Apologetics Index
The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity

The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity


It is often alleged that the doctrine of the Trinity is not a biblical doctrine. While the word "Trinity" is not in the Bible, the substance of the doctrine is definitely biblical.

The following outline study presents an overview of the biblical basis of the doctrine of the Trinity. Comments on the texts have been kept to a bare minimum; the emphasis is on the many biblical texts themselves (about 700 references are listed, including references from 26 of the 27 books of the New Testament). [For your convenience, this online Bible opens in a separate window]

An exposition of many of the texts discussed here can be found in the author's book "Why You Should Believe in the Trinity" (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1989. Unfortunately, it is currently out of print, but you may be able to locate a copy through Amazon.com's ''Out-of-print Service.'').

A proper evaluation of the biblical evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity will depend on the faithful application of sound principles of biblical interpretation. Here I will mention just two principles which, if followed, would prevent almost all interpretive errors on this subject.

The first is to interpret the implicit in light of the explicit. That is, texts which explicitely state that such-and-such is true are to govern our understanding of passages which do not address the issue directly. For example, many passages of the Bible state explicitly that God is omniscient, that is, that He knows all things, including the thoughts of men and all future events (1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Chron. 28:9, 17; Job 37:16; Psa. 139:1-4; Isa. 41:22-23; 42:9; 44:7; Jer. 17:10a). These texts must govern our understanding of passages which might seem to imply, but which do not assert, that God did not know something (e.g., Gen. 3:9-13; 4:9; 18:9, 20-21).

The other principle is that we interpret logically but not rationalistically. Using the same illustration, if God knows everything ahead of time, then logically He must have known that Adam and Eve would fall into sin. However, to argue that if God knew Adam and Eve would sin then they would not be responsible for their choosing to sin is not "logical," it is rationalistic. It may be difficult to understand how persons could be responsible for their sinfull actions if God knew ahead of time that they would sin, but it is not illogical (not self-contradictory) to say so.

It should be noted that a study of the Trinity should not be undertaken apart from a study of the nature of God.

This material was published by the Christian Research Institute, entered - by permission - into electronic media by Christian BBS Abba II, San Diego, California (no longer online) in 1994, and coded into HTML by Apologetics Index in 1999