The Trinity Explained

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: The Blessed Trinity › Catholic Encyclopedia › T – Cached
Yet, notwithstanding this difference as to origin, the Persons are co-eternal …… The transition to the Latin theology of the Trinity was the work of St. Augustine. …

Gen 1:26 reads: “Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

In the remaining New Testament writings numerous passages attest how clear and definite was the belief of the Apostolic Church in the three Divine Persons. In certain texts the coordination of Father, Son, and Spirit leaves no possible doubt as to the meaning of the writer. Thus in 2 Corinthians 13:13, St. Paul writes: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all.” Here the construction shows that the Apostle is speaking of three distinct Persons. Moreover, since the names God and Holy Ghost are alike Divine names, it follows that Jesus Christ is also regarded as a Divine Person. So also, in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11: “There are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit; and there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord: and there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all [of them] in all [persons].” (Cf. also Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2-3)

He possesses omniscience and reveals to the Church mysteries known only to God (1 Corinthians 2:10);
1st. Cor. 3:10 “God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”

it is He who distributes charismata (1 Corinthians 12:11);
1St. Cor. 12:11 “ All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills”

He is the giver of supernatural life (2 Corinthians 3:8);
2nd. Cor. 3:8 [8] will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor?

He dwells in the Church and in the souls of individual men, as in His temple (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19).
Rom. 8: 9-11 “But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. 1st. Cor. 3:16 “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? “ 1st. Cor. 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own;”

The work of justification and sanctification is attributed to Him (1 Corinthians 6:11; Romans 15:16), just as in other passages the same operations are attributed to Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 2:17).

1st. Cor. 6: 11 “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. Rom. 15:16
to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” 1st.Cor. 1:2 “To he church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Gal. 2:17 “But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not!”

To sum up: the various elements of the Trinitarian doctrine are all expressly taught in the New Testament. The Divinity of the Three Persons is asserted or implied in passages too numerous to count. The unity of essence is not merely postulated by the strict monotheism of men nurtured in the religion of Israel, to whom “subordinate deities” would have been unthinkable; but it is, as we have seen, involved in the baptismal commission of Matthew 28:19, and, in regard to the Father and the Son, expressly asserted in John 10:38. That the Persons are co-eternal and coequal is a mere corollary from this. In regard to the Divine processions, the doctrine of the first procession is contained in the very terms Father and Son: the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son is taught in the discourse of the Lord reported by St. John (14-17)

Old Testament
The early Fathers were persuaded that indications of the doctrine of the Trinity must exist in the Old Testament and they found such indications in not a few passages. Many of them not merely believed that the Prophets had testified of it, they held that it had been made known even to the Patriarchs. They regarded it as certain that the Divine messenger of Genesis 16:7, 16:18, 21:17, 31:11; Exodus 3:2, was God the Son; for reasons to be mentioned below …. they considered it evident that God the Father could not have thus manifested Himself

Gen 1:26 reads: “Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

Gen. 1:2 “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters”

Gen. 1: 1-8 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

John 1: 1-5 “In the beginning was the Word, [Jesus Christ] and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Gen.16:7 “The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. … Gen. 16:13 “So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “Thou art a God of seeing”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” … Gen. 21:17 “And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” … Gen. 31:11 “Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, `Jacob,’ and I said, `Here I am!’“ … Exo. 3:2 “ And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.”

The Church Fathers
In this section we shall show that the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity has from the earliest times been taught by the Catholic Church and professed by her members. As none deny this for any period subsequent to the Arian and Macedonian controversies, it will be sufficient if we here consider the faith of the first four centuries only. An argument of very great weight is provided in the liturgical forms of the Church. The highest probative force must necessarily attach to these, since they express not the private opinion of a single individual, but the public belief of the whole body of the faithful. Nor can it be objected that the notions of Christians on the subject were vague and confused, and that their liturgical forms reflect this frame of mind. On such a point vagueness was impossible. Any Christian might be called on to seal with his blood his belief that there is but One God. The answer of Saint Maximus (c. A.D. 250) to the command of the proconsul that he should sacrifice to the gods, “I offer no sacrifice save to the One True God,”

(1) Baptismal formulas
We may notice first the baptismal formula, which all acknowledge to be primitive. It has already been shown that the words as prescribed by Christ (Matthew 28:19) clearly express the Godhead of the Three Persons as well as their distinction, but another consideration may here be added. Baptism, with its formal renunciation of Satan and his works, was understood to be the rejection of the idolatry of paganism and the solemn consecration of the baptised to the one true God (Tertullian, De Spectaculis 4; Justin, First Apology 4). The act of consecration was the invocation over them of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The supposition that they regarded the Second and Third Persons as created beings, and were in fact consecrating themselves to the service of creatures, is manifestly absurd. St. Hippolytus has expressed the faith of the Church in the clearest terms: “He who descends into this laver of regeneration with faith forsakes the Evil One and engages himself to Christ, renounces the enemy and confesses that Christ is God . . . he returns from the font a son of God and a coheir of Christ. To Whom with the all holy, the good and lifegiving Spirit be glory now and always, forever and ever. Amen” (Sermon on Theophany 10).

“All those Catholic expounders of the divine Scriptures, both Old and New, whom I have been able to read, who have written before me concerning the Trinity, Who is God, have purposed to teach, according to the Scriptures, this doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father hath begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity.” – St. Augustine of Hippo, “On The Trinity” 4th century A.D.

The Holy Trinity
“The Holy Trinity refers to the three natures of God: God, the Father, God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit. This does not however mean that there are three Gods. There is only one God manifesting in three forms. How did this come to be, however?

To understand this concept of the triune God one must begin by going back 2000 years, we must even go further back by another 1500 years. Christianity is often viewed as a polytheism by its detractors, but it is not really so if one understands this concept which was not understood for so long. The reason there is so much criticism of Christianity as regards this concept from other religions is because the leadership itself has not until this very day resolved this issue.

By 1500 B. C., religious civilization had gone so far in many cultures that the concept of the one God had penetrated. Many peoples, apart from the Jews had come to divine the true one invisible God and this was where the understanding of God remained for another 1500 years. Mention was first made of the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2 when it was said that the “Spirit of God was moving upon the face of the waters.” Not much thought was given to this statement until the church fathers began deliberating about the nature of God more than 1000 years later. This was the very first indication of another Personality outside of God but closely associated with Him.

This reference to the “Spirit of God” and many other references in the Old Testament and also, the many references by Jesus Himself to the “Spirit”, “Counsellor” and so on set the early fathers thinking that there could be a separate Personality involved here. Indeed as early as the 2nd century, Irenaeus of Lyons described the Holy Spirit and Jesus as “the two hands of God” by whom He worked both creation and redemption. Probably inadvertently Irenaeus gave us a hint of what could be the functions of these other Parts of God. He meant that through the Holy Spirit, God worked creation and through Jesus He worked redemption.

A full discussion of the personality of the Holy spirit is beyond the scope of this discussion but it suffices to say that by the 2nd century the Holy Spirit began to be recognized as a separate Personality different from Jesus and God the Father but closely associated with these Two.

Another issue which plagued the early fathers of the church was that of consubstantiality. Is the Holy Spirit consubstantial with God? Is He of the same essence as God? The same problem of consubstantiality in the case of Jesus almost split the Church in the 4th century when it led to numerous heretical doctrines, notable among which was that of Arius who denied the possibility of Jesus being of the same Essence as God. These issues of the existence of the Holy Trinity and the consubstantiality of Jesus and the Holy Spirit were resolved in the various ecumenical councils held respectively at Nicaea in 325 AD, Constantinople 381 A.D., Ephesus A. D. 431, and Chalcedon in 451 A. D.

The word Trinity (trinitas) was coined in the 3rd century by Tertullian who wrote extensively on the issue. Origen, another Christian father carried the doctrine further but these two did not assign full consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with God. At the council of Nicaea, the conclusion was only an affirmation of their belief in the Holy Spirit but not a full acceptance of His consubstantiation. At Constantinople, further ground was yielded but until now the issue has not been fully resolved and still forms the major area of division between the eastern and western churches.
St. Augustine in his book, “On the Trinity” concluded that the Holy Spirit is the mutual love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father and that the Holy Spirit derived from both the Father and the Son. He said further that the Holy Spirit is a gift to humanity from the Father and the Son. This explanation still did not clarify the function of the Holy Spirit and how He came about. People, however, know or sense that He exists, but whether He is a separate personality and what His role is, is still a mystery.
The issues of the full Divinity of Jesus and also of His full humanity aroused more controversy and bitter wrangling than that of the Holy Spirit. The problem was how to explain the nature of Jesus. Apparently Jesus was human, He had come to us in a human form, He had hungered, thirsted, wearied and did all else expected of normal human beings with the exceptions of the miracles He performed. But how could He also be God? With heretical views spreading, something had to be done. The councils of Nicaea and Constantinople were set up and the majority of the Bishops rallied behind Bishop Athanasius in affirming that Jesus was consubstantial with the Father in contradistinction to the views of Arius and his followers who maintained that Jesus could not be consubstantial and that He was a creature.

Arius and his supporters were expelled and the Nicene creed was passed which affirmed the consubstantiality of Jesus with God. The dual nature of Jesus, however, still needed to be explained, or at least His human nature. It was clear enough that He was Divine based on what He had said of Himself and of being one with the Father. The nature of these bishops’ religious experiences and their intuitions also helped in arriving at this conclusion. How was His human nature to be explained, however?

The solution to this riddle was finally given by Pope Leo 1 in 451 A. D. at the council of Chalcedon when he declared: “one person in two natures.” His Divinity did not invalidate the fact that He was human in the way He appeared to us and lived. As far as the fathers were concerned, His miracles, His conduct and His Words were evidence that He was Divine but this did not detract from the fact that He was also fully human in His attitude, appearance and so on, hence “one person in two natures.” This formula led to a sigh of relief and the bishops could go to their parishes, satisfied that they had solved a problem that had plagued theology for centuries.

Having considered how the doctrine of the Holy Trinity came about, what remains is to explain what it means. We know that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit exist but how are they related to each other and why should there be a Trinity in the first place? An explanation which leaves no gaps in our understanding is what we should look for. We know that Jesus came from the Father, but how was that achieved, how was He able to be in human form and at the same time be Divine? How was it that He could be in “two natures”? What was the miracle of His coming to this earth? And the Holy Spirit? How are we to understand Him? What is His origin, His function? Is He of the same nature as God? Is He personal? Is He truly the mutual love of the Father for the Son and vice versa?

God was One but when creation had to come into existence He severed a Part of Himself and placed It to work in creation so that the latter could come into being and continue to exist. This Part was sent out with the Fiat “Let there be Light.” With this Fiat, a Part of God was placed beyond the border of the immediate vicinity of God so that this Part could radiate and illuminate the void from there. Without the Light being consciously placed at this outpost through an Act of Will of God, it would have been impossible for Creation to come into being because this Light is the Power for the existence and sustenance of Creation.

This Part, which God anchored at the outpost of His immediate vicinity is what is referred to in the Bible as the “Spirit”, which was “moving upon the face of the waters.” At the beginning therefore, God sent out his Spirit so that this Spirit could be the anchor through which Creation and all that is in it could come to be and exist. God’s Spirit therefore, is that Part of Him which creates. That Part of Him concerned with the beginning and maintenance of the Creations. That Part of Him is like one of His arms concerned with a particular activity which in this case is creating. This Part of God is the Holy Spirit, personal in His working, in His creating but at the same time firmly linked to God. The Spirit of God therefore is the third personality in the Holy Trinity and has generally become known as the Holy Spirit. Jesus referred to Him as the “Spirit”, the “Counsellor”, as “He” the Spirit of Truth, which indicates that He is personal. The necessity of the coming into being of Creation therefore led God to become two-fold.

How did He become three-fold then? When mankind drew away from God and the way back to Him could no longer be found, God as an Act of Mercy severed a small Part of Himself as a gift of Love to mankind to incarnate as Jesus on earth so that we as human beings could have direct access to the Holy Word and also receive power through the One who had incarnated. This will receive further elaboration later. With the birth of Jesus therefore, He became three-fold, Jesus being the Love of God.

How Did the Trinity Doctrine Develop?
AT THIS point you might ask: ‘If the Trinity is not a Biblical teaching, how did it become a doctrine of Christendom?’ Many think that it was formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E.

That is not totally correct, however. The Council of Nicaea did assert that Christ was of the same substance as God, which laid the groundwork for later Trinitarian theology. But it did not establish the Trinity, for at that council there was no mention of the holy spirit as the third person of a triune Godhead.

Constantine’s Role at Nicaea
FOR many years, there had been much opposition on Biblical grounds to the developing idea that Jesus was God. To try to solve the dispute, Roman emperor Constantine summoned all bishops to Nicaea. About 300, a fraction of the total, actually attended. [One could not book a flight back then… Travel was both difficult and dangerous …DUH!]

Constantine was not a Christian. Supposedly, [NO Historical evidence exist they He did convert] he converted later in life, but he was not baptized until he lay dying. Regarding him, Henry Chadwick says in The Early Church: “Constantine, like his father, worshipped the Unconquered Sun; . . . his conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace . . . It was a military matter. His comprehension of Christian doctrine was never very clear, but he was sure that victory in battle lay in the gift of the God of the Christians.” [Not TRUE! His Mother was a devout Catholic and before dying Constantine even went to war in defense of the Churches Teachings]

What role did this unbaptized emperor play at the Council of Nicaea? The Encyclopædia Britannica relates: “Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father’ . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination.” [Bishop in ERROR ;Arius and his followers were expelled from the Council AND from the Church]

Hence, Constantine’s role was crucial. After two months of furious religious debate, this pagan politician intervened and decided in favor of those who said that Jesus was God. But why? Certainly not because of any Biblical conviction. “Constantine had basically no understanding whatsoever of the questions that were being asked in Greek theology,” says A Short History of Christian Doctrine. What he did understand was that religious division was a threat to his empire, and he wanted to solidify his domain.

None of the bishops at Nicaea promoted a Trinity, however. They decided only the nature of Jesus but not the role of the holy spirit. If a Trinity had been a clear Bible truth, should they not have proposed it at that time? [Again NOT true!]

Further Development
AFTER Nicaea, debates on the subject continued for decades. Those who believed that Jesus was not equal to God even came back into favor for a time. But later Emperor Theodosius decided against them. He established the creed of the Council of Nicaea as the standard for his realm and convened the Council of Constantinople in 381 C.E. to clarify the formula.

That council agreed to place the holy spirit on the same level as God and Christ. For the first time, Christendom’s Trinity began to come into focus. [ONLY so far as UNDERSTANDING; the reality because it is TRUE ALWAYS existed!]

Yet, even after the Council of Constantinople, the Trinity did not become a widely accepted creed. Many opposed it and thus brought on themselves violent persecution. It was only in later centuries that the Trinity was formulated into set creeds. The Encyclopedia Americana notes: “The full development of Trinitarianism took place in the West, in the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages, when an explanation was undertaken in terms of philosophy and psychology.”

The Athanasian Creed

THE Trinity was defined more fully in the Athanasian Creed. Athanasius was a clergyman who supported Constantine at Nicaea. The creed that bears his name declares: “We worship one God in Trinity . . . The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they are not three gods, but one God.”

Well-informed scholars agree, however, that Athanasius did not compose this creed.

Apostasy Foretold
THIS disreputable history of the Trinity fits in with what Jesus and his apostles foretold would follow their time. They said that there would be an apostasy, a deviation, a falling away from true worship until Christ’s return, when true worship would be restored before God’s day of destruction of this system of things. [AND this is the non-Catholic “Christian” churches [some 30,000], New Age “religion” and Mormonism, another cult-faith”

Why Did God’s Prophets Not Teach It?
WHY, for thousands of years, did none of God’s prophets teach his people about the Trinity? At the latest, would Jesus not use his ability as the Great Teacher to make the Trinity clear to his followers? Would God inspire hundreds of pages of Scripture and yet not use any of this instruction to teach the Trinity if it were the “central doctrine” of faith?

Are Christians to believe that centuries after Christ and after having inspired the writing of the Bible, God would back the formulation of a doctrine that was unknown to his servants for thousands of years, one that is an “inscrutable mystery” “beyond the grasp of human reason,” one that admittedly had a pagan background and was “largely a matter of church politics”?

The testimony of history is clear: The Trinity teaching is a deviation from the truth, an apostatizing from it. SIMPLY UNTRUE as the evidence is OVERWHELMING!

Another Opinion

After reading the debate (Jul-Aug 1994) between Harold Kupp and Phil Porvaznik I felt compelled to find more Biblical proof to support Phil’s position and disprove the false theology of Harold Kupp. Although, I thought Phil presented a solid case, Harold was a very clever opponent and I fear he may have planted seeds of doubt in the minds of some of the faithful.

The whole debate revolved around scripture from the New Testament and ended with the writings of the Church Fathers. Although, the scripture that was presented by Phil was overwhelming, Harold had a knack for twisting things around and interpreting these verses quite differently to support his position. Keep in mind that I am no where close to being in the same league as these two gentlemen, but feel that the case Phil presented can be strengthened with scriptures written in the Old Testament. Conversely, I think even Harold would have a hard time dealing with these Scriptures (i.e. make them to say something that they don’t).

If I understood the debate correctly, Harold does not believe in the Holy Trinity. From what I read, Harold believes that God the Father is the one “True God” and the Lord Jesus Christ is a “lesser god”, but none the less, He is our Lord and our God. Here is an excerpt from the debate:

PP> The question I would ask you: HOW MANY GODS DO YOU BELIEVE IN? Is Jesus a separate and distinct GOD from the Father? If so then you’ve got two Gods. >>
HK> I believe in One God-the-Father and in One Lord Jesus Christ who is our God (our theos). >>

It is my hope that the below information will restore faith in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to anyone who may have been confused with the clever writings of Harold Kupp. I think the below scriptures prove without a doubt that there is only “One God” who created all things and within that “One God” there are three Divine Persons (read Phil’s debate with Harold for proof positive). Old Testament scripture does not support Harold’s opinion that God created Jesus, who in turn created all things. It does not support Harold’s position that God the Father is the God of Jesus and that Jesus is our God (that doesn’t even sound logical and leads me to believe that Harold has two Gods). I wonder if he worships both of them or only the Lord Jesus Christ? Anyway, after reading the debate between Phil Porvaznik and Harold Kupp, please read the additionally information which I feel strongly supports the position that Phil took (the Holy Trinity).

Gen 1:1-4 “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness.”

It is clear from these verses that there was only “One God” who created the heavens and the earth. It is also clear to anyone who continues to read the First Story of Creation within the Book of Genesis, that there is no mention of “The True God” creating His Son “The lesser god” who in turn created all things. It just is not there. So much for Harold’s interpretation of John 1:1-11.

Gen 1:26 reads: “Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

It is my opinion that the First Story of Creation supports the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and at the very least, it does not oppose the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. However, there is no Biblical support here for the position proposed by Harold Kupp. For we know that “God” (singular) created the heavens and the earth. And we also know that “God” said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Since there can only be one Creator or “God” then the “us” in Gen 1:26 must refer to the Persons of the Holy Trinity (co-equal and co-eternal). If the “us” in Gen 1:26 were other gods (lesser gods) it surely does not make that point clear in the Bible and would contradict the First Story of Creation. Also, if that were the case, why wouldn’t the Bible simply state that “The God” created “the lesser god” who created all things? It does not say that because it is not true. Once again, so much for Harold’s interpretation of John 1:1-11.

Exodus 20:2-6 reads: “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but
bestowing mercy down to those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Now if Jesus (the Son of God) was not one in being with the Father (Holy Trinity), but rather a “lesser god” as Harold Kupp would have you believe, then Harold would clearly be breaking the First Commandment. For it is written: “You shall not have other gods besides me.” The only way any person could worship Jesus without breaking the First Commandment would be if Jesus is “The God” and not a “lesser god” as Harold would have you believe. Here we have a clear case of Old Testament Scripture supporting “One God”, “Three Divine Persons.” This scripture in no way supports Harold’s position that God the Father and God the Son are separate Gods, the only logical conclusion is that they are One God, but separate Persons.

Jamie K. Roth

The Trinity in the Old Testament
A Brief Summary of the Evidence
By Anthony Rogers

In order to establish some kind of continuity between the message of the prophets and the doctrine of Tawheed, which Muslims allege is taught in the Qur’an, some Muslims argue that the Old Testament (not to mention the New) does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity. With an eye to this, the following aims to present a brief summary of the evidence that the prophets taught the Trinity.

As for my thesis, the following will show, unlike Muslims and other unitarians, orthodox Christians cling to and are comfortable with all of the Biblical material, which says that God is a uni-plural or triune being, preferring to follow the prophetic Word where it leads on this matter (and all others) rather than subject the truth of what God has revealed to the misguided dictates of unaided and fallen human reason or to a false revelation delivered in the name of a false god. In other words, Christians are those who submit to what God has said about Himself, however lofty His self-revelation may be, preferring this above rationalistic and idolatrous methods of determining the truth, which turn out to be arbitrary and worthless, not only when it comes to arriving at a true and saving understanding of God, but to account for anything in the world.1

OT Adumbrations and Evidences for the Trinity
The doctrine of the Trinity is interwoven throughout the entire warp and woof of the Old Testament; it is not merely found in a discrete passage or proof-text here and there. For example, from the beginning to the end of the Old Testament, plural nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives are regularly used for God, at least in the Hebrew text. A cursory list follows:

The word Elohim is used thousands of times for “God”; Adonai is used hundreds of times for “Lord”; both of these words are plural nouns in Hebrew.
A number of passages speak of the “faces” or “presences” or “persons” of God (Exodus 33:14; Deuteronomy 4:37; and Job 13:8).
God refers to Himself as “Us,” “Our,” and “We” (Genesis 1:26, 2:18 (LXX), 3:22, 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, and 41:21-24),2 a phenomenon that is reflected in virtually every English translation.
The OT says of God, “they caused me to wander” (Genesis 20:13), “they appeared” (Genesis 35:7), “they drew nigh” (Deuteronomy 4:7), “they went” (2 Samuel 7:23), and “they judge” (Psalm 58:11).
The OT calls God our “Creators” (Ecclesiastes 12:1), “Makers” and “Husbands” (Job 35:10; Psalm 149:2; Isaiah 54:5).
The OT says that God is “holy” (Joshua 24:19; Proverbs 9:10, 30:33), another plural.

All of this (and more) can be found in the Old Testament in spite of the fact that singular words are readily available in each instance where these words occur. If the prophetic authors of the Bible were unitarians, we wouldn’t expect them to speak about God in this way. Indeed, unitarians do not typically speak this way in ordinary conversation and fall all over themselves trying to explain them when they are brought up.4

One might say the use of plural expressions is customary among polytheists, but then in the case of polytheism it only needs to be pointed out that right alongside such plural references to God are singular words, even emphatic declarations that there is only one God. These singular references to God are just as disconcerting to polytheists as the plural references are to unitarians.

The same thing can be said for many other peculiarities distinctive of Old Testament revelation about God, such as when God speaks to or about another person who is identified as God or Lord (Psalm 2, 110:1, Isaiah 13:17-19; Hosea 1:7; Amos 4:10-11; Jeremiah 50:40; Malachi 3:1; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 2:8-11, 12:10, 13:7)5 or when the Biblical authors refer to more than one person as Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 19:24;6 Psalm 457). Once again, this does not sit well with either unitarians or polytheists; the former because it implies personal plurality within the Godhead, contrary to their unitarian assumptions; the latter because it implies the essential unity of these divine persons, contrary to their polytheistic assumptions.

In addition to plural words and the divine distinctions pointed out above, mention can be made of the triadic prayers, benedictions, and doxologies of the Old Testament (e.g. Genesis 48:15-16; Numbers 6:24-26; Isaiah 6:38 see also Isaiah 33:22; Jeremiah 33:2; Daniel 9:19),9 which given their formulaic character, cry out for some kind of explanation. This cry has fallen on deaf unitarian ears and has been met with equally mute unitarian lips for a reason: this is not the way unitarians would naturally speak of their “god”.

The OT further specifies the nature of divine plurality by identifying the three persons of the Godhead. These three persons are all distinguished from each other, and yet, in various ways, are identified as God: the Father (e.g. Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Malachi 2:10); the person variously designated as the Messenger of the LORD (Heb. Malakh Yahweh), Word, or Son of God (e.g. Genesis 16:7-14, 21:17-18, 22:9-18, 28:10-22 (cf. Genesis 31:11-13), 32:22-32 (cf. Hosea 12:3-4); Exodus 3, 13:21 (cf. 14:19), 23:20-22; Numbers 22:21-41; Judges 2:1-5, 6:7-24, 13:3-22, 2 Samuel 24:16; Psalm 2, 110:1, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, 63:9; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Proverbs 30:4; Zechariah 1:10-11, 12:8; Malachi 3:1); and the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God (e.g. Nehemiah 9:20; Job 26:13, 33:4; Psalm 104:30, 106:32-33, 139:1-24, 143:10; 2 Samuel 23:1-3; Isaiah 11:2, 40:13; Ezekiel 11:5; Micah 2:7).

Finally, in addition to the above passages that separately speak of one or another person of the Godhead, assigning to them the names, attributes, and prerogatives of God, there are many passages which mention all three persons together, assigning to each a role in the divine works of creation, providence, and redemption. For example: 1) Genesis 1:1-3 mentions God creating all things by His Word and Spirit; 2) the same thing is reiterated in Psalm 33:6; 3) Isaiah 42:1 speaks of God, His Servant/Chosen One, and His Spirit, by which He will bring justice or righteousness to the world; 4) Isaiah 48:12-16 has the First and the Last, i.e. the eternal God, speaking of a time when He is sent by the LORD God and His Spirit; 5) in Isaiah 61:1, the person who is sent with the good news, i.e. the Gospel, says the LORD has anointed Him with His Holy Spirit, Who is upon Him; and 6) Isaiah 63 tells of the LORD, the Angel [Lit. Heb. Messenger] of His Presence, and the Holy Spirit bringing about salvation.

An Objection Considered
The assumption that pre-Christian Jews did not believe in the Trinity is often allowed to run rough-shod over the evidence available from the OT. Not only is this irrelevant – since the question is not what ancient Jews in general allegedly believed but what the Jewish prophets taught as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit – but it isn’t true in the first place. The Aramaic Targums and a wide body of inter-testamental literature give evidence of (at least) a nascent Trinitarianism among some Jews. Often what some people present as evidence against Jewish Trinitarianism comes from modern anti-Messianic Jewish sources, not from the writings of ancient Jews; when appeal is made to Jewish writings of the inter-testamental period, it is usually in a very selective way

Consequently, the Old Testament does not support the idea that God is like the unitarian deity Muhammad supposedly thought He was. This leaves Muslims on the horns of a dilemma: either Muhammad did not reveal the same message as the prophets, which falsifies his claim to be the Messenger of God; or God’s message through the prophets has been corrupted, which makes Muhammad’s repeated claim that the previous prophets brought the same message as he did un-verifiable, which in turn falsifies in another way his claim to be a prophet since he said it could be verified from their writings. Either way the above has shown that the Old Testament teaches the doctrine of the Trinity and this means Muslims are bereft of any basis of appeal in the prophetic writings, either when it comes to arguing against what is taught in the New Testament about the Trinity, or of establishing any precedent for Islamic Tawheed.

1 The oldest, most enduring, most pregnant problem of philosophy is that of “the One and the Many”. Neither monism nor pluralism provides a satisfactory philosophical account or resolution of this problem. It is the present writer’s conviction that this problem can only be solved by seeing all things as created, upheld, and governed by the Triune God, the God who is both one and many. For some online sources that explain this, see: Ralph Allen Smith, “Trinity and Covenant”; and Michael H. Warren, Jr., “Christian Civilization is the Only Civilization – In a Sense, Of Course”.
2 For a full Trinitarian defense of these passages, see my article: “Let Us Make Man: A Trinitarian Interpretation”.

3 Proverbs 30:3 is particularly instructive for it goes on in verse 4 to mention God and His Son. For more on this, see the following two articles: The Incomprehensible Nature of God and His Son; and Jesus Christ – the Incomprehensible Son of God and Sovereign Lord of All Creation

Consequently, the Old Testament does not support the idea that God is like the unitarian deity Muhammad supposedly thought He was. This leaves Muslims on the horns of a dilemma: either Muhammad did not reveal the same message as the prophets, which falsifies his claim to be the Messenger of God; or God’s message through the prophets has been corrupted, which makes Muhammad’s repeated claim that the previous prophets brought the same message as he did un-verifiable, which in turn falsifies in another way his claim to be a prophet since he said it could be verified from their writings. Either way the above has shown that the Old Testament teaches the doctrine of the Trinity and this means Muslims are bereft of any basis of appeal in the prophetic writings, either when it comes to arguing against what is taught in the New Testament about the Trinity, or of establishing any precedent for Islamic Tawheed.

Isa.63: 10 -11 “But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses his servant. Where is he who brought up out of the sea the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his holy Spirit,

4Ezra.14: 22 “If then I have found favor before thee, send the Holy Spirit into me, and I will write everything that has happened in the world from the beginning, the things which were written in thy law, that men may be able to find the path, and that those who wish to live in the last days may live.”


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