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What to tell one of Jehovah’s Witnesses concerning the Trinity



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  1. What to tell one of Jehovah's Witnesses concerning the Trinity


Answering the Watchtower: My Side of a Dialog with a Jehovah’s Witness Concerning the Trinity

by David Kowalski

It is good for us to be challenged concerning our beliefs because we must consequently study the issues involved for ourselves. Christians should be prepared for the questions addressed to us by people of different belief systems especially when these involve our most essential doctrines. These challengers are at times more well versed in their objections to our essentials than we are in our knowledge of them. I believe no other biblical teaching has been as misrepresented or as aggressively attacked as the doctrine of the Trinity. In the pages that follow I document my response to a Jehovah’s Witness who asked me for biblical justification for this doctrine.

A Reliable Bible

You have asked for me to explain for you the doctrine of the Trinity from the Scriptures. The first step in such an explanation is for me to explain to you (in answer to your question) what I think constitutes a reliable translation of the scriptures.

The fist three things I look at in evaluating a translation are any influences upon the translators, the qualifications of the translators, and the evaluation of the scholarly community (Christian and non-Christian).

1) Influence

Scholars believe the New World Translation was influenced by the Emphatic Diaglot, a translation done by Benjamin Wilson, a self-educated Christadelphian (similar to Jehovah’s Witnesses) who was unqualified to translate and was doctrinally biased.

Conclusion – influence suspect

2) Qualifications

Although the Watchtower organization is secretive about the translators of the New World Translation (I fully understand their secrecy on this matter) former members of the Society revealed the identities of the translation committee members as Frederick W. Franz, Nathan H. Knorr, George D. Gangas, Albert D. Schroeder, Milton G. Henschel, and Karl Klein. Franz was the only member of the translation team who had any kind of training in biblical languages. He had taken several courses in classical (not koine) Greek, and he partially completed a two credit hour course in koine. When he was asked in a Scotland courtroom if he could translate Genesis 2:4 into Hebrew, Franz replied that he could not. The others had no training in biblical languages. None of these people were trained in linguistics or principles of translation.

Conclusion – translators unqualified

3) Evaluation of the scholarly community

Dr. Julius Mantey (one of the most esteemed Greek scholars to have addressed biblical translation), Dr. Edmund Gruss, Dr. Bruce Metzger, Dr. William Barclay, Dr. Samuel J. Mikolaski, Dr. H. H. Rowley, Dr. Charles Feinberg, Dr. F. F. Bruce, Dr. Ernest C. Colwell (another of the leading Greek scholars), and Dr. Eugene Nida (a respect linguistic specialist in issues of translation) are all respected as scholars by Christians and non-Christians alike and all are equally insistent that the NWT is an unreliable translation.

Dr. Bruce Metzger (a well-known scholar whose works are seminary standards) used the following adjectives when describing the NWT: “a frightful mistranslation,” “erroneous,” “pernicious,” and “reprehensible.” British Bible scholar H.H. Rowley stated that the NWT is “a shining example of how the Bible should not be translated.” He also referred to the NWT as “an insult to the Word of God.” Dr. William Barclay said “It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest.”

These first three factors are enough for one to suspect the reliability of the translators, but in my next installment of my answer to your question I will examine specific examples of this translation’s reliability. Blessings until then.

(At this point the Jehovah’s Witness asked me to stop talking about the NWT, conceding that I could use the NASB)

The Concept of the Trinity

As a theological construct, the term “Trinity” was coined to express what the Bible and the early (pre-Nicene) Church Fathers taught about God. Whether one uses that particular term is quite irrelevant. The pertinent issue is whether or not one adopts the same teaching about God that the apostles did and which the early church fathers did.

The teaching of the Trinity is unique among world religions. Many religions teach a tritheistic counterfeit of the Trinity, but only Christians believe in a triune God. The unipersonal view adopted by JW’s has long been taught by religious groups such Islam who are quite vocal in rejecting the Trinity. Nevertheless, it seems to me that any similarity JW’s have to other religions regarding their view of the Trinity is irrelevant. The real question is whether or not what the Bible teaches about God can accurately be described by the theological construct which the Church Fathers adopted to explain the godhead in the midst of all of the controversies about the subject. That is what I will try to show.

A tad more about the Ante-Nicene (pre-Nicean) Church Fathers:

I have spoken to several Jehovah’s Witnesses who asserted that the doctrine of the Trinity was a fourth century invention. They apparently have not read the early Church Fathers. Admittedly these writings are pretty slow going, but one ought not to make blind assertions concerning authors they have not thoroughly read. Ignatius of Antioch very clearly taught the concept of the Trinity in the second century (Letter to the Ephesians 7:2, 9:1, 18:2). The deity of Christ and the Trinity were also clearly taught by such Ante-Nicene Fathers as Polycarp, Basil, Irenaeus, Gregory Thaumaturgus, and Tertullian. Tertullian devoted an entire book to defending the Trinity in the second century in which he said the following:

"We define that there are two, the Father and the Son, and three with the Holy Spirit, and this number is made by the pattern of salvation...[which] brings about unity in Trinity, interrelating the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three, not in dignity, but in degree, not in substance but in form, not in power but in kind. They are of one substance and power, because there is one God from whom these degrees, forms and kinds devolve in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
- Source: (Adv. Prax. 23; PL 2.156-7).

Novation wrote a third century trinitarian text entitled “The Trinity.” The concept of the Trinity is thoroughly expounded upon in Ante-Nicene writings and creeds. The word “trinity” is found 106 times in the collected writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.

I have read one author who asserted (quite ignorantly) that Origen denied the Trinity. Although Origen was unorthodox in some respects he too clearly taught a triune God in such works as De Principiis (Fundamental Doctrines) 1: preface 4, and uses the term “trinity” in 4:4:1.

Another author I have read asserted that Athenagoras denied the Trinity in the second century but he could cite no such denial. The only quotes he could produce denied polytheism, which all Trinitarians have always denied. It is true that the Early Fathers sometimes spoke in imprudent terms as they opposed either modalism on the one hand and tritheism on the other. The precise wording of Trinitarian doctrine was hammered out over time and found its most eloquent expression in the fourth century.

I have mentioned this since JW’s assert that the Trinity is a 4th century invention. Scripture next time. Blessings.

You have asked which version of the Trinity I believe. There is only one version. I take it that like me you have heard Oneness Pentecostals explain their modalist teachings. This is not Trinitarian. You have probably also heard a variety of analogies attempting to illustrate Trinitarian ideas. Please note that Trinitarians acknowledge all such analogies (the three leaf clover; the egg; ice, water and steam in one vial; etc.) as weak and limited. I believe it was Augustine who said that trying to understand an infinite God with our finite minds is like trying to pour the entire ocean into a single cup.

The Trinity in Scripture

There is only one God

Trinitarian teaching says that there is only one God eternally expressed in three “hypostases” (roughly translated “persons”). The first burden of this teaching then is to establish that there is only one God. Three passages should suffice for now:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Deuteronomy 6:4 NASB

"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.

I, even I, am the LORD,
and apart from me there is no savior.
Isaiah 43:10-11 NASB

“Declare what is to be, present it—
let them take counsel together.
Who foretold this long ago,
who declared it from the distant past?
Was it not I, the LORD ?
And there is no God apart from me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none but me.

Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:21-22NASB

The implication we will eventually face is what we are to do if the Bible very clearly teaches the deity of more than one person. If, for example, we find that Scripture teaches the deity of Christ we will need to express that in a more scriptural way than saying he is "a god" since such a statement could not be reconciled with the rest of Scripture. We will need a way to harmonize the whole of Scripture without ignoring any of it or cavalierly "explaining away" any of it.

The Father is God

I think I can quickly address the issue of the Father’s deity since you no doubt already agree with my beliefs regarding this. If the following is not sufficient for you let me know and I will supply more. I will work on compiling my collection of verses that speak of Christ’s deity. There are a great many of these. I will also address some Watchtower misunderstandings of certain verses that speak to this issue.

“…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
1 Peter 1:2 NASB

“For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased."
2 Peter 1:17 NASB

In these passages the Father is called God. I think you will agree that if the Word of God calls the Father “God” then he is in fact God.

Some quotes to consider:

“We need to examine, not only what we personally believe, but also what is taught by any religious organization with which we may be associated. Are its teachings in full harmony with God’s Word, or are they based on the traditions of men? If we are lovers of the truth, there is nothing to fear from such an examination.” (The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, 1968, page 13) [Watchtower publication]

“Reasonable persons agree that the only fair method is to examine the evidence on both sides, both for and against a disputed theory. That is how one arrives at the truth.”
- Source: Awake, Oct. 22, 1973, page 6 [Watchtower publication]

“Can there be false religion? It is not a form of religious persecution for anyone to say and to show that another religion is false. It is not religious persecution for an informed person to expose publicly a certain religion as being false, thus allowing persons to see the difference between false religion and true religion.”
- Source: Watchtower, Nov. 15, 1963, page 688

Blessings.

The Son is God

  1. He Possesses the Qualities and Properties of Deity.
    1. Preexistence

      “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’”
      John 8:58

      "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
      John 17:5

      “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
      Colossians 1:16-17

    2. Self Existence and Life Giving Power

      "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;”
      John 5:26

      “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”
      John 14:6

      “And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.”
      Heb 7:15-16

    3. Immutability

      “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
      (Hebrews 13:8

  2. He Possesses Divine Attributes
    1. Sinlessness

      “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
      2 Corinthians 5:21. (see also 1 Pe 2:22 and 1 Jn 3:25)

      Compare this to 1 Samuel 2:2, Matthew 19:17, and Revelation 15:4 which all say that only God is sinless.

    2. Omnipotence

      “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’”
      Matthew 28:18

      “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
      Colossians 1:17

      “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
      Philippians 3:20-21

      “…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood-- and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’"
      Revelation 1:5-8

      “…which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.”
      Ephesians 1:20-22.

      Compare this to Scripture passages which teach that only God is omnipotent – Gen 17:1, Gen 8:14, Job 42:2, Ps 135:6, Dan 4:35, Eph 1:11

    3. Omniscience

      “But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men”
      John 2:24

      "Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God."
      John 16:30

      “…in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
      Colossians 2:3

      Compare this with Scripture’s teaching that omniscience is a strictly divine attribute – Ps 94:9, Ps 139:1-10, Ps 147:5, Prov 15:3, Prov 15:11, Isa 46:10, Mt 10:30, Heb 4:13, 1 Jn 3:20.

    4. Omnipresence

      "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."
      Matthew 18:20. (Christ can only be with any and all assemblies if he is omnipresent)

      “…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
      Matthew 28:20

      “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”
      1 Corinthians 1:2

      “…which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
      Ephesians 1:23. (R. C. Lenski notes that the Greek here means Christ fills “all that exists”)

      Compare this with Scripture’s teaching that only God is omnipresent – Job 22:12-14, Ps 139:7-12, Jer 23:23-24, Acts 17:24-28

  3. He Exercises Divine Prerogatives.
    1. He is the Creator

      “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”
      John 1:1-4

      “But of the Son He says,
      YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER,
      AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.
      YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS;
      THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU
      WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS." And,
      ‘YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE
      EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;
      THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN;
      AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT,
      AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP;
      LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED
      BUT YOU ARE THE SAME,
      AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END.’”
      Hebrews 1:8-12

    2. He is the Upholder of all Things

      “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
      Colossians 1:17

      “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
      Hebrews 1:3

    3. He has the Right to Forgive Sins

      “And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? ‘Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”; or to say, “Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk”? ‘But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’--He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.’”
      Mark 2:5-11

      “Then He said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven.’"
      Luke 7:48

    4. He is to be the Judge of all Men

      “’For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.’”
      John 5:22-23

      “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
      2 Corinthians 5:9-10

      “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:”
      2 Timothy 4:1. (also see Matthew 25:31-46)

  4. He is Worshipped
    1. This worship is only to be given to God

      “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, “YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.”’”
      Matthew 4:10

      “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.’”
      Revelation 22:8-9

      “When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I too am just a man.’”
      Acts 10:25-26

    2. Christ accepts this worship

      “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God's Son!’”
      Matthew 14:33

      “While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy”
      Luke 24:51-52

    3. Men and angels are commanded to worship him

      “And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.’”
      Hebrews 1:6

      “…so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.’”
      John 5:23-24

      “…so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth”
      Philippians 2:10

  5. He is Called by Divine Names / Titles
    1. Lord
      Lord (Grk - kurios ) has a wide variety of meanings but there are good reasons for considering the New Testament denotation of Christ with this word to be a signifier of his deity. Kurios was frequently used in the Septuagint as a rendering of Adonai which was in turn used as a substitute for Yahweh. Though the apostles new of this usage of Kurios they still applied it intentionally to Christ. Paul’s epistles alone contain 275 usages of Kurios to denote Christ. Paul repeatedly speaks of Christ as the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 8:6 he says “There is but one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom all things came and through whom we live.” The Kind of Lordship Paul claims here for Christ goes beyond any of the merely human meanings of kurios. The fact that “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3) indicates that a greater than human use is intended for kurios. It would require no such inspiration to say that Jesus is a man with honor or authority, but to confess his deity requires just such an inspiration. Oscar Cullman says the following about this usage of kurios:

      Actually the passages which confer upon Jesus the title Kurios the name of God, are at least as important as those in which he is directly addressed as ‘God’ – and in some cases the former are even more important. We have seen that on the basis of the designation Kurios early Christianity does not hesitate to transfer everything the Old Testament says about God.

      Usage of Kurios in New Testament times is also informative. The ptolemies and the Roman Emperors would allow the term to be applied to them only after they had been deified in their religions. Archeological discoveries at Oxyrhyncus confirm this. Revelation 19:16 refers to Christ as the “Lord of Lords.”

    2. Son of God
      There are many references to Christ as “The” Son of God in the New Testament. In the Synoptic Gospels this can be found in such passages as Mt 8:29, 14:33, 16:16&17; Mk 1:1, 14:61; Luke 1:35, and 4:41. In Mt 27:40-43, Mk 14:61-62, and Lk 22:70 Christ openly accepts this designation. In John’s Gospel we have incidents recorded in which Christ clearly says he is “the Son of God” (5:25, 10:36, 11:4). William Evans comments concerning the Son of God passages in the Gospels:

      If when He called Himself “the Son of God” He did not mean more than that he was a son of God, why then did the high priest accuse Him of blasphemy when He claimed this title (Mt 26:61-63)? Does not Mark 12:6 – “Having yet therefore one son, his well beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, ‘They will reverence my son,’” indicate a special sonship? The sonship of Christ is human and historical it is true; but it is more: it is transcendent, unique, solitary. That something unique lay in this title seem clear from John 5:18 – “The Jews sought the more to kill Him … because he … said … also that God was His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”

      There are many enlightening passages relating to Christ as “the Son of God” in the epistles. One such passage is found in Romans 1:3-4:

      “…concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord”

      This passage contrasts the humanity and deity of Christ. He was a descendant of David according to humanity but was declared “the Son of God” with power in his resurrection. This use of “Son of God” is not mundane. It is an exalted usage. Other contexts in which Paul calls Jesus the “Son” are also informative. In 1 Co 1:13 Paul speaks of the “kingdom of the Son.” He lived his life “by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20), preached the Son (2 Co 1:19), believed that we are being conformed “to the likeness of his Son” (Ro 8:29) and looked forward to the coming of the Son (1 Thess 1:10). From the totality of Scripture’s declarations about Christ as the Son, James Orr concludes as follows:

      This title is one to which there can be no finite comparison or analogy. The oneness with God which it designates is not such a reflex influence of the divine thought and character as man and angels may attain, but identity of essence constituting him not God-like alone, but God. Others may be children of God in a moral sense; but this right of elemental nature none but He; He is herein the only Son; so little separate, so close to the inner divine life which He expresses, that He is in the bosom of the Father. This language denotes two natures homogeneous, entirely one, and both so essential to the Godhead that neither can be omitted from any truth you speak of it.

    3. Only Begotten

      “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
      John 1:14-18

      "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
      John 3:16-18

      “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.”
      1 John 4:9

      Of particular interest are the verses which precede the first passage quoted (John 1:14-18):

      “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
      - Source: John 1:12-13

      In this passage John is describing those who will be born as sons of God through Christ. Nevertheless, in verses 14- 18 that follow John speaks of Christ as the “only begotten.” His status is unique among those who are children of God. He is the Son from eternity. Others may become sons in time. He is the son by nature. Others may become sons by adoption (Ro 8:15 NASB).

      This title reinforces the unique sonship of Christ.

    4. Savior
      “Savior” frequently connotes deity in the Old Testament and in Greek culture. In the Old Testament God is given this title with Psalms and Isaiah containing the greatest concentration of these. Psalm 24:5 for example, says “He will receive a blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.”

      The concepts of Lord, God, and Savior are bundled together in the Old Testament. The salvation this Savior will bring developed a theological meaning in the Old Testament. Salvation comes to represent not just deliverance from some kind of trouble, but a forgiveness of one’s sins and a personal change of character. God says “I will deliver them from all of their backslidings in which they have sinned” (Ezekiel 37:23). David prayed “Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation” (Psalm 51:14).

      The Semitic meaning of the name Jesus (Jeshua) naturally suggested a reference to the Old Testament title of Savior which is attributed to God. The Hebrew words for Savior are translated as “soter” in the Septuagint and “soter’ becomes the New Testament term for this same title God assumed in the Old Testament.

      We must also consider the meaning of the Greek word for Savior (soter) since linguistic factors point to “Savior” as a Greek term. To call Jesus Savior in Hebrew one would simply repeat his name, saying “Jeshua Jeshua” since this name means Savior. Thus, calling Jesus Savior is a Greek communication informed by Hebrew theology.

      Soter” can and often does refer to deity in Greek culture. Asklepios was called a soter and soter was used to denote certain deities in the mystery cults. While Christ’s deity is different in nature from the Greek deities, this usage of “soter” in Greek culture demonstrates that it is the appropriate term for this divine title which is bestowed upon Christ.

      The Hebrew and Greek uses of the term "Savior" applied to Christ reinforces the biblical teaching of his deity. Paul uses “Savior in reference to both the Father and the Son. In Titus 2:13 he speaks of “Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” While this verse has been translated “The great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” this does not seem to accurately represent the Greek construction which has the definite article before “God” and not before “Savior,” indicating that one person is being spoken of. The Greek construction has Paul calling Christ our God and Savior.

    5. (The Jehovah’s Witness responded with some valid critique of my discussion of Christ as savior to which I responded as follows)

      “Thanks for your critique of this point. I have added the following to my notes on this title:

      ‘This designation of “Savior” for Christ does not in itself prove his deity since humans are sometimes called “saviors” in the Old Testament and because as Savior, God at times uses non-divine, human instruments. Nevertheless, the overall picture painted by this designation harmonizes well with the clearly divine titles used for Christ.’

      With reference to Christ as a rival to the Father – Trinitarians do not see any rivalry. Many passages in the OT which speak of the activity of Jehovah are fulfilled in the actions of Christ, and Trinitarians see the Father and the Son working in concert together with the Holy Spirit. There are many more passages in the NT which speak of Christ as our Savior that I did not include. Since both Father and Son are called our Savior, there are either two Saviors, there is one Savior God who is eternally expressed as three persons, or Christ is merely described as the instrument of the Father’s salvation. The third position is possible when considered apart from the rest of the Bible but I believe the second harmonizes better with the whole of Scripture. I will limit myself to more definitive points in the future in order to finish more quickly.”

    6. Alpha and Omega
      In Revelation 22:12-16 Christ says the following:

      “’Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’”

      In Revelation 1:8 the Father says the following:

      "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

      Since there cannot be two Alpha and Omega’s these two passages point to the unique, dynamic unity of the Father and the Son that creatures do not participate in.

    7. First and Last
      In Revelation 1:17 John sees the glorified Christ and says:

      “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.’”

      This title is used of Jehovah in Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, and 48:12. Isaiah 44:6 says:

      "This is what the LORD says— Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”

      God associates this title with his deity in Isaiah and Revelation. Christ assumes this divine title in Revelation.

    8. I Am
      In John 8:57-59 Jesus says

      “So the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”

      “I Am” was the title God reserved for himself to be known by (Exodus 3:14). The Jews who heard him understood what Jesus was saying and sought to stone him for the blasphemy of calling himself God. It was not blasphemy for Jesus to make this statement, however, since he is God – the second person of the Trinity.

    9. God
      Many passages in the New Testament actually call Christ “God.”

      “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

      John says here that From eternity past (en archei en – imperfect tense, indicating the Word was before creation began – He was continuing to exist before the beginning of time) was the Logos (a term many Greek philosophers employed to refer to that which was by nature metaphysical or deity) and this Logos was “with” (pros – in close proximity, toward) God (as Chrysostom said, “Not in God but with God, as person with person, eternally”).

      This Logos who was with God eternally was God (theos en ho logos) from this eternity past. Theos is placed first for emphasis and the definite article is omitted to emphasize quality rather than individuality. John is saying “The Word was deity.” To insert a definite article in the translation of this construction would be, as William Barclay says, “grammatically impossible.”

      The Watchtower has cited trinitarian scholars such as A. T. Robertson and Julius Mantey in support of their translation, but they have misrepresented and even misquoted these scholars. The issues involved in the translation of this verse and the Watchtower’s misrepresentation of Greek scholars have been fully covered in such works as The Scholastic Dishonesty of the Watchtower by Michael Van Buskirk, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John by Robert M. Bowman Jr. Space will not permit a more thorough analysis of this matter here.

    10. The Assessment of Greek Scholars on the New World Translation of John 1:1 (These Scholars insist that they are Trinitarians because of their understanding of the Greek text and one of these [Johnson] is neither a Christian nor a trinitarian):

      Dr. William Barclay, a leading Greek scholar of the University of Glasgow, Scotland: "The deliberate distortion of truth by this sect is seen in their New testament translations. John 1:1 is translated: '...the Word was a god, ' a translation which is grammatically impossible...It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest."

      Dr. F. F. Bruce of the University of Manchester, England: "Much is made by Arian amateur grammarians of the omission of the definite article with 'God' in the phrase 'And the Word was God.' Such an omission is common with nouns in a predicative construction...'a god' would be totally indefensible." [Barclay and Bruce are generally regarded as Great Britain's leading Greek scholars. Both have New Testament translations in print]

      Dr. Ernest C. Colwell of the University of Chicago: "A definite predicate nominative has the article when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb...this statement cannot be regarded as strange in the prologue of the gospel which reaches its climax in the confession of Thomas. 'My Lord and my God.' - John 20:28"

      Dr. Charles L. Feinberg of La Mirada, California: "I can assure you that the rendering which the Jehovah's Witnesses give John 1:1 is not held by any reputable Greek scholar."

      Dr. J. J. Griesbach (whose Greek text - not the English part - is used in the Emphatic Diaglott): "So numerous and clear are the arguments and testimonies of Scriptures in favor of the true Deity of Christ, that I can hardly imagine how, upon the admission of the Divine authority of Scripture, and with regard to fair rules of interpretation, this doctrine can by any man be called in doubt. Especially the passage, John 1:1-3, is so clear and so superior to all exception, that by no daring efforts of either commentators or critics can it be snatched out of the hands of the defenders of the truth."

      Dr. J. Johnson of California State University, Long Beach: "No justification whatsoever for translating THEOS EN HO LOGOS as 'the Word was a god.' There is no syntactical parallel to Acts 28:6 where there is a statement in indirect discourse; John 1:1 is direct....I am neither a Christian nor a Trinitarian."

      Dr. Julius Mantey, author of A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament ,"Well, as a backdrop, I was disturbed because they (Watchtower) had misquoted me in support of their translation." (These words were excerpted from the tape, "Martin and Julius Mantey on The New World Translation", Mantey is quoted on pages 1158-1159 of the Kingdom interlinear Translation)

      Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, professor of New Testament at Princeton University, calls the NWT "a frightful mistranslation," "Erroneous" and "pernicious" "reprehensible" "If the Jehovah's Witnesses take this translation [John1:1] seriously, they are polytheists." (Professor of New Testament Language and Literature)

      Dr. Samuel J. Mikolaski of Zurich, Switzerland: "This anarthrous (used without the article) construction does not mean what the indefinite article 'a' means in English. It is monstrous to translate the phrase 'the Word was a god.'"

      Dr. Eugene A. Nida (head of Translations Department, American Bible Society): "With regard to John 1:1, there is of course a complication simply because the New World Translation was apparently done by persons who did not take seriously the syntax of the Greek."

      Dr. B. F. Wescott (whose Greek text - not the English part - is used in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation [Watchtower publication): "The predicate (God) stands emphatically first, as in IV.24. It is necessarily without the article...No idea of inferiority of nature is suggested by the form of expression, which simply affirms the true deity of the Word...in the third clause 'the Word' is declared to be 'God' and so included in the unity of the Godhead."

    More Verses

    “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” John 1:18

    “Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
    John 20:28

    Notice that Thomas addresses the entirety of this statement to the risen Christ. Christ subsequently accepts this address without correcting Thomas.

    “…whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”
    Romans 9:5 NASB

    The RSV translates this verse

    “To them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed forever.”

    Rather than placing God in apposition with Jesus, the RSV translators create a doxology to God at the end of the verse. Greek scholars cite a large number of reasons why this translation is not to be preferred and it therefore represents a minority opinion. Some of the reasons for favoring the majority view represented in the NASB include the following:

    1. A doxology does not fit the context or the tone of the passage.
    2. A doxology usually refers to the person just spoken of, who is Christ in this case.
    3. A participle as used in this verse would be superfluous there if the concluding words are a doxology to the Father, but it is not superfluous if it refers to Christ as its antecedent.
    4. Independent doxologies usually begin with the predicate nominative eulongetos, whereas in Romans 9:5 the subject stands at the beginning.

    “…looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”
    Titus 2:13

    Christ Jesus is here called our great God and Savior. The definite article’s placement before “God” indicates that one person is spoken of in this verse and thus vindicates the common translation as found in the NASB.

  6. Christ Lives in Us

    Rather than develop my last point fully I will just summarize it quickly. I believe all of the references to Christ living in us, enabling, and empowering us are consistent with deity but inconsistent with the limitations of creatures. It would be blasphemy for all believers to say that Paul lives in them and that he is their life.

  7. Answers to Objections
    1. “There may be many “gods” but only one almighty God.”

      This is a position known as “henotheism,” which asserts that there are many gods, but only one chief deity. The Bible, however, is monotheistic. That is, it teaches that there is only one true God. All other “gods” are false.

      “But the LORD is the true God;
      He is the living God and the everlasting King
      At His wrath the earth quakes,
      And the nations cannot endure His indignation.
      Jeremiah 10:10

      “For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God”
      1 Thessalonians 1:9

      “For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
      But the LORD made the heavens.”
      Psalm 96:5

      “Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.”
      1 Corinthians 8:4

      "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.

      I, even I, am the LORD,
      and apart from me there is no savior.
      Isaiah 43:10-11

      “Declare what is to be, present it—
      let them take counsel together.
      Who foretold this long ago,
      who declared it from the distant past?
      Was it not I, the LORD ?
      And there is no God apart from me,
      a righteous God and a Savior;
      there is none but me.

      Turn to me and be saved,
      all you ends of the earth;
      for I am God, and there is no other.
      Isaiah 45:21-22

      Further notes on this: In John 10:35, Jesus is using a debating tactic to silence his critics. He is not teaching any kind of polytheism. Hebrews 2:5-8 quotes from the Septuagint version of Psalm 8, not from the Hebrew text. This was a common practice of the New Testament writers who were communicating with Greek audience. It is not an endorsement of the Septuagint over the Hebrew text. Furthermore, the context in Psalm 8 nowhere vindicates an interpretation asserting that angels are “gods.”

    2. A 1957 Watchtower article claimed that Jesus “I Am’ statement in John 8:58 represents a use of the historical present. Some observations on this:
      1. Even such a mistranslation as this would still point to Christ’s divine quality of preexistence.
      2. The author of the article invented a new “rule” of Greek grammar asserting that when an aorist infinitive clause precedes a present tense verb the verb is to always be translated as an historical present. The very texts the article quote from refute this notion. Such usage is determined by context (annalistic or dramatic – neither in view in this passage). The Watchtower has backed away from this “rule” and now Watchtower spokesman Nelson Herle asserts that the eimi in John 8:58 is an example of the present of past action still in progress. The eimi in John 8:58 is a predicate absolute and thus cannot be translated as an expression of the present of past action still in progress. (something Herle refuses to admit).
    3. “In John 14:28 Jesus says that the Father is greater than him. Doesn’t this mean Jesus is lower in nature than the father?”

      Jesus’ calling his father “greater” (Meizon [from megas]) is a functional designation not an ontological one. Christ is indeed subordinate to the Father (Christ did nothing on his own initiative – the Father is even called the Son’s God) but he is equal in nature. Megas and meizon are consistently used this way throughout Greek literature and in the New Testament. The following passages are examples of one person or thing being functionally, but not ontologically greater than another:

      "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.”
      John 13:16

      "For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
      Luke 22:27

      “Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.”
      1 Corinthians 14:5

    4. “In Isaiah 9:6 Jesus is called the ‘Mighty God.’ Doesn’t this mean he is not almighty?”

      First, there is no reason to make such a logical deduction. Additionally, Jehovah is called the “Mighty God” in Isaiah 10:21. This faulty reasoning would conclude that Jehovah is not almighty.

    5. “Doesn’t Philippians 2:6 indicate that Christ is not equal with the father?”

      Quite to the contrary. The passive usage here as well as the overall context of the passage indicates that Christ, though he was equal with the Father, did not insist upon holding on to all of his divine prerogatives. Instead, he emptied himself of these (which were his by right) and assumed the lowly form of man in his incarnate state.

    6. Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 3:14 call Christ the ‘beginning’ of creation. Doesn’t that deny his eternal preexistence and classify him as a created being?”

      In these verses Christ is called the arche (translated “beginning”) of creation. This word was commonly used by the Greeks of the day to indicate supremacy of rank. An arche was a ruler. When Scripture calls Christ the arche over all creation it indicates his sovereign status. It does not indicate that he is part of creation. Indeed, the word as used can indicate precedence in time.

  8. The Father and the Son are Distinct Persons Yet they are One

    John 5:19-20, 31, 36-38; 6:37, 43; 7:16-18, 28-29, 33; 8:18, 28, 50 and many other passages illustrate the distinction between the Father and the Son. While Sabellian modalists maintain that there is no distinction between the two other than name or title, the Arian theology of the Watchtower already recognizes a distinction between these two persons (though denying their ontological unity). Therefore I will not comment on this further except to note that the Son is distinct and subordinate to father, yet he is one with the father. He asserts this oneness in John 10:10. When he made this claim the Jews picked up stones with which to kill him because they understood the theological implications of his statement.

    Conclusion Regarding Christ

    We have established that Christ possesses the qualities and properties of deity; he possesses divine attributes; he exercises divine prerogatives; he is worshipped; he is called by divine names and titles; and he is called God. I have used well over 100 Scripture passages to establish these things and I could have used more. Such overwhelming scriptural evidence should not be cast aside lightly. I find the scriptural evidence absolutely compelling. We have also established that the Father and the Son are two distinct persons revealed to be expressions of the one God. Hence, God is multi-personal.

The Holy Spirit is God

Scripture says he is eternal (Hebrews 9:14) omnipresent (Psam 139:7-10) and omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). In Acts 5:4 he is called God. Sometimes the “voice of God” in the Old Testament is said to have been the “voice of the Holy Spirit” in the New Testament. Compare Exodus 16:7 with Hebrews 3:7-9; and Isaiah 6:8-10 with Hebrews 3:7-9. More could be said on the Spirit’s deity.

The Holy Spirit is a Person

  1. The masculine pronoun eikonos (translated as “he” “him”) is used to denote Him even when it has a neuter antecedent such as pneuma.

    Commenting on this phenomenon in John 16:13-14 Millard Erickson says “Either John in reporting Jesus’ discourse made a grammatical error at this point (this is unlikely since we do not find any similar error elsewhere in the Gospel), or he deliberately chose to use the masculine to convey to convey to us the fact that Jesus is referring to a person not a thing. A similar reference is Ephesians 1:14, where in a relative clause modifying “Holy Spirit” the preferred textual reading is os “[who] is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of his glory.”

    Some passages in John 14-16 in which the NASB refers to the Holy Spirit as “he” or “him:”

    "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

    "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
    John 14:26

    "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
    John 15:26-27

    “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
    John 16:7-15

  2. The Holy Spirit has distinctly personal characteristics.

    He has his own mind (Romans 8:27). He searches (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). He has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). He speaks (Acts 13:2, Revelation 2:7). He intercedes for believers (Romans 8:26). He works (Acts 20:28, 1 Corinthians 12:11). He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). He can be sinned against (Matthew 12:31-32). He can be lied to (Acts 5:3).

    No mere power or influence has a mind and will of its own, speaks, intercedes and works. A power or influence cannot be lied to, sinned against, or grieved. These are all distinct characteristics of a person.

  3. The Scriptures contain meaningless redundancies if the Holy Spirit is not a person.

    Romans 15:13, for example, speaks of the “power of the Holy Spirit.” Were he only a power, the verse would be speaking of the “power of the power.” In Acts 10:38 Jesus is said to have been anointed “With the Holy Spirit and with power.” If the Holy Spirit is not a person the verse is saying Jesus was anointed with power and power.

  4. Answers to Objections Regarding the Holy Spirit’s Personhood
    1. “Impersonal symbols such as wind, oil, water, and fire are used to speak of the Spirit.”

      These symbols do not preclude personality. Impersonal symbols such as door, light, and bread are used to describe Christ and no one debates his personality. Modern readers of the Bible should not have trouble understanding this concept since we still refer to individuals with impersonal metaphors. We call people such things as a rock, diamond in the rough, and a pain in the side. In so doing we have no difficulty maintaining the notion that they are persons.

    2. “The word “spirit” is neuter.
      This is a convention of Greek grammar not a theological manifesto. Throughout the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is pictured as the ruach of God, indicating that whenever God acts, he acts in cooperation with the person of the Spirit. Israelite understanding of the Spirit of God is relatively easy to discern as we observe the usages of ruach elohim and ruach Yahweh in the Old Testament. As we do this we find that the Israelites understood this Spirit to be the manifest presence of God actively involved in his creation. The basic meaning of ruach as “air in motion” contributes to this understanding. This meaning of ruach can be found in such passages as Gen. 3:8, 8:1; 1 Ki. 19:11; Job 8:2; Ps. 147:18; Prov. 25:14; Eccl. 1:6; Jer. 4:11; Eze. 1:4; and Zech. 2:6. When ruach is used in connection with elohim or Yahweh in the Old Testament the context is typically of something God does (Gen. 1:2; Jud. 3:10, 6:34; 1 Sam. 16:13; 1 Ki. 18:12; 1 Chron. 12:18; Isa. 48:16; Eze. 3:12, 11:24; Zech. 4:6). When the Spirit of God comes upon an Old Testament figure they are generally prompted to speak, build, or fight the Lord’s battles. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit also gives life, strength, understanding, guidance and power. Pneuma is the Greek equivalent of ruach and is therefore used to denote the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. God has chosen this wind or breath metaphor to portray the Holy Spirit because it best pictures the active nature of his role. The fact that the word is grammatically neuter does not affect the New Testament’s teaching that the Holy Spirit is a person. We should also note in this context that the KJV mistranslation in Romans 8:16, 26 (“itself”) is corrected in subsequent translations.

The three persons of the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit are co-equal, co-eternal, and consubstantial.

  1. Several Scripture passages link the three persons together as a unity of apparently essential equals:

    "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
    Matthew 28:19-20

    Note that “name” is singular yet the persons are three. Baptizing “in the name” means baptizing “unto,” “with respect to,” and “in the authority of.” It would be blasphemy to suggest that we baptize unto, with respect to, and in the authority of any mere creature. The passage is consistent with the overall biblical revelation that these three divine persons who are one God are equals in substance and essence though distinct in personage and function.

    “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”
    2 Corinthians 13:14

    Jesus modeled the use of “God” as a reference to the Father and thus the apostles referred to the Father this way as well. Note however that Paul describes grace as coming from Christ and says our fellowship is with the Holy Spirit. Grace is a divine bestowment and our fellowship is with God. The interweaving of functions here can only make sense within a triune God.

    After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
    Matthew 3:16-17

    "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
    Luke 24:49

    The Son will send the person of the Holy Spirit who is the promise of the Father. This cohesive act of the three will result in the empowering of believers.

    “But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
    Romans 15:15-16

    “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”
    - Source: 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

    “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    - Source: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

    “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”
    - Source: 1 Peter 1:1-2

    The interaction of the three persons in the Gospel of John presents us with a pictorial declaration of the Trinity. Millard Erickson comments on this co-equal interweaving of persons and functions in John’s Gospel:

    It is in the fourth Gospel that the strongest evidence of a coequal Trinity is to be found. The threefold formula appears again and again: 1:33-34; 14:16, 26; 16:13-15; 20:21-22 (cf. 1 John 4:2, 13-14). The interdynamics among the three persons comes through repeatedly, as George Hendry has observed. The Son is sent by the Father (14:24) and comes forth from him (16:28). The Spirit is given by the Father (14:16), sent from the Father(14:26), and proceeds from the Father (15:26). Yet the Son is closely involved in the coming of the Spirit: he prays for this coming (14:16); the Father sends the Spirit in the Son’s name (14:26); the Son will send the Spirit from the Father (15:26); the Son must go away so he can send the Spirit (16:7). The Spirit’s ministry is understood as a continuation and elaboration of that of the Son. He will bring to remembrance what the Son has said (14:26); he will bear witness to the Son (15:26); he will declare what he hears from the Son, thus glorifying the Son (16:13-14).

  2. Answers to Objections regarding the Trinity.
    1. Pagan Triads
      Critics of the Trinity sometimes cite the triads of deities found in some pagan religions as evidence the doctrine is false. This attempt at guilt by association is faulty, though. The pagan triads are tritheistic rather than trinitarian. Trinitarianism is unique among world religions in teaching that God is a multi-personal unity. The pagan triads are a counterfeit of the biblical revelation of the Trinity. Furthermore, such triads are so far removed in time and space from the authors of the New Testament and the early church fathers that it is not credible to suggest that they were influenced by such things.
    2. Math
      Some observers are perplexed by the mathematics of the Trinity, pointing out that 1+1+1=3. This equation does not accurately represent the Trinity, however, since the three persons are a unique unity of a kind not found in creation. The dynamic nature of their relationship is more accurately represented by the equation 1x1x1=1.
    3. Logic
      The Watchtower sometimes claims that the doctrine of the Trinity should be rejected because the finite mind of man can not understand it. This grounds for rejection is selectively employed, however, since they acknowledge elsewhere that there are things about God that surpass our abilities to understand. After citing Psalm 90:2 as evidence for God’s not having a beginning, the Watchtower publication Reasoning From the Scriptures, on pages 148-149, says the following:
    4. Is that reasonable? Our minds cannot fully comprehend it. But that is not a sound reason for rejecting it ... Should we really expect to understand everything about a person who is so great that he could bring into existence the universe with all of its intricate design and stupendous size?

      Certainly we should not limit God to the boundaries of our finite minds.

Conclusion Regarding the Trinity

The website of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry concisely describes the means by which Christians conclude that God is triune:

Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity is arrived at by looking at the whole of scripture, not in a single verse. It is the doctrine that there is only one God, not three, and that the one God exists in three persons: Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. An analogy would be time. Time is past, present, and future. But, there are not three times, only one.

I believe in the Trinity because Scripture reveals that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God, and they are distinct persons. Since the Bible also teaches that there is only one God, we must find a way to describe this multi-personal unity. The term the Church has used to describe the Bible’s teaching about God is “Trinity.” Since the Bible’s unequivocal teaching about God is established by so large a quantity of passages, no one’s dislike of Scripture’s teaching nor anyone’s misuse of misinterpreted “proof texts” can assail such a sturdy and massive edifice. The doctrine of the Trinity stands as God’s clear revelation about himself.

Acknowledgements

Since I wrote all of the above as correspondence I did not cite each instance in which I was leaning to some extent on the research or thought of someone else’s work. Neither did I point out the extent to which other works may have influenced the shape which my presentation took. A great many works influenced my reasoning here but the following ones played a major role in the shape and content of the above correspondence:

William Evans, The Great Doctrines of the Bible

Millard Erickson, Christian Theology

Robert Bowman, Why You Should Believe in the Trinity

Robert Bowman, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John

Michael Van Buskirk, The Scholastic Dishonesty of the Watchtower

I am also especially indebted to the following website:
http://www.contenderministries.org/jehovahswitnesses/nwt.php

David Kowalski

Written by David Kowalski

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This post was last updated: Jan. 13, 2013