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The word/term "trinity" is never used in the Bible. However, most Christians believe that God exists as three persons in one God-head.

This question has two parts:

  1. What is the Biblical basis for the doctrine of the Trinity?
  2. Are there any passages that directly show all three persons of God together - and what are they?
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@LemuelAdane: Also an extra note regarding your deleted answers: this question will need to be answered from the perspective that it asks for. A treatise whose purpose is to show the Trinity is unbiblical is not an answer to a question asking for where people see the Biblical basis for the Trinity. JW views are certainly in-scope on this site, but each question has it's own scope and this one is clearly asking for the how the view "most" Christians hold is supported Biblically. –  Caleb Nov 9 '11 at 22:59

9 Answers 9

up vote 41 down vote accepted

While the word Trinity does not occur in scripture, the concept and idea of the Trinity does, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. A detailed treatment of the Trinity with linked references can be found on GodAndScience.org.

In the following scriptural quotes, all bold text is my emphasis (in fact, there is no use of italics or bold in scripture), and note I tend to link to the whole chapter so it's easy to see the verses in context).

Fair warning: This going to be long, and even so it is only scratching the surface of an understanding that typically seems to take decades for most Christians to grow into in their understanding of God. The TL;DR answer begins with the heading for "God is Trinity"

God Is Plural

Let's examine the scriptures to speak to God's plurality, and then see if we can understand the way that one God can also be three.

The first hint you can see is in Genesis 1, at the end of Day 6 when God creates man:

Gen 1:26-27

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

From this passage we could deduce that in some way, God is in some manner plural. (We can also see that the image of God is both male and female, even though scripture consistently refers to the Godhead in the male gender).

Actually, though it's not obvious from the English, the first indication of plurality in God is in the very first verse in the Hebrew word for God:

The Hebrew word translated "God" is the word El or Elohim. Elohim is the plural form of El. The plural form is used 2607 of the 2845 times the word "God" is used in the Old Testament. Not only is the word for God usually used in the plural form, but several verses refer to God as "Us"

An example of how the Hebrew word Elohim is used in the plural is that it is translated "gods" (referring to idols) 235 times in the Old Testament. It is exactly the same word that is translated "God," referring to the Almighty. An example is given below:

"I am the LORD your God [Elohim], who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods [Elohim] before Me. (Exodus 20:2-3)

Rich Deem (God and Science.org)

The Son is God

There are a huge number of verses in scripture that ascribe the same divine attributes to both the Father and the Son. But to me, more "obvious" are the scriptures which state Jesus is God, outright.

Mat 1:23

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

John 1 speaks not only to Jesus (the Word) being God, but that all that was created was created through him (Jesus).

John 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

...

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

And the letter to the Colossians gives us to know that Jesus is fully God, speaking of the risen Lord (notice the present tense):

Col 2:9

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form

Many more scriptures that speak to the deity of Jesus can be found here.

The Holy Spirit is God

Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as a person, on equal footing with himself and his Father:

John 14:25-27

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

(by the way, in case you have ever wondered, this "remind[ing] you of everything I have said to you" is how the disciples recalled and recorded the Gospels so accurately and in such detail; it was through the Holy Spirit.)

And again, in the following chapters:

John 15:26

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:12-15

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

For a fuller treatment of the Holy Spirit's deity and person, see here.

God Is One

So, having now seen that there are three persons in this God we serve, why do Christians then claim that there is but one God? Again, it's because this is what God has revealed in the scriptures:

Deut 6:4-5

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

This verse from Deuteronomy is especially interesting because the same plural-form word for God is used: Yahweh Elohim, followed immediately by the declaration that he is one.

In the New Testament, we read:

1 Cor 8:4

4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.

Again, more references can be found here.

But God is Trinity

Although the word "trinity" is not used, scripture does seem to teach three distinct persons who are identified as God, such as:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Mat 28:18-20

So, scripture teaches us that God is both one, and at the same time three. How can this be? First you must accept that finite man cannot fully comprehend the nature and being of an infinite God. The Trinity is a mystery - we can wrestle with it, we can approach it, we can apprehend it in our hearts, but ultimately our mind ends up only loosely understanding, like trying to wrap your mind around the concept of infinity.

Of particular concern is trying to explain God by use of analogy, these always break down, and I have never heard one to even remotely adequately give us a glimpse of the Trinity as alluded to in scripture.

I have struggled with the idea of the Trinity all my journey, but recently I read Frank Sheed's Theology and Sanity, which I found very helpful. He does not attempt to explain by analogy, but describes God as being one nature shared by three persons. I will end with some quotes from his book (emphasis Sheed's):

The notion is unfortunately widespread that the mystery of the Blessed Trinity is a mystery of mathematics, that is to say, of how one can equal three. The plain Christian accepts the doctrine of the Trinity; the "advanced" Christian rejects it; but too often what is being accepted by one and rejected by the other is that one equals three.

...

The short statement of the doctrine is, as we have heard it all our lives, that there are three persons in one nature. But if we attach no meaning to the word person, and no meaning to the word nature, then both the nouns have dropped out of our definition, and we are left of with the numbers three and one, and get by as best we can with these.

...

The doctrine may be set out in four statements:

  • In the one divine nature, there are three persons - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

  • The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is not the Father: no one of the persons is the either of the others.

  • The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God.

  • There are not three Gods, but one God.

...

We are not saying three persons in one person, or three natures in one nature; we are saying three persons in one nature. There is not even the appearance of an arithmetical problem. It is for us to see what person is and what nature is, and the to consider what meaning there can be in a nature totally possessed by three distinct persons.

...

Nature answers the question what we are; person answers the question who we are.

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Related to this: Why is Elohim translated as God and not "gods". It addresses the Elohim issue. –  Richard Sep 12 '11 at 15:38
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The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures says of ´elo·him': "It is almost invariably construed with a singular verbal predicate, and takes a singular adjectival attribute." To illustrate this, the title ´elo·him' appears 35 times by itself in the account of creation, and every time the verb describing what God said and did is singular. (Genesis 1:1-2:4) Thus, that publication concludes: "[´Elo·him'] must rather be explained as an intensive plural, denoting greatness and majesty." –  Lemuel Adane Sep 14 '11 at 11:02
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Using a Hebrew idiom to infer the plurality of God is stretching it a bit. I would direct the interested reader to the story of the Lord appearing to Abraham in the form of three persons (Gen 18:1-2) for a better hint found in the Torah. –  Firstrock Oct 7 '11 at 22:35
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Elohim had different uses, like, in Psalm 82 it is translated 'gods', even though it was likely a euphemism for the rulers or judges of Israel. Sometimes it meant 'the sons of God', which could mean the Angels or even the righteous people. The term is vague, but the Fathers have understood Genesis to point to the Trinity nonetheless. –  RiverC May 2 '12 at 18:52
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I was just wondering, why this following verse in not considered by any one in this post? "Mathew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," –  JoaoRodrigues Aug 24 '12 at 4:29

To answer your second question, there is Acts 7:55-56 in which Stephen, being full of the Holy Ghost, looks up and sees God the Father and Christ on His right hand. This passage shows all three personages together, although perhaps not in the way you are looking for (since it seems to suggest that they are three personages are distinct beings).

Obviously Stephen felt the Holy Ghost or its influence, which may or may not be interpreted as the literal presence. And while Stephen saw God and Christ, we can only speculate as to whether their literal presence was there or if it was simply a vision. Regardless, the scripture "shows" all three persons in a way that was very real to Stephen the apostle.

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Picture this. An anointed right hand official being on the 'right side' of a king does NOT mean that he has the same power or authority as the king. –  Lemuel Adane Sep 14 '11 at 10:09
    
Second, the holy spirit is not on the 'left side' or present in the scene in this text or in the other context where in Jesus is seen at the right side of God. But here, it is said that Stephen is filled with the holy spirit, like the other followers filled with holy spirit on day of the Penticost this would conclude that the holy spirit is not a person at all because it is dispersed among the followers. Therefore this does not signify trinity. –  Lemuel Adane Sep 14 '11 at 11:06
    
@LemuelAdane Perhaps I should have made it more clear, but I was trying to use this scripture to suggest that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are not a single entity, but three distinct individuals. –  Daniel Standage Apr 15 '12 at 4:09

Ok, I will try my best to answer this.

Jesus was prophesied to be God.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Matthew 1:23 (NIV) 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[a] (which means “God with us”).


Jesus' disciples called him God

John 20:28 (NIV) 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” -Thomas

Titus 2:13 (NIV) 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, -Paul


Jesus considered himself equal with God

Philippians 2:6 (NIV) 6 Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

John 5:18 (NIV) 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

John 10:30 (NIV) 30 I and the Father are one.”


Jesus/God created all things

Genesis 1 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Colossians 1:15-16 (NIV) 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.


Holy spirit is God

2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.


There is one God

Isaiah 45:21 (NIV) 21 Declare what is to be, present it— let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.


The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit live inside of the Children of God.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

John 14:23 (NIV) 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV) 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Phew... hope that helps.

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Good list, but I think you may have overlooked Hebrews 1. At the beginning, Paul mentions Jesus being present at the Creation ('by whom also he made the worlds', KJV). The rest of the chapter is a good reference for Jesus Christ as being godly (higher than the angels). –  tjameson Aug 24 '11 at 6:54
    
Sadly the very best verse in the Bible showing the Trinity without a doubt is not in your NIV Bible: 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. –  McGafter Sep 20 '13 at 8:59

To add to the litany of proof-texts, may I suggest the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan (whereupon the Holy Spirit descended and lit on His shoulder, and God the Father spoke out of the heavens in affirmation of His Son) in Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:9-11, and Luke 3:21-22, and His transfiguration in Matthew 17:5 and Mark 9:7.

Also, our Lord's command to baptize all nations was to "baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Matthew 28:19.

The formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity took seven councils to reach what we have today, but it plainly is not foreign to the Gospels.

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The Trinity is Biblical means the Trinity is found in the Christian Scriptures.

The Trinity is the teaching that there are three persons who are all the one God. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God because of their relationship to each other as theos, Sophia and Pneuma.

The Bible does not contain a formal definition of the word “God”, yet God’s existence and attributes are displayed on every page so likewise the Bible does not contain a formal definition of the “Trinity”, yet the Trinity’s existence and attributes are displayed on every page.

The writers of the New Testament scriptures explicitly believe in the following:

The Father is: The only true God (John 17:3) The one God (1 Cor. 8:6) YHWH ( Matthew 28:19) The Son’s own Father( John 5:18,John 10:30, Mark 14:62)

The Son is: God ( John 1:1,18,Acts 20:28,Heb. 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1,Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13, 1 John 5:20,Matt 1:23, Col.2:2, Luke 1:16, 68,78, 7:16). The One YHWH (1 Cor. 8:6, 12:3, Eph. 4:5, Rom. 10:9-13, Matthew 28:19) The Word, Wisdom and Power of God ( John 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:24) The Father’s own and only birthed Son (Rom. 8:3, 2 John 1:3, John 3:16,18, 1 John 4:9)

The Holy Spirit is: God (Acts 5:3-4) One Spirit (Eph. 2:18, 4:4, 1 Cor. 12:11,13) YHWH (Matthew 28:19) The Spirit of both the Father and the Son (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7,13-15; Rom 8:9; Gal 4:6; and Phil 1:19.)

Based on these explicit facts, we conclude these truths: There is only one God who is the Father and this one has his own Word, Wisdom and Power as his vety own Son per-se and has his own Spirit as his Holy Spirit per-se.

In a nutshell, this is the Trinity:

The Son is the Wisdom, Power and Word of the Father per-se that is why they are not two gods but one. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of both the Father and the Son that is why they are not three gods but one. There are three persons who all share in the one name (YHWH), one title (God) and one nature (deity) by virtue of their relationship with each other as Father, Son (Wisdom) and Holy Spirit (Spirit).

Although the Bible doesn't contain a formal definition of who and what the Supreme Being is, yet nonetheless it contains all the necessary data to codify it in systematic terms like that of the Nicene Creed.

The Scriptures affirm that the Three persons are one God/YHWH because the Son (wisdom, word, power) and the Holy Spirit (spirit) of the Father are both his very attributes and fellows at the same time. This is the explicit faith of the Apostles concerning the monotheistic Deity as Triune per the Holy Scriptures.

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Welcome to Christianity.SE! While your answer is interesting, it doesn't really add anything to the other answers already provided - is there anything else you could add to make this answer anything but a restatement of what has alteady been said? –  warren Jul 31 '13 at 14:25

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

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Read this: Support for 1 John 5:7

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It's true that this hasn't appeared in answers so far, but see this earlier comment –  Andrew Leach Sep 20 '13 at 10:39
    
@AndrewLeach I've updated my answer with an in depth explanation at a URL to support it. –  McGafter Sep 20 '13 at 11:37
    
The problem with this proof is that it isn't found in the early greek manuscripts: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  user1361315 Mar 13 at 15:06
    
@user1361315 If you read through the reference I've given you'd see that there is ample proof (Church Fathers etc.) which bear the same weight as early manuscripts. In fact since many are older than the oldest Greek MSS they actually bear more weight. –  McGafter Mar 13 at 15:19
    
@McGafter We probably have better knowledge of manuscripts now then at their time. Plus early Church fathers even had heretical beliefs if you compare them to post-Nicene. It's a mess. –  user1361315 Mar 13 at 16:06

However, most Christians believe that God exists as three persons in one God-head.

This may or may not be true. I think it is more true to say that nominal acquiescence of a statement of trinitarianism is widely understood as a 'red line' for acceptance by many denominations. The Nicine creed for example is clearly trinatarian, and so are many 'statements of faith' such as the one held by the church I am a member of.

Historically, this came about at least in part because of the rise of Arianism which included the concept that Christ was created by the Father and not co-eternal with Him. Similar theological frameworks have arisen ever since and many are popular today.

It suits our human nature to have easily understood lines between 'us' and 'the heretics' (or 'saved' and 'unreached'), and of course insofar as these lines reflect the true revelation of God, they can be very helpful. The controversy over the trinity is caused by the superficial lack of the term in scripture. However I'd argue that the question and much discussion about the doctrine of the trinity in general, is an example of the difficulties encountered when you try to get a cart to pull a horse rather than the other way round:

What is the Biblical basis for the doctrine of the Trinity?

A re-phrasing of this question that I'd suggest lends itself towards a seeking of a deeper understanding of the nature and revelation of God would be: "To what degree is the revelation from God in scripture about the plurality in His nature accurately summed up in the statement that God exists as three persons in one God-head?"

A question like this does not promote the idea that we must examine scripture to support our doctrines1, but rather that we should examine scripture to challenge and shape our doctrines and framework. This question presupposes a possible weakness or incompleteness in the doctrine rather than in God's revelation

By way of a practical example of why this matters, here are some questions that might provoke a defensive reaction in a person who holds fast to a doctrine instead of the Word of God, rather than holding on to a doctrine as a summary of the Word of God:

  • "Is the Holy Spirit a 'person' in exactly the same sense as Jesus?"

  • "What does the blurred line between angels and God Himself in many passages indicate about the nature and plurality of God?"

  • "Do the Father and Jesus each have a 'spirit' distinct from the Holy Spirit?"

  • "If so, Does the Holy Spirit have a 'spirit' (small 's') too?"

  • "If 'trinity' is the best one-word summary of the revealed plurality of God in scripture, what is the best 10 word summary?"


So, what is the answer to the alternative question I posed:

To what degree is the revelation from God in scripture about the plurality in His nature accurately summed up in the statement that God exists as three persons in one God-head?

I'll sum up my own thinking here and attempt to give some scriptural support. A full answer is impossible, because the question by design encourages us ever deeper into the richness of God's word.

  • 'Trinity' is an excellent single-word summary of the revealed plurality of God
  • The nature of 'personhood' is not uniform among the persons of the trinity. An obvious example is that Jesus is a 'person' in both the abstract and physical sense.
  • The unity of God is affirmed throughout scripture: whatever we understand by this unity and plurality, they can't contradict each other.
  • The traditional understanding of 'distinct person' but 'same substance' (homooúsios) has value, but is rather abstract. I prefer to ask the question 'in what ways is God three and in what ways is God one' in the light of texts like these:

    • 30I and the Father are one.” John 10, ESV

      Here the sense is 'alignment'. We cannot be allied to the Father and opposed to the son or vice versa. The Father's sheep and the Son's sheep are the same group.

    • 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. John 14, ESV

      Here the sense seems to include 'faithfulness'. The Father and Son are united in the sureness of their words and in their character and works.2

      In this case and the previous, the distinct personhood of Jesus and the Father are obvious and not denied. Jesus does not say "I am the Father" meant in the sense of modalism or otherwise, but emphasizes a particular aspect or aspects of unity.

    • 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14, ESV

      Here the unity between the Spirit and the Son is a unity of purpose: the mission is shared and so is the message.

    • 33And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14, ESV

      This extraordinary and fascinating passage at first look implies that the 'will' of the Father and the Son are part of their distinct 'personhood' rather than part of their united 'substance'. However it is more naturally understood as a conflict within the united will of God rather than between the divine persons: Both Jesus and the Father in some sense want the cup removed from Jesus, and both Jesus and the Father's ultimate desire is for the Father's ultimate will to be done. There is much more that could be said here.

  • There are passages in the Bible that speak of the plurality of God without being obviously (in a non-contrived way) trinitarian. In these cases I see no need to force the doctrine of the trinity into these passages; that would be to elevate the doctrine above scripture:

    • 18:1And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. [...] 22So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. [...] 19:1The two angels came to Sodom in the evening... Genesis 18 and 19, ESV

    • 2And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3, ESV

    • 14And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua 5, ESV

    To my mind all three of these passages hint at the unity between God and His angels: the sense is that they are in a way like an appendage or an extension of His right arm rather than distinct 'beings'. Yet in another sense and in many other passages it is clear that they are distinct too. This is a similar conceptually to the trinity, but it does not seem to me to be the same thing.

  • In summary: 'trinity' or 'three persons in one God-head' is a useful and accurate doctrine statement. It is also basic and incomplete. God's word is deeper and broader than any doctrine, revealing the secret and hidden wisdom of God, and it is there we most usefully expend our effort.


1 in the broad sense of the word

2 there is a fascinating theme of unity not just within the Godhead but between God and man in John 14 which is part of a wider 'whole Bible' theme

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What an eloquent and thoughtful answer to this question. I appreciate your perspective. It does no violence to the basis of faith and the foundation principles of salvation, yet it offers more substance than the standard proof-texting (and associated pretexting) that occurs when this question is usually answered. –  swasheck Jan 3 at 20:03

For more than 3,000 years, Jews have repeated Deuteronomy 6:4. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” This sacred passage has been held in high esteem and memorized by Jews for centuries.

Jesus also taught about “the only true God”

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

The Oneness doctrine, however, overlooks the fact that the Son came to earth to reveal the true character of God the Father to a world groping in spiritual blindness.

Trinity is woven in scriptures:

On birth of Jesus Christ and His life, Death and Resurrection, it became increasingly self evident from the Bible itself the existence of Trinity or Triune God. Most obvious and direct evidence for Trinity emanated from Bible, depicting Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit with Nature of God. Therefore, to quote from the Athanasian Creed:

So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; And yet there are not three Gods, but one God.”

If Father is God, Son is God and Holy Spirit is God than that’s it. There are numerous verses in Bible to vie for the Divinity of these three Persons in one God and that is how this answer has become such a long post.

Bible gives us irrefutable references about these claims. It never became that clear until the Son was revealed in NT. Second person was revealed by arrival of Jesus and the third person was revealed after Jesus was glorified. That’s how we find most of the references to God the father in OT, God the Son in Gospels and majority of the references in explaining God the Holy Spirit, after Jesus was glorified.

Jesus is same as God:

When Jesus prayed to His Father in Gethsemane, He said:

John 17:5-6 “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world”

Jesus is the only one who could reveal the Father, because He is the express image of the Father (Luke 10:22; Thus when the disciples asked Christ what the Father was like, He could say:

John 14:9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Jesus so mirrored the character of the Father that He perfectly reflected Him, hence the title “The Everlasting Father”(Isaiah 9:6). I Another reason Jesus is called the Everlasting Father is because this world and everything in it was created through Christ. So in a very real sense, Jesus is our father:

Hebrews 1:2 in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world.

In Isaiah 9:6 Jesus is called the Father and here Old Testament refers Jesus to be same as Father.

Isaiah 9:6 For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus also calls Himself the Son of man, our brother, our shepherd, our friend, and our priest. Jesus frequently said many things that left a clear impression about His "human" nature. Nonetheless, at many other places in Bible, Jesus makes us abundantly clear about His "Divine" nature as well. This was however an indispensable necessity for the promised Messiah-to be both human and Divine- as otherwise His death on cross would have no power to provide salvation for humankind.

Philippians 2:5-8 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”

As we compare Scripture definitions for God with the Bible record of Jesus, we see the characteristics of Jehovah are also ascribed to Jesus.

He is self-existent (John 1:1–4; 14:6); only God is self-existent (Psalm 90:2).

Jesus defines Himself as eternal. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

He is, and has, eternal life (1 John 5:11, 12, 20).

He is all-powerful (Revelation 1:8).

He created all things (John 1:3). “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 NKJV).

The Father even calls Jesus God. “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom”

Hebrews 1:8-9. but of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. 1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.”

Jesus is able to forgive sin (Luke 5:20, 21); The Bible says only God can forgive sin (Isaiah 43:25).

Jesus accepted worship that according to the Ten Commandments is reserved only for the Almighty.

Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Matthew 28:9“And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘All hail.’ And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him”

John 20:26–29 Upon seeing the risen Savior, the converted skeptic, Thomas, confessed, “My Lord and my God!”

Even the angels worship Jesus. “And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews 1:6).

The Scriptures also teach that only God knows the thoughts of a man’s heart (1 Kings 8:39). Yet Jesus consistently knew what people were thinking, “for he knew what was in man” (John 2:25). “Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you’” (John 1:48 NKJV).

Through the Spirit, Jesus is omnipresent. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV). “For I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:10 NKJV).

He has power to give life, and even resurrected Himself. “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

John 10:30, 33“I and my Father are one,” Jewish leaders were outraged and sought to execute Him. They understood unequivocally that Jesus was claiming to be God Himself. “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God”.

John 8:58 NKJV Jesus said to them, “‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by”.

John 5:17, 18 “‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.’ Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, ... but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal with God”.

Therefore, by considering the primary definitions of God, and seeing that Jesus fits every one of those definitions, obviously, Jesus must be eternal God.

References to Trinity in Bible

The Old Testament was written long before the existence of the Christian church, apostate or true, and it teaches there are three persons in the Godhead in Isaiah:

Isaiah 48:16, 17 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, there am I: And now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

“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.

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).

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).

Here God the Father bears witness to God the Son through God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. 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).

Paul gives us the idea of Trinity in this verse:

Romans 15:30 . Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in [your] prayers to God for me;

Godhead of Holy Spirit as Jesus explained here:

Matt 12:32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

How they are different yet One?

Again to quote from the Athanasian Creed:

Just as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so also are we prohibited by the catholic religion to say that there are three Gods or Lords.
The Father is not made nor created nor begotten by anyone.
The Son is neither made nor created, but begotten of the Father alone.
The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding.
Thus, there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
And in this Trinity none is before after another; none is greater or less than another;
But the whole three persons are coeternal with each other and coequal, so that in all things, as has been stated above, the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity is to be worshiped.

It would be pompous and preposterous to pretend that we understand everything about God.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).

If we could completely unpack Him like cracking some genetic code, He would cease to be God. 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!”

Nevertheless, there is much about God that is revealed for our blessing.

“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

What is revealed is that this teaching of the trinity must be important to God. The ministry of Jesus both begins and ends with an emphasis on the three persons in the Godhead. The Father, Son, and Spirit are present at Jesus’ baptism and when He ascends to heaven. Jesus commanded His followers to baptize in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The testimony of Scripture indicates that the Godhead can neither be separated into three Gods nor merged into one person.

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I was reading the bible and came to know that the only verse which is closest to the concept of ‘trinity’, is the 1st Epistle of John, Chapter No.5, Verse No.7, which says… ‘For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the word and the holy ghost, and these 3 are one. ­­­­­­But if you read the Revised Standard Version, revised by 32 scholars… Christian scholars, of the highest eminence, backed by 50 different co-operative denominations, they say… ‘This verse of the Bible - 1st Epistle of John, Chapter 5 Verse No.7 is an interpolation, is a concoction, is a fabrication’ - It was thrown out of the Bible.

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It is by no means the only verse. To make a statement like this, indicates you have not read the other answers to this question. –  bruised reed May 15 at 16:39
    
This is more of a comment than a question as this does not really answer the question. –  Narnian Sep 4 at 15:46

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