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New Testament: Overview

Does the New Testament scriptures teach the unity of the divine Being revealed in three persons? It seems that the New Testament clearly and explicitly teaches there is One God, and it teaches there are three Persons of the one divine essence.

1. One God.

The NT asserts there is One God. For example, the Apostle Paul wrote, "there is none other God but one" (1 Cor 8:4) and again "seeing it is one God," (Rom 3:30). The Apostle Paul, as well as the other apostles, expressed this same truth in the NT.

"As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one." 1 Cor 8:4

"Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith." Rom 3:30

The oneness of God was affirmed by Christ in the gospels too. As a side note, it is interesting that the name of God appears three times in the Jewish Shema cry, "Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:" God appears three times, since these three words are used: Lord, God, and Lord.

"And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:" Mark 12:29

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:" Deut 6:4

2. Baptismal statement.

Probably the most referred to verse regarding the Trinity is the baptismal statement of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel. I should mention a couple of points that might be overlooked by someone who is not familiar with Christian baptism.

First, the noun, ‘name’ is singular and not plural. A grammatically correct sentence structure would have had the noun in the plural, that is, grammatically it should have read "in the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." However, the verse is seeking to express a theological truth. So, the singular noun is appropriate to maintain the unity of God. Thus, there is a grammatical violation in Matthew 28:19 for the purpose of expressing the unity of the divine essence. Correct theology is more important than correct grammar. Thus, the name of the One God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Second, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) are revealed as the three Persons of the one Deity. In the Old Testament, the name of the one eternal God was revealed to Moses as Jehovah or Yahweh (Exodus 6:3), the Self-Existing One. This God is called the Great I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14). In the New Testament, this same eternal Self-Existing One has been revealed with the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The word, name, has great importance in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Name tells us about the personhood of God. This is distinct from the divine essence.

"If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD (Yahweh, Name, Person) THY GOD (essence);" Deut 28:58

Third, it is considered wrong to baptize a person using the verbal formula, ‘in the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit.’ Because, if this were done, the ‘name’ would be expressed three distinct times indicating there were three distinct gods instead of one God whose name is revealed to be the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Fourth, the baptismal formula should not be expressed as, ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,’ because, if it were expressed this way, the formula might be construed as one name used for one person in three ways. There is a definite article before each divine Person, that is, ‘the’ Father, ‘the’ Son, and ‘the’ Spirit. The definite article is thought to express that there are three distinct Persons who are consubstantially the One God.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:’ Matt 28:19

3. The Father is God.

The Apostle Peter in his first epistle used the name, the Father, in reference to God. This seems to be evidence that the Father, a personal designation, is God. Hence, Christians consider that the Father is deity.

As a side note, 1 Peter 1:2 seems to have the Trinity as its underlying assumption. It brings out the respective roles of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the overall plan of redemption. The Father is presented as the One who elects according to His heavenly counsel and foreknowledge; the Son is presented as Jesus Christ who is the redemptive sacrifice, and the Spirit is presented as the One who sanctifies and comforts those who are redeemed.

"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." 1 Pet 1:2

4. Christ is God.

Christ is called God by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:5. Christ’s (or Messiah’s) human ancestry is of the lineage of King David. However, the personhood of Christ is deity, that is, He is the second person of the Trinity, the Son. (I have quoted the New International Version (NIV), because its language expresses the idea more clearly.)

"Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen." Rom 9:5 (NIV).

As a further side note, the phrase, the Son of God, must be looked at contextually. Every time ‘the Son of God’ is used in scripture, it refers to Christ. This is why the phrase, the Son of God, is accompanied with divine attributes. The Eternal I am (John 8:58). Non-created glory (John 17:5). Eternal abode (John 6:62). Christ said, "I proceeded forth and came from (ek) God" (John 8:42). This is a very strong statement, since it uses the Greek word ( ek ), meaning to issue forth from God Himself. It is stronger than coming from (apo) the presence of God (John 13:3) or coming from the fellowship (para) of God (John 16:27).

"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." John 8:58

"And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." John 17:5

"What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" John 6:62

"Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." John 8:42

When the phrase is used as a plural noun (sons of God), it refers to creatures. For example, the sons of God of Job 38:7 are angels. The sons of God in John 1:12 are saved sinners who have become members of the family of God.

"When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Job 38:7

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" John 1:12

5. The Spirit is God.

The book of Acts gives an account where a husband and wife, name Ananias and Sapphira, lied about a donation to the church. The Apostle Peter asked why they lied to the Holy Ghost. But, notice, he then continued and said that they had lied unto God. Christians understand this to mean that a lie to the Holy Ghost is a lie to God. This is because the Holy Spirit is God.

"But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, ....thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Acts 5:3-4

6. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together.

There are various NT verses that seem to indicate there is a Trinity of Persons within God. For example, at the baptism of Christ, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove. The voice from heaven refers to the Father. And, Christ is called the loved Son of the Father.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.
And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV)

The above gives an outline of the type of scriptural support that exists for the doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament. Many more scriptural citations could be given, but the above verses are adequate to show there is a scriptural basis for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

Last edited 12/20/1999

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