God in Three Persons

One of the earliest controversies to erupt in early Christianity centered around the Trinity. The basic question boiled down to this: “If there is but one God and Christ is God, what is the relationship of Christ to the Father?” Early Christians answered that question in a variety of ways, and some were fairly close to the truth and some were heretics. I don’t want to get bogged down in weighty theological arguments; instead, I simply want to look at what Scripture has to say on the Trinity.


Central to Christianity is the belief that God is one. The Old Testament strongly asserts monotheism.

  1. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut 6:4).

  2. “They may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” (Ps 83:18).

  3. “’You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Is 43:10).

The New Testament strongly affirms monotheism.

  1. “Jesus answered, ‘The most important [commandment] is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one”’” (Mk 12:29).

  2. “There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor 8:16).

  3. “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5).

  4. “You believe that God is one; you do well” (Js 2:19).


The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each referred to as God.

  1. The Father is called God

    • “Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal 1:1).

    • “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4-6).

  2. The Son is called God.

    • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).

    • “Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (Jn 20:28). Some say that we can’t use Thomas’ statement as an affirmation of Jesus’ deity; after all, Thomas has not yet been guided into all truth. But, carefully notice what Jesus, in essence, says at v 29-Jesus says, “Thomas, you believe. You might believe because you saw me, but you do believe.”

  3. The Holy Spirit is called God.

    The New Testament on a couple of occasions refers to the Holy Spirit as God.

    • “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God’” (Acts 5:3-4).

    • “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16).

    The Scriptures also use attributes of One who must be divine to describe the Holy Spirit.

    • The Spirit is omnipresent: Ps 139:7.

    • The Spirit is a lawgiver: Rom 8:2.

    • The Spirit would guide the Apostles into all truth: Jn 16:13.

    • The Holy Spirit does divine work.

      • He is the One through whom we are born again: Jn 3:8.

      • He is the One through whom we shall be resurrected: Rom 8:11.

      • He was active in Creation: Gen 1:2.

There is perfect unity in God. Jesus and the Father are one (Jn 10:30). “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” (Matt 28:19). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor 13:14).

This is, admittedly, quite difficult to understand. How is it that God can be both one and three at the same time? Tertullian, an early Christian writer, said of the Trinity, “Try to understand it and you will loose your mind; deny it and you will lose your soul.” I am persuaded the reason we have such great difficulty understanding the Trinity is that we are finite and God is infinite; God is Spirit (Jn 4:24). Although we have an eternal soul as God does, we are presently confined to our bodies. Everything we see, everything we experience is physical. But, God because he is spirit is not bound to our physical limitations and experience.

There are several analogies man has used to attempt to explain the Trinity. We can use the analogy of a woman – she might he a wife, at mother, and a woman. Water can take three forms – cloud, rain, and mist. An egg has a shell, white, and yoke. We must understand, however, that our analogies are woefully inadequate to explain God. If we could fit God into a little box and fully explain him, would he still be God?

There are many errors taught concerning the Trinity.

  • On the one hand, we have the United Pentecostal view. They hold that there is no distinction in the Trinity — they believe there is just one person in the Trinity. That simply cannot be. An abundance of Scriptures demonstrate that there is a distinction between Father, Son and Spirit; e.g., in Matt 3:13-17, you clearly find a distinction between Father, Son, and Spirit.

  • On the other hand, we have the Jehovah’s Witness position that denies the deity of the Son. They claim that Jesus is not eternal, he is a created being, and he is not divine. But, notice Heb. 1:8 – “But of the Son he says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom.” The Father calls the Son “God.”

We need to understand God so that we can serve, honor, and obey God.

May God richly bless you!

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