To understand the nature of the Trinity, we need to examine the function of the Trinity as described in the Bible, for the Trinity members all have specific roles in the Plan of God. This will help us to gain Biblical insight into the
true nature of the Trinity.
The Father (the 1st Person of the Trinity):
Origin: The term for and idea of the Fatherhood of God, a designation well known from the New Testament, is also found in the Old
Testament from the Pentateuch onward. The word Father is first used for God in Deuteronomy 32:6: "Is He not your Father? The One who bought you? He is the One who made you and established you." Later in verse 18 of the same chapter, God is referred to
as "the Rock who fathered you". The concept of the fatherhood of God can also be seen in Exodus 4:22, where Israel is referred to as God's "firstborn son".
Significance: The use of the name "Father" is clearly intended to be taken as
an analogy from human experience. Like the father who sired us, He is our creator. Like a father, He is our authority figure, our trainer, disciplinarian, and teacher (Heb.12:5-11). And, not to be underestimated, He is the One who cares for us and loves us
deeply, who protects us, keeps us safe, and wants only what is truly best for us (regardless of what we see as best). Being human, our earthly fathers had strengths and weaknesses, and despite their best intentions had to act on the basis
of imperfect information about what was best for us. But our heavenly Father represents the perfect ideal of fatherhood. He acts toward us always in perfect love, and all He does for us is without question for our ultimate good, for whether He disciplines
us or blesses us, He does so in the perfect knowledge of who we are, and of all that is in our hearts.
Person: The Father is often referred to as the 1st person of the Trinity (i.e., the authoritative "I" person), because He speaks to
us as "I", directly manifesting His authoritative will as our God, creator, and ruler of the universe (e.g., Ex.3:14-15; Is.46:9-10).
2) The Son (the 2nd Person of the Trinity):
Origin: Along with the holy angels (Job 38:7 [not NIV]), we believers are all "sons" of God (Rom.8:14; Gal.3:26; 4:5; cf. Jn.1:12; 1Jn.3:1-2). This widespread franchise of sonship is based upon the paternal position of the Father
relative to all His obedient creatures, but there is only one "the Son of God (our Lord, Jesus Christ)". Though Christ's incarnation was, in a veiled fashion, prophesied and foreshadowed by ritual and sacrifice, it remained in Old Testament times
very much a mystery until the time of His actual first advent. Now it stands clearly revealed that the archetypical Son of God is our Lord Jesus Christ and that the Old Testament parallels are types that look forward to this revelation:
e.g., Adam is the son of God (Lk.3:38) – Christ is the preeminent "last Adam" (1Cor.15:45; and cf. the "Son of Man [i.e.,'adam]" of Dan.7:13-14 as well as New Testament usage); Israel is the servant of God (Is.42:18ff.) –
Christ is the suffering Servant who takes away the sins of the world (Is.42:1; 52:13 - 53:12); Israel is God's son – Christ is the Son (Hos.11:1 fulfilled at Matt.2:15); finally, though Solomon was David's direct
descendant, Christ is his ultimate descendant, the Messiah, the Son of David who is also the Son of God (Ps.2:7-12; 110:1).
Significance: Building on the idea of fatherhood as discussed above, sonship denotes
the idea of a special and unbreakable relationship with the Father, one of dutiful subordination to the Father's will, but also one of special privilege, inheritance, and shared authority. A son (especially a king's son) is often more accessible than a father.
The role of mediator between the king and His offending subjects can only be played by someone who is on a par with both the Father-king and creature-subjects: only a Son (incarnate) can be sent on such a mission of reconciliation (cf. Matt.21:33-40)
Person: The Son is often referred to as the 2nd person (i.e., the accessible "you" person), because He is accessible to us, having appeared in the flesh to forge a relationship with us on the Father's behalf
(e.g., Jn.15:14-15), and having gained access to the Father for us (Jn.14:6; Eph.2:18; 3:12).
3) the Holy Spirit (the 3rd Person of the Trinity):
Origin: From the first chapter of the
Old Testament (Gen.1:2) to the closing chapter of the New Testament (Rev.22:17), the word "spirit" is used to refer to the God the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew and Greek words for "spirit", ruach and pneuma respectively, have
the core meaning of "wind" or "breeze", and, again, there are important points to be garnered from the name analogy.
Significance: The wind is a potent, invisible force. Though we perceive it and experience its effects, we can
neither see where it has come from or where it is going to (Jn.3:8). It can have everything from a gentle, warming influence to a powerful, chilling effect. "Wind" is thus an aptly descriptive analogy for the Holy Spirit's role in the plan of God: His invisible
yet powerful support of good (Zech.4:6; 1Cor.12:3) and restraint of evil (Gen.6:3; 1Cor.12:3; 2Thes.2:5-8) in the furtherance of the plan of God must not be underestimated.
Person: The Holy Spirit is often referred to
as the 3rd person of the Trinity (i.e., the unseen "he" person), because unlike the Father, He does not speak directly to us, and unlike the Son, He has not been made manifest to us; instead, like the wind, He is unseen by
us, but, like the wind, that does not mean that we do not experience His power in a very personal and dynamic way (Jn.14:16-17; Gal.5:22-26). The Spirit is not at all "inanimate" or "impersonal" even though "wind" is a fitting description of His invisible
yet powerful role in our Christian lives. He acts in a very personal way towards us and towards the other members of the Trinity (Jn.3:5; 14:15-17; 14:26; 15:26; 16:8-11-15; Acts 5:3, 5:9; 13:2; 16:6-10; Rom.8:26; 1Cor.2:10; Rev.2:7), and as our Comforter-Encourager
(Jn.14:16; 16:7). The relationship of leadership (Rom.8:4; Gal.5:16 & 18), encouragement (cf. Jn.14:16; 16:7; cf. 2Cor.1:3-7) and empowerment (Lk.24:49; Rom.15:13) we receive from the Holy Spirit are some of the most "personal" and "animating" relationships
we shall ever experience this side of heaven.
Trinity Roles Explained: When we are one day face to face with God, we shall "know even as we are known" (1 Cor. 13:12). Until that time our understanding
of God in three persons is essentially dependent upon the way the Bible reveals the Trinity in the process of carrying out God's plan for human history. Below are several aspects or examples of the different roles taken by the Trinity for administering
1) The Plan of God: authorized by the Will of the Father (Eph.1:11; Rev.4:11), executed by the Word, the Son (Heb.1:2-3; Jn.1:1-3), administered
through the Wisdom and power of the Spirit (Is.11:2; Zech.4:6).
2) Creation of the World: directed by the Father (Gen.1:1 &3; Rev.4:11), carried out by the Son (1Cor.8:6;
Col.1:16; Heb.1:2), empowered by the Spirit (Ps.33:6b; Prov.8:27-31).
3) The Revelation of the Word: the Father expresses the Word (Is.55:11; also 40:8; 45:23), Christ is the
Word (Jn.1:1-3; Heb.1:3), the Holy Spirit reveals the Word (1Cor.2:10-16).
4) Christ's First Advent: Christ is sent by Father (Heb.10:7), conceived (Matt.1:20),
led (Matt.4:1), and empowered (Jn.3:34) by the Spirit as He carries out His ministry of self-sacrifice for our salvation.
5) The Victory of Salvation: (Matt.12:20; Jn.16:33; 1Cor.15:54-57;
Col.2:15; Rev.5:5): the Father sends the Son on the mission (Jn.3:16), the Son accomplishes the mission (Jn.19:30; Heb.10:7), the Holy Spirit supports the mission (Matt.3:16; Jn.3:34).
of the Believer: though estranged from the Father (Eph.4:18; Col.1:21; 1Jn.1:3 & 6), we are restored to fellowship with Him through the mediation of the Son by means of His sacrifice on the cross (Eph.2:12-13; Col.1:22; Heb.2:14-15),
with the Spirit acting as the agent of our renewed fellowship (2Cor.13:14; Phil.2:1).
7) Regeneration of the Believer: the Father holds the key to eternal life (Jn.5:19-26; Rom.5:10-11),
the Son purchased access to eternal life by His death for all who believe in Him (Acts 3:15; 20:28; 2Pet.2:11), the Spirit quickens or regenerates believers (Jn.3:5-8).
8) Walk of the Believer:
the Father sets the standard of holiness (2Cor.7:1; 1Thes.4:3; Heb.12:14; 1Pet.1:16), the Son is the model (Matt.16:24; 1Cor.11:1; 1Thes.1:6), The Spirit provides the power to live as God would have us live (Rom.8:4; Gal.5:16).
9) Virtues of the Believer: the Father gives us the example of love (Jn.3:16; 1Jn.4:7-12) by sending His Son, who is the object our faith (Jn.14:6;
Acts 16:31), so that we look forward to our resurrection with a hope empowered by the Holy Spirit (Rom.15:13).
10) Spiritual Gifts of the Believer:
given by the Spirit, with specific ministries assigned by the Son and specific effects decreed by the Father (1Cor.12:4-6).
11) Prayers of the Believer: offered to the Father (Matt.6:6),
in the name of the Son (Jn.15:16; 16:23), accomplished in the power of the Spirit (Eph.6:18).