about the Trinity
The doctrine of the Trinity is regarded as fundamental by many
churches, although the word “trinity” nowhere appears
in the Bible. In fact, the word did not even appear in Christian
literature until the beginning of the third century. Tertullian,
who introduced the word, used it in a very different way than
it is used today. The Father alone, he wrote, was without beginning:
the Son had a beginning, and his pre-human existence was of the
angelic nature. The oneness of the Father and the Son was a oneness
of purpose and will.
Early Church Writers
Both Protestant and Catholic Bible scholars recognize that the
doctrine of the Trinity did not become church dogma until the
fourth century. Early church writers were emphatic in asserting
that the Father was superior to the Son, and as late as the third
century the majority regarded the Spirit of God as merely a divine
power, and not another person.1 The Jews, whom God dealt with
exclusively during the Old Testament times, never believed in
a triune God. The rabbinical writings (Talmud) which date from
Old Testament times are voluminous, yet the concept of a trinity
is not once mentioned in them. The New Catholic Encyclopedia concedes
that the doctrine of the Trinity is not taught in the Old Testament.2
Neither does the New Testament teach this doctrine.
The words of Jesus in the New Testament clearly teach that the
Father is a being that is superior to the Son.
“I can of mine own self do nothing . . . my judgment is
just because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father
which hath sent me.” John 5:30
“. . . my Father is greater than I.” John 14:28
“. . . as my Father hath sent me, even so I send you.”
“. . . I ascend unto my Father, and your Father: and to
my God and your God.” John 20:17
In the last verse quoted above, note that the Heavenly Father
is said to be the God of Jesus. And Jesus spoke of his Father
(John 17:3) as the “only true God.”
The Word was with God
John 1:1 is frequently cited in support of the doctrine of the
Trinity, for our common version says that the “. . . Word
was with God and the Word was God.” But that expression
contains a contradiction, for how can the Word be God and be with
God at the same time? This contradiction is not found in the Greek
“. . . the Word was with the God and a god was the Word.”
John 1:1 (See the Emphatic Diaglott Interlinear)
translation expressed the thought that the Apostle John intended:
that our Lord was with “the God” (our Heavenly Father)
and that our Lord was “a god” (a mighty godlike one).
The night before he was crucified, Jesus prayed to the Father
(John 17:5) that, when resurrected, he might have “. . .
the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” And
God granted this request that Jesus made that night in Gethsemane,
for Paul tells us (Philippians 2:9) that God has “. . .
highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every
I and My Father are One
Truly, Jesus is a god, a mighty one, a ruler. But he is not the
Supreme Deity. Whenever the Bible uses the word “God”
in the sense of a supreme Deity, it is referring to the Father
alone – never to the Son. True, Jesus said, “I and
my Father are one.” (John 10:30) But he later explained
that this is the same oneness that was to exist between him and
his disciples: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name
those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.”
(John 17:11) The oneness of the Father and the Son is a oneness
of purpose and will. God is the author, Jesus the honored executor,
of the Father’s plans. Thus Paul writes: “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.” (1 Corinthians 8:6) The high spiritual glory
that Jesus now enjoys (Philippians 2:8, 9) was received as a gift
from the Father, a reward for his obedience on earth. Peter also
speaks of this relationship between God and Jesus, saying (Acts
5:30, 31) “The God of our Fathers raised up Jesus . . .
him hath God exalted.” And Paul reminds us (Hebrews 1:4)
that Jesus “. . . hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent
name” than the angels.
That “God the Father” is a separate and superior being
to “Jesus the Son” is evident by our Lord’s
obedience to God’s commands. (Hebrews 5:8; John 4:34; Luke
22:42) The fact that many of the secrets of God’s plan were
not revealed to Jesus until after his resurrection (Mark 13:32;
Revelation 5:1-4) shows that the Father and the Son were separate
beings but with a “oneness” of character and purpose.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is neither God nor Lord. Nowhere in the Bible
is the Holy Spirit called “God.” Many of the New Testament
epistles open with greetings from the Father and the Son, but
the Holy Spirit never sends greetings – because it is not
a person. The Spirit of God is not another God, but the power
or influence emanating from the one true God, and from his Son,
Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:21; Luke 4:1, 14, 18
The “Spirit of God,” the “Spirit of Truth,”
the “Spirit of Liberty,” the “Spirit of Understanding,”
and the “Spirit of Love” are a few of the Scriptural
terms used to describe the one mind, the disposition or influence
of God. These are not titles of one or more Gods, any more than
the opposite terms – The “Spirit of Error,”
the “Spirit of Fear,” the “Spirit of Slumber,”
and the “Spirit of Antichrist” – are names of
one or more devils.
The Holy Spirit is the power that energized the true Christian
in the service of the Lord (Romans 8:11) It is the power that
enabled the prophets to work miracles. (Judges 14:6) It is “shed”
abundantly upon believers of this age (Titus 3:6), and during
the reign of Christ it is to be “poured out upon all flesh.”
Joel 2:28; Zechariah 12:10
Those who advocate the dogma of the Trinity concede that it is
a mystery which nobody can understand. The true teachings of the
Bible are entirely reasonable and contain no contradictions which
must be rationalized under the heading of “mystery.”
The Father is really a father; the Son is truly a son. When Jesus
died on our behalf, he actually died.
But what is the source of this doctrine? If it was not taught
in the Bible, and was not believed by the early church, where
did it begin? After the twelve apostles died, a gradual falling
away from the original faith occurred. Great numbers of Pagans
entered the church, bringing with them Pagan ideas. The Trinity
is one of many Pagan concepts which corrupted Christian doctrine
during the early centuries of the Christian era. Originating in
Babylon, the “trinity concept” spread throughout the
ancient world, and became a prominent feature of the Grecian Roman,
Egyptian, Japanese, Indian, Siberian, Scandinavian, and Persian
1. Adolf Harnack, OUTLINES OF THE HISTORY OF DOGMA, trans. E.
K. Mitchell (Starr King Press), 1957, p. 266 (a Trinitarian source).
NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, 1967 edition, Vol. XIV, p. 306.
The wise Christian will not establish his faith upon human traditions,
which he is cautioned to avoid. (Colossians 2:8) It is the duty
and privilege of every Christian to study the Bible for himself.
To assist you in this endeavor please see our literature list.