As the Athanasian Creed goes:
“In this Trinity nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less: but all three Persons co-eternal, together and equal.” -Athanasius of Alexandria (ca. 296-373)
–“The Father and I are one,” Jesus stated in John 10:30. But what does this statement actually mean? Is it purely illogical, or is there something more? The word “Trinity” isn’t even in the Bible some might say.
The Bible does say, however, that there is a difference between God’s Essence [θεότητος (Godhead; Colossians 2:9)] and God’s Form [θειότης (Divinity; Romans 1:20). So, the way Jesus used the word “One” was in Substance, while the Personhood is Three.
–The Hebrew word for God is “Elohiym.” Interestingly this word is actually singular and plural at the same time. Plural in that it has a plural suffix “-im” similar to our English “-s,” but singular in that its surrounding context treats it as if it were singular grammatically. (“Elohim: Plural or Singular?” Part I and Part II)
If the word for God in Hebrew is actually “Gods,” then why were the Jews so ardent about God being One? Their morning prayer (Shema Yisrael) is, “שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד (Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God! The Lord is One!) as said in Deuteronomy 6:4.”
–Even in Genesis 1:1-3 (where that term “Elohiym was first used), God created; the Spirit moved, the Father spoke, and the the Son, as we later find in John 1, was the Word and the Light spoken of.
Just as God made us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27) of a spirit (πνεῦμα), soul (ψυχή), and body (σωματικῶς), so too God is the Spirit, Father, and Son.
The Persons of God may be 3 but the Substance of God is 1.
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- Ravi Zacharias shows that it is compatible in his field of Philosophy. (For his written article by his student click here.)
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- R. C. Sproul shows that it is compatible in his field of Theology. (For a further, more comparative cultural, 4 part video teaching series click here.)
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- Dr. Henry Morris shows it is compatible with his field of Science. (For his written article click here.)
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A. W. Tozer, a devout man of God, has put it:
“Christ did not hesitate to use the plural form when speaking of Himself along with the Father and the Spirit. ‘We will come unto him and make our abode with him.’ Yet again He said, ‘I and my Father are one.’ It is most important that we think of God as Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance. Only so may we think rightly of God and in a manner worthy of Him and of our own souls.
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A popular belief among Christians divides the work of God between the three Persons, giving a specific part to each, as for instance, creation to the Father, redemption to the Son, and regeneration to the Holy Spirit. This is partly true but not wholly so, for God cannot so divide Himself that one Person works while another is inactive. In the Scriptures the three Persons are shown to act in harmonious unity in all the mighty works that are wrought throughout the universe.
In the Holy Scriptures the work of the creation is attributed to the Father (Genesis 1:1), to the Son (Col. 1:16), and to the Holy Spirit (Job 26:13 and Ps. 104:30). The incarnation is shown to have been accomplished by the three Persons in full accord (Luke 1:35), though only the Son became flesh to dwell among us. At Christ’s baptism the Son came up out of the water, the Spirit descended upon Him and the Father’s voice spoke from heaven (Matt. 3:16, 17). Probably the most beautiful description of the work of atonement is found in Hebrews 9:14, where it is stated that Christ, through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God; and there we behold the three Persons operating together.
The resurrection of Christ is likewise attributed variously to the Father (Acts 2:32), to the Son (John 10:17, 18), and to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:4). The salvation of the individual man is shown by the apostle Peter to be the work of all three Persons of the Godhead (I Pet. 1:2), and the indwelling of the Christian man’s soul is said to be by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-23).”
-(A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy.)
Why is it at all necessary for God to have this 3 in 1 nature? Even A. W. Tozer, in all of his studies, came to the conclusion that God’s purpose for it would never fully be understood. But I beg to differ.
I suggest that since we are “Made in His Image” (Ge. 1:27) we can only have community with each other because we can have community with Him. And we can only have community with Him because He essentially has community within Himself. Part of being “made in His Image” means to have the ability to have a personal relationship.
Our source of community is God’s Nature of prevenient Community within Himself. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Or as Jesus put it, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15:9)
The Trinity is about having Unity out of Community. As Ravi Zacharias put it:
“The only way to explain unity and diversity in the effect is if you’ve got unity and diversity in the First Cause. And only in the community of the Trinity is there unity and diversity. If God ever said He was loving, who was He loving before the creation? If God says He speaks, who was He speaking to before the creation? So the communication and love is contained in the Godhead right from the beginning. In the Christian faith, only, does love precede life. In every other faith, life precedes love.”
John 17, as a whole, explains it more in-depth, but here’s a good snippet:
Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Marriage with God.
Why is there a special love between man and woman?
Ephesians 5:32 states that marriage is mystery of unity. What is so profound is the direct connection between God and mankind through His invention of marriage.
In Genesis 2:24, a man marries a woman to reflect the relationship he has with God. In Revelation 19:7, God marries man to reflect the relationship He has with Himself. In John 17:24, Jesus states, “You [God] Loved Me before the creation of the world.”
The purpose of marriage between a man and woman is to represent the relationship between God and the Church. The bridge between the Father and the Church is the intermediate Love ‘for and of’ the Son (‘for’ the Son by the Church and ‘of’ the Son by the Father).
In Deut. 6:4, God is One (אֶחָד); just as in Gen 2:24, man and woman are one (אֶחָד).
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Here’s a list of verses that show the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Monotheism, Plurality, and Unity.
A. There is only one God
– Expressed in the Old Testament: Dt. 4:35, 39; Dt. 6:4; Isa 43:3,10-12,14-15; Isa. 45:21
– Expressed in the New Testament: 1 Co. 8:5-6; Eph. 4:6; 1 Ti. 2:5; Jas. 2:19
B. Hints of a Plurality in God in the Old Testament
– God speaks of Himself as “Us”: Ge. 1:26-27; Ge. 3:22; Ge. 11:7; Isa. 6:8; Isa. 46:5; Isa. 63:16
– Someone coming from God is God: Ps. 2:7,12; (Heb. 1:5); Ps. 45:6-7 (Heb. 7:8-9) Ps. 110:1 (Mt. 22:42-45); Isa. 7:14; Isa. 9:6
– ‘Angel of the Lord’ called God: Ge. 16:10-13; Ge. 22:16-17; Ge. 31:11-13; Ex. 3:2-6; Ex. 23:20-22; Num. 22:35-38; Jdg. 2:1-2; Jdg. 6:12-14; Jdg. 13:9-22
C. Father, Son, and Spirit in Unity
– One name for the three: Mt. 28:19
– The three persons mentioned together: Isa. 9:6; Isa. 48:16; Isa. 61:1 (Lk. 4:16-21); Isa. 63:9-16; Mt. 3:16-17; Jn 15:26; Ro. 5:5-6; Ro. 8:11, 16-17; 1Co. 12:4-6; 2Co. 13:14; Gal. 4:4-6; Eph. 4:4-6; 1Th. 1:2-5; 2Th. 2:13; Tit. 3:4-6; 1Pe. 1:2; 1Jn. 4:2; Jude 20-21
– As God: Father (Jn. 6:27; Jn. 6:45; Jn. 8:41; Rom. 1:7; 2 Cor. 1:3; Gal. 1:1; 1 Th. 1:1; Heb. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Jn. 1:3), Son (Isa. 9:6 / Mt. 1:23; Jn. 1:1,14,18; Jn. 20:27-29; Ex. 3:14 / Lev. 24:16 / Jn. 8:58; Ro. 9:5; Col. 2:9-10; Heb. 1:3; Ts. 2:13; Ts. 2:12b-14; Ps. 45:6-7 / Heb. 1:8-9; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 Jn. 5:20; ), Spirit (Lk. 12:10; Jn. 14:16-18; Act 5:3-4; 1 Co. 2:10-11; 2 Co. 3:17; 2 Co. 3:5+Jn. 14:23)
– Holy, Holy, Holy in OT & NT: Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8
Of the Father – Jn. 17:11
Of the Son – 1Co. 1:30
Of the Spirit – Ro. 1:4
Of the Father – 1Ti. 1:17
Of the Son – Heb. 1:2-3,8
Of the Spirit – Heb. 9:14
Of the Father – Mt. 6:8,32
Of the Son – Jn. 2:24
Of the Spirit – 1Co. 2:10-11
Of the Father – Ps. 135:5-7
Of the Son – 1Co 15:24-27
Of the Spirit – Ro. 15:13,19
Of the Father – Jer. 23:24
Of the Son – Mt. 28:20
Of the Spirit – Ps. 139:7-10
Of the Father – Ps. 102:27; Heb. 1:12
Of the Son – Heb. 13:8
Of the Spirit – Mark 3:29
Taking Part in Activity
By the Father – Ge. 1:1; Isa. 44:24
By the Son – Jn. 1:3
By the Spirit – Ps. 104:30
|B. Giving of Life
By the Father – Eph. 2:4-5
By the Son – Jn. 10:10
By the Spirit – Eze. 37:14
By the Father – 1Ki 18:38
By the Son – Mt. 4:23-24
By the Spirit – Ro. 15:19
By the Father – Ps. 71:17; Isa 48:17
By the Son – Jn. 13:13
By the Spirit – Jn 14:26
|E. Grief of Sin
By the Father – Ge. 6:6
By the Son – Lk. 19:41-44
By the Spirit – Eph. 4:30
By the Father – Isa. 33:22; Js. 4:12
By the Son – Jn. 5:22
By the Spirit – Mk. 3:29; 1Sa 16:14
O Blessed Trinity!
O simplest Majesty! O Three in One!
Thou art for ever God alone.
Blessed equal Three.
One God, we praise Thee.
-Frederick W. Faber
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As an Aside:
The letter Aleph [Hebrew for “1”] is the “father” of the Aleph-Bet, whose original pictograph represents an ox, strength, and leader. It’s numerical value is one (and also 1,000) and it is a silent letter. Aleph therefore is preeminent in its order and alludes to the ineffable mysteries of the oneness of God. Indeed, the word aluph (derived from the very name of this letter) means “Master” or “Lord.”
The basic gematria for Aleph is one, indicating the One and only God who is the Master of the universe. Note, however, that the gematria for the parts of the letter Aleph add up to 26 (Yod+Yod+Vav). This is the same number as the sacred Name YHVH, also indicating a link between the Aleph and God Himself. This is also demonstrated in Exodus 3:14-15, where the LORD reveals His Name to Moses as ehyeh asher ehyeh (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה), “I AM THAT I AM.”
In Or Torah, Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, explained first words of Torah: Bereshit Bara Elohim Et – “In the beginning God created et” (Gen 1:1). Note that et is an untranslatable word used to indicate that “a definite direct object is next” (thus there needs to be an et before the heavens and the earth). But Dov Ber points out that et is spelled – Aleph-Tav, an abbreviation for the Aleph-Bet. Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and Tav the last, so, he reasoned, in the beginning God created the Aleph-Bet [cf. John 1:1; Jesus is the “Word”]. Since God did this before creating the heavens and the earth, the letters are considered to be the primordial “building blocks” of all of creation.
As One who is composed of both the upper realm of heaven and the lower realm of the earth, connected by the humility of the body, Aleph is a picture of the God-Man unity that is Yeshua HaMashiach, “Who, being in the form of God…took upon himself the form of a servant…as a man…” (Phil 2:6-11).
Moreover, in Revelation 22:13 Jesus refers to Himself as the Aleph and Tav, the First and the Last, and thereby told us directly that the Hebrew Alphabet would provide revelation about Him.
In the Talmud it is said that the Gimmel [Hebrew for “3”] symbolizes a rich man running after a poor man (the next letter Dalet) to give him tzedakah (charity). (dalut) in Hebrew means impoverished. The parts of gimmel add up to 16, the same value for , the verb to be, thus indicating that our giving affects the nature of our existence in the realm of the spirit. The number three also represents stability, like three legs of a stool.
The (go’el) is the name for the kinsmen Redeemer (Lev. 25:26; Num. 5:8; 35:19, 21-7; Deut. 19:6, 12; Jos. 20:5, 9; Ruth 3:9, 12; 4:14; 2 Sam. 14:11; Isa. 49:7). YHVH Himself is identified as the ultimate Redeemer of Israel and mankind (Psalm 19:14[5-H]]). God is also revealed as (gadol) and (gibbor), the great and mighty One who brings about true (ge’ulah) or redemption.
Yeshua the Mashiach is identified as the Redeemer of mankind (John 4:42). He is the One who, being born into the world, runs forth bearing charity for the poor ones who stand “behind the door.” He is our nourishment and our great Benefit. But for those who spurn His love, Yeshua represents judgment and recompense (i.e., the Avenger of blood, called go’el haddam).
Aleph (1) and Bet (2) equal Gimmel (3), suggesting that Gimmel (3) represents the Holy Spirit proceeding forth from the Father (Aleph) and the Son (Bet). And what is the role of the Holy Spirit (or Helper) in olam hazeh? It is threefold: to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come (John 16:8). And He will “take what is mine and declare it unto you” (John 16:14), bringing true aide to the poor who are trapped behind the door.
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