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What does the Bible say about the Trinity?

The names of God reveal attributes of His nature. God has a long-established habit of using various names to describe a person’s character. Jacob earned a name that means “swindler” when he practiced deception to steal his father’s blessing away from his brother Esau (Genesis 27:35, 36). At his conversion, Jacob wrestled with the angel and insisted on the blessing of God. Then his name was changed to “Israel,” which means “a prince with God” (Genesis 32:26-28).

Likewise, the names for God found in Genesis and elsewhere tells us volumes about our Creator. “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The Hebrew word here for God is Elohim. It is a plural noun that is used more than 2,700 times in the Old Testament. This means that inspired authors preferred to use Elohim about 10 times more than the singular form “El” when they described God.

In the Old Testament book of Daniel, we see a clear picture of the Father and the Son as two separate persons. “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him? (Daniel 7:13). The Son of man, Jesus, is seen coming before the ‘Ancient of Days’ who is, obviously, God the Father.

The New Testament writings are also sprinkled with this concept of one God with three united, fully divine persons. The apostle Paul wrote that there were three divine persons: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all?” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Paul frequently referred to the three separate persons of the Godhead. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

Next, Revelation opens by introducing the three persons of the Godhead. “From the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:4?6 NKJV).

In addition, we clearly see three distinct persons at the baptism of Jesus. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16,17).

If Jesus is the only person in the Godhead, where did the voice come from that declared, “This is my beloved Son”? Did He trisect Himself into a voice from heaven, the dove wafting down through the sky, and His body on the bank of the river? No. This was not simply a clever act of holy smoke and mirrors, but rather a regal reunion revealing the truth of the Trinity. And on top of this, it is through the shared authority of these three persons that we are commissioned to baptize. “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).

Most of the confusion regarding the number of beings composing the Godhead springs from a simple misunderstanding of the word ‘one.’ Simply put, ‘one’ in the Bible does not always mean numerical quantity. Depending on the Scripture, ‘one’ can often mean unity.

We see this principle established very early in Scripture. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). ‘One flesh’ here does not mean that a married couple melted into one human after their wedding, but rather they are to be united into one family. Jesus also prayed that the apostles would be one, saying, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one? (John 17:22, 23).

We need to keep in mind that when Moses said, ‘The Lord is one,’ Israel was surrounded with polytheistic nations that worshiped many gods that were constantly involved in petty bickering and rivalry (Deuteronomy 6:4), whereas the God who created is composed of three separate beings who are perfectly united in their mission of saving and sustaining their creatures. As the Spirit is executing the will of both the Father and Son, it is His will also.

“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). Granted, it is a brain exercise to grasp that one God (‘He’) is also, and equally, ‘They.’ Like one rope with three united strands, the three persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit make up the one God.
 
 
 
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