MEMORY VERSE: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” – 1 John 5:7 (KJV)
BIBLE PASSAGE: Matthew 3:16-17 (KJV)
LESSON INTRODUCTION: The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. It is the revelation of who our Almighty God is. God is an infinite Being, existing eternally as three co-equal and infinitely distinct Persons also called the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit. The origin of the doctrine of the Trinity is the Bible, although the word Trinity is not used in the Bible. The word ‘Trinity’ was coined by one of the early Church fathers, by the name ‘Tertullian.’ This doctrine is called ‘Trinitarianism’ and its adherents are called ‘Trinitarians.’ The focus of this study is to clarify the concept of the Trinity by providing the biblical basis for it with further clarifications.
- BIBLICAL BASIS
- THE EXPLANATION
- BIBLICAL BASIS
The Old Testament provides glimpses of the Trinity. For example, the Hebrew word for God-“Elohim” – is a plural form of the word ‘El’: hence, in Genesis 1:26, God says (in the plural) “Let us make man in our image.” When God created the heavens and the earth, Jesus was the instrument of God’s creation (Jn.1:1-3; Col.1:15-16), in the company of the Holy Spirit who hovered over the waters (Gen.1:2). Gen.11:7, “Go to, let us go down…” also provides us with the evidence of the three-in-oneness of God. The Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, also called the Law or the Pentateuch) hinted at the idea of God existing in three Persons and predicted His coming in the flesh (Gen.49:10) to be born in Bethlehem (Mic.5:2). He is not only God’s Son (Isa.9:6) but a Messiah who would be God in the flesh (Zech.2:10-11).
From the very beginning of the church in the New Testament, Christians understood the mystery of the Trinity. For example, John the beloved knew the Son was the Creator (Jn.1:1-3), the “I Am” of the Old Testament (Jn.8:58; Ex.3:14), same with the Father (Jn.10:30; 14:9), and the Judge of all the earth (Jn.5:22), who is to be worshipped as only God is allowed to be (Matt.14:33). Also, the first Christians knew the Holy Spirit was a separate Person (Jn.14:26) who intercedes for us with God (Rom.8:26-27), proving He is a distinct Person from God the Father. The early believers knew that the Father and the Son sent the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit-“another Comforter”-to live in our hearts (Jn.14:16-17, 26; 16:7).
New Testament writers mention all three Persons of the Trinity together numerous times. For instance:
- At Jesus’ baptism – Matthew 3:13-17 (voice of the Father, Son baptised, Spirit descending like a dove).
- At Salvation – 1Peter 1:2 (chosen by the Father, sanctified by the Spirit, sprinkled with the blood of Jesus).
- At Sanctification – 2Corinthians 13:14 (grace of the Lord Jesus, love of God, fellowship of the Holy Spirit).
- At Christians’ Baptism – Matthew 28:19 (baptised in one name, yet, three Persons -Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
- For a witness – 1 John 5:7- For there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
- THE EXPLANATION
As Christians, we do not believe in three Gods, which is a heresy called ‘Tritheism.’ We do not believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three “forms” of God -like, steam, water, and ice. This is the heresy called ‘Modalism.’ The egg is comprised of three parts: the yellowish part, the whitish part, and the shell. Despite this, the egg is not three but one.
The doctrine of the Trinity holds that God is ‘one Being’ but ‘three Persons.’ The ‘three persons’ define who God is (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) while the ‘one Being’ defines what God is (Infinite, Omnipresent, Omniscient, etc.). God has ‘one nature,’ but ‘three centres of consciousness.’ This means the Father is God (Gal.1:1), the Son is God (Jn.20:28) and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). They are not three gods but only one God (Deut.6:4). The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father, but each is God individually and yet they are together: co-equal, co-eternal, having precisely the same nature and attributes (Almighty, unchangeable, infinitely powerful, wise, just, holy, etc.) and worthy of precisely the same worship, confidence, and obedience.
CONCLUSION: The doctrine of the ‘Trinity’ is Christianity’s most unique, defining and awesome mystery.