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What is the Trinity?

Look at what the Athanasian Creed says about the Trinity:

"We worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity; we distinguish among the persons, but we do not divide the substance.... The entire three persons are coeternal and coequal with one another, so that...we worship complete unity in Trinity and Trinity in unity."

In other words, the Trinity consists of three persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete). The three persons are clearly distinguished but they are ONE God. They are not three gods but ONE. Before we look into verses in the Bible about the Trinity, we have to explain why there has to be plurality within the Godhead. This matter can be explained in a clearer way by seeing the need for unity and diversity.

God is ONE

We all agree that God is ONE. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord." The Bible states at least 26 times that God is one.

Deuteronomy 4:35,39 says, "You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other."

1 Kings 8:60 says, "so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other."

2 Kings 19:19 says, "Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God."

Psalms 86:10 says, "For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God."

Isaiah 37:16,20 says, "O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God."

Isaiah 43:10-11 says, "'You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.'"

Isaiah 44:24 says, "This is what the Lord says- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself."

Isaiah 45:5-6,18,21 says, "I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. For this is what the Lord says- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited- he says: I am the Lord, and there is no other. Declare what is to be, present it- let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me."

Isaiah 44:6,8 says, "This is what the Lord says- Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

Isaiah 46:9 says, "Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me."

Hosea 13:4 says, "But I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me."

Mark 12:29 says, "'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.'"

John 5:44 says, "How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?"

Romans 3:30 says, "since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith."

1 Corinthians 8:4 says, "So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one."

Ephesians 4:6 says, "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

1 Timothy 1:17 says, "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time."

James 2:19 says, "Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."

Jude 25 says, "to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."

Why God is a Trinity?

There is one God. The scriptures clearly illustrate this. But this in no way contradicts the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine is often at odds with religions such as Judaism, Islam, and Unitarianism. These religions follow the flaw of unity without diversity. If God was only a unity as these religions believe, God Himself would be incomplete. As F.S. Copleston put it, "The Law of Love, by revealing that God is Love in the very essence of His being, refutes the Unitarian concept of God as a solitary being having no relationships within Himself to supply the object of His love.... love must have an object since it is a relationship between a lover and a loved. Therefore eternal love is an eternal relationship in God." The Unitarian concept of God makes God dependent on His creation for the object of His love and this denies that God is independent and self-sufficient. This view also denies that God is love by nature because God would not be unable to love unless He created other beings. If God's love is eternal, there needs to be an eternal relationship within the Godhead. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct beings yet at the same time eternally one. They communed, fellowshipped, and took counsel with each other before everything existed because God simply is eternal.

Evidence of the Trinity in the Old Testament

Now lets look at the biblical evidence of the Trinity. A closer look of Deuteronomy 6:4 in the Hebrew suggests a plurality within God. Look at the Hebrew: Shema yisroel adonai elohenu adonai echad. The Hebrew word for one - echad - means a unity of more than one. The other Hebrew word for one - yachid means a single and absolute one. One needs to wonder why echad was used in Deuteronomy 6:4 instead of yachid and why Elohim (plural form of the word God) was used. Look at these scriptures:

Genesis 1:26 - "And God said, Let US make man in our image, after our likeness." The plural is used here as opposed to Genesis 1:27 where it says, "So God created man in his own image..."

If ONE God created man in His image, then Genesis 1:26 suggests a plurality within God.

Genesis 3:22 - "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of US, to know good and evil..." We see this plurality again.

Genesis 11:7 - "Go to, let US go down, and there confound their language..." The plural is used here as opposed to Genesis 11:9 where it says, "Because the Lord did there confound the language..."

If ONE Lord (God) confounded the language, then Genesis 11:7 suggests a plurality within God.

There are some verses in the Old Testament, which have the Trinity in the same verse. Look at Isaiah 48:16, which says: "Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me." My question is - who is speaking in this verse? The answer is God. He is speaking in this verse because in verse 13, He says, "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth..." Clearly God is speaking. We see that the one who said, "There am I" in Isaiah 48:16 is God. My question is - who is the Lord God and who is His Spirit? It is interesting to note that a few verses before Isaiah 46:16, God Himself says in Isaiah 48:12, "Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last." Comparing Isaiah 48:12 with 48:16 we see a plurality within God.

Another verse in the Old Testament where it shows all the persons in the Trinity is Isaiah 42:1. God is speaking in this verse. He says, "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations." Who is this servant that God is speaking of? The answer can be seen in Isaiah 53. The servant of the Lord and the suffering servant are the same person - the Messiah. Further proof of this lies in that statement "he will bring justice to the nations." This can be seen in Psalm 2:9 where it says that the Messiah (Anointed One in Psalm 2:2) will rule the nations with a "scepter of iron." Finally we see God's Spirit (the Holy Spirit) in Isaiah 42:1. There are three persons in this verse - God the Father (the one who is speaking), the Servant of the Lord (the Messiah, Jesus), and God's Spirit (the Holy Spirit).

Another verse that shows the Trinity in the Old Testament is Isaiah 61:1, which says, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to preach to the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." The person speaking is the Messiah. Jesus Christ recited this verse in the synagogue in Nazareth in Luke 4:18-19 and then said that this verse in Isaiah has been fulfilled today much to the surprise of the people who wondered "Isn't this Joseph's son?" The other persons in this verse are "The Spirit," which is the Holy Spirit and "Sovereign Lord," which is God the Father.

Finally we look at Isaiah 11:1-2 - "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." This passage identifies all three persons of the Trinity: the Lord (the Father), the Branch of Jesse (the Messiah - Jesus Christ), and the Spirit (the Holy Spirit).

God the Father with God the Son

There are other scriptures in the Old Testament that we see God the Father and God the Son. Psalm 2 is an example. Psalm 2:7 says, "I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father." Alfred Edersheim states that this verse is viewed messianically in the Talmud. I have stated earlier that Psalm 2 is speaking of the Messiah and this Son is in fact the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Psalm 2:8-9 is explained in a significant light with scriptures such as Isaiah 42:1; Daniel 7:13-14; Zechariah 14:9. Finally we see Psalm 2:12 - "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." This passage is further explained by Zechariah 14:16-19, which is about the Messiah also. Psalm 2:7-9,12 show that God has a Son and He is further identified as the Messiah. It is worthy to note that because the Messiah is shown to be the Son of God, this in no way proves that God procreated Him. The Messiah is the Son of God in a nonliteral sense and that title in fact shows the eternal relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

Psalm 110:1 says, "The Lord says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'" David is writing here. What did he mean by saying, "The Lord says to my Lord"? Jesus posed the same question I just asked to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:41-46. This verse in Psalm clearly shows God the Father and God the Son together speaking to each other. David by inspiration of the Holy Spirit hears and records their conversation.

Proverbs 30:4 is another verse that shows God the Father and the Son of God - "Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!" I know His name - God the Father and His Son's name is Jesus Christ. Amen!

God the Father with God the Holy Spirit

We also see indication in the Old Testament of God the Father with the Holy Spirit. Look at the following verses:

Genesis 1:2 says, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."

Genesis 6:3 says, "Then the Lord said, 'My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.'"

Psalm 51:10-11 says, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me."

Isaiah 63:10 says, "Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them."

Isaiah 63:11 says, "Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people - where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them?"

Isaiah 63:14 says, "like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name."

Zechariah 7:12 says, "They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry."

What about the New Testament?

The Trinity is also seen (more explicitly) in the New Testament. Matthew 3:16-17 says, "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" We see all the persons of the Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus Christ. Mark 1:10-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34 are comparative verses with Matthew 3:16-17.

A statement by Jesus Christ also shows the Trinity in Matthew 28:19 - "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." The Holy Spirit is present in verse 4. Jesus Christ is present in verse 5 by Paul calling Him "Lord" as evidenced in 1 Corinthians 12:3. Finally we see God the Father in verse 6.

2 Corinthians 13:14 says, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." All three persons of the Trinity are present in this verse - Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. It is worthwhile to note that the "love of God" is referring to God the Father because it was because of His love that He sent His Only Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

Ephesians 1:3,13 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit." Once again we see the Trinity in the first chapter of Ephesians. I recommend that you read Ephesians 1:3-14 in its entirety.

Ephesians 2:18 says, "For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." Paul is clearly is writing about Jesus Christ when he says "him" for the subject of Ephesians 2 is how one is made alive through Christ and how we are then made one in Christ. Paul then identifies God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:4-7 says, "There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." Once again we see God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 1:2 says, "who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood." Here we see God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Finally 1 John 7:8 says, "For there are three that testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one." This is a very clear reference to the Trinity.

Any one of these verses by themselves, don't necessarily prove the Trinity. But taken together, there is substantial evidence that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, prove the Trinity. Other ways to prove the Trinity are showing that Jesus is God, that the Holy Spirit is a person and not a force, and finally that the Holy Spirit is God. These are brought up in other articles. It is important to emphasize that each person in the Trinity is God but they are not three Gods. There is ONE God in three persons.

The Doctrine of the Trinity is Confusing

Critics of the doctrine of the Trinity quote 1 Corinthians 14:33 - "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." They state that God is not the author of confusion. And I agree with them. But 1 Corinthians 14:33 is not proof against the Trinity. I find it amusing that critics would use 1 Corinthians 14:33 against the Trinity when Paul (who wrote 1 Corinthians) taught the Trinity in his epistles, some of which I have shown you. I also want to emphasize that just because the doctrine of the Trinity may be confusing does not mean that it is false. Look at these three passages of scripture:

Isaiah 55:8,9 says, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"

Romans 11:33 says, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!"

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I'm fully known."

We are finite beings and we can't possibly understand nor comprehend all there is to know about God who is infinite. The Trinity exists whether anyone comprehends it or not.

How can one try to understand the Trinity?

There have been many efforts to try to understand the Trinity. Have you ever encountered the analogy of the three phases of water - solid, liquid, and gas - and how it explains the Trinity? How about the analogy of the three elements of the universe - space, time, and matter? Space can be further divided into length, width, and height. Time can be divided into past, present, and future. Matter can be divided into energy, motion, and phenomena. How about the analogy of our bodies being a trinity itself - body, soul, and spirit?

You can take your pick on any of these analogies. Of course some of these analogies may have flaws like the water analogy. One of the pastors in my church gave us an analogy in which he feels is one of the best if not the best one on the Trinity. After hearing about it, I agree. The sun has three parts, which are distinct - the source (burning gases of the sun), the light of the sun, and the heat of the sun. Both the source and heat of the sun are invisible while the light of the sun is visible. Both God the Father and the Holy Spirit while Jesus Christ is visible because Jesus is the God-man. There is one sun, which is manifested in three ways at once, and we refer to each one as the sun. With the Trinity, there is one God in three persons and each one is God but there is still one God.

Finally Robert W. Faid gives us an interesting analogy for the Trinity. He says:

As you stand by the shore of the sea, as far as your eyes can see - and beyond - is the mighty ocean. It is an entity of enormous power, sometimes as still and calm as a tropical pool, sometimes rising in fury to smash those who dare to intrude upon it.
As you observe, a swell of water rises offshore. The wave gathers momentum as it approaches the beach. Although it remains a part of the sea it has a life of its own. Then, after crashing high upon the shore, it returns to the sea from which it came. As a wave it had its own identity, but never was it separate from the sea.
Just as Jesus came from the Father and returned to the Father, He had - and still has - an identity of His own. The wave was never separate from the sea, just as Jesus was never separate from the Father. Just as the wave exemplifies the personality of the sea, Jesus is the personality of God the Father. If you have seen a wave, then you must have seen the sea. If you have seen Jesus, you have also seen the Father.
And as you stand beside the shore, you become aware of another part of the sea. The salt air which invigorates you is also an integral part of the sea. It, too, has a separate existence from the sea, but is very much one with it. It penetrates everywhere and everything within miles of the coastline. As you approach the beach it is the signal that the sea is not far away. In fact, it is the sea - reaching out to you through the air.
This is exactly what the Holy Spirit does. Just as the salt air draws men to the sea, the Holy Spirit draws men to the Father through Jesus Christ. The Spirit, although having a separate existence, is not separate from the Godhead.

I find this analogy to be very good in addition to the sun analogy.


The Trinity is a beautiful doctrine when looked at closely. All three persons communed and fellowshipped with each other before the Universe was created. They are eternal. Jesus said himself, "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began" (John 17:5). Before the world began, Jesus was in glory with the Father as well as the Holy Spirit.

Right now, the doctrine of the Trinity has come under attack by Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses as well as Oneness Pentecostals. Islam has attacked the doctrine of the Trinity from its inception because the Qur'an teaches against it. This attack on the Trinity has gone on ever since Christianity was started. This is why the Athanasian Creed was established to counter so-called heretics who taught against it. But if anyone reads the Bible, you will see (particularly in the New Testament) that the Bible does in fact teach about the Trinity.

If you are a Christian and still don't understand the Trinity, don't despair. Pray to God and have faith (read Hebrews 11). The Bible clearly teaches that there are three persons in the Godhead but there is still one God. It is important to understand (like I said earlier) that the scriptures teach that Jesus is God and that the Holy Spirit is God. Those that attack the Trinity concentrate on Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity exists despite efforts by other so-called "Christian" groups to prove to the contrary.

If anyone still has problems with the Trinity don't hesitate to e-mail me.


1. The quotation from the Athanasian Creed was taken from Ron Rhodes' book, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses, page 217. The book is published by Harvest House Publishers: Eugene, Oregon, 1993.
2. The quotation by F.S. Copleston was taken from page 5 from his book, Jesus Christ or Mohammed? The Bible or the Koran? The book is published by Islam's Challenge, 1995.
3. The reference to Alfred Edersheim is from his book The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. In Appendix 9, he lists 475 messianic prophecies in the Old Testament with possible references in the Talmud. The references to Psalm 2 are on page 987. The book is published by Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.
4. The quotation of Robert W. Faid is taken from his book, A Scientific Approach to Biblical Mysteries, page 176. The book is published by New Leaf Press, 1993.
5. All scriptures are taken from the New International Version (NIV) of the scriptures.

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