Theology Thursday: The doctrine of the Trinity

Updated: Nov 23, 2019

by Krista 


I grew up with a solid commitment to the idea that God is made of three persons — Father, Son and Spirit — and never really questioned it, but I also didn’t really take the time to learn how to explain that doctrine until I was asked to defend it as part of a job application when we were preparing to start our video production ministry!  (Yeah, ask me about some of the other questions they asked someday!!) Over the years, I’ve been more conscientious of what it means to believe that God is Triune and that it’s a fundamental part of my faith. The photo is one we took of the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized and one of the clearest examples of the Trinity was displayed as the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and His Father expressed His pleasure in His Son.


Here are my latest writings on the topic:

The basis for the doctrine of the Trinity is the many places in Scripture where the Bible refers to God as three distinct yet unified persons. For example, Isaiah 63:10 refers to grieving God’s Holy Spirit, indicating that God the Father and the Holy Spirit are separate from one another. Likewise, in Malachi 3:1-2, the Lord of hosts speaks of Jesus’ coming. Although the doctrine is firmly supported throughout the Old Testament, it is more completely revealed in the New Testament. In perhaps the most dramatic New Testament example, the Holy Spirit comes on Jesus at His baptism and God announces His pleasure with His Son (Matt. 3:16-17). All three members of the Trinity are seen at work to accomplish the same goal, working in perfect unity and each assuming a different role. Later, in Matthew 28:19, Jesus instructs his disciples to baptize believers “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Clearly, He made the distinction that the three members of the Trinity were unique. There are many other examples throughout the Old and New Testaments that refer to each of the members of the Trinity in a way that indicates they have different functions and each are fully God.


The three persons of the Trinity are each fully God and yet there is only one God. They each have their own unique responsibilities yet they act in perfect unity. They have each always existed. Believers can demonstrate godly qualities, or fruit of the Spirit, when, by taking the example of the Trinity, they act in harmony with one another. Likewise, Jesus is our High Priest who advocates for us before the Father (1 Jn. 2:1) and the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf (Rom. 8:27). Obviously, the three work in unity for the sanctification of believers and the glory of God.


Beginning in the first chapter of the Bible, we see that God exists in three persons. Genesis 1:26 uses the plural form elohiym[1] to refer to the Creator. The verses that specifically describe Creation indicate the actions of more than one person: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” (Gen. 1:1); “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2).


First Peter describes all three members of the Trinity in one verse, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood…” (1:2). Their work clearly not merely coincides but is perfectly aligned to bring about a specific response in the lives of the believers.


First Corinthians could not make it any clearer: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (12:4-6). The Spirit enables work to be done through the gifts He gives. The service and activities empowered by Jesus and God use those gifts. We are dependent on all three members of the Trinity for sanctification and service to God. Second Corinthians holds another beautiful example of the Trinity being mentioned succinctly (13:14).


In Ephesians, Paul instructs the believers on the doctrince of the Trinity, “There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord…one God and Father of all…” (4:4-6). Jude provides similar instruction, “…praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (20-21).


The members of Trinity refer to each other in Scripture (Jn. 14:26, Matt. 6:9-13) and they each have their distinctive roles: election (Father, Jn. 6:40); atonement (Jesus; 1 Jn. 4:10); and regeneration and renewal (Holy Spirit; Titus 3:5).[2]


How does God being three persons make a difference in your life? Comment below and join the discussion!


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[1] Logos Bible Software. Strong’s Concordance, H430.

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 231.

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