The Doctrine of the Trinity
by Walter Martin
The Doctrine of the Trinity teaches that within the unity of the one Godhead there
are three separate persons who are coequal in power, nature, and eternity. This
doctrine is derived from the clear teaching of Scripture, and is not a man-made
doctrine as some (such as the Jehovah's Witnesses) have claimed. Let us briefly
examine some of the New Testament evidences for this important doctrine.
1. The Incarnation. The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ as described in the accounts
in Matthew and Luke show that the doctrine of the Trinity was not a later invention
of theologians. Luke records what an angel said to Mary: "The Holy Spirit will
come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the
holy one to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
Since other passages of Scripture reveal that the term "Most High" refers to God
the Father, we have in Luke a concrete instance of the Holy Spirit, the Father, and
the Son all being mentioned together in the supernatural event of the Incarnation.
2. The Baptism of Our Lord. When Jesus Christ was baptized, the heavens
opened and the Holy Spirit "descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a
voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well
pleased'" (Luke 3:21-22). In these verses we see the Son being baptized, the
Spirit descending upon Him, and the Father bearing testimony.
3. Discourses of Christ. In John 14--16 Christ speaks of the persons of the
Trinity in His Upper Room Discourse. Jesus declared to the disciples, "And I will ask
the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- the
Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor
knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you" (John
14:16-17). Our Lord here prays to the Father for the Spirit, and His emphasis on
triunity is quite apparent. In John 14:26 and 15:26 Christ uses the same formula,
mentioning the three persons of the Deity and indicating their unity, not only of
purpose and will but of basic nature.
4. Paul's Letters. The apostle Paul definitely taught the triune nature of God. He
wrote: "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 Cor. 13:14). It would have been
difficult for Paul to give this benediction if the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were not
equal persons within the Godhead.
5. The Great Commission. In Matthew 28:18-20 the Lord Jesus commissions the
disciples to go out and preach the gospel and to make disciples of all nations. He
commands them also to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Spirit." Taken with the other passages bearing on the subject, this
becomes an extremely powerful argument for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
6. Creation. Although the Bible does not explain to us how the three persons are
the one God, it tells us most emphatically that the Spirit of God created the world
(Gen. 1:2), the Father created the world (Heb. 1:2), and the Son created the
world (Col. 1:16). If you check the creation references in the New Testament, you
will see that these particular references are bolstered by several others teaching
the same things.
The apostle Paul declared in Acts 17:24, "the God who made the world and
everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by
hands." This forces us to an irresistible conclusion. As creation has been attributed
to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit singly and collectively, they are the one
God. There cannot be three gods. The Scripture declares: "Turn to me and be
saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other" (Isa. 45:22).
Hence there is unity in trinity and trinity in unity.
7. The Resurrection of Christ. A final instance of Trinitarian emphasis is that of
the resurrection of our Lord. In John 2 Christ declared to the Jews, "Destroy this
temple, and I will raise it again in three days" (v. 19). John hastens to tell us that
Jesus was speaking of the resurrection of His earthly body (v. 21). Other
Scriptures, however, state that Christ was raised by the agency of the Holy Spirit
(e.g., Rom. 8:11). And Peter explicitly states that the Father raised the Son (Acts
3:26). So, again, God's Word affirms the triune nature of God.
We may not fully understand the great truth of the Trinity. However, we can see
the rays of light which emanate from God's Word and which teach us that, in a
mysterious sense beyond the comprehension of man's finite mind, God is one in
nature but three in person.
This article was adapted from Dr. Martinís book, Essential Christianity. Taken from The Founder
column of the New Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 6: Number 2, 1993. The Editor of the
Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes. Copyright © 1994 by the Christian Research
Institute, P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688-7000. The Editor-in-Chief of the
Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller. Faith and Reason Forum would like to thank CRI for
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