Summary: Today is the Celebration of the Holy Trinity. The Father is revealed in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is not a table-talk discussion. The Trinity is not a concept. The Trinity is missional.
(Additional passage: John 16:5-15)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen. (Psalm 19:14)
Today is the Celebration of the Holy Trinity. The Father is revealed in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The father is unseen by us, but we know him through the son, and the Spirit provides us with the gifts to bring the blessings of the Gospel message to others.
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus telling his disciples that he’s returning to the father who sent him, and will be sending them the spirit of truth, an advocate. He describes the unity of their relationship.
This is an example of the Bible affirming the concept of the Holy Trinity. Yet the Bible does not specifically mention the Trinity in a decisive “three-in-one and one-in-three” statement that would eliminate further discussion.
And I get the felling that we’re not supposed to fully understand it as mere humans, but we’re supposed to keep trying to get closer to the truth, even if it is a mystery.
A casual glance at scripture shows us a clear indication of the unity of the three persons of God, such as Matthew 28:19, the Great Commission, in which Jesus says, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
And also in our greeting and dismissal found in 2 Corinthians 13:13, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
Many people believe that the concept of the Trinity was created by Christians centuries after Christ’s time on earth. But that’s not really true. It just became more obvious then.
The New Testament reveals what the Old Testament foreshadows. The entire Old Testament points to Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, redeeming the Father’s children through the power of the Holy Spirit. But we see that only when viewed through the prism of the New Testament.
Without the New Testament, we don’t see the culmination of the Old Testament; and without the Old Testament, the promises of the New Testament have no foundation. So we first look in the Old Testament for a foundation for the concept of the Holy Trinity.
The first words of the Old Testament, originally written in Hebrew, are “Bereshit Elohim…,” which means, “In the beginning, God….”
Elohim is the Hebrew word they used for God. But there’s something rather significant and strange about that particular word choice. It’s plural, but not just a regular plural noun. El would be singular, and the plural for two would be Ela. But Genesis 1:1 uses Elohim, a Hebrew plural for three or more.
In verse 26 of the same chapter, we read “Let us make man in our image.…” The pronoun choice is plural.
Later in the Second Book of the Law, or Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, verse 4, is recited by every Jew on the Day of Atonement, and is the primary prayer in his heart. It leads into what Jesus called the greatest commandment, and Moses implored the Israelites to focus on it continuously:
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Even beyond the individual word usage, the Old Testament shows a three-part “personification” of God, which leads a natural Trinitarian development.
The first is Wisdom.
• Especially evident in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job
• Attribute of Divine wisdom treated as if a person
• Portrayed as active in creation, fashioning the world in her imprint
• Wisdom, incidentally, is always portrayed as female
Second is the Word of God
• God’s speech or discourse is treated as an entity independent of God yet originating in God
• Portrayed as gong forth into the world to confront humanity with God’s will and purpose
• Bringing guidance, judgment, and salvation
Third is the Spirit of God
• Phrase is used to refer to God’s presence and power
• Shown as present in expected Messiah (Isaiah 42:1-3)
• Agent of a new creation when the old has passed away (Ezekiel 36:26; 37:1-14)