"In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word trias (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A.D. 180. He speaks of "the Trinity of God [the Father], His Word and His Wisdom ("Ad. Autol.", II, 15). The term may, of course, have been in use before his time. Afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian. In the next century the word is in general use." (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV, 1912)
Did you catch that? The concept of a Triune God did not originate in the teachings of Jesus or the early New Testament church. It first appeared 80 years after the death of the last apostle, John, in 100 A.D. It was at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 that two members of the Alexandrian congregation, Arius, a priest, who believed that Christ was not divine, but a created being; and Athanasius, a deacon who believed that the Father, Son and Spirit are the same being living in a threefold form (or in three relationships, as a man may be at the same time a father, a son and a brother), presented their cases.
A convienent teaching
The Trinity doctrine received its ultimate stamp of approval through the Catholic Church's Council of Nicea. It was not, however, arranged by church leaders and its original purpose was not for spiritual reasons.
"In 325 the Emperor Constantine called an ecclesiastical council to meet at Nicaea in Bithynia. In the hope of securing for his throne the support of the growing body of Christians he had shown them considerable favor and it was to his interest to have the church vigorous and united. " (A History of Christian Thought, Vol. I, p. 258).
One of the primary debates during the council meeting centered around the nature of God. Arius, a priest and member of the Alexandrian congregation, believed that Christ was not God but a created being (a teaching known as Arianism). Athanasius, a deacon who was also an Alexandrian church member, believed that the Father, Son, and Spirit are the same being living in a threefold form. The decision as to which of the two men the church was to follow was a more or less arbitrary one. Constantine really didn't care which choice was made - all he wanted was a united church. The church ultimately decided upon teaching Athanasius explanation of the Godhead. Arius was banished, then later recalled by Constantine, who examined him again and found he was without heresy.
The majority of those present during council meetings were not committed to either explanation of the Godhead.
"A clearly defined standpoint with regard to this problem - the relationship of Christ to God - was held only by the attenuated group of Arians and a far from numerous section of delegates, who adhered with unshaken conviction to the Alexandrian [Athanasius'] view. The bulk of the members occupied a position between these two extreme . . . " (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., article "Nicaea, Council of," page 641)
After the council ended the Triune nature of God became the official dogma of the Catholic church.
Is there Biblical proof?
Probably the most notorious scripture used as "proof" of a Trinity is found in 1John 5, especially in the King James Version Bible.
"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. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." (1John 5:6-8, KJV)
Theologians, however, recognize that words were inserted into this section of scripture probably as late as the eighth century A.D.Notice what Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary wrote:
"The only Greek MSS. [manuscripts], in any form which support the words, 'in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth . . .' are the Montfortianus of Dublin, copied evidently from the modern Latin Vulgate . . . with the words added in the margin by a recent hand"
The most accurate modern translation of these verses in question is:
"This is He Who came by water and blood - Jesus the Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that bears witness because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that bear witness on the earth: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three witness unto the one truth." (HBFV)
To what does the Spirit, the water, and the blood bear witness? They bear record of the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is living His life over again in us. John clarifies this in verses 11-12:
"And this is the witness: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have eternal life." (1John 5:11-12, HBFV)
So what IS the Spirit, the water, and the blood mentioned in 1John 5:8? The Spirit is God's Holy Spirit given to believers upon repentance and baptism. It bears witness of the burial of our old self and the beginning of a new life (Romans 6:1-6). The water is the water of baptism which washes our past sins away. The blood represents Christ's death by crucifixion, which pays the penalty for our sins, reconciling us to God (Romans 5:9-10). All three show that Jesus came to save human beings from permanent death which Adam and Eve earned when they chose of the wrong way to live and humans have been doing this ever since.
Who was and is Jesus?
Who was, and is, Jesus Christ? Jesus, the Eternal, self-existent One is the Spokesman for God Almighty and the Creator of all things as outlined in the Book of Genesis. He is also the LORD God of the Old Testament who became Christ in the flesh in the New Testament. He is the one who will return back to this earth to re-establish the Kingdom of God (the true gospel message), rule from His throne in Jerusalem for more than 1,000 years and rebuild this world from the ground up according to God's original standards. Once that is accomplished and the world is cleansed with fire, He will turn it over to God the Father, who along with the Holy City in the third heaven, will come to this earth which will then become the new headquarters of the universe (Revelation 21-22).
The Apostle John began his Gospel by describing who and what Jesus was before He came to this earth as the savior of mankind.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . ." (John 1:1).
If we read no further in the New Testament than this, we would be able to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ was God and that He is the One who created man in Genesis 2:7. John clearly states that the Word - the One who became Christ - created all things. Had Christians clearly understood these verses there would have never been any doctrinal controversy regarding Jesus or the Godhead. John is not, however, the only New Testament writer who wrote about the pre-existence of Christ. Paul also wrote about the nature of Jesus.
"Now I do not wish you to be ignorant of this, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. And they all ate the same spiritual meat. And they all drank of the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them. AND THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST." (1Corinthians 10:1-4, HBFV)
Paul clearly tells us that Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament - the One who spoke to Moses and led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Six hundred years before Christ, the Prophet Daniel recorded for us a vision.
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days . . ." (Daniel 7:13).
The "Son of man" he described can be none other than the One who later became Jesus Christ. Daniel then saw Him given rulership and a Kingdom that will never be destroyed (verse 14). The "Son of man" mentioned here could hardly be a mere physical human being! The Ancient of Days, in this instance, is the divine Being who is called the Father in the New Testament. Jesus Christ referred to the same occurrence as mentioned in this vision in His parable of the nobleman (Himself) who went to a far country (heaven) to receive a kingdom, and to return (Luke 19:12). The duality of the God family was also referred to in Psalm 110 by David.
"The LORD said unto my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies as Your footstool.'" (Psalm 110:1, HBFV)
Two different Lords are mentioned here. One is God the Father and the other is the One who became Jesus Christ. Paul quoted this passage to the Jewish Christians - applying it directly to Jesus Christ:
"But unto which of the angels did He ever say, 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet'?" (Hebrews 1:13, HBFV)
Was the Son also Divine? Verse 8 answers this question.
"But on the other hand, of the Son He says, 'Your throne, O God, is into the ages of eternity . . .'" (verse 8, HBFV)
Jesus Revealed the Father
A clear distinction is made in the New Testament between Christ and the Father. The God that Moses saw and heard was not the Father.
"No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18).
Christ came to earth to, among other things, reveal the Father and to show a family relationship that exists in the Godhead. But more about that later. Unless Jesus had revealed the Father to us, there is no way for us to know Him.
"All things were delivered to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son personally chooses to reveal Him." (Matthew 11:27, HBFV)
The Holy Spirit
Jesus Christ is, was and always will be God. You can search the Bible from cover to cover, however, and you will not find ANY teaching stating the Holy Spirit is God just like the Father and Christ. The Bible simply does not teach that the Holy Spirit is a third member of the divine family.
"The New Testament begins the work, but does not finish it; for it contains no similar teaching [like John 1:1-18 concerning the divinity of Christ] with regard to the Holy Spirit. The unique nature and mission of Christ are traced to a ground in the being of God; but similar ground for the divineness of the Spirit is nowhere shown." (An Outline of Christian Theology, Dr. W. N. Clarke, page 168).
"The Old Testament clearly does not envisage God's spirit as a person, neither in the strictly philosophical sense, nor in the Semitic sense. . . . If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God . . . " (New Catholic Encyclopedia)
Theologians have to recognize that there is no biblical proof for the divinity or personality of the Spirit. And that in order to arrive at a doctrine of the Trinity, they have to go outside of the Bible. Since, as theologians recognize, the Bible is not the source of this doctrine, how can they square it with the Bible teaching that inspired Scripture should be the source of doctrine? (2 Timothy 3:16). The answer is, they can't. They must freely admit the painful facts.
The personality of Jesus Christ is thoroughly provable from the Bible, but there is no such proof for a personality of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, God's Spirit is pictured as His power - the power by which the One who became Jesus Chris created the entirety of the universe.
What is the Spirit? The Spirit, or Holy Spirit, as it is called in the New Testament, was the power by which Jesus Christ was begotten.
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost [Spirit]" (Matthew 1:18).
Joseph received a special visitor just before he was about to put Mary away because she was pregnant.
"the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost [Spirit]" (Matthew 1:20).
Jesus was begotten in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was literally born with God's Spirit in His mind. He became His Son and died for us that we might have the same opportunity to become like him. The Apostle Paul plainly taught this vital scriptural truth that we just read in Romans 8.
"The Spirit itself bears witness conjointly with our own spirit, testifying that we are the children of God.' (Romans 8:16, HBFV)
Paul goes on to point out in Hebrews 1 that Jesus Christ is the heir of all things. We then have the opportunity, if we have God's Spirit in our minds, to inherit all things with Jesus Christ. The spirit unites with our minds, and we are as begotten (or conceived) again - this time spiritually - not as we originally were, physically. We become a new person.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1Peter 1:3).
God is actually a family, not a closed Trinity. The Hebrew word for "God" used in Genesis 1:1 and 26 is Elohim. Elohim is plural in form. Though this word taken by itself does not prove that there are two beings in the Godhead, it does allow for the plurality that is clearly indicated in other parts of the Bible.
By what we can understand from the rest of the Bible, this word Elohim can act like our English words "family," "group," "church," or "crowd." These words are often regarded as singular and take a singular verb form, but they all contain more than one member. Paul exemplifies this for us in when speaking about the Church.
"But now are they many members, yet but one body." (1Corinthians 12:20)
Belief in a Trinity clouds the real purpose that our Father has in store for mankind. If we are taught that he is a closed Triune of three persons, we lose sight of the fact that his real purpose is to create many more members of his family. Look at the creation account in Genesis 1. Fish are created after the fish kind, birds after the bird kind, and animals after the animal kind. But in verse 26 he made man - not after any of the animal kinds, but after his kind - in his image and likeness.
"And God (Elohim) said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of heaven and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that crawls upon the earth.'" (Genesis 1:26, HBFV)
The Apostle John understood God's plans for mankind.
"Behold! What glorious love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God! For this very reason, the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be; but we know that when He is manifested, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him exactly as He is." (1John 3:1-2, HBFV)
Jesus Christ became flesh, died and was resurrected as a part of the plan to make man like He and the Father. We are begotten sons now, and will be born his sons at the resurrection.
"Because it was fitting for Him, for Whom all things were created, and by Whom all things exist, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Author of their salvation perfect through sufferings." (Hebrews 2:10).
God the Father is the One who brings us to repentance. Jesus Christ, the Son, is the one who died so that we can have our past sins forgiven. The Holy Spirit is the power by which the Father begets us. It is not a person or part of a Trinity-based Godhead. It is the power emanating from the God the Father and Jesus Christ through which they accomplish their will.