Does The Bible Teach That God Is A Trinity?




There are many cults in the world who claim to embrace The Bible as the inspired word of God (e.g Mormons and Jehova’s Witnesses) but deny such essential doctrines of the Christian faith such as the deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity. If you want to know why these are essentials to being a true Christian, check out this article that my friend Richard Bushey wrote titled “Can A Christian Believe That Jesus Is Not God”. It’s an excellent article and very nicely explains from scripture, why believing that Jesus is God is so vital to being a Christian. But, the question is; what is the scriptural evidence that this doctrine is true? Why should we believe in the Trinity?

Well, in this blog post, I want to lay out several strands of evidence that teach certain things about scripture. First, it should be noted that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not explicitly taught in scripture. There is no single verse which states that God is a trinity. Nevertheless, the concept is clearly taught in scripture. Scripture teaches several things that when taken together and systematize, cough up the doctrine of the trinity? Let me say that again in different words. The Bible teaches several different things. When these pieces of biblical data are brought together, you get the picture of The Holy Trinity. Now, what are these things?

The Bible teaches these things:
1: There is only one God.
2: The Father is God.
3: Jesus Christ is God.
4: The Holy Spirit is God.
5: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit are distinct persons.

Now, if scripture teaches all 5 of these things, the concept of the Trinity is easily recognized. The doctrine of the Trinity is that there is one God who eternally exists as 3 persons. Now, before I go into the biblical data. Let me erase a common concern that many people have about the doctrine of the Trinity.

IS THE HOLY TRINITY LOGICALLY INCOHERENT?
It is not logically incoherent. The Trinity does not teach that there is 1 God and 3 Gods. Nor is the doctrine that there is 1 God who exists as 3 persons and 1 persons. If that was what the doctrine stated, then I would agree that it’s logically incoherent. To say that there is only one God and yet there are 3 Gods is a logical contradiction. It’s also a logical contradiction to say that God exists as 3 persons and 1 person.

No, the Trinity states that there is 1 God who exists as 3 persons. When stated this way, you can see that there is nothing logically incoherent about the doctrine. God is one God who consists of 3 persons. Each person is distinct from one another so that although these 3 persons make up 1 being, nevertheless, it’s false that The Father is the Son, or that the Son is the Father, or that The Father is The Holy Spirit. They’re all one in the divine essence, but they’re distinct in their personhood.

This is similar to saying that there is 1 triangle that has 3 corners. You’re not uttering something contradictory by saying that “There is 1 triangle that consists of 3 distinct corners”. And that the upper corner is not the lower left hand corner, and that the lower left hand corner is not the lower right hand corner, and that the lower right hand corner is not the upper corner. There is 1 triangle, but this 1 triangle consists of 3 separate (or distinct) corners.

I also like to compare the Trinity to the Pokemon; Dodrio. In the video game/anime series “Pokemon” which I grew up playing and watching (yes, I am a 90s kid), there is a creature called a “Dodrio”. Dodrio is based on the ostrage and this Pokemon has 3 separate heads. It has only 1 body, but it has 3 heads. And when you have a Dodrio with you, the game doesn’t recognize it as 3 separate Pokemon. The game recognizes it as only 1 Pokemon…despite the fact that it has 3 heads. There is nothing logically incoherent by saying that Dodrio is 1 Pokemon that consists of 3 heads. In the same way, there is nothing logically incoherent about saying that there is 1 God who consists of 3 persons. The only remaining issue is how we wrap our minds around a being who is 1 and yet consists of 3 persons. This is hard to comprehend because in our experience, 1 person is 1 being and any 3 persons are 3 separate beings. I explained why it’s hard to comprehend this concept of a being exists as 3 persons in a prior blog post titled “Is Believing In The Trinity Irrational” So I won’t go into that in this one. If you want to read that blog post, click on this link. There, I explain that the reason the Trinity is impossible for us to conceive of is because we’re limited to 3 dimensional thinking.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the biblical data teaching that there is only 1 God and that Yahweh, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit are all this 1 God.

THE BIBLE TEACHES THERE IS ONLY 1 GOD.

Let’s look at the scriptures that teach Monotheism. One that immediately comes to mind is Isaiah 43:10. Here, God says through the prophet Isaiah “Ye [are] my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me."

A couple of chapters later, in Isaiah 45:5, where God says (through the prophet Isaiah) “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” In this passage, God says through Isaiah that He is The Lord and there are no other gods besides Him. He says “Apart from me, there is no God.” In other words, God is essentially saying “Look, I Am God. There’s no other god except for Me. If I didn’t exist, then atheism would be true. If I didn’t exist, atheists would be right”. So here is a verse which unequivocally states monotheism.

Another passage is Deuteronomy 6:4, where Moses says to the people of Israel “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Here, scripture states that there is only one God.

In the New Testament, you have passages like 1 Timothy 2:5, which saysFor there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” and 1 Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” By the way, 1 Corinthians 8:6 will pop up two more times in this blog post. You’ll see why a little bit below.

So, clearly, according to scripture. There is only 1 God. According to The Bible, monotheism is true and polytheism is false.

THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT THE FATHER IS GOD

One might think that this one needs no passages to back it up. After all, anyone who reads The Bible even in a casual manner will clearly see that the Father is God. After all, Jesus referred to God as his father and as the father. Nevertheless, let’s look at 1 passage that affirm the Father’s deity.

Here’s where 1 Corinthians 8:6 pops up again. “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” Paul says plainly that The Father is God.

I’m not going to go into any more biblical passages on this subject, because the Father’s deity is just so obvious that virtually no reader of scripture denies it, not even the cults I mentioned above. Just a casual reading will reveal this truth to you. So, let’s go on now to the Son’s deity, which is denied by cults.

THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT JESUS (I.E THE SON) IS GOD.

Let’s turn now to the deity of Jesus. Scripture abounds with affirmations of Jesus’ deity, both in the epistles that that apostles wrote, as well as in Jesus’ claims about Himself during His earthly ministry.

Let’s look at the most powerful passages unequivocally stating that Jesus is God, and then look at the less powerful, but nevertheless compelling scriptures affirming the deity of Christ.

John 1:1-5 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Then over in verse 14, The Bible says The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

This passage is very powerful, and it reveals several things. First, it teaches that Jesus existed before the universe was even made, then it teaches the distinct personhood of Jesus from the Father (i.e “The Word was with God…”) then it teaches that The Word IS God Himself “And the Word was God.”  Then it states again the distinctness of the Word from the Father “He was with God in the beginning”. Then it teaches that everything that exists was made by The Word and that nothing that exists would exist unless the Word made it. Verse 14 talks about the Word becoming flesh and making His dwelling among us. And just to clear up any confusion, it says that The Word is “The one and only son”. This is clearly talking about Jesus! Jesus is a distinct person from The Father, and yet He is God! Plus, this passage teaches us that Jesus Christ created the universe! Jesus is God and He is our Creator! Then He took on human flesh and “made His dwelling among us”! This is a very powerful affirmation of the deity of Jesus.

Over in Hebrews 1, you have an equally powerful affirmation that Jesus is God. This chapter of The Bible absolutely demolishes the Jehova’s Witnesses’ claim that Jesus is the arch angel St. Michael. To see the entire passage, click this link. When you read Hebrews 1, you see that Jesus is “greater than the angels” and that God never said to any angel “you are my Son”. In verse 6, God says “And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” If Jesus isn’t God, then God The Father could not legitimately say “Hey, angels! Come over here and worship my son!” I mean, could you imagine God commanding anyone to worship you or me? It’s unthinkable that God should say about any human “Worship him”. If The Trinity isn’t a biblical doctrine, this command from God makes no sense. Moreover, it can’t be that Jesus is a junior god, or a lesser god. Because A) That would contradict Yahweh’s Old Testament claims that He is the only God in existence, and B) it would contradict Yahweh’s command to worship no other God but Him. So, unless Jesus and The Father are united in their Being, God would essentially be commanding his angels to commit idolatry!

In Hebrews 1:8, The Father turns to His son and says “Your throne O God, endures forever and ever.” God is calling someone else God!? This is astonishing! Jesus is called God BY God!! If Jesus isn’t divine, how could The Father (who is God) call Jesus God? God would be blaspheming Himself if this weren’t true! To prevent this blog post from becoming any more lengthy than it already is, I advise you to click on this link (which will take you to Bible Gateway) and read the chapter yourself.

Then you have Colossians 1. Which says

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” – Colossians 1:15-17

So, in John 1, Hebrews 1, and Colossians 1, each written by a different author, you have Christ who taking on the role of God as the Creator and sustainer of everything that is in existence other than Himself.

Let’s bring up 1 Corinthians 8:6 one last time. “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. God The Father and Jesus Christ are described in this verse is nearly identical terms! Both The Father and The Son are described as the source of all things, and in whom we live. “By whom are all things, and we in him” is describing the Father, “By whom are all things, and we by him” of Jesus.

Moreover, Jesus’ own claims about Himself testify to His deity. He says in John 10:30, “I and the father are one” and the Greek word there for “one” means one in essence, one in nature! Moreover, Jesus, several times throughout the synoptic gospels refers to himself as “The Son of Man” which refers to Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7. In Daniel 7, Daniel sees someone “like a son of man” who “comes on the clouds of Heaven”, who is given authority by God over the world and who is worshipped by every nation. By the way, even if one doesn’t accept The Bible as divinely inspired, one can still reasonably conclude from historical methodology alone…that Jesus made this claim about himself. Even several non-Christian (and even non-theistic) scholars believe that Jesus made this claim about Himself? Why? Because of a historical principle known as the principle of dissimilarity. Jesus is hardly ever called the son of man outside of the synoptic gospels and even in the early church writings. On this basis, these non-Christian historians conclude that Jesus must have made this statement about himself. Since Jesus referred to Himself as “The Son Of Man” over and over and over and over again in the synoptic gospels, but hardly ever by His followers which came after him, these atheistic, agnostic, Jewish and Christian historians conclude that this statement about Jesus must not have been made up. So even those who don’t think The Bible is inspired believe Jesus called himself “The son of Man” based on the principle of dissimilarity.

Moreover, Jesus forgave sins. The religious leaders of His day rightly point out that forgiving sins is something only God can do. There are many, many, other passages one can point to which teaches that Jesus is God. But this blog post is becoming too wordy as it is. So I’ll just leave it here. Now, let’s turn to the third person of the Trinity.

THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD

It goes without saying that the Holy Spirit is God as well. Let’s just look at a couple of passages.

Matthew 12:28: Jesus says, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Here the Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of God.

Acts 5:3-4 is a very interesting passage in this regard. This is the story of Ananias and Sapphira.

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

In verse 3, Peter says to Ananias, “You have lied to the Holy Spirit,” and then in verse 4 he says, “You have lied to God,” so, again, showing that the Holy Spirit is God himself.

Romans 8:9 says “You are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

Finally, 1 Corinthians 6:11.3 He says, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE DISTINCT PERSONS

Finally, the last biblical teaching that rightly needs to be pointed out, which points us toward Trinitarian doctrine is that each person of The Trinity, while being united in essence, are distinct in personhood. This, is where modalists go wrong. Modalists believe that The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit are all the same persons, just different modes that God goes through, rather than being 3 separate persons united in one essence. Modalists rightly acknowledge the deity of all 3 persons, but they err when they mesh them all together in personhood.

Here is where it needs to be pointed out that they are separate in personhood.

First, turn to John 1. We’ve already looked at that passage. While John 1 DOES say “The Word was God”, notice that before that, it says “The Word was with God” Reading this passage conjures up images of the paintings of the Trinity where Jesus is sitting on the left hand of God The Father. While Jesus is God, He is also “with God.” And that “He was with God in the beginning.” So, John 1 not emphasizes that Jesus and his father are one in essence, they are united, but they are also distinct individuals.

Moreover, turn again to Hebrews 1. There, God says to his son “Your throne O God will endure forever and ever” and Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Who is The Father talking to in this passage? Himself? He’d have to be if one affirms modalism. Modalism teaches that The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are all the same person. If you affirm modalism, then you have to pretty much say that God is one person who talks to Himself…as if there were a second person to talk to….which is odd. Moreover, it makes Jesus an odd individual who refers to himself as “Father”. What you think if a person who went around claiming that he was his own father? You’d think him a very strange individual wouldn’t you? Clearly there must be some separate personhood involved here.

Now, if you think that this is double talk, go back up and read my triangle explanation. There is nothing logically incoherent about affirming that The Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit are all God and yet separate in personhood, anymore than saying that the upper, lower left hand, and lower right hand corners of a triangle are separate corners…and yet all 3 corners are the same triangle.

So, as you can see. Even though there is no one Bible verse that teaches the doctrine of The Holy Trinity, nevertheless, the concept can be found by bringing together several pieces of biblical data.

The Bible teaches these things:
1: There is only one God.
2: The Father is God.
3: Jesus Christ is God.
4: The Holy Spirit is God.
5: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit are distinct persons.

This points to the doctrine of The Trinity. If you’d like to study this biblical doctrine in a lot more detail, William Lane Craig has an 8 part lecture on it from his Defenders 2 podcast. Click the link below.