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There may be places where the word is ambiguous. What I am looking for is one example that must be all three.

  • No Trinitarian would ever agree with your premise, so how could they give another example? – curiousdannii Jun 6 at 0:03
  • If all you want are doctrines that can't be supported by scripture, then there will be dozens, depending on who you ask. Things like infant baptism, rapture, dispensationalism, limbo, the immaculate conception, clerical celibacy, sola scriptura, the covenant of grace, singing hymns other than the psalms, etc etc. What counts as "essential" is of course a matter of opinion. For example, rejecting any Catholic dogma makes you a heretic in their eyes which sounds like they're all essential to me. – curiousdannii Jun 6 at 3:37
  • The doctrine of the Trinity stands alone because it describes the essential nature of God as revealed to us in Scripture. You cannot find, nor can Trinitarians provide, a comparable example because this subject matter is in a class by itself: The nature of God is THE 'essential doctrine' and all the others fall below it. – Mike Borden Jun 6 at 14:28
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The short answer is: nowhere. But your question is misguided.

You cannot disprove the nature of God as Trinity by looking at how the NT authors use the word "God" (Θεός or Κύριος) because within a few decades after the revelation that Jesus was the 2nd member of the Trinity (as God the Son), the NT authors were still transitioning their terminology from Θεός and Κύριος ("God") to "Father". The word "God" / "Lord" used to refer to Israel's God in the OT for at least 1,000 years. It's understandable that for the sake of continuity, the NT authors were still using the same word "God" to mean God the Father who sent His Son when the sentence context needed it, while gradually reassigning "Lord" for Jesus, which is yet another sign of Trinitarian understanding driving the terminology change. It was also logical to use new words for Jesus (such as Χριστός) and the Holy Ghost because both were newly revealed, bringing what was vaguely latent in the OT to be more explicit in the NT.

Thus the apostles were still in the very early stages of the Trinitarian formula development although they already understood God as Trinity shown by how they talked about worship, baptism, salvation, and eschatology because the roles of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct in each of those areas. Please don't confuse formula development (which has to do with words and definitions, like what your question implies) with apostolic understanding of the nature of God. It's like Newton already understood the laws of mechanics before Einstein refined the formula.

For an example of an apostolic understanding of the Trinity and a sign of the transition, simply look at one of the earliest record of the baptism formula in Matthew 28:19: "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit", which in Greek is εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος. Where is the word Θεός or Κύριος in that formula? Nowhere! But surely God has to do with baptism, don't you think?

Consider @curiousdannii pointing out 1 Cor 2:10-16. This was an even earlier sign of apostolic understanding of the Trinity, since this letter was commonly dated to early 50s rather than Matthew's early 60s. In this passage, the word "God" in verse 10 clearly shows how St. Paul had the Trinity in his mind, since within the same section he explained the how it was possible for humans to comprehend the mysterious nature of God as Trinity by exploring the relationship between God, the Spirit of God, and the mind of Christ.

Other examples of apostolic understanding of God as Trinity can be seen in @Geremia's answer. I understand that these verses don't answer your question, but it's a good list showing how the apostles already conceived God as Trinity within a mere 20-30 years after Jesus returned to heaven from where He came. Recent research has also validated how NT authors's understanding of God came exclusively from Jewish perspective of God's fulfilling His promises rather than too much influenced by Hellenistic ideas (as Philo was). (Example: see this paper comparing John and Philo). (As an aside, the Jewish philosopher Philo was also marginalized by their own people within the Rabbinic Tradition). Therefore we can safely say that the apostolic Trinitarian understanding of God wasn't due to some pagan influence as your other question tried to establish.

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  • +1 It's quite a ridiculous thought, when you think about it, that even though it took centuries for Jewish theology to fully develop from the time of Moses up to the time of Jesus, though from one ancient kernel, it would take about 10 years or a few decades for the New, and far more glorious, and rich, Covenant, to be preached in its exhaustive fullness—much less from NT letters most of which are essentively corrective in nature, not meant to exhaust every single Christian doctrine, truth, or the various nuances thereof. – Sola Gratia Jan 27 at 14:54
  • @SolaGratia Very well said how NT record was very quick capturing God's "big bang" revelation in Jesus. I remember reading somewhere (cannot find that journal article right away) that if incarnation, death+resurrection, and Trinity were a myth / fabrication, it would have taken a lot longer to develop, so the early dating of the letters and the gospels is quite helpful for Christian defense. The gnostic texts are at least 75 years later. – GratefulDisciple Jan 27 at 15:15
  • That's true. We still haven't plumbed the depths of simply what is written in the New Testament, never mind the unwritten practices faith as taught and lived and prayed in the early Church. This would have to have been deposited to the churches very, very early on in order for it to be stable and in place by the time the Epistles are sent out to the churches they assume already have "the faith once delivered" to the churches. – Sola Gratia Jan 27 at 15:51
  • @SolaGratia It's truly a mystery why God didn't preserve more complete early records of 1st generation NT teaching; would have spared Christians much agony over interpretation and prevented divisions. – GratefulDisciple Jan 27 at 17:15
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    @Sola Gratia. Honestly, I haven't made up my mind. I can understand the Roman Catholic position, which I think is defensible. I also understand that defending sola scriptura is a lot less straightforward. But I think in the last 2 comments you were skipping a few steps in the argument :-). I'm still doing research on it, so I'm not yet ready to counter it. So many factors are tied to it, including the doctrine of the church itself ! At least when it comes to Trinity, all 3 main branches are united. – GratefulDisciple Jan 27 at 18:16
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Explaining the nature of the one God is the whole point of the doctrine of the trinity. That is its goal and it does so by IDENTIFYING God in MANY different contexts that reveal His UNIQUE attributes usually manifested by His UNIQUE actions.

The Bible identifies God by, 1.) His names. 2.) His titles. 3.)His unique attributes. 4.) His unique actions. 5.) His worship. I am not aware of any other literary, contextual means by which the Bible clearly identifies God. I could be wrong, but I think this list is comprehensive.

If you will examine the Bible thoroughly you should be able to quickly discover that there are three and ONLY three "persons" who are identified as God by the COMBINATION of the literary means listed above.

These persons are each variously... 1.) CALLED by the NAMES of God, (YHWH, and its variants) either directly or indirectly, usually both.

2.) RECOGNIZED with the TITLES of God, (Lord, king, savior, redeemer, etc.

3.) ATTRIBUTED with the UNIQUE characteristic of God, (omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, eternality, etc)

4.) CREDITED with the UNIQUE actions of God, (creation, origin of God's word, salvation of men and/or creation, etc.

5.) WORSHIPED and/or given the honor, reverence and position due to God ALONE etc.

I am NOT saying that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all consistently, equally and in every mention identified as God in every place they are represented in the Bible by any combination of these 5. Nor am I saying that each person of the trinity is represented equally by ALL FIVE of these means of identifying God.

I AM saying, 1.) that each person of the trinity receives some COMBINATION of these 5 means of identifying and distinguishing God listed above. 2.) ONLY the three persons of the trinity receive some COMBINATION OF THESE 5.

The Bible does not attribute creation (a UNIQUE act of God alone) to any person other than those to whom it ALSO refers to as "God" by name or title and to whom is also attributes other unique actions or attributes that identify "God."

Looking at it from another point, the Bible does not call anyone "God" (in the proper sense - meaning THE one and only God) to whom it does not attribute the UNIQUE actions and UNIQUE attributes of God.

Looking at this from the negative, the Bible does NOT attribute the UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS of God, such as omnipresence or eternality, to anyone whom it does NOT call "God" (by name and/or title) in the proper sense.

The Bible never attributes omnipresence or eternality to anyone whom it does not call "God" and /or shows being worshiped. Again, there are only three persons in the whole Bible who meet this criteria for identifying God.

The list of examples could go on but I think you get the point. A true understanding (within human limits) of who God IS is essential to a valid relationship with Himself according to His own purpose. No valid, systematic theology can be drawn by reducing or eliminating scriptural evidence. We must account for ALL of God's revelation to come to a realization of who God is and what He has done and therefore what His very nature is.

God has revealed Himself to us in different ways at different times as the Biblical revelation unfolded over time according to His eternal purpose. It is ONLY accounting for ALL of this revelation that we can know Him as He has revealed Himself.

BUT theology is NOT salvation. It is in Christ that we find God fully and sufficiently manifested to us human beings, AS a human being and for His own glory. And it is only through His Holy Spirit that we can know Him and be saved by His grace.

As I've read some of the threads and post around here, some of which ask about, "What is the Trinity." "Can it be explained by "ice water and steam?" Is the four leaf clover like the Trinity etc. Examples are fine and have their place to some. But the Bible itself is better and what I posted is not hard to understand.

You just have to "THINK" when your reading and pay attention to the "CONTEXT." Most of the time the context will answer your questions, even if you have to read the whole chapter, the chapter before and the chapter after to get insight of what's going on.

I was reading a thread about how the Trinity is "rooted" in paganism. It was copied, I don't know by Egyptians way before Jesus Christ appeared on the seen. And then there is the three headed snake and all the rest of these bogus claims. Does anybody really think about how God is clearly identified as three persons IN THE BIBLE is rooted in paganism?

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    @ThomasPearne. Hey, your in the big leagues around here and not messing around with little kids. I gave you a completely Biblical answer to your "vague" and "ambiguous" question. If you don't know what your talking about how are we suppose to know? The three persons of the Trinity are all referred to in the Bible as the one God. It's not my fault you don't like the answer. It's like you asking me, "If God is one in the Bible where do I fine the word, "monotheism" in the Bible? – Mr. Bond Jan 27 at 2:11
  • @ThomasPearne. Eureka! Your making the exact point that I have tried to make to you in my post that you didn't like. The concept of the word God as a trinity of persons is based on all the elements/verses from the whole Bible. who are identified as the one God. I don't have to look the term "One God" or "only God." I already know there is one God. Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created etc." Vs2, "and the Spirit of God was moving etc. Why is God's Spirit/Holy Spirit introduce at vs2? Why did it not just say, "God was moving over the waters? At Genesis 1:26, why is the word "US" used? – Mr. Bond Jan 27 at 2:29
  • @Thomas Pearne. I take my "Eureka" back. Why all these threads that identify Jesus as God you object or disagree with? What do you get out this, what are you trying to prove? Thomas at John 20:28 clearly identifies Jesus Christ as God. You come along and say, "no it doesn't." Titus 2:13, again, "no it doesn't." Why are you on this mission to prove that the Bible does not really means what it says? The shortest verse in the Bible is "Jesus wept." Are you going to object to that verse and say, "no it doesn't, Jesus cried? Btw, God is only addressed as Father in the NT on account of His Son. – Mr. Bond Jan 27 at 3:10
  • @ThomasPearne. I've already been to your sight and read the paper you wrote. I'm asking you what are you trying to prove, or what is your objective in all of this, that's all. – Mr. Bond Jan 27 at 3:16
  • @ThomasPearne. Well how/what does the use of "Anaphora" the deliberate repetition of the first part of the sentence have to do with whether or not Jesus is God? I'm trying to understand the connection? – Mr. Bond Jan 27 at 3:24
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God is Trinity. Therefore all references to God should be taken as referring to the Trinity as a whole unless they are clearly referring to only one of the Trinity.

So almost all references to God in the Old Testament should be taken as meaning the Trinity, except explicit references to the Spirit or Messiah or similar. In the New Testament the exceptions would be explicit references to the Spirit or Jesus or the Father. Note that Jesus can refer to God doing something which may mean the Trinity (which includes himself), in the same way as a committee member might refer to "The committee" (which he is part of) doing something without feeling the need to mention that he is part of it.

However be aware that drawing a sharp distinction between the Persons of the Trinity is usually a bad idea. As a general rule if The Spirit (or Jesus or The Father) does something then God does that thing.

NOTE: In this answer I address how we should interpret the word God with regard to the Trinity when we read it in the Bible. I do not consider how the writers might have understood the issue, and on that I defer to @GratefulDisciple's excellent answer.

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  • This is not an answer to the question – Kris Jan 28 at 1:55
  • To whom do you refer with”we” in the last paragraph? – Kris Jan 28 at 2:02
  • @Kris People reading the Bible. Christians. – DJClayworth Jan 28 at 4:29
  • What about Christians that don’t accept the trinity doctrine? – Kris Jan 28 at 4:41
  • The question isn't about them. It starts "If God is a Trinity..." – DJClayworth Jan 28 at 13:42
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For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one," (1 John 5:7-8, KJV).

For many years this was the standard response to a question like yours.

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  • Unfortunately, KJV used a Greek source is no longer trusted since Erasmus time 500 years ago, so modern translations no longer have that nice Trinitarian form. See this article – GratefulDisciple Jan 28 at 1:05
  • @GratefulDisciple in fact no respectable Greek manuscript contains it. And the two that did were from the 15th and 16th century. Many still read that verse from their KJV and NKJV confidently with no idea that it is a fake. – Kris Jan 28 at 1:26
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    Hippolytus c. 200 AD. “If, again, he allege His own word when He said, ‘I and the Father are one,’ [John 10:30], let him attend to the fact, and understand that He did not say, ‘I and the Father am one, but are one.’ For the word are is not said of one person, but it refers to two persons, and one power.” (Hippolytus, ‘Against the Heresy of One Noetus’). – Mike Borden Jun 7 at 11:27
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    Tertullian c. 200 AD. “These Three are one essence not one Person, as it is said, ‘I and my Father are One’ [John 10:30] in respect of unity of Being not singularity of number” (Against Praxeas, 25). – Mike Borden Jun 7 at 11:27
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    Cyprian c. 250 AD. “The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one;’ and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one’” (Treatise 8, ch.3). – Mike Borden Jun 7 at 11:28