I have been studying the Trinity recently, and most of my studies have been from St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologiae, and he would agree that the persons are the divine Essence. One thing that confuses me is that Aquinas says the divine relations are the divine essence in the sense that we can use the terms "person" and "essence" interchangeably. Summa Theologicae, Q. 28, but, if the relations (the subsistent persons) are the divine essence, how does one get out of the idea that the "essence of God is begotten" or "spirated"?

Even though Aquinas rejected this view, that the essence of God can be begotten, it just seems a bit confusing to say "Jesus (as the divine relation 'filiation') is the divine essence of God, but at the same time, the essence of God isn't begotten?" this seems to be violating the classical laws of logic that x=x.

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    – Nigel J
    Feb 26 at 5:35
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    In his Reply to Objection 1Aquinas says "Likewise, paternity, just as filiation, is really the same as the divine essence; ..." - This makes v little sense logically and I suspect the English translator has made an error. I recommend, in the first instance, you look for other translations. Feb 26 at 21:11
  • I asked this question to a Thomas Aquinas Emulator which can interactively answer this question in the form of a dialog so that you can ask anything during the conversation to probe for more details or ask for clarification: hf.co/chat/r/QGBg1SQ Mar 15 at 16:05

1 Answer 1


Three Divine Persons share one divine nature.

Such is the relationship between Father and Son (in one Holy Spirit) that an eternal begetting exists between them.

I do not think that the 'classical laws of logic' will help you as they are designed by mortal men to understand the natural world.

Nor will some of the attempts of men to introduce various non-scriptural concepts which sometimes just muddle terms in Latin with the original Greek wording of the inspired writings.

We discover the Deity through the preaching of the gospel (only in accord with the word of God) and through our own discovery of Him as he reveals himself to us in our spiritual life with Him.

The Persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit (in whose name we are baptised) have relationships (within Deity). They also share one divine nature in a perfection of love and a perfection of unity within that one divinity.

Some manage to mar this, and to misrepresent it, by introducing inappropriate terms which are drawn from logic or from philosophy or from nature itself.

Which I do not think are useful.

It is better to confine oneself to the terms used in holy scripture and to study the original word of God that we may understand Him aright.

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