Old Testament Revelation of the Trinity
Although the doctrine of the Trinity is not explicitly found in the Old Testament, several passages suggest or even imply that God exists as more than one person.
Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
Genesis 3:22 “Behold, the man has become like one of us knowing good and evil”
Genesis 11:7 “Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language”
Isaiah 6:8 “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
What do the plural verb (“let us”) and the plural pronoun (“our”) mean?
Already in the first chapter of Genesis we have an indication of a plurality of persons in God himself
In Psalm 45:6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
So two separate persons are called “God”.
In the New Testament, the author of Hebrews quotes this passage and applies it to Christ:
“Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever” (Heb. 1:8).
Psalm 110:1, David says, “The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”’
Jesus rightly understands that David is referring to two separate persons as “Lord” (Matt. 22:41–46), but who is David’s “Lord” if not God himself ? And who could be saying to God, “Sit at my right hand” except someone else who is also fully God?
Isaiah 63:10 says that God’s people “rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit”
Mal. 3:1–2 The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?”
Isaiah 48:16, And now the Lord God has sent me and his Spirit.”
New Testament Revelation of the Trinity
Mt 3:16 And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, coming upon Him,
17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
Mt 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
1Co 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
6 And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all [persons.]
2Co 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Eph 4:4 [There is] one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
1Pe 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.
Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit;
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
When we think of God as eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, and so forth, we may have a tendency to think only of God the Father in connection with these attributes. But the biblical teaching on the Trinity tells us that all of God’s attributes are true of all three persons, for each is fully God. Thus, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving, omniscient, and so forth.
The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith. To study the Bible’s teachings on the Trinity gives us great insight into the question that is at the center of all of our seeking after God: What is God like in himself ? Here we learn that in himself, in his very being, God exists in the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet he is one God.
We may define the doctrine of the Trinity as follows: God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.
The term Trinity is not the best one because it emphasizes only the three persons but not the unity within the Trinity. The German word Dreieinigkeit (“three-oneness” ) better expresses the concept. A proper definition then must include the distinctness and equality of the three persons within the Trinity as well as the unity within the Trinity. The word Triunity may better express the doctrine
Misinterpretations of the Trinity
Tri-theism - There were three who were God but they were only related in a loose association as.
The error of this teaching was that its proponents abandoned the unity within the Trinity with the result that they taught there were three Gods rather than three Persons within one Godhead.
Sabellianism or Modalism -All three (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) as simply three modes of existence or three manifestations of one God. The teaching is thus also known as modalism because it views one God who variously manifests Himself in three modes of existence: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Arianism – Only God was the uncreated One; because Christ was begotten of the Father it meant Christ was created by the Father and subordinate to the father. According to Arius there was a time when Christ did not exist.
Now the Bible does give many individual names to God, all of which reflect some true aspect of his character. Many of these names are taken from human experience or emotions in order to describe parts of God’s character, while many other names are taken from the rest of the natural creation. In a sense, all of these expressions of God’s character in terms of things found in the universe are "names" of God because they tell us something true about him.
is a Hebrew plural form used more than two thousand times in the Old Testament and usually termed a "plural of majesty" of the general name for God. It comes from the abbreviated name, El, which probably has a root meaning "to be strong" ( Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; Josh. 3:10) or "to be preeminent." It is usually translated "God" in the English translations. Elohim emphasizes God’s transcendence: He is above all others who are called God.
El Shaddai. Translated "God Almighty," it probably relates to the word mountain and suggests the power or strength of God. By this name God is also seen as a covenant-keeping God (Gen. 17:1; cf. vv. 1–8 where the covenant is reiterated).
El Elyon. Translated "God Most High," it emphasizes the supremacy o f God. He is above all so-called gods (cf. Gen. 14:18–22). Melchizedek recognized Him as "God Most High" inasmuch as He is possessor of heaven and earth (v. 19).
El Olam. Translated the "Everlasting God," it stresses the unchanging character of God (Gen. 21:33; Isa. 40:28).
The designation Adonai (Heb. Adhon or Adhonay) in its root means "lord" or "master" and is usually translated "Lord" in English Bibles. Adonai occurs 449 times in the Old Testament and 315 times in conjunction with Yahweh. Adhon emphasizes the servant-master relationship ( Gen. 24:9) and thus suggests God’s authority as Master; One who is sovereign in His rule and has absolute authority ( Ps. 8:1; Hos. 12:14). Adonai should probably be understood as meaning "Lord of all" or "Lord par excellence" ( Deut. 10:17; Josh. 3:11). It is also possible to understand Adonai as a personal address meaning "my Lord."
The name Yahweh translates the Hebrew tetragrammaton (four lettered expression) YHWH. Because the name was originally written without vowels, it is uncertain how it should be pronounced. Hence, the American Standard Version translates it "Jehovah," whereas most modern translations render it "Lord" (to distinguish it from Adonai, "Lord" ). Jewish scholars have generally pronounced it "Adonai" instead of actually pronouncing YHWH, out of respect for the sacredness of the covenant name.
Although there is considerable discussion concerning the origin and meaning of the name, this common designation (used 6,828 times in the Old Testament) is likely related to the verb "to be." Thus in Exodus 3:14–15 the Lord declares, "I AM WHO I AM…The Lord…has sent me to you. This is My name forever." This has particular significance to the "I AM" claims of Christ (cf. John 6:35; 8:12; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1), who in His statements claimed equality with Yahweh.
By the name Yahweh, God identified Himself in His personal relationship with His people, Israel, and it was to this name that Abram responded in acknowledging the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:8). By this name God brought Israel out of Egypt, delivered them from bondage, and redeemed them (Ex. 6:6; 20:2). Whereas Elohim and Adonai were designations known to other cultures, the revelation of Yahweh was unique to Israel.
Compound Name. There are other compound terms that are sometimes mentioned as names of God, but they may simply be descriptions of God: Yah-
weh-jireh, "The Lord Will Provide" (Gen. 22:14); Yahweh-Nissi , "The Lord Our Banner" (Ex. 17:15); Yahweh-Shalom, "The Lord is Peace" (Judg. 6:24); Yahweh-Sabbaoth, "The Lord of Hosts" (1 Sam. 1:3); YahwehMac-caddeshcem, "The Lord Thy Sanctifier" (Ex. 31:13); Yahweh-Tsidkenu, "The Lord Our Righteousness" (Jer. 23:6).Other Names of God in Scripture.
"Hallowed be your name" as part of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9), we are praying that people would speak about God in a way that is honoring to him and that accurately reflects his character
Descriptions of God taken from creation: God is compared to
a lion (Isa. 31:4),
an eagle (Deut. 32:11),
a lamb (Isa. 53:7),
a hen (Matt. 23:37),
the sun (Ps. 84:11),
the morning star (Rev. 22:16),
a light (Ps. 27:1),
a torch (Rev. 21:23),
a fire (Heb. 12:29),
a fountain (Ps. 36:9),
a rock (Deut. 32:4),
a hiding place (Ps. 119:114),
a tower (Prov. 18:10),
a shadow (Ps. 91:1),
a shield (Ps. 84:11),
a temple (Rev. 21:22
Taken from human experience:
God is called bridegroom (Isa. 61:10),
husband (Isa. 54:5),
father (Deut. 32:6),
judge and king (Isa. 33:22),
man of war (Ex. 15:3),
builder and maker (Heb. 11:10),
shepherd (Ps. 23:1),
physician (Ex. 15:26).
Furthermore, God is spoken of in terms of human actions such as:
knowing (Gen. 18:21),
remembering (Gen. 8:1; Ex. 2:24),
seeing (Gen. 1:10),
hearing (Ex. 2:24),
smelling (Gen. 8:21),
tasting (Ps. 11:5),
sitting (Ps. 9:7),
rising (Ps. 68:1),
walking (Lev. 26:12),
wiping away tears (Isa. 25:8),
Human emotions are attributed to God, such as
joy (Isa. 62:5),
grief (Ps. 78:40; Isa. 63:10),
anger (Jer. 7:18–19),
love (John 3:16),
hatred (Deut. 16:22),
wrath (Ps. 2:5)
Even though God does not have a physical body, Scripture uses various parts of the human body to describe God’s activities in a metaphorical way.
Scripture can speak of God’s face or countenance (Ex. 33:20, 23; Isa. 63:9; Ps. 16:11; Rev. 22:4),
eyes (Ps. 11:4; Heb. 4:13),
eyelids (Ps. 11:4),
ears (Ps. 55:1; Isa. 59:1),
nose (Deut. 33:10),
mouth (Deut. 8:3),
lips (Job 11:5),
tongue (Isa. 30:27),
neck (Jer. 18:17),
arms (Ex. 15:16),
hand (Num. 11:23),
finger (Ex. 8:19),
heart (Gen. 6:6),
foot (Isa. 66:1)
Even terms describing personal characteristics such as good, merciful, gracious, righteous, holy, just, and many more, are terms whose meaning is familiar to us through an experience of these qualities in other human beings. And even those terms that seem least related to creation, such as eternity or unchangeableness, are understood by us not intuitively but by negating concepts that we know from our experience (eternity is not being limited by time and unchangeableness is not changing).
The point of collecting all these passages is to show, first, that in one sense or another all of creation reveals something about God to us and that the higher creation, especially man who is made in God’s image, reveals him more fully.
The second reason for mentioning this long list is to show that all that we know about God from Scripture comes to us in terms that we understand because they describe events or things common to human experience.
The third reason for pointing out the great diversity of descriptions about God taken from human experience and from the natural world. This language should remind us that God made the universe so that it would show forth the excellence of his character that is, that it would show forth his glory. God is worthy to receive glory because he created all things (Rev. 4:11); therefore, all things should honor him.
As we learn about God’s character from Scripture, it should open our eyes and enable us to interpret creation rightly. As a result, we will be able to see reflections of the excellence of God’s character everywhere in creation: "the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isa. 6:3).
“I have seen this people…; now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them” (Ex. 32:9–10).
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men” (Rom. 1:18)
It may surprise us to find how frequently the Bible talks about the wrath of God. Yet if God loves all that is right and good, and all that conforms to his moral character, then it should not be surprising that he would hate everything that is opposed to his moral character. God’s wrath directed against sin is therefore closely related to God’s holiness and justice. God’s wrath may be defined as follows: God’s wrath means that he intensely hates all sin.
Descriptions of God’s wrath are found frequently in the narrative passages of Scripture, especially when God’s people sin greatly against him. God sees the idolatry of the people of Israel and says to Moses, “I have seen this people…; now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them” (Ex. 32:9–10). Later Moses tells the people, “Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness….Even at Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath and the Lord was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you” (Deut. 9:7–8; 29:23; 2 Kings 22:13).
The doctrine of the wrath of God in Scripture is not limited to the Old Testament, however, as some have falsely imagined. We read in John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.” Paul says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men” (Rom. 1:18; 2:5, 8; 5:9; 9:22; Col. 3:6; 1 Thess. 1:10; 2:16; 5:9; Heb. 3:11; Rev. 6:16–17; 19:15). Many more New Testament verses also indicate God’s wrath against sin.
As with the other attributes of God, this is an attribute for which we should thank and praise God. It may not immediately appear to us how this can be done, since wrath seems to be such a negative concept. Viewed alone, it would arouse only fear and dread. Yet it is helpful for us to ask what God would be like if he were a God that did not hate sin. He would then be a God who either delighted in sin or at least was not troubled by it. Such a God would not be worthy of our worship, for sin is hateful and it is worthy of being hated. Sin ought not to be. It is in fact a virtue to hate evil and sin (cf. Heb. 1:9; Zech. 8:17; et al.), and we rightly imitate this attribute of God when we feel hatred against great evil, injustice, and sin.
Furthermore, we should feel no fear of God’s wrath as Christians, for although “we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3), we now have trusted in Jesus, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10; cf. Rom. 5:10). When we meditate on the wrath of God, we will be amazed to think that our Lord Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God that was due to our sin, in order that we might be saved (Rom. 3:25–26).
Moreover, in thinking about God’s wrath we must also bear in mind his patience. Both patience and wrath are mentioned together in Psalm 103: “The Lord is…slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever” (Ps. 103:8–9). In fact, the delay of the execution of God’s wrath upon evil is for the purpose of leading people to repentance (see Rom. 2:4).
Thus, when we think of God’s wrath to come, we should simultaneously be thankful for his patience in waiting to execute that wrath in order that yet more people may be saved: “The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise…” (2 Peter 3:9–10). God’s wrath should motivate us to evangelism and should also cause us to be thankful that God finally will punish all wrongdoing and will reign over new heavens and a new earth in which there will be no unrighteousness.
Although the word jealous is frequently used in a negative sense in English, it also takes a positive sense at times. For example, Paul says to the Corinthians, “I feel a divine jealousy for you” (2 Cor. 11:2). Here the sense is “earnestly protective or watchful.” It has the meaning of being deeply committed to seeking the honor or welfare of someone, whether oneself or someone else.
Scripture represents God as being jealous in this way. He continually and earnestly seeks to protect his own honor. He commands his people not to bow down to idols or serve them, saying, “for I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5). He desires that worship be given to himself and not to false gods. Therefore, he commands the people of Israel to tear down the altars of pagan gods in the land of Canaan, giving the following reason: “For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14;. Deut. 4:24; 5:9).
Thus, God’s jealousy may be defined as follows: God’s jealousy means that God continually seeks to protect his own honor.
People sometimes have trouble thinking that jealousy is a desirable attribute in God. This is because jealousy for our own honor as human beings is almost always wrong. We are not to be proud, but humble. Yet we must realize that the reason pride is wrong is a theological reason: it is that we do not deserve the honor that belongs to God alone ( 1 Cor. 4:7; Rev. 4:11).
It is not wrong for God to seek his own honor, however, for he deserves it fully. God freely admits that his actions in creation and redemption are done for his own honor. Speaking of his decision to withhold judgment from his people, God says, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it….My glory I will not give to another” (Isa. 48:11). It is healthy for us spiritually when we settle in our hearts the fact that God deserves all honor and glory from his creation, and that it is right for him to seek this honor. He alone is infinitely worthy of being praised. To realize this fact and to delight in it is to find the secret of true worship.
In English the terms righteousness and justice are different words, but in both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament there is only one word group behind these two English terms, these two terms will be considered together as speaking of one attribute of God.
God’s righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right.
Moses says, “All his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4).
“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25).
“The precepts of the Lord are right rejoicing the heart” (Ps. 19:8).
“I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right” (Isa. 45:19).
As a result of God’s righteousness, it is necessary that he treat people according to what they deserve. Thus, it is necessary that God punish sin, for it does not deserve reward; it is wrong and deserves punishment.
When God does not punish sin, it seems to indicate that he is unrighteous, unless some other means of punishing sin can be seen. This is why Paul says that when God sent Christ as a sacrifice to bear the punishment for sin, it “was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25–26). When Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins it showed that God was truly righteous, because he did give appropriate punishment to sin, even though he did forgive his people their sins.
We define what is “Right” by saying whatever conforms to the character or God.
Whenever Scripture confronts the question of whether God himself is righteous or not, the ultimate answer is always that we as God’s creatures have no right to say that God is unrighteous or unjust. The creature cannot say that of the Creator. Paul responds to a very difficult question about God’s righteousness by saying, “But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me thus?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?” (Rom. 9:20–21).
If God were a God of unlimited power, yet without righteousness in his character, how unthinkably horrible the universe would be! There would be unrighteousness at the center of all existence and there would be nothing anyone could do to change it. Existence would become meaningless, and we would be driven to the most utter despair.
We ought therefore continually to thank and praise God for who he is, “for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4).
God’s peace can be defined as follows: God’s peace means that in God’s being and in his actions he is separate from all confusion and disorder, yet he is continually active in innumerable well-ordered, fully controlled, simultaneous actions.
1 Corinthians 14:33 Paul says, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
God himself is “the God of peace” (Rom. 15:33; 16:20; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20; cf. Eph. 2:14; 2 Thess. 3:16)
when God looks with compassion upon the people whom he loves, he sees them as “afflicted, in disorder, in confusion”), and not comforted” (Isa. 54:11), and promises to establish their foundations with precious stones (Isa. 54:11–12) and lead them forth in “peace” (Isa. 55:12).
The proclamation of God’s plan of redemption contains the promise of peace to God’s people (Pss. 29:11; 85:8; 119:165; Prov. 3:17; Isa. 9:6–7; 26:3; 57:19; John 14:27; Rom. 8:6; 2 Thess. 3:16; et al.).
The third element that Paul lists as part of the fruit of the Spirit is “peace” (Gal. 5:22).
Although God is a God of peace, he is also the one who “will neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4). He is the God who is continually working (John 5:17). And even though heaven is a place of peace, it is a place also of continual praise to God and service for him.
When we understand God’s peace in this way we can see an imitation of this attribute of God not only in “peace” as part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23, but also in the last-mentioned element in the fruit of the Spirit, namely, “self-control” (Gal. 5:23).
When we as God’s people walk in his ways, we come to know more and more fully by experience that the kingdom of God is indeed “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17), and we can say of the path of God’s wisdom, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Prov. 3:17).