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I apologize if this question has been asked before. I haven’t been able to find something that deals specifically with what I need the answer to.

To start, I do believe in the Trinity and I believe a Unitarian God is lacking, especially in Christianity, and scripture does teach the Trinity, so my question isn’t about if or can the Trinity exist/s.

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My question is how can three persons (I know not separate gods) all be omnipotent? I know the three are all one in will, mind, and essence, but the fact that they are three distinct persons makes it difficult for me to understand this. Wouldn’t one be more powerful than the other two? When I try to find solutions I can only come up with two ways and they can’t fully satisfy my question:

  1. The first is that the Son and Spirit derive the nature of God from the Father since eternity. The problem with that for me is that the Son and Spirit don’t seem like God if they depend on the Father to be God. I can see someone saying that God is ontologically dependent on Himself, and the Son and Spirit are God because they proceed from the Father, so they are dependent on their own nature which is God. Since they are uncreated that could make sense.

  2. The second is that all three persons are able to “use” the omnipotent attribute within the essence of God. In my head it’s like them picking an apple from a tree. And this one seems so wrong. It makes it seem like the essence of God is a circle and the three persons live/exist within that circle and get their power from that essence, the circle. It’s like the essence is inanimate and the three persons live in it and are able to use the omni attributes because of it. I know it’s wrong but I’m just trying to give my thought process.

I keep trying to understand it by saying they share omnipotence, but I can’t wrap my head around it. If the Father is the source, then He alone is omnipotent. But since the Son and Spirit are uncreated, they would also be omnipotent by definition? Maybe it’s as simple as saying “All three are one God and they all are of one essence, so they are just omnipotent.” Maybe I’m just overthinking it, I’m not sure. It kind of sounds like I’m talking about polytheism the way I’m describing it and that maybe the problem.

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    The nature of Deity is that it is almighty. Three Persons share that nature. The three do not compete with one another because they love one another.. Does that answer your problem ?
    – Nigel J
    Dec 2, 2023 at 19:40
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    I get what you’re saying but it doesn’t really answer it. I get that they don’t compete with one another, but my question is more along the lines of ability. Like potential to do something, if that makes sense.
    – BKN
    Dec 2, 2023 at 19:47
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    If they share the same nature, they share the same capability.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 2, 2023 at 19:49
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    The Athanasian Creed calls them "co-equal". Whatever quaility they have, they have that quality together. Including being "incomprehensible". Dec 2, 2023 at 20:04
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    If we understood God completely, we would be God. Some things are accepted by faith and are beyond human understanding. Do not make the limits of your understanding the limits of your belief.
    – Dottard
    Dec 2, 2023 at 20:44

3 Answers 3

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How can the Father, the Son and the Spirit all be omnipotent?

I write from a Trinitarian perspective.

If the OP has been guilty of "overthinking" then he is far from alone. In the opinion of Dr Robert L. Reymond ("A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith") the producers of the Nicene and Chalcedonian creeds did the same. And Calvin had little patience with the endless discussion of the meaning of "eternally begotten". For him, it simply stressed our Lord was of the same nature as the Father.. there was no dependency on the Father for the existence of the Son. For Calvin, such language put in jeopardy the divine nature of the Son.

The "proceeding" of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son is also questionable. According to Robert Reymond (ibid, page 332), the only places where this is asserted in Scripture is in relation to the salvific work of the Holy Spirit. It is nothing to do with the essential nature of the Holy Spirit. See, for instance, John 15:26.

The objections the OP has towards certain explanations are highly legitimate objections.

The best answers are those which only follow the scriptures as far as they take us.. but not beyond.

God is omnipotent. Each person of the Triune God is God. Therefore each person is omnipotent.

It may be useful to remember that this does not mean God can do anything. God cannot do many things.

He cannot do things that are logically impossible: he cannot open a door that is already open; he cannot make an object simultaneously a sphere and a cube.

God cannot do things contrary to his character: he cannot do evil; he cannot break a single one of his promises.

Each person of the Godhead cannot will something that another member of the Godhead is against.

God cannot cease to exist; nor can he stop being God for a season; he cannot "just forgive" sinners without finding a way to punish the sins committed. Etc.

I fear some put too much credence in the creeds. We need to carefully assess the scriptural support for all their assertions.

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Three in One It is indeed difficult for seekers to understand the three persons of the Trinity. Some would prefer to say "personages" to distinguish from three separate persons. But the ancient theologians used an illustration to help in our understanding.

There is one SUN in our solar system. But this sun is manifest on earth to man as Light and Heat...yet only one sun! So also there is ONE GOD, yet He is manifest to man as Jesus (the saving Light of the world), and Spirit (God's power manifest through the charismatic gifts).

This obliterates the confusion. God's power is manifest in all, by all, through all, in the Godhead.

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There is no any impersonal Essence in Trinity, from which all Three Hypostases derive or take the power. No! In Trinity there is only one source - the Father, who eternally engenders the Son and Who eternally issues the Holy Spirit. God says that His name is "I am who I am" (Exodus 3:14), that is to say, we start thinking of God not primarily in terms of any impersonal essence, but in terms of person, hypostasis.

Now, while engendering the hypostasis of the Son, the hypostasis of the Father immediately, timelessly, without any hiatus, gives the full entirety of His essence to the Son, so that Son is fully God due to a full, essential possession of the essence of the Father, for exactly that is the meaning of the symbols "Father" and "Son": like in any natural being son possesses the fullness of the essence of the father, so it is in relationship of the Father and the Son, but in difference from natural created beings, in which the son's nature comes from potentiality to actuality in a process, in relationship of the Father and the Son is not any process, but Son is immediately, eternally perfect just as the Father is (Hebrews 7:28). And, similarly, when Holy Spirit eternally, without any hiatus, proceeds from the Father, the Father gives to the Holy Spirit the whole entirety of His essence, just like in the instance of the Son, and so the Holy Spirit is fully God due to a full, essential possession of the essence of the Father, thus, like Temple is a Temple of the Perfect God, so that if it is a Temple of anything less than Perfect God it is no more a Temple in Judaic Monotheistic context, so when Paul calls us "Temples of Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 6:19), he cannot do so without considering the co-perfection and co-equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father, which can be possible only if the Holy Spirit possesses from the Father the entire fullness of His nature/essence.

This being established, one can safely proceed. Now, what is power? Can it be considered separately from essence or it is a part/aspect of the essence? Of course the latter is correct: the power is an aspect of the essence, as is will, as is wisdom, as is goodness etc. Thus, to say that Son possesses the full entirety of the Father's essence but lacks full entirety of the Father's power is as absurd as to say: a candle that is lit from another similar candle burns with the very same flame as the first candle, but still this flame is less efficient than the flame of the first candle, like in a Chuck Norris joke: "If you have only five dollars and Chuck Norris has only five dollars, Chuck Norris has more", yet we are not amusing ourselves now, but doing theology, which is a serious matter and not so much amusing as amazing.

That Father gives birth to the Son and issues the Spirit, this necessary theological/ontological fact does in no manner make Father the "only almighty", for the fatherness of the Father depends on Him engendering the Son. Begone with the Arian blasphemy that God was initially sterile, non-Father, and then, having created Logos, he became also Father, which was not His eternal and necessary name! Rather, "father" is God's eternal and necessary name implying that He eternally has also the Son. In this manner, the Hypostasis of Father, in order to justly possess this eternal name, depends no less on the Hypostasis of the Son eternally born from Him, than the Hypostasis of the Son depends on the Hypostasis of the Father giving birth do Him, for only through the birthgiving any father is and can be called father.

Moreover, power is there for activity, for God does not possess any passive power but active power. Now, can Father ontologically act without the Son and Spirit co-acting? No, He cannot! Just like the disc of the sun cannot enlighten and warm-en (I like to say "warmen" as a verb rather than "warm", even if not according to normal English) anything without radiation of its rays and warmth. Thus, when Father acts, He does so only through the Son and Spirit co-acting, and the same is true with all the three Hypostases' divine activities (cf. St John Damascene: “The Father is a sun with the Son as rays and the Holy Ghost as heat” /The Fount of Knowledge; The Philosophical Chapters, on Heresies, the Orthodox Faith (The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 37) p. 162/).

In fact, only the Incarnate Son can also act humanly, for Father and the Holy Spirit cannot eat honeyed fish, appreciating its taste, as the Lord did (Luke 24:42), and neither Father, nor Spirit can enjoy the taste of wine (Matthew 11:19). Does this make Son more powerful than the Father and the Spirit? In a certain sense, yes, but I would not call it "more powerful" but "broader" for Son's activities include both divine and human activities, whereas the Father's and the Holy Spirit's activity is only divine activity.

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    Still, we require citations on this website.
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 6, 2023 at 2:56
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    "Gives the full entirety of his essence to the Son". -1 for that. The Son HAS the full essence, no doubt.. but where can you prove from Scripture he got it from the Father? He has the essence by nature, not by derivation.. he is inherently God from eternity.. he didn't receive his deity from the Father, just as the Father did not receive his deity from the Son.. it is a nonsense. Jan 5 at 14:46
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    That's fine. I'm happy to disagree with anyone who says the essence of the Son is derived from the Father.. it is nonsense. Jan 5 at 15:34
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    Not at all. If I said denying that the Father gets his essence from the Son means you are heading towards Tritheism I would be talking nonsense. The alternative is also nonsense. I don't need nonsense arguments to avoid tritheism, I only need the clear teaching of Scripture. Jan 5 at 15:47
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    "Certain rascals.. indeed confessed that there are three persons; but they added the provision that the Father, who is truly and properly the sole God, in forming the Son and the Spirit, infused into them His own deity. Indeed, they do not refrain from this dreadful manner of speaking: the Father is distinguished from the Son and the Spirit by this mark, that He is the only 'essence giver.' "Calvin's Institutes, 63:23. Quoted by Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, page 328. There is a lot more where that came from of the same character. Jan 5 at 16:24

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