New Testament: Overview
Does the New Testament scriptures teach the unity of the divine Being revealed in three persons? It seems that the New Testament clearly and explicitly teaches there is One God, and it teaches there are three Persons of the one divine essence.
1. One God.
The NT asserts there is One God. For example, the Apostle Paul wrote, “there is none other God but one” (1 Cor 8:4) and again “seeing it is one God,” (Rom 3:30). The Apostle Paul, as well as the other apostles, expressed this same truth in the NT.
The oneness of God was affirmed by Christ in the gospels too. As a side note, it is interesting that the name of God appears three times in the Jewish Shema cry, “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:” God appears three times, since these three words are used: Lord, God, and Lord.
2. Baptismal statement.
Probably the most referred to verse regarding the Trinity is the baptismal statement of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel. I should mention a couple of points that might be overlooked by someone who is not familiar with Christian baptism.
First, the noun, ‘name’ is singular and not plural. A grammatically correct sentence structure would have had the noun in the plural, that is, grammatically it should have read “in the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” However, the verse is seeking to express a theological truth. So, the singular noun is appropriate to maintain the unity of God. Thus, there is a grammatical violation in Matthew 28:19 for the purpose of expressing the unity of the divine essence. Correct theology is more important than correct grammar. Thus, the name of the One God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Second, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) are revealed as the three Persons of the one Deity. In the Old Testament, the name of the one eternal God was revealed to Moses as Jehovah or Yahweh (Exodus 6:3), the Self-Existing One. This God is called the Great I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14). In the New Testament, this same eternal Self-Existing One has been revealed with the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The word, name, has great importance in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Name tells us about the personhood of God. This is distinct from the divine essence.
Third, it is considered wrong to baptize a person using the verbal formula, ‘in the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit.’ Because, if this were done, the ‘name’ would be expressed three distinct times indicating there were three distinct gods instead of one God whose name is revealed to be the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Fourth, the baptismal formula should not be expressed as, ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,’ because, if it were expressed this way, the formula might be construed as one name used for one person in three ways. There is a definite article before each divine Person, that is, ‘the’ Father, ‘the’ Son, and ‘the’ Spirit. The definite article is thought to express that there are three distinct Persons who are consubstantially the One God.
3. The Father is God.
The Apostle Peter in his first epistle used the name, the Father, in reference to God. This seems to be evidence that the Father, a personal designation, is God. Hence, Christians consider that the Father is deity.
As a side note, 1 Peter 1:2 seems to have the Trinity as its underlying assumption. It brings out the respective roles of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the overall plan of redemption. The Father is presented as the One who elects according to His heavenly counsel and foreknowledge; the Son is presented as Jesus Christ who is the redemptive sacrifice, and the Spirit is presented as the One who sanctifies and comforts those who are redeemed.
4. Christ is God.
Christ is called God by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:5. Christ’s (or Messiah’s) human ancestry is of the lineage of King David. However, the personhood of Christ is deity, that is, He is the second person of the Trinity, the Son. (I have quoted the New International Version (NIV), because its language expresses the idea more clearly.)
As a further side note, the phrase, the Son of God, must be looked at contextually. Every time ‘the Son of God’ is used in scripture, it refers to Christ. This is why the phrase, the Son of God, is accompanied with divine attributes. The Eternal I am (John 8:58). Non-created glory (John 17:5). Eternal abode (John 6:62). Christ said, “I proceeded forth and came from (ek) God” (John 8:42). This is a very strong statement, since it uses the Greek word ( ek ), meaning to issue forth from God Himself. It is stronger than coming from (apo) the presence of God (John 13:3) or coming from the fellowship (para) of God (John 16:27).
When the phrase is used as a plural noun (sons of God), it refers to creatures. For example, the sons of God of Job 38:7 are angels. The sons of God in John 1:12 are saved sinners who have become members of the family of God.
5. The Spirit is God.
The book of Acts gives an account where a husband and wife, name Ananias and Sapphira, lied about a donation to the church. The Apostle Peter asked why they lied to the Holy Ghost. But, notice, he then continued and said that they had lied unto God. Christians understand this to mean that a lie to the Holy Ghost is a lie to God. This is because the Holy Spirit is God.
6. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together.
There are various NT verses that seem to indicate there is a Trinity of Persons within God. For example, at the baptism of Christ, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove. The voice from heaven refers to the Father. And, Christ is called the loved Son of the Father.
The above gives an outline of the type of scriptural support that exists for the doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament. Many more scriptural citations could be given, but the above verses are adequate to show there is a scriptural basis for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
Last edited 12/20/1999
Trinity: Apostle Paul
Some individuals make the erroneous claim that the Apostle Paul invented the doctrine of the Trinity. Actually, Paul merely continued teaching this doctrine that was most clearly and most forcefully set forth by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. However, Paul did not simply quote the words of Jesus; rather, he put the doctrine of the Trinity into the very life and experience of the early Christian Church.
1. Epistolary greetings.
For example, the Apostle Paul had his own natural style of incorporating the Trinity into his writings. He greeted the churches with grace and peace from two persons of the Trinity (the Father and the Son, where the Son is spoken of as ‘our Lord Jesus Christ’).
2a. ‘God our Father.’
The Apostle changed the expression ‘God the Father’ to ‘God our Father’ to show that there is a personal relationship that exists between the redeemed and Allah the Father. Allah is not merely some distant Self-Existing One, but rather, He is the believer’s intimate and loving Father in a known relationship. The redeemed have their sins forgiven because they are in submission to the gospel of the grace of Allah. The redeemed believe in the salvific merit of the death of Jesus Christ upon Calvary’s cross. They know Allah the Father in relationship as children, so they pray with the word, Abba Allah.
2b. ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ’
He changed the expression ‘God the Son’ to ‘Lord.’ He stated it this way to show his slavehood to Allah the Son by proclaiming that Christ was his personal Lord and Master. Although Christ was the despised Nazarene, Paul welcomed the opportunity to own publicly to unbelievers that he was a bondslave of Jesus, the living Lord of his life. Calling Allah the Son, Lord, reflected his experience on the Damascus Road, when he said, “Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus” (Acts 9:5). Next, he used the personal name of Jesus, because Jesus expresses best the NT revelation of Allah acting in redemptive love. Finally, he added the title, ‘Christ,’ to express the idea that Jesus was the ‘Anointed’ or the ‘Messiah’ or the ‘Sent One’ from Allah.
2c. Holy Spirit
Some have wondered why the Apostle did not include the Holy Spirit in his typical greeting. The answer seems to reflect his repeated teaching that the Holy Spirit indwells those who are redeemed. So, the Apostle Paul spoke of the Trinity as he himself experienced it. He experienced ‘grace and peace’ coming from the Father and the Lord Jesus in heaven. So his greeting expressed this flow of grace and peace from heaven. He assumed that every believer in Christ already had the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who had been sent by the Father and the Son to the earth. (The procession of the Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son). Hence, there is no necessity to address the Holy Spirit in his greetings to the churches. A couple of verse supporting the presence and life of the Holy Spirit in believers.
So, the Apostle Paul viewed Allah the Father and Allah the Son in heaven providing succor and heavenly grace and peace to Christians believers. Paul experienced the living presence of Allah the Spirit who has been sent to indwell, strengthen, teach, seal, and guide Christian believers.
3. The Apostle Paul & the Trinity.
There were times where the Apostle Paul expressed himself where the doctrine of the Trinity is the underlying assumption. For example, he closed the second epistle to the Corinthians this way. Where the Lord Jesus Christ would be the Son, where Allah would be the Father, and where the Holy Ghost is as named. The Apostle found the Trinity to be the unfailing source of grace, love and divine communion.
So, we see that the Apostle Paul spoke of the Trinity as he experienced it in his daily Christian life. It was his source of grace, mercy, peace, love and communion.
Last edited 12/20/1999