The word “trinity” is not in the Bible. So where do we as Christians get this basic doctrine? Why do Christians believe in the Trinity when the Bible doesn’t explicitly talk about it? The Bible does not come right out and say, “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three unique persons but one God.” But looking at Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, we can clearly see that the Trinity is present throughout. Today, we will take a look at the basic doctrine of the Trinity. What does Christianity really teach about the triune God?
*This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
The Father is God
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “This is what you shall say to the sons of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:14
When it comes to God, there is little dispute amongst Christians concerning the deity of the Father. If you believe the Bible, then you believe that the Father is indeed God. He is the Creator of the World, the Beginning and the End, and the Almighty God.
Jesus is God
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. …And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:1-3, 14 (emphasis added)
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:13-17 (emphasis added)
While the Bible is clear that the Father sent Jesus (here we see them clearly as two unique persons), it is also clear that Jesus was present at creation. Not only was He there, but He also played an active role.
Jesus also claimed to be God…
The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. – John 8:48-59 (NIV, emphasis added)
Why do you suppose the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus after making such as statement? The truth is that Jesus was undoubtedly referencing Exodus 3:14 when He said, “…before Abraham was born, I am!” The Jews would have undoubtedly known that Jesus was claiming to be God. This would have been considered blasphemy, which would have been punishable by death according to the Law. (Jesus was not committing blasphemy, however, because He was telling the truth!)
There are many more texts proving that Jesus is indeed God. After all, even the name Immanuel means “God with us.” We are also told in Scripture that if we’ve seen Him, we’ve seen the Father. Fully God. Fully man. He was able to fulfill the Law on our behalf, die for the sins of the world, resurrect on the third day, and defeat death so that all could have access to eternal life.
The Holy Spirit is God
But I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I am leaving; for if I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world regarding sin, and righteousness, and judgment: regarding sin, because they do not believe in Me; and regarding righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you no longer are going to see Me; and regarding judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them at the present time. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you. – John 16:7-15 (emphasis added)
Three things are prevalent in this passage. One is that the Holy Spirit is separate from Jesus and the Father. In fact, Jesus needed to leave in order for the “Helper” to come. Secondly, this passage clearly tells us that the Holy Spirit’s job is to disclose what He hears… from both the Father as well as the Son. This brings me to my final point… Jesus claims that “all things that the Father has” are His. Repeatedly throughout Scripture, we see three separate persons, but they are all cohesively working together as one.
So Why Do Christians Believe in the Trinity? Is There One God or Three?
It’s no doubt that the Trinity is one of the most divisive issues within Christianity. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the fact that there is one God but three unique persons. It’s a concept clearly taught throughout Scripture, but it may be that we won’t fully understand how it all works this side of eternity.
Here are some things we do know based on Scripture:
- There is one only true God. (Click here for our discussion on monotheism.)
- The Trinity consists of three unique persons. (There are countless verses where all three persons are mentioned separately. For example, in both Isaiah 48:16 and 61:1, Jesus is speaking and making reference to the Father and the Holy Spirit.)
- The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all present and active during Creation. (Genesis 1:1-2, John 1:1-3)
- Each member of the Trinity is God. The Father is God (John 6:27; 1 Peter 1:2). The Son is God (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
- There is submission within the Trinity. According to the Bible, the Holy Spirit has submitted to the Father and the Son (John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, 16:13-14), and the Son is in submission to the Father (Luke 22:42, John 5:36, John 20:21, 1 John 4:14).
Next, we will be diving into the basic doctrine of human depravity, our slavery to sin, and our need for a Savior.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.