The Trinity in the New Testament
The seeming contradiction of Jewish Monotheism and the divinity of Jesus was certainly a big question in the minds of New Testament disciples, and we also ought to think about it today. How can God be "three-in-one"? John deals with this problem head-on in his Gospel in John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” From there on, the Gospel climaxes with Thomas saying, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Not only is Jesus God, but he, as “the Word,” was with God.
In John 14:7-9, when Jesus said, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him,” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus then said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” How could Jesus have told Philip that in physically seeing Jesus, he was seeing the Father, if the Son and the Father were not one and the same substance, that is, the same God?
In John 1:18, "The only begotten Son" means Jesus was absolutely unique. If God only has "one son," Jesus must be very different from what we are as we are created beings, born of parents. Jesus was born of a virgin.
John 12:14 John says that Isaiah “saw His glory”, speaking of Jesus, and equates Jesus as the God whom Isaiah saw in the temple, yet this LORD that Isaiah saw is called One in the OT (Deut. 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”). YHWH is one God, and yet Jesus claims to be that YHWH inJohn 10:30-33 – “I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” The Jews would not have had a problem implying that he was “one in purpose” with the Father…they would not have tried to stone him for that. But they did clearly understand Jesus’ claim to in fact BE God.
In Deut. 4:39 it says, “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” If Jesus is LORD (YHWH) and there is no other God on this earth, then you have three options, 1) There is no such thing as “the Father” , 2) Jesus and the Father are together One God, or 3) Moses was lying in Deuteronomy to the Jews (and Isaiah was lying too when God said in Is. 45:5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me.”)
In Hebrews, the writer hammers this home, Heb. 1:3-5 – “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? It explicitly says that Jesus is the “exact imprint of his nature”. The word for “nature” is a Greek word used commonly by Plato, Aristotle and denotes the “essential nature” or “substance”, or “real being” according to Thayers’s Dictionary of NT Greek. Colossians 2:9 says further of Jesus: “For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Wow! The “whole fullness of deity” that is quite a phrase that Paul uses. Paul certainly would never have dreamed of attributing that to any other human being.
From the conclusion that Jesus and the Father are together one God, it is a simple point to include the Holy Spirit. He is clearly a distinct person and he is clearly God, as is evidenced in Acts 5:3-4 – “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” First he says that he lied to the Holy Spirit (a person) then he equates the Holy Spirit with God when he then says that Annanias has lied not to men but to God.”
The mystery of God as being one “substance” and yet three distinct “persons” is the only way to deal with ALL of the Biblical text faithfully. As Christians we must recognize the diversity-in-unity of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and worship God according to what the Bible teaches, not what our own logic can comprehend. This is the reason why we are baptized into the trinity: (Matt. 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”) Amen.