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What is the Trinity Part 1

Updated on May 9, 2019
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Barry is the founder and director of Expositors International Ministry and dean of Bible Expositors Seminary, Philippines.

Revelation

I use the word “revelation” here not in reference to the book of the Bible that bears this name. Rather, I am using it in the more general sense. Revelation is the means by which we know something. Knowledge is revealed to us. When we speak about God, there are two means by which He is revealed to us. There is a general or natural revelation and there is a special and direct revelation. General revelation refers to the way in which God is known in creation. We can look at the world around us and even at ourselves and we can know some things about God.

"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun." Psalms 19:1-4

The other means by which we know God is through special or limited revelation. This knowledge is special in that it is direct and more precise. It is limited in that not everyone receives this knowledge of God. I must say here that I am not referring to claims of direct revelation. I am not saying that God comes to certain people in a dream, vision or as a voice. The means of special revelation is the Bible. God reveals Himself in His Word.

We can look at creation and we can deduce many things. We see order and purpose which tells us that the universe is created. It is not random. Because there are order and purpose we can conclude that the creation-force is intelligent. Given the vast size of the universe, we can conclude that the creation-force is very powerful. We could continue this line of deductions but I hope you get the point.

It is in the Bible that we find specific details about God. We learn that God is always referred to in the masculine form, He is loving, holy, merciful, etc. It is also in the Bible that we learn that God is three persons. We begin to see that God is more than one person in the creation account.

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:26-27

Three times in this passage the plural pronouns are used to describe God: us, our and our. We do not have the full development of the doctrine of the Trinity in the Genesis creation account but we do have a hint. From this account, we can see that God is not alone. We can further see that God refers to Himself in the plural form. Some might argue that God is referring to the angels or other spirits that are with Him. This is not possible given that nowhere in the Bible do we find angels being listed as partners with God when He created.

Trinity

God the Father

"For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us And Israel does not recognize us. You, O Lord, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name." Isaiah 63:16

There is very little debate or disagreement about God the Father. Those who believe in God have no problem seeing Him as Father. There are numerous references to God as “Father” in the Old Testament. There is no real debate that God is a Father. The confusion is that God refers to Himself as a plural pronoun and that He has a Spirit.

The Spirit of God

“The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:2

Note please that the verse does not say that God was moving on the surface of the waters but rather it was the “Spirit of God.” This implies that the spirit is separate from God. From this verse, we cannot determine very much. We can see that God is the creator and that God has a Spirit. So, there is God and there is the Spirit of God. This gives us a hint that God is Himself and that God also has a Spirit. That is really all we can develop from this verse. When we pair this verse with verses 26 and 27, we can see that God is plural. So far we can see that there is a God and that He has a Spirit. But that is all at this point.

We have other verses in the Old Testament that speak on the Spirit of God.

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding,” Isaiah 11:2-3

“But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy,” Isaiah 63:10

We have seen that God refers to Himself in the plural sense. We have read that there is a Spirit of God. Can we now deduce, just from what we have read so far, that God is plural because He is the Father and He is the Holy Spirit? It should be noted that the personal plural pronouns are not limited in number. Theses pronouns communicate that there is more than one but they are not limited. Each of the personal pronouns is used to refer to two or more persons. So far though, we can see that there are two persons who are God: the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus

In the New Testament, more knowledge is revealed about God. The claims of Jesus are incredible. He says “I and the Father are One.” (John 10:30) and “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). It is from these verses and others like them that we conclude that God is Trinity. There is one God and three persons.











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