02 Trinity Explained

Since God is Incomprehensible in His totality. All explanations of the Trinity are likewise limited, incomplete and imperfect explanations. 

Diagrammatic explanation of Trinity

According to legend, Saint Patrick used a shamrock to explain about God.  The shamrock, which looks like clover, has three leaves on each stem.  Saint Patrick told the people that the shamrock was like the idea of the Trinity – that in the one God there are three divine *beings:  the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The shamrock was sacred to the Druids, so Saint Patrick’s use of it in explaining the trinity was very wise.

Above from: http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/patrick/about.htm

* Note:  My comment= There are not three divine beings, but three distinct persons.  The terminology implies three gods which is not correct.

Explaining the Trinity

The basic job of explaining the Trinity to children (or to adults) is to maintain the distinctions of the three persons while not compromising the unity of God. As I have heard Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute explain, God is “One what and three whos.”

Children usually think of God the Father first whenever God is mentioned. So when talking about Jesus, let them know that Jesus has always been God and He becamea man without stopping to be God. He is 100% God and 100% man at the same time. Colossians 1:13-18 and Philippians 2:5-11 can help here. Be careful of referring to the Holy Spirit as “it.” Talking about Him as the “helper” that Jesus sent can help children understand that He is a person, not a thing. He is the One who lives in each believer from the time of salvation. John 16:7-14 and Titus 3:4-7 are good passages on the Holy Spirit.

Above from: http://berean.org/bibleteacher/tt970505.html

The Trinity

You won’t find the word “Trinity” in the Bible, yet the doctrine of the Trinity is there. The Trinity means there is one God who is revealed in three distinct Persons, all of the same Substance, co-equal, co-existent, and co-eternal—known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Tertullian (born 145 A.D.), first employed the word “Trinity,” but the doctrine was accepted by all the early Church fathers including Irenaeus (died 190 A.D.) and Cyprian (250 A.D.). At the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., 318 church leaders, along with over 1500 other bishops, elders, and deacons, met to discuss the Trinity and the deity of Christ. Of the 318 bishops, all but two agreed with the doctrine of the Trinity.

Explaining the Trinity

Syllogism: If it can be shown that:

  1. There are three persons mentioned in the Bible,
  2. That these three persons are all called “God”
  3. And that there is only one God

Then the three persons must be the one God whether we understand it or not.

First, There is only one God.

James 2:19–“You believe God is one. You do well, the demons also believe, and shudder.”

1 Cor. 8:4–“…there is no God but one.”

Deut. 6:4–“Hear, OIsrael! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!”


Second, The Hebrew word for “God” (Elohim) is plural, but is used with a singular verb.

Gen. 1:26–“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image’…”

Gen. 1:27–“And God created man in His own image.”

Gen. 11:7–“Come, let us go down and there confuse their language.”

Gen. 11:9–“There the Lord confused the language of the whole earth.”

Note: This is not the “plural of majesty” as some claim. The “plural of majesty” was a term invented in the 13th century A.D.

Third, the Hebrew word for “one” (Deut. 6:4) is not yachid, which means “absolute mathematical oneness,” but echad meaning “composite unity” or “united one.”

Gen. 1:5–“And there was evening and there was morning, one (echad) day.”

Gen. 2:24–“a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one (echad) flesh.”

Num. 13:23–they cut down one (echad) cluster of grapes.

Deut. 6:4–Jehovah our God is one (echad) God

Fourth, Jesus revealed God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Matt. 28:19–“baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Fifth, The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all called “God.”

The Father is God–1 Pet. 1:2, 2 Pet. 1:17

The Son is God–Heb. 1:8, Titus 2:13,Rom.9:5

The Holy Spirit is God–Acts 5:3-4, 1 Cor 6:19 with 2 Cor. 6:16

Sixth, The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist as three eternal and distinct persons.

John14:16says, “And I (Jesus) will ask the Father, and He (the Father) will give you another Helper (the Holy Spirit, v.26), the He may be with you forever.” Some have incorrectly taught that the Father becomes the Son, who becomes the Holy Spirit. John14:16disproves that theory.

The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. Jesus is sent by the Father, and He and the Father send the Spirit (John14:26,15:26, 16:7, 17:8,20:21). Therefore, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three persons of the one God, not three manifestations of God, which was the heresy of Sabellius.

This proves that God (Elohim–plural) is one (echad–composite unity) and is three separate persons–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Trinitarian Verses

Matt. 28:19—”Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…”

Notice Jesus said to baptize in the “name” (singular), not “names” (plural). Then 3 separate persons are listed: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Greek uses “and the” between each person, clearly distinguishing them as separate from each other.

2 Cor. 13:14—”The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

1 Pet 1:2—”According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ…”

Matt. 3:16-17—The Father speaks, the Son is baptized, and the Holy Spirit descends.

John15:26—”When the Helper (Holy Spirit) comes, whom I (Jesus) will send to you from the Father…”

Other verses—Acts 7:55, Luke 1:35, 3:21-22, Eph. 2:18-20, 4:4-6, 5:18-20, 1 Cor. 12:4-6, Isa. 48:16, Zech. 12:10, John 14:16-17, 26, 1 Thess. 1:2-5, 2 Thess. 2:13-14, Titus 3:4-6 1 John 5:6-9

Who Indwells the True Believer?

God the Father—2 Cor.6:16-18, Phil.2:13

Jesus Christ—2 Cor. 13:5, Gal.2:20, Col. 1:27

The Holy Spirit—1 Cor.6:19, John14:17, 2 Tim.1:14, Rom. 8:9

Who Raised Jesus From the Dead?

God the Father—Acts3:15, 26, 1 Thess. 1:9-10, Acts2:32,17:30-31

Jesus raised Himself—John 2:19-22

The Holy Spirit—Rom.8:11, 1 Pet.3:18

Who Will Raise the True Believer from the Dead?

God the Father—1 Cor.6:14

Jesus Christ—John 5:25-29,6:40, 44, Phil. 3:20-21

The Holy Spirit—Rom.8:11

Below are three of the major creeds in Christendom. 

Athanasian Creed

This creed was named in honor Athanasius (A.D. 293-373), the champion of the Christian Church against Arian attacks on the doctrine of the trinity.  This creed consists of two parts, the first is about the doctrine of the trinity, and the second deals with the incarnation (God becoming flesh) and the two-natures of Christ (human and divine). Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith. Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally. Now this is the catholic faith: That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence. For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit still another. But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal. What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has. The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, the Holy Spirit is uncreated. The Father is immeasurable, the Son is immeasurable, the Holy Spirit is immeasurable. The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, the Holy Spirit is eternal. And yet there are not three eternal beings; there is but one eternal being. So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings; there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being. Similarly, the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty. Yet there are not three almighty beings; there is but one almighty being. Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three gods; there is but one God. Thus the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord. Yet there are not three lords; there is but one Lord. Just as Christian truth compels us to confess each person individually as both God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords. The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten from anyone. The Son was neither made nor created; he was begotten from the Father alone. The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten; he proceeds from the Father and the Son. Accordingly there is one Father, not three fathers; there is one Son, not three sons; there is one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. Nothing in this trinity is before or after, nothing is greater or smaller; in their entirety the three persons are coeternal and coequal with each other. So in everything, as was said earlier, we must worship their trinity in their unity and their unity in their trinity. Anyone then who desires to be saved should think thus about the trinity. But it is necessary for eternal salvation that one also believe in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully. Now this is the true faith: That we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is both God and human, equally. He is God from the essence of the Father, begotten before time; and he is human from the essence of his mother, born in time; completely God, completely human, with a rational soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as regards divinity, less than the Father as regards humanity. Although he is God and human, yet Christ is not two, but one. He is one, however, not by his divinity being turned into flesh, but by God’s taking humanity to himself. He is one, certainly not by the blending of his essence, but by the unity of his person. For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh, so too the one Christ is both God and human. He suffered for our salvation; he descended to hell; he arose from the dead; he ascended to heaven; he is seated at the Father’s right hand; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. At his coming all people will arise bodily and give an accounting of their own deeds. Those who have done good will enter eternal life, and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire. This is the catholic faith: one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.

Nicene Creed The Nicene Creed is a statement of the faith of the early Christian church in opposition to certain heresies, especially Arianism.  These heresies, which disturbed the church during the fourth century, concerned the doctrine of the trinity and of the person of Christ. Both the Greek (Eastern) and the Latin (Western) church held this creed in honor.  In its present form this creed goes back partially to the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) with additions by the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381). It was accepted in its present form at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The creed is in substance an accurate and majestic formulation of the Nicene faith. 

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

This creed is called the Apostles’ Creed not because it was produced by the apostles themselves but because it contains a brief summary of their teachings. It sets forth their doctrine “in sublime simplity, in unsurpassable brevity, in beautiful order.” In its present form it is dated no later than the fourth century. Almost all denominations of the Christian Church affirm this creed.

I believe in God, the Father, almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit

and born of the virgin Mary,

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, dead and was buried;

he descended to hades.

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

From there he will come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic* church,

the communions of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places

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