The word “TRINITY” is not used in the Scriptures. However, the concept of the TRIUNE GODHEAD is taught throughout the Word of God. The Holy TRINITY is one GOD. The one GOD exists eternally in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is fully God, yet the Godhead is one and indivisible. The TRIUNE GODHEAD is an essential doctrine of the Christian faith and of our fellowship with God.
The Trinity is taught in both the Old and the New Testaments. It is taught by implication in the Old and by direct statement in the New.
For instance, the Bible contains numerous clear statements regarding the unity of God: Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that “the Lord is one.” 1 Corinthians 8:4 adds that “there is no God but one.” 1 Timothy 2:5 explicitly says “there is one God.” All Christians heartily affirm this truth.
The Bible also contains clear statements regarding diversity within that unity. For instance, in the very first verse of the Bible we are told that “In the beginning God.” The Hebrew word for God is elohim, which is actually a plural form of the word el. It’s a word that in other contexts is sometimes translated as “gods,” referring to heathen deities. Later in the same chapter we have one of the most striking statements of diversity-in-unity:
Then God said, ‘‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So 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).
Notice the shift in pronouns. “Let us … in our image … So God created man in HIS own image. … HE created him.” From us and our to HE. Why the shift? Commentators speak of a literary form called the plural of majesty or the “editorial we.” This much is certainly true. If Genesis 1 does not explicitly teach diversity-in-unity within the Godhead, it certainly leaves room for it to be developed later in the Bible.
Isaiah 48:16 seems to explicitly refer to all three Persons of the Trinity (with additions in parentheses): “And now the Sovereign LORD (the Father) has sent me (the Son), with his Spirit (the Holy Spirit).” It is not suggested that Isaiah fully understood the Trinity or that the Jewish readers would have understood what it meant, but I do think that in the light of the New Testament, we can say that this seems to be a clear statement of the Trinity in the Old Testament.
The Bible tells us about a Person called the Father, who is God. Within the nature of the One GOD, there is the Person called The FATHER. He is the first Person of the HOLY TRINITY, and is equal to the Son and the Holy Spirit.
“6But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray your FATHER who is in the secret place; and your FATHER who sees in secret ill reward you openly.” (Matt. 6:6).
“2…Grace to you and peace from GOD OUR FATHER and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Col. 1:2b).
“6ONE GOD AND FATHER of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:6).
“2elect according to the foreknowledge of GOD THE FATHER”… (1 Pet. 2a).
“17For He received from GOD THE FATHER honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory…” (2 Pet. 1:17a).
While the three members of the Trinity are one being, there are functional differences between the three persons. Jesus, as the Son, expressed that His will was subservient to the will of the Father (Matt. 26:39). In John 14:28, Jesus said that the Father was greater than He was (In position, but not in deity. As your boss is in a higher position than you, but is not more of a human than you are). It might be argued that this submission was only operative while Jesus was on earth. But this submission seems to have preceded Jesus’ incarnation.
In 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul said that “there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” This verse, dealing with creation, refers to a time prior to the incarnation of Jesus. He expresses that all things came from the Father. And they came through the Son. The Son was the agent of creation, but the Father was the source.
The Father is frequently described as sitting on His heavenly throne, with the Son at His right hand (Matt. 26:64; Acts 2:33; Rom. 8:34; and others). The Father is pictured as the ultimate sovereign. And the Son, at His right hand, is in the place of honor. It is always the Father who is identified as sovereign. The other persons of the Trinity are pictured as carrying out His direction.
The Bible tells us about a Person called the SON, who is God. Within the nature of the One GOD, there is the Person called the SON. He is the Messiah, who became flesh to provide final atonement for sin, and all who repent and put their faith in Him will be saved and have eternal life in the afterlife in heaven. He returned at His second coming Parousia in AD 66-70 and fully consummated His eternal New Covenant Kingdom in the New Heavens and Earth cosmological order based on His blood. He reunited His One Eternal Kingdom (the unseen heavenly realm and the seen realm in the Church. Eph. 1:10).
“1The beginning of the gospel of JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD.” (Mark 1:1).
“31but these are written that you may believe that JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31).
The Person called the SON is GOD. He is the second Person of the HOLY TRINITY, but is equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is GOD manifested in the flesh for us humans to see. He reveals GOD to us and for us. When we see HIM, we see GOD.
“1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD.” (John 1:1). “14And THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).
“15He (JESUS) is the IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD, the firstborn over all creation.” (Col 1:15).
“8But to the SON He says: ‘YOUR THRONE, O GOD, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.’” (Heb. 1:8; Psalm 45:6).
“6For unto us a CHILD is born, Unto us a SON is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, MIGHTY GOD, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6).
Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. In the New Testament, He is proclaimed and identified as Lord. This is the Greek word kyrios, which the Septuagint used to translate YHWH, the name of God given to Moses at Sinai. There is little question that the New Testament writers understood Jesus to be God, YHWH of the Old Testament. Yet, as 1 Corinthians 8:6, quoted above (under the section for the Father), points out, He is distinct from God the Father.
John 3:16 is typically used to express God’s love for the world. But it also tells us something about the relationship between the Father and the Son. The Father sent the Son on a mission – to be the savior of the world. John 14:24 also expresses the idea of the Father sending the Son. I do not think this was a unilateral decision though, with the Father ordering and the Son obeying. Instead, it was a choice they made together. And each of them, including the Holy Spirit, played their part in creation and salvation accordingly.
It is often thought that Jesus was the physical manifestation of God in the Old Testament. But there is no doubt that in the New Testament, Jesus is God incarnate. John 1:1-3, and 14 identifies the Word, Jesus, as being with God, as being God, and becoming flesh. In Colossians 1:19, Paul says that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus].” In Philippians 2:6-8, he identifies Jesus as being in nature God and taking on the nature of humanity. And in Hebrews 2:17, we are told that Jesus became fully human in every way. Jesus was not just wrapped in humanity, He fully became one of us, while at the same time remaining fully God. A great mystery.
The Old Testament priesthood and sacrificial system, especially the Day of Atonement, pointed ahead to Jesus. When Jesus came, it was as a great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 6:20). And He offered for one time a sacrifice that pays for takes away the sin of all who believe (Heb. 7:27). Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. And, in doing so, He has brought all who trust in Him into the family of God.
THE HOLY SPIRIT:
The Bible tells us about a Person called the HOLY SPIRIT, who is God. Within the nature of the One GOD, there is the Person called the HOLY SPIRIT. He is the third Person of the HOLY TRINITY, but is equal to the Father and the Son. He is the “Paraclete,” our Comforter, and Helper. He is from the Father and He testifies of Christ (John 15:26). The HOLY SPIRIT is not referred to in the Bible as an “IT,” but rather as “HE.”
“16And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another HELPER, that HE may abide with you forever— 17the SPIRIT OF TRUTH, WHOM the world cannot receive, because it neither sees HIM nor knows HIM; but you know HIM, for HE dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17).
“26But the HELPER, THE HOLY SPIRIT, whom the Father will send in My name, HE will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26).
“32And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the HOLY SPIRIT WHOM God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:32).
The Person called the HOLY SPIRIT is GOD. Peter told Ananias that when he lied to the HOLY SPIRIT and kept back part of the price of the land for himself; Ananias was not lying to men, BUT TO GOD (Acts 5:3-4). What is said of GOD is also said of the HOLY SPIRIT.
“21… which GOD HAS SPOKEN by the mouth of all His holy PROPHETS since the world began.” (Acts 3:21b).
“21for prophecy never came by the will of man, but HOLY MEN OF GOD spoke as they were moved by THE HOLY SPIRIT. ” (2 Pet. 1:21).
The Bible says that the bodies of believers are “the temple of the LIVING GOD.” It also says that the bodies of believers are “the temple of the HOLY SPIRIT.” (1 Cor. 6:16 & 19).
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. As mentioned above (under the section for the Father), He was also sent from the Father once the work of Jesus was done. Jesus’ work was primarily centered around opening and securing the way to salvation for us. The work of the Holy Spirit is largely behind the scenes and can be divided into two major areas.
The first area is concerned with the world at large. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin and judgment to the world (John 16:7-11). It is also the role of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God (Scriptures. John 5:24, 20:31; Heb. 4:12) to draw fallen man to repentance and regenerate (born again) all who turn in faith to salvation in Christ (John 1:11-12, 3:16; Eph. 1:13, 2:8).
The second way the Holy Spirit works is within the believer’s life. The Holy Spirit assures us of salvation (Eph. 1:14). He serves as our primary interpreter of the Scripture (John 14:26). And He works in our lives to produce His fruit (Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 8:26). He is our guide to life as believers, and without Him, we are lost (Rom. 8:1-17). The Holy Spirit enables us to know and talk with God (Rom. 8:26-27). The presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is essential for the life we are called to live.
The ONE GOD is a HOLY TRINITY, existing eternally in three Persons, who are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Not three Gods, but three Persons, as the ONE GOD.
“19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the FATHER and of the SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.” (Matt. 28:19).
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 1 The Character of God – Holy”]