In the last post, it was pointed out that the Bible teaches there is only one God, and yet there are three persons in that one God. This post will look at each person of the Trinity, and will take a look at some alternative views and provide some scripture against those views.
God the Father
Jesus referred to the God of the Old Testament as his Father. He had a good reason since he was the Son of God. He also encourages us to call him Father too. (There are also passages in the Old Testament, where God is referred to as Father.) God the Father is considered to be the Creator of the world, but the Son and Holy Spirit also have roles in the creation of the world. It is the Father that sent Jesus to be born as a human. And from the Father (and the Son) proceeds the Holy Spirit. If the word ‘God’ is mentioned, my first assumption is to assume that the passage is referring to God the Father (e.g. 2 Corinthians 13:14). I believe that most of the time that assumption is correct.
Jesus Not Created
Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, and yet the Bible makes it clear that he existed from eternity. Some claim that Jesus was God’s first creation. They use Colossians 1:15b, “the firstborn of all creation”, as proof of God’s first created being. The word firstborn does not have to refer to being born first. The firstborn son had special privileges and so the word firstborn can also refer to one with the special privileges of a firstborn son without being firstborn. Moses was told to tell Pharaoh that “Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22b). That verse as well as the Colossians verse the word ‘firstborn’ can not be taken literally especially if you take the phrase in context. Here is the Colossians passage in context with the paragraph:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
In context you can see that the paragraph is about the preeminence of Jesus Christ. In verses 15a and 19b, imply that Jesus is God, not a creature. In verse 18 firstborn is used again in “firstborn from the dead”. I see the word firstborn in this case as Jesus being the source and leader to those who will rise from the dead, and I see it as the same for “firstborn of all creation”. He is the head of all creation. And in verse 16 it says that “by him all things were created”. If he had a hand in creating “all things” then he could not be created.
Jesus Equal to the Father
Is Jesus equal to the Father? Jesus said “ the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). He said that because during his time here on earth Jesus “for a little while was made lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:9). Jesus is equal to the Father. He put aside that equality to become human so that he could save us on the cross (Philippians 2:6-8).
Holy Spirit is a Person
The Holy Spirit is the least known of the three persons of the Trinity. Many people consider the Spirit to be a force and not a person. I think they say that because the Holy Spirit empowers us. Jesus clearly refers to the Holy Spirit as a person in John 14-16. Here is a sample
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26)
The Holy Spirit is not a force. He is a person. He gives witness to Jesus in the above passage. He teaches (John 14:26) and speaks (Acts 8:29). He also can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), lied to (Acts 5:3-4) and become outraged (Hebrews 10:29). That sounds like a person, not a force.
Roles in the Trinity
There also tends to be some confusion over what the roles of each person of the Trinity. We want to assign specific roles, like the Father is the Creator, the Son is the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier. Doing so is not wrong, but these roles are not exclusive either. We find out that the Father created the world through the Son, and the Spirit had a role too. And it is the same with the Son and the Spirit. The Bible points out that all persons of the Trinity are at work in all external actions that affect us. Note this does not make the three persons of the Trinity uniform. Each person of the Trinity has his own personality, so the actions of each person might not be the same. Norman Geisler describes the “roles” of each person of the Trinity this way:
In brief, the Father is the Planner, the Son is the Accomplisher, and the Holy Spirit is the Applier of salvation to believers. The Father is the Source, the Son is the Means, and the Holy Spirit is the Effector of salvation—it is He who convicts, convinces, and converts.
Again I do not want to make the “roles” exclusive. The Trinity is a mystery that we can not fully comprehend. Let us look at a couple cases.
- Creation: Father (1 Corinthians 8:6), Son (Hebrews 1:2), and Spirit (Genesis 1:2)
- Salvation: Father (John 3:16), Son (Romans 3:24), and Spirit (Romans 8:9)
- Resurrection: Father (Galatians 1:1), Son (John 10:18), and Spirit (Romans 8:11)
Though some people have differing views on the Trinity, this doctrine of the Trinity is of critical importance. There is a reason that this doctrine has been central to church teaching for over 1500 years. It is important to know who God is. There is only one God and yet there are three persons to that one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On that belief the Christian faith stands.
[T]he God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him (Ephesians 1:17)
One thought on “The Trinity (Part 2)”
I see the three persons in relationship with each other. They are at peace, in harmony, the first community. Is this some of the meaning that God created the humans “in the image and likeness of God”, that is, “in OUR likeness”? Were we made for relationships, for community, even for the tight relationship of family? Then also, we were created to be agents of creating new life in family, the first human community. Some thoughts that intrigue me! Al.