God has revealed Himself to us. It's not for man to define or establish God; rather humanity must accept God for who He is (Hebrew 11:6). Accepting and believing what God has said about Himself is not optional. Doing otherwise has you creating for yourself, and perhaps worshipping, a new god. This "other" god is unquestionably a false god.
We can and must use the wording God included in His word in any description of Him. This does not restrict us from using synonyms or equivalent descriptions and even newly created words, so long as they encompass the thought, the meaning and intent, of God's revelation. The fact God wants His word translated into every language (Revelation 5:9-10; 7:9), to build a church from every language, presupposes new words will be used to describe His original thoughts original given in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
Only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 18, 21-22; 46:9; 47:8; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6). Christianity is monotheistic! The word monotheism isn't in the Bible, yet the Bible very clearly teaches it.
The Father is God (Philippians 1:2; John 20:17; John 8:54; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3; 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 3:11; 2 Peter 1:17).
The Holy Spirit is God:
The Son is God:
In Summary, from Scriptures we see:
And, yet, there's only one God! Take note that each in the Triune God is Truth. Yet there are not three truths, there's one objective truth&ldots;
God is truth, perfect and unchangeable, incapable of lying (Deuteronomy 32:4). Only God is like this, so it's not surprising the Son and Holy Spirit are described as eternally unchangeably as the Father...
Further, the Father, Son, and Spirit are equally described as a source of perfection and sinlessness (or goodness)...
Though one God, each in the Trinity is unique:
There's no statement in the Bible (this being another word not found in Scriptures) that states "God in three persons; blessed Trinity," along the lines of a stanza from a well-known hymn. Likewise there's no one verse saying here's proof of the Trinity. We use the church-crafted word Trinity to describe what Scriptures reveal. The entire idea is hard to describe or rationalize, yet it exists. Scripturally there is one God who is eternally three, indivisibly God; each God and together God. There is no one verse that states this truth; rather it is deduced from a number of passages. A truth taught across many passages is no less a truth than something taught in a single verse or passage. Doing so is indeed necessary to understand the totality of many subjects taught in Scriptures and to reconcile seemingly contradictory passages.
Though Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equally God; Scriptures further reveal that there is order of authority within the Trinity. Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son, and the Son is subordinate to the Father. This is an internal relationship and does not deny the full deity of any Person of the Trinity. It is not a forced subordination, as though one is more powerful than the others, it's a voluntary submission. This is simply an area which our finite minds cannot understand concerning the infinite God. (Concerning the Son: Luke 22:42, John 5:36, John 20:21, and 1 John 4:14; concerning the Holy Spirit: John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, and especially John 16:13-14). End Note
While one in purpose and always working together, the individual members of the Trinity have different tasks. The Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11); divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus' human works (John 5:17; 14:10). The Father initiates all of these matters. End Note
The Son is the specific agent by which the Father does the following works: creation and sustaining of the universe (John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:15-17); divine revelation (John 1:1; 12:49; 16:12-15; Revelation 1:1; Matthew 11:27); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:41-42). The Father does all this through His Son, who functions as His agent. End Note
The Holy Spirit is the means by which the Father does the following works: creation and sustaining of the universe (Psalm 104:30; Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13); divine revelation (John 16:12-15; Ephesians 3:4-5; 2 Peter 1:21); salvation (John 3:5-6; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2); and Jesus' works (Isaiah 61:1 & Luke 4:1, 18; John 1:32-33, Acts 10:38). The Father does all these things by the power of the Holy Spirit. End Note
There is an inseparably close interaction within the Triune God: The Father sent the Son, the Son does the Father's will, and the Father and the Son both send the Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; Hebrews 2:4). The Holy Spirit is even called the Spirit of His Son (Galatians 4:6). Yet, the Holy Spirit can lead Jesus (Luke 4:1). The Spirit and the Son both act on behalf of the Father (John 5:19). The Spirit guides into all truth (John 16:13) and teaches of Jesus (John 15:26) and Jesus reveals the Father (John 14:9). The Holy Spirit wants people to know Jesus and Jesus wants people to know the Father (John 17:3) - this is to know God!
Some mock the idea of Trinity by saying "if Jesus cannot be the entire Trinity, how is he God?" I answer that Scriptures says that each is God and there is unchangeably only one God, I don't have to explain this or fully understand it, I'm called by Scriptures to believe that which God has revealed as truth. Others mock the Trinity as being pagan, pointing to pagan religions who had some form or appearance of a triad of gods. This is an irrelevant argument; if it's biblical it's to be believed, regardless of whether some pagan religion imitates or seemingly precedes Christian belief in this area. (For the record, these so-called precursors are far from the revealed Trinity of Scriptures, and, as shown in this article, nascent Trinitarian ideas are God-revealed beginning at creation. This makes it hard to say any other religious ideas came earlier; the devil, the Father of lying false religions, is quite willing to mock truths that he's well aware of).
Believers in Jesus Christ are a temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Corinthians 3:16). Showing the Holy Spirit is God, this temple is also called the temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 6:19). And yet, Jesus made it clear that He and His Father, and the Holy Spirit dwell in every believer, as these three who are one are the living God! (See John 14:15-17 [Spirit], John 14:18-20 [Jesus], John 14:23 [Father]).
The church baptizes in the (singular) name of God, which is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19). The work of God shows itself in His people through what His Spirit and Jesus are doing, God at work in all His people (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). God's blessing to His church rests together in the fullness of the Triune God (2 Corinthians 13:14).
The early church taught and believed all that Scriptures revealed about God, as exampled in the passages already cited. Earlier church writers spoke of these things but quickly needed new wording to describe them. Tertullian of Carthage (lived circa 155-240 AD), is commonly cited as the first person using the term Trinity to describe what the church believed from the beginning. Others may have used the term even earlier, yet Tertullian is our earliest extant published source:
In their efforts to confront heresy, specifically denying these things, they church began to form creeds. These, and many early councils, came about not to establish new doctrine or belief, rather they came about to concisely express the truth already known and embraced by God's church. The creeds became a way of briefly stating what all these Scriptures express. Councils likewise issued statement supporting orthodox understanding of Scriptures and condemning aberrant teachings. Later creeds often clarified a detail implicit in an earlier creed, now making it clearer. This was typically prompted by an attack on biblical belief in a specific area of doctrine, such as the early heresies of Noetus of Smyrna (circa 190 AD) and Sabellius (circa 215 AD), who made each of the Trinity merely a "mode" of God (Modalism), and Arius (lived circa 250-336 AD) who denied Jesus' divinity with Jesus merely a creation of God (Arianism). Another came from Theodotus of Byzantium (circa 190 AD) and Paul of Samosata (lived circa 200-275 AD) who taught that Jesus was a supremely virtuous man later adopted as "Son of God" by the Spirit descending on him (Adoptionism). Further, Macedonius of Constantinople (taught circa 342-360 AD) accepted the divinity of Jesus and the Father, but rejected the Holy Spirit as being merely a creation of the Son and servant to the Father and the Son (Macedonians or Pneumatomachians). I wish I could say this was a complete list, but others were widespread at times without specific and prominent proponents. Docetism was one such idea early idea, from the late first century onward. It taught that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, that he was really only pure spirit and only seemed to die physically (Gnostics liked to incorporate elements of this into their later beliefs).
The Trinity, without the later coined word, is in the nascent Apostle's Creed (circa 150 AD) and its later revisions (see http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/qna32.htm). This understanding was better defined in the later Nicene Creed (circa 325 AD) and its later revisions, specifically because of the later attacks mentioned in the previous paragraph (see http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/qna77.htm).
By the time the false religion of Islam arose (circa 609-632 AD) - a mishmash of Gnostic Christianity, Judaism, and paganism - one thing it clearly shows is this. In Mohammad's day, Christians clearly proclaimed and believed in a Triune God. While Mohammad didn't understand it, and certainly misrepresented it, his Qur'an condemns those holding to a Trinity:
Not surprisingly, subsequent false prophets and organizations have followed in the footsteps of Mohammad. Joseph Smith's Mormonism (lived 1805-1844 AD) turned the Trinity into a not-so-unique union of three Gods. And Charles Taze Russell's Jehovah's Witnesses (lived 1852-1916 AD) recycle ancient refuted heresies (see those mentioned earlier) relegating Jesus to a lessor creation of God and the Holy Spirit merely an active force, even denying Jesus' bodily resurrection. Satan, who is very familiar with the Triune God, continues to spark people and movements to oppose the Truth of Scriptures. God's church across time, regardless of the opposition, embraces the truth; it's this Truth - the Triune God - that has set us free (John 8:32).
End Note: Many points in this article have been made by Christians throughout history and are not unique to this article (as I have read them in works spanning centuries of the church). Out of necessity many referenced Scriptures, or verse lists for specific points, have been used by others in whole or in part. Please note that the paragraphs specifically marked by "End Note" in the article specifically draw on well-crafted wording by www.gotquestions.org/Trinity-Bible.html (c) 2002-2017.
Article by Brent