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The Trinity

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

A. W. Tozer


The Trinity-the triune nature of God-is a basic doctrine of Christianity. Although the word "Trinity" is not found in the Bible, the elements of this doctrine are all taken directly from God's Word.

The doctrine of the Trinity states that there is one God who exists eternally as three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Bible could not be more explicit that there is only one God, which it declares about two dozen times. In Isaiah 45:5 God says, "I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no God." In Mark 12:29 Jesus states, "The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord ...' "

Jesus referred to God as His Father, and the apostles frequently spoke of "God the Father." But the New Testament also insists that Jesus is God. For example, Thomas acknowledged Jesus as "my Lord and my God" (John 20:28), and both Peter and Paul spoke of Jesus as "our God and Savior" (2 Peter 1:1; Titus 2:13). Yet the New Testament also makes the distinction between the Father and the Son as two very different persons. In fact, they tell us that they love one another, speak to each other, and seek to glorify each other (e.g., John 17:1-26).

The Old Testament refers often to the Holy Spirit as God at work in the world, without distinction from the Father. But Jesus in John 14-16 explained that the Father at Christ's request would send this Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would teach and guide the disciples, not speaking on His own initiative, but speaking on Christ's behalf and glorifying Christ. Thus, the Holy Spirit is revealed by Christ to be a third person distinct from the Father and from the Son.

The three persons of the Trinity-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit-are distinct persons, yet they are all the one God. They are in absolute perfect harmony consisting of one substance. They are coeternal, coequal, and copowerful. If any one of the three were removed, there would be no God.

There is, though, an apparent separation of some functions among the members of the Godhead. For example, the Father chooses those in Christ to be saved (Ephesians 1:4); the Son redeems them (Ephesians 1:7); and the Holy Spirit seals them (Ephesians 1:13).

A further point of clarification is that God is not one person, the Father, with Jesus as a created being and the Holy Spirit as a force (Jehovah's Witnesses). Neither is He one person who took three consecutive forms, i.e., the Father became the Son, who became the Holy Spirit. Nor is God the divine nature of the Son, where Jesus had a human nature perceived as the Son and a divine nature perceived as the Father (United Pentecostal). Nor is the Trinity an office held by three separate Gods (Mormonism).

It has been interestingly said, "If you try to figure out the Trinity, you will lose your mind; if you deny the Trinity, you will lose your soul." In short, the doctrine of the Trinity is completely biblical, and it is essential that all Christians give assent to this doctrine.

The Trinity at Work in Redemption

In every major phase of the redemption, each person of the Godhead is directly involved. Their involvement in each successive phase can be seen in the following:

1.   Incarnation. The Father incarnated the Son in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit (see Luke 1:35).

2.   Baptism in the Jordan River. The Spirit descended on the Son, and the Father spoke His approval from heaven (see Matthew 3:14-17).

3.   Public ministry. The Father anointed the Son with the Spirit (see Acts 10:38).

4.   The crucifixion. Jesus offered Himself to the Father through the Spirit (see Hebrews 9:14).

5.   The resurrection. The Father resurrected the Son by the Spirit (see Acts 2:32; Romans 1:4).

6.   Pentecost. From the Father the Son received the Spirit, whom He then poured out on His disciples (see Acts 2:33).

The following chart should help you to see how the doctrine of the Trinity is derived from Scripture. The list is only illustrative, not exhaustive.







Holy Spirit


Called God


Phil. 1:2


John 1:1, 14; Col. 2:9


Acts 5:3, 4




Gen. 1:1; Isaiah 64:8


John 1:3; Col. 1:16


Job 33:4; 26:13




Gal. 1:1; 1 Thes. 1:10


John 2:19; 10:17


Rom. 8:11




2 Cor. 6:16


Col. 1:27; Gal. 2:20


John 14:17; Rom. 8:9, 11




1 Kings 8:27


Matt. 28:20


Psalm 139:7-10




1 John 3:20


John 16:30; 21:17


1 Cor. 2:10, 11




1 Thes. 5:23


Heb. 13:12


1 Pet. 1:2


Life giver


Gen. 2:7; John 5:21


John 1:3; 5:21


2 Cor. 3:6; Rom. 8:11




1 John 1:3


1 Cor. 1:9; 1 John 1:3


2 Cor. 13:14; Phil. 2:1




Psalm 90:2


Micah 5:2; John 8:58


Heb. 9:14




Luke 22:42


Luke 22:42


1 Cor. 12:11




Matt. 3:17; Heb. 1:1, 2


Luke 9:26


Acts 8:29; 13:2




John 3:16


Eph. 5:25


Rom. 15:30


Searches the heart


Jer. 17:10


Rev. 2:23


1 Cor. 2:10


We belong to


John 17:9


John 17:6






1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3


2 Tim. 1:10; Titus 3:6




We serve


Matt. 4:10


Col. 3:24




Believe in


Num. 14:11; John 14:1


John 11:26; 12:44


1 John 4:1, 2


Gives joy


Neh. 12:43


John 15:11


Gal. 5:22; 1 Thes. 1:6




John 8:50; Heb. 12:23


John 5:22, 30




Additional Descriptions Applied to All Three in the Trinity

1) Who gives us words to speak?

Father-Matthew 10:19, 20: "But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you."

Holy Spirit-Mark 13:11: "But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what you shall speak, neither premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak: for it is not you that speak, but the Holy Spirit."

Son-Luke 21:14, 15: "Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what you shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."

2) Who gave the New Covenant?

Father-Jeremiah 31:33, 34: "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

Holy Spirit-Hebrews 10:15-17: "Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, said the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

Son-Hebrews 12:24: "And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant ..."

3) Who is our helper?

Father-Hebrews 13:6: "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me."

Holy Spirit-Romans 8:26: "Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities."

Son-Hebrews 4:16: "Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me."

4) Who comforts us?

Father-2 Corinthians 1:3, 4: "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our tribulation ..."

Holy Spirit-Acts 9:31: "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied."

Son-2 Corinthians 1:5: "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ."

5) Who gives us peace?

Father-1 Corinthians 14:33: "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."

Holy Spirit-Galatians 5:22: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith ..."

Son-John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

6) Who sends out Christians?

Father-Matthew 9:38: "Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest."

Holy Spirit-Acts 13:4: "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit, departed to Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus."

Son-Matthew 10:16: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

7) Who calls Christians to ministry?

Father-1 Corinthians 1:1: "Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God ..."

Holy Spirit-Acts 13:2: "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."

Son-Romans 1:6: "Among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ."

Adapted from an article by the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry ([1]

[1] Cameron, K., & Comfort, R. (2004). The school of biblical evangelism: 101 lessons: how to share your faith simply, effectively, biblically-the way Jesus did (pp. 309-315). Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.