Question: If the word Trinity is not in the Bible, is it still Biblical?
Truthfully, one of the most difficult Christian concepts to wrap our human minds around is the idea of the trinity as it relates to God. The concept is so difficult because it tries to describe—God. To try and describe and define God’s being and personality with any human terms is complicated enough, but it is even far more difficult to try and define or describe God in one word. However, this is what we try to do when we refer to God as “Trinity”.
In dealing with the topic of God today, I want to do it by trying to delineate for you who God is by using the word “Trinity”. When we talk about the Trinity, there are naturally two questions that confront us pretty quickly.
Question #1: What does the word “Trinity” mean?
Question #2: If the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, then why is it still considered Biblical?
Both of those questions are really good questions and worthy of study.
First, this question – If the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, then why is it considered biblical?
As we discuss the word “Trinity” do not try to look it up in your Bible; it is not in there. The word “Trinity” is simply used to try and describe the God of the Bible who is a Tri-Unity— Three persons in one, whom we refer to as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three are at the same time “One God” and “eternally co-existent”. In other words, the word “Trinity” is the word theologians use to describe ONE God existing in THREE persons. So when we say “Trinity,” we are saying a theological mouthful to say the least.
Maybe these two thoughts will help you. Thought #1 – Although the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, it does accurately describe what we do find in the Bible. Thought #2 – The doctrine of the Trinity was discovered and not invented.
Perhaps an illustration will help you at this point. Three explorers gathered together to discuss three major rivers that flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. After careful deliberation, the three explorers decided to examine these three major rivers flowing into the Gulf. One explorer chose the river on the left, another explorer chose the river in the middle, and another explorer chose the river on the right. All three explorerers started their quests at the three separate points where each river fed into the Gulf of Mexico. Then these explorers set out on their journeys up each of the three rivers. As each man explored his designated river, he kept careful notes detailing every inch of the journey.
As they made their ways north, they walked through different terrains, measured different depths, journeyed through different states, and over different mountains. Then surprisingly, they met up again where all three rivers came together flowing from one major river. In other words, these three rivers were actually one river that was split into three different parts. At that point, they named the river the “Trinity River”—because it was one river that was at the same time three rivers.
Now let’s take that same concept and apply it to the Bible. The explorers are actually called “Theologians” and the Gulf of Mexico is the Bible. The three rivers were named God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three rivers-of-God were actually the One God while also being separate at the same time. As with all illustrations of the Trinity, this one is limited and not meant to do anything more than provide a simple outline of the Trinity that might help you understand how it developed. Ultimately, the word “Trinity” was the natural outgrowth of the Theological Explorers comparing notes on God.
What does the Bible say about the Trinity? It is a massive and complex theological concept, but let me try and simplify:
First, the Bible tells us there is ONE God:
Deuteronomy 6:4 says, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Isaiah 45:5 says, I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from Me there is no God.
1 Timothy 2:5 says For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.
Secondly, the Bible tells us that this ONE God has a PLURAL nature – We see this in Creation:
Then God (Hebrew-“Elohim”- Plural…”Our”) said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…”(Genesis 1:26).
We also see this in Isaiah 6:8, Then I heard the voice of the Lord (singular) saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
Thus, when we read the “Theological Explorers” map of the Bible, we see that God is both ONE and PLURAL at the same time.
The Bible also tells us:
The Father is God:
In Ephesians 1, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). The Apostle Paul also tells the Corinthians that, “…there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live
(1 Corinthians 8:6).
The Bible also tells us that the Son is God:
John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In the Book of Colossians Paul wrote, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). And Jesus Himself said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
Finally, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is God:
Jesus Himself, declares that the Holy Spirit is God by saying, “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) In the same vein, the Apostle Peter told Ananias, “… you have lied to the Holy Spirit… You have not lied just to human beings but to God” (Acts 5:3-4). In other words, when you lied to the Holy Spirit, you lied to God because God and the Holy Spirit are one and the same.
To summarize this point, we have discovered from the Bible that there is One God, who is plural in nature, and that plural nature is made up of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
If we look deeper into Scripture, we also see “Trinity” represented in specific Bible verses. We see the Trinity present at Christ’s baptism. The Gospel of Matthew describes the baptism of Jesus this way, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16).
We also see the Trinity in the Great Commission when Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-19).
And finally, the Apostle Paul tells believers that we have the presence of the “Trinity” in our daily lives by saying, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 3:14).
So, the word “Trinity” refers to a “Tri-unity” between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The word “Trinity” itself is not found in the Bible but the theological concept is evident. While we can’t in our human minds fully grasp all there is to know about God, we are thoroughly biblical in referring to God as a “Trinity”. As one theologian accurately stated, God is like an “unscalable cliff—we may not be able to scale it, but we can stand at the foot of it, touch it and praise its beauty.” So it is with God—even though we can’t fully describe Him or comprehend Him – we can praise Him.