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What About Passages That "Prove" the Trinity?

Some people, seeking to buttress their belief in the Trinity, point to a number of biblical passages that supposedly show Father, Son and Holy Spirit operating together as a Trinity. But do these passages really show that? We must be sure to read exactly what these verses do say and what they don't say, and not read into them our own mistaken assumptions.

The Trinity doctrine assumes that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three coequal persons in one divine being. Yet, as we have seen from many quotes from Bible scholars and researchers earlier in this booklet, no biblical passage states any such thing.

So what about verses "proving" the Trinity? Those that are typically cited merely show the operation or involvement of Father, Son and Spirit in some aspect of Christian experience. But this proves nothing with regard to the supposed personhood of the Holy Spirit or whether Father, Son and Spirit are one being. All that can be shown from such examples is that the three exist and that they are in some particular manner involved in whatever is being described—obvious points that are beyond dispute.

As this booklet shows, the testimony of numerous scriptures makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is not a person but is, rather, the power of God through which the Father and Son, who are individual personal Beings within the one God family, both act. Both the Father and Christ are intimately involved in the process of human salvation—and They use Their Spirit in this process. So, quite apart from any acceptance of the Trinity, we should expect that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit would be mentioned together in various contexts.

With that in mind, let's note some verses commonly used to substantiate the Trinity. The principal one people turn to is Matthew 28:19 about baptizing into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The meaning of this verse is explained in "Does Matthew 28:19 Prove the Trinity?". Another verse, 2 Corinthians 13:14, about having fellowship of the Holy Spirit. As shown, neither passage reveals a triune Godhead.

Let's consider more such examples that are used to support belief in a Trinity:

• Matthew 3:16-17: "When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" A supposed indication of threeness: The Son is baptized, the Spirit descends onto Him and the Father issues a declaration from heaven. Yet there is no hint of three persons in one being, as the Trinity doctrine asserts, and the Spirit is not revealed or represented as a person.

• Romans 15:30: "Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me." Again, we only see that Jesus, the Spirit and God the Father exist—not that they form a triune being. "The love of the Spirit" is the love that comes from the Spirit—love, a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), being poured into human hearts through means of the Spirit (Romans 5:5). This says nothing of the Spirit exhibiting personhood.

• Galatians 4:6: "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" The Holy Spirit through which Christ became and lived as the Father's Son is given by the Father to believers that they also might become His sons. Again, there's no three in one or the Holy Spirit as a person here. The Expositor's Bible Commentary leaps far afield in stating of this verse: "Paul now adds Trinitarian teaching, for he is telling us that salvation consists in its fullness of acts by God the Father in sending both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit" (James Boice, Vol. 10, 1976, p. 473). This is utter fiction, as nothing remotely like this is actually stated in this passage or surrounding verses. In fact, rather than Trinitarian exclusivity, this verse shows God expanding divine sonship beyond Jesus the Son.

• Ephesians 2:18: "For through Him [Christ] we both [Jews and gentiles] have access by one Spirit to the Father." Expositor's states regarding this verse that if access through the Holy Spirit is meant, which it surely is, "then the trinitarian implications of this verse are obvious" (Skevington Wood, Vol. 11, 1978, p. 41). Yet are they? The fact is, there is no three-in-one Trinity here at all. All we see is that through Christ we are linked by the same Spirit to the Father. The Spirit is a connective medium in this context, not a person.

• 1 Peter 1:2: "[Believers are] elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." This verse begins with Christians being chosen through the Father's advance determination and ends with forgiveness through Christ's sacrifice. The middle of the verse says we are sanctified—meaning "set apart"— through means of the Holy Spirit. This says nothing about personhood of the Spirit. Setting apart can be accomplished in various ways, such as by an inanimate seal or dividing line. Yet the setting apart in this context concerns being made right before God, which includes His Spirit empowering us to wholeheartedly obey Him. Still, this does not require that the Holy Spirit be a person—only a source of power from God, which, as we will see documented in the next chapter, it assuredly is. Again, Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in concert in a Christian's life—but this implies no Trinitarian doctrine.

• 1 Peter 3:18: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." Jesus died to reconcile us to God the Father and, since His resurrection, He still leads us to the Father. Jesus' resurrection was accomplished by the power of God's Spirit. Again, no personhood is implied here. The Spirit was simply the power and the means, for it was "God the Father who raised Him from the dead" (Galatians 1:1).

What do these various examples and others have in common? None delineate, define, explain or prove the Trinity as they are purported to. They do all show the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as existing and important to Christian life. But none present the Spirit as a person or the Father, Son and Spirit as a triune God. Indeed, such examples don't substantiate the Trinity in any way.

For some useful levity here, let's consider a couple of modern-life parallels to show this even more plainly.

A dentist instructs his dental hygienist to repolish a patient's tooth with a rotary instrument. Therefore, the dentist, hygienist and rotary instrument form a trinity of three persons in one being—the rotary tool that did the work of polishing being obviously a person. Does that follow?

Or how about: A fireman hooked up a hose to a fire hydrant, took aim with the hose and put out a fire. Therefore, the hydrant, hose and fireman form a trinity of three persons in one being. Since all worked to put out the fire, it is clear that all three are persons. Really?

Hopefully you see the point. These examples no more prove a trinity of three persons than the various Bible verses used. Again, let's be clear on what such Bible verses actually do say and on what they certainly don't say—and not fall for what are actually weak and illogical arguments.

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