The Trinity – Personalities

‘The Godhead are revealed in the Bible as A TRINITY OF PERSONAL SPIRITUAL BEINGS living in an endless duration of time. They have the ability of intellectual activity. They experience emotional reactions. They possess moral freedom (the power of self-determination), or free will.

  • A TRINITY OF PERSONALITIES of equal endowments and attributes, who are in absolute oneness of purpose and activity, designated Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Ep. 4:4-6.
    1. While the Old Testament emphasizes the unity of God, as distinguished from the belief of pagan nations in a great multitude of gods, there are clear references to a plurality of Persons in the Godhead and some that point to this plurality as a
      • Plural nouns and pronouns are applied to God: Ge. 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7; 48:15; Is. 6:8.
      • Distinctions are made in the Godhead that would be uncalled for apart from a plurality of Divine Persons: Ge. 1:1-2; 6:3; 19:24; Nu. 6:24-26; Ps. 2:7 (Jn. 3:16, 18); 51:11; Is. 6:3; 63:9-11; Zech. 2:10-11.
    2. In the New Testament we find the threefold personality of the Godhead emphatically asserted.
      • Specific instances are:
        1. Our Lord’s baptism: Lk. 3:21-22.
        2. The bestowal of the Holy Spirit by the Father and the Son: Jn. 14:16-17; Acts 2:32-33.
        3. The baptismal formula as commissioned by Christ: Mt. 28:19.
        4. The ministry of the Holy Spirit: I Co. 12:4-6,
        5. The apostolic benediction: II Co. 13:14.In the New Testament we find the threefold personality of the Godhead emphatically
        6. The Lord Jesus was sent to earth from His eternal preexistence by the Father: 17:5, 18; Ga. 4:4-6 (also the Holy Spirit); He. 1:1-2.
        7. The Father and the Holy Spirit are distinguished from each other: Ro. 8:26-27.
      • Each of the Members of the Trinity is called God or claimed full Deity:
        1. The Father very frequently: Jn. 6:27; I Co. 8:6; Ga. 1:1, 3.
        2. The Son, the Lord Jesus Christ: Lk. 4:12; Jn. 1:1, 18; 5:17-18; 10:30, 33; 20:28; I Co. 8:6; Col. 2:9;  Tit. 2:13; He. 1:8; II Pe. 1:1.
        3. The Holy Spirit: Acts 5:3, 4; 13:2; 15:28; I Co. 2:10-11; Ep. 2:22; He. 9:14.
  • Yet A DIVINE UNITY OF PERSONALITIES—A compound
    1. The Old Testament emphasizes the unity of God: Ex. 20:3; De. 4:35, 39; 6:4; Is. 44:6. The word “one” (De. 6:4, quoted by the Lord Jesus, 12:29) in the Hebrew means “united,” indicating a compound unity or a unity of parts rather than a simple unity.
    2. The plural Hebrew word for God, “Elohim,” is often used with a singular verb (as 1:1, 27), indicating a profound unity of action.
    3. In His high-priestly prayer (Jn. 17:11, 21-23), the Lord Jesus likened the unity or oneness of His essential Being with the Father to the most intimate of all human relations, the spiritual oneness between Himself and the true Church, called “the body of Christ” (I 12:27; Ep. 5:30), and between fellow-believers by virtue of the baptism or partaking of the Holy Spirit (I Co. 12:13). The word “one” is in the neuter gender, expressing a unity. While always remaining separate individuals, those “born of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:6) are “to preserve the unity of the Spirit” (Ep. 4:3), “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27), “maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (2:2).

By making these comparisons, our Lord conveyed the idea that the oneness that exists among the Members of the Godhead is a moral (or voluntary) oneness of character and relationship, a united continuous choice to live in the realm of perfect love or true benevolence in all moral relations and responsibilities. The concept of salvation is elevated thereby and the profound nature of the glorious Trinity somewhat exposed to our limited vision.Evidently from the foregoing, it is proper to refer to the Godhead in both the plural and the singular.

The plural is proper because there are three Personalities so distinct that They may perform specific functions and actions separately. And yet there is a profound unity among the Members of the Godhead. Evidently this is a compound unity, as in Ge. 1:1 and 1:27, where the plural “Elohim” for God acted together in creation in such a manner that a singular verb could be used. We must, it appears, lean away from an elementary concept of unity into the realm of compound unity. (…) The Godhead are represented in the Bible as POSSESSING THE ABILITIES OF PERSONALITY. Man is said to have been created in the “image” and “likeness” of God as to his spiritual (or immaterial) nature, his essential personality (Ge. 1:26-27). (…) We are then challenged to view with profound humility and worship an ever- enlarging concept of the Personalities of the Godhead.

  1. The Godhead possess intellectual activity or personal INTELLIGENCE: 32:7-14, 30-33; I Sam. 2:35; Ps. 139:17-18; Is. 1:18; 41:21; 55:8-9; Jer. 2:1-13; 29:11; Micah 6:1-3; Ro. 8:27; I Co. 2:10-11.
  2. The Godhead possess the ability of EMOTIONAL REACTIONS of happiness or disappointment in accordance with man’s attitude: Ge. 6:5-6; II Chr. 16:9; Ps. 78:38, 58-61; 95:10-11; Is. 1:2; 5:4; 12:1; Eze. 6:9-10; Micah 7:18- 19; Zeph. 3:17; Zech. 1:14-16; Mt. 18:23, 27, 34-35; 23:37; Lk. 15:7, 10; Jn. 4:23; Re. 3:20.
  3. The Godhead possess the power of FREE WILL (or self-determination): Ge. 1:26; 3:22-24; 6:6, 12-13; 9:11-12; Ex. 32:7-14, 30-33; II Kgs. 20:5-6; Is. 12:1; Jn. 5:21; 10:18; Acts 1:7; I Co. 12:11; Jas. 1:18; I Jn. 4:14.’

Source: Gordon Olson, The Truth Shall Make You Free, The Truth About The Nature and Character of God, p 15-16, 20-21 (Illinois, Bible Research Fellowship Inc., 1980)

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