Above is a screenshot of the Google Images search results for the word “Trinity.” There seem to be a ton of interpretations and designs, and even some Matrix mentions, but what exactly is the Trinity? It’s not a word you’ll find in the Bible; it wasn’t introduced into Christian theology until the 3rd century A.D..
“Trinity” is a word that Christians use in order to describe the incredible and mysterious relationship between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It’s a relationship that people have been trying to explain ever since the dawn of Christianity, but I believe that we, as finite humans, can never fully understand it. We can, through examination of the Scriptures, understand what it is; however, we can never understand how exactly it works. Here are my two cents (or a few dollars!) on the subject. Refer to the picture I made below as you continue reading.
1. Monotheism: we believe in one God
Many people misinterpret the Trinity to mean that Christians believe in three gods: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. However, this is far from the truth; we believe in only one God. As stated most clearly in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.” Our God exists as a single Being.
2. God, one Being, exists in three Persons.
Although God is one Being, he exists in three Persons. What is a being? We are all human beings. Human beings have the particular attribute of having only one Person for each Being. God is not a human being, however; he is the God-being. The God-being is not limited to having only one Person in his Being; rather, he actually has three Persons in his Being. This is incredibly difficult for us to understand, seeing as how we’re in the one-being-one-person framework. Although God exists as only one Being, one entity, he has three different Persons within him.
3. The three Persons are co-equal and co-eternal
Within the God-being, there exist three Persons: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. None of these is greater than the others. They are all equally and infinitely powerful and timeless. You might wonder how this could be when Jesus clearly stated in John 14:28, “…the Father is greater than I.” This is explained by the difference between Nature and Function. Here’s an example from real life: let’s say I work in a company, and my boss is named Jack. If I were to say, “Jack is greater than I am,” what I mean is that in our functions within the company, Jack is greater than I am. Jack is the CEO, and I’m just an employee. However, we are both human beings; we have the same nature. Jack is not greater than me in Nature, only in Function. It’s the same with the God-being. The different Persons in the God-being voluntarily chose different Functions: God is the Father, Jesus is the Savior, and the Holy Spirit is the Comforter and Guider. When Jesus said “the Father is greater than I,” he meant it in the sense of function: God’s particular function was greater than Jesus’s. But Jesus is equal to God in the sense of their nature.
This can also be demonstrated in the Christian life in the relationship between man and woman. According to 1 Corinthians 11, the man is the head of the woman. Since both are human beings, neither is greater than the other in the sense of Nature; the man has just been put into the higher function. This does not mean the man has the right to lord it over or look down on the woman; they are both equal beings. Rather, just as Jesus voluntarily chose to take the function of submitting to God’s authority, so a woman’s function is to submit to a man’s authority. I cannot stress enough, however, that this does not in any way make men superior to women! Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Just as man is the head of woman, so Christ is the head of man. Women are not at all inferior beings.
Back to the topic of the Trinity: let’s review what we’ve learned so far. Christians believe in Monotheism (there is only one God). This one God is one Being who exists in three Persons. He is not like humans, who are limited to one Person per Being. The three Persons in the God-being are all co-equal and co-eternal in Nature; however, they each have a different Function in our lives. This does not make any of them more powerful or important than the others.
I hope that you now have a reasonable understanding of the Trinity! Feel free to print out the picture above, the Triangle of Trinity, as a guide to help you remember the three main points I made. May God bless you as you continue in your search for Truth and understanding!