Deuteronomy 4:32-34,39-40, Romans 8:14-17, Matthew 28:16-20
I once stumbled on a write up of someone in social media trying to prove with all human knowledge that the trinity does not exist. I laughed over it because it shows a lack of true understanding of the scripture that he claims to know.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity is one of those teachings that have led many into error in the bid to explain what it is and how it is.
So, in this write up I will try to follow up in detail by bringing in most of the arguments that anti-trinitarians bring to discredit the truth of the Holy Trinity.
I will gradually lead them into the scripture also, using the same Greek words to reveal the truth and existence of the Holy Trinity.
Whenever we talk about the Holy Trinity, we are dealing with the greatest and central mystery of our Christian faith.
Someone quoted 1 John 5:7, which in King James’ version says that “there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one”, as the source of where the church derives its present stand on the Holy Trinity.
This is highly false and fallacious. The truth of the trinity is evident in the scriptures starting from the old testament to the new testament.
The truth here is that the Catholic Church does not even use the King James Version of the bible he mentions. The catholic bible is the original bible, translated directly from the original languages with the 5th century Latin vulgate but the King James version only came around 1611. To say that the church quoted from King James Version is false and cannot be taken.
Before I delve into another thing, let us go into detail on the understanding of the Holy Trinity, the scriptural support and what the church says on this. In this write up also, I will also treat the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Literal Meaning Of the Word Trinity.
The word Trinity comes from the Latin word Trinitas, meaning “three” or “triad.” The Greek equivalent of this word is triados. Trinity is simply two conjoined words “tri” meaning three and “unity” meaning one.
So, literally, it is tri-unity meaning three in one. You do not expect one to go to the bible and find the exact use of this word.
Not finding the exact word Trinity does not mean that Trinity is false. Not finding your name in the bible does not mean that it is false. That you do not find the name of the book I wrote in the bible, does not mean my book does not exist. People should get it right. But the fact is that the truth of the Holy Trinity is scriptural.
The Church in her wisdom uses the word “Trinity” to explain the relationship that exists between Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, three persons but one God.
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells His apostles “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you”
Get it in a detailed manner, What we are celebrating today is that God is three persons but One God.
God the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit though persons is one God. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet they are not three Gods but one God in the Trinity of Persons.
This is a great mystery of the Church. Someone may ask how is this possible. The truth is that many who have tried to explain this degenerate into error.
I will try to explain it to the best we can understand but will not certainly claim full knowledge of the mystery. Going further to discuss this mystery, let us, first of all, explain what the trinity is not.
Error in the Understanding of the Trinity.
1. Some people teach that the three persons of the Trinity are different “modes” of the Godhead.
They believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not distinct personalities. For this group, they are just different modes of God’s self-revelation. This is an error. This is known as Modalism.
2.Some others postulate that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate Gods and these separate Gods share the same substance. This is popularly known as Tritheism. This is also erroneous.
3. Many teach that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together are just components of the one God; only becoming fully God when they come together This is Partialism. Now let us see what the church says.
What the Church teaches.
To articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church uses certain terms like: “substance”, “person” or “hypostasis”, “relation” and so on.
Substance means what makes something what it is. It is the nature of a thing. What differentiates a being from another is the substance. What differentiates a tree from an animal is the treeness. This is only to understand what substance is and not in any way to explain the essence of the Divinity.
So, here we can say that in their nature and divinity, God is one. In their divinity, they are one. The Father is divine, the Son is divine and the Holy Spirit is divine.
The Holy Trinity is one in their substance( Godhead) and different in their persons. Persons indicate the distinct nature of a thing. So, in their persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct but in their Godhead is one. The igbo will say “na ihe ha jiri buru chukwu ha bu otu”.
Here the Church says “The Father is that which the Son is, the Son is that which the Father is, the Father and the Son are that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature of one God.” but in their persons, The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit. In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature” (CCC 253).
So, while they relate in some mysterious ways with each other, as persons, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit though distinct is one God. Hence, in the Godhead, there is no division. None acts differently. They are involved in the creation and the saving acts of man.
Unity at Work.
Therefore, every action of God is co-equally the action of the three persons since there is one God-substance.
For example, in the work of creation, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are involved. The bible is explicit about this.
During Creation, God the Father speaks. Through His Word, things came into existence. John was explicit on this when he said “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him, nothing was made that has been made.” Take time to read and read this again.
According to some anti-trinitarians, John 1:1 proves logos (word) does not mean God because the verse mentions “Ton Theon”
For them, this means the father and could not be two Gods. You will find such arguments in the writings of people like Reno Omokri. But to say that theos and theon are not the same shows deep ignorance of the Greek language and the usage. Let me use this moment and break it into details.
The Greek text of this chapter writes En archē ēn ho Logos kai ho Logos ēn pros ton Theon kai Theos.
Literally, it means, in the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God and is God. Now to teach those who don’t know, Theon came first here before theos. Both mean and refer to God.
The difference in the ending is only a matter of grammar. Theon is the accusative case of theos. Theos is already in the nominative case. Theon as used here means “with God’.
Another point people like Reno Omokri didn’t see is the use of the definite article “Tov’. This means ‘the”. John’s use of ton theon shows that he has a specific person in mind which is Jesus Christ.
Paul explains this further in Colossians 1:16 when he says about Jesus that in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. In verse 17, Like what John says, Paul also affirms that He is before all things”.
So, the unity in the trinity means that All of God was involved in Creation; all of God was involved in the creation of man, all of God was involved in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, all of God was involved in the birth of the Christian Church, and all of God is involved in the world around us today.
To explain more on this unity, Pope Benedict XVI says “ In the unity of the Trinity, The Father gives everything to the Son; the Son receives everything from the Father with gratitude, and the Holy Spirit is the fruit of this mutual love of the Father and the Son”.
The Divinity and Omniscience of Jesus.
Before I proceed to give scriptural verses to prove the Trinity, I will show you glaring facts that Jesus is God and omniscient.
Some anti-trinitarians use Matthew 24:36 when Jesus says “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. They use this to deny that Jesus is not omniscient.
To answer this, II will also refer them to Revelation 19:11 14, where John saw the vision of Jesus Christ. The bible says “His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name inscribed on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. Read it again. He said, “He has a name on Him that no one knows except himself”.
Hence, if we go by the implication of the first argument of Matthew 24:36, that the son does not know the hour, then we can also say of Revelation 19:11-14, that the Father does not know the name, since only the Word of God knows that.
These anti-trinitarians do not know that these analogies were written or proclaimed to describe the Omniscience of the Father and the Son.
Have we not forgotten that Peter even affirmed the omniscience of Jesus when He tells Jesus in John 21:17, “Lord you know everything, you know that I love you”. If Jesus did not know everything, he would have rebuked Him.
The omniscience of Jesus is shown in Luke 6:8 and Matthew 22:18 that He even knows every hidden thought in man.
Also, In Rev 22:12-16, Jesus calls Himself the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. This Alpha and Omega is also referred to as the Almighty in Revelation 1:8. He is the one who is to come. He is also the Emmanuel which God is with us.
In Matthew 4:7, Jesus tells the devil during His temptation “do not tempt the Lord your God”.
Before I proceed let me take you to Hebrew 1:8 “God the Father calls the son God. The verse says “But about the Son, He says, “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom. Here, “Your throne, O God”, was referring to the Son, thereby calling the Son, God.
These and more show and prove the divinity and omniscient nature of the Son.
About the divinity of the Holy Spirit, John says in Revelation 19:10, Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus. Here John calls the Spirit of God, God. He is the spirit of prophecy who is to be worshipped.
Also, In Acts 5, Peter accuses Ananias and Sapphira of lying to the Holy Spirit and hence lying to God (check Acts 5:3-4).
Erroneous view about the Council of Nicaea.
Many anti-trinitarians accuse the council of Nicaea of bringing in the doctrine of the trinity. This is erroneous.
What the council did was to proclaim this as an article of faith. The notion and belief have been there ab initio.
For example, Paul writes of Jesus when he says “though he was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men”. Paul said this before the Council of Nicaea.
In John 20:28, Thomas called Jesus my Lord and My God. Thomas lived before the council of Nicaea. Have we forgotten also when Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus replied to Him, “Philip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me (John 14:9-10). The anti-trinitarians are like Philip here, this is also before the Council of Nicaea.
St Clement who lived before the council of Nicaea and at the time of early Christians says “Jesus Christ is divine, in His divinity, He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit”.
In fact, the anti-trinitarians are like the Jews who wanted to kill Jesus in John 5: 18, accusing him of trying to make Himself equal to God.
The Implication of the Trinity.
The implication is that in God, there is no division. God is one though are distinct in their persons but in essence and substance, God. By nature of the one God, what the Father is, is what the Son and Holy Spirit is but are distinct only in their persons.
In their persons, the Father is not the Son, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father but Father, Son and Holy Spirit is God in their nature, existence, essence and substantiality.
The distinction of the persons can be shown, for example, in the prayer of Jesus, as He speaks to his Father. Jesus promises his disciples in John 14:16-17 that He will pray to the Father and the Father will give them “another Counselor,” who is the Holy Spirit.
The distinction in the three persons is shown here, Jesus prays; to the Father who sends; and the Spirit who comes.
At Baptism, the Father speaks, the Son undergoes baptism and the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove. (Mathew 3:3-17).
It was the whole Trinity, which at the beginning of creation said, ‘Let us make man’ (Gen. 1:26). It was the whole Trinity again, which at the beginning of the Gospel seemed to say, ‘Let us save man.
Bible References to the Unity of the Trinity.
Genesis 1:1-2:In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
At creation, God the Father planned it. God the Son brings it into being (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). God the Holy Spirit, “…was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters” manifesting them (Genesis 1:2).
John 1:1-4: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and overall the creatures that move along the ground.
John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 8:58, Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!
John 10:30: I and the Father are one.”
Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
John 14:9-11: Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me?
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Etc.
1.The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity that we are celebrating today is an invitation to contemplate the mystery of our redemption.
This mystery invites us to contemplate on the unity that exists with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit then urging us to commit ourselves to live in this communion with God and with one another.
God calls us to live in love, in a spirit of harmony, to live for each other and everyone, sharing joys and sufferings, learning to seek and to grant forgiveness, valuing each other and the different functions and gifts that we possess yet channelling them for one purpose; salvation of souls.
God calls us to reflect the beauty of the Trinity in our lives, community, church, and different families. Just as Our creator is one, there should not be any opposition among us since we belong to Him and essentially belong to one body in Christ.
2.The mystery of the Trinity invites us first into a deep reflection of the source of our being. We are merely creatures that proceeded from a Creator who created us in his image and likeness.
Man should trace back to his origin and know that He reflects the image of God. If God is one, man should come to terms with himself that despite the colour, race, countries, we are one and will go back to the same one God at last.
This points to the issue of racism, tribalism and ethnic divides that have crumbled our peace in recent times. Every leader should treat his subjects with equal love and dignity. He should not love some and hate some. This is also important in our families. Parents should show equal love to their children. There should not be any discrimination of any sort.
2. When you think of the Trinity you also think of teamwork. There is no division of whosoever or dragging of equality.
What has continually greeted many families of the earth is unnecessary competitions, quest for power and quest to be the one greater than others.
The Igbos in their wisdom say “Igwe bu ike’ Igwe bu Ike means Unity is strength. But today many have neglected this.
We have forgotten the power of team spirit and greeted ourselves with hatred, political divisions, family disintegration and disunity, everyone seems to be on his or her own which cannot but constantly hits us back.
3.One of the secrets of the Trinity is a division of work. The Father plans, He is the Architect. The Son performs – He carries out what the Father planned.
The Spirit reveals and manifests – He reveals and enforces what the Father has planned and what the Son has performed.
No member of the Godhead ever acts independently or out of sync with the other members. In places of work, offices and organizations this should come into play to ensure the smooth running and growth of such institutions. No one does it all alone and no one knows it all alone.
4.What binds the Holy Trinity together is eternal love. But man has embraced wickedness, hatred, inhumanity to his fellow man. Man is full of jealousy and evil.
Today the cases of rape, killings, kidnapping continue to increase. Man forgets the pain that the other person might be undergoing all in the name of fame, sexual desires, and money.
Man forgets he did not bring himself into the world, yet after his earthly life, he leaves all to the world beyond.
Our ignorance is our problem, until we understand who we are and why we are here, we will continue to misbehave. Life is short. And you will never know when the end will be.
5. Finally check all the families, kingdoms, communities, etc that are crumbling today, you will discover one thing, they are not at peace with one another.
There is unnecessary competition. Instead of being at peace, we divide, instead of love we hate. Where do we go from here?
The Holy Trinity simply teaches us that though we are many, we should be one. Only when we understand this, things will change in the way we operate.
May God bless us and continues to be with us this week. Happy Sunday. God bless you.