, the Trinity is incomprehensible.

Rather than let that frustrate you, let it encourage you. Think about it: Finite Christians serve an eternal and infinite God. Because humankind is limited, God will always exceed our knowledge and understanding (Isa. 55:8-9). If it were the other way around and we understood God completely, how would he be the sovereign God? In his book Mere Christianity,  C. S. Lewis points out an important distinction. The important difference between complexity and incomprehension:

If Christianity was something we were making up, of course, we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact. Of course, anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about (p. 145).

Because of God’s nature, several mysteries exist within our faith. For example the:

 

IV.   Step 4. How Should We Deal with Mysteries Like the Trinity?

Finite humankind cannot wholly comprehend these mysteries. The only way humans can know about these mysteries is because the Bible teaches them.

 

Christian mysteries are not contradictions

 

 

As you might expect, some people consider these mysteries as “contradictions.” But in response we can point out both agreement and clarification.

Firstly, we agree that finite humankind is limited. We cannot entirely comprehend an infinite God and these mysteries (Rom. 11:33–36).

But secondly, Christians need to clarify that God is incomprehensible. However, the Bible teaches us enough about these mysteries that we can apprehend them.

Several analogies help us apprehend the Trinity. But analogies cannot entirely explain the mystery of God. Their prime usefulness it to show the mystery is not contradictory.

That is to say:

  • It is beyond our finite ability to comprehend how God can be three Persons in one divine nature
  • With analogies, we can apprehend that the Trinity is non-contradictory

 

V.   Step  5. How Do We Define the Trinity?

The word trinity means

  • “Tri-unity”
  • “Three-in-oneness”

 

The Trinity means God is:

  • One in essence
  • Three in persons

 

Two biblical teachings confirm the doctrine of the Trinity:

  1. There is one and only one God
  2. Three distinct persons are God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

 

How is that possible? How can three and one refer to the same God? The answer is simple.

We are referring to two different features of God: (1) his singular essence—or nature—and (2) three Persons.

 

VI.   Step 6. Essence vs. Personhood

Why do so many people struggle with the doctrine of the Trinity? I think it is because they lack at least two pieces of information:

  • Firstly, unfamiliarity between “essence or nature” and “personhood”
  • Secondly, practical analogies that help conceptualize the Trinity

 

The main confusion is that many people don’t get this distinction. The “three-ness” and “one-ness” are two different features.

  • On the one hand, there is God’s singular nature, essence, or substance
  • And on the other, there is God’s three Persons (Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit)

 

After understanding the difference between essence and personhood, most objections evaporate!

But what exactly are essence or nature and personhood?

 

1.   Essence

Essence is the objective set of attributes necessary to the thing being described.

That definition is a mouthful. More simply stated, the essence of any entity is “what” it is.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Example 1: What is the nature or essence of a rock? In other words, what are the objective attributes or properties that make up all rocks? The answer is they are gray and hard.

What is the essence of a triangle? Or what are the objective characteristics that all triangles share?

  • It must have three sides
  • It must have three corners or angles
  • The sum of the three angles must be 180 degrees

 

Whether an object is a rock or a triangle, we can classify it based on its objective characteristics. We can discern and apprehend “what” it is.

In sum, the essence or nature of anything is “what” it is.

 

2.   Personhood

The second point of clarification has to do with personhood. We define personhood by three key characteristics:

  • Firstly, an intellect to know things
  • Secondly, an emotional ability to feel
  • Thirdly the power of will to choose to do something (volition)

 

definition of personhood: intellect, emotions, will. a who.

 

3.   Essence & Personhood in Reference to the Trinity

Now that you understand the critical distinction, you know that “essence” is “what.” And you know “personhood” is “who.”

Let’s apply these concepts to the Trinity.

The word trinity means “tri-unity” or “three-in-oneness.”

  • The three-ness refers to the three “Persons”: Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit
  • The “one-ness” applies to God’s unity or his single divine essence

 

You can describe the Trinity in different ways:

  • God is three persons in one nature
  • The Trinity is a plurality of Persons and a unity of essence
  • God is three “who’s” (Persons) and one “what” (divine essence)

 

The words persons and essence refer to entirely different features relating to God. Confusing them leads to misunderstanding.

 

VII.   Step 7. Illustration of the Trinity Distinguishing One Essence and Three Persons

At this stage, your head may be swimming with all this new information about God! You may be wondering how to wrap your mind around all this brand-new information!

You may feel like you are drinking from a fire hydrant. Don’t despair. You will and can grasp these principles. Just hang on a little longer.

Perhaps for the first time, you have read that the Trinity is a “mystery” and not a contradiction. And that knowledge can feel liberating.

You aren’t alone! Most people, including many Christians, struggle trying to apprehend the Trinity. But is there any “easy” way to apprehend these exciting discoveries?

Fortunately, the most popular analogy of the Trinity is the triangle. And the triangle can help us distinguish one essence from the three Persons.

 

1.   Starting with a Triangle

Here’s how the triangle analogy can help: Consider a triangle with me. Let’s start with the geometric figure of the triangle itself. A triangle must have three sides three corners (angles), and the sum of the three angles must be 180 degrees.

As long as a shape has those three angles that add up to 180 degrees, it doesn’t matter what the angles’ degrees are. Anytime you see a geometric figure with these features, it is a triangle.

Why? Because these features make up the singular essence or nature of a triangle. Or stated simply, the triangle’s “what-ness.”

Now let’s go a little deeper and consider the triangle’s three corners (angles). Each corner is distinct (i.e., different) from the others. But all three must be present simultaneously for the geometric figure to be a triangle. Simply put: without three angles, there’s no triangle!

 

2.   Applying the Triangle Illustration to the Trinity

 

Triangle with 3 Persons of Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and Circle of Human Nature attached to the Son Jesus

 

Let’s apply what we’ve learned to the Trinity based on the graphic.

A triangle must have three different corners in order to be one triangle. And this illustration helps us understand the Trinity:

  • The triangle corresponds to God’s essence
  • The three corners of the triangle correspond to the three Persons of the Trinity

 

This illustration shows how the doctrine of the Trinity does not divide God into three “parts.” Instead, it reveals that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit possess the same divine essence.

 

3.   Limitations of the Triangle Illustration

Of course, if the triangle illustration were perfect, we would be able to comprehend God fully, but we can’t. The triangle illustration is easy to understand, but an imperfect analogy because:

  • A triangle is finite, and God is infinite
  • The corners of a triangle are not persons

 

Nonetheless, a triangle illustrates how there can be a three-ness and one-ness same time.

 

VIII.   Step 8. Elements of the Trinity

Let’s do a quick review of the topics we have covered. They include:

  • Definition of the Trinity
  • Understanding of the difference between God’s one divine essence and three Persons
  • A helpful illustration of the triangle

 

Now you have a basic understanding of the Trinity. Let’s move on to Scriptural evidence for the Trinity. After all, if the trinitarian nature of God is not in the Bible, why bother talking about it at all?

 

1.   There Is One God

Monotheism is foundational to Christianity. Both the New Testament and Old Testament testify that there is only one God:

  • Old Testament: Ex. 20:2–3; Deut. 6:4–5; 32:39; 1 Kings 8:60; 2 Kings 5:15; Isa. 45:5-6
  • New Testament: Mark 12:29; John 5:44; Eph. 4:6; James 2:19; Jude 25

 

Unfortunately, we cannot go through each of these passages in detail. However, let me highlight some of the most significant passages that confirm monotheism:

  • The first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3; cf. Deut. 5:7).
  • The beginning of the Shema proclaims: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4).
  • When Jesus answered the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” he prefaced the answer by quoting the Shema(Mark 12:29).
  • Paul unequivocally taught Jesus is God (Col. 2:9). Yet he also proclaimed, “there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live” (1 Cor. 8:6a). Clearly, he appreciated a plurality within the Godhead.

 

Are you interested in learning more about the Godhead? Then study the pronouns used in Scripture point to the Trinity:

  • God addressed in the second person singular (you): 2 Sam. 7:28; Ps. 118:28
  • God referred to in the third person singular (he, his, him): Gen. 1:5, 10; Ex. 3:6

 

2.   God’s “One-ness” Is His One Divine Essence

This “one-ness is God’s one divine essence (Heb 1:3).

What is God’s essence? Remember, the nature or essence of an entity is the property or attributes that make it “what” it is. That is ok when it comes to rocks and triangles. But how can finite humans know anything about God’s infinite essence?

Well, we can know because God has given us his special revelation: the Bible. And Scripture provides many descriptors, or attributes, of God’s singular essence or nature.

  • Some attributes include eternal, infinite, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.
  • But don’t get confused. God’s attributes are not “parts” of his singular divine essence. They only describe what makes up God’s singular essence.

 

God's divine essence is described by his attributes

 

3.   The Three Members of the Trinity are Persons

We just covered God’s one divine essence. Now we will turn our attention to showing the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are “persons.”

To start, let me define what I mean when I say “persons.” Personhood is having intellect, emotions, and a will. All three members of the Trinity have these characteristics. So all three members of the Trinity have unique personhood. For example:

 

a.   The Father is a Person

God the Father is a person. For instance he:

  • Has intellect(Matt. 6:32), emotions (Gen. 6:6), and a will (Matt. 6:9–10)
  • Is referred to in the second person (you; Ps. 92:8) and third person (he, his, him) singular pronouns (1 Kings 18:39). And when he speaks, he refers to himself in first person–as “I” (Deut. 32:39)
  • Has personal traits, such as the ability to communicate (John 14:31)

 

b.   The Son is a Person

Jesus has all the features that ensure he, too, is a person. For example:

  • He has intellect (John 2:25), emotions (John 11:35), and a will (John 6:38)
  • He communicates (John 7:17)

 

c.   The Holy Spirit is a Person

One of the most common mistakes people make is to think of the Holy Spirit as some “force” ala “Star Wars.” But the Holy Spirit is most assuredly a person. And he should be referred to by personal pronouns and never as “it.” The Holy Spirits is a person because he:

  • Has intellect (John 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:11), emotions (Eph. 4:30), and a will (1 Cor. 12:11)
  • When the Holy Spirit speaks, he refers to himself in first person (Acts 13:2). He is also referred to in third-person singular pronouns (John 14:26)
  • He engages in actions only a person can do: He searches (1 Cor. 2:10), knows (1 Cor. 2:11), speaks (Mark 13:11), testifies (Acts 20:23), reveals (1 Cor. 2:10), convinces (John 6:44), teaches (Luke 12:12), convicts (John 16:18), commands (Acts 1:2), moves (John 11:33), helps (Rom. 8:26), guides (John 16:13), creates (Ps. 104:30), sanctifies (Rom. 15:16), inspires, intercedes (Rom. 8:26), comprehends (1 Cor. 2:11), and performs miracles (Matt. 12:28; Rom. 15:19)

 

4.   All Three Persons of the Trinity are God

Scripture also proves that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are God. For instance, each Person:

  • Is called God
  • Possesses God’s attributes
  • Performs acts of God

 

Each Person of the Trinity: is called God possesses God's attributes performs acts of God

 

a.   Each Person is called God

  1. God is called Father (John 17:1; John 3; 20:17; 1 Cor. 8:6)
  2. Jesus is called God (John 1:1-5; John 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Col. 2:9)
  3. The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3–4; 2 Cor. 3:17)

 

b.   Each Person possess God’s attributes

i.   The Father has divine attributes
  • Spirit (John 4:24)
  • Invisible (Rom. 1:20; Col. 1:15)
  • Self-existent (Gen. 1:1; John 1:3)
  • Infinite (Acts 17:24–28; Col. 1:16-17)
  • Eternal (Isa. 57:15; Rev. 1:8)
  • Immutable (unchangeable; James 1:17)
  • Omnipresence (Ps. 139:7–11; Jer. 23:23–24)
  • Omniscience (Ps. 147:4; Rom. 11:33–36).
  • Omnipotence (Jer. 32:17, 27; Matt. 19:26).
  • Omnibenevolence (Jer. 31:3; John 3:16; 1 John 4:8)
  • Holy (Lev. 11:44; Rev. 15:4)
  • Righteous (Ps. 89:14; John 17:25; Rom. 2:6)
  • Incomprehensible (Isa. 40:18)

 

ii.   Jesus the Son’s divine attributes include:
  • The image of God (John 12:45; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15)
  • Self-existent (John 5:26)
  • Eternal (John 1:1-3; 17:5; Col. 1:16-17; Jude 25)
  • Unchangeable (Heb. 13:8)
  • Omnipresent (Matt. 18:20; Matt. 28:20; Col. 3:11)
  • Omniscient (John 2:23-24; Acts 1:24)
  • Omnipotent (Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:3)
  • Omnibenevolent (John 13:34; Rom. 8:35–39; Eph. 3:19; Eph. 5:2)
  • Holy (1 Pet. 1:15)
  • Incomprehensible: (Matt. 11:25–27)

 

iii.   The Holy Spirit’s divine attributes include:
  • Eternal (Heb. 9:14)
  • Omnipresent (Ps. 139:7–10)
  • Omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10–11)
  • Omnipotent (Luke 1:35)

 

c.   Each Person Performs Acts of God

i.   The Father performs acts of God
  • Gives life (Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6)
  • Judges (Joel 3:32)
  • Forgives sins (Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21)
  • Miracles (Ex. 4; 14; Jon. 1:17; Dan. 3:25; Dan. 6:21–22)
  • Resuscitation of the dead (1 Kings 17:17–24; 2 Kings 4:18–37)
  • The resurrection of Jesus (Acts 4:10; Acts 10:40)

 

ii.   Jesus performs acts of God
  • Creation (John 1:3, Col. 1:16)
  • Sustains the universe (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3)
  • Miracles (Matt. 8; 9; Matt. 14:13-36)
  • Demonstrated divine sovereignty over nature (Matt. 8:23–27)
  • Forgives sins (Mark 2:1-12)
  • Resuscitates the dead (Matt. 9:18; Matt. 23-26; Luke 7:11-17; Luke 11:1-45)
  • Sends the Holy Spirit and his gifts (John 16:7–14)
  • Accepts worship (John 20:28)
  • Put his words on a par with God’s (Matt. 5:21–22; John 13:34)
  • End-time resurrection (John 6:40)
  • End-time judgment (Matt. 25:31–46; 2 Cor. 5:10)
  • Requested prayer in his name (John 14:13–14) and to be honored as God (John 5:23)

 

c.   The Holy Spirit performs acts of God:
  • Creation (Gen. 1:2)
  • The act of redemption (Eph. 4:30)
  • Begetting the human nature of Christ at the incarnation (Luke 1:35)
  • Performing miracles (Heb. 2:4)
  • Inspiring Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)
  • Bestowing supernatural gifts (Acts 2:4)

 

5.   Scripture Lists All Three Persons of the Trinity Simultaneously

a.   The Trinity Listed Together

Scripture often names all three members of the Trinity together. These verses make it impossible to deny their individuality and deity.

One helpful Scripture explicitly refers to the essence and personhood of the Trinity. It is the Matthew 28:19 baptismal formula:

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (emphasis mine).

This command lists all three persons of the Trinity. And interesting they are listed  under a single “name.” This refers to God’s single essence.

 

i.   Additional Verses Listing All Three Members

Many other verses concurrently list the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. For instance:

  • By the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 63:7–10)
  • At Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:16-17)
  • In salutations and benedictions (2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet.1:2)
  • Jesus’ testing by Satan (Luke 4:1–12)
  • At Jesus’ incarnation (Luke 1:35)
  • In the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:10–25)
  • At Jesus’ death (John 20:21–22)
  • When Jesus promises the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:4–8)
  • Peter’s sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:33; Acts 38–39)
  • Peter and apostles answer the high priest (Acts 5:30–32)
  • During Stephen’s heavenly vision at his stoning (Acts 7:55–56)
  • In Peter’s sermon to the gentiles in Caesarea (Acts 10:36–38; Acts 44–48)
  • When Peter reports to the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:15–18)
  • When Peter speaks at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:8–11)
  • During Paul’s interaction with Jewish leaders in Rome (Acts 28:25–31)
  • Paul’s epistles (Rom. 5:5–10; 1 Cor. 6:11; Gal. 4:4–7)
  • In Hebrews (Heb. 2:3–4; Heb. 9:14; Heb. 10:28–31)
  • In John’s writings (1 John 4:13–14; Rev. 2:27–29)
  • In Jude 20–21

 

b.   All Three Persons Function Together

Additionally, all three members of the Trinity participate together in several critical events.

 

The Father, Son, & Holy Spirit were involved in: Creation Jesus' incarnation The Lord's baptism Jesus' atoning death Christ's resurrection Redemption

 

i.   Creation

At the creation of everything:

  • God the Father spoke the creative words to bring the universe into being (Gen. 1:1).
  • Jesus carried out these creative decrees (John 1:3; Col. 1:16).
  • The Holy Spirit was “moving” or “hovering” over the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2). He was sustaining and manifesting God’s immediate presence in his creation.

 

ii.   Incarnation

It was God who took the initiative to save humankind. It included Jesus’ miraculous conception in the virgin Mary (John 3:16)—an act that we call the “incarnation.”

And all three members of the Trinity were involved. God the Father sent God the Holy Spirit to conceive Jesus (God the Son) in the virgin Mary’s womb (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:26–35).

iii.   Jesus’ Baptism

At Jesus’ baptism, when Christ came up out of the water, the Spirit descended in the appearance of a dove. And the voice of the Father declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:16–17)

iv.   Jesus’ substitutionary atonement

At his death on the cross, sinless Jesus chose to substitute himself in our place (Heb. 4:15), dying for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3). Christ took God’s punishment, and wrath meant for us because of our sins (Heb. 2:17).

As a result, Jesus’ death covered or “atoned” for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21), making it possible for us to have a relationship with God.

The Trinity was present in the atonement at the cross. As Hebrews 9:14 declares. “Christ … through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God.”

 

v.   Jesus’ resurrection

Christ’s resurrection is variously attributed to:

  • Father (Acts 13:30; 1 Cor. 6:14)
  • Jesus (John. 2:19; 10:17–18)
  • Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11)

 

vi.   In our salvation
  • God the Father’s plan of redeeming humankind involved sending his Son into the world (John 3:16)
  • The Son accomplished redemption for us on the cross (Heb. 10:5–7)
  • After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, he and the Father sent the Holy Spirit to apply redemption (John 15:26)
  • The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian. He regenerates us with new spiritual life (John 3:5–8). He sanctifies us (1 Pet. 1:2), and empowers us for service (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12:7–11)

 

 

6.   Each Person of the Trinity is Distinct

Multiple verses distinguish each member of the Trinity

Let’s go back to the Trinity triangle graphic, and you will see:

  • The Father is not the Son (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Luke 10:22; John 3:35; 10:15; 12:28; 17:1-26; 1 Tim. 2:5)
  • The Father is not the Spirit (John 14:26; John 15:26)
  • The Son is not the Spirit (Matt. 12:32; 28:19; Luke 3:22)

 

 a. There is a Functional Order within the Trinity

By now you understand that the three Persons of the Trinity equally share God’s essence. But a common question arises: “How do the members of the Trinity differ from one another?”

The answer hinges on the differences in their unique roles. See, each member participated in the creation, the incarnation, and redemption. But each member had a different function.

The different roles refer to a “functional order” or “functional subordination.”

What is a “functional order or subordination?” It means that a Trinity member submits himself to one or both of the other members. But he is not inferior in God’s divine essence.

 

Functional Order within the Trinity One Person subordinates himself to one or both other members But he is not inferior in God's divine essence

 

b. Specifics on Functional Subordination

For instance, the “Father” is “the first person of the Trinity.” His function is superior to that of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Father sent Jesus into the world (John 3:16; Gal. 4:4). And during his earthly ministry, Christ subjected himself to the Father’s will. But Jesus did not become less than the Father during his incarnation.

We also see this evidenced in how the Son and Father sent the Spirit into the world (John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7). Yes, the Spirit was “sent,” but this does not imply that the Holy Spirit is less than they are. “Subjection” and “subordination” do not mean inequality. The Son and Holy Spirit are equal in deity to the Father. But they are eternally subordinate in their roles to him (1 Cor. 15:28).

 

7.   The Trinity Is Not a Contradiction

It is understandable that our finite minds cannot grasp an infinite God.

But I hope you have learned that the Trinity is not contradictory.

That is why understanding what the Trinity is and is not asserting. For instance, the Trinity does not mean that:

  • There is one God and three Gods (a contradiction)
  • God is one person and three persons (a contradiction)
  • God has one nature and three natures (a contradiction)

 

Instead, we need to clearly distinguish two categories (Persons and essence). There are three Persons with one divine essence! Therefore, there is one God with one divine nature and three divine Persons.

 

IX.   Conclusion: The Bible Teaches the Trinity

Scriptural evidence supports every element proving the Trinity.

1. There is one God

2. God’s “One-ness” is his One divine essence

3. The three members of the Trinity are Persons

4. All three Persons of the Trinity are God. For example they:

  • Are called God
  • Possess God’s attributes
  • Perform acts of God

5. The New Testament lists all three Persons of the Trinity simultaneously

  • The Trinity is listed together
  • All three Persons function together

6. Each Person of the Trinity is distinct

  • There is a functional order within the Trinity

7. The Trinity is not a contradiction

8. Conclusion: Scripture teaches the Trinity

 

Conclusion: The Bible Teaches the Trinity Scriptural evidence supports every element proving the Trinity. 1. There is one God 2. God's "One-ness" is his One divine essence 3. The three members of the Trinity are Persons 4. All three Persons of the Trinity are God. For example they: Are called God Possess God's attributes Perform acts of God 5. The New Testament lists all three Persons of the Trinity simultaneously The Trinity is listed together All three Persons function together 6. Each Person of the Trinity is distinct There is a functional order within the Trinity 7. The Trinity is not a contradiction 8. Conclusion: Scripture teaches the Trinity

 

a. Evidence for the Trinity

  1. Scripture proves there is one God
  2. This one God exists as three Persons

Conclusion: Scripture supports the Trinity.

 

X.   So What? What Difference Does the Doctrine of the Trinity Make?

The Trinity is a mystery beyond our comprehension (Isa. 40:18; Rom. 11:33–36). But Scripture provides ample evidence of the existence of the Trinity.

And this teaching gives us a glimpse into the incomprehensible greatness of God. As Benjamin Needler preached:

This doctrine should establish us in the truth of the gospel … For my part, I would not worship that God that I could comprehend … Bless God for the clear discovery of this truth under the gospel!

The Trinity is the perfect loving community of three Persons. They have eternally (John 17:5, 24) sought to glorify each other (Phil. 2:5–11). And God created humankind to share that love (John 17:21–26; Acts 17:25).

All of this information is a lot to take in at once. But continue seeking to understand why the Trinitarian nature of God matters. The Father’s plan for our redemption shows his great love for humankind. He sent Jesus to save us and then completed our salvation through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:3–18; 1 Pet. 1:2;).

 

XI.   What’s Your Next Step?

Through accepting the undeserved gift of salvation (Eph. 2:8-9), we can become God’s children. We can be adopted by the Father and united with Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12–23; Rom. 8:14–17)

Are you still not a Christian? Why not consider these truths and place your faith in Jesus (1 John 5:1)?

While no church is perfect, the Trinity is still the model for the church’s unity (John 1:21–23). Being God’s child, we can worship the Father and Jesus through the Spirit (John 4:23–24; Phil. 3:3; Heb. 1:8). And we can delight in praying to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit (John 14:13–14; Eph. 2:18).

Why not plan on studying verses in each section to prove to yourself that the Bible does claim that God is a Trinity?

If you are a Christian, why not memorize some of this blog’s verses? Then share them with another Christian or genuine seeker.

 

 

Further Resources

Binmin Podcast 8: God & Origins | What Questions Should I Ask About My Faith

Binmin Podcast Ep. 13: Trinity | Putting the Fun In…

 

Recommended Reading

  1. Bowman, R Jr. “The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity.” Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/comm/bowman_robert/trinity/trinity.cfm#trin_1 Accessed: 1/20/2022
  2. Geisler, N. L. “Trinity.” Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics. Baker Books, 1999, pp. 736
  3. —, and Ron Rhodes. Conviction without Compromise.Harvest House, 2008, pp. 33-39,
  4. Erickson, M. J. Christian Theology. 3rd ed. Baker Academic, 2013pp. 292, 309-310, 313.
  5. Grudem, W. A. Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine. Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004, pp. 226, 232, 238-239, 241, 249, 251-254/

Additional References

  1. Boice, J. M. (1986). Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive & Readable Theology.(p. 115). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986, pp. 115-116
  2. Geisler, N. L., and R. E MacKenzie, R. E. Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: agreements and differences. Baker Books, 1995, pp. 42.
  3. —. Systematic theology, volume two: God, creationMinneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003, pp. 278-282, 286-287, 290-292.
  4. —, and Paul K. Hoffman, P. K. Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe. Baker Books, 2001.
  5. Henry, J. M. (2003). “Trinity.” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, edited by C. Brand, et al., Holman Bible Publishers, 2003, pp. 1625-1627.
  6. Meeks, C. “Trinity.”The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Edited by J. D. Barry, et al., Lexham Press, 2016.
  7. Nichols, J. Puritan Sermons. 5 Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1981, p. 66.
  8. Wellum, S. “God.” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, edited by C. Brand, et al., Holman Bible Publishers, 2003, p. 659.
  9. “Monotheism.” Youngblood, R. F., et al. (eds.), Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary.Thomas Nelson, 1995.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Table of Contents

Related Blog Posts

Or Try One of these Popular Topics

Want to be the first to get exclusive videos and content for your spiritual life?

Yes please! Join our email newsletter to stay in the know.