Shelby G. Floyd
The word Trinity is not found in the Bible, but the concept is revealed in many places. But it is better to speak as the oracles of God. Therefore, in this proclamation I shall use the biblical term “Godhead” to teach that the one God is three Persons.
Some people teach that there is just one person in the Godhead, and that one person manifests himself sometimes as the Father, at other times as the Son, and still at other times as the Holy Spirit. This doctrine is stated, “The one true God, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, took upon himself the form of a man, and as the son of man was born of the virgin Mary.”
Jesus Christ is the Son of the Father
This doctrine that the Father was as the Son was started in 1914, and continues to this day. However, such a doctrine is definitely in conflict with the teaching of the Holy Bible. The apostle John, near the end of his life, wrote three small letters in which he said in one of them, “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 3, 9). In these verses we notice that the apostle John invoked the mercy and peace from both the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, and then he stated that if one will abide in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son. The oneness teachers say the Father was as the Son, but John says that there is the Father and the Son. There is a world of difference between the word “as” and the word “and.”
Webster defines the English term Godhead to mean, “divine nature or essence; the deity; God” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 355). The term Godhead is exactly the same as Godhood which Webster also defines as, “Godhead; Godship.” To better understand the meaning of Godhead we might compare it to manhood, or childhood, or statehood, which all imply a state or quality of being. The terms Godhead or Godhood then are used to express the state, dignity, condition and quality of Jehovah.
The Usage of the Term Godhead
The term Godhead is found three times in the New Testament. It is not found at all in the Old Testament. In each case in which it is used, it refers to the deity or the divine nature without specifying how many persons make up that divine nature. This must be learned from the teaching of the scriptures elsewhere.
Just now let us take notice of the Biblical usage of the term Godhead. First, this term is used in the book of Acts, concerning a speech which Paul made on Mars Hill. Paul said, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17: 29). In the second place, the same term is used in the first chapter of Romans where Paul states: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). And then in the third place, Paul teaches in the book of Colossians that the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Jesus Christ. He says, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2: 9).
In each of these statements, the term Godhead is used and has reference to the deity or the divine nature, but from these three passages we do not know whether the divine nature is composed of one, three or three hundred persons. We must learn this from the teaching of the Bible in other places. The Bible however does teach that there are three persons within the Godhead and not one person as supposed by the oneness teachers.
The Three Members of the Godhead
Several passages of scripture teach in very definite terms that there are three persons in the God-head. For instance, when Jesus was ready to leave the earth and go back to his Father to reign over his kingdom, he gave the great commission to his apostles and to all of his people through them. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28: 18-20). We are commanded to baptize those who have been taught out of all the nations in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they are baptized into a relationship with three persons and not one person.
Then in the book of Corinthians, concerning the subject of miraculous gifts, Paul said, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Corinthians 12: 4-6). Here we have the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit all mentioned in connection with miraculous gifts which were in existence in the early church. In writing his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul in¬voked the blessings of the Godhead upon his readers, but in so doing, he called forth these blessings from three persons within the Godhead. He said, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13: l4). These blessings come from all three members of the Godhead and not just one person.
These three passages of scripture which we have just considered definitely teach that there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Term God is Comprehensive and Specific
In the Bible the term God is used both comprehensively and specifically. In the comprehensive sense it includes the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When it is used specifically it has reference to each individual member of The Godhead according to the nature of the context. For instance, in the opening verse of the Bible we read: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1: 1). The word God in this opening statement of the Bible is in the plural, which indicates that there is more than one person within the Godhead.
While commenting upon this verse, Adam Clarke wrote,
The original word Elohim, God, is certainly the plural form… and has long been supposed, by the most eminently learned and pious men, to imply a plurality of per¬sons in the Divine nature. As this plurality appears in so many parts of the sacred writings to be confined to three persons, hence the doctrine of the Trinity, which has formed a part of the creed of all those who have been deemed sound in the faith, from the earliest ages of Christianity… He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words. The verb bara, he created, being joined in the singular number with this plural noun, has been considered as pointing out, and not obscurely, the unity of the Divine Persons in this work of creation. In the ever-blessed Trinity, from the infinite and indivisible unity of the persons, there can be but one will, one purpose, and one infinite and uncontrollable energy (Clarke’s Commentary. Vol. 1, p. 27-28).
That this is the case may be more clearly seen by a close reading and understanding of Genesis 1: 26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” In this statement we have the use of plural pronouns as well as the plural use of God, which indicates that there is more than one person that makes up the divine Godhead. When God said, “Let us make man in our image” he was not speaking to himself, but he was conversing with the Son and with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in Genesis 1: 1 and 26, the term God is used in a comprehensive sense to include the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. However, in some places the term God is used, not comprehensively, but in a specific sense.
The Specific Usage of the Term God
Sometimes the term God is applied specifically to the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit. One must determine by the context to which the term God refers. For instance in the first place, the word God is sometimes applied specifically to only the Father in a particular context. Paul used the term in this sense to the Corinthians when he said, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Corinthians 8: 6). In this particular verse the term God has reference specifically to the Father. When Paul said there was one God he did not mean that there was just one person, but he used the word God in the sense of the Father, and of course there is just one God the Father of whom are all things.
In the second place, the term God is also used specifically to refer to Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. In the prologue of the gospel of John we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the begin¬ning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1: 1-3). The Word mentioned in these verses has re¬ference to Christ who was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), but the Bible definitely states that this Word, that is, Jesus Christ was God. This simply means that Christ was God. Therefore, the term God in this particular context refers not to the Father, but, to the Son of the Father, Jesus Christ.
In the third place, the term God is sometimes used to refer to the Holy Spirit. The apostle Peter used the term in this sense while discussing the deception of Ananias and Sapphira concerning a piece of land they had sold, but had kept back part of the money. “But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5: 3-4). Ananias lied to the Spirit, but Peter said he lied to God. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that the Holy Spirit is here called God. So the term God in this particular context refers neither to the Father nor the Son, but to the Holy Spirit.
There is just one God, but there are three persons that compose this one God. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all God; they all share the divine nature and possess the divine attributes.
Each Member of the Godhead is Holy
Since each member of the Godhead shares the divine nature, one may expect them to bear the same character. Each member of the Godhead is said to be holy. God, the Father, is holy. Jesus said in his prayer, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (John 17: 11). Jesus called his Father holy, and he prayed that those whom the Father had given him might be one as he and his Father were one. He and the Father was not one person, but they were one in purpose and one in character.
Also, God, the Son, is holy. When the leaders of the New Testament church, Peter and John, were intimidated they came back and. rehearsed the matter to the church, and the whole church prayed saying, “By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of the holy child Jesus” (Acts 4: 30). The Father and the Son then are one in the sense that they are both holy and bear the same character.
But also, God, the Spirit, is holy. In connection with the birth of Christ we read: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with Child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1: 18).
Therefore, we have seen that there are three persons that make up the Godhead; they are each holy, and bear the divine nature. Sometimes the term God is used specifically, and sometimes it is used comprehensively; but, the Bible definitely teaches that there is more than one person in the Godhead.
Copyright © 2014 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd