Few subjects in religion have caused more controversy and friction than the subject of the “trinity”
, the belief that God is three persons in one. It is a doctrine that is taught by almost all of the churches of Christendom and it has been the central teaching of the Catholic Church since the fourth century. It's adherents claim that the “trinity” is a teaching of the Holy Bible and that Jesus Christ himself claimed to be The Almighty God. Many people go further and claim that if a person does not accept the trinity, they will be condemned by God and burned in hell.
Yet, all throughout history, there have been those who have challenged this belief. The “trinity” divided the early church, was questioned by many breakaway religious denominations and movements during the middle ages, and was strongly rejected by Islam from the 6th century onward. Hundreds of thousands of believers have been persecuted, ex-communicated and murdered for refusing to believe in the “trinity.” Interestingly, as far as I am aware, no-one has ever been treated in such a way for actually believing in the “trinity.” One wonders what Jesus would say about such actions by people claiming to worship him. But we do not need to guess though because, Jesus made it clear in a warning to his followers. At John 16.2 He warns “the hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God”
yet, Jesus goes on to say of such persecutors and killers; “they will do these things because they have not come to know either the Father or me.”
In this article, I will examine the early history of Christianity to identify whether the trinity doctrine was part of it. I will investigate what experts and authorities say on the subject of the trinity. Most importantly, I will look at the Bible itself to see if the trinity does actually originate from the Bible. The ultimate authority I refer to is the Bible itself. If the Bible cannot be used to prove a doctrine then all other external evidence is irrelevant. For the record, the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible. Neither is there any explicit reference to “three being one”
or being “co-equal”
Nowhere in the Bible are the terms “God the Son”
or “God the Holy Spirit”
Some claim that it is acceptable to use the word “trinity” even though it is not used in the Bible, because “most theological terms that are used to sum up Biblical teaching are not found in the Bible.”
This conflicts with the Bible’s warning not to “add any words”
to the scriptures. Jesus warned of men who “teach commands of men as doctrines”
(Matthew 15.9). All explanations of Biblical doctrine should originate from the Bible, not exterior, corruptible sources.
The teaching of the “trinity,“ a form of worship practised by the Babylonians and Egyptians, is not “simple”
as some claim. In fact, it is labelled a “mystery”
by some prominent members of the churches when they are called upon to explain it. As an example, Catholic scholars Karl Rahner and Herbert Vorgrimler state in their Theological Dictionary: “The Trinity is a mystery ... in the strict sense ..., which could not be known without revelation, and even after revelation cannot become wholly intelligible.”
But this conflicts with the Bible's teaching that “God is not the author of confusion”
(1 Corinthians 14.33).
The Early Christians
Did the first members of the Christian movement believe in the trinity? Please read the following quotes;
“Primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds.”
- The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology.
“The early Christians, however, did not at first think of applying the [Trinity] idea to their own faith. They paid their devotions to God the Father and to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and they recognised the ... Holy Spirit; but there was no thought of these three being an actual Trinity, co-equal and united in One.”
- The Paganism in Our Christianity.
“At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian ... It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages, as reflected in the N[ew] T[estament] and other early Christian writings.”
- Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics.
“The formulation ‘one God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. ... Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective.”
- New Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Ante-Nicene Fathers, leading religious teachers in the early centuries after Christ's death, did not recognise or teach the trinity.
Justin Martyr, who died about 165C.E., called the prehuman Jesus a created angel who is “other than the God who made all things.”
He said that Jesus was inferior to God and “never did anything except what the Creator ... willed him to do and say.”
Irenaeus, who died about 200C.E., said that the prehuman Jesus had a separate existence from God and was inferior to him. He showed that Jesus is not equal to the “One true and only God,”
who is “supreme over all, and besides whom there is no other.”
Clement of Alexandria, who died about 215C.E., called God “the uncreated and imperishable and only true God.”
He said that the Son “is next to the only omnipotent Father”
but not equal to him.
Tertullian, who died about 230C.E., taught the supremacy of God. He observed: “The Father is different from the Son (another), as he is greater; as he who begets is different from him who is begotten; he who sends, different from him who is sent.”
He also said: “There was a time when the Son was not. ... Before all things, God was alone.”
Origen, who died about 250C.E., said that “the Father and Son are two substances ... two things as to their essence,”
and that “compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light.”
Commenting on the early evangelizers of Christianity, Alvan Lamson says in The Church of the First Three Centuries: “The modern popular doctrine of the Trinity ... derives no support from the language of Justin [Martyr]: and this observation may be extended to all the ante-Nicene Fathers; that is, to all Christian writers for three centuries after the birth of Christ. It is true, they speak of the Father, Son, and ... holy Spirit, but not as co-equal, not as one numerical essence, not as Three in One, in any sense now admitted by Trinitarians. The very reverse is the fact.”
The trinity was first established as official church doctrine in the 4th century at the Council of Nicaea. However, even then, the church did not adopt the teaching of the holy spirit being God so, at that stage, it was more of a holy duo than a trinity! By the time the council of Nicaea was convened, prophetic warnings in the Bible were coming true. The church had created a hierarchy and was allocating unscriptural titles upon it’s members. It was immersed in politics and philosophy and was bringing in it’s own unbiblical doctrines, such as the “immortal soul“
, which was a Greek philosophy.
Unfortunately, over the centuries, the churches of Christendom have strayed further and further from the teachings of the Bible. The “trinity” doctrine (not including the holy spirit), was officially endorsed and accepted into church teaching by the Roman Emperor Constantine. This influential man, who mingled Rome’s Pagan ways with the church’s watered-down version of Christianity, professed conversion to Christianity yet, even after his “conversion“
, went on to murder several members of his family. He showered his favourite representatives in the church with accolades, honours, property and power. One would be hesitant to accept an endorsement of doctrine from such a character who stood in complete contrast to the teachings of Christ Jesus. Jesus himself rejected any such power and influence and said “my kingdom is not of this world.”
Even more explicit are the words of Jesus’ Apostle, John who says at 1 John 5.19 “the whole world lieth in wickedness.”
But now let us turn to the Holy Bible itself. The Bible is the ultimate authority and we need to know what it says on this profound subject.
There are several scriptures which are often used to support the trinity doctrine. Often, however, these scriptures are taken out of context, or do not reflect the accurate translation of the original languages or even, were never in the Bible to begin with but were added much later. Let us examine four of the most commonly used scriptures that many claim prove the trinity.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
This scripture seems, at first glance, to imply that Jesus is God. But this would contradict so many other scriptures which say the opposite, such as “the Father is greater than I”
, or Jesus being described as the “the only begotten
(created) of the Father.”
John 1:18 says: “No one has ever seen God.”
Yet verse 14 clearly says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us ... we have beheld his glory.”
There must be an acceptable way of reconciling these scriptures.
In order to understand the original meaning behind John 1.1, it is necessary to be aware of some background information on the King James Bible, where this quote comes from. The King James Bible, which most modern Bibles are based on, based much of it's translation on previous Catholic translations. Those previous translations carried errors and falsifications which were inserted anonymously.
Two examples of this are the 1st letter of John chapter 5, verse 8 where the KJV reads "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."
These words were never written by the Apostle John. Historians and scholars agree on this.
Another misleading change is at Matthew 24.36 where the words "nor the son"
are omitted. With this in mind, let me comment on John 1.1.
First of all, the context contradicts the use of the words "was God."
The Journal of Biblical Literature, edited by Jesuit Joseph A. Fitzmyer, notes, that if the latter part of John 1:1 were interpreted to mean “the”
God, this “would then contradict the preceding clause,”
which says that the Word was with God.
Furthermore there are two occurrences of the word "The-os"
(God) at John 1.1, and they differ. The first is "ton-The-os"
literally "The God."
The second occurrence of the word (this time describing Jesus), is "the-os"
, without the definite article. Although Greek didn't incorporate indefinite articles, the reader was required to insert one, depending on the context. Many translations render this second "the·os"
(a predicate noun) as “divine,” “godlike,”
or “a god.”
because it is not describing the definite article, "The God," but is rather describing a quality or character of the subject, that he is god-like or of a divine nature. Look at some other translations which take this into account;
“The word dwelt with God and what God was, the word was”
-The New English Bible
“And a god was the word”
- Das Evangelium nach Johannes
“The word was divine”
- The Bible – An American Translation
“And the word was a god”
- New Testament by James L Tomchuck
“The Logos was divine”
- The New Testament - An Improved Version
“God of a sort the word was”
- A German Translation
“A god was the word”
- The Emphatic Diaglott
“And the word was a divine being”
- La Bible du Centenaire
Elsewhere in the Bible, such as John 8.44, where Jesus describes the Devil as "a manslayer and a liar,”
there is no indefinite article before the predicate nouns but the translators correctly inserted one.
That Jesus can be referred to as a “god”
(not The God) is perfectly normal in the Bible. Jesus is never referred to as “Almighty”
, only “mighty”
(Isaiah 9.6). In the Bible angels, and even humans, are sometimes referred to as “gods.”
Satan is called “the god of this world”
at 2 Corinthians 4.4, and at Exodus 7.1 God says to Moses “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh.”
This did not mean that Moses was God any more than calling Jesus “a god”
makes him the Almighty God, Yahweh, Jehovah. Finally, at Isaiah 41.23 God says to the leaders of the nations “ye are gods.”
If there is any confusion about Jesus' nature, it was not in the mind of the Apostle John. At John 1.18 (in the original Greek) John writes "No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him,"
and at John 20.31 He writes "But these have been written down that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God."
In the gospel of John, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees who demand to know how he claims to know Abraham. They ask “You are not yet fifty years old. How can you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus answers “Before Abraham was born, I am.”
Jesus was indicating that he had existed long before Abraham was born. Had He meant anything else, the answer would not have made any sense. Now some people claim that Jesus was calling himself by God's name, revealed to Moses in the book of Exodus. But this is a serious error in translation of Exodus 3.14. “I AM”
is not a name but a title, a description. It is a form of the Hebrew verb which means “to cause.”
Therefore, a more accurate translation of Exodus 3.14 would be “I will cause to be what I will cause to be”
(see any Bible dictionary or Expository). The word God uses at Exodus 3.15 is different and is a name. It is the tettragrammaton, the name of Almighty God, “Y-H-W-H”
(please see my article “The Bible's Greatest Secret”
). This is the name that Jesus “made known among men”
(John 17.6), and that he was referring to when He said, in prayer, “hallowed be thy name”
(Matthew 6.9). So the first statement by God, in Exodus, is what the name represents, it’s meaning; the second is the actual pronunciation of the name itself. It is for this reason that the scripture at John 8.58 cannot be used to claim that Jesus is God. Jesus is simply commenting on his pre-existence before Abraham, he is not using a name. This is confirmed when Jesus is later on trial before the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas demands to know “Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?”
But, according to trinitarians, Jesus has already told them that he is God so, why is Caiaphas asking again? Jesus answers “I am”
(that is to say “yes, I am the son of God”
). Later, when they hand Jesus over to Pilate for execution, they say that he “made himself God’s Son”
). If Jesus were actually stating that he was God by saying “I am,
“ why did the religious leaders not charge him with that greater crime? Because it is not what he meant. Jesus actually went on to say to them “Thou say, "Thou Blasphemest", because I said I am the Son of God?”
Furthermore, other Bible characters have replied “I am”
when asked questions, and no-one would insist that they were claiming to be God. (see Isaiah 47.8, 1 Kings 13.14 and Exodus 3.4). The Pharisees were angry with Jesus because, they considered it blasphemy for anyone to call themselves a “son”
of God, just as Jews and Muslims today also consider it blasphemy.
Im·man′u·el (“God is With us”) - Isaiah 7.14
The prophecy in Isaiah refers to Jesus Christ. Some have claimed that this means that Jesus is Almighty God. It was a common practice among Jews to incorporate the word “God,”
in Hebrew names. Even today “Immanuel”
is the name of many men, but they are not incarnations of God. This is a simple error which is shown by other uses of such terms for other servants of God. God told Moses, “I shall prove to be with you
” (Exodus 3.12). God also re-assures Joshua that “Just as I proved to be with Moses I shall prove to be with you”
Joshua 1.5). At Psalm 46.5 it reads “God is in the midst of [the city]; it will not be made to totter”
, but God was not literally there.
When dedicating the new temple to God, Solomon asked a rhetorical question in His prayer. He asked “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?” He then gave the answer, saying; “Heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6.18). No, God cannot physically dwell on earth.
God is “with us”
through Jesus because Jesus is God's appointed Messiah and King. But Jesus always obeys God and carries out His will. In fact Jesus sometimes had to plead with God. When He was in the garden of Gethsemene, Jesus asked God to “remove this cup”
(his impending execution) but, then Jesus yielded to His Father's will. When Jesus was dying on the stake, He cried out “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Is Jesus trying to confuse us? Remember, “God is not the author of confusion”
! (1 Corinthians 14.33)
“I and the Father Are One” - John 10.30
Supporters of the trinity claim that the above statement means that Jesus is claiming to be Almighty God, that He is His Father, Yahweh, Jehovah. But have a look at At John 17:21,22, where Jesus prays to God that his disciples “may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, ... that they may be one just as we are one.”
Does that mean then that Jesus' disciples are also God? Of course not. The scripture simply means that they are one in purpose, one in unity, just as Jesus is one in purpose with his Father.
For the record, The words “I am the Alpha and the Omega”
at Revelation 1.11 are not in the original Greek texts of the scriptures but, were added much later to make it look like Jesus is God.
Jesus - God's Son
Now let us look at some of the hundreds of statements in the Bible that clearly refute the trinity teaching. Please bear in mind that some of these statements are spoken after Jesus has returned to heaven so, the excuse cannot be made that while on earth Jesus was in subjection because he was in human form;
At 1 Timothy 2.5 Paul explains “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.”
One cannot mediate on behalf of oneself.
Jesus was created. John 1.14 describes Jesus as “the only begotten of the Father.”
John 1.18 describes Jesus as “the only begotten god.”
The words “begat”
as used in the Biblical Greek, mean “to give birth to,“
(see Luke 7.11 and Luke 8.41).
Jesus was not authorised to know certain information or make certain decisions. “Concerning that day and hour, nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens, nor the son, but only the Father”
(Matthew 24:36). The King James version omits the words “nor the son”
but, those words are there in the original Greek. One wonders why the translators left them out, could it be to support the trinity? “But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared”
- Mark 10:40
Jesus was “sent,” "authorised”
and “given.” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son”
(John 3.16). “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world”
(John 3:17). “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”
Jesus had to consult God in all his decisions and, at one point, even questioned his destiny. “For just as the Father has in himself the gift of life, so he has granted to the Son to have also in himself the gift of life. And he has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is. I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge, and the judgement that I render is righteous, because I seek not my own will but the will of him that sent me.”
(John 5:27). “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will”
Jesus is clearly subordinate to the glory of God. “He
(Jesus) learned obedience from the things he suffered”
(Hebrews 5:8). Almighty God does not need to learn obedience! “Why do you call me good? None is good but the Father”
Jesus always directed praise and worship to God in heaven. “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength”
(Mark 12.30). “Thy will be done”
(not Jesus’ will but God, Jehovah’s), (Matthew 6.10).
Jesus himself calls his Father “my God.”
at John 20.17 “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father. I ascend unto my father, and your father; and to my God, and your God”
(John 20.17). It is one thing for Jesus to describe Yahweh, Jehovah as “my Father and your Father,”
God does describe some humans as his children, his sons and daughters. However, it is completely another thing for Jesus to describe him as “my God and your God."
Is Jesus playing games with Mary’s mind? Surely he has no God? Mary does not contradict him either, because she knows that Jesus is “the Son of God”
and is in subjection to God.
“For I have not found any work of yours completed in the eyes of my God”
(Revelation 3.2). This is Jesus speaking. He specifically calls God, “my God”
while he is in heaven. “Him that overcometh will I
(Jesus) make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall no more go out: and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God”
(Revelation 3.12-14). Not only does Jesus again describe the Almighty as “my God”
but he goes on to say that he will write upon his faithful ones “the name of my God.”
This is obviously a different name from his own.
Jesus used God’s personal name (and it isn’t “Jesus”). “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence Satan: for it is written, “Thou shalt worship Jehovah, thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”
(Matthew 4.11). “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Yahweh, Jehovah). “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done”
“The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God”
1 Corinthians 11.3
“There is but one God, the Father, of who are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things”
1 Corinthians 8.5
When the dust settles, after Armageddon, when God's kingdom rules over the earth, Jesus will hand back to God all the authority He was given, as the Bible tells us;
(Yahweh, Jehovah) subjected all things under his
(Jesus') feet. But when he
(Jehovah) says that ‘all things have been subjected,’ it is evident that it is with the exception of the one
(Jehovah) who subjected all things to him
(Jesus). But when all things will have been subjected to him
(Jesus), then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone”
(1 Corinthians 15.27).
I have discussed the trinity with thousands of people over the years, and responded to the points they raise yet, whenever I present the above scriptures to them they do not respond. I would like to ask anyone who reads this to offer me an explanation for these things (email@example.com).
The “trinity” is a doctrine invented by men alienated from the original teachings of Jesus Christ. Men who were drunk on philosophy and the clamour for personal power and gain, men who were inspired, not by God, the author of truth, but by the Hellenistic and pagan teachings of other nations. The “trinity” doctrine dishonours the Almighty God, stealing his glory and giving it to his beloved, faithful submissive son, Jesus. In the Bible God declares “I am Jehovah, that is my name, and to no-one else will I give my glory”
(Isaiah 42.8). The trinity serves the purposes of God's enemy, the Devil, the Author of Confusion, because it breeds confusion and division and it diverts the due worship of the Almighty God Yahweh, Jehovah, and directs it to his son.
For a complete examination of the “trinity” in the Bible, please see my book entitled “God’s Interpretation - Is Jesus Almighty God?.“
You can find this on an online publishing site called “Lulu Publishing.”