by James M. Flanigan, N. Ireland
When believers speak of "The Trinity" they mean that there is a holy and eternal Tri-unity of Persons in the one Godhead. With the light of New Testament revelation these are known to be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; three Divine Persons distinct and distinguishable but inseparably one in essence, in knowledge, in will, in love, in grace and in power, co-equal and co-eternal. The Godhead is one but the Persons are three; three in one and one in three. The concept is too great for human intelligence, but then, if it were not so, God would cease to be God. The believer is grateful to have a God Whose greatness and glory transcend the puny minds of mortals.
The word "Trinity" is not a Biblical word but the doctrine of the Trinity is very much a Biblical truth. It has been said that often what is patent in the New Testament is latent in the Old Testament and this is especially true with regard to the Trinity. That which is somewhat concealed in the Old Testament is revealed in the New and then what is called the great Tri-unity, three in one and one in three, is so plain to be seen throughout the whole of the sacred inspired volume of the Holy Scriptures.
There is good reason for this progress of doctrine and revelation. In Old Testament days the nation of Israel was Jehovah’s testimony in the midst of idolatrous nations and it had to be emphasised to the chosen nation that there was indeed but one God. It was gross error to suppose, like the Gentiles, that there were many gods. So it is, that from the earliest times, and indeed until this present day, every devout Jew will commence his day reciting the words of Deuteronomy 6.4, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD". That there were three Divine Persons in that one Godhead was not, to Israel, an explicit revelation, but when once the New Testament writings are appreciated then it may be seen that the great truth was implicit in many Old Testament passages.
Jehovah had called Israel out of Egypt that they might be worshippers of the one true God and a rebuke to those surrounding nations who worshipped many gods and who had, in the language of Rom.1.23, "changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things". The nations had gods of gold and silver, of wood and stone. Sadly though, Israel too would at times succumb to idol worship and would honour other gods in spite of Jehovah’s gracious dealings with them.
The late W. E. Vine, writing in "The Faith, a Symposium of Bible Doctrine" edited by Dr. F. A. Tatford, comments on the use of the word "Persons" in relation to the Trinity and says, "Objections have been raised to the use of this word as being non-Scriptural and as suggesting the existence of three Gods; and the objection holds good if the term is used in its customary modern sense. But since the distinctions are not those of essence, but are personal, and are distinctions of unity, and if the word ‘person’ is understood as simply signifying an intelligent being or agent possessed of reasoning faculty, it may be regarded as not so exceptionable although its use is not really necessary."
Having said this, however, Mr. Vine’s article then abounds in the use of the words "Person" and "Persons" and indeed it is difficult to know how else to refer to the Holy Three of the Godhead. The word "Persons" will therefore be used with due reverence and intelligence throughout this present meditation. How rightly do believers sing the lovely words:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.
THE TRINITY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
As has already been mentioned, the doctrine of the Trinity is not specifically or explicitly taught in the Old Testament but with the enlightenment of the New Testament the great truth may then be clearly seen in many passages.
The opening verse of the Old Testament reads, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" Gen.1.1. The word "God" is the Hebrew Elohim, and Elohim is a plural word (Strong 430). How significant that the first Divine title in our Bible should be a plurality. If it be objected that sometimes the Hebrew plural is employed simply to imply greatness, majesty, magnificence, and not necessarily a plurality in the common sense of the word, this of course is quite correct. But that this is not the plural of majesty is confirmed a little later in the same chapter by the plural pronouns which are used when Elohim says, "Let Us make man in Our image" v.26. There is, in the opening verse of the Bible, a title employed which may only be understood by recognising a plurality of Persons in the Godhead.
Again, "The LORD God (Jehovah Elohim) said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us" Gen.3.22, showing that Jehovah and Elohim are Divine titles of the same Godhead and that there is indeed a plurality of Persons which must forever remain a mystery if there is not a Trinity. And yet again, it is Jehovah who says, "Let Us go down and there confound their language" Gen.11.7.
When once it is acknowledged that there is a plurality of Divine Persons in the Godhead it is easy to discern allusions to this in certain other familiar Old Testament passages. In the well-known Aaronic blessing of Num.6.24-26 there would appear to many to be such an allusion: "The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." The three-fold repetition of the great name would certainly imply to many the fact of the Trinity while the respective blessings which follow are in keeping with the gracious ministries of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Then, in that memorable vision given to the prophet Isaiah he saw the seraphim and heard them cry one to another, "Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts" Isa.6.3. To the unbeliever or to a Unitarian this repetition in ascribing holiness may mean nothing but to those who believe in the wonder of the Trinity here is yet another allusion to the great truth.
Other Old Testament Scriptures which are termed "Messianic", as Isa.61.1 and Ps.110.1, and which will be considered later, again convey to the believing mind the same doctrine of the Trinity. While it is conceded that the Trinity is not expounded in the Old Testament, in an extensive article on the Trinity in the "International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia", Benjamin B. Warfield writes, "The Old Testament may be likened to a chamber richly furnished but dimly lighted; the introduction of light brings into it nothing which was not in it before; but it brings out into clearer view much of what is in it but was only dimly or even not at all perceived before. The mystery of the Trinity is not revealed in the Old Testament; but the mystery of the Trinity underlies the Old Testament revelation, and here and there almost comes into view. Thus, the Old Testament revelation of God is not corrected by the fuller revelation which follows it, but only perfected, extended and enlarged." In the following meditations the clear Scriptural references to the Deity of Christ necessitate the fact of a Trinity of Divine Persons.
THE TRINITY IN THE GOSPELS
It is important to recognise and emphasise the essential equality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Godhead. The Deity of Christ is commonly denied by infidels and by critics, some of whom, sadly and strangely, would still profess to be Christian. But one cannot believe in the Trinity and deny the Deity of the Son. Neither can one believe in the Deity of the Son and be a Unitarian. There are not three Gods, but the Father is God as the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit too is God. These relationships in the Godhead are so clearly seen throughout the pages of the four Gospels.
Very early in the Gospel story the Trinity is in evidence in the Incarnation of the Saviour. Gabriel’s word to Mary was, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" Lk.1.35. The Holy Spirit … the power of the Highest … the Son of God. These Three are in holy harmony in the miraculous conception of Mary’s child.
In that one glimpse into the hidden years in Nazareth when the boy Jesus was missing and eventually found in the temple, His word to Mary was, "How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?" Lk.2.49. Here is a Son speaking of His Father and those who believe in the Trinity understand this perfectly. But, as implied in the word Elohim there is a Hebrew plurality in the Godhead, not just a duality, and other Scriptures will show that the third Person in the Deity is the Holy Spirit.
Some eighteen years after the incident in the temple, Jesus came to the river Jordan where John was baptising. In great humility He required that John should baptise Him. It was a baptism unto repentance for the people but He Who had nothing of which to repent went into the waters with them. He would in grace take His place with those who responded to the prophet’s preaching. As He stood in the river the heavens opened. The voice of the Father spoke, proclaiming, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" Matt.3.17. It is interesting that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all record that the Holy Spirit then descended like a dove and abode upon Him – see Matt.3.16; Mk.1.10; Lk.3.22; Jn.1.32. Can there be any clearer evidence of the fact of the Trinity than this? The Son is in the water; the Father is speaking from heaven; the Holy Spirit is descending upon the Son.
Immediately after His baptism the Saviour was directed into the wilderness by the Spirit and as "Nelson’s Bible Dictionary" comments, "The devil recognised Jesus as the Son of God, Lk.4.3, but he tried to destroy the faithful relationship of the Divine family." After forty days Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. Son and Spirit are therefore together again while the Father waits silently in the heavens. It was after those days that Jesus then came to the synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown. He stood up, indicating His desire to read the Scripture portion for the occasion, and having been handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, He calmly found the place that we now know as chapter 61. It was as if, for the people of Nazareth, He would lay the foundation and establish the authority for His Messianic ministry, and as has been mentioned earlier, the Trinity is in evidence in the opening verse of that great chapter, "The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me" Isa.61.1; Lk.4.18. The Spirit, sent by the Lord on High, is upon the Son. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are together in this introduction of the Messiah.
During the months of ministry that followed, in Galilee, Judea and Samaria, the Saviour again and again spoke of His Divine relationship with the Father, and spoke also of that holy communion between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The following quotations from John’s Gospel are but illustrations of this ministry.
3.16 – "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son";
3.34 – "He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him";
3.35 – "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand";
5.17 – "Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work";
5.18 – "He … said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God";
5.19 – "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do";
5.20 – "The Father loveth the Son";
5.22 – "The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son";
5.23 – "All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father, He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him";
5.43 – "I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not";
6.29 – "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent";
6.37 – "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me";
7.39 – "This spake He of the Spirit Which they that believe on Him should receive";
8.18 – "The Father that sent Me beareth witness of Me";
8.19 – "If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also";
8.58 – "Jesus said … Before Abraham was, I am".
Lest any man should be tempted to think that these quotations are exceptional, or rare, let him read carefully through the chapters from which they have been culled, to find that there are so many others in similar strain that have not been quoted. And let him read on to discover so many more in the chapters which follow. And this is only John’s Gospel! There are three other inspired Gospels that are likewise full of revelations and manifestations of the Deity of Christ and the harmony of the Trinity.
And so John’s gospel continues:
10.15 – "As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father";
10.17 – "Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life";
10.30 – "I and My Father are one";
10.38 – "The Father is in Me, and I in Him";
13.31 – "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him";
14.9 – "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father";
14.11 – "Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me";
14.16 – "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter";
14.17 – "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive";
14.26 – "The Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name";
15.26 – "The Comforter … Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, Which proceedeth from the Father";
16.14 – "He shall glorify Me";
16.15 – "All things that the Father hath are Mine";
16.28 – "I came forth from the Father … I leave … and go to the Father";
20.21 – "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you";
20.22 – "He … saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost".
So many more similar expressions could be cited from John’s Gospel alone but how can one ponder even these which have been listed and not perceive the holy relationship and harmony between the Persons of the Trinity? Perhaps it should be emphasised however, that it is not at all spiritually intelligent to speak of the first, second and third Persons in the Godhead, as some do. The Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God. There is indeed an inscrutable equality of Persons in Deity and this can be seen not only in John’s Gospel but also in those which are called "the Synoptics", Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Deity of Christ and the fact of the Trinity shine everywhere throughout the Gospel story.
Commenting on what is often referred to as "the Baptismal Formula" in Matt.28.19, Benjamin Warfield writes: "The nearest approach to a formal announcement of the doctrine of the Trinity which is recorded from our Lord’s lips, or, perhaps we may say, which is to be found in the whole compass of the New Testament, has been preserved for us, not by John, but by one of the synoptists. It too, however, is only incidentally introduced, and has for its main object something very different from formulating the doctrine of the Trinity. It is embodied in the great commission which the resurrected Lord gave His disciples … ‘Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all [the] nations, baptising them [into] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. In seeking to estimate the significance of this great declaration, we must bear in mind the high solemnity of the utterance, by which we are required to give its full value to every word of it. Its phrasing is in any event, however, remarkable. It does not say, ‘In the names (plural) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost’; nor yet (what might be taken to be equivalent to that), ‘In the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Ghost,’ as if we had to deal with three separate Beings. Nor, on the other hand does it say, ‘In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,’ as if ‘the Father, Son and Holy Ghost’ might be taken as merely three designations of a single person. With stately impressiveness it asserts the unity of the three by combining them all within the bounds of the single name; and then throws up into emphasis the distinctness of each by introducing them in turn with the repeated article: ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’."
THE TRINITY IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
The reader has not proceeded very far in the Book of the Acts until he is presented with the fact of the Trinity. In the early opening verses the risen Saviour instructs His disciples to wait for the promise of the Father, the coming of the Holy Spirit. He then adds, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me" Acts 1.8. The Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father, empowers the witnesses to the Son.
On the Day of Pentecost the Spirit came as promised. With great boldness Peter stood up with the eleven and his message was, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up" Acts 2.22-24. The Holy Spirit given from the Father enables the disciples to witness to the Son, preaching His life, death, resurrection and exaltation to the Father’s right hand. "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear" Acts 2.33. "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus" Acts 3.13.
A little later, after the miraculous healing of the lame man who had sat begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, Peter and John were arraigned before the rulers, elders, scribes and priests. Peter was the spokesman. Filled with the Holy Spirit He boldly testified that God had raised from the dead Jesus of Nazareth Whom they had crucified, Acts 4.5-10. The Holy Spirit, the power of God, Jesus of Nazareth: the Holy Tri-unity is again in evidence for those who are willing to see.
Returning to the gathered company of disciples Peter and John then rehearsed all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. There was great praise and rejoicing among them as they remembered the words of the second Psalm, "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the LORD, and against His Christ" Acts 4.26. Then, "when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" Acts 4.31. Here again the three Persons of the Trinity are seen together in these early days of Christian testimony; the Lord, His Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
In the case of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5.1-10, there is again a clear reference to the Deity of the Holy Spirit, and therefore to the Trinity. The man and his wife had been deceptive about the price that they had received for the sale of their land. Peter, with apostolic discernment, recognised the falsehood and charged Ananias, "Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?" v.3. Repeating the charge Peter then said, "thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" v.4. Lying to the Holy Spirit was lying to God. Then, when a few hours later Sapphira came in and offered confirmation of that which was a lie, Peter said to her, "How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?" v.9.
It was after this that the apostles were apprehended and detained in the common prison, but there was a miraculous deliverance and soon they were preaching and teaching in the temple. Once again they were brought before the council and commanded to desist from teaching what they did. Their reply was that they must obey God rather than men, and then, yet again, the three Persons of the Godhead are mentioned in their testimony. They said, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour … and we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him" Acts 5.30-32. The God of their fathers had raised up Jesus, and had given the Holy Spirit to witness with them to His exaltation. They had crucified the Son; God had raised Him; the Spirit was witness.
It was probably inevitable that sooner or later some of the disciples would have to make the supreme sacrifice for their bold witness to Christ, and the account of Stephen’s death is the first recorded case of martyrdom, Acts 7.58-60. But here again, at the close of Stephen’s great address to the council the Godhead is in evidence. Stephen has, at some length and with power and intelligence, given a detailed account of God’s dealings with the nation from the call of Abraham through until the coming of the Just One Whom they had betrayed and murdered. He outlines the history of the nation with its pogroms, its sins and failures, and God’s constant patience with them, and then, courageously, he charges them with stiff-necked resistance to the Holy Spirit, just like their fathers. There is something majestic about the scene when Stephen, "being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God" Acts 7.55. Here is the fellowship of Divine Persons at the death of the first martyr. Stephen is full of the Holy Spirit; he sees Jesus the Son at the right hand of God, and with such a sight of glory he kneels beneath a hail of stones in prayer, asking forgiveness for those who stoned him. He fell asleep.
The young man Saul of Tarsus stood by as Stephen was stoned, acquiescing in the death of Stephen, although already he may well have been "kicking against the pricks" of conscience, Acts 9.5. But he pursued his stubborn way, persecuting the Christians and travelling toward Damascus to apprehend Christians there. His conversion story is well known but having lost his sight in the blaze of the glory of the risen Christ he was led to Ananias who said to him, "Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost" Acts 9.17. What a change! Filled with the Holy Spirit, acknowledging Jesus as Lord, and soon "he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God" Acts 9.20. Jesus is the Son of God and those who believe are indwelt by the Holy Spirit given by God.
Once again in the preaching of Peter, in the house of Cornelius in Caesarea, the Trinity is evident. Peter says, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost" Acts 10.38. It was reminiscent of Isa.61.1 and Lk.4.18. God … Jesus … the Holy Spirit". And as Peter preached that God had ordained Jesus to be the Judge of quick and dead, then "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word" Acts 10.42-44.
If this present meditation was intended to be a detailed study or exposition of the Book of the Acts, then the great truth of the Trinity would be seen again and again. The apostles would preach the Word of God with power. They would testify to a Saviour crucified but now risen and glorified, and God would honour their testimony: "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost" Heb.2.4. God had given His Son, the Son had been exalted, and the Spirit had been given. This was the burden of apostolic preaching and this presentation of the ministry of Divine Persons would be in evidence repeatedly throughout the Acts.
It is not without reason that this Book of the Acts is sometimes referred to as "The Acts of the Holy Spirit". The reader will continually be reminded of the Deity of the Holy Spirit in the chapters which follow. The Divine Spirit will be seen controlling and directing the servants of God. He will witness with them as they testify to the Person and work of the Lord Jesus and He will likewise work in the hearts of those who hear, revealing Christ to sincere and anxious souls.
But the study of the Trinity must proceed for there are twenty-one epistles and the final Book of the Revelation yet to consider, all full of the fact and the doctrine of the Trinity.
THE TRINITY IN THE EPISTLES
There is a most helpful comment on the Trinity in "Unger’s New Bible Dictionary" which reads, "The New Testament teaching upon this subject is not given in the way of formal statement. The formal statement, however, is legitimately and necessarily deduced from the Scriptures of the New Testament, and these, as has been suggested, cast a light backward upon the intimations of the Old Testament … It is plain that both Christ and the apostles ascribe distinct personality to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And these utterances are such as to admit legitimately of no other conception than that of the unity of these three Persons in the ontological oneness of the whole Divine nature (see, e.g., Matt.28.19; Jn.14.16,17; 1 Cor.12.4-6; 2 Cor.13.14; Eph.4.4-6; 1 Pet.1.2; Rev.1.4-6). The same worship is paid and the same works are ascribed to each of these three Persons, and in such a way as to indicate that these three are united in the fullness of the one living God. The monotheism of the Old Testament is maintained, while glimpses are nevertheless afforded into the tri-personal mode of the Divine existence."
In the Epistle to the Romans
To doubt or deny the fact of a Trinity of Divine Persons in the Godhead must result in a miserable failure to appreciate the grandeur of the gospel message as it is expounded in the great epistle to the Romans. In his opening remarks in the epistle Paul at once associates both Father and Son in his gospel. It is, he writes, "The gospel of God … concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord … declared to be the Son of God with power" Rom.1.1-4. And again he joins Father and Son in his salutation, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ" 1.7. The gospel of God in 1.1 is the gospel of His Son in 1.9, and so the theme continues throughout the epistle. The peace with God, which believers now have, has come to them through Jesus the Son, 5.1. God has commended His love to us in the giving of His Son to die for us, 5.8. And then, in the first of many references to the Holy Spirit in the epistle the apostle writes, "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" 5.5. Many readers will know that chapter 8 is then the great chapter of the Holy Spirit, so that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united in a holy fellowship concerning the glad tidings and the work of grace in the hearts of those who believe. This intimacy of Divine Persons is mentioned again in the closing verse of the epistle, "To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen" 16.27. How could the letter to the Romans be read with an open and honest heart and not be understood to be teaching the gospel of God concerning His Son preached in the power of the Spirit? Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each and all involved in the gospel which is so powerfully expounded in the epistle to the Romans. The great Trinity is here.
In the Epistles to the Corinthians
There are two epistles to the Corinthians but it would be a virtual impossibility, in the space of this paper, to mention in detail all the references to God and His Son even in the first chapter of the first epistle. Perhaps a few direct quotations from the Epistle will suffice.
1.9 – "God is faithful, by Whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord";
2.4 – "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power";
2.10 – "God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God";
2.11 – "The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God";
3.16 – "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?";
8.6 – "To us there is but one God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we by Him";
12.4-6 – "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all".
As in the epistle to the Romans, so it is in this first epistle to the Corinthians, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in holy harmony in all things connected with the glad tidings. The references are too numerous to mention here but the theme continues in the second epistle and again it is only possible to list a few quotations out of the many which are to be found there.
"For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who was preached among you by us … was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea. For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" 2 Cor.1.19-22.
What a bringing together of Divine Persons in such a few verses is this! God is here. The Son of God is here. The Spirit is here. Three Persons with a common purpose in grace! Who can deny it?
This letter concludes with a beautiful benediction from the Trinity, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen" 2 Cor.13.14.
In the Epistle to the Galatians
In the opening verse of the Epistle to the Galatians Paul speaks of "Jesus Christ, and God the Father", and in 1.3 he sends grace and peace "from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ". Notice how the Persons of the Godhead are distinct and distinguished, and yet there is an eternal oneness. "It pleased God", Paul writes, "to reveal His Son in me" 1.15,16.
Yet again, in one short sentence, are the three Persons brought together. To the believers Paul writes, "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts" 4.6.
In the Epistle to the Ephesians
Almost immediately in this epistle the apostle introduces Divine Persons in fellowship. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ:" 1.3. Speaking later of Him by Whose blood believers have been made nigh to God, it is then said that, "through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" 2.18. By the blood of the Son and the gracious ministry of the Spirit we draw near to the Father. To believers it seems incredible that anyone can read such words and still deny the great doctrine of the Trinity. In Christ "ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" 2.22. Christ the Son, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, together again almost in one breath!
And yet again, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man" 3.14,16.
Time and space would fail to note the many other references to Father, Son and Spirit in this epistle, but, "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" 6.23.
In the Epistle to the Philippians
"Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" 1.18,19.
In the next chapter there is consolation in Christ, the comfort of love, and the fellowship of the Spirit, 2.1. And then the promise, "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" 4.7. Father and Son are together intent on keeping the saints at peace.
In the Epistle to the Colossians
The Father "hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son … Who is the image of the invisible God" 1.13-15.
For some reason there is but one reference to the Holy Spirit in this epistle. Perhaps it may be that the burden of the letter is the headship and glory of Christ the Son. Nevertheless, there is one reference, and that so early in the epistle. "Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit" 1.7,8.
In the Epistles to the Thessalonians
"… ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus" 1 Thess.1.9,10; "God, Who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit" 1Thess.4.8.
So Father, Son and Holy Spirit are mentioned in this short first epistle. "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit" 2 Thess.2.13.
In the Epistles to Timothy
1 Tim.1.2 – "Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord";
1 Tim.2.5 – "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus";
1 Tim .3.16 – "… great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory";
1 Tim.4.1 – "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly";
1 Tim.6.15,16 – "He shall shew, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; Whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to Whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen".
What confirmation of the Deity of Christ is this! He Who is King of kings and Lord of lords, Rev.19.16, is the blessed and only Potentate.
In the Epistle to Titus
"Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour" 1.4. Equality in the apostle’s greeting.
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us" 2.13,14.
In the Epistle to Philemon
"Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" v.3, – equality again!
In the Epistle to the Hebrews
1.1,2 – "God … hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son";
1.8 – "Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever";
2.3,4 – "Great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost";
4.14 – "A great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God";
5.5 – "Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son";
7.1-3 – "This Melchisedec … without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God";
10.14,15 – "By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us".
In the Epistle of James
"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ …" 1.1, – note the equality again! "Therewith bless we God, even the Father" 3.9.
In the Epistles of Peter
1Pet.1.2 – "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ". We note Father, Son and Spirit in Peter’s opening remarks!
1Pet.1.3 – "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ …";
1Pet.1.11,12 – "The Spirit of Christ … testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow … now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven …";
2Pet.1.17 – "He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" – God the Father expressing His delight in His Son.
In the Epistles of John
1 Jn.1.1,2 – "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)." In what clearer way could the Deity and eternality of the Son be expressed?
1Jn.2.23 – "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also";
1Jn.2.24 – "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father";
1Jn.4.9,10 – "God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him … He loved us, and sent His Son …";
1Jn.4.14,15 – "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world … Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God";
2Jn.v.9 – "He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son".
In the Epistle of Jude
v.1 – "… sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ"
v.4 – "… certain men crept in unawares … denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ";
vv.20,21 – "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost … keep yourselves in the love of God".
THE TRINITY IN THE REVELATION
1.5,6 – "Jesus Christ … hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father …";
2.18,29 – "These things saith the Son of God … He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches". The Son and the Spirit have but one voice!
5.11-13 – "I heard the voice of many angels … and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever". Heaven and earth ascribe glories to the Lamb which can only be ascribed to Deity.
11.15-17 – "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever … We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned". The reign of Christ is the reign of the Almighty!
Rev.21.22,23- "I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof". In the glory of the celestial city the Almighty and the Lamb are supreme.
God and the Lamb shall there
The light and temple be,
And radiant hosts forever share
The unveiled mystery.
22.1,3 – "The throne of God and of the Lamb". (Repeated).
22.16,17 – "I Jesus … I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come"" . He is David’s Son and David’s Lord, Ps.110.1. Jesus is before and after David. He is God and Son!
It must surely be conceded that, the Deity of Christ being established, and likewise the Deity of the Holy Spirit, there is indeed an undoubted plurality, a Holy Trinity of Divine Persons.
Holy, Holy, Holy! all the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Which wert and art, and evermore shall be.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth, and sky, and sea.
Holy, Holy, Holy! merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!