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The Tri-unity or Trinity of God

Is God One or Three?

The Oneness of God

Here are a few verses on the oneness of God (there are many others).

Moses declares the oneness of God

Deuteronomy 6:4

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (NIV)

Isaiah writes of the oneness of God

Isaiah 45:21 Declare what is to be, present it-- let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.

Jesus recognizes the oneness of God

Mark 12:29,32

Mr 12:29 "The most important one [of the commandments of the Mosaic law]," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Mr 12:32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. (NIV)

John 17:3

Joh 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

The Apostle Paul recognizes the oneness of God

1Corinthians 8:4,6

1Co 8:6 yet for us 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. (NIV)

But what about the trinity? How does the one become three? Are they equal or not? How do they work together? Possibly the best place to start in our discussion of the trinity is before the creation of the earth. We would not know anything about this except the Apostle Paul was moved by the Spirit of God to write about it in the first chapter of the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:3-23

Eph 1:3 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.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory.
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (NIV)

From this Scripture we might deduce that God the Father is Almighty and directs the course of events, predestining and choosing people to be saved and adopted into His family, creating the world, sending His Son to purchase our redemption from sin, and sealing our salvation by His Spirit. And he does this all for His glory.

The Trinity or Triune Nature of God

The Hebrew word translated "God" is the word El or Elohim. Elohim is the plural form of El . The plural form is used 2607 of the 2845 times the word "God" is used in the Old Testament. Not only is the word for God usually used in the plural form, but several verses refer to God as "Us":* God is the self-existent Almighty One who has a plural nature [emphasis mine].

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (NIV)

Genesis 3:22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (NIV)

Genesis 11:5-7

Ge 11:5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.
6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." (NIV)

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (NIV)

Isaiah 48:16 "Come near me and listen to this: "From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there." And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with his Spirit. (NIV)

Isaiah 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn (NIV)

Matthew 28:19 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 (NIV) [note the equality here]

Luke 1:35 The angel answered [to Mary the mother of Jesus], "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (NIV) [a son has the same nature as his father]

Philippians 2:5-11

Php 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)

John 1:1-14

Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

From these Scriptures we learn first that Jesus was in the presence eternally with God the Father and was in His very nature co-equal with Him, but He humbled Himself and took on the form of man. Second, we learn that the Word [a reference to Jesus] that is a light to mankind became flesh and is God, that He came from the Father, and is full of grace and truth.

John 1:32-34

32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.
33 I would not have known him, except that the one [God] who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'
34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." (NIV)

John 3:34-36

Joh 3:34 For the one whom God has sent [referring to Jesus] speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.
35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (NIV)

Have you believed in Jesus to receive eternal life? (more...)

John 5:17-43a

Joh 5:17 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."
18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.
21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.
22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,
23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice
29 and come out-- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
31 "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.
32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.
33 "You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth.
34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved.
35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
36 "I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.
37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,
40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41 "I do not accept praise from men,
42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.
43 I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me (NIV)

From these Scriptures we learn that Jesus claims to be God's Son, making Him equal with God, God the Father has given His Son Jesus a mission to fulfill, the authority to forgive sins, to grant eternal life, and to judge mankind in the end.

John 10:30 I and the Father are one."

What about the Holy Spirit? Who is He?

John 15:26 "When the Counselor [a reference to the Holy Spirit] comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. (NIV)

From this we learn that the Counselor, the Holy Spirit comes from God the Father, and is sent by Jesus, which means He has some authority over the Spirit.

John 16:13-15

Joh 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (NIV)

If you recall earlier we learned that the Son has His Father's mission to fulfill. Here we learn that the Holy Spirit has the Son's will to fulfill.

Acts 5:3-4

Ac 5:3 Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?
4 Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." (NIV)

Here the Holy Spirit is called God

1Corinthians 8:6 yet for us 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. (NIV)

We live for God the Father to do His will and we are enabled to do that through Christ.

Galatians 4:4-6

Ga 4:4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, <"Abba>, Father." (NIV)

2Thessalonians 2:13-14,16-17

2Th 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,
17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
(NIV)

1Timothy 3:16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (NIV)

Titus 3:4-7

Tit 3:4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He [God] saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
6 whom he [God the Father] poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior
,
7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (NIV)

Hebrews 9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (NIV)

1Peter 1:2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (NIV)

1Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God [the Father]. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit (NIV)

1John 5:6-7

1Jo 5:6 This is the one who came by water and blood-- Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
7 For there are three that testify (NIV)

Revelation 1:4-8

Re 1:4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come [the Father] , and from the seven spirits [a manifestation of the Holy Spirit] before his throne,
5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (NIV)

Conclusion

God is one, and yet the Scriptures teach He exists in three eternal persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all co-equals who work in perfect and glorious concert with one another to accomplish the Father’s will.

Answers to other questions about the trinity can be found at gotquestions.org.

*http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/triunity.html

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