· author: Thomas · reading time: ca. 4 min.

Christians believe that God consists of the three persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are related to each other. For comparison, water can also appear as liquid, as steam or ice. We are also invited to a relationship with the triune God.

An essential tenet of the Christian faith is that God is “triune”. This means that God consists of three “personalities” who are ultimately the same God:

  • God the Father
  • God the Son (Jesus Christ)
  • and the Holy Spirit

This is called the Trinity, or more formally the Holy Trinity.

Personally, I have never seen a contradiction in this, but since there are often questions about the Trinity, I would like to illustrate the subject.

An image for the Trinity

A well-known image for the Trinity is water: We all know that water can take different forms. First, there is normal water, which is liquid and therefore very flexible. Then there is ice, which, unlike liquid water, is very hard. Finally, there is steam, which is much hotter and in fact rises up, unlike the other types of water.

So there are different forms of water, all with different properties, and yet we say it’s basically all water. We know that all three types of water are ultimately made up of the same water molecules, namely H2O.

It is the same with God: although there are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all of whom also have different characteristics and appear differently throughout history, we know that all three are basically the same God.

Trinity in the Bible

Old Testament

The Trinity already appears in the Old Testament of the Bible:

The prophet Moses, who led the people of Israel out of captivity in Egypt, already sang of God as the Father. Also, for example, the prophet Isaiah later reminded Israel that God is their true Father.

(Further reading: Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16)

Likewise, the prophet Isaiah predicted that God would later come to earth in the form of His Son. He calls Jesus by his epithet “Immanuel”, which means “God with us”. This implies that in Jesus, God lived on an equal level with humanity.

(Further reading: Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23)

Right in the second verse of the Bible we read that the Spirit of God was already present at the creation of the world. It is recorded in the Psalms that King David prayed that God would not take His Holy Spirit from him. The prophet Joel predicted that God would “pour out” his Spirit in the last days, which was already fulfilled at least in part at Pentecost, during the time of the New Testament.

(Further reading: Genesis 1:2; Psalm 51:12; Joel 2:28; Acts 2)

New Testament

The Trinity is then affirmed in the New Testament:

Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus himself instructed his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit when he sent them out into the world to tell all people about their faith. The apostle Paul also takes up the Trinity as a formulation in his letters.

(Further reading: Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word.

The identity of Jesus as the Son with God as the Father is explained by the apostle John right in the first verse of his Gospel. He writes that the Word was God. The Word is another name for Jesus, which, for example, the evangelist Luke also uses in his Gospel.

Thus, there are other biblical passages that identify Jesus with attributes that only make sense if he is also considered God. An example of this is the letter of Apostle Paul to the Colossians, in which he explains to them that through Jesus Christ everything in the world was created, so he is also the Creator.

(Further reading: John 1:1; John 1:14; Luke 1:2; Colossians 1:16)

You did not lie to people, but to God!

A well-known event from early Christianity in which the Holy Spirit is identified with God involved Ananias and his wife Sapphira. They sold a piece of land to donate the money to the church. But in doing so, they lied and kept some of the money for themselves. The apostle Peter comments on this by saying that they lied to the Holy Spirit and thus to God.

(Further reading: Acts 5:3-4)

The nature of God

Even though there is no single Bible verse that directly says “Father = Son = Spirit”, the doctrine of the Trinity is well grounded in the Bible. It is even necessary in order to harmonize all the statements of the Bible in which the different natures of God are described.

The Trinity also shows that the Christian God is not an abstract “energy” or something similar, but a personal God who is characterized by relationships. We can understand this as an indication that God also created us humans as relational beings and that God wants to connect with us.