Understanding the Christian Trinity
by Glen Jackman | Posted January 3rd at 5:39pm
I hope to help you understand the scope of God’s entire omnipresent being, who in all three persons, co-belonging, though singularly named as personal beings, work to achieve unified goals on behalf of mankind. 1
Eternally, and fully united simultaneously, to each of the three Persons of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each are fully God while each actively serves in his own unique co-operative personal role, as one in relation to each, eternal and undividedly divine, in One Magisterial Mind. 2
To understand the Christian Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit it is important to unpack scripture and connect the distinctions such as in John 1:1, and yet see the equality of each. Once we see the unifying roles of the three in one Godhead, we will have the eyes to see this beautiful reality of God’s divine strategy of overseeing his creation.
The Father’s Unique Role: Supreme Authority
- Within the Trinity, it is evident from scripture that the Father is supreme in position and authority, among the God-head persons. The Psalmist wrote: I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ (Psalm 2:7-9)
- In the gospels, Matthew noted the Word of Jesus: Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ (Matthew 6:9-10)
- Apostle Paul, chosen by Jesus to unpack the gospel, confirms the Father’s ultimate authority: When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:28)
- In Ephesians 1:3 Paul indicates that all our blessings originate with the Father: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him.
- Paul emphasized that the means and the end of the redemption of Christ, was to glorify the Father: For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
The Father Leads
Some believe that the use of family roles are depicted metaphorically to help our understanding. Others would point out that humankind was made in God’s image. (Genesis 1:26-27) As the wise designer of co-creation with the Trinity, the redemption of humankind, and the consummation of all things summed up in Christ the Son, the Father was the supreme authority in the lead. This is evident as Paul pointed out: He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:9-12)
The Father is the Ultimate Provider
James pointed out: Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James1:17)
Paul also defined the Father as the one from whom all blessings flow: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)
The Father Provides and Works Through the Son and Spirit
The Father is to be praised, though all his gifts to us come through the Son and Spirit. Paul presents the flow of authorized achievement to act on behalf of mankind, as issuing from the Father: (see Ephesians 1:3-14)
The Son is under the Headship of the Father’s authority.
Paul makes it clear that the lineage of authority begins with the Father: But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
Further, the writer of Hebrews agrees that the Father historically defined powerful roles for the Son – at creation as co-creator, further redemption at the incarnation prophesied by Isaiah; all beginning in eternity past since the foundation of the world: God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things into eternity future, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2–1; Colossians 1: 15-19; Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 13:8; Genesis 1:2)
This respect of Father’s authority is seen in Christ’s submission to the Father during His incarnation and frequently in his earthly mission. John noted: Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. ‘And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.’ (John 8:28-29) In John 4, when the disciples asked Jesus why he was not interested in eating, Jesus said: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34).
The Son’s submission to the Father began in eternity past. Forty times in John’s gospel, Jesus mentions the fact that the Father has sent him to accomplish the mission that arrived incarnated here to do from heaven.
Jesus is recorded as saying:
- For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)
- For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38)
- …I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. (John 8:42)
- …do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:36)
The Father creates in a union by or through the Son, who is referred to as the Word: (see John 1:3, 1 Cor 8:6)
The Father ordained that everything in creation, be placed in subjection to his Son, as well as the elected and redeemed in Christ (see Eph 1:4-6) All others who deny the Son will be brought to final judgment through Christ. (see John 5:22-29; Rev 5:9) The Son obeyed the Father in heaven, as the Father’s instrument of creation, and assent from heaven do the will of his Father. The Son submitted to the Father, then, in eternity past, and further he submits in eternity future: When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:25-28)
In Revelation 1:1, we see that the Father initiates the giving of the message to Jesus who delivers it to John via an angel messenger: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John.
Some get hung up on patriarchal authority in the bible. Jesus viewed his obedience to the Father as an act of love. Scripture depicts a love relationship between the obedient Son and the governing Father. (see John 14:31; John 15:9-10)
We can see that the Father exercises His absolute authority to bring about what is best for His creation among all of humanity in redemption. With purpose, He always placed his Son on centre-stage even during the exodus out of Egypt. (see 1 Corinthians 10:4) The Father gives honour to the Son, as the Son seeks the Father’s honour, in all he does, to glorify his Father.
1 I’m indebted to Professor Bruce Ware who helped me see the distinctions of the Godhead in the Trinitarian way during a course delivered at Heritage Seminary, Cambridge, Ontario.
2 Jesus prayed in John 17:1, NLT: I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. I have further written on Yahweh who called Moses in the burning bush, referring to Himself as “I am” and later revealed His name as “Yahweh” to Moses. Later Jesus inferred that: I and my Father are one and the same person by saying: Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58
Article posted by Glen R. Jackman, founder of GraceProclaimed.org
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