Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The Trinity is Not a Pagan Concept
The doctrine of the Trinity is the most debated subject between all the cults like Quiboloy, Jehovah Witness, Mormons, etc. The attacker always tries to point out that Abraham and his descendants worshipped just one God and that Christians came many years later (at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.) and changed the worship of the One True God to the pagan worship of three different gods. But this is not what the Bible or Christian history teaches. The biblical and historical facts actually prove that God has always been the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I will answer the following three main objections to the Trinity: (1) “How can God be three in one, since 1+1+1=3, not 1?” (2) “Since the Bible teaches there is only One God, why do you now say there is three?” (3) Why Don’t We See the Trinity in the Old Testament? And then for a added bonus I will show in church history that long before the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. the Christians believed and taught the triune nature of God.
QUESTION ONE: “How can God be three in one, since 1+1+1=3, not 1?”
Psalm 89:8, “O LORD God Almighty, who is like you?”
The first problem that cults have with understanding the Trinity is their lack of comprehending the complex mysterious nature of God. Many false teachers claim that it is impossible for something to be three and one at the sometime. They will say that it is the same as believing in a circle that is a square. They will use earthly examples and say things like “How can a father and a son be the same person?” The detractor simply does not believe that God could be one and three persons at the same time.
Therefore, it is the first priority of the Christian to teach the skeptic what the Bible says about God, namely His divine attributes. God is all-knowing (omniscient), God is ever-present (omnipresent), and God is all-powerful (omnipotent). Can a human truly understand how God knows everything, meaning there has never been a time when God didn’t know something? Can a human really understand and grasp that? Can a human truly understand how God is always present in ever place at every time throughout eternity? Can a person really grasp how God never moves, but yet is always present? And lastly can a personal really understand how God created matter, space, and time with a spoken Word? And how all power, all energy, all light comes from Him and He controls it all like turning a light switch on and off? No, man cannot understand the greatness of God, God is far above man’s mind and understanding.
David said it best in Psalm 89:5-8, “5 The heavens praise your wonders, Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. 6 For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? 7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. 8 Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you”
The great lesson that David is teaching in this Psalm is “who is like the Lord?” And the answer is simple, no one. God is God because He is in a category all by Himself. Why? Because God can do whatever He wants, He can be whatever He wants, and He does not have to compare Himself to anything else or explain Himself to His creation. God is God whether man understands Him or not.
Therefore, the right question isn’t, “Can God be three in one?” Because of course God can be three in one. He already defies every thing in the natural world because He created the natural world. He is above matter, space, and time; He is not limited in anything.
The better question to ask is, “What does the Scriptures reveal who God is?” Why? Because whatever the Scriptures say He is, He is. Whether it makes sense to man’s cantaloupe size brain or not, God is who He said He is whether or not we understand it. It is the job of all people to study what God says about Himself and worship Him the way He has commanded.
Listen to what men who knew God said about His glorious and mysterious nature and read my comments below:
Exodus 15:11, “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”
Comment: Moses said that among the gods there was none like the Lord. He declared that no one is as awesome as God. Moses truly understood that God was beyond his understanding. It is the pride of man’s heart that tries to explain everything about God and if he cannot then he says God is illogical. Man is here to know and worship God as He reveals Himself to man, not as man wants Him to be and as man wants to worship Him.
Psalm 113:4-6, “4 The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, 6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth.”
Comment: Here David says it again that no one is like God. He gives the illustration that God is greater to man than the heavens are to the earth. He declares that God’s glory is even above the heavens. Maybe a few prophets can say they have been to the heavens, but who can say they have been above the heavens? No one but God. Therefore, only God can speak about Himself and describe who He really is.
Ezekiel 1:4-6, 15-18,25-28, “4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north —an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings…”
“…15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels:They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went. 18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around…”
“…25 Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. 26 Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”
Comment: Ezekiel saw a vision of the Lord’s glory like no one had ever seen. He also saw creatures he had never seen before or even heard of, he saw objects and movements of these objects that defy imagination and human understanding, and lastly and most importantly He sees God in the appearance of a man like a rainbow on a rainy day.
Did Ezekiel understand God in this way before the vision? Of course not, God defied all the laws of nature and Ezekiel’s, God showed Ezekiel that He could be whoever He wants to be and do whatever He wants to do. If God looked and acted within Ezekiel’s understanding, Ezekiel wouldn’t have fallen on his face, the whole point of the supernatural power of God is that it is “super-natural!”
God showed him things he had never even seen or heard before, that is why it is called a “revelation.” God did not come and try to explain everything to Him, God simply showed up and showed Ezekiel His glory. Non-believers and Christians alike need to humble themselves before God and let Him show Himself in whatever ways He chooses and then we should worship Him for who He is, not who we think He should be.
So to answer the question, “How can God be three in one, since 1+1+1=3, not 1?” How? Because He is God and he can be whatever or whomever He chooses to be. Also, if you just changed it to 1x1x1 it does equal 3! Therefore, stop trying to figure out God your way and let Him reveal Himself to you!
Paul said it best in 1 Timothy 3:16, “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great!” It is not our job to put God in a box, like a frog in science class, and try to explain Him to everyone so it makes sense to their carnal mind. Rather it is our job to take our mind out of the box of human limitation and let God reveal who He is according to His Word.
QUESTION TWO: “Since the Bible teaches there is only One God, why do you now say there is three?”
Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
The second problem that cults have with understanding the Trinity is the very definition of it, the creed that best describes the Trinity is called the Athanasian Creed and it says,
“…we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, Neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one; the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, buy one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords Lords, but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There be three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together and coequal, so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.
He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.”
Therefore, it is easy to see that the Christian is not claiming that there are now “three gods,” the Christian is a monotheist, which means we believe in the worship of only One God. At the same time the Christian believes that the whole Bible teaches that God is known in three distinct persons. It is can be easily understood in the following statement, “God is what He is, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is who he is.” Or “God is the “what” and the Father, Son, and Holy is the “who.”
Also, Dr. James White a Christian Scholar defines the Trinity by saying, “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” So it is clear by most attacks on the Trinity by non-believers that they simply do not understand or state correctly what the Christian is saying. The Christian is not claiming that there are three gods in the Godhead or that there is One Person that is called God that is the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. But simply the Christian is saying that there is one true God revealed in three distinct persons that are coequal and coeternal.
Therefore, because of the following misunderstandings the Christian must first build a bridge of understanding between the objections and the doctrine of the Trinity to help everyone truly understand what it means to be a “monotheist” that believes in the in a “complex unity.” Below is a helpful chart to show how Christians are both monotheists (because we worship only One God) and are also Trinitarian (because we worship three distinct persons as the one God).
THREE FOUNDATIONS OF THE TRINITY
FOUNDATION ONE: Monotheism: There is only One God.
FOUNDATION TWO: Complex Unity: There are Three Divine Persons.
FOUNDATION THREE: Equality: The Three persons are Coequal & Coeternal
(a) Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
Moses taught the people of Israel this declaration that is called the “Shema,” it declares that there is only God who is Lord. As a result, the Christian agrees completely with this and declares that the Father is Lord, Jesus is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord, yet there are not three Lords, but One and the Same Lord. The Father is declared Lord in Isaiah 63:16, “But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name” The Son is called Lord in 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” And lastly, the Holy Spirit is Lord in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
(b) Isaiah 43:10, “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”
The prophet Isaiah teaches that there is only One God. There has been no God before Him, nor will there be another God after Him. The Christian believes this because the Trinity states that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always been God.
- The Father Has Always Been God: James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
- Jesus Has Always Been God: John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
- The Holy Spirit Has Always Been God: Hebrews 9:14, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
Foundation TWO & THREE // Complex Unity & Equality: There Are Three Divine Persons That Are Coeternal and Coequal
(a) Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This is one of the most powerful verses that teach the equality of the Trinity; Jesus says to baptize new believers in the one name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not say, “names,” but rather singular “name,” thus proving that Yahweh is the One divine name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. They share the same nature. Just like there is one human race, but many different persons, there is one God race (or being), but three different persons that are all equal.
Also, remember our previous study in John 1:1-18 that clearly shows that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are not just different titles for Jesus. Rather, the Bible clear teaches that they are separate persons sharing the same nature. For example, Jesus didn’t send Himself, the Father sent Jesus, John 3:16 & 1 John 4:14. And the Father did not die on the cross for our sins, the Son did.
Though the three persons of the Trinity are one in nature and purpose (John 14:9), they are not the same person (John 14:28). Meaning, Jesus is not a high priest and mediator within Himself, He is actually ministering on our behalf to the Father, 1 Timothy 2:5 & Romans 8:34. Also, to see all three persons at the same time read again Jesus’ baptism- the Father speaks from heaven, the Son is in the water, and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove. One would have to be ignorant to read these verses and think Jesus is talking to Himself, while being baptized, and descending like a dove! Matthew 3:16-17, “16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
(b) Galatians 4:6, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
Paul in the above verse gives a clear picture of how each person in the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) all equally share in the work of salvation. Meaning, the Father sent the Spirit of the Son into the hearts of the children of God so that new believers can cry out to God now as their Father.
(c) Verses That Prove All Three Separate Persons Share The Same Attributes of God
Work of Creation
- Father: Isaiah 40:28, 43:15
- Son: John 1:2-3 & Colossians 1:16
- Holy Spirit: Job 33:4
Work of Salvation
- Father: Isaiah 43:11 & 1 Timothy 2:3
- Son: John 4:42 & Titus 2:13
- Holy Spirit: 1 Peter 1:2, 22 & Romans 8:14
Work of Holy Scripture
- Father: Exodus 34:1
- Son: Matthew 22:37
- Holy Spirit: 1 Timothy 4:1 & Revelation 2:7
Therefore, when an open-minded reader studies the Bible in its entirety it is easy to see that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Whether it is in the Old Testament descriptions of what God does or the New Testament doctrinal creeds that the early church would sing as worship songs to God, it is clear that there is One God that is revealed in three distinct persons, namely the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
QUESTION THREE: “If the Trinity is true then why didn’t the Old Testament prophets worship God that way?”
This section will look at three Old Testament saints and show that they were given the revelation of the one true God revealed in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We will examine: (a) Abraham’s Visitor, (b) Daniel’s Son of Man, & (c) Isaiah’s Mighty God.
(a) Abraham’s Visitor
The Bible records that the Lord and two angels visited Abraham on the Plains of Mamre. The Lord appeared to him in the form of a man. The Bible says that Abraham washed the Lord’s feet and that he even feed the Lord food.
Genesis 18:1-5, “1 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. 3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
Who was this visitor? Moses heard the Lord say in Exodus 33:20, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” So how could Abraham see His face, wash His feet, and have a meal with Him? Because it was the pre-incarnate Jesus, the Son of God, the Lord of Lords. In other words, Abraham saw God the Son, not God the Father. If God the Son and Father were the person (like Apollo believes) then the Bible would be contradicting itself because Genesis clearly states that Abraham saw God! That is why John writes in John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
So even though Abraham might not have understood the Trinity to the same extent that the disciples did, he certainly knew that His visitor was God, and though God was not supposed to appear to Him as a man, there in his tent was the Lord. But the story doesn’t stop there, soon after the meal the Lord says to Abraham that later in the year he will come to back to him and give him a child through Isaac.
Genesis 18:10, “Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
However, the Bible never says that the Lord comes back to Abraham in the form of a man. But rather the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit, who is also Lord, came back to Abraham and gave Sarah Isaac, the child of promise.
Galatians 4:28-29, “28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.”
So it is clear from the above verses that Abraham was given the beginnings of the revelation of who God was in His complex nature. He didn’t have to understand it- like he didn’t have to understand the end of the world as taught in Revelation. However, by faith He worshipped the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Abraham knew the voice of the Father who spoke to Him from heaven (Genesis 15:1), he knew the Son who eat and visited with him in his tent, and he knew the Holy Spirit that gave him the child of promise. Even though Abraham might not have recognized the term “trinity,” if you would have asked him, “Whom do you worship?” He would have said, “The Lord.” And if you would have then asked, “Who is the Lord?” He probably would have said, “The Lord is the Voice from heaven, the Man who I ate with, and the Spirit that gave me a child!”
(b) Daniel’s Vision
When the Israelites were taken captive by the Babylonians they were forced to move from Israel and live in Babylon. There in Babylon the best men were picked to work for the king. One of those young men was Daniel. Daniel was a very special Israelite because God gave him dreams and visions and spoke to him about the future of Israel and the last days.
During one of Daniel’s visions the Bible records that he saw the Ancient of Days (who he knew to be the Lord) give the “Son of Man” all authority and power over the earth. He also saw the Son of Man receive worship and be given an everlasting kingdom. This was a shocking revelation to Daniel, but nonetheless, He understood that both persons he was seeing were God, because only God is worthy of worship.
Then he saw a “river of fire” flowing from the Ancient of Days, this fire was the Holy Spirit, like seen on Pentecost in Acts 2:1-3. Read for yourself and see Daniel’s amazing encounter with the Trinity!
Daniel 7:9-14, “9 “As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. 11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.) 13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
Just like with all the dreams and visions the prophets had before Jesus they were not able to grasp their full meaning, however, today we can read their writings and come to a ful understanding of their revelations. Jesus said in Matthew 13:17, “For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
(c) Isaiah’s Prophecies
One of Israel’s greatest prophets in the Bible was Isaiah; he had personally saw the Lord in Isaiah 6. And the apostle John said in John 12:41 that it was Jesus (the Son) that He saw, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” As a result, Isaiah was called by God to go to Israel and warn them hundreds of years ahead of time that if they did not stop sinning God would judge them and send them into exile. Even though Israel did not obey his message God gave him a great understanding of who He was.
Some of Isaiah’s prophecies are the most important and descriptive verses for the 1st and 2nd coming of Jesus and the role of the Messiah. Whether or not Isaiah understood the full depth of his revelations is unsure, but one thing is sure, that God showed Him a glimpse of His triune nature. Below is a list of some of the messages God gave through Isaiah concerning Jesus hundreds of years before He was even born.
Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Isaiah 9:6-7, “6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
Isaiah 42:6-8, “6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. 8 “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.”
Therefore, although Isaiah may not have totally understood who the Mighty God was or how Immanuel was going to come in the physical line of David, but he certainly was given a chance to see God for who He really is. This shows that God has always been the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Also, notice how Isaiah 42:6 declares that Jesus, not Apollo Quiboloy, is the light of the Gentiles. Thus, Isaiah was one of those prophets that were given a deeper revelation of the nature of God in the Old Testament.
Church History Proves the Disciples Believed in the Trinity
The New Testament, along with the Old, clearly teaches the triune nature of God. Though it was not until the Council of Nicaea that all the terms were defined and clearly written out for everyone to understand, it can be most easily seen in the writings of the earliest church leaders. It was a core belief to the early church that Jesus and Holy Spirit was as much God as the Father was. Therefore, in their writings the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are always seen as the one divine being which is called God, and yet three distinct persons with different roles and activity. Below are some of the writings of the first disciple’s disciples that taught the triune nature of God.
Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 6 | 160 A.D.
In Justin’s letter of defense to the Romans he clearly states that Christians are not “atheists” on account they do not worship the Roman pagan gods, but rather worship the one true God revealed in Scripture. In this chapter Justin clearly defines that he and the Christians of his day worshipped and adored the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit as the “most true God.”
“Hence are we called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.”
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 20, Verse 5 | 180 A.D.
In this letter Irenaeus clearly shows the difference in the persons and roles of the one true God. This proves that the early church had no problem believing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were one and the same God, but at the same time were different persons with different roles. Irenaeus states that the one God has been seen through the Spirit, the Son, and the Father and that each divine person complements the other and works together to bring eternal life to man.
“For God is powerful in all things, having been seen at that time indeed, prophetically through the Spirit, and seen, too, adoptively through the Son; and He shall also be seen paternally in the kingdom of heaven, the Spirit truly preparing man in the Son of God, and the Son leading him to the Father, while the Father, too, confers [upon him] incorruption for eternal life, which comes to every one from the fact of his seeing God.”
Tertullian, Letter on Modesty, Chapter 21 | 198 A.D.
Tertullian was known to be the first to adopt the term “trinity” to define the unity of the three divine persons. This is not to say he was the first to believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit were the one true God, but he was the first to begin to try to explain the nature of God with terms that people would remember. Therefore, he is the first disciple to use the term “trinity” to describe God’s nature.
It is good to also notice that he is not in a place in this letter of stating new doctrine but rather he is making a point about the state of the church and he then refers to the nature of God as an example for the unity of the church. This proves that equality and unity of God within the three divine persons was not “new doctrine,” but rather accepted as common and was understood to be true by every Christian of his day.
“For the very Church itself is, properly and principally, the Spirit Himself, in whom is the Trinity of the One Divinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
Tertullian, Letter Against Praxeas, Chapter 9 | 213 A.D.
At the end of Tertullian’s life he could clearly define and defend the orthodox Trinitarian view of God’s nature. Here in this letter against the heresies of Praxeas, Tertullian writes chapter after chapter on the triune nature of God. He uses many scriptures and examples from the Bible to prove that God is the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. His teachings would prove very instrumental in the coming years against such attacks like those of Arius who would deny Jesus’ and the Holy Spirit’s divinity. Notice this letter is over 100 years before Constantine’s conversion and the council of Nicaea.
Also, Tertullian was useful in defeating the heresy that God was one person who took different forms called the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit (which Apollo teaches known today as, “Oneness Theology”). He stated in this passage that the Father, Son, and the Spirit are “inseparable,” but yet they are distinct from each other as persons.
This is important to know because some people of his day tried to say that the Father was the Son in the form of man and the Son was the Spirit in spiritual nature, thus making them all one person, but appearing in different forms. Tertullian clearly states that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same one God, but yet three distinct persons. Meaning, the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, yet they are one God.
“Bear always in mind that this is the rule of faith which I profess; by it I testify that the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit are inseparable from each other, and so will you know in what sense this is said. Now, observe, my assertion is that the Father is one, and the Son one, and the Spirit one, and that They are distinct from Each Other.”
Cyprian, Treatises, Chapter 1, Verse 6 | 250 A.D.
Cyprian was a great defender and teacher of the Trinity. As with the other church leaders Cyprian understood the belief for the Trinity as being orthodox and accepted by all Christians well before the formation of the Roman Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome. Many times in his writings he uses the word Trinity to defend other points, such as the unity of the church. Therefore, his writings serve along side of Tertullian as another example of the wide and uniformed acceptance of the Trinity in the early years of the church.
Here in this verse he states that Jesus was one with the Father in the same sense the Spirit is one with the Father and Son. And thus all three persons- the Father, Son, and Spirit are all one God.
“The Lord says, “I and the Father are one;” and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, “And these three are one.” And does any one believe that this unity which thus comes from the divine strength and coheres in celestial sacraments, can be divided in the Church, and can be separated by the parting asunder of opposing wills? He who does not hold this unity does not hold God’s law, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation.”
Putting it All Together
The word “trinity” is a term Christians made to describe the three divine persons of God’s nature. Tertullian was the first church theologian to use the word trinity around 200 A.D. (approximately 100 years after the death of the last Apostle- John).
The term itself simply means, “tri-unity or three-in-one.” Some cults like Apollo Quiboloy have tried to claim that the concept of the Trinity was taken from the pagan religions that worshipped three gods, like a “triad.” However, as one can clearly see in Matthew 28:19 Jesus taught and believed the Trinity to be true.
Take for example the Greeks who worshipped three main gods- Zeus, Athena, and Apollo and the Hindu religion that worshipped- Brahma, Vishnua, and Sheva- each of these pagan religions considered the three gods to be separate and not “one.” However, Christianity, based in Judaism, affirms one God revealed in three persons. Thus, simply referring to the worship of a “triad” or “three separate gods” has nothing in common with the trinity. It is like comparing a “house” with a “mouse” because they sound the same.
The concept of the trinity was concealed in the Old Testament through the Jewish prophecies and experiences. The New Testament revealed the triune nature of God through the person of Jesus and the sending of the Holy Spirit. Neither Jesus, nor His followers, would have every believed in “polytheism” (many gods) because the Jews were strictly instructed to only serve one God, “monotheism,” Deuteronomy 6:4.
At the same time, when Jews studied their Scriptures they were left with great mysteries surrounding God’s nature. God was said not to meet with people face-to-face (Exodus 33:20), yet Abraham and Moses saw God face to face, Genesis 18:22-23 & Exodus 33:11).
God was said to not be a man, yet Isaiah prophesied that a child would be called, “Mighty God,” Isaiah 9:6. And it was strictly forbidden to bow down and worship anyone other than God, however, Daniel saw in a vision “one like the Son of Man” come to the Ancient of Days and receive worship from all of creation, Daniel 7:13-14.
When Jesus came He was called, Immanuel, which means, “God with us,” Matthew 1:23. John declared in His Gospel that Jesus (the Word) had always existed with the Father and was Himself in very nature God, John 1:1-18. Even Jesus Himself while on earth continually made statements that were considered blasphemous to the Jews because He made Himself equal to God by saying things like, “Before Abraham was, I am,” John 8:58.
Though false teachers like Quiboloy may wrongfully slander the term Trinity, it is fully known in the Bible from front to back. Therefore, I would encourage you to read the Bible and see for yourself the following three foundations taught concerning God’s nature,
(a) Foundation One: There is only one God worthy of worship who is all knowing, all-powerful, and ever present, Isaiah 43:10. (b) Foundation Two: Three divine persons claim to be God and act as one God- the Father, the Son (also known as the “Word” and “Jesus”), and the Holy Spirit, 2 Corinthians 13:14; and Lastly, (c) Foundation Three: The three divine persons are equal in their nature as God, Matthew 28:19.
The prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 40:18 concerning God’s unique nature, “With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him?” Therefore, don’t fall for the old tricks of the devil and think that if you cannot fully comprehend God’s nature it must be “mythological or pagan” in origin. God is God and we are not, period. Rather, come to the Holy Scriptures with a humble heart and let God blow your mind!
 James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 26.
 Ibid, 28.