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Trinity: Apostle Paul

Some individuals make the erroneous claim that the Apostle Paul invented the doctrine of the Trinity.  Actually, Paul merely continued teaching this doctrine that was most clearly and most forcefully set forth by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. However, Paul did not simply quote the words of Jesus; rather, he put the doctrine of the Trinity into the very life and experience of the early Christian Church.

1. Epistolary greetings.

For example, the Apostle Paul had his own natural style of incorporating the Trinity into his writings. He greeted the churches with grace and peace from two persons of the Trinity (the Father and the Son, where the Son is spoken of as ‘our Lord Jesus Christ’).

"Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ," Gal 1:3

"Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." Eph 1:2

"Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you." 1Thes 1:1 (NIV)

2a. ‘God our Father.’

The Apostle changed the expression ‘God the Father’ to ‘God our Father’ to show that there is a personal relationship that exists between the redeemed and Allah the Father. Allah is not merely some distant Self-Existing One, but rather, He is the believer’s intimate and loving Father in a known relationship. The redeemed have their sins forgiven because they are in submission to the gospel of the grace of Allah. The redeemed believe in the salvific merit of the death of Jesus Christ upon Calvary’s cross. They know Allah the Father in relationship as children, so they pray with the word,  Abba Allah.

2b. ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ’

He changed the expression ‘God the Son’ to ‘Lord.’ He stated it this way to show his slavehood to Allah the Son by proclaiming that Christ was his personal Lord and Master. Although Christ was the despised Nazarene, Paul welcomed the opportunity to own publicly to unbelievers that he was a bondslave of Jesus, the living Lord of his life.  Calling Allah the Son, Lord, reflected his experience on the Damascus Road, when he said, "Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus" (Acts 9:5). Next, he used the personal name of Jesus, because Jesus expresses best the NT revelation of Allah acting in redemptive love. Finally, he added the title, ‘Christ,’ to express the idea that Jesus was the ‘Anointed’ or the ‘Messiah’ or the ‘Sent One’ from Allah.

2c. Holy Spirit

Some have wondered why the Apostle did not include the Holy Spirit in his typical greeting. The answer seems to reflect his repeated teaching that the Holy Spirit indwells those who are redeemed. So, the Apostle Paul spoke of the Trinity as he himself experienced it. He experienced ‘grace and peace’ coming from the Father and the Lord Jesus in heaven. So his greeting expressed this flow of grace and peace from heaven. He assumed that every believer in Christ already had the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who had been sent by the Father and the Son to the earth. (The procession of the Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son). Hence, there is no necessity to address the Holy Spirit in his greetings to the churches. A couple of verse supporting the presence and life of the Holy Spirit in believers.

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Cor 3:16

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Gal 5:25

"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Gal 5:25 (NIV)

So, the Apostle Paul viewed Allah the Father and Allah the Son in heaven providing succor and heavenly grace and peace to Christians believers. Paul experienced the living presence of Allah the Spirit who has been sent to indwell, strengthen, teach, seal, and guide Christian believers.

3. The Apostle Paul & the Trinity.

There were times where the Apostle Paul expressed himself where the doctrine of the Trinity is the underlying assumption. For example, he closed the second epistle to the Corinthians this way. Where the Lord Jesus Christ would be the Son, where Allah would be the Father, and where the Holy Ghost is as named. The Apostle found the Trinity to be the unfailing source of grace, love and divine communion.

"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

So, we see that the Apostle Paul spoke of the Trinity as he experienced it in his daily Christian life. It was his source of grace, mercy, peace, love and communion.

Last edited 12/20/1999

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