Seven Simple Facts About the Trinity

"Trinity" was a term used by Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/8 A.D.) and Tertullian (c.207 A.D). It describes seven Biblical facts. Are there any you have not seen before in the Bible?


1. There is an Undeniable "Threeness" in Scripture
Mt 3:16-17; 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Pet 1:2; Eph 2:18; 3:14-17; 1 Th 1:3-5; Rev 4:8; Rom 15:16; Heb 9:14; Jude 20,21; Isa 48:16; 2 Th 2:13-14; John 15:26.
Is the work of our salvation at the cross a work of man or a work of God?


2. The Three Are Inseparable in Some Ways
Mt 28:19; John 10:27-30; 12:44-46,49-50; 14:9-11; 15:26; 16:13-15; 17:10; Rom 8:9-11; 1 Cor 2:11-12. The Father & Jesus share at least 25 names and titles (Lord of Lords Rev 17:14; Dt 10:17, Alpha & Omega Rev 1:8;17-18). How often have you said the end of 1 Cor 12:3?


3. The Three Are Distinct in Some Ways
Mt 3:16-17; Lk 3:21-22; Jn 1:1;6:38;14:31;15:26;16:28;17:5; Acts 5:31-32; Heb 5:7-8. Heaven was not empty when Jesus came to earth. The Three communicated when Jesus was baptized.


4. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God
1 Pt 1:2,3; Jn5:18;8:54 Heb 1:8-9; Rev 1:8; 22:12-16 Rom 8:9-16; 1 Cor 12:6,11
Ep 1:2-3,17;3:14;5:20 John 1:1,18; 20:28; Luke 1:35; 1 Cor 2:10-11
1Th1:1,3;3:11;Phm 3 Hosea 1:7, Is 7:14 1 John 4:12,13,15-16; Jn 14:16,26
2Th1:1; 2:16; Ga1:1,3 1 John 5:11,12, vs. 21 1 Cor 3:16 vs. 1 Cor 6:19
Titus 1:4; 1Cor1:3;8:6 Col 2:9 & Mt 1:23 Acts 5:3-4; Job 33:4; Ps 139:7-10
Ep3:11;Jn17:5 (eternal) Heb 7:3; 13:8 (eternal) Heb 9:14 (eternal)
In some verses idols are referred to as gods, (Gen 31:30,3; 1 Cor 8:5) and in two places men are referred to as "gods" (Ps 82:6-7; Jn 10:34-36). "God" here though is defined as:
1) One whom we and all the world are created through.
2) Rightfully worshipped by angels and men.
3) Rightfully given praise and devotion by men.
4) Rightfully called our Lord and our God.

By the above definitions, Christ is God according to the following scripture.
1) Jn 1:3; Col 1:16-17 (other in Jehovah's Witness New World Trans. is their own addition)
2) Heb 1:6,9 (proskuneo in Greek), Rev 5:8-9, John 9:38
3) 2 Cor 11:3
4) John 20:28-29; Heb 1:8-9; Rev 22:20; Php 2:11 (Lord).
If you refuse to recognize Jesus in these four ways, there is no need to continue until you decide to repent and obey the Bible.
God's people in the Bible boast of and give glory to Jesus Christ. Do You?
Gal 6:14, 1 Cor 1:23,30,31, 1 Cor 2:2, John 1:14, Php 2:10-11, 2 Peter 3:18.
How many times have you boasted of what Paul boasted of in Gal 6:14?


5. There is only One God, Not Three Separate Ones
Dt 4:35-9;6:4; Mk 12:29-33; Isa 43:10-2;44:6,8;45:5-6,14,21;46:9; Joe2:27;1Tm1:17;2:5;6:15-6


6. They are Co-equal in a Similar Way as a Father and Son Are Co-equal
John 5:18; 5:23; Col 2:9-10; (Is 44:6; Rev 1:8 vs. Rev 1:17-18; 22:13)
As John 5:18 shows, a father is equal in nature to the son he begets. Otherwise, your father must be greater than you, your grandfather greater than him, and your 100th ancestor must have been one super guy. People make things but "beget" only people. God made created things but "begets" only God, his only begotten Son. Shouldn't church worship be modeled after heavenly worship? If you have never sung or given glory to God and the Lamb, prayerfully read Rev 5:9,12-14.


7. They Differ in Role and Rank in a Similar Way as a Father and Son Differ
1 Cor 11:3; 15:25-28; Mt 12:18; Eph 1:17; John 1:33; 14:16,26,28; 20:17; Rom 8:26-27; 1 Peter 1:3-4. A Father is the head of a son, and God is the head of Christ. (1 Cor 11:3)

Starting with Augustine, who did not know Greek and probably had not read Tertullian, some Christians tend to neglect the 7th fact.

This tract has been endorsed by these University of Texas at Austin groups: Chinese Bible Study (CBS), Longhorn Life Campus Mission, the Navigators - UT, International Student Friendship Ministries, Baptist Student Union, and A.C.C.C.F. (1994)






The Holy Spirit



According to Genesis 1:1 the Holy Spirit moved over the waters. Jesus and believers are baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does have the aspects of a force (like wind), or a thing (like water or oil). JW's believe that therefore, since the Holy Spirit has these aspects or a force or thing, the Spirit cannot have the aspects of a person.



The last statement is merely human wisdom, not God's revealed truth. Whatever man may say or think, the Holy Spirit has the aspects of a person as shown in the following passages. A JW might argue these scriptures could mean the Holy Spirit is still a thing, but more like a radio that communicates, a robot that moves, or an artificial intelligence program that guides. However, being comforted by a comforter that is a thing is cold comfort indeed. Living by a thing, a thing being like a parent to us, being loved by a thing, and having fellowship with a thing seem rather inconsequential. To say that "the Holy Spirit is a thing, but God made it to appear like a person" sounds like calling God a trickster. Since the Holy Spirit is a force (whether personal or impersonal), either He is a Person and all the scriptures listed below are full of meaning, or else He is impersonal and I do not know what meaning these verses have for you.



As a witness of Christ (Acts 1:8 Rev 20:4) as well as of Jehovah, I testify that the Holy Spirit guides me teaches me, and yes, even disciplines me in a Personal way. Better are even the discipline and rebuke from God's hand than the fairest pleasures apart from God's presence. Here are the verses:



Parakletos
(the comforter, the one John 14:16,26, John 15:26


along side us)


Speaks to us Acts 13:2, Heb 3:7



Reminds us John 14:26



Like a parent, so we will not be John 14:18


orphans (orphanos in Greek)


Guides us John 16:13



Teaches us John 14:26 1 Cor 2:13



Lives in us 1 Cor 3:16, 2 Tim 1:14, Rom 8:9,11, Eph 2:22



In our hearts 2 Cor 1:22 Gal 4:6



We live by the Spirit Gal 5:16,25



Led by the Spirit Gal 5:18 Rom 8:9



He intercedes for us Rom 8:26-27



Can be insulted Heb 10:29



Testifies of Christ John 15:26



Has a mind Rom 8:27



Can be grieved Is 63:10, Eph 4:30



Chooses who to give gifts 1 Cor 12:11



Possesses love Rom 15:30



Can think things are good Acts 15:28



Is given to us Rom 5:5, 1 John 4:13



Searches deep things of God 1 Cor 2:9-10



God in us 1 John 4:12-13,15-16, Rom 8:9-10,


1 Cor 3:16, 6:19, John 14:23, 15:4


With us always Mt 28:20



Groans (and thus cares) for us Rom 8:26-27



Gives joy 1 Thess 1:6


Does your religion ever make you feel lonely and alone? Christ promised not to leave us a orphans (orphanos in the Greek), but Christ promised to come to us. (John 14:18) That's right, Jesus Himself promised that he and the Father would actually live in us (John 14:23).



Does Christ live in you? Perhaps you say he does not based on John 14:24. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, for you can grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30). 1 Corinthians 3:16 declares that it is God's desired will that we be Temples of God, and that God's spirit dwells in us.



To see how the Spirit can feel, read Romans 15:30, where Paul witnesses of the love of the Spirit. The phase "by the love of the Spirit" means


a) the Spirit's love for us,


b) our love for the Spirit, or


c) both.



If the Spirit has love for us, He is a Person. If you have (or at least you are supposed to have) a love for the Spirit like your love for Christ, then He is a Person. If c) is true, then... the case is closed. Do you love the Spirit? If not, I invite you to repent and pray the short prayer below.



(A short note: Jesus in the Lord's prayer addressed the true God as "Our Father, who art (is) in heaven". Thus we can be confident that this is a proper way to address God and begin a prayer.)



Our Father, who is in heaven, I want your name to be glorified upon the earth. I repent of relying on man's religious books above your Holy word. Forgive me of the false prophecies and teachings I have believed. For even the errors I believed in ignorance, I admit I did not check them against the truth of your Word. Jehovah God, I do not even think I can find the truth without your Spirit, which I have not asked to come in me. But now, Jehovah, I ask the Holy Spirit, your Spirit, to dwell in my life. You promised not to despise a contrite heart, so please teach me, and guide me out of my errors and sinful ways, that I would walk according to your Spirit and learn what is meant by the fellowship of the Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ, whose shed blood opened up the way for me to be with you, I pray. Amen.



If you have sincerely prayed this prayer then remember that God has promised the Spirit to all who earnestly seek Him. There is a very important book you just must read all the way through - the New Testament! If you cannot read ancient Greek (and most people cannot), I would suggest a translation done where all the translators knew Greek and Hebrew. Examples are the updated New American Standard, The New King James, or the New International Version. If you choose to read the Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation, I need to tell you that one of the translators (Knorr) testified in a U.S. Court of Law that he did not even know Greek.





God's Word has balance, so for each topic below, there are two sides, and you must believe ALL the verses.


The Trinity



No finite human can understand everything about God, but we are responsible for understanding what God has revealed about Himself. God's "threeness", which Christians call the Trinity, may be understood on four levels; we will take a quick look at three of the levels today.



Level 1. The Trinity is: 1 __ __ __, 3 __ __ __ __ __ __ __.



1a. ___________________________________



1b. ___________________________________



Verses:






Analogies:











Level 2. The Three are __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ yet



__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.



2a. ___________________________________



2b. ___________________________________



Verses:






Analogy:







Level 3: They are __ __ __ __ __ in __ __ __ __ __ __ and



__ __ __ __ __ yet differ in __ __ __ __ and __ __ __ __.



Verses:






Analogy:


 

Jesus Christ




Jesus Christ is the son of __ __ __ and the son of __ __ __.




Jesus Christ is fully __ __ __ and fully __ __ __.




Jesus had to be both to be the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ between __ __ __



and __ __ __.




What verse in Hebrews says that Jesus does not change. Heb __ __ : __




Did Jesus have a human body before He was born of Mary?






Did Jesus have a physical body after He rose? Why?






Could Jesus have been the archangel Michael like JW's say?






Could Jesus and Satan have been brothers like Mormons say?






The Holy Spirit



Could the Holy Spirit be a thing instead of a person? Why?






What does the Holy Spirit do in the lives of believers?



 

Good and Bad Analogies of the Trinity



While no analogy of the Trinity of God with things on earth can be expected to be perfect, here are some good and bad analogies of the Trinity. Pick which are which.



1. Does a three-leaf clover really have three leaves or one. If someone says three, you can point to the one leaf, because they are all connected in the middle. If someone says one, you can point to the three distinct lobes. In a similar manner, the Father, Son, and Spirit are distinct and yet inseparable.



2. The Trinity has three parts, similar to an egg having a yolk, egg white, and shell.




3. The Trinity is like water: existing as ice, liquid, and steam.




4. Has anybody seen the sun? No not really, we have only seen the light from the sun. Has anybody felt the sun? Not really, we only feel the warmth of the sun. Likewise, no one has seen the Father, the source, but we mankind has seen Jesus. We feel the Holy Spirit, dwelling in our hearts.



5. The Trinity is like a man, who is simultaneously a worker, a husband, and a father.




6. The Trinity is like an apple. There are three distinct parts: skin, pulp, and core, but only one apple.




7. A human being is like a trinity in microcosm, with a body, soul, and spirit.



8. Draw a mountain range with three peaks and one mountain base. Is that one mountain or three?








Good and Bad Analogies of the Trinity - Answers

 


1. The three-leaf clover analogy is OK. This was first used by Patrick of Ireland (yes there really was a Patrick of Ireland and he was a great guy), around 400 A.D.



2. The egg analogy is very simple but it is OK to show something as simple as an egg can be one and yet three.



3. The water analogy is bad, because ice, water, and steam can turn into each other, and the Father, Son, and Spirit do not turn into each other. Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.



4. The sun analogy is good to show not just distinctness and inseparability, but something of the role of each. This analogy was given by Tertullian around 200 A.D.



5. The man analogy is bad, because this is modalism, not the Trinity. The Father did NOT have the role of the son and die on the cross for our sins.



6. The apple analogy, like the egg analogy, is OK to show inseparably and distinctness. This was in a children's book on the Trinity.



7. The body, soul, and spirit analogy is bad, because it is an example of modalism. On earth Jesus submitted to the Father, prayed to the Father and the Holy Spirit alighted on Him as a dove. Jesus did not pray to himself or do a magician's act.



8. The mountain peaks analogy is OK, showing separateness and distinctness.





 

How to Answer Most Questions on the Trinity



Rather than have a handout on this, I usually put this on the whiteboard. I do this section not as a lecture, but rather as an interactive discussion.



I ask them for various questions they have on the Trinity or objections they have heard. Rather than answer the objections I put them on the board under the appropriate category. I put the verse or topic they mention in one of five columns. I put the letter on the top of the column after they have something in it. When they are done, I fill in the rest of the letters. I leave them guessing as to what each letter stands for until the end.



G

O

D

I

S

"God" has 4 definitions

On earth

Differ in role and rank

Inseparable yet distinct

Same in "LENGTH": Love, Essence, Name, Glory, Titles, Honor


Initially I only put up the letters, a space (to write the meaning later), and then the verse with each question.



I tell them my objective is NOT just to answer their questions on the Trinity. Rather we are more ambitious than that. Our objective is that they would learn this framework so that by the end of this class they themselves would be able to answer at least 90% of all objections on the Trinity. Here is a sample discussion of each part.


G - God has different definitions



Question:
Since many verses, such as 2 Corinthians 13:13, say things like "God and Jesus", how can Jesus be God? Since many verses call Jesus the Son of God, and no one can be the son of themselves, then how can Jesus be God? If the Father is "Lord", how can Jesus also be Lord?



Answer:
First you have to recognize that the term (God/god) (Hebrew elohim / Greek deos) has at least four different meanings in the Bible. In fact, Hebrews 1:9 deliberately uses the term God in two different senses (Father and Jesus) in the same verse. Ditto for John 1:1. Jesus acknowledged there was more than one meaning in John 10:34-39, where He quotes Psalm 82:6. Here are the meanings in the Bible:


Those who are called gods, even idols. 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; Genesis 31:30,33


The Father
. Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:2-3,17, Hebrews 1:9 (2nd occurrence) etc.


Jesus
. Hebrews 1:9 (1st occurrence); John 1:1,19: Hosea 1:7; Isaiah 7:14; 1 John 5:11,12 vs. 21; Colossians 2:9 and Matthew 1:23


The Holy Spirit
. Romans 8:9-16; Luke 1:35; 1 John 4:12,13,15-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16 vs. 1 Corinthians 6:19; Acts 5:4.


O - On Earth


Question: God cannot be hurt, and knows everything, and cannot die. Since Jesus suffered, Jesus did not know the day of His return (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32), and died on the cross, how is Jesus God? Since Jesus was tempted (Hebrews 4:15, etc.), and God cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13), how can Jesus be God? Since Jesus was submissive and learned obedience (Hebrews 5:7-8), how is Jesus equal to the Father?



Answer:
This is effectively answered with two words: "on earth". Jesus voluntarily emptied Himself of many of His divine powers as Philippians 2:6-8 shows. He gave up much of His glory when He came to earth, as John 17: 5 shows. Jesus was God's son by the virgin birth as well as before time began, and his human body died, but Jesus did not cease to exist. Jesus had 100% human nature, and He was really tempted. But, Jesus was till 100% God, and He successfully resisted all temptation.



Likewise, though Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29 say God is not a man, these were written prior to Jesus coming to earth, and Jesus was God before becoming incarnated as a man.



Romans 1:25 says we are to worship the Creator, not creatures. The human body of Jesus was created, but Jesus is not a creature as He eternally existed prior to His human body. Jesus being God's Son, begotten of the Father, does not mean the Father created Jesus, as people can make things, but people beget people. Jesus is the firstborn of God in three ways: He is the firstborn of the dead resurrected in glory. He is the firstborn in the sense of being the only man after Adam with no human father, and He is firstborn as the only-begotten of the Father before time began.


D - Different in role and rank


Questions: OK, well maybe Christ emptied Himself while on earth, but even now in heaven how about verses such as 1 Corinthians 11:3 say that God is the head of Christ. See also 1 Corinthians 15:25-28; Matthew 12:18; Ephesians 1:17; John 1:33; 14:16,26,28; 20:17; Romans 8:26-27.



Answer:
I once had a JW honestly tell me they do not honor the son just as the honor the Father, just AFTER I had them read John 5:18,23. The Father and Son are equal in nature according to Philippians 2:6. As for the importance of the Son's role, see Colossians 2:9-10. If someone asks you if God has a physical body in space and time, the answer is certainly "yes", and it is Jesus. See also Isaiah 44:8; Revelation 1:8 vs. Revelation 1:17-18; 22:13). Jesus saying, "The Father is greater than I" in John 14:28 can refer to either Jesus being emptied on earth of a difference in rank, called "functional subordination" now in Heaven. "Son" does not prove lesser nature or worth. Otherwise, your father must have been greater than you, and your 100th ancestor must have been like superman. We should worship Jesus as the angels do in Hebrews 1:6, praise and sing to worship Jesus as in Revelation 5:9,12-14, pray to Jesus as Stephen did in Acts 7:59, and call Jesus "my Lord and my God" as Thomas the apostle did in John 20:28.



After Jesus rose, the Father gave all authority on heaven and earth to Jesus in Matthew 28:18.


In our salvation, it is wrong to say the Father died on the cross; that was Jesus' role. It was the Father who sent the Son, and it is the Father who grants people to come to Jesus in John 6:65. The Father and the Son sent the Spirit. All three had a role in raising Jesus from the dead. They are co-equal as a Father and Son are, yet differ in role and rank as a Father and Son.


I - Inseparable yet distinct



Distinct will, yet always agreeing. On earth Jesus prayed, "not my will but yours be done."


Patrick of Ireland (~450 A.D.) when asked about this gave the example of a three-leaf clover. (etc.) In Dt 6:4, God is "one". There are different Hebrew words for "one", and the word used here, 'echad, includes the meaning of united, alike, or alone.


S - Same in "LENGTH": Love, Essence, Name, Glory, Titles, Honor



We are baptized in the name, not names, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father and on share at least 25 names and titles, including Lord, Alpha and Omega, Savior, etc.


As to the Everlasting Father in Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is both the father of our salvation, and one in name with the Father. (The Father dwells in Jesus too).


"All that the Father has is mine" (John 16:15)


"All should honor the son just as they honor the Father" (John 5:23)



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