The different persons in the Trinity


  • Question 199, from Dominic, Australia

    Are the Father, Son, Holy Ghost and Christ one and the same?

    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is quite confusing, and this question highlights the main problem with understanding it: namely, how different and distinct are the members of the Trinity?

    A Trinitarian view asserts that there is ‘one God in three persons’. This links the original Jewish assertion that there is only one God, with the terms used in the New Testament, such as Jesus being described as the Son of God, and the term ‘Holy Spirit’. All three names are used when describing the rite of baptism in Matthew chapter 28, verse 19.

    There are many different ways of describing how the three persons of the Trinity act in unity – see this previous article on freelance theology – but the confusion often lies in the idea that ‘God’ is a singular noun. If, instead, the word ‘God’ is used to describe a class of being, then it is easier to understand how one God could be described as three persons.

    Most Christians would claim the Trinity has been revealed as:

    • The Father, often identified with the Creator and ‘Yahweh’ in the Old Testament
    • The Son, who was born as a man called Jesus, and then was given the designation Christ, meaning Messiah, by his followers, and who is also called the ‘Word of God’ (in Greek, the word ‘Logos’ is used).
    • The Holy Spirit (sometimes known as the Holy Ghost, ‘ghost’ being a word that was commonly used for spirit in the past)

    These three persons work together in unity. In a dispute with the Pharisees in John chapter 8, verses 12-20, Jesus claims to be in complete agreement with the Father. And yet there are distinctions. Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples in John chapter 14, and describes the Spirit as ‘another comforter’. The ‘another’ implies the Spirit is different to Jesus.

    In conclusion, the persons of the Trinity are united in their divinity as one God, but they are distinguishable from one another.

    See also:

    The Trinity explained in a twenty minute talk

    Comprehending the Trinity

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  • 3 comments

    1. Dominic Apr 18

      Thank you for your knowledge and insight,kind regards.

    2. Kinoli May 4

      The difficulty with the trinity doctrine is that it is nowhere taught in all of the pages of the bible. All theologians agree with that statement. That is a big head shaker I would say.

      When God told the Jews to teach there kids from morning to night, the following teaching in Deut 6:4 – “Hear O Israel, Yahweh is your God, Yahweh is one”. We find no notion to teach them that God is three, but he is one. In Mark 12:29, Jesus reaffirmed this teaching as the most important in all of the history of Judaism.

      Will you teach your children God is one or that He is three?

      Jesus was the sinless, human descendant of King David, not God in the flesh (Matt 1:1).

      “This is eternal life, that you know the one true God, and Jesus Christ, who he sent.” – John 17:3

      For more on this see http://www.biblicalunitarian.com. God bless.

    3. Jon the freelance theologian May 6

      In contrast to that there are the trifold baptismal statements of ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ and the distinction between Jesus and the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel that implies the Holy Spirit is differentiated again from the Father.
      The Deuteronomic assertion about God being one does not contradict the idea of God being a triune God. The essential unity of the persons of the Trinity is a key doctrinal point.
      Matthew 1.1 asserts Jesus is the son of David and Abraham, but that’s only by adoption, because later in the genealogy it says Joseph was the husband of Mary and Mary was the mother of Jesus. It does not say Joseph was the father of Jesus. John’s gospel explicitly says that Jesus was the divine Word (Logos) ‘made flesh'(ensarkoi) in John chapter 1, verse 14. That implies Jesus was more than just an ordinary human being.

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