What Is the Trinity?
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where is the Trinity mentioned in the Bible?
- How can three persons of the Trinity be one at the same time?
- Who or what is the Holy Spirit and what is it for?
- Is the Holy Ghost the same as the Holy Spirit?
- Is Jesus God?
- Was Jesus human?
- If Jesus is God, why did He pray to God?
- If Jesus is God, why did He call God His Father?
- How can Jesus be God and also be God's Son?
The doctrine of the Trinity states that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
coexist in the unity of one God. The term "Trinity" is never mentioned
in the Bible. It is the Christian Church's way of reconciling the Old Testament
teaching that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4) with New Testament teachings
about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Trinity [is] the term by which is expressed the unity of three Persons in
the one God. The Christian doctrine is: (1) That there is only one God, one
divine nature and being. (2) This one divine Being is tripersonal, involving
the distinctions of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (3) These three
are joint partakers of the same nature and majesty of God.1
Most Christian denominations accept the doctrine of the Trinity, but not Christian
Scientists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah's
Witnesses, and some other denominations. Jews and Muslims also reject the doctrine
of the Trinity.
Three Different Gods?
Some people think Christians worship three different gods, but that is a misinterpretation
of the Trinity. Christians worship the same one true God who revealed Himself to
Abraham (Genesis 17:1-8) - the same God worshiped by Jews and Muslims. However,
Jesus taught that God reveals Himself to us in three ways (John
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven
and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember,
I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20, NRSV)
God the Father
God the Father is the creator and sustainer of the universe. As mere humans,
we cannot see or touch God and we cannot fully understand how or why He came into
being and created the universe:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9, NRSV)
However, the Bible reveals some of God's characteristics in ways that we can
- God is the creator of everything (Genesis 1:1, Acts 17:24-25, Revelation
- God is our Father and we are His children (Deuteronomy 14:1, Isaiah 63:16,
Matthew 5:43-45, 6:7-9, Mark 11:25).
- God is purely spiritual and invisible to us (John 4:24, 1 John 4:12, 1 Timothy
- God is incomprehensible to us (Job 11:7-9, Psalms 18:11, Isaiah 55:8-9,
Matthew 11:27, 1 Corinthians 2:16).
- God is all-powerful (Genesis 18:13-14, Job 42:1-2, Matthew 19:26).
- God is loving (Deuteronomy 4:37, Psalms 146:8, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John
- God is eternal (Genesis 21:33, Psalms 90:2, Revelation 4:8-10).
- God is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
- God is faithful and keeps His promises (Numbers 23:19, John 8:26, 1 Corinthians
10:13, Titus 1:1-3, 1 Peter 4:19).
- God is merciful (Psalms 86:5, Matthew 18:11-14, Ephesians 2:4-7, 1 Peter
There is more information in our article "What does
the Bible say about God?"
Jesus the Son
Jesus, Son of God the Father, came to us in human form for our salvation
(John 3:16, 1 John 4:8-12). Jesus is identified as "Son of God" about
40 times in the New Testament (Matthew 14:33, Mark 1:1, Luke 1:26-38, John 20:30-31,
Galatians 2:20, etc.) There are several verses that identify Jesus more closely
with God the Father (John 8:19, 10:30, 14:8-11). Jesus is no longer on earth in
bodily form, but He is still with us in Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20).
think "Christ" was Jesus' last name, but "Christ" is actually
a title. "Christ" is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word "Messiah,"
which means "anointed one." There were many prophecies in the Old Testament
of a coming Messiah who would be the savior of the Jewish people (Isaiah 11:1-9,
42:1-4, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Malachi 3:1, etc.) Those prophesies were fulfilled in Jesus
(Matthew 1:1, 16:15-17, Luke 1:30-33, John 20:30-31, etc.) However, Jesus was not
the powerful military and political leader many of the Jews had expected.
We cannot fully understand the relationship between God the Father and Jesus
the Son, but the Bible explains different aspects of the relationship in these ways:
- Jesus is the Son of God ( Matthew 3:16-17, 14:33, 26:29, Mark 1:1, Luke
1:26-38, 22:29, John 5:36-37, 6:44-46, 20:30-31, Galatians 2:20).
- Jesus is one with the Father (John 1:1-3, 8:19, 10:30, 10:38, 14:8-11, Philippians
2:5-7, Colossians 1:15-17).
- Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29-30, 1 Corinthians 5:6-7, Revelation
5:8-9, 7:9-10, 17:14, 21:22-24).
- Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1-3, 1:14-15, 1:17-18).
- Jesus is God (Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 28:18, John 12:44-45, Romans 9:4-5, Philippians
2:5-7, Colossians 1:11-20, Titus 2:13).
There is more information in our article "What does
the Bible say about Jesus Christ?"
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is also called the Advocate, Counselor,
Helper or Comforter (John 14:16, 14:26), and Spirit of truth (John
16:13). The Holy Spirit is, in a way, the presence and power of the Father and Son
in the world today. The Father and Son speak to us, guide us, and send us Their
love via the Holy Spirit.
The original New Testament used the Greek term Pneúma
tó Hágion. It literally means "the Holy Wind," and it
conveyed the idea of the breath of God as invisible and immaterial but powerful
(John 20:21-22 ). The old King James Version of the Bible usually translated this
into English as "Holy Ghost." However, the English word "ghost"
has now taken on the meaning of a disembodied soul and is associated with Halloween,
so nearly all Bible versions published since the 1800s use the term "Holy
The Holy Spirit is another mystery we cannot fully understand, but the Bible
does tell us these things:
- Jesus is the child of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:34-35).
- The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus when He was baptized (Matthew 3:16-17).
- The Holy Spirit guided Jesus (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:14, 10:21, Hebrews 9:14).
- Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 15:26, 16:7).
- The Holy Spirit empowered and guided Jesus' disciples (Mark 13:11, John
16:13-15, 20:21-23, Acts 2:1-4).
- The Holy Spirit is a teacher (John 14:26, 16:7-11, 16:13-15).
- The Holy Spirit guides the Church and its leaders (Acts 8:29, 10:17-20,
15:28-29, 1 Corinthians 2:13, Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 3:6).
- The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to build up the Church (1 Corinthians
- We are baptized with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Acts 1:5,
- The Holy Spirit gives joy, peace, hope and love to believers (Romans 5:3-5,
14:17, 15:13, Galatians 5:22, 1 Thessalonians 1:6).
The exact relationship between God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit
is a great spiritual mystery we cannot fully understand, and it is never stated
explicitly in the Bible. The doctrine of the Trinity is the Christian Church's attempt
to reconcile the various Bible teachings and explain the relationship in an understandable
1Merrill F. Unger, The New Unger's Bible
Dictionary, Moody Press, 1988.