The Pastor's Study

 Is the Trinity Biblical?

Christian Churches of all denominations believe there is one God in three equal and eternal Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This doctrine of the Trinity is often attacked by the cults. If you have had a Jehovah’s Witness at your door perhaps you were told that the doctrine is “of the devil” because “nowhere is the word “Trinity” found in the Bible.” How do we respond? The truth is that the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, but the concept of the Trinity is seen from Genesis to Revelation. The following is an examination of some of the verses in the Bible that teach the Trinity.

Genesis 1:1-3. The very first paragraph of the Bible shows forth the three-fold work of the Holy Trinity. “God created” refers to the creative work of God the Father. “The Spirit of God” refers to the Holy Spirit. And “God said…” refers to Jesus as the Word of God through whom the Father made the Universe (we learn this later in John 1:1-14).

Matthew 28:19. Jesus’ last words on earth instruct the disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. We might expect “names” (plural) but Jesus says “name” (singular) implying the doctrine of one God in three Persons.

Matthew 3:13-17. This story of the baptism of Jesus also shows forth the three Persons of the Trinity: the Father’s voice, the Son Jesus in the water, and the Spirit descending as a dove.

Problem passages:

John 14:28: Jesus said “I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

The question arises: If Jesus and the Father are equally God, why does Jesus say this? We respond that Jesus said these words in His incarnate state as a human being. Philippians 2:6-7 teaches that though Jesus was God, He did not grasp His equality with God but emptied Himself and became a human being. This does not mean that Jesus ceased to be God (He is fully God and fully man). It means that He did not always use His full power as God when in His earthly state.

I Corinthians 15:28 teaches that at the end of time at the 2nd Coming of Christ, after all God’s enemies are put under Christ’s feet, “then the Son Himself will also be subjected” to God the Father. If Jesus is equally God with the Father, why does He subject Himself to the Father? We respond by saying that “subject” does not mean “inferior”. A wife is to subject herself to her husband, but his does not mean that she is any less human than her husband. So it is with the Trinity (this is called “the economy of the Trinity”). Even though Jesus is equally eternal and equally God with the Father, Jesus as the Son always subjects Himself to the Father.

Colossians 1:15 (see also Revelation 3:14) teaches that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation”. Does this word “firstborn” teach that Jesus is the first being that God the Father created? The immediate context makes such an interpretation impossible. The following verse 16 teaches that Jesus is the one through whom all things came about. Colossians 1:19 and Colossians 2:9 declare Jesus to be God and the Bible is clear that God is eternal and uncreated (Psalm 90:2). The term “firstborn” refers to Jesus priority over all creation. As the firstborn son during Biblical days inherited everything from his father, so Jesus inherits all things from His Father.

The deity of Christ passages.

What are the clearest passages in the Bible that teach that Jesus is God? Perhaps the three clearest are John chapter one, Colossians chapter one and Hebrews chapter one.

John 1:1-5, 14 declares that Jesus is the pre-existent Word, Jesus is God, Jesus is the agent of creation, and Jesus becomes human flesh.

Colossians 1:15-20 teaches Jesus is the image of the invisible God, He is the agent of creation, He is before all things and sustains all things, and “all the fullness of God dwelt in Him” (see also Colossians 2:9).

Hebrews 1:1-5, 8 teaches that Jesus is the one through whom the world was created, Jesus bears the very stamp of God’s nature, and the Father refers to the Son as “God” in verse 8.

There are numerous other references to Jesus being God. Philippians 2:6-7 refers to Jesus as God and in John 20:28 Thomas calls Jesus “My Lord and my God.” Jesus does not reject this high praise from Thomas but basically tells Thomas he should have believed without seeing it.

The Holy Spirit passages.

Some cults, among them Jehovah’s Witnesses, teach that the Holy Spirit is not God but merely a force. But the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is also God in Acts 5:3-4, 2 Corinthians 3:17, John 4:24 and I Corinthians 2:10, 11.

For an examination of the cults (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, Unity Church, etc) and their errors about the Trinity see Walter Martin’s excellent “The Kingdom of the Cults” put out by Bethany House Publishing.

We close with the Trinitarian blessing of the Apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians 13:14.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

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