Recently I have been reanalysing my arguments against certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In this post, I will not be giving a refutation of one of my previous arguments, but rather will be giving a conclusion as to whether the Trinity can be found clearly in the New Testament. In my biblical analysis of the Trinity (see here), I concluded that the New Testament at least seemed to imply the deity of the Son and to present the Holy Spirit as a separate person. In this post, I will give a more definite answer.
Matthew 28:19 ESV
“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.”
This verse is often used to “prove” the Trinity in the New Testament. I would be less inclined to say that this verse proves the doctrine of the Trinity so much as it supports it. To baptize in all three names seems to place all three on the same level. It also indicates that the Holy Spirit is a person, different from the Father and the Son.
John 1:1-3 ESV
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through, and without him was not anything made that was made.”
This passage seems to pretty clearly teach the divinity of Jesus. Although there is no definite article before the Greek word theos (“god”) in this passage, this does not mean that it must or should be translated as “a god” because Greek lacks an indefinite article. It is simply not plausible in the context of the gospel of John being about the Jewish Messiah to also teach a form of polytheism. Furthermore, it cannot necessarily be understood to be an adjective, since there is another Greek word for this (theios, that is, “divine”).
Now, later in this chapter, it is stated that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14 ESV). In my previous analysis of this passage, I posited the idea that this could be saying that the Word of God was simply communicated through Jesus in such a way that Jesus embodied God’s Word. However, in light of my exegesis of John 1:1, it would seem to be more coherent to read it as saying that the Word of God is a person, that is, Jesus Himself.
1 Corinthians 2:11 ESV
“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
This verse seems to indicate that the Spirit is indeed divine in nature. Although this verse compares the Spirit of God to the spirit of a human person, the Spirit of God cannot be the same person as the Father in the same way that the human spirit is not a separate person. This is because the Spirit of God, that is, the Holy Spirit, is seen to be a separate person in Matthew 28:19. Indeed, the Spirit must be God Himself (although not the Father or the Son), considering that the point of the analogy used by Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, is that human beings cannot read each other’s thoughts but only their own thoughts. Similarly, no one can read or “comprehend the thoughts of God” except God, that is, the Spirit of God.
Hebrews 1:3a ESV
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
The “He” in this verse is a reference to the Son (see verse 2). It would seem as if this verse is saying that Christ is divine. Although man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) yet is not God Himself, Jesus is said to be more than this in Hebrews. He is described as being “the exact imprint of his nature,” not merely in the exact imprint or as made in the image of God. Furthermore, the author of Hebrews writes that the Son “upholds the universe by the word of his power,” which would be blasphemous if the Son were not divine.
I think that the passages of the New Testament discussed above present a sufficient amount of data to show that the New Testament does indeed teach that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each divine while remaining separate persons. However, this alone may lead one to a belief in three separate gods rather than one God who subsists in three persons. To arrive at the doctrine of the Trinity, one must believe that there is only one God. Since the earliest Christians were Jews, it would have been very significant for them to have believed in the existence of multiple gods. Furthermore, that there is only one God is explicitly stated or implied throughout the New Testament in such passages as 1 Corinthians 8:4, 1 Timothy 2:5, and James 2:19.