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What is the Trinity?

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Describing God

God is described with different words in the Bible, a few of which translate into English as LORD, Lord, the LORD almighty, God, God Almighty and so forth. When reading these in different places in the Bible, you become aware that although God is “one” He is also “more than one”—God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost). Together, they are referred to as “the Trinity” or “the Godhead.” On this page we will provide explanations that help people understand God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity.

God is not so complex that He can not be understood. The Bible is written so that anyone can understand Him. The difference is that God is not human, so He can not be described as a human can be described. The gods of every other religion can be described in “normal” terms since they were invented in the minds of men.* Even some “Christians” (actually Christian cults) invent their own description of God and make Him seem like these other gods (by denying the aspect of the Trinity). On this page we will clarify the Trinity so that you can understand this aspect of God.

* Romans 1:20-23 (chapter 1, verses 20-23)

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The Simple Answer

The explanation of the Trinity is so simple that most people miss it.

  • If God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were the same, they would not have different names.
  • If they were the same, they would not appear separately as they do in Matthew 3:16,17.
  • In spite of being different, they are “one.” (John 10:30)

So we understand that the three “members” of the Trinity are different, but have the same purpose (and they are all God—more on that later).

A Rough Analogy

About 20 years ago, Dr. Harold Willmington (Liberty University) shared an analogy he had heard with his students, comparing the Trinity to a book. For example, a book has length, width, and thickness. The length is not the book’s width, the width is not the book’s thickness. These three dimensions can be described separately, yet they are connected together. If you remove one dimension, you are no longer describing a book. In the same way, the Godhead has three separate members that are connected together, and if you try to remove one you no longer have the Godhead.

God Is One

God is described as “one” in Deuteronomy 6:4, 1 Kings 8:60, Isaiah 44:8 and numerous other passages. For example, Deuteronomy 6:4 says “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” The word for “one” is the Hebrew word ‘echad. (This Old Testament text was originally written in Hebrew). This is the same Hebrew word that is used for “one” in Genesis 2:24—Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

In case you haven’t noticed smile when a man and woman are married they do not melt into one human being, becoming some sort of hybrid. Yet, they do become “one.” We could cite other examples, but we have made our point.

God Is More Than One

Genesis 1:26, Genesis 3:22, Genesis 11:7, Isaiah 6:8, and other passages are examples of conversations within which God uses the word “we” or “us.” However, God is not referring to any others (people, angels, etc.) in these verses. Since God is having a conversation, the “we” and “us” must therefore refer to the Trinity. You might say that God speaks to Himself in the plural form.

The Trinity Is God

Matthew 28:16-20 is a passage referred to as “The Great Commission.” In verse 19, Jesus states, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

Why did Jesus tell his eleven disciples to baptize people in the names of all three members of the Trinity? Why not one or two? It is obvious from this passage that the entire Trinity is God.

Jesus Is God

We understand that many people agree that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit exist. (We are sure that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are relieved to hear that! smile ) These same people may even agree that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are “working together.” However, the followers of several cults are taught that Jesus is “just a prophet,” or “only the son of God”—not God. This wrong viewpoint is easily clarified by looking at two Bible verses: Isaiah 9:6, and Isaiah 43:12 (below).

    Isaiah 9:6
    For unto us a Child is born,
    Unto us a Son is given;
    And the government will be upon His shoulder.
    And His name will be called
    Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God [0410],
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    Isaiah 43:12
    I have declared and saved,
    I have proclaimed,
    And there was no foreign god among you;
    Therefore you are My witnesses,”
    Says the LORD [03068], “that I am God [0410].”

Notice the numbers in brackets that we placed in the text. Those numbers indicate the “Strong’s Numbers” of those particular words. Strong’s Numbers are index numbers in a document called a “Strong’s Concordance” that allow someone who only reads English to understand what the Bible’s original Hebrew words are. For example, the number [03068] refers to the Hebrew word YHWH. This word is usually written in English as LORD, Jehovah, or (phonetically) Y@hovah. Similarly, the number [0410] refers to the Hebrew word ‘el, which is normally written in English as God.

It has been thoroughly proven that Isaiah 9:6 is a Messianic Prophecy referring to Jesus Christ. Notice how Isaiah 43:12 clearly shows that God (YHWH) refers to himself as God (‘El)—the exact same term (‘El) used to refer to Jesus. There are numerous other examples, but we will not belabor the point. It is obvious that God and Jesus are both God.

Jesus Doing What Only God Can Do

Mark chapter 2 opens up with an interesting story about Jesus healing a paralytic man. Notice that Jesus forgives the man’s sins in verse 5 and the reaction of the teachers of the law (the religious experts of the day) in verses 6 and 7.

    Mark chapter 2
    1  And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.
    2  Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them.
    3  Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men.
    4  And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
    5  When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
    6  And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,
    7  “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
    8  But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?
    9  Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?
    10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic,
    11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
    12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

The teachers of the law knew that only God could forgive sin. Since the people could not “see” sin being forgiven, Jesus proved He did indeed forgive the man’s sins by supernaturally healing the man’s paralysis (providing visible proof everyone could see). You can also read about this event in Luke 5:17-26. In both cases it is obvious that Jesus is God.

Out of the Mouth of Jesus

In Luke 22:70 and John 8:58, Jesus answers questions put to him by the Pharisees that declare Himself to be on “God’s level.” Notice how Jesus answered their questions by saying “I am.” (Ego eimi in Greek.) Ego eimi is not a translation of YHWH, but it is similar to our translating YHWH into “I AM” in English. This choice of words was not lost on the Jewish audience He was talking to! They immediately wanted to kill Jesus for blasphemy. That is, the Jews believed that by comparing Himself to God in that way, that Jesus deserved death. They clearly understood the implication Jesus was making—that He was the same as God. We hope that makes sense to you also.

To learn more about the Trinity, we recommend reading the booklet The Holy Trinity by H. A. Ironside.

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