The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is in the foreground of our Christian faith. We can thus say that without the Holy Trinity, Christianity would be vanity. The doctrine simply states that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct persons: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. In other words, God is ONE in essence and THREE in persons.This doctrine, however, is not as simple as stated.
We need to know from the outset that anyone who professes Christianity but does not accept the doctrine of the Holy Trinity lives in perversity. The Holy Trinity is the language all Christians speak and understand; it is our meeting point.
The doctrine of the Trinity, which is also a mystery, has been under severe debate from the time God revealed His identity as a community of three persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We may not waste our time with the crossroads of ideas and debates in this reflection; we shall thus proceed to understand the Trinity with our rather limited human insight.
We shall begin by going through some passages in the Bible that point to the diversity of persons in one God. It is also pertinent to establish that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity grew out of the Bible. Our study will begin with the book of Genesis and run through other parts of the Old and New Testaments.
The Holy Trinity Identified in the Old Testament
< >Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Firstly, we need to understand that the word “beginning” as used here points to God. Revelation (21:6) says: “God is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.”
From the original Hebrew text, the name “God” translates as “Elohim” which is the plural noun of “Eloah.” God (Elohim), in the sense of the passage, indicates the fullness of Godhead, that is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The participation of the community of persons will become clearer in the next passage we shall examine.
<>Genesis 1:26a. “Then God said, Let US make mankind in OUR image, and in OUR likeness.”
Here we connect the plurality of persons in one God. God the Father was referring to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God was not referring to angels because they are creatures and do not bear the image and likeness of God as we do. In fact, God could have also said: “let us make persons like us!”
<>Genesis 11:7. “Come, let us go down and confuse their language, so they will not understand each other.”
Here we see an action by the community of persons in the Holy Trinity during the time the people of Shinar were building the tower of Babel. God the Father was again referring to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
<>Genesis 18: 1-2. “The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw THREE MEN standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them and bowed down to the ground. He said, my LORD if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.”
The passage above is one of the aptest descriptions of the Holy Trinity. Here we learn that the LORD appeared to Abraham and he looked up and saw THREE MEN. Furthermore, when greeting the supposed THREE MEN, he said, my LORD not my LORDS.
<>Deuteronomy 6:4. “Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is ONE Lord.” In Hebrew, the revealed name of God is YAHWEH (I AM). The name is so holy that people are not allowed to mention it anyhow (in vain). The word “Lord” is thus used in place of “Yahweh” in most passages in the Old Testament including the one above.
With regards to the Holy Trinity, the passage above mentions that the “Lord our God is ONE Lord.” In Hebrew as in English, “ONE” could refer to number (yachid), or unity (echad).
In the passage above, the description is about unity (echad). The same usage is what we see in Genesis (2:24) “ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become ONE flesh.
<>Isaiah 6:8a. “And I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for US?”
In the vision of Isaiah, God the Father spoke about a mission which He shares with the Son and the Holy Spirit. That explains the “US?”
The Holy Trinity Identified in the New Testament
The New Testament gives us a more vivid presentation of the reality of the Holy Trinity. Though many people accepted that God the Father is God, some people doubt the divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Creeds we recite in the Church (Apostles and Nicene) came as a definitive statement to demonstrate the reality and faith in the three Persons in one God.
<>John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Earlier, we understood “beginning” as referring to God. Hence, we could say: “In God was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John (1:14) went further to explain this “Word” thus:
”And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son full of grace and truth.”
Here, John gives a proof that shows that Jesus Christ is God.
<>Matthew 3:16-17. “And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him, 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, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
At the site of the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have a representation of the Holy Trinity.As our Lord Jesus Christ emerges from the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descends upon him, and God the Father declares him His beloved Son in whom he is well pleased.
<>John 14:9b-10a,16. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,(the Holy Spirit) to be with you forever.
Our Lord here demonstrated the unity and equality he shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit whom he identified as another advocate after him. The reality of the Holy Trinity is evident here.
<>2 Cor. 13:14: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”
This short Pauline greeting is a concise expression of the Trinity of persons in one God.
Identifying With The Holy Trinity In Our Lives.
- Building unity in our vast diversities.
- Encouraging love and trust in our relationships.
- Working together for the common good.
- Keeping to our positions and respecting those of others.
- Maintaining functional balance for the body, mind, and spirit.
As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity, let us pray that for unity and mutuality in our relationships, and our communities Have a laudable Trinity Sunday and a graceful week ahead. May the Grace of the Holy Trinity; Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit abide with you now and forever. Amen.