One doctrine all the cults and false religions (aside from Roman Catholicism) have in common is that they all deny or distort the doctrine of the Trinity. To the Jehovah’s Witness cult the Trinity is anathema. Same with Islam. In fact, in Islam to believe in the Trinity is considered an unforgivable sin (Surah 4:48; 5:72-73).
What is the Trinity?
The Trinity (or the Godhead), which is idiosyncratic to the Christian faith, is simply the one God Yahweh manifested in three distinct Persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Holy Spirit nor Jesus. The Holy Spirit is not Jesus nor the Father. They all coexist simultaneously and are co-eternal, co-equal, and co-powerful, yet are a unified one. They are not three roles played by one person (that is called modalism), nor are they three gods in a cluster (that is called tritheism). The one God (“He”) is also, and equally, “They,” and “They” are eternally together and cooperating.
An analogy of the Trinity we can use is time. With time, the past is distinct from the present, which is distinct from the future. Each is simultaneous. Yet, they are not three ‘times’ but one. That is, they all share the same nature: time.
God is a Trinity of persons consisting of one substance, one nature, or one essence. They all share the same attributes. God is one, yet within the single divine essence are three distinct Persons (The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). In other words, God is one being but three divine Persons.
The Father and Jesus are two distinct Persons but Jesus said He and the Father are one (John 10:30; 17:22), which the Jews interpreted as Jesus making Himself equal with God (John 10:33).
But isn’t God one?
The Bible emphasizes God is indeed one. “4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord [Yahweh] our God [elohim] is one [echad] Lord [Yahweh]:“ (Deuteronomy 6:4; Cr. Mark 12:29)
What’s interesting is in the Deuteronomy 6:4 passage, the Hebrew word used for “one” is “echad” which can mean a unified one. The same word is used in Genesis 2:24 – “24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one [echad] flesh.“
Of course, it doesn’t mean a husband and wife become a numerical one flesh but instead become a composite or unified one flesh.
Another example of a composite or unified one [echad] is found in Ezekiel:
In Ezekiel 37 “16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: 17 and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one [echad] in thine hand.”
There was more than one stick but were to become one in his hand.
Genesis 11:6 “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one [echad], and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
Exodus 24:3 “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one [echad] voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.“
The Hebrew word “yachid” however always means an absolute one. An example:
Genesis 22:2 “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [yachid] son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
For Deuteronomy 6:4 the Holy Spirit could have used “yachid” but instead used “echad”.
Note: Elohim is plural “gods” [source]. The God (Yahweh) of the Bible is referred to in the plural Elohim thousands of times. The very first verse of the very first book of the Bible reads “In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The word God in Hebrew is plural but the word created treats it as singular. So there is singularity and plurality in the Godhead.
Three Persons are identified as God in the scriptures.
The Father is identified as God:
“For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (2 Peter 1:17)
The Son is identified as God:
“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8; Cr. Psalms 45:6).
More references at Is Jesus Really GOD?.
The Holy Spirit is identified as God:
“3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:3-4)
But again, God is one:
“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:“ (Mark 12:9).
Therefore we must conclude there are a Trinity of Persons that are the one God.
Here is a trilogue. All Persons of the Trinity are speaking:
Psalms 2:1-12 “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord [Yahweh], and against his anointed, saying,3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord [Yahweh] shall have them in derision.5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.7 I will declare the decree: the Lord [Yahweh] hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.11 Serve the Lord [Yahweh] with fear, and rejoice with trembling.12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
Scriptures clearly show there is a plurality of Persons identified as the one God Yahweh. Here Yahweh is speaking but another Person is identified as Yahweh and His Spirit sends Him.
Isaiah 48:11-17 “11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.14 All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The Lord [YAHWEH] hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans.15 I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.17 Thus saith the Lord [YAHWEH], thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.“
Yahweh sends another Person identified as Yahweh.
Zechariah 2:7-11“7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.8 For thus saith the Lord [YAHWEH] of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.9 For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord [YAHWEH] of hosts hath sent me.10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord [YAHWEH].11 And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord [YAHWEH] of hosts hath sent me unto thee.”
The Father speaks to the Son and calls Him God
“8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”” (Hebrews 1:8-9)
God says He will save the house of Judah and save them by Yahweh their God.
“6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. 7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord [Yahweh] their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.” (Hosea 1:6-7)
Yahweh says the Spirit of God is upon Him. Notice Yahweh is speaking in the first Person then says the Spirit of the Lord God is upon Him.
“22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord [Yahweh] will hasten it in his time. 61 The Spirit of the Lord God [Yahweh] is upon me; because the Lord [Yahweh] hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;” (Isaiah 60:22-61:1,2)
Jesus read part of this scripture in the synagogue and it was about Him:
“And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:21)
Yahweh said he will save them by their Lord their God:
“7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen. (Hosea 1:7)
Yahweh talks about another Person identified as Yahweh in the third Person.
“And I will strengthen them in the Lord [Yahweh]; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord [Yahweh].” (Zechariah 12:10)
Here we have two distinct Persons identified as Yahweh.
Isaiah 44:6 “Thus saith the LORD [Yahweh] the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”
Two distinct Persons are identified as their Maker:
“5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord [Yahweh] of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” (Isaiah 54:5)
God uses plural pronouns:
Genesis 1:26 “26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
Genesis 3:22 “22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:”
Genesis 11:7 “7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.“
The Father is the Creator – Isaiah 64:8
“8 But now, O Lord [Yahweh], thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
The Son is the Creator – Hebrews 1:8,10; Col. 1:15-17; John 1:3
“But unto the Son he saith….And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:“ (Hebrews 1:8,10)
“16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16-17)
The Holy Spirit is the Creator – Job 33:4, 26:13
“The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. (Job 33:4)
Yet Yahweh alone is the Creator:
“6 Thou, even thou, art Lord [Yahweh] alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” (Nehemiah 9:6)
“Thus saith the Lord [Yahweh], the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.“ (Isaiah 45:11-12)
What early church writers wrote concerning Genesis 1:26
74 AD Epistle of Barnabas: “For the Scripture says concerning us, while He speaks to the Son, “Let Us make man after Our image, and after Our likeness” (Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter VI.—The Sufferings of Christ, and the New Covenant, Were Announced by the Prophets.)
150 AD Justin Martyr: Speaking of Jewish theologians Justin calls the Jewish teaching that God spoke to angels a hersey: “In saying, therefore, ‘as one of us, ‘[Moses] has declared that [there is a certain] number of persons associated with one another, and that they are at least two. For I would not say that the dogma of that heresy which is said to be among you (The Jews had their own heresies which supplied many things to the Christian heresies) is true, or that the teachers of it can prove that [God] spoke to angels, or that the human frame was the workmanship of angels. But this Offspring, which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures.” (Dialogue of Justin Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew: Chapter LXII.—The Words “Let Us Make Man”)
180 AD Irenaeus “It was not angels, therefore, who made us, nor who formed us, neither had angels power to make an image of God, nor any one else, except the Word of the Lord, nor any Power remotely distant from the Father of all things. For God did not stand in need of these [beings], in order to the accomplishing of what He had Himself determined with Himself beforehand should be done, as if He did not possess His own hands. For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, “Let Us make man after Our image and likeness; ” [Gen. 1:26]” (Against Heresies 4:20:1).
200 AD Tertullian: “If the number of the Trinity also offends you, as if it were not connected in the simple Unity, I ask you how it is possible for a Being who is merely and absolutely One and Singular, to speak in plural phrase, saying, “Let us make man in our own image, and after our own likeness; ” whereas He ought to have said, “Let me make man in my own image, and after my own likeness,” as being a unique and singular Being? In the following passage, however, “Behold the man is become as one of us,” He is either deceiving or amusing us in speaking plurally, if He is One only and singular. Or was it to the angels that He spoke, as the Jews interpret the passage, because these also acknowledge not the Son? Or was it because He was at once the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, that He spoke to Himself in plural terms, making Himself plural on that very account? Nay, it was because He had already His Son close at His side, as a second Person, His own Word, and a third Person also, the Spirit in the Word, that He purposely adopted the plural phrase, “Let us make; “and, “in our image; “and, “become as one of us.” (Tertullian, Against Praxeas, Chapter XII. Other Quotations from Holy Scripture Adduced in Proof of the Plurality of Persons in the Godhead.)
200 AD Tertullian: Tertullian rejects the idea that God was speaking to Angels because our head is the creator, not a creature: “Since then he is the image of the Creator (for He, when looking on Christ His Word, who was to become man, said, “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness”), how can I possibly have another head but Him whose image I am? For if I am the image of the Creator there is no room in me for another head” (Tertullian, Book V, Elucidations, Chapter VIII.—Man the Image of the Creator, and Christ the Head of the Man.)
200 AD Tertullian: “In the first place, because all things were made by the Word of God, and without Him was nothing made. Now the flesh, too, had its existence from the Word of God, because of the principle, that here should be nothing without that Word. “Let us make man,” said He, before He created him, and added, “with our hand,” for the sake of his pre-eminence, that so he might not be compared with the rest of creation.” (Tertullian: On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Elucidations, Chapter V.—Some Considerations in Reply Eulogistic of the Flesh. It Was Created by God.)
Origen: “it was to Him that God said regarding the creation of man, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book V, Chapter XXXVII)
Novatian: “For who does not acknowledge that the person of the Son is second after the Father, when he reads that it was said by the Father, consequently to the Son, “Let us make man in our image and our likeness; ” and that after this it was related, “And God made man, in the image of God made He him? “Or when he holds in his hands: “The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord from heaven? ” (A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity, Chapter XXVI. Argument.—Moreover, Against the Sabellians He Proves that the Father is One, the Son Another.)
In Genesis 19:24, there are two Persons identified as Yahweh who rained brimstone and fire: One who was on earth and the Other from heaven.
“24 Then the Lord [Yahweh] rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord [Yahweh] out of heaven;”
Amos 4:10-11 has two Yahweh’s just like Gen 19:24 when talking about the exact same event!
“10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord [Yahweh].11 I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord [Yahweh]. (Amos 4:10-11)
Jeremiah writes something similar. Yahweh speaks of God in the third Person.
“As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD [Yahweh]; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.” (Jeremiah 50:40)
Yahweh again speaks of God in the third Person.
“17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.“ (Isaiah 13:17-19)
What early church writers said about Genesis 19:24:
150 AD Justin Martyr: In this text, Justin the Christian is trying to convince Trypho the Jew that Jesus is God, by showing one of the three men who appeared to Abraham, was Yahweh himself: ” I [Justin] inquired. And Trypho said, “Certainly; but you have not proved from this that there is another God besides Him who appeared to Abraham, and who also appeared to the other patriarchs and prophets. You have proved, however, that we [the Jews] were wrong in believing that the three who were in the tent with Abraham were all angels.” I [Justin] replied again, “If I could not have proved to you from the Scriptures that one of those three is God, because, as I already said, He brings messages to those to whom God the Maker of all things wishes [messages to be brought], then in regard to Him who appeared to Abraham on earth in human form in like manner as the two angels who came with Him, and who was God even before the creation of the world, it were reasonable for you to entertain the same belief as is entertained by the whole of your nation.” “Assuredly,” he said, “for up to this moment this has been our [the Jews] belief.” … “And now have you not perceived, my friends, that one of the three, who is both God and Lord, and ministers to Him who is in the heavens, is Lord of the two angels? For when [the angels] proceeded to Sodom, He remained behind, and communed with Abraham in the words recorded by Moses; and when He departed after the conversation, Abraham went back to his place. And when he came [to Sodom], the two angels no longer conversed with Lot, but Himself, as the Scripture makes evident; and He is the Lord who received commission from the Lord who [remains] in the heavens, i.e., the Maker of all things, to inflict upon Sodom and Gomorrah the [judgments] which the Scripture describes in these terms: ‘The Lord rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.’ “(Dialogue of Justin Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew, Chapter LVI.—God Who Appeared to Moses is Distinguished from God the Father.)
180 AD Irenaeus: “Therefore neither would the Lord, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the apostles, have ever named as God, definitely and absolutely, him who was not God, unless he were truly God; nor would they have named any one in his own person Lord, except God the Father ruling over all, and His Son who has received dominion from His Father over all creation, as this passage has it: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” Here the [Scripture] represents to us the Father addressing the Son; He who gave Him the inheritance of the heathen, and subjected to Him all His enemies. Since, therefore, the Father is truly Lord, and the Son truly Lord, the Holy Spirit has fitly designated them by the title of Lord. And again, referring to the destruction of the Sodomites, the Scripture says, “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the LORD out of heaven.” For it here points out that the Son, who had also been talking with Abraham, had received power to judge the Sodomites for their wickedness. And this [text following] does declare the same truth: “Thy throne, O God; is for ever and ever; the scepter of Thy kingdom is a right scepter. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee.” For the Spirit designates both [of them] by the name, of God — both Him who is anointed as Son, and Him who does anoint, that is, the Father.” (Irenaeus, Book 3, ch 6)
200 AD Tertullian: “That is a still grander statement [of Christ’s deity] which you will find expressly made in the Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” There was One “who was,” and there was another “with whom” He was. But I find in Scripture the name Lord also applied to them Both: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand.” And Isaiah says this: “Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? ” Now he would most certainly have said Thine Arm, if he had not wished us to understand that the Father is Lord, and the Son also is Lord. A much more ancient testimony [of Christ’s deity] we have also in Genesis: “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” Now, either deny that this is Scripture; or else (let me ask) what sort of man you are, that you do not think words ought to be taken and understood in the sense in which they are written, especially when they are not expressed in allegories and parables, but in determinate and simple declarations?” (Tertullian, Against Praxeas, [In which he defends, in all essential points, the doctrine of the holy trinity.] Chapter XIII.—The Force of Sundry Passages of Scripture Illustrated in Relation to the Plurality of Persons and Unity of Substance. There is No Polytheism Here, Since the Unity is Insisted on as a Remedy Against Polytheism.)
250 AD Ignatius: “For Moses, the faithful servant of God, when he said, “The Lord thy God is one Lord,” and thus proclaimed that there was only one God, did yet forthwith confess also our Lord [Jesus] when he said, “The Lord [Jesus] rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord.” And again [he confessed a second time our Lord Jesus by saying], “And God said, Let Us make man after our image: and so God made man, after the image of God made He him.”” (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Antiochians, Chapter II.—The True Doctrine Respecting God and Christ.)
253 AD Cyprian: “In the Gospel according to John: “The Father judgeth nothing, but hath given all judgment unto the Son, that all may honour the Son as they honour the Father. He who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father who hath sent Him.” Also in the seventy-first Psalm: “O God, give the king Thy judgment, and Thy righteousness to the king’s son, to judge Thy people in righteousness.” Also in Genesis: “And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur, and fire from heaven from the Lord.”” (The Treatises of Cyprian, Treatise XII. Three Books of Testimonies Against the Jews. Third Book., Testimonies., 33. That the Father judgeth nothing, but the Son; and that the Father is not glorified by him by whom the Son is not glorified.)
Novatian (c. 200–258): “For who does not acknowledge that the person of the Son is second after the Father, when he reads that it was said by the Father, consequently to the Son, “Let us make man in our image and our likeness; ” and that after this it was related, “And God made man, in the image of God made He him? “Or when he holds in his hands: “The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord from heaven? ” (A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity, Chapter XXVI. Argument.—Moreover, Against the Sabellians He Proves that the Father is One, the Son Another.)
Novatian: “Therefore the Lord overturned Sodom, that is, God overturned Sodom; but in the overturning of Sodom, the Lord rained fire from the Lord. And this Lord was the God seen by Abraham; and this God was the guest of Abraham, certainly seen because He was also touched. But although the Father, being invisible, was assuredly not at that time seen, He who was accustomed to be touched and seen was seen and received to hospitality. But this the Son of God, “The Lord rained from the Lord upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire.” And this is the Word of God. And the Word of God was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and this is Christ. It was not the Father, then, who was a guest with Abraham, but Christ. Nor was it the Father who was seen then, but the Son; and Christ was seen. Rightly, therefore, Christ is both Lord and God, who was not otherwise seen by Abraham, except that as God the Word He was begotten of God the Father before Abraham himself.” (A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity, Chapter XVIII. Argument.—Moreover Also, from the Fact that He Who Was Seen of Abraham is Called God; Which Cannot Be Understood of the Father, Whom No Man Hath Seen at Any Time; But of the Son in the Likeness of an Angel.)
Here two distinct Persons are referred to using singular pronouns showing the ONENESS of the Father and the Son.
“4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with HIM [singular] a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4-6)
The Father and Son are a single temple showing their ONENESS
“22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple [singular] of it.” (Revelation 21:22)
The Father’s and Son’s throne is singular; singular pronouns are used for the Father and the Son showing their ONENESS:
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne [singular] of God and of the Lamb.2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne [singular] of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and HIS [not their] servants shall serve HIM [not them]:4 And they shall see HIS [not their faces] face; and HIS [not their] name shall be in their foreheads.” (Rev 22:1-4)
In Revelation not only is Jesus along side with the Father are worshipped by all creatures but the singular pronoun “Him” is used for the two Persons. Here we see the ONENESS of the Lamb and the Father.
“13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped HIM that liveth for ever and ever.” (Revelation 5:13-14)
In Isaiah 6, there are a plurality of Persons identified as Yahweh:
“6 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord [YAHWEH] of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord [YAHWEH] of hosts.6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Is. 6)
In Acts it reads the Holy Ghost, which the Old Testament identified as Yahweh, spoke to Isaiah.
“25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Acts 28:25-27)
In the book of John it reads Isaiah saw Jesus, which the Old Testament identified as Yahweh.
“38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.” (John 12:38-41)
The baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19 seems to state both the oneness and threeness by associating equally the three Persons and uniting them in one singular name.
“19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name [singular] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (Matthew 28:19)
The apostle Peter traces salvation to the same triunal source:
“1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” (1 Peter 1:1-2)
In Titus it shows the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in unity to bring about salvation:
“4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;” (Titus 3:4-6)
Other example of the three Persons working together as One:
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” (John 15:26)
“Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (2 Corinthians 2:21-22)
“for through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18)
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,” (Ephesians 3:16-17)
“ If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” (1 Peter 4:14)
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 20-21)
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)
Who dwells with born again Christians? All three Persons of the Triune God does:
“17 even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:17-23)
The Apostolic Benediction:
“14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
Another Trinitarian statement:
“14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)
All Three Persons of the Triune God work in unity and share the same attributes:
|Called God||Phil. 1:2||John 1:1,14; Col. 2:9||Acts 5:3-4|
|Creator||Isaiah 64:8||John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17||Job 33:4, 26:13|
|Resurrects||1 Thess. 1:10, Acts 2:32-33; Galatians 1:1||John 2:18-19, 10:17||Rom. 8:11, 1 Peter 3:18|
|Indwells||2 Cor. 6:16||Col. 1:27||John 14:17|
|Everywhere||1 Kings 8:27||Matt. 28:20||Psalm 139:7-10|
|All knowing||1 John 3:20||John 16:30; 21:17||1 Cor. 2:10-11|
|Sanctifies||1 Thess. 5:23||Heb. 2:11||1 Pet. 1:2|
|Life giver||Gen. 2:7: John 5:21||John 1:3; 5:21||2 Cor. 3:6,8|
|Fellowship||1 John 1:3||1 Cor. 1:9||2 Cor. 13:14; Phil. 2:1|
|Eternal||Psalm 90:2||Micah 5:1-2||Rom. 8:11; Heb. 9:14|
|A Will||Luke 22:42||Luke 22:42||1 Cor. 12:11|
|Speaks||Matt. 3:17; Luke 9:25||Luke 5:20; 7:48||Acts 8:29; 11:12; 13:2; 28:25-28|
|Love||John 3:16||Eph. 5:25||Rom. 15:30|
|Searches the heart||Jer. 17:10||Rev. 2:23||1 Cor. 2:10|
|Reveals God||John 6:44||Matt. 11:27||John 15:26|
|Speaks Through People||Matthew 10:20||Luke 21:15; Exodus 4:12||Luke 12:12; Mark 13:11|
|Truth||Psalms 31:5||John 14:6||John 16:13; 1 John 5:6|
|The Lord||Revelation 11:5||1 Cor. 8:6||2 Cor. 3:17|
|All powerful||Revelation 21:22||Revelation 1:8;1 Cor. 1:24||Luke 1:35|
|Lives inside Christians||Eph. 3:19||John 14:20; Col. 1:27; Rom. 8:10||Eph. 5:18; 1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Cor. 3:16|
|Own Mind||1 Cor. 2:16||1 Cor. 2:16||Rom. 8:27|
|Called Good||Ps. 34:8; Mark 10:18||John 10:11||Neh. 9:20|
|Holy||Isaiah 43:15||Acts 13:3; Rev. 3:7; Hebrews 7:26||Rom. 1:4|
|Teaches||1 Thess. 4:9; Ps. 71:17||Matt. 23:8||John 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:13;|
Early church writers on the plurality of Persons of the one God Yahweh
200 AD Hippolytus “Beside Him there was nothing; but He [God], while existing alone, yet existed in plurality.” (Against Noetus, Part 10)
140 AD Aristides: “[Christians] are they who, above every people of the Earth, have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the creator and maker of all things, in the only-begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit” (Apology 16).
180 AD Irenaeus: “But the Son, eternally co-existing with the Father, from of old, yea, from the beginning, always reveals the Father to Angels, Archangels, Powers, Virtues…” (Against Heresies, Book II, ch. 30, section 9)
180 AD Irenaeus: “It was not angels, therefore, who made us, nor who formed us, neither had angels power to make an image of God, nor any one else, except the Word of the Lord, nor any Power remotely distant from the Father of all things. For God did not stand in need of these [beings], in order to the accomplishing of what He had Himself determined with Himself beforehand should be done, as if He did not possess His own hands. For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, “Let Us make man after Our image and likeness; ” [Gen. 1:26]” (Against Heresies 4:20:1).
150 AD Justin Martyr “Then I replied, “Reverting to the Scriptures, I shall endeavor to persuade you, that He who is said to have appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses, and who is called God, is distinct from Him who made all things, — numerically, I mean, not [distinct] in will. For I affirm that He has never at any time done anything which He who made the world — above whom there is no other God — has not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with.” (Dialog of Justin with Trypho, a Jew, ch 56)
c. AD 177, Athenagorus: “We acknowledge a God, and a Son, his Logos, and a Holy Spirit, united in essence—the Father, the Son, the Spirit—because the Son is the Intelligence, Reason, and Wisdom of the Father, and the Spirit an effluence, as light from fire.” (A Plea for the Christians 24)
190 AD Clement Of Alexandria “When [John] says: ‘What was from the beginning [1 John 1:1],’ he touches upon the generation without beginning of the Son, who is co-equal with the Father. ‘Was,’ therefore, is indicative of an eternity without a beginning, just as the Word Himself, that is the Son, being one with the Father in regard to equality of substance, is eternal and uncreated. That the word always existed is signified by the saying: ‘In the beginning was the Word’ [John 1:1].” (fragment in Eusebius History, Bk 6 Ch 14; Jurgens, p. 188)
190 AD Clement Of Alexandria ‘For both are one — that is, God. For He has said, “In the beginning the Word was in God, and the Word was God.” (The Instructor, Book 1, ch 8)
190 AD Clement Of Alexandria “I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father.” (Stromata, Book V, ch. 14)
200 AD Tertullian (160-215) African apologist and theologian. He wrote much in defense of Christianity: “All the Scriptures give clear proof of the Trinity, and it is from these that our principle is deduced…the distinction of the Trinity is quite clearly displayed.” (Against Praxeas, ch 11)
200 AD Tertullian “[God speaks in the plural ‘Let us make man in our image’] because already there was attached to Him his Son, a second person, his own Word, and a third, the Spirit in the Word….one substance in three coherent persons. He was at once the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.” (Against Praxeas, ch 12)
200 AD Tertullian “Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are, one essence, not one Person, as it is said, ‘I and my Father are One’ [John 10:30], in respect of unity of Being not singularity of number” (Against Praxeas, 25)
Tertullian “We define that there are two, the Father and the Son, and three with the Holy Spirit, and this number is made by the pattern of salvation . . . [which] brings about unity in trinity, interrelating the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three, not in dignity, but in degree, not in substance but in form, not in power but in kind. They are of one substance and power, because there is one God from whom these degrees, forms and kinds devolve in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Adv. Prax. 23; PL 2.156-7).
200 AD Hippolytus “For who will not say that there is one God? Yet he will not on that account deny the economy (i.e., the number and disposition of persons in the Trinity).” (Against The Heresy Of One Noetus)
200 AD Hippolytus “As far as regards the power, therefore, God is one. But as far as regards the economy there is a threefold manifestation, as shall be proved afterwards when we give account of the true doctrine” (Against The Heresy Of One Noetus)
200 AD Hippolytus “She hath mingled her wine” in the bowl, by which is meant, that the Saviour, uniting his Godhead, like pure wine, with the flesh in the Virgin, was born of her at once God and man without confusion of the one in the other. “And she hath furnished her table:” that denotes the promised knowledge of the Holy Trinity.” (Hippolytus on Prov 9:1, fragment, “Wisdom hath builded her house.”)
200 AD Hippolytus “Beside Him there was nothing; but He [God], while existing alone, yet existed in plurality.” (Against Noetus, Part 10)
200 AD Hippolytus “Against The Heresy Of One Noetus: Many other passages, or rather all of them, attest the truth. A man, therefore, even though he will it not, is compelled to acknowledge God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God, who, being God, became man, to whom also the Father made all things subject, Himself excepted, and the Holy Spirit; and that these, therefore, are three. But if he desires to learn how it is shown still that there is one God, let him know that His power is one. As far as regards the power, therefore, God is one. But as far as regards the economy there is a threefold manifestation, as shall be proved afterwards when we give account of the true doctrine. In these things, however, which are thus set forth by us, we are at one. For there is one God in whom we must believe, but unoriginated, impassible, immortal, doing all things as He wills, in the way He wills, and when He wills. What, then, will this Noetus, who knows nothing of the truth, dare to say to these things? And now, as Noetus has been confuted, let us turn to the exhibition of the truth itself, that we may establish the truth, against which all these mighty heresies have arisen without being able to state anything to the purpose. (Against The Heresy Of One Noetus)
225 AD Origen “Nothing in the Trinity can be called greater or less, since the fountain of divinity alone contains all things by His word and reason, and by the Spirit of His mouth sanctifies all things which are worthy of sanctification.” (De Principis, Book I, ch. 3, section 7)
225 AD Origen “Saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all, i.e., by the naming of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (De Principis, Book I, ch. 3, section 2)
262 AD Gregory Thaumaturgus “But some treat the Holy Trinity in an awful manner, when they confidently assert that there are not three persons, and introduce (the idea of) a person devoid of subsistence. Wherefore we clear ourselves of Sabellius, who says that the Father and the Son are the same [Person] . . . We forswear this, because we believe that three persons–namely, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–are declared to possess the one Godhead: for the one divinity showing itself forth according to nature in the Trinity establishes the oneness of the nature” (A Sectional Confession of Faith 8).
262 AD Gregory Thaumaturgus “But if they say, ‘How can there be three Persons, and how but one Divinity?’ we shall make this reply: That there are indeed three persons, inasmuch as there is one person of God the Father, and one of the Lord the Son, and one of the Holy Spirit; and yet that there is but one divinity, inasmuch as . . . there is one substance in the Trinity” (A Sectional Confession of Faith, 14).
262 AD Gregory Thaumaturgus “We therefore acknowledge one true God, the one First Cause, and one Son, very God of very God, possessing of nature the Father’s divinity,–that is to say, being the same in substance with the Father; and one Holy Spirit, who by nature and in truth sanctifies all, and makes divine, as being of the substance of God. Those who speak either of the Son or of the Holy Spirit as a creature we anathematize” (A Sectional Confession of Faith 15).
262 AD Gregory Thaumaturgus “There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is His subsistent Wisdom and Power and Eternal Image: perfect Begetter of the perfect Begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son. There is one Lord, Only of the Only, God of God, Image and Likeness of Deity, Efficient Word, Wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and Power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father, Invisible of Invisible, and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal and Eternal of Eternal . . . There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abides ever” (Declaration of Faith).
305 AD Methodius “For the kingdom of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is one, even as their substance is one and their dominion one. Whence also, with one and the same adoration, we worship the one Deity in three Persons, subsisting without beginning, uncreated, without end, and to which there is no successor. For neither will the Father ever cease to be the Father, nor again the Son to be the Son and King, nor the Holy Ghost to be what in substance and personality He is. For nothing of the Trinity will suffer diminution, either in respect of eternity, or of communion, or of sovereignty” (Oration on the Psalms 5).
307 AD Lactantius “When we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we do not speak of them as different, nor do we separate them, because the Father cannot exist without the Son, nor can the Son be separated from the Father, since the name of ‘Father’ cannot be given without the Son, nor can the Son be begotten without the Father. . . . [T]hey both have one mind, one spirit, one substance; but the former [the Father] is as it were an overflowing fountain, the latter [the Son] as a stream flowing forth from it. The former as the sun, the latter as it were a ray [of light] extended from the sun” … “We, on the other hand, are [truly] religious, who make our supplications to the one true God. Some one may perhaps ask how, when we say that we worship one God only, we nevertheless assert that there are two, God the Father and God the Son–which assertion has driven many into the greatest error . . . [thinking] that we confess that there is another God, and that He is mortal. . . . [But w]hen we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we do not speak of them as different, nor do we separate each, because the Father cannot exist without the Son, nor can the Son be separated from the Father” (Divine Institutes , 4:28-29).
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Note: In many english Bible translations the word “LORD” in all caps refers to the tetragrammaton (YHVH or YHWH) or the divine name most commonly pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah. For this reason I inserted Yahweh next to LORD in brackets.