The Background For How The Trinity Was Introduced
Since the Trinity is not found in the Bible, as so many scholars and theologians admit, how did it come to be viewed as such an important teaching?
Theology professors Roger Olson and Christopher Hall explain part of the puzzle in their book The Trinity: “It is understandable that the importance placed on this doctrine is perplexing to many lay Christians and students. Nowhere is it clearly and unequivocally stated in Scripture . . . How can it be so important if it is not explicitly stated in Scripture? . . .
“The doctrine of the Trinity developed gradually after the completion of the New Testament in the heat of controversy, but the church fathers who developed it believed they were simply exegeting divine revelation and not at all speculating or inventing new ideas. The full-blown doctrine of the Trinity was spelled out in the fourth century at two great ecumenical councils: Nicea and Constantinople ” .
We see from this and other sources quoted above that the idea of a Trinity was foreign to the biblical writers. Instead, as many of these sources openly acknowledge, the doctrine of the Trinity developed considerably later and over a span of several centuries.
To understand the factors that led to the introduction of this belief, we must first go back to see far-reaching and little-understood trends that started in the first few decades of the early Church. It’s a surprisingand in many ways shockingstory!
Attributes Of The Persons Of The Holy Trinity
Some more Bible passages which force us to view God in a Trinitarian way are the ones which give each Person of the Trinity divine attributes that are exclusive to God alone, proving that they are co-equal and co-eternal. For example:
- The Holy Spirit is all-powerful , all-knowing , all-present , the Creator , giver of salvation , and eternal .
When we compare passages like these with those which call the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit God, we cannot deny that the three Persons are equally divine without denying the Scriptures clear testimony.
First Council Of Constantinople
Later, at the First Council of Constantinople , the Nicene Creed would be expanded, known as Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, by saying that the Holy Spirit is worshiped and glorified together with the Father and the Son , suggesting that he was also consubstantial with them:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds , Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father … And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets … .
The doctrine of the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit was developed by Athanasius in the last decades of his life. He defended and refined the Nicene formula. By the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus , the doctrine had reached substantially its current form.
You May Like: What Does The Bible Say About Strong Woman
One God Three Persons
The Holy Trinity is the biblical, monotheistic doctrine that there is only one God in three distinct co-equal, co-eternal Persons: the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit three Persons of the one nature and being. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father, but each of them are fully, equally, and simultaneously God. These three Persons are not three gods, but one Godthe only God in existence. There are three essential parts of the Holy Trinity:
In summary, the Holy Trinity is: one God in three Persons. Person, in this context, is best described as someone who can say I and You and who possesses individuality and self-awareness. Being is best described as what you are, or everything that you consist of that that makes you what you are. Some Christians find it helpful to say that God is three Whos and one What .
Nature, in this context, refers to the specific qualities and aspects of beings or things that make them of the same kind or of a different kind of other beings or things . It should be noted that Christians sometimes use the term Godhead to refer to all Persons of the Holy Trinity. In addition, Christians often call the Father the first Person of the Trinity, the Son the second, and the Holy Spirit the third. Christians worship a three-in-one God.
Who Is The Holy Ghost
Until a few decades ago, both Catholic and Protestant churches used the title Holy Ghost. The King James Version of the Bible, first published in 1611, uses the term Holy Ghost, but every modern translation, including the New King James Version, uses Holy Spirit. Some Pentecostal denominations which use the KJV still speak of the Holy Ghost.
You May Like: List Of 365 Do Not Fear Bible Verses
Fruit And Gifts Of The Spirit
The “fruit of the Holy Spirit” consists of “permanent dispositions” , virtuous characteristics engendered in the Christian by the action of the Holy Spirit.Galatians 5:22-23 names nine aspects and states:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control against such there is no law.
In the Epistle to the Galatians these nine characteristics are in contrast to the “works of the flesh” and highlight the positive manifestations of the work of the Holy Spirit in believers.
Christian denominations have doctrinal variations in their beliefs regarding the Holy Spirit. A well-known example is the Filioque controversy regarding the Holy Spirit â one of the key differences between the teachings of the main Western Churches and various Eastern Christian denominations .
The Filioque debate centers around whether the Nicene Creed should state that the Spirit “proceeds from the Father” and then have a stop, as the creed was initially adopted in Greek , or should say “from the Father and the Son” as was later adopted in Latin and followed by the Western Church, filioque being “and from the Son” in Latin.
The topic of the Holy Spirit is discussed extensively in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as “I believe in the Holy Spirit” in paragraphs 683 through 747.
Throughout History God Prepared His People For The Ultimate Revelation Of His Divine Nature
A fundamental tenet of the Christian faith is the belief in a Trinitarian God. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit .
While Christianity didnt come into existence until the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, God was preparing his people for this counter-cultural religion from the beginning of time. In fact, there are many places in the Old Testament where we can see little seeds of faith that would later bear fruit.
Here are five quotes from the Old Testament that many scripture scholars agree are hidden references to the reality of the Blessed Trinity.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
You May Like: What Does The Bible Say About Sexuality Before Marriage
Surely A Teaching As Widespread And Popular As The Trinity Is Scriptural Isn’t It Yet Time And Again Theologians And Researchers Admit It Isn’t Found In The Bible
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” .
Many people assume that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit form what is commonly known as the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is usually summed up as a belief in one God existing in three distinct but equal persons.
But did you realize that, even though it is a common assumption among many sincere religious people, the word Trinity does not appear anywhere in the Bible? In fact, the word Trinity did not come into common use as a religious term until centuriesafter the last books of the Bible were completedlong after the apostles of Christ were gone from the scene!
Notice this admission in the New Bible Dictionary:“The term ‘Trinity’ is not itself found in the Bible. It was first used by Tertullian at the close of the 2nd century, but received wide currency and formal elucidation only in the 4th and 5th centuries”.
That same source goes on to explain that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity was the result of several inadequate attempts to explain who and what the Christian God really is . . . To deal with these problems the Church Fathers met in 325 at the Council of Nicaea to set out an orthodox biblical definition concerning the divine identity.” However, it wasn’t until 381, “at the Council of Constantinople, the divinity of the Spirit was affirmed” .
Procession Of The Holy Spirit
In John 15:26, Jesus says of the Holy Spirit: “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” In 325, the First Council of Nicaea, being the first ecumenical council, ended its Creed with the words “and in the Holy Spirit”. In 381, the First Council of Constantinople, being the second ecumenical council, expanded the Creed and stated that Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father” . This phrase was based on John 15:26 . In 451, the Council of Chalcedon, being the fourth ecumenical council, affirmed the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. During the same time, the question of procession of the Holy Spirit was addressed by various Christian theologians, expressing diverse views and using different terminology, thus initiating the debate that became focused on the Filioque clause.
Also Check: How Many Fear Not Are In The Bible
B B Warfield On Biblical Trinitarianism
His response is echoed fifteen hundred years later in B. B. Warfields comments on the same subject. Writing the Trinity entry in the 1915 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Warfield freely admitted that the term Trinity is not a biblical terma rather cheeky opening line for the Trinity entry in a Bible encyclopedia.
But Warfield laid out the range of doctrinal commitments contained in fully elaborated Trinitarianism and said that the terms of that doctrine were not set forth in the words of Scripture. Instead, Warfield argued, a doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a biblical doctrine in such unbiblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture.
If the sense of Scripture is Scripture, there need be no dichotomy between what the Bible says and what it means. But where a distinction exists, there may also exist the logical possibility of having one without the other.
This is what Warfield posits: that it is possible to repeat the words of Scripture while departing from its own meaning, and conversely that it is possible to prescind from the words precisely in order to cleave to the meaning more securely. If forced to choose, the theologian would have to choose the truth of Scripture rather than the words of Scripture.
Why Is The Trinity Important
Can you be a Christian and deny the Trinity? The Trinity is a concept that is crucial to Christianity. God is important and therefore the Trinity is important.The Trinity is seen in the gospel and Jesus has to be fully God to save us. You cannot be a Christian and deny the Trinity. Augustine said, in no other subject is error more dangerous, or injury more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable. This doctrine is a concept that is beyond our ability to fully understand and grasp, but we know it in part.
Also Check: Old Testament Stories In Chronological Order
God The Father The Son And The Holy Spirit Meaning And Bible Verses
God the Father the Son and the holy spirit biblical explanation with ScripturesIn the bible, God always refers to himself as one and this oneness is Called Trinity, God the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit.
- the father the son and the holy spirit meaning .
- the father the son and the holy spirit explanation.
- the father the son and the holy spirit bible verses.
What Is The Doctrine Of The Trinity: There Is One God
The Bible is clearly monotheistic. Scripture tells us that there is only one God. All three Persons of the Trinity are One in Essence, and they are all individually called God.
Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Recommended Reading: What Does The Bible Say About Cremation Billy Graham
Scripture And The Trinity
For obvious reasons the Trinity is not referred to in the Old Testament, although many writers think that the Old Testament does drop heavy hints about it – for example when it uses a plural Hebrew noun to refer to God.
The New Testament of the Bible never explicitly refers to the Trinity as such, but it does contain a number of references to the Economic Trinity:
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.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14
One text that is often quoted to provide scriptural authority for the doctrine of the Trinity is now thought to have been added to the text much later, and with the specific purpose of justifying the doctrine.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these three are one
Isaiah Records A Second Name Of God Which Is Plural
The name Maker is plural in the Hebrew language. This verse then names three who are God. For thy Maker is thine husband the Lord of hosts is his name and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel the God of the whole earth shall he be called . These plural names of God suggest what is known as a plural unity.
You May Like: Maryland Bible College & Seminary
Each Person Is Fully God
If God is three Persons, does this mean that each Person is one-third of God? Does the Trinity mean that God is divided into three parts?
The Trinity does not divide God into three parts. The Bible is clear that all three Persons are each one hundred percent God. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all fully God. For example, it says of Christ that in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form .
We should not think of God as like a pie cut into three pieces, each piece representing a Person. This would make each Person less than fully God and thus not God at all. Rather, the being of each Person is equal to the whole being of God. The divine essence is not something that is divided between the three persons, but is fully in all three persons without being divided into parts.
Thus, the Son is not one-third of the being of God, He is all of the being of God. The Father is not one-third of the being of God, He is all of the being of God. And likewise with the Holy Spirit. Thus, as Wayne Grudem writes, When we speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together we are not speaking of any greater being than when we speak of the Father alone, the Son alone, or the Holy Spirit alone.
First Council Of Nicaea
In the fourth century, Arianism, as traditionally understood, taught that the Father existed prior to the Son who was not, by nature, God but rather a changeable creature who was granted the dignity of becoming “Son of God”. In 325, the First Council of Nicaea adopted the Nicene Creed which described Christ as “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father”, and the “Holy Ghost” as the one by which “was incarnate… of the Virgin Mary“. . About the Father and the Son, the creed used the term homoousios to define the relationship between the Father and the Son. After more than fifty years of debate, homoousios was recognised as the hallmark of orthodoxy, and was further developed into the formula of “three persons, one being”.
The Confession of the First Council of Nicaea, the Nicene Creed, said little about the Holy Spirit. At the First Council of Nicea all attention was focused on the relationship between the Father and the Son, without making any similar statement about the Holy Spirit. In the words of the creed:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father … And in the Holy Ghost. … .
Also Check: Love Thy Neighbor Meaning