What Is the Holy Trinity? (Summary)

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Image by Carolyn, V. Adapted for Redemption of Humanity. Used under licence.

One God, Three Persons

The Holy Trinity is the biblical, monotheistic doctrine that there is only one God who exists in three distinct Persons: the Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit; three Persons of the one nature and being. The Holy Trinity can be summed up in three parts:

  1. There is only one God.
  2. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three different Persons.
  3. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same Being (God).

The Holy Trinity is such an important doctrine that the Christian church of all denominations has always declared that those who reject it are non-Christian and heretics, and rightly so, because it deals with the very identity and nature of the true God.

Examples to Help Understand the Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity is a very difficult concept to wrap our heads around, but there are some real-life objects or concepts which may help us come to terms with it. One example is a three-leafed clover. There are three leafs on the one plant, similar to the three Persons in the one God. Another example is matter. Matter consists of solids, liquids, and gases, but there is only one matter, not three. There are many more examples.

These examples are not perfect, though, and should not be used as accurate descriptions of God’s Triune nature. God is both known by those who love him (Galatians 4:9) and at the same time he is a mystery whom the human mind can never comprehend (Romans 11:33–35). The most helpful illustration of the Holy Trinity would have to be the Shield of the Trinity (which can be found here).

The Bible Teaches the Holy Trinity

Although the Bible does not mention the word “Trinity” nor does it use Trinitarian phrases, it does, however, teach things that force us to think of God in a Trinitarian way.

  • The Bible teaches that there is only one God: “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” (Isaiah 43:10b)
  • The Bible calls the Father God: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:3)
  • The Bible calls the Lord Jesus Christ God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …” (John 1:1, 14)
  • The Bible calls the Holy Spirit God: “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit … You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3–4)
  • The Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different Persons: “… when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21–22)

We cannot deny the Bible passages which say there is only one God, or which call each Person of the Trinity God, or which show each Person of the Trinity interacting with one another. There are more passages which teach the same things as above. In this way, the Bible forces us to see God as one God who has revealed himself as three Persons.

Attributes of the Persons of the Holy Trinity

Some more Bible passages which force us to view God in a Trinitarian way are the ones which give each Person of the Trinity divine attributes that are exclusive to God alone, proving that they are co-equal and co-eternal. For example:

The Persons in the Holy Trinity Are Grouped Together in Significant Ways

As three Persons of the one being, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share a remarkable connection with one another. For example, Jesus commanded: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19). Here we see that each member of the Trinity shares the same name, that they are placed on an equal level with one another, and that through baptism Christians belong to each of them.

In an amazing passage which speaks of the saving work of God, Paul wrote: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,” (Titus 3:4–6). Here we see that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is Saviour. The work of salvation is the Triune God’s.

Conclusion

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity teaches that there is only one God in all existence who has revealed himself as three distinct Persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; three Persons of the one nature and being. These three Persons are co-equal and co-eternal. The biblical foundations of the Trinity are that the Bible teaches there is only one God, calls the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit God, teaches that they are three distinct Persons, and teaches that these three Persons share significant divine attributes. We also see from the Bible that they are grouped together and given equal importance in key passages, as well as put on an equal level with one another.

We can’t understand everything about God, but we can still know him personally for salvation, and everything that we need to know about him has been revealed in the Bible. The Holy Trinity is a biblical teaching that is essential to the Christian faith; we must believe in it in order to truly know God and have eternal life (John 17:3).

For a more in-depth article on the Holy Trinity, please see the below article:

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