What is the Trinity?

By Ray Hawk

Churches of Christ have the responsibility of teaching only truth. If we waver or faint in this divine obligation, we lose what God has promised those who obey His will (Matthew 7:21). It is therefore the loving duty and privilege of the church that she teach the Biblical doctrine of the Godhead.

DEFINING THE GODHEAD

The word “Godhead” is used three times in the English Bible (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). According to Greek dictionaries and lexicons, each of these places has a different word, but they are each related to the other, meaning divinity or having the quality of deity. When the word “Godhead” is used, we think of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit being the sum total of Deity. We must not think of the Godhead in human terminology. God is not three men. Jesus the Word occupied a human body and came in the flesh to dwell among men (John 1:14). Of the Godhead, he is the only one spoken of as man (1 Timothy 2:5). He emptied himself of the nature or form of God and became a man (Philippians 2:6-7). He alone died and shed his precious blood for man (Acts 20:28). He was the person of the Godhead that was born of flesh, died, was buried and rose again (Phil. 2:8-11). He was man but also God. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim. 3:16).

THREE PERSONS BUT ONE GOD

Many people today, as well as in the past, have failed to understand God. Some of this is due to the impossibility of a finite mind to understand an infinite being. There is nothing we can do about that. However, the rest of our inability to understand is a failure to study the revelation God has given of himself. We can understand that (Ephesians 3:4).

The Bible teaches the concept of one Deity. “One God” (Eph. 4:6). “But to us there is one God” (1 Cor. 8:6). “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9). There are no other gods. “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another (god), neither my praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8).

We recognize there are three personalities that are Deity. There is one Deity but three persons. We know one is referred to as the Father, another as the Son and a third as the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Are these three persons really one person? How can there be just one Deity but three persons sharing the Godhead?

First, we must recognize that the word “God” may also be translated “deity.” The Father, Son and Holy Spirit share that one quality, nature or form called God. The Jews had a problem understanding this. When Jesus said, “I and my Father are one,” “the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (John 10:30-31). The first time they tried to stone him was when he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Jesus claimed for himself Deity. The Jews wanted to stone him for it. “Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:32-33). They could not understand that Deity may be composed of two personalities with one taking upon himself humanity while the other personality was in heaven.

THE FATHER AND THE SON

The scriptures are very plain in showing the Father and the Son as two personalities. Even when Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), we see two persons. I = Jesus, and My Father = Jehovah. Jesus did not say he and the Father were one person. That would make Jesus his own father and the Father his own son!

The very language of the New Testament points to two persons. God the Father is not human but divine. Jesus is divine but became human by entering a human body. “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me” (Hebrews 10:5).

The gospel of John is a good book describing the three personalities that make up the one Godhead or Deity.

1. John 3:16: We have a giver and the one who is the Gift. The giver is not the gift; therefore, we have two persons.

2. John 3:13: John shows us that Jesus ascended up to heaven after he came from heaven. The Father was in heaven and the Son was on earth. Two persons.

3. John 6:44-45: One cannot come to Jesus (one person) unless the Father (another person) draws him. If Jesus is the Father, when one comes to the Father, he has already come to the Son!

4. “Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me” (John 7:33). If Jesus is his own Father, who was he going to go to? Who sent him? How could he go to him if he is that person?

5. “And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me” (John 8:16). If Jesus is the Father, he would be alone for that would only be one person present. If the Father is another person, Jesus would not be alone.

6. “It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me” (John 8:17-18). Jesus said, “I am one” and the Father is the other witness. One plus one equals two persons. That fulfilled the law. One person playing two roles would not!

7. One should look at the following passages and see that they also speak of the Father and the Son. That’s two persons. John 8:28, 42,10:36; 12:27-30, 44, 49; 14:10, 15-17, 23-24, 26, 28.

8. In John 16:7-13 we see the Father (one person), Jesus (a second person) and the Holy Spirit (a third person). Three personalities, but one Godhead or Deity.

DID JESUS HAVE TWO SPIRITS?

Some have attempted to teach that Jesus the man had a human spirit, received at conception like other human beings, and the Jehovah or Father Spirit after he was born. When the human spirit is speaking to the Father, it is speaking to the Divine Spirit within the body of Jesus, according to them. Among the numerous reasons why this theory is false is the fact that Jesus said he would return to the Father from “whence he came.” If the human spirit first existed at conception, how could it return to a place it had never been unless the Spirit of Jesus existed before conception as passages like Philippians 2:6-8 indicate? When Jesus on the cross said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46) we have a human spirit being given to a Divine Spirit as both reside in the body of Jesus! The passage should say, “I commend my spirit: and having said this, he gave up the ghosts”! Since death is the spirit leaving the body, and since this theory says Jesus’ body contained two spirits, we find Jehovah and Jesus died! Who can believe that?

CONCLUSION

The Bible clearly illustrates that God manifests himself in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is a person. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Father, but each is Deity or God. Each shares in the one form, nature or quality of the Godhead.

QUESTIONS

Are there three gods taught by the Bible?

If the scriptures say someone sent another, would you say they are the same personality or would you believe there are two personalities involved?

Did Jehovah, the Father, shed his blood upon the cross or was it Jesus?

Who is the Comforter mentioned in John 14:26; 16:13?

When Jesus died on the cross, how many spirits (ghosts ) did he commend to the Father: one or two?

Do the Scriptures teach in any verse that Jesus is his own Father and the Father is his own Son?

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