What Does the Bible Reveal About the Trinity? – Part 3
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2007|
|How do we know that the doctrine of the Trinity is biblical? The authors say the fact that the Trinity is a biblical doctrine can be seen from five simple statements supported by the Bible.|
Is the Trinity taught in the Bible?
How do we know that the doctrine of the Trinity is biblical? That the Trinity is a biblical doctrine can be seen from five simple statements supported by the Bible. And, since the Jehovah’s Witnesses are one group so adamantly opposed to the doctrine as being something “pagan,” “unreasonable,” and “of the devil,” we thought it might be instructive to begin by citing their own Bible, the New World Translation (1970 edition), in support of the doctrine. Thus, even the New World Translation teaches the doctrine of the Trinity. In the scriptures below, the term “Holy Spirit” is not capitalized because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that “holy spirit” is merely God’s active, impersonal force, not a true person. (For those who have never done so, looking up these scriptures during your time of personal Bible study will be a rewarding learning process.)
- There is only one true God: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men” (1 Tim. 2:5 NWT; cf. Deut. 4:35, 6:4; Isa. 43:10).
- The Father is God: “There is actually to us one God the Father” (1 Cor. 8:6 NWT; cf. John 17:1-3; 2 Cor. 1:3; Phil. 2:11; Col. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:2).
- Jesus Christ, the Son, is God: “but he [Jesus] was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God”: (John 5:18 NWT); “In answer, Thomas said to him [Jesus]: ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28 NWT, cf. Isa. 9:6; John 1:1; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:1).
- The Holy Spirit is a person, is eternal, and is therefore God: “However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak and he will declare to you the things coming” (John 16:13 NWT, emphasis added). The Holy Spirit is also eternal: “How much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God” (Heb. 9:14 NWT). The Holy Spirit is therefore God: “But Peter said: ‘Ananias, why has Satan emboldened you to play false to the holy spirit?’ You have played false, not to men, but to God” (Acts 5:3, 4 NWT, emphasis added).
- The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons with equal authority: “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit”; “Now I exhort you, brothers, through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the spirit, that you exert yourselves with me in prayers to God for me”; “The undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the sharing in the holy spirit be with all of you” (Matt. 28:19; Rom. 15:30; 2 Cor. 13:14 NWT).
In Scripture, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are clearly distinguished as separate persons, yet there is only one God. Thus, “There is… one Spirit… one Lord [Jesus]… one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:4-6; cf., 1 Cor. 12:4-11). Further, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are never identified as one person only, as modern modalists such as the United Pentecostal Church/ “Jesus Only” groups teach. For example, in John 6:38 (KJV) Jesus says, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.” Because will is the essence of personality, we certainly have two personalities here.
In addition, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are so dearly and consistently linked in Scripture that to assume God is not three Persons makes it impossible to understand some passages. For example, consider the following Scriptures:
- 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 (Matt. 28:19).
- For this reason I kneel before the Father… I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (Eph. 3:14,16,17a).
- May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14).
- But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life (Jude 20, 21).
- How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God (Heb. 9:14).
- I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me (Rom. 15:30).
- Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor. 1:21, 22).
- Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire (1 Thess. 5:18, 19).
- But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:3-6).
- There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men (1 Cor. 12:4-6).
- For through him [Jesus] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit (Eph. 2:18; cf., 3:11-16).
- In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Eph. 2:21-22).
- 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 (2 Thess. 2:13,14).
(See also Rom. 14:17,18; 15:13-17; 1 Cor. 6:11,17-19; 2 Cor. 3:4-6; Gal. 2:21-3:2; Eph. 5:18-20; Phil. 2:1,6; Col. 1:6-8; 1 Thess. 1:1,5; 4:2,8; 2 Thess. 3:5; 1 John 3:23,24.)
To further illustrate, try answering the following questions without concluding that the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity:
- Who raised Jesus from the dead? The Father (Rom. 6:4)? The Son (John 2:19-21; 10:17,18)? The Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11)? Or God (Acts 3:26; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 13:20; Acts 13:30; 17:31)?
- Who does the Bible say is God? The Father (Eph. 4:6)? The Son (Titus 2:13; John 1:1; 20:28)? The Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3,4)? Or God (Deut. 4:35; Isa. 45:18)?
- Who created the world? The Father (Eph. 3:9-14; 4:6)? The Son (Col. 1:16,17; John 1:1-3)? The Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2; Psa. 104:30)? Or God (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 11:3)?
- Who saves and regenerates man? The Father (1 Pet. 1:3)? The Son (John 5:21,4:14)? The Holy Spirit (John 3:6, Titus 3:5)? Or God (1 John 3:9)?
- Who justifies man? The Father (Jer. 23:6, cf. 2 Cor. 5:19)? The Son (Rom. 5:9; 10:4; 2 Cor. 5:19, 21)? The Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:11; Gal. 5:5)? Or God (Rom. 4:6; 9:33)?
- Who sanctifies man? The Father (Jude 1)? The Son (Titus 2:14)? The Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2)? Or God (Ex. 31:13)?
- Who propitiated God’s just anger against man for his sins? The Father (1 John 4:14; John 3:16; 17:5; 18:11)? The Son (Matt. 26:28; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2)? The Holy Spirit (Heb. 9:14)? Or God (2 Cor.5:19,21; Acts 20:28; 1 John 4:10)?
So, although one member of the Trinity may have a more prominent part in a specific action or role such as creating or redeeming, all three persons are still involved. What this means is that it is proper for purposes of illustration to substitute (or include) any specific person of the Trinity in any event in the Old Testament or New Testament where the term “God” is used. In fact, Scripture itself does this. In Acts 28:25, 26 the Holy Spirit is said to speak to Isaiah, but in Isaiah 6:8,9 the speaker of the same words is said to be God