Chapter 7: The Trinity

1. Statement of the Doctrine. The Bible teaches that, while He exists in three Persons, called Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are not three persons in the ordinary sense of the word; they are not three individuals, but rather three modes or forms in which the Divine Being exists. At the same time they are of such a nature that they can enter into personal relations. The Father can speak to the Son and vice versa, and both can send forth the Spirit. The real mystery of the Trinity consists in this that each one of the Persons possesses the whole of the divine essence, and that this has no existence outside of and apart from the Persons. The three are not subordinate in being the one to the other, though it may be said that in order of existence the Father is first, the Son second, and the Holy Spirit third, an order which is also reflected in their work.

2. Scripture Proof for the Trinity. The Old Testament contains some indications of more than one Person in God. God speaks of Himself in the plural, Genesis 1:26; 11:7; the Angel of Jehovah is represented as a divine Person, Genesis 16:7-13; 18:1-21; 19:1-22; and the Spirit is spoken of as a distinct Person, Isaiah 48:16; 63:10. Moreover, there are some passages in which the Messiah is speaking and mentions two other Persons, Isaiah 48:16; 61:6; 63:9, 10.

Due to the progress of revelation, the New Testament contains clearer proofs. The strongest proof is found in the facts of redemption. The Father sends the Son into the world, and the Son sends the Holy Spirit. Moreover, there are several passages in which the three Persons are expressly mentioned, such as the great commission, Matthew 28:19, and the apostolic blessing, 2 Corinthians 13:13. cf. also Luke 3:21-22; 1:35; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:2.

This doctrine was denied by the Socinians in the days of the Reformation, and is rejected also by the Unitarians and the Modernists of our own day. If they speak of the Trinity at all, they represent it as consisting of the Father, the man Jesus, and a divine influence which is called the Spirit of God.

3. The Father. The name ‘Father’ is frequently applied in Scripture to the triune God, as the creator of all things, 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 12:9; James 1:17; as the Father of Israel, Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16; and as the Father of believers. (Matthew 5:45; 6:6, 9, 14; Romans 8:15) In a deeper sense, however, it is applied to the First Person of the Trinity, to express His relation to the Second Person, John 1:14, 18; 8:54; 14:12-13. This is the original Fatherhood, of which all earthly fatherhood is but a faint reflection. The distinctive characteristic of the Father is that He generates the Son from all eternity. The works particularly ascribed to Him are those of planning the work of redemption, creation and providence, and representing the Trinity in the Counsel of Redemption.

4. The Son. The second person in the Trinity is called ‘Son’ or ‘Son of God.’ He bears this name, however, not only as the only begotten of the Father (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; Galatians 4:4), but also as the Messiah chosen of God, (Matthew 8:29; 26:63; John 1:49; 11:27), and in virtue of His special birth through the operation of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:32, 35)  His special characteristic as the Second Person of the Trinity is that He is eternally begotten of the Father. (Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5)  By means of eternal generation the Father is the cause of the personal existence of the Son within the Divine Being. The works more particularly ascribed to Him are works of mediation. He mediated the work of creation (John 1:3, 10; Hebrews 1:2-3), and mediates the work of redemption. (Ephesians 1:3-14)

5. The Holy Spirit. Though Socinians, Unitarians, and present day Modernists speak of the Holy Spirit merely as a power or an influence of God, He clearly stands out on the pages of the Bible as a Person. (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:1-15; Romans 8:26) He has intelligence (John 14:26), feeling (Isaiah 68:10; Ephesians 4:30), and will (Acts 16:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11) Scripture represents Him as speaking, searching, testifying, commanding, revealing, striving, and making intercession. Moreover, He is clearly distinguished from His own power in Luke 1:35; 4:14; Acts 10:38; and 1 Corinthians 2:4. His special characteristic is that He proceeds from the Father and the Son by spiration. (John 15:26; 16:7; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6)  In general, it may be said that it is His task to bring things to completion both in creation and redemption. (Genesis 1:3; Job 26:13; Luke 1:35; John 3:34; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 2:22)


To memorize:

Passages to prove:

a. The Trinity:

  • Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;
  • Luke 4:17-18 – And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,
  • Matthew 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

b. Eternal generation:

  • Psalm 2:7 – “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
  • John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

e. Procession of the Holy Spirit:

  • John 15:26 – “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, [that is] the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,


For Further Study:

a. In what sense can we speak of a general Fatherhood of God?

  • 1 Corinthians 8:6 – yet for us there is [but] one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we [exist] for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we [exist] through Him.
  • Ephesians 3:14-15 – For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
  • Hebrews 12:9 – Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
  • James 1:17 – Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
  • Numbers 16:22 – But they fell on their faces and said, “O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?”

b. Can you prove the deity of the incarnate Son?

  • John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  • John 20:28 – Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
  • Philippians 2:6 – who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
  • Titus 2:13 – looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
  • Jeremiah 28:5-6 – Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD, and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the LORD do so; may the LORD confirm your words which you have prophesied to bring back the vessels of the LORD’S house and all the exiles, from Babylon to this place.
  • Isaiah 9:6 – For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
  • John 1:3 – All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
  • Revelation 1:8 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
  • Colossians 1:17 – He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
  • John 14:1 – “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

c. How do the following passages prove the personality of the Holy Spirit?

  • Genesis 1:2 – The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
  • Genesis 6:3 – Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
  • Luke 12:12 – for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
  • John 14:26 – “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
  • John 15:26 – “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, [that is] the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,
  • John 16:8 – “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
  • Acts 8:29 – Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
  • Acts 13:2 – While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
  • Romans 8:11 – But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 – For to us God revealed [them] through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the [thoughts] of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the [thoughts] of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

d. What works are ascribed to the Spirit in:

  • Psalm 33:6 – By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
  • Psalm 104:30 – You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the ground.
  • 2 Peter 1:21 – for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are a temple of God and [that] the Spirit of God dwells in you?
  • 1 Corinthians 12:4 – Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.


Questions for Review

  1. Can we discover the doctrine of the Trinity from nature?
  2. Are there three separate individuals in God?
  3. Is one Person subordinate to another in God?
  4. How can we prove the Trinity from the Old Testament?
  5. What is the strongest proof for the Trinity?
  6. What New Testament passages best prove it?
  7. In what different senses is the name ‘Father’ applied to God?
  8. What works are more particularly ascribed to each one of the Persons?
  9. In what different senses is the name ‘Son’ applied to Christ?
  10. What is the special characteristic of each Person?
  11. How can you prove that the Holy Spirit is a Person?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top