by Shawn Brasseaux
Does God exist in three Persons? If so, does that mean that Christians worship three Gods? The term “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, but the word “Godhead” appears three times in the King James Bible (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9)—modern Bibles, unfortunately, either omit or water down this term. What is the Trinity? Is it a biblical doctrine? We want to answer these questions using the Bible, not some denominational handbook.
One of the strongest claims in the Bible for God existing in three Persons is the “famous Trinitarian proof” (the Johannine Comma) of 1 John 5:7, which reads: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Obviously, this verse speaks of three Persons all being God, all three being one. Notice, the Godhead is not three Gods; but three Persons in one Godhead. We have God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ, “the Word” of John 1:1,14), and God the Holy Ghost. Notice how the verse says the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost “are one:” this is reminiscent of what Jesus said in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one.”
Unfortunately, unlike the King James Bible, most modern English Bibles, such as NIV, NASB, NRSV, ESV, omit 1 John 5:7 (this is also true of the depraved Jehovah’s Witness “bible,” which denies the deity of Jesus Christ!). Why? Because their corrupt underlying Greek New Testament texts omit this verse. It should be noted that the Old Syriac (A.D. 170) and the Old Latin (A.D. 200) contain 1 John 5:7 and over a dozen church fathers and writers quote it between A.D. 150 and A.D. 550, some predating the corrupt modern Bibles’ manuscripts that omit it. All of 1 John 5:7 belongs in the Bible; it is an important verse! But, there is more in the Bible to support the doctrine of the Trinity.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made 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 1:1,14 KJV). By noting the wording, we learn that Jesus Christ, “the Word” (cf. Revelation 19:13), is God. According to John 1:14, “the Word became flesh:” unquestionably, that refers to Jesus Christ (God’s incarnation, His indwelling a human body). In the beginning Jesus Christ “was with God” (indicating He is a Person separate from God the Father), and Jesus Christ “was God” (indicating He is one with [equal to] God the Father).
In 2 Corinthians 13:14 KJV, we read: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” Jesus Christ told His apostles, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19 KJV). Yet again, we see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
Immediately after John the Baptist water baptized Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and as it lighted upon the Lord Jesus, the God the Father declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16,17; Mark 1:10,11; Luke 3:22,23). There are the three Persons of the Godhead in three passages.
Look at Ephesians 2:18 KJV: “For through him [Jesus Christ] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Here are all three members of the Godhead again. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2 KJV). And again, all three Persons of the Godhead are found in one verse.
At the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation (which is after the rapture), a remnant of Jewish believers will flee to the mountains of Israel. This remnant is described as “the woman.” In Revelation 12:6 KJV, we see “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” This place in the mountains will be “prepared of God, that they should feed her there….” Notice “they”—this is another reference to the triune Godhead.
In Ephesians 4:4-6, we find a list of seven distinct doctrines that are vital to the Dispensation of Grace—by the way, seven is God’s number of perfection: (1) one Body, the Church the Body of Christ; (2) one Spirit, the Holy Spirit; (3) one hope, the hope of our calling; (4) one Lord, God the Son Jesus Christ; (5) one faith, the faith of Jesus Christ; (6) one baptism, not water baptism, but the supernatural baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13; and (7) one God and Father. All three members of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit—are mentioned yet again.
In the Person of the Holy Spirit, God indwells us believers and seals us until the “day of redemption;” that is, the rapture (Ephesians 4:30). This Holy Spirit is the same Spirit that indwelt Christ while He was in His earthly ministry (Mark 3:29,30). Jesus Christ, God the Son, prayed to God the Father in Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34, Luke 23:46, and John chapter 17. Obviously, Jesus was not talking to Himself, so He was communicating with God His Father.
The Holy Spirit is not “God’s active force,” but rather the Holy Spirit is a Person of the Godhead (Acts 5:3,4). A force does not have a seat of emotions; we know that the Holy Spirit is not an “active force” because the Holy Spirit can be “grieved” and saddened (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit can also teach (1 Corinthians 2:13) and pray (Romans 8:26,27).
The Father is not over God the Son, and the God the Son is no greater than the Holy Spirit. All three are coequal in power and authority (however, because Jesus Christ is both God and man, He can, in His humanity, submit Himself to His heavenly Father’s will [see Matthew 26:39,42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; Philippians 2:5-11]). Jesus made it very clear, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all… I and my Father are one” (John 10:29,30)—the Jews then took up stones to stone Jesus (verse 31)!
The best way to comprehend the Godhead is to consider that we are all equally human by nature, but we are also individuals. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all individuals, but they are all equally God by nature and in essence (all three are omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, righteous, just, holy, et cetera), thus making all three “one” (1 John 5:7).
God existing in a Trinity prevents tyranny or deception. If God were just one Person, He could be a bully and He could be dishonest. However, all three Persons of the Godhead testify to the truthfulness and integrity of the other two members. They testify to the truth of each other, just as Bible says, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witness,” the testimony is to be believed—the testimony of one person is not to be accepted unless at least one or two others corroborate him (Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28).
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit live for each other. They fellowship with one another, and they want us to fellowship with them! God became a man in order to restore our fellowship with Him. Notice what Jesus Christ prayed to His heavenly Father just before He went to Calvary’s cross: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:5,24 KJV).
We cannot see all three Persons of the Godhead. However, God the Son stepped out of eternity and entered time, and “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9; cf. John 14:9; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, so He can take God by the hand and man by the hand and link them (1 Timothy 2:5)! The invisible triune Godhead has been made visible via the God-Man, Jesus Christ!
So, God exists in three Persons—they are three Persons in one Godhead; not three Gods. The three Persons of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—are unique Individuals, but they are also similar in that they are all fully God. Indeed, the doctrine of the Godhead—God existing in three Persons—is one of the most difficult Bible concepts to grasp, but we take the doctrine of the Trinity by faith.
IS THE TRINITY A “NEW TESTAMENT INVENTION?” OR, IS IT FOUND IN THE OLD TESTAMENT TOO?
Opponents to the doctrine of the Trinity claim that it is only a “New Testament teaching,” or that the Trinity promotes polytheism (the belief in many gods). For instance, modern-day Jews reject the doctrine of the Trinity because Deuteronomy 6:4 says: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” If this verse disproves the Trinity (as present-day Jews claim), then that would mean that Deuteronomy 6:4 contradicts a number of Old Testament passages—verses in the Hebrew Bible—that support the Trinity.
Although God did not explicitly reveal the doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament like He does in the New, we can go back to the Old Testament and see references to the Trinity there. Remember that the Bible is a progressive revelation, with things kept secret in the Old Testament and later revealed in the New.
For example, God the Father tells God the Son, “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1 KJV). Compare this to Acts 2:34-36. If the Trinity is not found in the Old Testament, then what is the meaning of Psalm 110:1?
Genesis 1:26 KJV says, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Notice the word “our” appears twice. The triune God made mankind in their image, as in one God in three Persons. In Genesis 3:22, after Adam and Eve fall into sin, we see the LORD God saying, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:” Notice that pronoun “us.” This is a reference to the Trinity. (At this point, the following objection is raised to avoid the Trinity doctrine: “How do we know the words ‘our image’ in Genesis 1:26 do not mean that God made man in His image and the angels’ image?” Because Genesis 1:27 says: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Man is made in “God’s image,” the triune Godhead’s image.)
We read in Genesis 11:6-7 KJV: “And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Notice, the LORD says “Let us go down.” Like in Genesis 3:22, the “us” is a reference to the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
In Psalm 2:1-3 KJV, we read the prophetic statement of Israel rejecting her Messiah-King the Lord Jesus (1000 years before it happened):
“1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
Notice, Israel’s religious leaders conspire with the Roman government to kill Jesus Christ (verses 1 and 2). Verse 3 says it all—the Jews and Romans want to “break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” To whom is “their” referring? Look at verse 2: “the LORD, and his anointed.” This is God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (“Christ” is Greek for “anointed one;” in Hebrew, the word is “Messiah”). God the Father and God the Son share power over mankind, and rebellious mankind wants to destroy the Godhead’s authority over them.
Read Isaiah 48:12,16 KJV: “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last… Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.” This is the Trinity again!
It should also be noted that the Hebrew word translated “God”—Elohim—such as in Genesis 1:1, is plural, as in three Persons, and yet He is one LORD, JEHOVAH (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Is God a triune God? YES! Does the Bible Teach the doctrine of the Trinity? YES! The Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, gives us ample proof that God is a triune God, that He exists as three separate but equal Persons—God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. They are all fully God, yet they are unique Persons too, just as we are all fully human, yet we are unique persons. All three members of the Godhead operate in perfect accordance with each other, and they are coequal and coeternal (none of them were created, and they exercise the same power).