Questions Concerning the Trinity
In this section we will examine all of the Bible’s “evidence” that is often used to prove that God is a trinity. We will not examine verses trinitarians use to establish that Jesus is God since we agree with God, the Father who said to His Son:
“Thy throne, O God (Jesus), is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God (Jesus), even thy God (the Father), hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Hebrews 1:8, 9)
Jesus is God by nature, as well as by the exalted position His Father gave to Him (Philippians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28). I am human because my father is human. Jesus is God because His Father is God. We will examine verses that are used in an attempt to prove that Jesus is “the Most High God” or “the only true God.” He certainly could not be the Most High God while His Father is “The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory” (Ephesians 1:17). Here are some examples of what many authors say about the trinity in the Bible:
“Careful reading of The Old Testament shows no indication of the trinity itself…” (An Introduction to the Christian Faith, Oxford, England: Lynx Communications, 1992)
“The Old Testament does not plainly and directly teach The Trinity, …” (Myer Pearlman, Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible, Missouri, USA: Gospel Publishing House, 1981)
“The doctrine of The Holy Trinity is not taught in The Old Testament.” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, p. 306).
“For nowhere in the Old Testament do we find any clear indication of a Third Person. Mention is often made of the Spirit of the Lord, but there is nothing to show that the Spirit was viewed as distinct from Jahweh [Yahweh/Jehovah] Himself.” (George Joyce, “The Blessed Trinity,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Online at www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm)
Not only do most theologians agree that the Old Testament does not contain the doctrine of the trinity, many will admit that the New Testament also omits this doctrine:
“Further, exegetes and theologians agree that the New Testament also does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity. God the Father is source of all that is (Pantokrator) and also the father of Jesus Christ; ‘Father’ is not a title for the first person of the Trinity but a synonym for God. Early liturgical and creedal formulas speak of God as ‘Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’…” (Mircea Eliade, “Trinity,” The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 15, p. 53-57)
“The doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Bible.” (Prof. Shirley C. Guthrie Jr., Christian Doctrine, p. 80)
“Trinity, in Christian doctrine, the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead. Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Hebrew Scriptures, [which says]: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4).” (Encyclopædia Britannica Online, article: “Trinity,” Online at, www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/ 605512/Trinity)
There are a multitude of quotations from many theologians stating that both the Old and New Testaments do not contain an explicit doctrine of the trinity. Instead this doctrine came into mainstream Christianity many years after the Bible was written. The Catholic Church states:
“The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic Faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the Church. The Church studied this mystery with great care and, after four centuries of clarification, decided to state the doctrine in this way: in the unity of the Godhead there are three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (Handbook for Today’s Catholic, p. 11)
“The Church began to formulate its doctrine of The Trinity in the fourth century.” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Eerdmans Publishing, 1996, p. 82).
“The Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity. Neither the word ‘trinity’ itself nor such language as ‘one-in-three,’ ‘three-in-one,’ one ‘essence’ (or ‘substance’), and three ‘persons’ is biblical language. The language of the doctrine is the language of the ancient church taken from classical Greek philosophy.” (Prof. Shirley C. Guthrie Jr., Christian Doctrine, p. 76, 77).
Keep in mind that the authors of the quotations above all believe in the trinity but are compelled to admit that it is not taught in the Bible. We are not going to take their word for it. We would like to examine the texts used to support the trinity and see if they do just that. As we study these verses let us come to them seeking to find out what they actually say rather than to see if we can fit our opinions into the verses. Make sure you catch that distinction. Many people come to the Bible seeking to prove a preconceived idea. Yet, that is a dangerous way to approach the Bible. God wants us to come to Him for wisdom and knowledge (James 1:5), and His most complete revelation of these things is found in the Bible. If we want to know what God says about Himself we cannot come to Him with our preconceived ideas and try to cram them into the Bible, but rather we must inquire “What does God want to tell me in the verses I read in the Bible? What do the verses actually say?” With this in mind, let us read the supposed “proof texts” for the trinity.
- Lynnford Beachy