A Brief Study on the Trinity or Tri-Unity of God

A Brief Study on the Trinity or Tri-Unity of God

Introduction

The following study began this 26 day of January; in the Year of Our Lord 2014 is a revision of an incomplete manuscript on the subject from September 2008 which manuscript was based on a previously completed study of the same name dating back to 2004. This study will expand on the original, including studies on the biblical teaching that there is only one true God; the names of God; and the Deity of the Three Persons of the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-Unity of God is one of the basic or fundamental doctrines of the Christian Church and Faith.  It has been so since the early years of the Church.  The doctrine, in essence, is based upon the Scriptural teaching listed above and is to be understood as follows: There is only One True God in essence or being, Who, without division of essence or being, none-the-less exists in Three Distinct Persons; those of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These Three Persons constituting One Eternal God.  This doctrine is one of the most often attacked by non-Christian religions and pseudo-Christian cults.  This has been so, since the beginning.

While the term “trinity” itself is not found in the Scriptures, this is in itself no argument against the doctrine.  The terms “omniscient” [all-knowing], and “omnipresent” [present everywhere] are not in the Scriptures either but few would argue that God was not omniscient or omnipresent as these attributes of God, while not so named are taught in Scripture.  Consider, for example, Isaiah 40:13-14 [1] asking who has been the Lord’s counselor or teacher?  Romans 11:34 same question.  1st John 3:20 “God…knows all things” (ellipsis and italics added for emphasis), or Psalm 139:7-9 “ Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?…”  (ellipsis added).  The answer, of course, is “nowhere” because God is already there.  Thus, while arguing against the doctrine because of the absence of a descriptive or defining term is itself a false argument, being based on a logical fallacy (The Argument from Silence) which does not, in fact, prove anything.  That the argument from silence proves nothing in the case of whether a doctrine is or is not taught in Scripture is evident from the two examples of the terms “omniscience” and “omnipresence.”  Just for the sake of a complete understanding of this concept; the word “omnipotent” [meaning “all potent” or “all powerful”] is the only word actually found in Scripture, of the three, commonly used terms with the prefix “omni” meaning “all” that are commonly used to describe God.  It is from the Greek term found in Revelation 19:6, παντοκράτωρ (Strong’s#G3841) [2] pantokrator or “all-mighty.”  It is, therefore, necessary to examine the unified teachings of Scripture to see who, what, and how God is presented in the aggregate.  I believe that a faithful examination of the evidence of Scripture will demonstrate that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is indeed the Triune God of the Historic Christian Church.

I       Historical Background

Origins and Early Use of the term “Trinity.”

The term “trinity” is first found in a letter by one of the early Church Fathers.  Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, in writing to Autolycus, refers to the Lord using the term “trinity” to describe the tri-unity of the Godhead in refuting pagan and Jewish criticisms that Christians were worshiping three gods as opposed to One God in Three Persons.  This letter dates to around 178 A.D. (Long before the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine and/or the “Roman Catholic Church” hereafter “R.C.” or “R.C. Church”).

Four other ante-Nicene Counsel references are still in existence today.  One, “Against Praxeus” a letter by Tertullian another Church Father, was written in the early 200’s A.D.  The others are from Novatian, Clement of Alexander, and Origen; all three of whom lived and wrote in the 3rd Century [200’s] A.D., long before the first of the Nicene Counsels held beginning in 325 A.D. and so cannot be attributed to the R.C. Church.

The Need for a Unified Doctrinal Expression

To understand the need for the early church to formulate the doctrine of the trinity (note: “formulate”- give form to, not “invent”) is due to the situation facing the early church and the nature of the writings of Scripture.

For whatever reasons He had, the Lord, in His revelation of Himself and His plan, did not cause the Scriptures to be written in a way as to provide us a textbook on Systematic Theology.  The Bible is not divided into chapters/verses based on specific topics, e.g., Purity, see chapter 21;. The Organization of Angelic Hosts, see chapter 100, baptism, see chapter 75, The Father as God, see chapter 1, etc., etc., etc.  Rather, the Bible presents an unfolding revelation, over a period of time (some 1400-1500 years).  The closest the Bible comes to presenting any systematic doctrinal teachings are a couple of the Psalms e.g., 119 on the Word of God itself, and the Pauline epistles which were written in large part to address specific problems, both in practice and doctrine, which were already beginning to surface in the first decade of the Church’s existence.  The most serious of those early doctrinal errors (and a precursor to the present study) being a denial of Christ’s humanity, deity, and bodily resurrection, and the problems of the Judaizers and Antinomians both.  Additionally, there was the misunderstanding of such matters as justification, sanctification, and Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross. These and others are all issues that were already cropping up in the early church and were addressed as needed.

Not every possible heresy rose up during the time of the Apostles for them to address directly. However, God, in His wisdom and foreknowledge, had inspired all that would be necessary to answer them to be written in advance.  One of those heresies involved the nature of God.

Monotheism in Early Jewish Religion

1)     The necessity of a strong monotheistic emphasis in God’s early revelations.

Although the Lord was known by mankind prior to His causing the Scriptures to be written; mankind, even His own chosen people, Israel [3] did not have a complete revelation of God, His nature, or His plans.  Thus, when He began the work of forming His people Israel by first delivering them out of Egypt, it was necessary to instruct them as to WHO was this God of their Fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and what He wanted from them.

It must be understood that at the time God began both His work of deliverance and revelation, the Children of Israel had been in Egypt, a nation with many gods, for over 400 years. Furthermore, they were to be taken to a land, Canaan, that was itself filled with different peoples all having multitudes of gods.  Even the people of the deliverer’s own father-in-law Jethro of Midian, while recognizing the Lord, viewed Him as but one god among many.  Thus the Lord had to break His chosen people of their mistaken idea that there were, in fact, other “gods” in existence besides the Lord God.  And, having been indoctrinated for so long in polytheism, any attempt to directly teach the triune nature of the Godhead would surely be interpreted as nothing but “polytheism.”  (As it happened, 1500 years later, the Jews and the pagans of the 1st 3 centuries of the Christian era, and even till now cried out and still cry out, “3 gods! You worship 3 gods!”  They just don’t understand).  It was for this purpose then, to instill in the beginning of His revelation of Himself and our relationship with Him in Christ, a firm, and inflexible monotheistic faith. That His chosen people again, and again, and again reverted to idolatry and the worship of many gods besides the Lord is a testimony to man’s natural sinfulness and rebellion and to the depth of God’s graciousness and mercy.  That time and again, He would chasten His people but did not destroy them as they rightfully deserved (or as we ourselves so rightfully deserve today).  Their rebellious worship of the gods of the nations around them is not, nor, can be used as an argument that the doctrine of the Triune nature of the Godhead is itself pagan or polytheistic in origin.

2)     Hints of Plurality Within the Godhead.

In spite of the need to break His people away from their polytheistic leanings, to monotheism, God did give hints or indications of a plurality within the Godhead, beginning at the very beginning.  In the very first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, it says, “In the beginning, God created….” (ellipsis added).  “God” here is the Hebrew term אלהים  [4], elohiym, a plural noun used in singular construction.  The Shema, or great profession of faith of the Hebrew people also bears subtle witness to this plurality in unity.

“4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deu 6:4 NKJV)

“4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD [יהוה YHWH, Strong’s #3068, a/k/a Yahweh, Jehovah, singular personal name of God, cf. Exodus 3:14-15]  our God, [אלהינו elohiym, plural noun, lit. “gods”]  the LORD [יהוה YHWH, singular personal name of God ] is one!” (Deu 6:4 NKJV)

Notice the application or tying together of the singular personal name of God YHWH with a plural noun “elohiym”.  So, it can be seen that even while emphasizing the singularity in number or quantity of God, already there are subtle indications of a plurality within the Godhead.

Another point of interest in the Shema, related to the concept of plurality in unity is the term used to state that there is but “one” God.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”  The Hebrew word chosen by GOD, 2000 years before Emperor Constantine and the first “Pope” of Rome, the word chosen was Strong’s H259 “echad” אחד ׃  a form of the word “one” that has a primary meaning of place or uniqueness and not numerical quantity.  This can be seen in that there are numerous places where the term “echad” “one” is used and does not refer to a one in a strictly numerical sense.  For example, Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one [echad] flesh.” Another is Numbers 13:23, “Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one [cluster] cluster of grapes;…”  These are but two examples of plurality in unity, plurality within the singular.

Consider also those passages such as Genesis 3:9; 24:7; Exodus 3:15 to mention but three of many such passages that connect “the Lord,” Yahweh, Jehovah, with the plural noun Elohim (lit. gods), to read, literally the “Lord gods,” or “YHWH gods.”  Or, the many instances of “I am the Lord your God;” again, literally, “I am the Lord your gods,” “I am Yahweh your gods.”  Cf. Leviticus 18:4,30; 19:2, 3, 4, 25, 31 and so on.  In these passages you have both the personal, singular pronoun, “I” plus the singular personal name of God “YHWH” and the plural noun Elohim all connected together in one descriptor of God!

The word Elohim, is found 2606 times in the Hebrew manuscripts; the manuscripts upon which the King James (and New King James) Version of the Bible is based.  Of those 2606 times, 2346 of them it is found in reference to God; 244 times to other gods, 5 times to judges, and less than 10 times in other manners: angels, goddess, mighty, etc.

II Only One God

What are the attributes of Deity?

There are many attributes of being that are found in the Scriptures as applying to God.  However, for the purposes of this study and in the interest in brevity, only a few key attributes will be considered.

Omniscience, Omnipresence, and Omnipotence, are of course the three main and best-known attributes of Deity that apply to the God of the Bible.

Additionally, there are: Eternal; Personal – that is, having the attributes of personhood, will, intellect, emotion, as contrasted with impersonal or some mere “force” or “power of nature/the universe” – Life – is alive, self-conscious.  These are some of the natural attributes of the God of the Bible other than the one now being considered – Unique, Only, One.  These few attributes of Deity are also the ones that will be used later in demonstrating the Deity of Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Scriptural Passages Declaring Only One True God Exists

Following are but a few of the many declarations of Scripture that there is only One True God.

Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 11:16; 13:1-8; 32:39

1st Kings 8:60

Psalms 18:31; 86:10; 96:4-5

Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6; 45:5-6

Jeremiah 10:6-7

1st Corinthians 10:6-7

There are many other such declarations that are not listed here. If one accepts that the Scriptures do not contradict themselves in any teaching (doctrine), then the above clear declarations are sufficient.  If one does not believe the Scriptures do not contradict themselves in any doctrine, then no amount of citations will make a difference.  Thus, for the sincere reader/inquirer, the above passages are sufficient to demonstrate the point that there is only One True God.  Of practical significance, if there is only One True God, then by default, any other god is a false god.

In the next two parts, I will attempt to demonstrate both biblically and logically how in addition to the Person of the Father, against whose Deity I would hope there is no argument, both Jesus and the Holy Spirit also share the same attributes of Deity as the Father.  That being done, we are left with the matter of do we, as Christians worship three distinct gods, or One God in three distinct Persons.

As no Christian that I know of debates the matter of the Father’s Deity, at this time, rather than spend hours presenting the evidence for the Deity of God the Father, I will move straight on to the Deity of the Christ.

III The Deity of Christ

Background

From the beginning of His ministry on earth, the Jews, at least, recognized Jesus’ claims to Deity. Oh He did not claim to be God directly by saying, “Listen up people, I am God,” but in many other ways, He did claim for Himself the attributes, names/titles, and perquisites that belong only to God.  It is in those ways that the Jews of His day recognized, even while rejecting, His claims to Deity.

Names of God/Christ

Below is a table that can be found in the book “The Oneness of God”<a>[5]</a>:

Name/Title of God                         Scripture           Name/Title of Christ                 Scripture

Almighty                                      Gen. 17:1                Almighty                                      Rev. 1:8

I Am                                           Exo. 3:14-16            I Am                                           John 8:58

Rock                                          Psa. 18:2; 28:1         Rock                                           1st Cor. 10:4

Horn of Salvation                         Psa. 18:2                Horn of Salvation                           Luk. 1:69

Shepard                             Psa. 23:1; Isa. 40:10-11    Good Shepard;

Great Shepard;

Chief Shepherd         Joh. 10:11; Heb. 13:20; 1st Pet. 5:4

King of Glory                              Psa. 24:7-10             Lord of Glory                                  1st Cor. 2:8

Light                                   Psa. 27:1; Isa. 60:19        Light                                              Joh. 1;4-9

Salvation                             Psa. 27:1: Isa. 12:2         Only Salvation                                 Acts 4:10-12

Lord of Lords                              Psa. 136:3                Lord of Lords                                   Rev. 19:16

Holy One                                    Isa. 12:6                  Holy One                                         Acts 2:27

Lawgiver                                     Isa. 33:22               Testator of 1st Testament (the Law)    Heb. 9:14-17

First & Last                         Isa. 41:4; 44:6: 48:12       First & Last/Alpha & Omega

Beginning & End                               Rev.1:8; Rev.22:13

Just God                                     Isa. 45:21               Just One                                           Acts 7:52

Only Savior                 Isa. 43:11; 45:31; 60:16           Savior                                              Tit. 2:13; 3:6

Redeemer                                Isa. 54:5: 60:16          Redeemer                                        Gal. 3:13: Rev. 5:9

Only Creator                Isa. 44:24; 45:8; 48:13            Creator of Everything         Joh. 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:10

King of Israel                               Isa. 44:6                King of Israel, King of Kings            Joh. 1:49; Rev. 19:16

Giver of Spiritual Water              Isa. 44:3; 55:1           Giver of Living Water                     Joh. 4:10-14; 7:38-39

From the above listing of names/titles given to God in the Old Testament and comparing with the names/titles given to Christ in the New Testament; it is evident that Christ IS GOD!

Additional Passages Attributing Deity to Christ

Note: In the following, unless otherwise stated, I have added “…” ellipsis and/or parenthesis/brackets for the sake of brevity, emphasis, or explanatory purposes.

Hebrews

1:10

[God the Father, Yahweh is still speaking in reference to the Son, Jesus] “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth…”

·        The Father [God] is acknowledging here, the presence of His Son Jesus “in the beginning” as well as His, Jesus’ co-participation in the creation of the universe and all (angels included) it contains.  See also John 1:1-3 and note (footnotes)<a>[6]</a> and Colossians 1:17

Hebrews

1:11-12

Referring to the eternal nature of the Son, that is, unlike the angels and other created beings, He is, as the Father, Eternal God, without beginning or end.

Hebrews

1:8

“But to the Son [referring to Jesus, see vv.1-7] He says, [God is still the speaker] “Your throne O God, is forever and ever…”.”

·        Here God [the Father] is addressing God [the Son].

·        Also, that His [Jesus’] throne is forever and ever speaks of Jesus’ eternal existence- eternal being another attribute of Deity.

Hebrews

1:13

“But to which of the angels has He [the Father] ever said:”

·        Here and in v. 1:5, where God the Father refers to Jesus as His Son, God asks, “to which of the angels” did I ever say these things.  The answer, ‘None!’

·        Jesus is not, as some pseudo-Christian cults and gnostics try to say, the Archangel Michael.  Never did the Father, Yahweh, ever refer to an angel as His Son nor offer one the seat of honor.

Isaiah

8:13-15

“The Lord of hosts…will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

·        Note that Isaiah refers to the Lord of hosts [God] in terms of “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,” the same terms that Paul would use referring to Christ in Romans 9:33.  Compare also Peter’s words in 1st Peter 2:1-8

Isaiah

43:11

God says He is the only Savior.  Jesus is Savior, ergo, Jesus is God.

John

1: 1-3

Christ’s existence in eternity past is shown in these three verses.  Note the following points.

·        He [Jesus, the Word] was already in existence in the beginning [of time], “In the beginning was the Word.”

·        He was with God demonstrates His existence as a separate distinct “person” from God [the Father], “and the Word was with God.”

·        He [Jesus, the Word]  was God.   “and the Word was God.”

There are those who would deny the accuracy of this translation as they deny the Deity of Christ.  Among such the Jehovah’s Witnesses are the most prominent having created their own [mis]-translation of the Scriptures which reads, “the word was a god.”

The problem with the J.W. translation is this.  The Scriptures, and that includes the J.W.’s own translation, teach that there is only One God in number.  If then, there is only One True God and the Scriptures teach that all other “gods” are “false gods,” and if the “word” was “a god” then by their own words, the J.W.’s relegate Jesus to the status of a false god!  Jesus is either God the Son, distinct in Person from the Father and yet, still the One God in “essence” or He is not any god at all.  See 1st Timothy 3:16<a>[7]</a>.

·        Jesus’ pre-incarnate existence with God is reaffirmed in v.2, “He was in the beginning with God.

·        All that exists, Angels, the Universe, heaven, was made by Him [Jesus the Word].  Cf. Colossians 1:16.

·        Here and in Colossians, it is clearly pointed out that Jesus made everything that exists.  “All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made” (v.3).  This includes angels and so, shoots down any Christology that teaches that Jesus was an angel (much less the Archangel Michael, as per the J.W.s) prior to His incarnation (i.e., birth as the God/Man).

John

1:14

God [Jesus, the Word] becomes a man – Immanuel “God with us.”  Matthew 1:23, cf. Isaiah 7:14.

John

20:28

·        The disciple Thomas declares Jesus to be his Lord AND his GOD!  If Jesus were not God, Jesus would have had to correct Thomas’s error as being blasphemous.  Jesus did no such thing.  On the contrary, He let Thomas’s confession stand as it was true.

John

8:58

“Before Abraham was I AM”

·        Jesus here uses the Covenant Name of GOD given by the Father to Moses.  Cf. Exodus 3:14

·        The Greek expression used here is exactly that found in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.  The Septuagint being a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures made 200 years before Christ’s advent.  So NO, you can’t blame the Greek mystery religions or the RC Church for this as it predates them both.

Jude

25

“To God our Savior,”

·        Again, refer to the table of names/titles, there is only One Savior and that one Savior is referred to as God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New.

Mark

2:1-12

·        Jesus takes upon Himself, the “right to forgive” the sins of others, something which belongs to God alone (v.7).  Either Jesus was God, or the Pharisees had it right when they accused Him of blasphemy.

·        See also Luke 5:20-21; 7:47-49.

Matthew

2:11

·        The Wise Men “worshiped” Jesus.

·        Worship is something that is reserved for God alone!  Exodus 20:1-5; Deuteronomy 5:6-9.  Yet, the wise men, “worshiped” Jesus!

·        Jesus Himself accepted worship from others, an act that violates the 1st and 2nd Commandments IF, in fact, He were not God Himself.  SeeMatthew 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52.

·        Related to this, note that angels are not to be worshiped.  Cf. Revelation 22:8-9, this angel is not the Alpha and Omega!  Jesus is not, nor ever was any mere “angel.”

Peter 2nd

1:1

“the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

·        Here again, Jesus Christ is named as “God and Savior”!

Philippians

2:5- 9

“Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.”

Revelation

1:8-18

V.13 “the First and the Last.”

V.13 The One speaking to John – “the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last,”

V.17 “He who lives, and was dead and behold I am alive forevermore” this One, is identified as “One like the Son of Man” (another Messianic Title that Jesus frequently applied to Himself).

·        The LORD God says in Isaiah – “I, the LORD am the first…” cf. Isa. 41:4

Revelation

22:6,16

·        Jesus claims the “angels of God” as His own angels.  Compare from John 1:51; Genesis 28:12; Exodus 23:33; Psalm 91:1 (all showing that the angels are “God’s” angels) and 2nd Thessalonians 1:7; Matthew 24:30-31.

Romans

9:5

“Christ…who is overall the eternally blessed God. Amen.”

·        Here is a direct statement regarding the Deity of Christ!

Timothy 1st

3:16

That Jesus was God [the Son] is clearly taught here as being a great mystery.  Which it is, even now.

·        “And without controversy [i.e., no doubt about it] great is the mystery of godliness”  It is something that we, with our finite minds are incapable of fully understanding or being able to explain the “how” of it.

·        “God was manifested in the flesh”  How much clearer can it be put?  Jesus, who is also called Immanuel (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) “became flesh and dwelt among us” cf. John 1:14.  So, in effect, we can clearly see here that God and Jesus are interchangeable in this statement.  God is Jesus, Jesus is God.  But, it is NOT saying that Jesus is the Father, or that the Father is Jesus.  He, Jesus, [God the Son] is the Son of God [the Father].

Titus

2:13

“looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”

·        Here Jesus is referred to as BOTH GOD and SAVIOR.

As can be seen from the preceding review of what Scripture says and the ‘logical consequences’ of what Scripture reaffirms as true in reference to God; Scripture clearly announces the following:

1.     There is ONLY ONE TRUE GOD in Number.

2.     The OT And NT Scriptures use interchangeable names and titles for both God the Father and His Only Begotten Son Jesus.  Such usage strongly implies that the Son is therefore at the least a God equal to the Father, but as #1 limits the number of Deities to One, Jesus cannot be “a God” equal to the Father, but must then somehow share the Deity of the Godhead, as both the OT and NT names/titles are the same.

3.     The OT Revelation of God, the beginning of God’s revelation contains indications of a “Plurality in Unity” existing within the Godhead.  While not limiting that plurality to 3, there are only three distinct entities, persons who share that Unity, the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

4.     In the New Testament; we find not only references to Jesus using the same name/titles attributed to God the Father, but also find that Jesus shares the same immutable attributes; that He claims for His own the rights, privileges, and property of God, up to and including the receipt of worship, something that would be most blasphemous were He not God in His own right.

5.     We also find in the New Testament several statements made by the Apostles through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,that directly claim that Jesus is God.

IV Person-hood and Deity of the Holy Spirit

Introduction

The Christian doctrine of the trinity or tri-unity of God teaches that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Godhead.  Certain gnostic cults and pseudo-Christian cults claim that the Holy Spirit is merely the “force” or “power” of God and not a “person” in His own right.  They argue that the Hebrew term “ruagh” Greek term “pnuema” both translated variously as “breath,” “wind,” or “spirit” teach that the Spirit is not a distinct, thinking person.  The following Scriptures will, I believe, dispel the error of that thinking.

The Person-hood of the Holy Spirit

1.     To demonstrate the Deity of the Holy Spirit, it is first necessary to show that the Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of a person, that is possesses person-hood.  The following passages address this issue.

Throughout the Scriptures the Holy Spirit is referred to by the “personal pronouns” ”He,” “His,” and “Who” which pronouns generally apply to persons, rather than the impersonal pronoun “it.”  Consider the following passages for examples of this usage.  John 14:16, “that He may abide” referring to the Helper, the Holy Spirit; John 14:17, “neither sees Him nor knows Him, … know Him, …He dwells…” (ellipsis added for brevity and emphasis).  Note the use of “Him” and “He” not “it.”  Consider also:

John 14:26          He – not it.

John 16:7            Him – not it.

John 16:8            He, He – not it. not

John 16:13          He, the Spirit of truth, He, His, He,He, He – not it.

John 16:14          He, He–not it.

Jesus of all people, should know whether or not the Holy Spirit was a force or a person.  Jesus continually referred to the Spirit as a person and/or as doing things only a person could do.

Additional passages where the Spirit is referred to in terms of being a person, “He,” “Him,” “His,” “Who,” Romans 8:16, 26; 1stCorinthians 12:11.

While it should be noted that there are places in the Scripture where the impersonal or neuter form of the pronoun is used, that is determined by whether the antecedent noun is a neuter rather than masculine or feminine noun.  These passages, including both: verses where the pronoun used in reference to the Holy Spirit is the masculine, personal pronoun in the Greek, and those passages where the pronoun is the Greek indefinite but translated as a masculine personal pronoun, are included as an argument in favor of the Person-hood of the Spirit, but due to the somewhat subjective nature of translation work, it is only one argument, not “the” argument.  Additionally, there are times  when the best indicator of how the verb(s) in a sentence are being used  and how then to determine best how to translate the pronoun when the Greek/Hebrew form is indefinite is contextually.  That is, some times verbs and pronouns interpretation is contextually driven.  Also, where modern English, unlike the Indo-European/Romance languages, though not in 100% consistent manner, does not assign gender to nouns in correlation to any specific gender identity or relationship between the noun and any male/female qualities or lack thereof; many languages, particularly the Indo-European languages, including Greek, Latin, Spanish (which I read as well), a noun’s designation as masculine, feminine, or neuter is generally (though not strictly) based on whether it is related to those things or objects which are of a or related to a particular “gender”, i.e., male, female, indeterminate.  In all cases involving regular nouns and verbs, grammatically, a pronoun will agree in gender and number with its antecedent noun. We have, however, seen that when God caused Scripture to be written, He did not always follow the “rules of grammar” where He had something to say, but not outright.  Something that was to be there but reserved for the time that He would choose to reveal a hidden truth. That God hides things, often in plain sight, from the non-elect and/or the dilettante believer is a subject for another day.

2.     In addition to the many references to the Holy Spirit using personal pronouns indicating in that way, the “person-hood” of the Spirit, there are many passages which refer to the Holy Spirit engaging inactivities that only a sentient person can perform and not an impersonal force. (Please compare to the actual verses in your Bible.  I have added extra explanatory material in brackets, ellipsis, and/or italics and underlines for brevity and/or emphasis).  It is these passages together with those previously listed, that form the stronger argument for the Person-hood of the Spirit as these involve actions that are not subject to other interpretations, at least not justifiably so.

Genesis 6:3.  “My Spirit will not always strive with man…”  The verb “strive” indicates active, knowing opposition, an activity that only a person can engage in.

Nehemiah 9:20.  “You[referring to God] also gave them Your good Spirit to instruct them…”  The context here is that the Spirit would be their teacher, actively instructing them, rather than just an example to learn by.

Compare this with John 14:26 “He [the Spirit] will teach you all things”

1.     Note that the ability to teach requires knowledge, intelligence, qualities of personhood which are lacking in impersonal power or forces.

Acts 5:3.  “Ananias,… lie to the Holy Spirit”

2.     You can only lie to a person, not to a force or a power.  You cannot lie to the “wind” or“electricity.”  This demonstrates the attribute of intellect.

Acts 8:29.  “the Holy Spirit SAID to Philip” (CAPS, BOLD added for emphasis). “Said” (NKJV) his indicates verbal, intelligent communication on the part of the Holy Spirit, indicating then, the Holy Spirit’s possession of at least this one of the attributes of personhood.

Acts 13:2.  “the Holy Spirit SAID, “Now separate to ME Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I havecalled them.””  (SAID, and ME capitalized and bolded for emphasis).

•             In this verse we have the following evidences which support the doctrine of the Tri-Unity of God in relation to the Holy Spirit.

1.            Personhood – That very necessary quality that separates true deity from the idols of the world (cf. Psalms 115:3-8; 135:15-18 and notes to same), That the Holy Spirit is a living, personal Being is shown by the fact of His communicating verbally, an intelligent message “…the Holy Spirit said,”Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have calledthem.””

 3 But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands.
5 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see;
6 They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell;
7 They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat.
8 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them. (Psa 115:3-8 NKJV)
NOTES TO Psalm 115:3-8

●             “Our God…does whatever He pleases” (italics, ellipsis, added for emphasis).

●             We know from other passages that God is omnipotent (cf. Genesis 17:1, “Almighty God”. “ שַׁדַּי ,” Shadday, Strong’s # 7706); Revelation 19:6, “the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth” (KJV, “ παντοκράτωρ, Pantokrator, Strong’s # 3841).  This omnipotence is a key aspect of his being that relates to His sovereignty.  He is able to sovereignly do whatever He pleases because He is omnipotent.’

●             See also note to Revelation 19:6.

Contrast: God/Idols

●             God is omnipotent and Sovereign; He does what He pleases.

●             Idols are impotent; they are blind, deaf, and dumb.

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands.
16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see;
17 They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.
(Psa 135:15-18 NKJV)

2.            Self-Awareness – That the Holy Spirit is a personal Being and not merely an impersonal force or power of God is found in His reference to Himself using the personal pronoun “Me.”  That this is not just a translator’s preference but the actual self-identification of the Holy Spirit is found in the fact that the original Greek reads, >>αφορισατε G873 V-AAM-2P  δη G1211 PRT μοι G1473 P-1DS

3.            Authority – That the Holy Spirit has authority over believers is shown in the call, ‘separate  [a command] such persons as I  have called.”

4.            Purpose of will – Though not stated here directly, it can be safely assumed that the “work to which” the Holy Spirit called Barnabas and Saul was not contrary to the will, plans, and purposes of God the Father, either individually or for the Church.

Acts 16:6-7.  “…they were FORBIDDEN BY the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit DID NOT PERMIT them…”  (Ellipsis added for brevity.  CAPS added for emphasis)

•             And once Again! The Holy Spirit commits acts that are possible only of an intelligent or sentient, personal being, and moreover, a personal, sentient Being having authority over the people of God.  Here again we see evidence for the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

•             The Apostles were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit…” Who,“did not permit” them to go on.

•             This demonstrates the personal attribute of “will.” An impersonal force or power may “prevent” someone from going somewhere or doing something but it cannot forbid them; gravity prevents people from being able to “fly” after jumping off the Empire State building, but gravity cannot “forbid” them from doing so.

Romans 8:9-11  In these verses both the Personhood and subsequently the Deity of the Holy Spirit are shown.

The Spirit is referred to as dwelling in the believer.  Dwelling in, being an activity that only a “living” being can perform, be it plant, animal, or some other living being.  I’m sure we can agree the Holy Spirit is not a rutabaga, a [Jiminy] Cricket, a Bambi, or a microbe, which leaves only a “Person.”  Non-living, inanimate objects/forces cannot “dwell” as to “dwell” implies life inherent in the dwellee.

The Spirit of God is identified as being both “of God” and“of Christ” (cf. v9).  Then Paul equates the Spirit’s presence with that of Christ’s (cf. v10) and God’s (cf. v11).

Romans 8:26.  “The Spirit Himself makes INTERCESSION…with GROANINGS

·       Again, the personal attributes of intelligence, communication, and strong emotion; “with groanings” indicating the intensity ofthat intercession being made.

Romans 8:27  “Now He who searches the hearts knows WHAT THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT IS, because HE MAKES INTERCESSION FOR the saints according to the will of God.” (Caps added for emphasis)

·       “knows what the MIND of the Spirit is” can be rephrased in today’s terms, “knows what’s on His mind.”  In any case, it is clear that the Spirit is recognized as having a mind of His own with His own thoughts in it.

·       “He makes intercession for” us.  Again, this is the act of a living, sentient Being.  HE INTERCEEDS for us before the Father.  An impersonal force cannot do this! Also, bear in mind God’s repetition of this intercession, God does not repeat Himself just because He likes the sound of His own voice. If/when God repeats Himself, we had better pay extra attention.

1st Corinthians2:10.  “the Sprit SEARCHES”  (Caps added for emphasis).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of any impersonal force or power that engages in the willful, deliberate, intelligent act of “searching” for anything.

1st Coritnthians2:11.  “no one KNOWS the things of God except the Spirit of God.”

3.     Here again we have the attribute of intellect, the ability to “know” things.

And all this is but the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.  Throughout the Scriptures we see the Holy Spirit demonstrating in various ways, the attributes of Personhood: Intelligence, Will, Emotion, Self-Consciousness, Speech, i.e., intelligent communications.

Having, I believe, demonstrated beyond any reasonable or rational doubt that the Holy Spirit is in fact a Person in His own right; it is now time to address the issue of His Deity.  That is, is this “person” the Holy Spirit, a god, let alone the God of the Bible.

The Deity of the Holy Spirit

Throughout Scripture, there are passages that not only equate God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as acting together but often in interchangeable terms/roles.  Along with those types of passages, there are other passages that straight out say that the Holy Spirit and God are one and the Same.

Now, once more, I wish to reiterate, the Christian/Biblical doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-unity of God is NOT the same as any pagan Triad of gods [plural].  Scripture is Clear:  There is only ONE (in number) GOD, yet that ONE GOD somehow exists in THREE Distinct Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So, on to Scriptural support for the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:3-4.  “3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to LIE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?  4 … Youhave NOT LIED TO MEN BUT TO GOD.” (Ellipsis, Bold, and CAPS added).

Notice that Peter makes a direct statement that links lying to the [Person of] the Holy Spirit is lying to GOD, thus making the Holy Spirit equal to God.

Romans 8:9-10.  “9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

Here Paul equates the Holy Spirit with being both, the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.  Now, having previously established the Deity of Christ, this contains in effect a double affirmation of the Deity of the Holy Spirit.  If Christ is God [see preceding] and Christ is “the life” (cf. John 14:6) and the Spirit is “life”, then the Spirit of God, which is the same Spirit of Christ, is also God.

John 14:17-18.  Jesus identifies Himself with the Holy Spirit.  “But you know Him [at this point, they only knew Jesus] for He dwells with you [Jesus was dwelling with them] and will be [future] in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I [not someone else] will come to you [in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit]” (Bracketed material added as commentary)

Jesus said elsewhere, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (cf. Matthew 28:20).  Jesus was not speaking of His bodily presence, but being present in the form of the Holy Spirit Who, as God, is an aspect [so to speak] of Himself.

1st Corinthians12:1-29

Here Paul states that the gifts of God to the church are given by “the Spirit as He wills” (cf. v.11) and later, that “God has appointed” (v.28).  Now, if the Spirit is not merely the power or force of God but a person in His own right, then that person is also identified as alternately the Spirit and God.   Compare with Ephesians 4:7-12 where these same gifts are said to have been given by Christ!.  Now either Christ, the Spirit and the Father are all God, or someone is mistaken in who is giving all these gifts.

1st Chronicles28:9  “the LORD” searches the hearts of all people, cf. Psalm 139:23; Jeremiah 17:10.

Compare these with the New Testament; it is the Spirit who searches all things, 1st Corinthians2:10.

Again, the Spirit is equated with doing that which God is said to do elsewhere.

John 4:24.  Jesus says, “God is Spirit.”

1st Corinthians3:16   “16 Do you not know that you [here referring collectively to the Church] are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (Regarding “dwelling” see comments to Romans 8:9-10 preceding re: the Personhood of the Spirit) Here we have reference again to the “Spirit of God” dwelling in the believer. Compare here with 1st Corinthians 6:19 “19  Or do you not know that your body [here referring to each individual’s physical body] is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  Now here are two passages, speaking in the same context, i.e., what are the temple (both as a whole and as individual components) of God and where the Spirit of God/the Holy Spirit dwells in.  In one, the temple is the temple of God and the other the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:30.  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Once again, we see the attribute of Personhood known as “emotion.” How can you “grieve” cause to feel grief, an impersonal; force?  A Power?  In a word, you cannot.

V – Summary

The doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-Unity of God is one of the essential doctrines of Christianity.  Personally I prefer to use the term “tri-unity of God,” as being more accurate.  That is, that there is  One God in number, quantity, who exists in three distinct Persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

The Person of the Father is not the Person of the Son.

The Person of the Son is not the Person of the Father nor the Person of the Holy Spirit.

The Person of the Holy Spirit is not the Persons of the Father or Son.

Yet,….. yet, they are all three the Very One and Same God.  How can this be?  That dear reader is the mystery.  You see, if God were fully explainable and quantifiable by our sciences and reason, then He would not be God.  He would just be something we created in the image of our world and its contents.  That is not to say that, in nature, there is nothing that is somewhat analogous to the Godhead.  There are many such “trinities” or pluralities in unity within nature.  Following are some examples.  Please remember however, any example from nature will fall short of the absolute truth of God.  That is something that comes from His revelation in Scripture, from Special Revelation, not General revelation as found in nature.

1.     An Egg.

a.     An egg consists of three parts; the shell, the yolk, and the albumen (white).  So, which is the egg?  Each is a part, yet the egg is the three.  Unlike God, when separated, the individual parts of an egg, no longer make “an” egg.

2.     Water.

a.     Water can exist in three distinct forms, liquid, solid (ice), and vapor (steam).  Which is water?  All three are water, although, unlike God, they can only exist in the same place, at the same time, in the same environment in but one form at a time.

3.     A Cluster of Grapes

a.     A cluster or bunch of grapes is a great example of plurality in unity.  One cluster being made up of many individual grapes.  Each grape being a part of the whole while distinct from every other grape in the whole.  Each grape sharing every grape’s fruity nature.

4.     Man.

a.     Man himself is one of the best indications of plurality in unity and how we reflect God’s nature.  We were “created” in the image of God after all.  But does that mean God is a creature who stands about “6’2” with a hand span of about 9” ” as says Kenneth Copeland?  No, of course not.  That is absurd on the face of it.  How then are we created in God’s image?  We are in God’s image in that we also are triune beings.  Yes, triune.

b.     Each of us is made up of  “Spirit,” “Soul,” and “Body.” We all possess, “Intellect,” “Emotion,” and “Will.”  These last  being key attributes of personhood are but reflections of God’s own attributes, though granted, on a lesser and fallen scale.

c.     The marriage union provides another example of a plurality (though not tri-unity) in unity.  When the man and woman marry, or have carnal knowledge, the two become “one.”  Now, are you going to say that God lies?  Because, I look at married couples all the time and what I see with my eyes is two people, granted they are “a” [singular] “couple” but they are physically two.  How can God say they are one?  Because they are joined spiritually, emotionally, and in sexual union, physically.

As stated above, any example from nature or conceived by or comprehensible by man’s finite mind, will fall short of the reality, the mystery that is our infinite God.  Let the words of the Apostle Paul suffice –

“16 And without controversy great is the mystery ofgodliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” 1st Timothy 3:16.

<a>[1]</a>

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

9If  I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

(Psa 139:7-9 NKJV)

13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has taught Him?

14 With whom did He take counsel ,and who instructed Him, And taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, And showed Him the way of understanding?

(Isa 40:13-14 NKJV)

34 “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” (Rom 11:34 NKJV)

<a>[2]</a>STRONG’S ENTRY FOR G3841

παντοκράτωρ

pantokratōr

pan-tok-rat’-ore

From G3956 and G2904; the all ruling, that is, God (as absolute and universal sovereign): – Almighty, Omnipotent.

<a>[3]</a>God’s Chosen People Cf.  Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 17:19, 21; 28:10-15; 32:24-28

<a>[4]</a>STRONG’S #430, Literally “gods.”

<a>[5]</a>©2000 by David K. Bernard, Word A Flame Press, 8855 Dunn Road, Hazelwood MO63042-2299

<a>[6]</a>John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 He was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

(Joh 1:1-3 NKJV)

1:1

In the Beginning

“In the beginning…”  This goes back to Genesis 1:1.  Here, the Word [Jesus], was.  The Word was with God; the Word was God.

Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:2 refers to the Spirit of God hovering over the waters.

John places Jesus “in the beginning” with God [the Father] and the Holy Spirit.

John clearly identifies Jesus as God.  But as God, the Son, not God the Father.

1:2

Jesus Not Created

Jesus was present at the beginning of all things, not all “other” things as some would say.

1:2-3

Prophecy Fulfilled

This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3 (8th century B.C.) and Malachi 3:1 (5th century B.C.).  Compare Matthew 3:3 and Luke 3:4.

1:3

Creator of ALL – God of ALL

Compare with the following:

Romans 11:36 – “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things.”

Colossians 1:16 – “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible,… All things were created through Him and for Him.”

Hebrews 1:1-2 – “God…by His Son…through whom also He made the world.”

·        The above New Testament passages, along with this verse in John all testify to the fact that Jesus is the Creator.

That Jesus is the Creator of all things means He is also the God of all things; as is also shown in verse 1 preceding and in the Old Testament as well.

·        Comparing Gen.1:1 and John 1:3 together, “In the beginning God created” and “All things were made through Him [Jesus], it is clear that at the least, we must acknowledge Jesus’ presence and activity alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit in the beginning of Creation.  Now, we are presented with a logical IF/AND/THEN problem.  IF as Scripture clearly says that GOD created everything in the beginning, (it does) AND Scripture says that Jesus Created Everything in the Beginning (it does), THEN Jesus must be God.  Yet if not God the Father… then He must somehow be distinct from the Father. Plurality in Unity.

Compare Isaiah 45:5-18 which contain but a few of the many clear statements that Yahweh, the God of Israel is the Only God and Creator.  Again, as above, we are presented with an exercise in logic in the form of an If/Then or an If/And/Then statement.  Now, IF Scripture teaches that Yahweh, the GOD of Israel is the ONLY TRUE GOD AND CREATOR of all things (it does) AND If Scripture teaches that Jesus is THE CREATOR of all things (it does) THEN Jesus must be GOD.  Now, IF Scripture teaches that there is only ONE GOD in number (it does) THEN, Jesus as God [previously established] must in some way share Godhood with Yahweh or the Father because He cannot be a separate GOD in number.  That is, there cannot be 2 Gods.  Thus we have a plurality in unity.

<a>[7]</a> 16 And without controversy great is the mystery ofgodliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen byangels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up inglory. (1Ti 3:16 NKJV)

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