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Premise

1Cor 8:6 KJV

But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

1Tim 1:17

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Romans 15:6 NASB

so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:6 KJV

One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

2 Timothy 1:3

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,

Question

Who do Trinitarians understand Paul's God to be?

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  • 1
    Can you combine this with your question on Peter? The question is fine but there's no need for it to be asked twice.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 5:26
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    I'd rather not. They are completely different questions with different verses. Different persons altogether. I was just told the Matthew and John had different Christologies. So I'd rather just keep them seperate for clarity's sake. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 5:29

2 Answers 2

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Paul's God is the God of the OT

Trinitarians of all stripes (Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox) will interpret the "God" mentioned in all the books of the New Testament to refer to the one God described in the Old Testament. This means when the authors of those books (Paul, Peter, Matthew, John, Luke, etc.) wrote "God" they have in their mind the single most supreme being unequaled in existence who created all that exists,

  • the being who made covenants with Noah, Abraham, Israel, and David
  • the being worshipped by Job
  • the being who sent all the OT prophets
  • the being who engineered the 2 exiles and arranged for Cyrus to bring them back,
  • etc.

By the time the New Testament books were written, all schools of early Judaism were already unanimous in their beliefs of monotheism and that their God is above all other gods, angels, powers and principalities.

Thus, this is the same answer to your other question since Paul's God is the same being as Peter's God.

Paul's Jesus shows development toward identifying the human Jesus with God the Son

Please don't confuse the slightly different Christologies of NT authors as though they are contradictory. From Trinitarian perspective, it is best to interpret each book's Christology as putting a complementary spotlight on who Jesus is. Thus each Christology is a step toward later, fuller, and authoritative Trinitarian Christology that was agreed on at Chalcedon in AD 451.

But even in preliminary stage, we can already discern agreement among the apostles & authors of NT that Jesus is the being identified in the OT as:

  • the Son of Man in Daniel,
  • the stump of Jesse,
  • the lady Wisdom in the Proverbs,
  • the Son of God conceived miraculously within the virgin womb of Mary,
  • the suffering servant in Isa 53,
  • etc.

which taken together would be critical in constructing a Biblical full-blown Trinitarian Christology couched in philosophical terms ("being", "person", "hypostasis", etc.) a few hundred years later.

Paul's understanding of God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

In Paul's letter to the Romans, we see very clearly how Jesus Christ has a relationship to His Father who raised him from the dead (Rom 6:4, Rom 6:9) with the practical exhortation to us that we should join Jesus in his death so that 1) we live a new life that says "no" to the slavery of sin; and 2) we will also be raised to life as Jesus was. It is very clear that it will also be God the Father who will raise us from the dead, and that we will be declared righteous because we have been united with Jesus.

How do Trinitarians work out the relationship between God the Father and Jesus? I'm going to now interpret the 3 verses you quoted in a Trinitarian way:

  1. 1 Cor 8:6: One being (the Triune God) is both our Father and our Lord since the human Jesus Christ is in hypostatic union with God the Son.

    • When we pray to the Father we think of this one being as our creator.
    • When we pray to the Lord Jesus Christ we think of this one being as God's Son who incarnated in our fleshy world to save humanity, who by virtue of Jesus being the second person of the Trinity was also involved in creation.
  2. Romans 15:6:

    • Jesus in his human nature calls his God "Father" referring to his conception in Mary's womb.
    • Jesus in his divine nature is the eternal generation of the Father within one being, thus the other dimension of Jesus's intimate relationship with the Father within the Trinity. See GotQuestion article What is the doctrine of eternal generation and is it biblical?
  3. Eph 4:4-6: This is a prototype of the later fully-fleshed-out doctrine of the Trinity, because the 3 Persons Paul identified here (One Spirit, One Lord [Jesus], One ... Father of all) was later formalized as the Triune God (one being in 3 persons).

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    Also your answer doesn't jive with the triune concept. If Paul is a monotheist, he plainly states his God is the Father in the verses I premised. Can you address those verses in your answer? This would greatly strengthen it. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 6:07
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    @ReadLessPrayMore I don't think I need to, since the one God Paul was talking about has many titles; Father is one of them. Paul was not yet aware of the full Nicean Trinitarian definition, so Paul uses divine titles the way OT authors talk about God as well. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 6:28
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    @ReadLessPrayMore Jesus spoke to Paul at the road to Damascus as Jesus who has ascended to heaven, whom Paul understood to be identified as the son of man, the Messiah, the one God the Father raised from the dead (Rom 6), etc. This same Jesus also called his other nature "Father" because in his human nature Jesus has intimate relationship with the same God the Father who is Paul's God as well. I find it helpful to conceive this communication in our mind as "inter-nature communion" which functionally is identical to how we pray to God, the same being as Jesus's God and Paul's God. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 6:42
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    @ReadLessPrayMore come on. I'm using Damascus as an example. I'm a Chalcedonian subscriber. Oneness is modalism. Also, in using faces analogy I'm trying to help; don't make me commit more than that, as though I'm trying to reduce the complexity of the mystery of the Trinity in a single C.SE comment ! :-) Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 6:53
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    @ReadLessPrayMore Why wouldn't the wikipedia entry on hypostatic union be sufficient since I'm using it exactly in that sense? A Trinitarian way to interpret NT (as I explained in my answer) is NOT to read the later definition into Paul (because that would be anachronistic) but teasing out Paul's (and others') understanding as a step toward Chalcedon. Unfortunately we cannot peer into their minds; we can only deduce from what they write PLUS studying possible background notions they had through Second Temple Judaism research. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 15:15
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Constable's commentary in the NET Bible sheds light on the first verses you quote from 1 Corinthians 8:

For instructed Christians there is only one God and one Lord. Paul did not mean that there are two separate beings, God and Lord. These are two names for the one true God who exists as Father and Son. The Scriptures establish the deity of Jesus Christ elsewhere (e.g., John 1:1, 14; 10:30; Col. 1:15-19; et al.). Paul did not argue that point here but simply stated the Son’s equality with the Father within the Godhead.

The point of difference is this. The Father is the source and goal of all things whereas the Son is the agent though whom all things have come from God and will return to God. Since Paul’s point was the unity of the Godhead, there was no need to complicate matters by referring to the Holy Spirit here.]1

As for the verses in Romans 13 and Ephesians 4, Constable's comments shed light on your question.

The Lord Jesus Christ is in no way less than God the Father. The same can be said of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, too, is fully God (see Acts 5:1-4). (I'd like to think that Paul would concur with the apostle Peter that Ananais and Sapphira lied to God, the Holy Spirit, and not to a man.)

God's person-hood, as it has been revealed in holy Scripture, can be likened--in an always less than perfect analogy--to the three branches of government in the American system: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. All three branches are in agreement regarding constitutionally derived concepts. Each of the three, however, has different functions.

Unlike the American system of government, there does not exist a system of "checks and balances" within the Godhead, since each person of the Trinity is and functions according to His role, in keeping with the Counsels of God in eternity past.

I will not at this point attempt to link the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with a corresponding branch of government. I will, however, suggest that there is an agreement, a unity, and a coherence in the essential deity of all three persons, the differences in their roles in the outworking of God's plan for the ages notwithstanding.

Perhaps you should meditate on several passages in this regard (in their respective contexts, of course):

  1. Ephesians 1:1-11

  2. Revelation 13:8

  3. Ephesians 3:11

  4. Acts 2:22-23

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  • I'm not familiar with the NET. How is the commentary good scriptural support? Is the commentary also the word of God? Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 14:55
  • I'd argue the best interpreter of the Scriptures is the Parakletos. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 16:15
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    Commentaries are not the Word of the Lord, obviously. They can be helpful, however, in much the same way as an expository preacher can be, in guiding believers into an intelligent and consistent interpretation of Scripture, BUT ONLY if it is in keeping with the analogy of Scripture. Scripture is analogous to itself and is entirely consistent within itself. It contains no contradictions. The best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture. False doctrine arises when the analogy of Scripture is violated. Non-trinitarians are noted for their failure to handle the word of truth accurately (2 Tim 2:15). Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 16:27
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    I agree that the Holy Spirit is ultimately the best interpreter of Scripture, since He inspired it (2 Tim 3:16; 1 Peter 1:21-23). Only when a reader of Scripture is guided by the Holy Spirit into truth AND that truth is in keeping with the entirety of Scripture, can we be assured of the Spirit's leading. Is anyone's analogy of Scripture perfect? No. That is why God has over the centuries provided His church with creeds, confessions, councils, brilliant commentators, and many corrective agencies to keep Christians in line with the historic and apostolic tradition. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 16:47
  • There is 1 Eternal Spirit of God. God the Father is Spirit, so who then, is the parakletos? 1 john tells us. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 17:02

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