Doctrine of the Trinity

Lesson 4

The Trinity

Before we investigate the truths regarding the trinity in Scripture, I want to begin by pointing out that this is a doctrine beyond the scope of man’s finite mind. It lies outside the realm of natural reason or human logic.

The late Dr. Walter Martin points out:

No man can fully explain the Trinity, though in every age scholars have propounded theories and advanced hypotheses to explore this mysterious Biblical teaching. But despite the worthy efforts of these scholars, the Trinity is still largely incomprehensible to the mind of man.

Perhaps the chief reason for this is that the Trinity is a-logical, or beyond logic. It, therefore, cannot be made subject to human reason or logic. Because of this, opponents of the doctrine argue that the idea of the Trinity must be rejected as untenable. Such thinking, however, makes man’s corrupted human reasoning the sole criterion for determining the truth of divine revelation.

John Wesley said,

“Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God.

It is a fact that the Bible teaches the truth of the Triune God in both Old and New Testaments, but the development and explanation of this doctrine was brought about because of the rise of heretical groups or teachers who either denied the deity of Christ or that of the Holy Spirit. This caused the early church to formally develop the doctrine of the Trinity.

While the word trinity does not appear in Scripture, the concept very clearly does. The church father Tertullian (AD 155–220) was the first to use the word trinity in an effort to summarize a great amount of biblical truth.

  • To say that God exists, as a trinity does not mean there are three Gods, or that one God merely manifests himself as either Father, Son, or Holy Spirit on various occasions. The trinity is the Godhead made up or Father, Son and Holy Ghost all in perfect unity.

Colossians 2:9 NKJV For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

  • ‘ĕlôhı̂ym
  • Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) summarizes the doctrine by saying “In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.”

The explanation of the Trinity is so simple that most people miss it.

  • If God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were the same, why would they have different names.
  • In the Jewish customs names where the very essence that reveal the nature and character of a person.
  • It is not until the full revelation of the New Testament that we see the concept of the Godhead being revealed.

Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

We certainly see God referring to himself in the plural within the Old Testament

Gen 1:26 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.”
Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
Gen 11:7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
Isa 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

It is not until the full revelation of the New Testament that we see the trinity more clearly.

Mat 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Here we see the trinity involved in the baptism of Jesus

Mat 3:16 As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.
Mat 3:17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Here we see the trinity involved in the life of the believer

John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever
John 14:17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
2 Cor 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Eph 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit  just as you were called to one hope when you were called
Eph 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
Eph 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Col 1:6 All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.
Col 1:7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf,
Col 1:8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
2 Th 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
1 Pet 1:2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
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.

In understanding the scriptural context for God who is declared as one.

Deu 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

  • Verse 4 is subject to various translations, though the statement is likely stressing the uniqueness of Yahweh and should be translated, “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.”
  • “God” (Elo-him) is a plural word, and the word one (the Hebrew, echad) refers to one in a collective sense.
  • As such, it is used of the union of Adam and Eve to describe two persons in one flesh.

Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

  • The word “one” is the Hebrew word ‘echad, which means: united, together, altogether.

When a man and woman marry they do not literally become one flesh or amalgamate into one human being, yet, they do become “one.”

  • We see right through the bible speak much of the plurality of people being joined as one.
  • But it is not speaking of an amalgamation of people that become an absolute one, but people who are united together in spirit, faith and purpose.
  • The term one speaks of a plural unity as 1×1 =1
  • Not a composite one as in 1+1 that = 2

Just as the trinity is one, so are we

Rom 12:5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
1 Cor 6:17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Eph 3:6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit  just as you were called to one hope when you were called

We even see Jesus right throughout his time on earth openly speaking about his relationship to his Father.

We see this relationship with Jesus and the Father

John 10:30 I and the Father are one.”

The partnership of the Trinity in the birth of Jesus

Luke 1:30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
Luke 1:31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
Luke 1:33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Luke 1:34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
Luke 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Please complete and submit this part of  lesson, we are looking forward to seeing what God has revealed to you in His Word and through this Study.

As disciples we don't always need more information but we need new revelation from God. Is there a certain part of the teaching that you loved, that stood out for you or you felt God was giving you insight into it?
Discipleship is all about learning God says. What was something new that you learnt in this lesson?
Putting God's word into practice is the greatest thing we can do. Was there a lesson, a principle or a promise that you can put into practice in your life?
The greatest part of discipleship is taking what you have learnt and sharing it with someone else. What part of this lesson could you pass on to others?
If there are any questions or queries about this lesson or regarding the school of ministry please feel free to ask.