June 2024

God’s Word and the Trinity [4]


The Trinity
Most people in Christendom believe in the Trinity; it has been the central doctrine of the churches for centuries – but is this correct? Jesus said:
Jn17.3 AND THIS IS LIFE ETERNAL, THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THEE THE ONLY TRUE GOD and JESUS CHRIST, whom thou hast sent. [de6.4; is42.8; ml2.10; mk12.29-30,32; ro3.30; 1co8.4&6; ep4.6; 1ti2.5; ja2.19]
Our eternal life depends upon our knowing the true nature of God and that means getting to the root of the Trinity controversy. It is a Salvational issue.
Various Trinitarian concepts exist. But generally the Trinity teaching is that in the Godhead there are three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; yet, together they are but one God.

The doctrine says that the three are coequal, almighty and uncreated, having existed eternally in the Godhead.

God the Father is not God the Son is not God the Holy Spirit [Ghost] is not God the Father.


The Father is a God, the Son is a God and the Holy Spirit [Ghost] is a God.

Supporters of the Trinity say that it is founded not only on religious tradition but also on the Bible. Critics of the doctrine say that it is NOT a Biblical teaching, one history source even declaring: “The origin of the [Trinity] is entirely pagan.”—The Paganism in Our Christianity.
With Trinity as truth: There is an unexplainable mystery – how can we explain that 1 God = 3 Gods while at the same time state that 3 Gods are just 1 God.
With Trinity as false: Almighty God reigns Supreme; no-one is His equal, not even Mary the “Mother of God.”
As noted in the book Catholicism: “Unless [people] keep this Faith whole and undefiled, without doubt [they] shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: we worship one God in Trinity.
The Trinity Explained
The Roman Catholic Church states: “The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion . . . Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: ‘the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God and yet there are not three Gods but one God.’ In this Trinity . . . the Persons are co-eternal and co-equal: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent.”—The Catholic Encyclopedia.
Nearly all other churches in Christendom agree. For example, the Greek Orthodox Church also calls the Trinity “the fundamental doctrine of Christianity,” even saying: “Christians are those who accept Christ as God.” In the book Our Orthodox Christian Faith, the same church declares: “God is triune. . . . The Father is totally God. The Son is totally God. The Holy Spirit is totally God.”
Thus, the Trinity is considered to be “one God in three Persons.” Each is said to be without beginning, having existed for eternity. Each is said to be almighty, with each neither greater nor lesser than the others.
Hard to follow? Many sincere believers have found it to be confusing, contrary to normal reason, unlike anything in their experience. How, they ask, could the Father be God, Jesus be God and the Holy Spirit be God, yet there be not three Gods but only one God?
Widespread confusion
The Encyclopedia Americana notes that the doctrine of the Trinity is considered to be “beyond the grasp of human reason.”
Many who accept the Trinity view it that same way. Monsignor Eugene Clark says: “God is one and God is three. Since there is nothing like this in creation, we cannot understand it, but only accept it.” Cardinal John O’Connor states: “We know that it is a very profound mystery, which we don’t begin to understand.” And Pope John Paul II speaks of “the inscrutable mystery of God the Trinity.
Thus, A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge says: “Precisely what that doctrine is, or rather precisely how it is to be explained, Trinitarians are not agreed among themselves.
1co14.33 For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
How could such a Confusing Doctrine Originate?
The Catholic Encyclopedia claims: “A dogma so mysterious presupposes a Divine revelation.” Catholic scholars Karl Rahner and Herbert Vorgrimler state in their Theological Dictionary: “The Trinity is a mystery . . . in the strict sense . . . , which could not be known without revelation and even after revelation cannot become wholly intelligible.”
Is It Clearly a Bible Teaching?
With the Trinity as truth, it should be clearly and consistently presented in the Bible. Why? Because, as the apostles affirmed, the Bible is God’s revelation of himself to mankind. God speaks to us through His Word; therefore our worship requirements to God HAVE to be found in the Bible.
First-century believers accepted the Scriptures as the authentic revelation of God. It was the basis for their beliefs, the final authority:
Ac17.10 >And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Ac17.11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
What did prominent men of God at that time use as their authority?:
Ac17.2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
Ac17.3 Opening and alleging [explaining and proving by Scriptural references], that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
The Scriptures were used by Jesus as the basis for His teaching, repeatedly saying: “It is written.” “He interpreted to them things pertaining to Himself:
Mt4.4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. [de8.3, lk4.4]
Mt4.7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. [de6.16]
Lk24.27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Jesus, Paul and first-century believers all used the Scriptures as the foundation for their teaching. They knew that:
2ti3.16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2ti3.17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
See 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20, 21.
The Bible should clearly reveal information about the Trinity so do theologians and historians themselves say that it is clearly a Bible teaching?
“Trinity” in the Bible?
A Protestant publication states: “The word Trinity is not found in the Bible . . . It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century.” [The Illustrated Bible Dictionary] And a Catholic authority says that the Trinity “is not . . . directly and immediately [the] word of God.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Catholic Encyclopedia also comments: “In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word ????? [tri?as] [of which the Latin trinitas is a translation] is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A. D. 180. . . . Shortly afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian.”
However, this is no proof in itself that Tertullian taught the Trinity. The Catholic work Trinitas—A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity, for example, notes that some of Tertullian’s words were later used by others to describe the Trinity. Then it cautions: “But hasty conclusions cannot be drawn from usage, for he does not apply the words to Trinitarian theology.”
Testimony of the Hebrew Scriptures
While the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, is at least the idea of the Trinity taught clearly in it? For instance, what do the Hebrew Scriptures [“Old Testament”] reveal?
The Encyclopedia of Religion admits: “Theologians today are in agreement that the Hebrew Bible does not contain a doctrine of the Trinity.” And the New Catholic Encyclopedia also says: “The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the O[ld] T[estament].”
Similarly, in his book The Triune God, Jesuit Edmund Fortman admits: “The Old Testament . . . tells us nothing explicitly or by necessary implication of a Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. . . . There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a [Trinity] within the Godhead. . . . Even to see in [the “Old Testament”] suggestions or foreshadowings or ‘veiled signs’ of the trinity of persons, is to go beyond the words and intent of the sacred writers.”
An examination of the Hebrew Scriptures themselves will bear out these comments. Thus, there is no clear teaching of a Trinity in the first 39 books of the Bible that make up the true canon of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.
Testimony of the Greek Scriptures
Do the Christian Greek Scriptures [“New Testament”] speak clearly of a Trinity?
The Encyclopedia of Religion says: “Theologians agree that the New Testament also does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity.”
The New Encyclopædia Britannica observes: “Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament.”
Thus, neither the 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures nor the canon of 27 inspired books of the Christian Greek Scriptures provide any clear teaching of the Trinity.
Taught by Early Christians?
Did the early Christians teach the Trinity? Note the following comments by historians and theologians:
“Primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds.”—The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology.
“The early Christians, however, did not at first think of applying the [Trinity] idea to their own faith. They paid their devotions to God the Father and to Jesus Christ, the Son of God and they recognised the . . . Holy Spirit; but there was no thought of these three being an actual Trinity, co-equal and united in One.”—The Paganism in Our Christianity.
“At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian . . . It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages, as reflected in the N[ew] T[estament] and other early Christian writings.”—Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics.
“The formulation ‘one God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. . . . Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia.
What the Ante-Nicene Fathers Taught
Irenaeus, who died about 200 AD, said that the prehuman Jesus had a separate existence from God and was inferior to him. He showed that Jesus is not equal to the “One true and only God,” who is “supreme over all and besides whom there is no other.”
Tertullian, who died about 230  AD, taught the supremacy of God. He observed: “The Father is different from the Son [another], as he is greater; as he who begets is different from him who is begotten; he who sends, different from him who is sent.” He also said: “There was a time when the Son was not. . . . Before all things, God was alone.”
Origen, who died about 250  AD, said that “the Father and Son are two substances . . . two things as to their essence,” and that “compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light.”
The testimony of the Bible and of history makes clear that the Trinity was unknown throughout Biblical times and for several centuries thereafter.
How Did the Trinity Doctrine Develop?
As the Trinity is not a Biblical teaching, how did it become a doctrine of Christendom? Many think that it was formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.
That is partially correct. The Council of Nicaea did assert that Christ was of the same substance as God, which laid the groundwork for later Trinitarian theology. But it did not establish the Trinity, for at that council there was no mention of the Holy Spirit as the third person of a triune Godhead.
Constantine’s Role at Nicaea
For many years, there had been much opposition on Biblical grounds to the developing idea that Jesus was God. To try to solve the dispute, Roman emperor Constantine summoned all bishops to Nicaea. About 300, a fraction of the total, actually attended.
Constantine was not a Christian. Supposedly, he converted later in life, but he was not baptized until he lay dying. Regarding him, Henry Chadwick says in The Early Church: “Constantine, like his father, worshipped the Unconquered Sun; . . . his conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace . . . It was a military matter. His comprehension of Christian doctrine was never very clear, but he was sure that victory in battle lay in the gift of the God of the Christians.”
What role did this unbaptized emperor play at the Council of Nicaea? The Encyclopædia Britannica relates: “Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father’ . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination.”
Hence, Constantine’s role was crucial. After two months of furious religious debate, this pagan politician intervened and decided in favor of those who said that Jesus was God. But why? Certainly not because of any Biblical conviction. “Constantine had basically no understanding whatsoever of the questions that were being asked in Greek theology,” says A Short History of Christian Doctrine. What he did understand was that religious division was a threat to his empire and he wanted to solidify his domain.
None of the bishops at Nicaea promoted a Trinity, however. They decided only the nature of Jesus but not the role of the Holy Spirit. If a Trinity had been a clear Bible truth, should they not have proposed it at that time?
Further Development
After Nicaea, debates on the subject continued for decades. Those who believed that Jesus was not equal to God even came back into favor for a time. But later Emperor Theodosius decided against them. He established the creed of the Council of Nicaea as the standard for his realm and convened the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD to clarify the formula.
That council agreed to place the Holy Spirit on the same level as God and Christ. For the first time, Christendom’s Trinity began to come into focus.
Yet, even after the Council of Constantinople, the Trinity did not become a widely accepted creed. Many opposed it and thus brought on themselves violent persecution. It was only in later centuries that the Trinity was formulated into set creeds. The Encyclopedia Americana notes: “The full development of Trinitarianism took place in the West, in the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages, when an explanation was undertaken in terms of philosophy and psychology.”
The Athanasian Creed
The Trinity was defined more fully in the Athanasian Creed. Athanasius was a clergyman who supported Constantine at Nicaea. The creed that bears his name declares: “We worship one God in Trinity . . . The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they are not three gods, but one God.”
Well-informed scholars agree, however, that Athanasius did not compose this creed. The New Encyclopædia Britannica comments: “The creed was unknown to the Eastern Church until the 12th century. Since the 17th century, scholars have generally agreed that the Athanasian Creed was not written by Athanasius [died 373] but was probably composed in southern France during the 5th century. . . . The creed’s influence seems to have been primarily in southern France and Spain in the 6th and 7th centuries. It was used in the liturgy of the church in Germany in the 9th century and somewhat later in Rome.”
So it took centuries from the time of Christ for the Trinity to become widely accepted in Christendom. And in all of this, what guided the decisions? Was it the Word of God, or was it clerical and political considerations? In Origin and Evolution of Religion, E. W. Hopkins answers: “The final orthodox definition of the trinity was largely a matter of church politics.
Apostasy Foretold
This disreputable history of the Trinity fits in with what Jesus and His apostles foretold would follow their time. They said that there would be an apostasy, a deviation, a falling away from true worship until Christ’s return, when true worship would be restored before God’s day of destruction of this system of things.
Regarding that “day,” the apostle Paul said:
2th2.3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2th2.7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way.
Later, Paul foretold:
Ac20.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Ac20.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Other disciples of Jesus also wrote of this apostasy with its ‘lawless’ clergy class. Note 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1-3; Jude 3, 4.
Paul also wrote:
2ti4.3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2ti4.4 And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.
Jesus himself explained [Matthew 13:24-43] what was behind this falling away from true worship. He said that He had sowed good seeds but that the enemy, Satan, would oversow the field with weeds. So along with the first blades of wheat, the weeds appeared also. Thus, a deviation from pure Christianity was to be expected until the harvest, when Christ would set matters right.
The Encyclopedia Americana comments: “Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching.” Where, then, did this deviation originate?
1ti1.6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
What Influenced It
Throughout the ancient world, as far back as Babylonia, the worship of pagan gods grouped in threes, or triads, was common. That influence was also prevalent in Egypt, Greece and Rome in the centuries before, during and after Christ. And after the death of the apostles, such pagan beliefs began to invade Christianity.
Historian Will Durant observed: “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. . . . From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity.” And in the book Egyptian Religion, Siegfried Morenz notes: “The trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian theologians . . . Three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology.”
Thus, in Alexandria, Egypt, churchmen of the late third and early fourth centuries, such as Athanasius, reflected this influence as they formulated ideas that led to the Trinity. Their own influence spread, so that Morenz considers “Alexandrian theology as the intermediary between the Egyptian religious heritage and Christianity.”
A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge notes that many say that the Trinity “is a corruption borrowed from the heathen religions and ingrafted on the Christian faith.” And The Paganism in Our Christianity declares: “The origin of the [Trinity] is entirely pagan.”
That is why, in the Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings wrote: “In Indian religion, e.g., we meet with the trinitarian group of Brahm?, Siva and Vi??u; and in Egyptian religion with the trinitarian group of Osiris, Isis and Horus . . . Nor is it only in historical religions that we find God viewed as a Trinity. One recalls in particular the Neo-Platonic view of the Supreme or Ultimate Reality,” which is “triadically represented.” What does the Greek philosopher Plato have to do with the Trinity?
Plato lived from c.428 to c.347 BC. While he did not teach the Trinity in its present form, his philosophies paved the way for it. Later, philosophical movements that included triadic beliefs sprang up and these were influenced by Plato’s ideas of God and nature.
The Church of the First Three Centuries says: “The doctrine of the Trinity was of gradual and comparatively late formation; . . . it had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures; . . . it grew up and was ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers.”
By the end of the third century AD, “Christianity” and the new Platonic philosophies became inseparably united. As Adolf Harnack states in Outlines of the History of Dogma, church doctrine became “firmly rooted in the soil of Hellenism [pagan Greek thought]. Thereby it became a mystery to the great majority of Christians.”
In the book A Statement of Reasons, Andrews Norton says of the Trinity: “We can trace the history of this doctrine and discover its source, not in the Christian revelation, but in the Platonic philosophy . . . The Trinity is not a doctrine of Christ and his Apostles, but a fiction of the school of the later Platonists.”
Thus, in the fourth century AD, the apostasy foretold by Jesus and the apostles came into full bloom. Development of the Trinity was just one evidence of this. The apostate churches also began embracing other pagan ideas, such as hellfire, immortality of the soul and idolatry. Spiritually speaking, Christendom had entered its foretold dark ages, dominated by a growing “man of lawlessness” clergy class. See 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7 above.
Why Did God’s Prophets Not Teach It?
Why, for thousands of years, did none of God’s prophets teach His people about the Trinity? At the latest, would Jesus not use His ability as the Great Teacher to make the Trinity clear to His followers? Would God inspire hundreds of pages of Scripture and yet not use any of this instruction to teach the Trinity if it were the “central doctrine” of faith?
Are Christians to believe that centuries after Christ and after having inspired the writing of the Bible, God would back the formulation of a doctrine that was unknown to His servants for thousands of years, one that is an “inscrutable mystery” “beyond the grasp of human reason,” one that admittedly had a pagan background and was “largely a matter of church politics”?
The testimony of history is clear: The Trinity teaching is a deviation from the truth, an apostatizing from it.
“The Triad of the Great Gods”
Many centuries before the time of Christ, there were triads, or trinities, of gods in ancient Babylonia and Assyria. The French “Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology” notes one such triad in that Mesopotamian area: “The universe was divided into three regions each of which became the domain of a god. Anu’s share was the sky. The earth was given to Enlil. Ea became the ruler of the waters. Together they constituted the triad of the Great Gods.”
Hindu Trinity
The book “The Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals” says regarding a Hindu trinity that existed centuries before Christ: “Siva is one of the gods of the Trinity. He is said to be the god of destruction. The other two gods are Brahma, the god of creation and Vishnu, the god of maintenance. . . . To indicate that these three processes are one and the same the three gods are combined in one form.”—Published by A. Parthasarathy, Bombay.
What Does the Bible Say About God and Jesus?
If people were to read the Bible from cover to cover without any preconceived idea of a Trinity, would they arrive at such a concept on their own? Not at all.
What comes through very clearly to an impartial reader is that God alone is the Almighty, the Creator, separate and distinct from anyone else and that Jesus, even in His prehuman existence, is also separate and distinct, the only begotten Son of God and from the bosom of the Father, and always subordinate to God the Father.
God Is One, Not Three
The Bible teaching that God is one is called monotheism. And L. L. Paine, professor of ecclesiastical history, indicates that monotheism in its purest form does not allow for a Trinity: “The Old Testament is strictly monotheistic. God is a single personal being. The idea that a trinity is to be found there . . . is utterly without foundation.”
Was there any change from monotheism after Jesus came to the earth? Paine answers: “On this point there is no break between the Old Testament and the New. The monotheistic tradition is continued. Jesus was a Jew, trained by Jewish parents in the Old Testament scriptures. His teaching was Jewish to the core; a new gospel indeed, but not a new theology. . . . And he accepted as his own belief the great text of Jewish monotheism: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God.’”
Thousands of times throughout the Bible, God is spoken of as one person. When He speaks, it is as one undivided individual. The Bible could not be any clearer on this. As God states:
Is42.8 I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. [de6.4; ml2.10; mk12.29-30,32; jn17.3; ro3.30; 1co8.4&6; ep4.6; 1ti2.5; ja2.19]
Ex20.2 I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Why would all the God-inspired Bible writers speak of God as one person if He were actually three persons? What purpose would that serve, except to mislead people? Surely, if God were composed of three persons, He would have had His Bible writers make it abundantly clear so that there could be no doubt about it. At least the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures who had personal contact with God’s own Son would have done so. But they did not.
Instead, what the Bible writers did make abundantly clear is that God is one Person—a unique, unpartitioned Being who has no equal:
Is45.5 >I [am] the LORD and [there is] none else, [there is] no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
Ps83.18 That [men] may know that thou, whose name alone [is] JEHOVAH, [art] the most high over all the earth.
Not a Plural God
JESUS called God “the only true God.” [See John 17:3 above]. Never did he refer to God as a deity of plural persons. That is why nowhere in the Bible is anyone but Jehovah called Almighty. Otherwise, it voids the meaning of the word “almighty.” Neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit is ever called that, for Jehovah alone is supreme.
Ge17.1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram and said unto him, I [AM] THE ALMIGHTY GOD; walk before me and be thou perfect.
Ex18.11 Now I know that the LORD [is] greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly [he was] above them.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word ?eloh?ah [god] has two plural forms, namely, ?elo·him? [gods] and ?elo·heh? [gods of]. These plural forms generally refer to Jehovah, in which case they are translated in the singular as “God.” Do these plural forms indicate a Trinity? No, they do not. In A Dictionary of the Bible, William Smith says: “The fanciful idea that [?elo·him?] referred to the trinity of persons in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars. It is either what grammarians call the plural of majesty, or it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God.”
The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures says of ?elo·him?: “It is almost invariably construed with a singular verbal predicate and takes a singular adjectival attribute.” To illustrate this, the title ?elo·him? appears 35 times by itself in the account of creation and every time the verb describing what God said and did is singular. [Genesis 1:1–2:4] Thus, that publication concludes: “[?Elo·him?] must rather be explained as an intensive plural, denoting greatness and majesty.”
?Elo·him? means, not “persons,” but “gods.” So those who argue that this word implies a Trinity make themselves polytheists, worshipers of more than one God. Why? Because it would mean that there were three gods in the Trinity. But nearly all Trinity supporters reject the view that the Trinity is made up of three separate gods.
The Bible also uses the words ?elo·him? and ?elo·heh? when referring to a number of false idol gods. [see Exodus 12:12; 20:23] But at other times it may refer to just a single false god, as when the Philistines referred to “Dagon their god [?elo·heh?].” [see Judges 16:23, 24] Baal is called “a god [?elo·him?].” [see 1 Kings 18:27] In addition, the term is used for humans. [see Psalm 82:1, 6] Moses was told that he was to serve as “God” [?elo·him?] to Aaron and to Pharaoh:
Ex4.16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, [even] he shall be to thee instead of a mouth and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
Ex7.1 And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
Obviously, using the titles ‘elo·him’ and ‘elo·heh’ for false gods and even humans, did not imply that each was a plurality of gods; neither does applying ‘elo·him’ or ‘elo·heh’ to Jehovah mean that He is more than one person, especially when we consider the testimony of the rest of the Bible on this subject.
How the “Only-Begotten Son”?
The Bible calls Jesus the “only-begotten Son” of God. [See John 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9.] Trinitarians say that since God is eternal, so the Son of God is eternal. But how can a person be a son and at the same time be as old as His father?
Trinitarians claim that in the case of Jesus, “only-begotten” is not the same as the dictionary definition of “begetting,” which is “to procreate as the father.” [Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary] They say that in Jesus’ case it means “the sense of unoriginated relationship,” a sort of only son relationship without the begetting. [Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words] Does that sound logical to you? Can a man father a son without begetting him?
Furthermore, why does the Bible use the very same Greek word for “only-begotten” [as Vine admits without any explanation] to describe the relationship of Isaac to Abraham? Hebrews 11:17 speaks of Isaac as Abraham’s “only-begotten son.” There can be no question that in Isaac’s case, he was only-begotten in the normal sense, not equal in time or position to his father.
The basic Greek word for “only-begotten” used for Jesus and Isaac is mo·no·ge·nes’, from mo’nos, meaning “only,” and gi’no·mai, a root word meaning “to generate,” “to become [come into being],” states Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Hence, mo·no·ge·nes’ is defined as: “Only born, only begotten, i.e. an only child.”—A Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament, by E. Robinson.
The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel, says: “[Mo·no·ge·nes’] means ‘of sole descent,’ i.e., without brothers or sisters.” This book also states that at John 1:18; 3:16, 18; and 1 John 4:9, “the relation of Jesus is not just compared to that of an only child to its father. It is the relation of the only-begotten to the Father.”
So Jesus, the only-begotten Son, had a beginning to His life. And Almighty God can rightly be called His Begetter, or Father, in the same sense that an earthly father, like Abraham, begets a son. [Hebrews 11:17] Hence, when the Bible speaks of God as the “Father” of Jesus, it means what it says—that they are two separate individuals. God is the Father. Jesus is His Son – in time, position, power and knowledge.
Countless other created spirit beings, angels, are also called “sons of God,” in the same sense that Adam was, because their life-force originated with Jehovah God, the Fountain, or Source, of life. [see Job 38:7; Psalm 36:9; Luke 3:38] But these were all created through the “only-begotten Son,” who was the only one directly begotten by God, being torn from the bosom of the Father.
Cl1.15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Cl1.16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him:
Cl1.17 And he is before all things and by him all things consist.
Was Jesus Considered to Be God?
While Jesus is often called the Son of God in the Bible, nobody in the first century ever thought of Him as being God the Son. Even the demons, who “believe there is one God,” knew from their experience in the spirit realm that Jesus was not God. So, correctly, they addressed Jesus as the separate “Son of God.” [see James 2:19; Matthew 8:29] And when Jesus died, the pagan Roman soldiers standing by knew enough to say that what they had heard from His followers must be right, not that Jesus was God, but that “Truly this was the Son of God.
Mt27.54 Now when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Hence, the phrase “Son of God” refers to Jesus who is not part of a Trinity. As the Son of God, He could not be God Himself, as “No man hath seen God at any time”.
Jn1.18 No man hath seen God at any time; THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, which is in the BOSOM OF THE FATHER, he hath declared [him].
The disciples viewed Jesus as the “one mediator between God and men,” not as God himself. [see 1 Timothy 2:5]
1ti2.5 FOR [THERE IS] ONE GOD and ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS; [de6.4; is42.8; ml2.10; mk12.29-30,32; jn17.3; ro3.30; 1co8.4&6; ep4.6; ja2.19]
Since by definition a mediator is someone separate from those who need mediation, it would be a contradiction for Jesus to be one entity with either of the parties He is trying to reconcile. That would not be impartial and would be pretending to be something he is not.
The Bible is clear and consistent about the relationship of God to Jesus. Jehovah God alone is Almighty. Jesus being torn from His bosom. Thus, Jesus had a beginning and could never be coequal with God in power or eternity.
Is God Always Superior to Jesus?
Jesus never claimed to be God. Everything He said about Himself indicates that He did not consider Himself equal to God in any way—not in position, not in power, not in knowledge, not in age. God is the senior and originator of all.
In every period of His existence, whether in heaven or on earth, His speech and conduct reflect subordination to God. God is always the superior; Jesus being the lesser.
Jesus Distinguished From God
Time and again, Jesus showed that He was a creature separate from God and that He, Jesus, had a God above Him, a God whom He worshipped, a God whom He called “Father.” In prayer to God, that is, the Father, Jesus said:
Jn17.3 AND THIS IS LIFE ETERNAL, THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THEE THE ONLY TRUE GOD and JESUS CHRIST, whom thou hast sent. [de6.4; is42.8; ml2.10; mk12.29-30,32; ro3.30; 1co8.4&6; ep4.6; 1ti2.5; ja2.19]
And to Mary Magdalene:
Jn20.17 JESUS saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to MY FATHER: but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto MY FATHER and your Father; and [to] MY GOD and your God.
The apostle Paul confirms this relationship:
2co1.3 Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort;
Since Jesus had a God, His Father, He could not at the same time be that God.
The apostle Paul had no reservations about speaking of Jesus and God as distinctly separate:
1co8.6 But to us [there is but] ONE GOD, THE FATHER, of whom [are] all things and we in him; AND ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, by whom [are] all things and we by him. [de6.4; is42.8; ml2.10; mk12.29-30,32; jn17.3; ro3.30; 1co8.4; ep4.6; 1ti2.5; ja2.19]
The apostle shows the distinction when he says:
1ti5.21 I charge [thee] before GOD and the Lord JESUS CHRIST and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
Just as Paul speaks of Jesus and the angels as being distinct from one another in heaven, so too are Jesus and God.
These words of Jesus are also significant:
Jn8.17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
Jn8.18 I am one that bear witness of myself and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
Here Jesus shows that He and the Father, that is, Almighty God, must be two distinct entities, for how else could there truly be two witnesses?
Jesus further showed that He was a separate being from God by saying:
Mk10.18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God.
So Jesus was saying that no one is as good as God is, not even Jesus Himself. God is good in a way that separates Him from Jesus.
God’s Submissive Servant
Time and again, Jesus made statements such as:
Jn5.19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
Jn6.38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
Jn7.16 Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
Is not the sender superior to the one sent?
This relationship is evident in Jesus’ illustration of the vineyard. He likened God, His Father, to the owner of the vineyard, who travelled abroad and left it in the charge of cultivators, who represented the Jewish clergy. When the owner later sent a slave to get some of the fruit of the vineyard, the cultivators beat the slave and sent him away empty-handed. Then the owner sent a second slave and later a third, both of whom got the same treatment. Finally, the owner said: “I will send my beloved son [Jesus]: it may be they will reverence [him] when they see him.” But the corrupt cultivators said: “This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.” “So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed [him].” See Luke 20:9-16
Thus Jesus illustrated His own position as one being sent by God to do God’s will, just as a father sends a submissive son.
The followers of Jesus always viewed Him as a submissive servant of God, not as God’s equal. They prayed to God about “thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, . . . signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.” [See Acts 4:23, 27, 30].
God Superior at All Times
At the very outset of Jesus’ ministry, when he came up out of the baptismal water, God’s voice from heaven said:
Mt3.16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him:
Mt3.17 And lo a VOICE from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Was God saying that He was His own son, that He approved Himself, that He sent Himself? No, God the Creator was saying that He, as the superior, was approving a lesser one, His Son Jesus, for the work ahead.
Jesus indicated His Father’s superiority when He said:
Lk4.18 The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Anointing is the giving of authority or a commission by a superior to someone who does not already have authority. Here God is plainly the superior, for He anointed Jesus, giving Him authority that He did not previously have.
Jesus made His Father’s superiority clear when the mother of two disciples asked that her sons sit one at the right and one at the left of Jesus when He came into His Kingdom. Jesus answered:
Mt20.23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand and on my left, is not mine to give, but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared of my Father.
Had Jesus been Almighty God, those positions would have been His to give. But Jesus could not give them, for they were God’s to give and Jesus was not God.
Jesus’ own prayers are a powerful example of His inferior position. When Jesus was about to die, He showed who His superior was by praying:
Lk22.42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
To whom was He praying? To a part of Himself? No, He was praying to someone entirely separate, His Father, God, whose will was superior and could be different from His own, the only One able to “remove this cup.
Then, as He neared death, Jesus cried out:
Mk15.34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
To whom was Jesus crying out? To Himself or to part of Himself? Surely, that cry, “My God,” was not from someone who considered Himself to be God. And if Jesus were God, then by whom was He deserted? Himself? That would not make sense. Finally, Jesus usage of “thou” signifies singularity, not plurality. Jesus also said:
Lk23.46 >And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
If Jesus were God, for what reason should He commend His spirit to the Father?
The Bible says that Jesus did die and was unconscious [asleep] in the tomb. Who resurrected Jesus from the dead?
Ac2.24 Whom GOD hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
Ac2.30 Therefore being a prophet and knowing that GOD had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he WOULD RAISE UP CHRIST TO SIT ON HIS THRONE;
Ac2.32 This Jesus hath GOD raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Jesus died – paid in full the requirements for sin – and then was raised up by His Father.
Does Jesus’ ability to perform miracles, such as resurrecting people, indicate that He was God? Well, the apostles and the prophets Elijah and Elisha had that power too, but that did not make them more than men. God gave the power to perform miracles to the prophets, Jesus and the apostles to show that He was backing them. But it did not make any of them part of a plural Godhead.
Jesus Had Limited Knowledge
When Jesus gave His prophecy about the end of this system of things, He stated:
Mt24.36 >But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. [Mk13.32]
Mk13.32 >But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the SON, but the FATHER. [Mt24.36]
Had Jesus been the equal Son part of a Godhead, He would have known what the Father knows. But Jesus did not know, for He was not equal to God.
Similarly, we read:
He5.8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
Can we imagine that God had to learn anything? No, but Jesus did, for He did not know everything that God knew. And He had to learn something that God never needs to learn—obedience. God never has to obey anyone.
The difference between what God knows and what Christ knows also existed when Jesus was resurrected to heaven to be with God.
Re1.1 The Revelation of JESUS CHRIST, which GOD gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified [it] by his angel unto his servant John:
If Jesus Himself were part of a Godhead, would He have to be given a revelation by another part of the Godhead—God? Surely He would have known all about it, for God knew. But Jesus did not know, for He was not God.
Jesus Continues Subordinate
In His prehuman existence and also when He was on earth, Jesus was subordinate to God. After His resurrection, He continues to be in a subordinate, secondary position.
Speaking of the resurrection of Jesus, Peter and those with him told the Jewish Sanhedrin: “God exalted this one [Jesus] . . . to his right hand.” [Acts 5:31] Paul said: “God exalted him to a superior position.” [Philippians 2:9]
Ac5.31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
Paul said:
Ph2.9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name:
If Jesus had been God, how could Jesus have been exalted, that is, raised to a higher position than He had previously enjoyed? He would already have been an exalted part of the Trinity. If, before His exaltation, Jesus had been equal to God, exalting Him any further would have made Him superior to God.
Paul also said that Christ entered:
He9.24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, [which are] the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
If you appear in someone else’s presence, how can you be that person? You cannot. You must be different and separate.
Similarly, just before being stoned to death, the martyr Stephen recalled:
Ac7.55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
Clearly, He saw two separate individuals—but no Holy Spirit, no Trinity Godhead.
In the account at Revelation 4:8 – 5:7, God is shown seated on His heavenly throne, but Jesus is not. He has to approach God to take a scroll from God’s right hand. This shows that in heaven Jesus is not God but is separate from Him.
In the everlasting future in heaven, Jesus will continue to be a separate, subordinate servant of God. The Bible expresses it this way:
1co15.24 Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
1co15.28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Jesus Never Claimed to Be God
The Bible’s position is clear. Not only is Almighty God, Jehovah, a personality separate from Jesus but He is at all times His superior. Jesus is always presented as separate and lesser, as a humble servant of God. That is why the Bible plainly says:
1co11.3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is CHRIST; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] GOD.
And this is why Jesus Himself said:
Jn14.28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away and come [again] unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
The Holy Spirit – the abiding presence of Jesus and God
According to the Trinity doctrine, the Holy Spirit is the third person of a Godhead, equal to the Father and to the Son. As the book Our Orthodox Christian Faith says: “The Holy Spirit is totally God.”
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word most frequently used for “spirit” is ru?ach, meaning “breath; wind; spirit.” In the Greek Scriptures, the word is pneu?ma, having a similar meaning. Do these words indicate that the Holy Spirit is part of a Trinity?
The Holy Spirit of God
The Bible’s use of “Holy Spirit” indicates that it is a controlled force that Jehovah God uses to accomplish a variety of His purposes. To a certain extent, it can be likened to electricity, a force that can be adapted to perform a great variety of operations.
Ge1.2 And the earth was without form and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Here, the Spirit of God [“spirit” [Hebrew, ru?ach]] was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.” The Spirit of God was His active presence working to shape the earth.
God uses His spirit to enlighten those who serve Him. David prayed:
Ps143.10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou [art] my God: thy spirit [ru?ach] [is] good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
When 70 capable men were appointed to help Moses, God said to him:
Nu11.17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit [ru?ach] which [is] upon thee and will put [it] upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear [it] not thyself alone.
Bible prophecy was recorded when men of God were “borne along by Holy Spirit [Greek, from pneu?ma].” [2 Peter 1:20, 21] In this way the Bible was “inspired of God,” the Greek word for which is The·o?pneu·stos, meaning “God-breathed.” [2 Timothy 3:16] And Holy Spirit guided certain people to see visions or to have prophetic dreams. See 2 Samuel 23:2;Joel 2:28, 29; Luke 1:67; Acts 1:16; 2:32, 33.
The Holy Spirit impelled Jesus to go into the wilderness after His baptism. [Mark 1:12] The Spirit of God was like a fire within God’s servants, causing them to be energized by His presence. And it enabled them to speak out boldly and courageously. – See Micah 3:8; Acts 7:55-60; 18:25; Romans 12:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
By His Spirit, God carries out His judgments on men and nations. [See Isaiah 30:27, 28;59:18, 19] And God’s Spirit can reach everywhere, acting for people or against them. – See Psalm 139:7-12.
Power Beyond Normal
God’s Spirit can also supply abnormal power to those who serve Him:
2co4.7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.
This enables them to endure trials of faith or to do things they could not otherwise do.
For example, regarding Samson:
Ju14.6 And the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him and he [Samson] rent him as he would have rent a kid and [he had] nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
Did a divine person actually enter or seize Samson, manipulating his body to do what he did? No, it was the power of the LORD [that] made Samson strong.
The Bible says that when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came down upon Him appearing like a dove:
Mk1.10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
This Spirit of God enabled Jesus to heal the sick and raise the dead.
Lk5.17 And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee and Judaea and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was [present] to heal them.
The Spirit of God also empowered the disciples of Jesus to do miraculous things:
Ac2.1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Ac2.2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Ac2.3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire and it sat upon each of them.
Ac2.4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
So God’s Holy Spirit gave Jesus and other servants of God the power to do what humans ordinarily could not do.
Not a Person
Are there not, however, Bible verses that speak of the Holy Spirit in personal terms? Yes, but note what Catholic theologian Edmund Fortman says about this in The Triune God: “Although this spirit is often described in personal terms, it seems quite clear that the sacred writers [of the Hebrew Scriptures] NEVER conceived or presented this spirit as a distinct person.
In the Scriptures it is not unusual for something to be personified. Wisdom is said to have children [Luke 7:35]; Sin and death are called kings [Romans 5:14, 21]; Sin lieth at the door [Genesis 4:7]. Of course, sin is not a spirit person; nor does personifying the Holy Spirit make it a spirit person.
Below, the spirit, the water and the blood are said to be “witnesses.” The water and the blood are obviously not persons and neither is the Holy Spirit a person.
1j5.6 This is he that came by water and blood, [even] Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
1j5.7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
1j5.8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Sspirit and the water and the blood: and these three agree in one.
In harmony with this is the Bible’s general usage of “Holy Spirit” in an impersonal way, such as paralleling it with water and fire. [See Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8] People are urged to become filled with Holy Spirit instead of with wine. [Ephesians 5:18] They are spoken of as being filled with Holy Spirit in the same way they are filled with such qualities as wisdom, faith and joy [See Acts 6:3; 11:24; 13:52]. At 2 Corinthians 6:6 the Holy Spirit is included among a number of qualities. Such expressions would not be so common if the Holy Spirit were actually a person.
Also, some Bible texts say that the spirit speaks, other texts show that this was actually done through humans or angels. [See Matthew 10:19, 20; Acts 4:24, 25; 28:25; Hebrews 2:2] The action of the spirit in such instances is like that of radio waves transmitting messages from one person to another far away.
At Matthew 28:19 reference is made to “the name . . . of the Holy Ghost.” But the word “name” does not always mean a personal name, either in Greek or in English. When we say “in the name of the law,” we are not referring to a person. We mean that which the law stands for; its authority. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament says: “The use of name [onoma] here is a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority.” So baptism ‘in the name of the Holy Spirit’ recognizes the authority of the spirit, that it is from God and functions by His divine will.
The Comforter
Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as a “Comforter” and He said it would teach, guide and speak. [See John 14:16, 26; 16:13] The Greek word used for Comforter [pa·ra?kle·tos] is in the masculine gender. So when Jesus referred to what the helper would do, He used masculine personal pronouns [See John 16:7, 8]. On the other hand, when the neuter Greek word for spirit [pneu?ma] is used, the neuter pronoun “it” is properly employed.
Most Trinitarian translators hide this fact, as the Catholic New American Bible admits regarding John 14:17: “The Greek word for ‘Spirit’ is neuter and while we use personal pronouns in English [‘he,’ ‘his,’ ‘him’], most Greek MSS [manuscripts] employ ‘it.’”
So when the Bible uses masculine personal pronouns in connection with pa·ra?kle·tos at John 16:7, 8, it is conforming to rules of grammar, not expressing a doctrine.
No Part of a Trinity
Various sources acknowledge that the Bible does not support the idea that the Holy Spirit is the third person of a Trinity. For example:
The Catholic Encyclopedia: “Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find any clear indication of a Third Person.”
A Catholic Dictionary: “On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or power.”
Hence, neither the Jews nor the early Christians viewed the Holy Spirit as part of a Trinity. That teaching came centuries later. As A Catholic Dictionary notes: “The third Person was asserted at a Council of Alexandria in 362 . . . and finally by the Council of Constantinople of 381”—some three and a half centuries after Holy Spirit filled the disciples at Pentecost!
No, the Holy Spirit is not a person and it is not part of a Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God’s active presence that He uses to accomplish His will. It is an attribute of God and is always at His disposition.
What About Trinity “Proof Texts”?
It is said that some Bible texts offer proof in support of the Trinity. However, when reading such texts, we should keep in mind that the Biblical and historical evidence does not support the Trinity.
Any Bible reference offered as proof must be understood in the context of the consistent teaching of the entire Bible. Very often the true meaning of such a text is clarified by the context of surrounding verses.
Three in One
The New Catholic Encyclopedia offers three such “proof texts” but also admits: “The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the O[ld] T[estament]. In the N[ew] T[estament] the oldest evidence is in the Pauline epistles, especially 2 Cor 13.13 [verse 14 in some Bibles], and 1 Cor 12.4-6. In the Gospels evidence of the Trinity is found explicitly only in the baptismal formula of Mt 28.19.”
In those verses the three “persons” are listed as follows:
2co13.14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, [be] with you all. Amen.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says:
1co12.4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1co12.5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
1co12.6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
Matthew 28:19 reads:
Mt28.19 >Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Do those verses say that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit constitute a Trinitarian Godhead, that the three are equal in substance, power and eternity? No, they do not, no more than listing three people, such as Tom, Dick and Harry, means that they are three in one.
“I and the Father Are One”
Jn10.30 I and [my] FATHER are one.
This text is often cited to support the Trinity, even though no third person is mentioned there. But Jesus Himself showed what He meant by His being “one” with the Father:
Jn17.21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in US: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Jn17.22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
Was Jesus praying that all His disciples would become a single entity? No, obviously Jesus was praying that they would be united in thought and purpose, as He and God were. Note also:
1co1.10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you; but [that] ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
“Making Himself Equal with God”?
Jn5.18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
Another scripture offered as support for the Trinity is John 5:18. It says that the Jews [as at John 10:31-36] wanted to kill Jesus because “because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” and “making himself equal with God”.
But who said that Jesus was making himself equal to God? Not Jesus. He defended himself against this false charge in the very next verse:
Jn5.19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
By this, Jesus showed the Jews that He was not equal to God and therefore could not act on His own initiative. Can we imagine someone equal to Almighty God saying that He could “do nothing of himself”? [Compare Daniel 4:34-35]. Interestingly, the context of both John 5:18 and John 10:30 shows that Jesus defended Himself against false charges from Jews who, like the Trinitarians, are drawing wrong conclusions!
“The Word Was God”
Jn1.1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Some Trinitarians claim that this means that “the Word” [Greek, ho lo?gos] who came to earth as Jesus Christ was Almighty God Himself.
Note, however, that here again the context lays the groundwork for an accurate understanding. God’s Word says, “The Word was with God.Someone who is “with” another person cannot be the same as that other person. In agreement with this, the Journal of Biblical Literature, edited by Jesuit Joseph A. Fitzmyer, notes that if the latter part of John 1:1 were interpreted to mean “the” God, this “would then contradict the preceding clause,” which says that the Word was with God.
At John 1:1 there are two occurrences of the Greek noun the·os’ [god]. The first occurrence refers to Almighty God, with whom the Word was [“and the Word [lo’gos] was with God [a form of the·os’]”]. This first the·os’ is preceded by the word ton [the], a form of the Greek definite article that points to a distinct identity, in this case Almighty God [“and the Word was with [the] God”].
On the other hand, there is no article before the second the·os’ at John 1:1. So a literal translation would read, “and god was the Word.” Yet we have seen that many translations render this second the·os’ [a predicate noun] as “divine,” “godlike,” or “a god.” On what authority do they do this?
The Koine Greek language had a definite article [“the”], but it did not have an indefinite article [“a” or “an”]. So when a predicate noun is not preceded by the definite article, it may be indefinite, depending on the context.
The Journal of Biblical Literature says that expressions “with an anarthrous [no article] predicate preceding the verb, are primarily qualitative in meaning.” As the Journal notes, this indicates that the lo’gos can be likened to a god. It also says of John 1:1: “The qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun [the·os’] cannot be regarded as definite.”
So John 1:1 highlights the quality of the Word, that He was “divine,” “godlike,” “a god,” but not Almighty God. This harmonizes with the rest of the Bible, which shows that Jesus, here called “the Word” in His role as God’s Spokesman, was an obedient subordinate sent to earth by His Superior, Almighty God.
Violating a Rule?
Some claim, however, that such renderings violate a rule of Koine Greek grammar published by Greek scholar E. C. Colwell back in 1933. He asserted that in Greek a predicate noun “has the [definite] article when it follows the verb; it does not have the [definite] article when it precedes the verb.” By this he meant that a predicate noun preceding the verb should be understood as though it did have the definite article [“the”] in front of it. At John 1:1 the second noun [the·os’], the predicate, precedes the verb—“and [the·os’] was the Word.” So, Colwell claimed, John 1:1 should read “and [the] God was the Word.”
But consider just two examples found at John 8:44. There Jesus says of the Devil: “He was a murderer” and “he is a liar”. Just as at John 1:1, the predicate nouns [“murderer” and “liar”] precede the verbs [“was” and “is”] in the Greek. There is no indefinite article in front of either noun because there was no indefinite article in Koine Greek. But most translations insert the word “a” because Greek grammar and the context require it.—See also Mark 11:32; John 4:19; 6:70; 9:17; 10:1; 12:6.
Colwell had to acknowledge this regarding the predicate noun, for he said: “It is indefinite [“a” or “an”] in this position only when the context demands it.” So even he admits that when the context requires it, translators may insert an indefinite article in front of the noun in this type of sentence structure.
Does the context require an indefinite article at John 1:1? Yes, for the testimony of the entire Bible is that Jesus is not Almighty God. Thus, not Colwell’s questionable rule of grammar, but context should guide the translator in such cases. And it is apparent from the many translations that insert the indefinite article “a” at John 1:1 and in other places that many scholars disagree with such an artificial rule and so does God’s Word.
No Conflict
Does saying that Jesus Christ is “a god” conflict with the Bible’s teaching that there is only one God? No, for at times the Bible employs that term to refer to mighty creatures. Psalm 8:5 reads:
Ps8.5 For thou hast made him [man] a little lower than the angels [godlike ones [Hebrew, ‘elo·him’]], and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
In Jesus’ defense against the charge of the Jews, that He claimed to be God, He noted that the Law uses the word gods of those to whom the word of God was addressed, that is, human judges. [See John 10:34-35; Psalm 82:1-6]. Even Satan is called “the god of this world” at 2 Corinthians 4:4.
Jesus has a position far higher than angels, imperfect men, or Satan. Since these are referred to as “gods,” mighty ones, surely Jesus can be and is “a god.” Because of his unique position in relation to Jehovah, Jesus is a “Mighty God.” See John 1:1; Isaiah 9:6.
But does not “Mighty God” with its capital letters indicate that Jesus is in some way equal to Jehovah God? Not at all. Isaiah merely prophesied this to be one of four names that Jesus would be called and in the English language such names are capitalized. Still, even though Jesus was called “Mighty,” there can be only one who is “Almighty.” To call Jehovah God “Almighty” would have little significance unless there existed others who were also called gods but who occupied a lesser or inferior position.
Jn20.28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Thomas cast himself at the feet of his Master in deep affection and devotion, crying, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas did not think that Jesus was Almighty God, for he and all the other apostles knew that Jesus never claimed to be God but taught that Jehovah alone is “the only true God.” – John 17:3.
Again, the context helps us to understand this. A few days earlier the resurrected Jesus had told Mary Magdalene to tell the disciples:
Jn20.17 JESUS saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to MY FATHER: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto MY FATHER, and your Father; and [to] MY GOD, and your God.
Even though Jesus was already resurrected, Jehovah was still His God. And Jesus continued to refer to Him as such even in the last book of the Bible, after He was glorified. See Revelation 1:5, 6;3:2, 12.
Just three verses after Thomas’ exclamation the Bible further clarifies the matter by stating:
Jn20.31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;” not that He was Almighty God. And it meant “Son” in a literal way, as with a natural father and son, not as some mysterious part of a Trinity Godhead.
Must Harmonize With the Bible
It is claimed that several other scriptures support the Trinity. But these are similar to those discussed above in that, when carefully examined, they offer no actual support. Such texts only illustrate that when considering any claimed support for the Trinity, one must ask: Does the interpretation harmonize with the consistent teaching of the entire Bible—that Jehovah God alone is Supreme? If not, then the interpretation must be in error.
We also need to keep in mind that not even so much as one “proof text” says that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one in some mysterious Godhead. Not one scripture anywhere in the Bible says that all three are the same in substance, power and eternity. The Bible is consistent in revealing Almighty God, Jehovah, as alone Supreme, Jesus as His only begotten Son and the Holy Spirit as God’s omnipresence.
Worship God on His Terms
Jn17.3 AND THIS IS LIFE ETERNAL, THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THEE THE ONLY TRUE GOD and JESUS CHRIST, whom thou hast sent. [de6.4; is42.8; ml2.10; mk12.29-30,32; ro3.30; 1co8.4&6; ep4.6; 1ti2.5; ja2.19]
To KNOW something or, in this case, someone you need related knowledge. What kind of knowledge?
1ti2.4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
So God wants us to know Him and His purposes accurately, in conformity with divine truth. And God’s Word, the Holy Bible, is the source of that truth. [See John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17] When people learn accurately what the Bible says about God, then they will avoid being like those mentioned at:
Ro10.2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
Ro10.3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Or like the Samaritans, to whom Jesus said:
Jn4.22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Therefore, if we want God’s approval, we need to ask ourselves: What does God say about Himself? How does He want to be worshipped? What are His purposes and how should we fit in with them? An accurate knowledge of the truth gives us the right answers to such questions. Then we can worship God on His terms.
Dishonoring God
1s2.30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed [that] thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
Does it honour God to call anyone His equal? Does it honor Him to call Mary “the mother of God” and the “Mediatrix . . . between the Creator and His creatures,” as does the New Catholic Encyclopedia? No, those ideas insult God. No one is His equal; nor did He have a fleshly mother, since Jesus was not God. And there is no “Mediatrix,” for God has appointed only one mediator:
1ti2.5 FOR [THERE IS] ONE GOD, AND ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS; [de6.4; is42.8; ml2.10; mk12.29-30,32; jn17.3; ro3.30; 1co8.4&6; ep4.6; ja2.19] [A mediator is animpartial person]
1j2.1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1j2.2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.
Beyond all doubt, the Trinity doctrine has confused and diluted people’s understanding of God’s true position. It prevents people from accurately knowing the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah God and from worshipping Him on His terms. As theologian Hans Küng said: “Why should anyone want to add anything to the notion of God’s oneness and uniqueness that can only dilute or nullify that oneness and uniqueness?” But that is what belief in the Trinity has done.
Those who believe in the Trinity equate to:
Ro1.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Rom 1 Verses 29 to 31 list some of those ‘unfitting’ things, such as ‘murder, strife, being false to agreements, having no natural affection, merciless.’ Those very things have been practised by religions that accept the Trinity.
For instance, Trinitarians have often persecuted and even killed those who rejected the Trinity doctrine. And they have gone even further. They have killed their fellow Trinitarians in wartime. What could be more ‘unfitting’ than Catholics killing Catholics, Orthodox killing Orthodox, Protestants killing Protestants—all in the name of the same Trinitarian God?
Yet, Jesus plainly said:
Jn13.35 By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
God’s Word expands on this, saying:
1j3.10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
It likens those who kill their spiritual brothers to:
1j3.11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
1j3.12 Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.
Thus, the teaching of confusing doctrines about God has led to actions that violate His laws. Indeed, what has happened throughout Christendom is what Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard described: “Christendom has done away with Christianity without being quite aware of it.”
Christendom’s spiritual condition fits what the apostle Paul wrote:
Tt1.16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny [him], being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
Soon, when God brings this present wicked system of things to its end, Trinitarian Christendom will be called to account. And she will be judged adversely for her God-dishonouring actions and doctrines. See Matthew 24:14, 34; 25:31-34, 41, 46; Revelation 17:1-6, 16; 18:1-8, 20, 24; 19:17-21.
Reject the Trinity
There can be NO COMPROMISE with God’s truths. Hence, to worship God on His terms means to reject the Trinity doctrine. It contradicts what the prophets, Jesus, the apostles and the early Christians believed and taught. It contradicts what God says about Himself in His own inspired Word. Thus, He counsels:
Is46.9 Remember the former things of old: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else; [I am] God, and [there is] none like me,
God’s interests are not served by making Him confusing and mysterious. Instead, the more that people become confused about God and His purposes, the better it suits God’s Adversary, Satan the Devil, the ‘god of this world.’ It is he who promotes such false doctrines to:
2co4.4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
And the Trinity doctrine also serves the interests of clergymen who want to maintain their hold on people, for they make it appear as though only theologians can understand it.
Accurate knowledge of God brings great relief. It frees us from teachings that are in conflict with God’s Word and from organizations that have apostatized. As Jesus said:
Jn8.32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
By honoring God as supreme and worshipping Him on His terms, we can avoid the judgment that He will soon bring on apostate Christendom. Instead, we can look forward to God’s favour when this world ends:
1j2.17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Live Forever in Paradise on Earth
God promises eternal life to those who honour him:
Ps37.29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
Yet, to be counted among “The righteous” you need to do more than just become informed about the Trinity teaching. You need to progress in your knowledge about God. Should you wish, we are happy to help you. Just Contact Us accordingly.
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