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Study on the Doctrine of the Trinity

For many of us, even talking about the Holy Trinity can be intimidating. To place ourselves in an environment where we are discussing questions or doubts about this doctrine is even more daunting. Whether you are following the lessons for D Group gatherings or simply looking to study the Trinity on your own, I am sharing some gleanings I took from my own study of the Trinity with you. The truth of God being singular and yet expressed in plurality is, as Luther stated, impossible to reason apart from the divine assistance of the third member of that Trinity, the Holy Spirit. I pray the following quotes and scriptures will assist you in preparing even more for the coming weekend.

For Further Study on the Doctrine of the Trinity:

Theologically Defined
“The monotheistic doctrine of one God subsisting in a plurality of Persons--three, no less and no more--is that which accords with al Scripture and, though characterized by mystery when approached by the finite mind, is, nevertheless, without contradiction and is perfect in all its adaptation and parts. It is as perfect as the God whom it discloses.”  Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (Vol 3; p.282)

Distinction
“The oneness and onliness of God; the three eternal distinctions or modes of being of the one only God--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and the proper Deity of each of the three--God, the One indivisible Absolute Spirit in each of the these peculiar and eternal modes of being.”  Samuel Harris, God the Creator and Lord of All  (Vol 1; p. 322)

When was God called a “Trinity”?
The term itself does not occur in the Bible. Its Greek form, trias, seems to have been first used by Theophilus of Antioch (AD 181), and its Latin form, trinitas, by Tertullian (AD 220). The term is used for the purpose of theology, the study of God. As one will see below, the scriptures reveal a triune God, singular in his plurality, without actually mentioning the trinity.

“Let it be remembered that we are under no obligation to explain all the mysteries connected with this doctrine. We are only under obligation to set forth what the Scriptures teach concerning it, and to vindicate the teaching as far as possible from the objections that are alleged against it......for the Trinity can be accepted only by faith, and that only after a person is convinced that God has spoken and that He has revealed this as a truth concerning Himself.”  L. Boettner, Studies in Theology; p 126

“The revealed will of God throughout our Bible “in all its parts is founded upon this doctrine. Justification, sanctification, adoption, and all else that makes the gospel the wisdom and power of God unto salvation, can be understood only in the light of this fundamental truth. As an historical fact it is beyond dispute that in whatever church the doctrine of the Trinity has been abandoned or obscured, every other characteristic doctrine of the gospel has gone with it.”  A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, pp. 198-199

The Gradual Revelation of the Triune God in Scripture

“The Old Testament....may be likened to a chamber richly furnished but dimly lighted; the introduction of light brings into it nothing which was not in it before; but it brings out into clearer view much of what is in it but only dimly or even not at all perceived before. The mystery of the Trinity is not revealed in the Old Testament; but the mystery of the Trinity underlies the Old Testament revelation, and here and there almost comes into view. Thus the Old Testament revelation of God is not corrected by the fuller revelation which follows it, but only perfected, extended and enlarged.”   B.B. Warfield, Biblical Doctrines, p. 142

 

Genesis 1:26
Personally, I have thought for a long time that God is giving us a peek at his plurality when He says: “Let us make mankind in our own image, in our likeness...”  Certainly in light of the further unfolding of scripture, we can point back to this statement as obviously Trinitarian. Some have tried to say that this speaks to an early polytheism in the mind of the Genesis writer (Moses), but there is nothing elsewhere to support that assertion. It has also been suggested that God is speaking in conversation with the angels.

“It is not satisfactory,” however, “to refer this to angels because they were not associated with God in creation.” WHG Thomas, Principles of Theology, pp. 25-26

 

Biblical Foundations of the Trinity

The Father is called God  (John 1:14; Romans 1:7; Galatians 1:1)

The Son is called God  (John 1:14; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13)

The Spirit is called God  (Acts 5: 3-9; 2 Corinthians 3:17)

 

Eternal

The Father  (Psalm 90:2)

The Son  (John 1:2; Revelation 1:8, 17)

The Spirit  (Hebrews 9:14)

 

All-Powerful

The Father  (1 Peter 1:5)

The Son  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The Spirit (Romans 15:19)

 

All-Knowing

The Father  (Jeremiah 17:10)

The Son  (Revelation 2:23)

The Spirit  (1 Corinthians 2:11)

 

Ever-Present

The Father  (Jeremiah 23:24)

The Son  (Matthew 28:20)

The Spirit  (Psalm 139:7)

 

Source of Truth

The Father  (John 7:28)

The Son  (Revelation 3:7)

The Spirit  (1 John 5:6)

 

Holiness

The Father  (Revelation 15:4)

The Son  (Acts 3:14)

The Spirit  (Acts 1:8; obviously he is called “Holy Spirit”)

 

Creation

The Father (Psalm 102:25)

The Son  (Colossians 1:16)

The Spirit  (Genesis 1:2)

 

Resurrection

The Father and Son  (John 5:21)

The Spirit  (Romans 8:11)

 

Inspiration of Scripture

The Father  (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Son  (1 Peter 1:10-11)

The Spirit (2 Peter 1:21)

 

Work of Sanctification in Believers

The Father  (Jude 1)

The Son  (Hebrews 2:11)

The Spirit  (1 Corinthians 6:11)

 

“The same equality might be set forth concerning every aspect of the character of God. What is true of one Person is true of each of the others and this is conclusive evidence that the Godhead is a Trinity of infinite Persons, yet one God.”  Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol 1: p. 305

 

Categories: Adult Ministries, Student