God is a Triune Being. The ‘Trinity’ is a theological term used to express what is revealed in the Scriptures. Please read below the Scriptural passages that support the following assertions that God is triune in person and singular in being or essence.
- God is One as a unity of Persons Who Mutually and Exclusively Indwell One Another
- God is three as each Eternally Divine Person is a Distinct Center-of-Consciousness
- Only the doctrine of the Trinity explains how it is possible to come to know God personally and to know each of the Persons of the Godhead
The Scriptures declare that God is One in that each of the distinct centers-of-consciousness (i.e., Father, Son, Holy Spirit) mutually indwell one another. Meaning, that God’s Oneness is in how the three divine Persons indwell each other exclusively. Only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, mutually indwell one another. From all eternity there has been this unity of inter-dwelling of one another, so that it can be said that by nature the Oneness of God is indivisible.
The Scriptures declare that God is three in that each Person, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are attributed with divine attributes and works. Each Person is eternal, equally divine, and distinct as a center-of-consciousness from the other two divine Persons.
Though distinct, each of the Persons cannot but equally make known the others. God is an ever-present community of three Persons, bound in perfect and holy love, so unified as One that it is impossible to know one without knowing the others.
God the Father refers to the eternally distinct Person within the being of God Who is the heavenly Father, that very One Who has always been in the Son and in the Holy Spirit in perfect fellowship, as ‘the Father’.
God the Son refers to the eternally distinct Person within the being of God Who is the beloved Son, that very One Who has always been in the bosom of the Father and has always been filled with the Holy Spirit, as ‘the Son’.
God the Holy Spirit refers to the eternally distinct Person within the being of God Who is the Eternal Spirit, that very One Who has always been indwelling the Father and the Son in the most perfect and sublime fellowship, as ‘the Holy Spirit’.
The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and these three are One in that they alone, exclusive of all others, have from all eternity mutually indwelled one another in perfect unity.
The Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father. The Son is not the Holy Spirit, nor the Holy Spirit the Son. The Holy Spirit is not the Father, nor the Father the Holy Spirit.
The Scriptural Basis For the Trinity (not exhaustive)
Matthew 12:31, 32 “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Some have asserted from this passage that this shows that Jesus is not divine, as blasphemy against ‘the Son of Man’ is not as serious of a sin as sinning against the Holy Spirit. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As in the case of so many passages, what is failed to be understood is the profound significance of Jesus’ Incarnation. All of the passages that relate to Jesus’ lesser role to the Father [John 14:28] and His ignorance of things [Mark 5:31; Mark 13:32] that God the Father would unquestionably know and understand, refer to Jesus’ Incarnation, in which He took upon Himself, of His own will, our finite nature, with its limited powers and knowledge [Phil. 2:5-11].
In this passage we have blasphemy spoken against the Son of Man being capable of forgiveness, while blasphemy against the Holy Spirit not being afforded such forgiveness. We are to see and understand that it is in the profound significance of Jesus’ Incarnation that there is this distinction between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is because Jesus’ eternal deity was concealed by His humanity that any sin against the Son of Man could be forgiven. While, on the contrary, to sin against the Holy Spirit, in this context, is to attribute the clear work of God as that which is of the devil. What Jesus is saying is that these men, who were sinning against the Spirit, were beholding before their very eyes the work of God, and yet, saying it was of the devil! They had no excuse. They knew they had seen the hand of God, while to just see Jesus clothed only in His humanity could cause any number of men to stumble in blasphemies.
Contrary to undermining the Trinity, this passage actually gives powerful witness to the Trinity. The Pharisees said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” Notice, they had not mentioned anything about the Holy Spirit. But Jesus does! Jesus said, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus equates His miraculous work of casting out demons to the Holy Spirit, while, at the same time, making a distinction between Himself and the Holy Spirit.
Notice that the Spirit was making these miraculous works of God known before these men, not separate from Jesus, but through Jesus alone. Jesus, at the same time, shows how He and the Holy Spirit mutually indwell one another and are also counted distinct from one another.
For a man to assert that the Holy Spirit’s actions manifested through Him were a work equated to the very works of God, to such an extent that to speak evil of them was to commit an act of blasphemy, is to assert an exclusive role as God’s representative! For they are works that are done by His agency, exclusive to Him and to no other. It was the Pharisees who made the charge personal, that Jesus was an agent of the devil, as they were seeking to undermine His authority for doing these things. But that is just it, it was a testimony of who Jesus was and that He did have the authority, because He was One with the Holy Spirit. Jesus did identify Himself with the miraculous work of God and then He says that their evil words against Himself could be forgiven them, because He was ‘the Son of Man’. Lastly, the distinction in forgiveness between Jesus and the Holy Spirit proves that the Holy Spirit is another divine Person, distinct from Jesus, Who in His Own Person can be sinned against by acts of blasphemy, while blasphemy could be forgiven against Jesus because His divinity was shrouded by His humanity.
John 3:11 “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.”
Jesus speaks specifically about a testimony that is plural. “We speak of what we know and of what we have seen”. Jesus is not speaking of His disciples, but of the plural testimony of the Father and the Holy Spirit, which is expressed in the Scriptures [texts].
The disciples were not those who were testifying the testimony of Jesus until they were filled with the Holy Spirit. In the immediate context Jesus asserts His own exclusive knowing and seeing. John 3:13 “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”
John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
This passage shows that Jesus shared with the Father the exclusive glory of God before the creational order. Jesus makes a clear distinction between Himself and the Father, while, at the same time, clearly identifying His pre-incarnate state as co-equal with the Father. As a point of emphasis, Jesus pinpoints ‘before the world was’, not just prior to His incarnation, to show His former state of being ‘from above’ and ‘not of this world’ [John 8:23].
John 10:37,38 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”
This statement was said in defence of His assertion, “I and the Father are one” (vs. 31), which was to assert an ontological oneness with the Father and, yet, also that He was distinct in person from the Father. Jesus says that the miraculous works demonstrate that He is the Son of the Father, an assertion of deity. Then, to remove any doubt, Jesus makes the incredible statement that He and the Father mutually indwell one another (‘the Father is in Me, and I in the Father’). Referred to as Perichoresis by early theologians, the mutual indwelling of the persons of the Trinity answers how they are one. Consequently, to behold the Father is to behold the Son and the Holy Spirit, and vice-versa.
Of particular importance is the statement, “and I in the Father”. While a mere mortal may be able to say that the Father is in them, it is quite another thing for one to claim that they are in the Father. This is nothing less than an assertion of deity.
John 14:16,17 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
Jesus here refers to the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believers. He makes a clear distinction between Himself and the Father and the Holy Spirit and yet acknowledges that the disciples have come to know the Holy Spirit, while Jesus has been with them. The Holy Spirit indwelled the human spirit of Jesus Christ, the man, together or alongside with Jesus’ eternal person, the eternal Son of God. The disciples knew the Holy Spirit as He indwelled the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the mutually indwelling of the persons of the Trinity answers how the persons are distinct and yet also ontologically one.
John 17:26 “…and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
This is the last statement in Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer and there is a lot in it that affirms the doctrine of the Trinity. Not only in verse 26 but in two other places in chapter 17 Jesus says that He has made known the Father’s name to His disciples [John 17:6, John 17:12]. This is a fulfilment of the prophetic word given to Isaiah that His name would be called ‘Eternal Father’ [Isaiah 9:6] and it cannot mean anything other than a Trinitarian conception of God, as Jesus is not saying that He is the Father, nor could it be that any created being could make known the name of the Father to men. The Eternal Son of God did not come in His own name (i.e., Son of God) because of the very nature of the Incarnation, which necessitated the emptying of His prior form of God for the form of a bond-servant [Phil. 2:5-8]. He could not come in His own name while He was not possessed of that glory that belongs exclusively to God. Hence, the statement made in verse 5, that the hour has come for Him to be glorified as He was previously with the Father. Upon Jesus’ glorification is it said, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ’ because He has the glory that exclusively belongs to God.
Furthermore, notice what this prayer requests, as a direct outcome to Jesus’ making known the Father’s name, that the people of God should then love the Son as the Father loves the Son. This expression, “So that the love with which You loved Me may be in them”, again, cannot mean anything other than a Trinitarian conception of God. The Father loves the Son before the foundation of the world [John 17:24] and the exalted nature of this love signifies an equality with the Father, as the Father has given all things ‘into His hand’ [John 3:35]. This love for the Son is the same love that is to be ‘in them’. If Jesus’ person is anything less than divine then it would be idolatry for the people of God to direct their love toward Jesus. When the people of God love the Son then the Father loves them [John 14:21, John 14:23].
lastly, consider Jesus’ saying, “and I in them”. Only one possessed of the very nature of God can be in the hearts of God’s people. No created being can be in more than one place at any given time, while Jesus says that He is in those who will necessarily be in different places at the same time.