When I first began to study the Bible years ago, the doctrine of the Trinity was one of the most complex problems I had to encounter. I have never fully resolved it, for it contains an aspect of mystery. Though I do not totally understand it to this day, I accept it as a revelation of God. — Billy Graham
Although many variations of the Trinity doctrine exist today, most Christians agree that God is 1 "Godhead" which is a union of 3 divine persons. Many would in addition claim that each member of the "Godhead" is "equal".
While some unbiblical words had to be invented to explain the Trinitarian Doctrine, the Trinitarians argue that these concepts are as old as their bibles.
Catholic scholars admit that Tertullian was the FIRST writer to use the term "trinity" (Latin: "trinitas").
Tertullian originated new theological concepts and advanced the development of early Church doctrine. He is perhaps most famous for being the first writer in Latin known to use the term trinity (Latin: trinitas). -- Wikipedia ("Tertullian, Originator of the Trinity", From Logos to Trinity, Cambridge University Press, pp. 190–220, 2012-01-30, doi:10.1017/cbo9781139003971.010, ISBN 9781139003971, retrieved 2022-08-20)
Some believe this came from pagan influences where they believed in 3 gods. This was later enforced by Origen theology (the greatest scholar and father of Latin Catholic theology, 180-254 AD).
Timeline as proposed by Dr. Dale Tuggy:
|humanitarian unitariana||1 God (the Father)||Throughout NT era to present (Jews also belief in only 1 God)|
|subordinationish unitarian (logos theories)||God and a lesser god||150 to 381|
|trinitarian||3 persons who are the same God||381 to present (majority of Christian churches today)|
Also known as "Godhood".
the nature of God especially as existing in three persons -- Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Translations of "Godhead":
|Verse||Greek||Type||Vulgate (405)||Wycliffe (1395)||Tyndale (1525)||ESV (2001)|
|Acts 17:29||θεῖον||adjective||divinum||that godli thing||godhed||the divine being|
|Romans 1:20||θειότης||noun||divinitas||godhed||godhed||divine nature|
|Colossians 2:9||θεότης||noun||divinity||the Godhead||the godheed||deity|
- The Father is God (1 Corinthians 8:6; Psalm 68:5; Matthew 23:9)
- Ths Son is God (By a variety of reasons)
- The Holy Spirit is God (implied by Peter in Acts 5:3-4)
If all 3 are God but there can only be 1 God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Mark 12:29), then this "contradiction" supports the trinity doctrine.
However, the word "God" which comes from the Hebrew word ("elohim") or Greek word ("theos") could have different meanings depending on the context. For example, if people address someone or something as "God" in Greek or Hebrew, it could mean they are worshipping Him, but it could also mean they have the greatest possible respect for him.
In general the Hebrew word "Elohim" which means gods in plural.
Some belief this refers to the multiple personalities God have. To support their view, they often quote Genesis 1:1,26, 3:22, 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16 where God says "us" or "we".
However, in the Bible, the word "Elohim" could also technically be considered a singular God for example:
- Moses was considered "elohim" (Exodus 7:1)
- A single idol was considered "elohim" (Exodus 22:20)
- Baal was considered "elohim" (Judges 6:31)
- Chemosh was considered "elohim" (Judges 11:24)
- Dagon was considered "elohim" (1 Samuel 5:7)
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. -- Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech. -- Genesis 11:7 (ESV)
Unlike the case of "Elohim" which is a "plural of majesty" meaning an emphasis of the majesty, this is not the case according to a Hebrew scholar:
The plural of majesty does exist of nouns… but Genesis 1:26 is not about nouns — the issue is the verbal forms. -- Michael Heiser, The Unseen Realm, p. 39
Trinitarians reason that at least 2 of the members of the Trinity co-created man. Unfortunately the scripture does not name who or what the co-author is or was and what exactly was meant by this verse. So this is open for debate and different interpretations, for example:
- The most common objection to the “us” in Genesis 1:26 referring to angels is that Scripture attests that God made mankind. But God could easily have headed up a council with whom He conferred, and afterward did the work they decided upon.
- Another objection to this view is that God goes on to say “our image” after saying “let us” so one might question how angels are in the image of God. Since Adam in his pre-fallen state was without sin and in the image of God, it is perfectly reasonable to assume angels in God’s divine council, were also created in the image of God, and without sin. Therefore, it presents no problem to say that humans were created after the image of God (and subsequently angels).
"yachid" is only used to refer to a strict numerical oneness, whereas "echad" has a wider range of usage that includes composite unities as well. -- Jason Dulle
|Hebrew||echad||unified/numeric one||Genesis 2:24; Deuteronomy 6:4; Ezekiel 33:24||Used of God's "oneness"|
|Hebrew||yachid||absolute numeric one||Judges 11:34||Never used of God's "oneness"|
|Hebrew||bad||absolute numeric one||Isaiah 37:20||Used of God's "oneness"|
|Greek||hen||unified/numeric one||John 10:30; Matthew 19:5; Mk 12:29; Galatians 3:20||Used of God's "oneness"|
|Greek||monos||absolute numeric one||Matthew 24:36; 1 Timothy 1:17||Used of God's "oneness"|
"Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one [echad]!" -- Deuteronomy 6:4
"And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one [echad], and His name the only one [echad]." -- Zechariah 14:9
Jason Dulle argue:
Echad is used nearly 1000 times in the OT, and almost always refers to a single numerical entity. There are times when it is used of a composite entity (Genesis 2:24). It functions just like the English word “one,” which can be used of single or composite entities, although it most often refers to a single, solitary thing. Only the context can determine how echad is being used. Given the rarity with which echad is used to refer to a composite entity, we should understand echad as referring to a single entity unless there are good contextual clues that warrant the uncommon meaning. So given the lexical data alone, the best one could argue is that the semantical domain of echad allows for a Trinitarian understanding of “one,” but by no means does it prove it, and by no means does it rule out the understanding of God’s oneness as an absolute unity.
The question, then, comes down to context. Is there anything in the context of Deuteronomy 6:4 – or any other passage of Scripture in which God is described as being echad – that requires the meaning of composite unity? Meaning is not determined by a words semantical domain, but by the context. To demonstrate that echad means a composite entity with reference to God, the context must make it clear that this is the meaning intended by the author. For example, in Genesis 2:24 man and woman are described as being “echad flesh.” It is physically impossible for man and woman to be considered a single physical entity, so the author must mean “one” in the sense of a composite entity. Are there similar contextual clues that make it clear that echad is being used in this way in Deuteronomy 6:4? No. Indeed, given how God’s oneness is described in passages like Isaiah 42:8 and 44:24, we have very good grounds for understanding the nature of God’s oneness to be that of a numerically single entity.
Yachid is also used to describe the emotion of feeling alone (Psalm 25:16) or being alone (Psalm 68:6), and even the uniqueness or precious nature of something (Psalm 22:21; 35:17). The word is never used as a general term for “one.” Its meaning is more akin to “unique” or “only.” Indeed, Isaac is described as Abraham’s yachid even though Isaac was not his only son (Ishmael was born earlier). While God could have been described using yachid, it would not necessarily tell us how many gods there are, but rather what kind of God YHWH is: a unique God. If we want to know how many gods there are, the most appropriate word is echad.
Have we not all one [echad] Father? Has not one [echad] God created us? -- Mal 2:10
In the same sentence "echad" is used for both the Father and God. If "echad" meant unified one, is the Father also unified of smaller gods?
Why would the same word in the same sentence have two different meanings? If "one God" means union of multiple, why would "one mediator" means "single"?
In the New Testament Greek, Paul wrote (after Jesus' crucifixion, after Jesus' ascended, after Jesus was exulted, after he personally meet Christ Jesus):
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus... -- 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)
Furthermore, the pronouns in the Bible that refer to “God” are singular, and there are lots of them. “The Hebrew Bible and the New Testament contain well over twenty thousand pronouns and verbs describing the One God” (Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-inflicted Wound, International Scholars Publications, New York, 1998, p. 17). Singular pronouns include “I,” “my,” and “he.”
We would expect that the pronouns that refer to the “Father,” to Jesus, and to “the Holy Spirit” would be singular if there were a Trinity, but since the Trinity teaches that “God” is triune and consists of three “Persons,” that the pronouns associated with “God” would be plural. This is especially the case because according to Trinitarian doctrine, each “Person” in the triune God is individually omnipresent, individually all-knowing; individually all-powerful, and each individually has his own will, his own mind (which is why Jesus could say to the Father, “not my will but yours be done”). John 3:16 (REV) reads,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have life in the age to come.”
But if “God” were composed of three co-equal beings who each had their own mind and together agreed to send Christ, we would expect it to say,
“For God so loved the world that they gave the Father’s only begotten Son….”
The fact that the pronouns in the Bible refer to “God” as a singular being is evidence that there is no Trinity.
Some Christians claim that the 3 men who appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18 are the Godhead in 3 different persons:
And the LORD (YHVH) appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, "O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant." -- Genesis 18:1-3 (ESV)
So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD (YHVH). -- Genesis 18:22 (ESV)
However, if Abraham was physically standing before the Father, it could contradict Jesus' words:
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. -- John 1:18 (ESV)
Some use these verse to proof that this "man" refered as the LORD (YHVH) could only be Jesus, but the LORD (YHVH) is God, so they argue that this proof that Jesus is God. Possible explanations:
- The "man" could have been an angel appearing the form of a "man" but speaking on behalf of the LORD (YHVH). So when Abraham speak to the LORD (YHVH), he is really speaking to the LORD (YHVH) because it is His words. For example we don't say "we speek to the phone", we speak to the person on the otherside of the line although we physically are only speaking to the microphone of a phone. However, the text clearly identified the "man" speaking to Abraham as "the LORD" and unlike other instances where angels appear to people, this "man" speaks in first person.
- Some belief Abraham was dreaming / seeing a vision while sleeping under the "oaks of Mamre" during his mid day nap. However, the text does not confirm this. Sodom was really destroyed, it was not Abraham's imagination.
The reason why there are great confusion regarding this passage is because of the division between Genesis chapter 18 and 19 (that did not exist in the original text). In the next chapter we read:
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. -- Genesis 19:1 (ESV)
This implies the 3rd "man" stayed behind with Abraham to continue the conversation at the end of Genesis 18. No text clearly specifies what the 3rd "man" was. Since Abraham recognized YHVH, it could mean that the 3rd man was YHVH himself appearing as a "man" as his full glory would have killed Abraham (Exodus 33:15-18).
However, this still does not proof that the other 2 men were Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
The 2 angels also appeared as normal "men" to the men of Sodom:
But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, "Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them." -- Genesis 19:4-5
In Genesis 19:12 these "angels" are referred again as "men".
Then the men said to Lot... "For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." -- Genesis 19:12-13 (ESV)
These angels were acting under the authority of the LORD, and they referred to the LORD as a separate superior God. For example:
Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; -- Genesis 19:24
Even in modern English we don't blame the individual soldier who attack a country, we say something like "Russia attacked Ukraine" as the Russian soldiers acted under the command of the Russian government. Same way these angels acted under the command of "the LORD".
Lot also never directly addressed these angels as "YHVH", but as "Lords" in lowercase (Genesis 19:2) which is a form of respect to someone important.
Trinitarians argue that Paul lists the 3 members of the Trinity:
- Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
- and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord (Jesus as per 1 Corinthians 12:3);
- and there are varieties of activities
also, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
-- 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (ESV)
Paul named the third "member" simply "God", but not the other two. The last part of the scripture is often ignored:
... but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
Which means the same God empowers the "gifts" and "services" though His "Spirit" and "Lord Jesus".
Another problem is that English bible translators manipulate the text to fit their view. For example:
- The second "member" does not contain a "but" like the first "member". Instead, the word is "kai" which means "and" or "even" or "also" or "namely". The last "member"'s "kai" is even left out from the translation.
- Verse separation was added afterwords by translators and was not part of the original manuscripts.
In other words, a more direct translation would probably be something like:
Now there are varieties of gifts,
but the same Spirit and there are varieties of service and the same Lord and there are varieties of activities also,
but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
Most modern English bible translations read:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, ... - Matthew 28:19 (ESV)
A cross-reference of the same verse excludes the trinity formula:
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his [Jesus’] name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” -- Luke 24:47
And while staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
-- Acts 1:4-8
Jesus does not declare "you will be witnesses to the Holy Trinity".
The following verses omit "the name of the Father" and "the name of the Holy Spirit".
“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” -- John 20:30-31
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” -- 1 John 5:13
The Greek Christian Justin Martyr, who wrote in the middle of the second century, never quoted “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” nor did Aphraates (Aphrahat The Persian Sage) in the early fourth century, neither the great theologian Origen, nor Hermas the shepherd. -- https://7th-day.info/great-commission-of-matthew-2819-20/
Some scholars question this verse's validity based on two factors:
- they are not quoted by some early Church Fathers (notably Eusebius), and
- they seem to contradict other sections of Scripture, when not properly understood.
This argument was first put forth by the nineteenth century Biblical scholar, F. C. Conybeare (1856-1924).
"We now have the Hebrew Matthew Gospel, a manuscript that was preserved by the Jews from the first century. In this Shem Tov MS, the text at Matthew 28:19 does not contain the Trinitarian statement."
-- Mark Clarke
However, it is important to note that these quotes are not reliable sources too as Mark Clarke conclude:
So the problems, which seem to demand a forsaking of all known manuscripts in favor of loosely paraphrased references in Eusebius, all disappear when one realizes that Matthew 28:19 was not meant to be a formula, but simply a description of what the new disciples would be baptized into. The Jews knew of the Father, and were aware of the workings of the holy spirit, but the identification of Jesus as the Son of God was now crucial to their baptism. Gentiles, on the other hand, may or may not have known God as a Father, or His holy spirit working in the world, and would need to be introduced into that knowledge as well as that of Christ. This would be a reasonable description of the Commission to preach and teach to “all nations.” All three, God, Jesus, and the holy spirit (which is also called the spirit of Christ) are instrumental in the entire plan of salvation. Thus being baptized as a response to the Gospel can certainly be described as being baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit,” since there is no reference in that verse to the Trinitarian concepts of coequality, coexistence, or triune persons. The words of the Great Commission were in fact turned into a Trinitarian baptismal formula in later years, but there is nothing to indicate that this was the original meaning or intent of the phrase.
Even if Matthew 28:19 is 100% correctly translated and does include "the name of **the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", it still does not proof that they are 3 components of the Godhead or define the Trinity. Jesus did not even mention the word "God" or said anything like together we are "God". Jesus simply said: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them...".
In English the "word" name could mean either "identity" or "authority". Because of this some people says if the identity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is the same identity, then they think this proof that they are the same.
Jesus also did not instruct his disciples to change their names to "Jesus" or "Christ" or "Christians".
"In the name of" someone means under the authority of a superior person the servant has the right or has been ordered to do certain things.
For example when Caesar send his troops to conquer a country, they do it in the "name of Caesar" which means they have been ordered and have the support of Caesar to do so.
Review the biblical example:
And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired,
“By what power or by what name did you do this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them,
"Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead — by him this man is standing before you well..."
-- Acts 4:7–10 (ESV)
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. -- John 1:18 (NIV)
No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. -- John 1:18 (NLT)
"who is himself God" is text added by translators which was not part of the original manuscript. Compare for example with the KJV which is a much older translation:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. -- John 1:18 (KJV)
A direct translation from the Interlinear Bible reads:
God no one has seen ever yet [the] only begotton god the one being in the bosom of the Father he has made [Him] known.
What causes the confusion is that the Greek word "theos" could either mean
- God Almighty (capital letter "G") or
- a god or important person (small letter "g")
Therefore, depending on the translator's view, the same Greek scripture is translated differently.
If John truly meant God (with a capital letter "G"), it would cause a contradiction with John 1:14 which states that Jesus was seen while John 1:18 states that "no one has ever seen God".
In fact one could argue, that if the "only begotton Son" declared God or made Him known, then the Son did a bad job to explain the triune God composed of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Instead, he said multiple times that the Father alone is God. (John 17:3; 20:17; Mark 12:29; 15:34; Matthew 4:3-10; 27:46; Revelation 16:5-7)
- Jesus could have taught the Samaritan women (John 4:1-42) about the triune God composed of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and that she should worship him as God, but instead he told her that he is the Messiah (John 4:26) instead of God. In fact even told her that she should worship the Father (John 4:23) which would have reinforced her belief that there was only one God that should be worshipped.
- When Jesus taught his disciples that he was the Messiah (Matt. 16:17-20) instead of God and also reinforced Peter's belief that it was God the Father in heaven who revealed this knowledge to him.
- When Jesus healed a blind man he also only taught him that he was the Messiah (John 9:35-38) instead of God.
- When the young rich ruler approached Jesus and called him Good Master, Jesus corrected him and told him only God was good which implies he is not God. (Mark 10:17-18)
Modern Biblical scholarship largely agrees that 1 John 5:7 seen in Latin and Greek texts after the 4th century and found in later translations such as the King James Translation, cannot be found in the oldest Greek and Latin texts. Verse 7 is known as the Johannine Comma, which most scholars agree to be a later addition by a later copyist or what is termed a textual gloss and not part of the original text.
This verse is absent from the Ethiopic, Aramaic, Syriac, Slavic, Armenian, Georgian, and Arabic translations of the Greek New Testament.
-- Wikipedia (Metzger & Ehrman 1968, p. 101)
This is evident in different bible translations:
For there are three that bear record...
in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth,
... the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. -- 1 John 5:7-8 (KJV)
For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. -- 1 John 5:7-8 (ESV)
For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. -- 1 John 5:7-8 (NIV)
So we have these three witnesses — the Spirit, the water, and the blood — and all three agree. -- 1 John 5:7-8 (NLT)
For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement -- 1 John 5:7-8 (NASB95)
For they that bear witness are three: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and the three agree in one. -- 1 John 5:7-8 (DARBY)
For there are three that testify: the Spirit, as the water, and the blood — and these three are in agreement. -- 1 John 5:7-8 (CSB)
For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood — and these three are in agreement. -- 1 John 5:7-8 (HCSB)
There are three witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood. These three witnesses agree. -- 1 John 5:7-8 (GW)
There are three witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and all three give the same testimony. -- 1 John 5:7-8 (GNB)
- 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 13:14 (ESV)
This verse does not state that God is the Lord Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit. Rather Paul conclude with the 3 main topics of his letter and bless his readers with the information thereof.
Often people will reason that should not ought to try to understand God or ask too many questions about God. They will quote scriptures like:
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness. -- 1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
However, "mystery" means "revelation from God" and in this context as Paul was addressing a "church" who would have known Jesus. Paul was addressing a different issue, namely
They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. -- 1 Timothy 3:9 (ESV)
which refers to
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this (gospel of the Christ), some have made shipwreck of their faith. -- 1 Timothy 1:18-19 (ESV)
In other words, to those who rejected the Christ, the gospel is a "mystery". This has nothing to do with understanding what God is.
Often the following verse is quoted to argue that we should not try to understand the paradox of the Trinity of:
- How can God be 3 distinct persons yet still be 1 God?
- How can God be both human and God simultaneously when one cannot be the other (Numbers 23:19; 1 Kings 8:27)?
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. -- 1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)
However, in this context Paul was referring to the gift of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge that only temporary nurture spiritual children who do not fully understand God's will.
- As for prophecies, they will pass away;
- as for tongues, they will cease;
- as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. -- 1 Corinthians 13:8-11 (ESV)
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he (Jesus) has made Him known.
- There are no scriptures that define God as being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- There are no scriptures that define God as 3, 3 in 1, or a combination of personalities, parts, modes or aspects.
- The Jewish Rabbi's, Scribes, Pharisees and Priests spend a great deal of time studying the Tanach (Old Testament) in their own language. If there was any proof of a Trinity, they would have noticed it. Yet we see through history the Jews fiercely defended the facts that there is only one God.
- There are no scriptures that say that Jesus has two natures or two minds or that he is a God-man, or that he is fully God and fully man.
- There are no scriptures of people praying to or worshipping the Holy Spirit.
Trinitarians differ, sometimes greatly, in their definitions of the Trinity. The Eastern Orthodox Church differs from the Western Church on the relation of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son. Also, Trinitarians who hold to the “classic” definition of the Trinity, that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man while on earth, believe differently from Kenotic Trinitarians, who believe that Jesus set aside his godhood while he was a man on earth.
A study of the history of the Christian Church shows a definite development in the doctrine of the Trinity over the centuries. For example, the early form of the Apostles’ Creed, believed to date back to shortly after the time of the apostles themselves, does not mention the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ. Furthermore, it only states, “I believe in ‘the holy spirit,’” which could just as easily refer to the gift of holy spirit as it could to a third “Person” in the Trinity. The Nicene Creed, written in 325 AD and modified later, added the material about Jesus Christ being “eternally begotten” and “true God,” and about the Holy Spirit being “Lord.” But it was the Athanasian Creed, most likely composed in the late 400s or early 500s AD, that was the first creed to explicitly state the doctrine of the Trinity, and it includes that if a person does not believe it, he is not saved but will perish everlastingly.
In Acts 2 give a detailed witness of how Peter did not mention one word about the Trinity or Godhead, yet 3000 people got saved:
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” -- Acts 2:37-39
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he (Jesus) answered them well, asked him,
“Which commandment is the most important of all?”
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other besides Him (Deuteronomy 4:35). -- Mark 12:28-32 (ESV)
The Jews were not Trinitarians and certainly the scribe did not serve and worshipped Jesus as God. Jesus could have corrected him, but instead he responded:
And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” -- Mark 12:34 (ESV)
Jesus was trailed for claiming to be the Christ. No one accused him of claiming to be God.
Scriptures contradict itself if people try to claim that Jesus is God:
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” -- John 20:17 (ESV)
If Jesus is God then:
- Why would Jesus say he has "not yet ascended to the Father"?
- How can Jesus ascend to himself?
If Jesus is equal with the Father then:
- Why does Jesus refer to the Father as "my God"?
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” -- Matthew 27:46 (NKJV); Mark 15:34
If Jesus is God then:
- Why would Jesus be surprised that God had forsaken him?
- Why would Jesus cry out to himself?
- How would it be possible for Jesus to forsaken himself?
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. -- Ephesians 1:16-17 (ESV)
In the same sentence Paul wrote that
- God is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ
- God is the Father of glory
- The Father gives the Spirit (the Spirit is obedient to the Father)
Paul clearly taught that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not equal and not the same.
Note that the Holy Spirit is always missing from Paul's blessings, which implies that Paul did not consider the Holy Spirit important enough to be considered as part of the "Trinity".
- God our Father
- Lord Jesus Christ
- but the Holy Spirit is missing
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His Prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His son Jesus Christ our Lord... -- Romans 1:1-3 (NKJV)
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -- 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 (NKJV)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -- 2 Corinthians 1:1-2 (NKJV)
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen -- Galatians 1:1-4 (NKJV)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -- Ephesians 1:1-2 (NKJV)
Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -- Philippians 1:1-2 (NKJV)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -- Colossians 1:1-2 (NKJV)
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -- 1 Thessalonians 1:1 (ESV)
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -- 2 Thessalonians 1:1 (ESV)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. -- 1 Timothy 1:1-2 (ESV)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. -- 2 Timothy 1:1-2 (ESV)
Paul, a servant of God and aan apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in ma common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. -- Titus 1:1-4 (ESV)
Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -- Philemon 1:1-3 (ESV)
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. -- Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)
- Lord Jesus Christ
- but the Holy Spirit is missing
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. -- James 1:1 (ESV)
- God the Father
- Jesus Christ
- the Spirit (missing in the second letter of Peter)
However, in the context of 1 Peter:1, "the Spirit" is complementing the "blood", but the "blood" is not considered as a fourth member of the Trinity.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of
- God the Father in the sanctification of the Spirit,
- for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
-- 1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)
If the Spirit is proven to be "God" by this greeting, then the "blood" should also be a "god" making the Trinity 4 members not 3.
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained aa faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. -- 2 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)
- God the Father
- Jesus Christ the Father's Son
- but the Holy Spirit is missing
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. -- 1 John 1:1-4 (ESV)
The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. -- 2 John 1:1-3 (ESV)
The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. -- 3 John 1:1 (ESV)
- God the Father
- Jesus Christ
- but the Holy Spirit is missing
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ. -- Jude 1:1 (ESV)
But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
-- Acts 7:55-56 (ESV)
Stephan noticed that Jesus and God was standing next to each other as two separate persons. However, he failed to mention a third person of the Trinity.
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him... -- Revelation 1:1 (ESV)
It would not make sense to claim Jesus is God because if that was true, then there would be no revelation at all because he would already know what he is about to "reveal" to himself.
John saw in the book of Revelation:
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. -- Revelation 1:4-5 (ESV)
Jesus Christ is addressed as a separate person from "Him who is and who was and who is to come".
Revelation 4 provides more detail of the throne room:
At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne... -- Revelation 4:2
Then later, separately from the "one seated on the throne"...
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain...
-- Revelation 4:2-6 (ESV)
Which symbolizes that Jesus is separate from God. The "Lamb" was not the "one seated on the throne".
If you believe Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit is not God, you disrespect him/them according to the Trinitarians. The act of disrespecting God is considered "blasphemy" against God.
However, if you consider the opposite and belief Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit is God and you are wrong, then you commit idolatry because you worship someone or something other than God Almighty.
Both blasphemy and idolatry are considered very serious sin against God. So one need to carefully study the evidence to worship God correctly.
|Effect of the Trinity||Effect of One God|
|Complex to reason about God||Simple to explain|
|Contradictions are avoided with "mysteries of God that one dare not understand"||No contradictions|
|Jesus our everything, the Father is just another member or aspect of the Trinity||All glory and honour goes to the Father who is our God, through Jesus Christ our mediator|
|Worshipping Jesus or the Holy Spirit could led to idolatry of a god that is not God||No confusion, only 1 God to serve and worship|
|"Worship" is often confused with singing hymns to Jesus||True worship is being a living sacrifice (obedient) to God|
|God's family is complete, no more space||Father adopts believers to be united with Him|
|Jesus is your imaginary friend||The body of Christ are human believers, that is how you fellowship with Jesus|
|Hinder salvation for Jews and Muslims who belief there is only 1 God||Much more approachable by Jews and Muslims|
|A God-man Jesus could do miracles by himself and do not need God||Jesus did miracles by God's Spirit which we can receive too|
|A God-man Jesus could escape suffering (we won't know)||Jesus was 100% human, very brave, and deserve our highest respect|
|A God-man Jesus cannot fully related to use because we are not gods||A 100% human Jesus fully understand our suffering and can relate to us|
|Its impossible to live like a God-man Jesus||Jesus set a realistic the standard|