Probably one of the most maligned and misunderstood concepts in Christianity is the theological concept of the trinity. For some, the trinity is a concept invented by the early church fathers that should be rejected. For others, the trinity is Biblical, but there may be misunderstanding as to the concept of each part. To briefly understand the trinity, we will seek to answer the question, what does the Bible say about the trinity?
What is the common definition of the word trinity?
The word trinity is commonly defined as (1): 1. The Christian Godhead as one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 2. A group of three people or things. 3. The state of being three.
From this definition we see that there are differing perspectives of what constitutes a trinity. There is the concept of three separate persons or things being one and there is the concept of a group containing three separate things or people.
What is the Bible definition of the word trinity?
There is no Biblical reference using the word trinity. However, there is no reference using the word eschatology either, but that does not mean there are no end-times prophecies in the Bible. This is important to consider because some people refuse to believe in a theological concept of the trinity unless the word actually exists in the Bible. Sadly, their understanding of Biblical context limits their ability to fully understand the truth of Who God is.
The proof text for the trinity can be primarily found in 1 John 5:7-8 as follows:
7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 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)
It is important to note the difference between 1 John 5:7 and 1 John 5:8 because Bibles that use corrupted Greek texts have eliminated 1 John 5:7 and split 1 John 5:8 into two verses. These corrupted texts came from edited versions of the originals by those who practiced a cult like version of Christianity in Egypt. To make matters worse, these corrupted texts were further altered by translators in the 1800’s that did not believe in the trinity. Today, these manuscripts make up 90% of modern Bible translations. If your Bible has eliminated 1 John 5:7 and split 1 John 5:8 into two verses, you need to get a new Bible.
These verses point out two important theological truths. The first is that the Father, the Word (Christ), and the Holy Spirit are one (1 John 5:7). These are typically referred to in Christian circles as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The second theological truth is that the Spirit, the water, and the blood agree in one (1 John 5:8). There is a big difference between the two, which is the subject of our investigation. To find the answer to our question, we will start by asking, Who is God? Then we will look at who is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit to see what the relationship between the three is and their roles.
Who is God?
The first thing to know about God is that He is a Spirit (John 4:24). The second thing to know is that God is a person. The first reference to Him is in Genesis 1:1, tells us that he is the creator- “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” God has other attributes among many as follows:
God can provide (Psalms 104:27-30)
God can destroy (Genesis 18-19)
God can hear (Psalms 94:9-10)
God can care (1 Peter 5:6-7)
God can hate (Proverbs 6:16)
God can love (John 3:16)
God can grieve (Genesis 6:6)
God is all powerful (Matthew 19:25; Revelation 19:6)
God is all knowing (Psalms 94:11; Isaiah 40:28; Matthew 10:29)
God is all wise (Job 28:28; Proverbs 9:10; Romans 11:33)
God is present everywhere (Psalms 139:6-12; Jeremiah 23:24)
God is merciful (Deuteronomy 4:31)
God is graceful (Ephesians 2:8-10)
God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16)
God is immutable: He does not change (James 1:17; Hebrews 6:17)
God is eternal (Psalms 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8; Revelation 1:8,19)
In addition to these attributes, the Bible makes numerous references to God as a singular being with plural roles and manifestations (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22; Genesis 11:7). These references often use differing Hebrew words for God in the Old Testament depending on which state of being or role is being discussed. For the purpose of this article, we will not go into these words. These references make up the foundation of the concept of the trinity, one God with three coexisting persons, interacting with creation.
Referring again to 1 John 5:7, we note that there are three parts mentioned: The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. We will look briefly at each of these three in our next post: What does the Bible say about the trinity? Part 2.
| >>> Go to part two
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version
(1) Google. (2014). “Trinity”. Retrieved from Google, https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=what+is+the+trinity