The Doctrine Of The Trinity
Text: John 14:15-18
Thesis: To show that the Bible presents God as being “triune”: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
1. A man named Dionysius wrote these words: “For the Divine Word [the Son] must of neces-
sity be united to the God of the Universe, and the Holy Spirit must have his habitation and
abode in God; thus it is absolutely necessary that the Divine Triad be summed up and
gathered into a unity, brought as it were to an apex, and by that Unity I mean the all sover-
eign God of the Universe.” Those words were written just after the middle of the 200s A.D.
in response to the teachings of Sabellius, who taught that there was only one divine being
who at times was God the Father, but at other times changed into the Son or the Spirit.
(In Documents Of The Early Church, Henry Bettenson, ed., p. 32.)
2. What Dionysius was saying is essentially what the vast majority of Christians believe: the
Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But even though this idea
is old, is it what the Scriptures teach? Or was this a doctrine that arose after the apostles?
3. It’s important that we understand as correctly as possible what the Bible says about God.
Let us see if the idea of Trinity can be supported by the Bible. We won’t be able, in this
lesson, to make a full statement of the doctrine, and we won’t be able to answer every
question on the subject. But let’s see some of what the Bible teaches on this subject.
I. Problems Immediately Encountered
A. The first problem is that the word “Trinity” is not to be found anywhere in Scripture. It would seem that so fundamental a doctrine would be easily found. But we might also note that the word “Bible” is nowhere to be found in Scripture. But it does present an idea that is clearly taught. Thus, the absence of this word doesn’t present an insurmountable problem. It just means that the word was adopted later.
B. 1 Jn. 5:7 - Our next problem doesn’t appear to be a problem at first. This verse (not present in the NIV and other translations) seems to clearly present the idea of Trinity. It would settle the dispute quickly. But the words in this verse are found in only a handful of very late manuscripts. It’s obvious they were added by well-meaning copyists who were hoping to put an end to the debate over the nature of God. This verse cannot be used to help answer any questions about Trinity.
C. Deut. 6:4 - Here may be the biggest problem: It is a statement that God is one. Israel was to have no other gods before them, because there is but one God. Doesn’t this rule out views such as the Trinity? No, because the doctrine of the Trinity upholds the idea of one God. But within the one God there are three Persons. It’s a concept that has no parallel in our material existence, and is therefore hard to grasp.
D. So why would anyone arrive at the idea that there are “three in one” when speaking about God? As we will see, Scripture clearly points in this direction.
II. The Scriptural Foundation Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity
A. Plural terminology:
1. When we speak of an individual, we don’t use plurals. We don’t say, “Bob is my friend; they have done many kind things for me.” Such language is confusing. But language relating to God is often found in the plural.
2. Gen. 1:1 - In this opening statement of the Bible, “God” is from Elohim, the plural form of El. It’s not a typo, for Elohim is found 2,570 times throughout the Old Testament. This is a deliberate name given to God. (It’s the word found in Deut. 6:4!)
3. Gen. 1:26 - What is meant when it says “Let us make man in our image?” It certainly shows that more than one were involved in that decision and act.
4. Gen. 3:22 - After Adam’s sin, God lamented that man had become “like one of us”.
5. Isa. 6:8 - Isaiah heard the voice of God saying, “... who will go for us?”
6. This certainly presents a problem for those who argue that God is only one person. Why, then, are plural words so regularly associated with God?
B. Three different Persons referred to as God:
1. Gal. 1:1 - Paul wrote of “God the Father”, who raised Jesus from the dead. But why use those words, “the Father”, if there is no other Person in the Godhead? But most people acknowledge “the Father” as being God. Some equate the two terms.
2. Jn. 1:1,14 - John begins his gospel by saying that “the Word was God”. Later, he identifies the Word as being Jesus.
3. Jn. 10:30,31 - Jesus made a clear statement that He and the Father are one. Those present understood the claim, for they took up rocks to stone Him, the punishment normally given to one who blasphemed.
4. Jn. 14:16,17 - As Jesus prepared to leave His disciples, He promised that the Father would send "another" Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit would be in the same class as Himself. The abilities ascribed to Him by Jesus are clearly Divine qualities.
5. Acts 5:3,4 - When Ananias lied about his gift, to whom did he lie? Was it to the Holy Spirit (v. 3), or to God (v. 4)? Or was it not to God, the Holy Spirit?
6. There are an abundance of passages in which "Godhood" is ascribed to each of these three Persons.
C. Mat. 28:19 - The authority by which we baptize: From the New Bible Dictionary: "Christ's trinitarian teaching received its most clear and concise expression in the baptismal formula ... Baptising 'into the name' is a Hebrew form of expression, rather than a Greek, and it carries with it what would seem a complete break with Judaism in including under a singular name not only the Father, but the Son and the Holy Ghost." (p. 1299)
D. When one takes the time to carefully study the Bible, the doctrine of the Trinity emerges as solid and sure. It is part of what God wants us to know about Himself.
1. Deut. 29:29 - Here is a good place to apply this statement about the "secret things" of God.
This lesson cannot come close to answering all the questions we have about the triune
nature of God, nor how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit relate to one another. But
it is enough for us to know that this is their nature.
2. The important thing is that God is on our side as long as we walk by faith and submit to the
commands of His Son, Jesus Christ. This marvelous God, without peer in all the universe,
will one day welcome us home to be with Him forever!