The Holy Trinity – One Holy True Triune God

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

Webster’s dictionary gives the following definition of Trinity: “The union of three divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in one divinity, so that all the three are one God as to substance, but three Persons.” Synonyms sometimes used are triunity, triune, and triality. The term “trinity” is formed from “tri,” three, and unity. Triunity is a better term than “trinity” because, it expresses the idea of three in one.  

The Holy Trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Orthodox Faith. With our finite and limited minds, we are unable to comprehend the Holy Trinity at all, and yet with our hearts, we can believe in the truth of this mystery. We confess our belief each time we say the Creed, “We believe in One God, the Father Almighty,…and in one Lord Jesus Christ…and in the Holy Spirit…” And so, even though it is incomprehensible, the mystery of the Holy Trinity is intertwined throughout the most basic confession of our faith. 

The worship of the Holy Trinity is the essential element of the Orthodox Christian Faith. Orthodox Christians have known even from the very beginning that in order to truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary to believe in the Holy Trinity and that in order to worship God “in spirit and in truth,” we must worship the Holy Trinity. The word trinity is never found in the Bible and so some wonder about whether this is a biblical doctrine or not. Our church has believed that God exists in Holy Trinity or Triunity. The tri-personality of God is exclusively a Christian doctrine and a truth of Scripture. What is it that makes this mystery of the Holy Trinity so vital to our Christian belief? In order to answer this question, we must first understand a little about the Holy Trinity. The mystery of the Trinity is that there is One God in three Persons and that each of these Persons is distinct and separate from the others while at the same time all three Persons are indivisibly united. How can something be three separate and distinct things and yet at the same time be only one? This is the mystery of the Trinity. We believe in one True God. We believe that Our God is Trinitarian. Our fathers of the Church pondered and studied, but in vain. No man can fully explain the Trinity. This is a doctrine beyond the scope of man’s finite mind. It lies outside the realm of natural reason or human logic and is still largely incomprehensible to the mind of man. Holy Trinity is not a discovery of mankind but a self-revelation of God.

One of the fathers of the Church, St. Augustine, studied the Mystery of Holy Trinity. He could never comprehend it. One day, walking on the sandy shores of the seas, he churned his mind the mystery of Holy Trinity. He talked to himself. “One God – three persons. Three persons – one God”. How can it be explained? He started torturing his mind, beating his brains out. He saw a small boy on the beach. He approached him to see what he was doing. A child had dug a hole in the beach. With his little hands he was carrying water from the ocean and was dumping it in the hole. St. Augustine asked, “what are you trying to do, my child?” The child replied, “I am trying to put the water of this ocean into this small hole“. St. Augustine asked, How is it possible? You cannot put all of the water of this great ocean into this small hole”. Then the child said, How can the Infinite Trinitarian God be contained in your small mind?” saying this, the child disappears. Then St. Augustine realized that the child was actually an angel send by God to answer his problem. St. Augustine learned a lesson. He thanked God reverently, as God had taught him in miraculously the mystery of Holy Trinity.

Therefore, the mystery of Holy Trinity is a matter of faith rather than human reasoning. Whoever believes in God believes the mystery. He does not need a rational thinking. The nature of the Trinity is not just an abstract idea, a belief that has no impact on us as Orthodox Christians. St Athanasius said about the incarnation, “God became man so that man might become God.” This is indeed true – when we “put on Christ” at Holy Baptism and as, we begin to work out our salvation, we become like God, that is we take on His nature. We give up our own fallen human nature, and in exchange, we receive the nature of the God-man Jesus Christ. To be saved we must exhibit the mystery of the Holy Trinity in our lives. 

The word (Gk.) Trias: Trinity was first used by St. Theophilos of Antioch. The Bible teaches us that God not only exists as a personal Spirit being, but that He does so in Holy Trinity.  We see in Deut. 6: 4 that “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one LORD”. Although Moses proclaimed that God is one, there are many proofs in the O. T & N. T. proving the existence in three different natures, not so clearly and plainly but in a cloudy way and veiled. Therefore, a careful study of the scriptures will show that God exists in three persons.

  1. Gen. 1: 1- God is the author and cause of this world. In Hebrew the word used for God is ‘ELOHIM’ {El (Eloah) = singular of God and Elohim is the plural from). The word ‘Elohim’ is used about 2700 times in the Bible when translated it means God.
  2. In the creation account, both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are seen in the work of creation. It is stated that God created heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1), but that it was the Holy Spirit who moved over the earth to infuse it with life in the sense of protecting and participating in the work of creation (Gen. 1:2). Paul says, about Christ, That He is the image of the invisible God … and by Him all things were created. (Col. 1: 15-16, Jn 1: 1)
  3. Gen. 1: 26 read “Let US make man in OUR own likeness and image”.
  4. Gen. 3: 22 read “The man has become like one of Us
  5. Gen. 11: 7 read “Let US go down and confuse the languages……”

      This shows the plurality of God’s nature.

  • In addition, we learn that the persons of the Holy Trinity appeared to Abraham. (Gen. 18: 1- 2 ff.). The LORD appeared to Abraham… and when he looked up he saw three men
  • Prophet Isaiah remarks in Is. 6: 3 – the angels, the Seraphim fly around the throne of God and offer praises three times to God saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty, the entire earth is filled with His Glory. Why Holy three times? It refers to the three persons in the Trinity. Holy is the Father, Holy is the Son and Holy is the Holy Spirit.
  • Writing about the Messiah, Isaiah reveals Him to be equal with God, calling Him the “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father” (Isa. 9:6). In the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah, God made it clear that the One who would be born of the virgin would also be Immanuel, – God with us (Is. 7: 14).
  • The Holy Trinity manifested in the person of St. Mary (Luke 1: 35). Holy Spirit will come upon thee, Power of the Most High (Father) will overshadow you and Holy one who is born will be called the Son.
  • In the Baptism of Jesus Christ Mt. 3: 13-17, we see the trinity at work. Christ, the Second person of the Holy Trinity is being baptised, Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity, descends in the form of a dove and God the Father, the first person of the Holy Trinity says from heaven “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.  This event is called “Theophany” – appearance of God.
  • Baptismal formula: Mt. 28: 19. After His resurrection, Jesus tells His disciples “Go and make disciples, of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit.
  • Benediction Formula: 2 Cor. 13: 14. St Paul greets the Corinthians “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of the God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
  • St Peter in his first sermon after the Lord’s Ascension well elucidates the Trinitarian notion. “This Jesus God has raised up of which we are witnesses, therefore being exalted to the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this,” Acts 2: 32-33.
  • Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His Blood’ 1 Peter 1:1- 2. 
  •  Apostle John writes “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1 John 5: 7. This lays down the faith in the doctrine of Holy Trinity form the Apostolic times
  • “But you my friends……. And pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourself in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life” Jude 20-21.

With all these verses and many more, the Old and New Testament does have ample evidences to elucidate that God is Trinitarian. We cannot ask for the explanation of the Mystery. We have to accept the truth of God and we can understand it and we believe it only through our faith.

So Holy Trinity is in essence One and inseparable, one undivided being but distinct. We must not confuse Them or separate Them.  They are co- inherent. One fits inside the other. Jn. 17: 21 & 14:10. They are co-equal. None is superior to each Other. They are Co-existent. The Father is from the beginning, so is the Son and the Holy Spirit. St. John of Damascus explains, you kindle a fire, and immediately there is light and heat. We cannot say that fire existed before light. Therefore, the Son and the Holy Spirit are co-existent. They are Co-eternal. {Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever; Jesus is the ALPHA & OMEGA i.e. The beginning and the end. Rev. 22: 13; Holy Spirit is called eternal Spirit, Heb. 9: 14} The Father is everywhere, Son is every where, so is the Holy Spirit. The Father is infinite, the son is infinite and so is the Holy Spirit.

So, God is One, Undivided, Inseparable God, revealed in Three Persons. But still Holy Trinity is a mystery. Our minds are finite, and God is infinite. Therefore, it is not possible to comprehend God.  Is. 55: 8-9. “My thoughts are not your thoughts; My ways are not your ways. Heavens are higher than earth. My thoughts are higher than yours and My ways are higher than yours“. It is the infinite that is greater than the finite. The mystery of Holy Trinity can only be believed and cannot be understood with Human limitations. God is a nuclear family. A family divided against itself will not stand. God is a family which is never divided against itself – stands as one CO-EQUAL, CO-ETERNAL, CO- ESSENTIAL, CO-EXISTENT, CO-INHERENT.

A few references to show that the Three Persons of the TRINITY is God.

  1. Fatherhood of God. –  Mt. 5: 48; 6: 26; Jn. 6:27; 1 Cor. 8: 6.
  2. Godhead the Son. – Jn. 1: 1, 18; Jn. 20: 28; Philip. 2: 6; Tit. 2: 12; Heb. 13: 8; Rev. 22: 13;
  3. Godhead the Holy Spirit.  – Lk 1: 35; Jn. 4: 24; 2 Cor. 3: 17; Acts 3: 3ff; Heb. 9: 14.

The word ‘trinity’ should not be confused or does not mean that there are three Gods Tri-theism as such an approach, abandons the biblical oneness of God and the unity within the Trinity.

He, who tries to understand trinity, will fully loose his mind. He, who tries to deny trinity, will loose his soul.  –  Lindsell, Harold


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