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Does the Bible teach the Trinity? What is it, and why does it matter?

Short Answer

While it’s true that the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible, the concept of God as “one being in three separate persons” is certainly something that the Bible clearly teaches.

Throughout Scripture, we repeatedly read that there is only one God (Deu 6:4; Isa 43:10, 44:6; 1Tim 2:5). But there are places in which the “Father” is referred to as God (Mat 27:46; Joh 20:17; 1Cor 8:6; Eph 4:6; 1Pet 1:3), and “Jesus” is referred to as God (Isa 9:6, 45:21; Joh 1:1; Col 2:9; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:8), and the “Holy Spirit” is referred to as God (Gen 1:2; Acts 5:3-4; 1Cor 2:10, 6:9; 2Pet 1:21).

There are also several places where these three are described as distinct from each other (Gen 1:26; Luke 3:21-22; Matt 28:19; John 8:16, 14:26; Acts 10:38).

The trinity matters because if it were proven false, then Jesus would be a false teacher. His claim to be “one with the Father” (Joh 8:58, 10:30, 33) would be heresy.

More Info

Often, when attempting to define what a complex concept IS, it can be helpful to describe what it IS NOT.  

  • The trinity is NOT three separate gods.  That is called “polytheism.”

  • The trinity is NOT one God revealed in different manifestations.  That is called “modalism.”

  • The trinity is NOT three parts of one God.  That is called “partialism.”

  • The trinity is NOT one God with one personhood.  That is called “Unitarianism.”

All of the above efforts to reconcile the mystery of how God can “be one but also three” end up denying at least one clear Scriptural truth.

Unfortunately, a discussion of the trinity often focuses more on “how it works” than “what it implies about God’s nature.” Several objects have been put forth in an attempt to physically illustrate the concept.  But ultimately, God is not like an egg, an apple, water, a shamrock, or a triquetra.  He is more complicated than those objects.  Even though a true description of God as a trinity is incomprehensible (Isa 55:8-9; Job 42:1-6), it does not mean that it is incoherent. The Bible says there is value in trying to comprehend the marvelous things of God (Pro 25:2), even if we can never fully achieve that.

It is also helpful to think about the implications of the trinity.  Because God’s nature contains unique diversity within overarching unity, it allows for things like community and fellowship, and love (1Joh 4:8) to exist within Himself, without dependence on outside beings. (Act 17:24-25)

Links: Stand to Reason


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