If God tells us about Himself, then we reject His description at our peril. The object of this is to show that the Bible teaches that there is only one God, and that there are three persons who are called God in the true sense, and who have the nature and attributes of that one God.

The Father
called God — 2 Peter 1:17
called Lord — Matthew 11:25
omnipotent — Psalm 135:6; Isaiah 43:13; John 10:29
omniscient — Matthew 10:29-30
omnipresent — Jeremiah 23:24, 1 Kings 8:27
eternal — Psalm 90:2
created all — Isaiah 44:24; Ephesians 3:9
resurrected Jesus — 1 Thes. 1:10 (by God – Acts 2:24); Ephesians 1:17,20
giver of life — Deuteronomy 32:39
giver of gifts — Hebrews 2:4
worshipped — Luke 4:8; Revelation 22:8-9

The Son
called God — John 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:6; John 5:18; Heb. 1:6, 8
called Lord — John 20:28; Acts 10:36; Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:9-11
omnipotent — Matthew 28:18; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17;
omniscient — John 16:30; Colossians 2:2-3
omnipresent — John 1:48; Ephesians 4:10
eternal — Mic. 5:2; John 1:la; 8:58 (cp Ps. 90:2); Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:2
created all — John 1:3; Colossians 1:16
resurrected Jesus — John 2:19-21; 10:17-18
giver of life — John 1:4; 5:21; 11:25; Acts 3:15
giver of gifts — Ephesians 4:7, 11
worshipped — Heb. 1:6 (cp Lk. 4:8); Rev. 5:12-14; (cp Rev. 4:11); Jn. 5:23 (cp Is. 42:8[1])

The Spirit
called God — Acts 5:3-4
called Lord — 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
omnipotent — John 3:8; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
omniscient — 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
omnipresent — Psalm 139:7
eternal — Hebrews 9:14
created all — Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6; Job 33:4 (spirit = ruach)
resurrected Jesus — 1 Peter 3:18
giver of life — Job 33:4; John 3:5-8; 1 Peter 3:18
giver of gifts — 1 Corinthians 12:11
worshipped — can’t find any direct reference, but ‘The First Apology of Justin’ (i.e. Justin
Martyr) Volume One, Chapter Six, page 164 in the Ante-Nicene Fathers
states: ‘… the most true God, the Father … and the Son … and the prophetic
Spirit, we worship and adore’. And on page 168: ‘whence to God alone we render
worship.’

ANALOGIES
No analogy is perfect, but there are several ways of explaining how God can be triune:

(1) A three-dimensional object.
All objects have length, width and height. It is impossible for anything to exist without these three dimensions [2]; however, we can talk about them individually. For example, we can speak of a building’s height without mentioning its width and length, but the building cannot exist without all three dimensions [3].

(2) A chord.
In the Law given to Moses, God included an explicit and absolute ban on using images for worship. So how about explaining the Trinity with an aural analogy? A chord is made up of at least three distinct notes. The individual notes exist as distinct sound waves, yet at the same time they combine to make the composite wave that we hear – the chord.

Both these analogies give some idea of the how the Trinity exists. Three persons — as far as we understand the word “person” — who exist as one being. This concept is called coinherence or perichoresis, discussed by theologians as early as the 7th century. At present, as far as we can express it, this is the closest understanding we have of the Trinity[4].

MISCELLANY
‘The Father is Lord and God by definition; the Son is Lord and God by identification; and the Spirit is Lord and God by association.’ (Allan Chapple, TTC, 1999 Theology lecture.)

Genesis 1:26 — God (‘Elohim’, a plural) uses the first person plural. If the plural pronoun is a grammatical necessity with Elohim, why is it not commonly found elsewhere in the Bible? The same applies if we consider the plural in Genesis 1:26 as a ‘royal plural’. It’s unlikely that God is speaking to the angels in His court – we are made in God’s image, not that of the angels. God, not the angels, made us.

Genesis 18:24 — there are three people with Abraham, each seeming to be addressed as God.

Deuteronomy 6:4 — In this, the Shema, the word for ‘one’ is ‘echad’, which can mean a composite unity. Examples are Genesis 2:24 – ‘bosor echad’ (one flesh) – and Numbers 13:23 – ‘eshcol echad’ (one bunch/ cluster [i.e. of grapes. TG]).

Isaiah 6:8 — God uses the first person plural (‘us’) as well as the first person singular (‘I’).

Zechariah 2:8-11 — The LORD says, “the LORD sent me”.

Zechariah 3:1-2 — The LORD says, “the LORD rebuke you”.

Romans 5:8 — How can one person’s love be seen in another person’s action? The Father’s love is seen in the Son’s action. How can this be if Father and Son are separate beings? Compare this with John 3:16 (and 1 John 4:9-10), where God’s action is seen in Him sending His Son. Now in 1 (First) John 3:16, Jesus’ love is shown for us when He died for us.

The tetragram YHWH is translated as kurios in the NT and in the Septuagint (LXX). Some passages in the OT that refer to God using YHWH are used in the NT to refer to Jesus, using kurios, e.g. Romans 10:9f (esp. v.13 – cp Joel 2:32); Philippians 2:11 (cp Isaiah 45:23).

Some (like the Watchtower Society) admit that Jesus is called ‘Mighty God’, but not ‘Almighty God’. But as there is only one true God (John 17:3), is Jesus, then, a false god? A false ‘mighty one’? However, the Father is never called:
author of life (Acts 3:15);
author of faith (Hebrews 12:2);
author of salvation (Hebrews 2:10). This, though, does not mean that the Father is not the source of these blessings.

THE FATHER AND THE SON.
You cannot build a theology on one or two isolated verses: for example, while the Father and the Son are both called ‘light’ (John 8:12; 1 John 1:5), Jesus’ disciples are also called this (Matthew 5:14). The same is true of Nebuchadnezzar being called ‘king of kings’ (Daniel 2:36). However, the Father and the Son have many of the same titles or characteristics attributed to or predicated of them. NB When a title et cetera is given to the Father in the Old Testament, it would usually refer to ‘the LORD’, that is, Yahweh.

Titles
Saviour — (F) Is. 43:11; Titus 1:3-4 — (S) Jn 4:41; Heb. 5:9[5]; Eph. 5:23
Only Ruler/ Lord — (F) 1 Timothy 6:15 — (S) Jude :4
Mighty God/ One — (F) Isaiah 10:21; Matt. 26:64 — (S) Isaiah 9:6
Husband — (F) Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:16 — (S) Mark 2:18-19 [6]; 2 Cor. 11:2
Rock — (F) 2 Samuel 22:32 — (S) 1 Peter 2:4, 8 [7]
Shepherd — (F) Genesis 49:24 — (S) Heb. 13:20; John 10:14, 16 [8]
Deliverer — (F) Colossians 1:13 — (S) 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Living water — (F) Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13 — (S) John 7:37-38
Light — (F) 1 John 1:5 — (S) John 8:12
Judge — (F) Genesis 18:25 — (S) John 5:22; 2 Timothy 4:1
Redeemer — (F) Isaiah 54:5; 63:9 — (S) Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12
Creator — (F) Isaiah 40:28; 44:24 — (S) John 1:1, 3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2
Healer — (F) Exodus 15:26 — (S) Acts 9:34
Holy/ Rightous One — (F) Isaiah 24:16; 47:4 — (S) Acts 3:14 (v.13 is S., not F.)
Living God/ One — (F) Deut. 5:26; Rev. 1:4, 8 — (S) Revelation 1:18
Lord/ King of glory — (F) Psalm 24:7 — (S) 1 Cor. 2:8 (of God: Acts 7:2)[9]
King of kings and Lord of lords — (F) 1 Timothy 6:15 — (S) Revelation 17:14
First and Last, Alpha and Omega — (F) Isaiah 44:6 — (S) Revelation 1:8, 17-18; 22:13
I Am — (F) Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 43:10 — (S) John 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5, 6, 8

Possesses
Spirit of — (F and S) Romans 8:8-10
peace and grace of — (F and S) Colossians 1:2
throne of — (F and S) Revelation 22:1,3-4
Name of — (F and S) Matt. 28:19; John 17:11
angels of — (F) Luke 12:8 — (S) Matthew 13:41 [10]
kingdom of — (F) Luke 9:60 — (S) John 18:36 [11]; Ephesians 5:5
elect of — (F) 1 Peter 1:1 — (S) Matthew 13:27 [12]
glory of God — (F) Is. 6:1f; 42:8; 48:11 — (S) Jn 12:37f; Rev. 1:6; Heb. 13:21
day of — (F) Joel 2:32; Isaiah 13:6 — (S) 1 Corinthians 1:8; Phil 1:6 [13]
word of (Gospel) — (F) 1 Thessalonians 2:13 — (S) 1 Thessalonians 1:8
gospel of — (F) Romans 1:1 — (S) 2 Corinthians 2:12
The Name — (F) Lev. 24:11,16; 2 Sam. 6:2; 1 Chr. 13:6 — (S) Acts 5:41

Characteristics
immutable — (F) Psalm 102:25-27 — (S) Hebrews 1:10-12 [14]
lives forever — (F) Deut. 32:40; Rev. 4:9, 10 — (S) Revelation 1:18
pre-existent — (F) Genesis 1:1; Psalm 90:2 — (S) John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2
our righteousness — (F) Isaiah 45:24; Jer. 33:16 — (S) Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30
voice like rushing waters — (F) Ezekiel 43:2 — (S) Revelation 1:5

Acts
ascended on high — (F) Psalm 68:18 — (S) Ephesians 4:8
coming Lord — (F) Malachi 2:17-3:1 — (S) Luke 1:17,76
vindicates — (F) Isaiah 50:8-9 — (S) Romans 8:33-34
forgives sin — (F) Exodus 34:6-7 — (S) Mark 2:5, 10; Col. 2:2:13; 3:13
calms storms — (F) Psalm 107:29 — (S) Luke 8:24
sent angel — (F) Revelation 1:1; 22:6 — (S) Revelation 22:16
searches hearts and minds — (F) Jeremiah 17:10 — (S) Revelation 2:23b
creation through and for — (F) Romans 1 1:36; Heb. 2:10 — (S) Colossians 1:16
was pierced — (F) Zechariah 12:10 — (S) John 19:37

response to
to know — (F) Jeremiah 9:24; (F and S) John 8:19 — (S) Philippians 3:10
to see — (F and S) John 14:9
to be honoured — (F and S) John 5:23; Rev. 5:12-14
call on the name of — (F) Joel 2:32 — (S) Acts 2:21-25, 36; Romans 10:13
pray to — (F) pick a page! — (S) Acts 7:59; 9:13

The Spirit (virtually all from Rhodes)
To show that the Holy Spirit is God we can see from the previous references to the Trinity. From these, it should be inferred that the Holy Spirit is a person. However, if we do find ourselves having to give evidence for this purpose, we can demonstrate that He has the qualifying attributes of personhood: a mind, will and emotions.

mind Romans 8:27
will 1 Corinthians 12:11 (cp. James 1:18, said of the Father)
emotions Ephesians 4:30 (cp. 2 Corinthians 2:25, said of believers)

Like any person, the Holy Spirit can be:
grieved Ephesians 4:30
lied to Acts 5:3-4
obeyed Acts 13:2
rejected Mark 3:29
accepted John 14:17
angered Micah 2:7
sent John 14:26 [15]
quoted Acts 13:2
blasphemed Matthew 12:3

He Himself can:
send Acts 13:4
speak John 16:13
witness John 15:26-27
pray Romans 8:26
command Acts 13:2,4.

How can any of these be attributed to or predicated of an impersonal force? How can you quote the wind or electricity? And how can you blaspheme an impersonal object? Can you blaspheme gravity or sunlight? You can only blaspheme – to treat as common or worthless – a person. To do the same with an object is called sacrilege, not blasphemy.

Again, believers cannot be baptised in the name of an impersonal force, when the name of that force is joined with – and the same as – that of the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19).

___________________
Footnotes.
1 Cetnar, William.
2 We also need the fourth dimension, which is time.
3 I found this in Ted Denscher’s book, the name of which eludes me for the moment.
4 Another analogy might be found in the ‘triple point’ of water. I heard this analogy in a talk by Walter Martin, the founder of the Christian Research Institute. Fill a vacuum tube with water, seal it, remove any air, place it under 230 ml of gas pressure, and reduce the temperature to 0 (0.032?) degrees Celsius. When it reaches this temperature, simultaneously the water at the top of the tube pubs into gas, the middle stays liquid, and the water at the base of the tube freezes. (I was told by a chemist that every element has its triple point.)
5 Rhodes.
6 ibid.
7 ibid.
8 ibid.
9 NB the Father is called ‘king’ and the Son ‘lord’; but in context these are synonymous: cp. Daniel 2:47.
10 Erickson, p.236.
11 Erickson.
12 Erickson.
13 Rhodes.
14 Rhodes.
15 Bowman, p.16.

copyright Troy Grisgonelle 2005.

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