The Trinity: Questions and Answers

New Light Ministries gets many letters from readers and supporters. Not surprisingly, a lot of questions are from current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses. One of the most difficult issues for many of them is the topic of the Trinity. The Watchtower spends an enormous amount of time, resources, and money denouncing the Trinity as Satan’s lie, an unbiblical concept that is confusing and impossible to understand. Is this true? Is the Trinity really unbiblical? And should it be rejected because it is difficult to comprehend? Let’s examine this issue in light of Scripture to find the answer.

First, it’s important to understand that there are some topics in Scripture we cannot fully comprehend. For example, the Bible clearly teaches that God has always existed and that He had no beginning. Yet, Christians have no problem believing the Scriptures and accepting the fact that God had no beginning—even though our minds cannot fully understand or comprehend it. In many ways, the concept of the Trinity, or Godhead, is very similar. Fully comprehending or understanding the Trinity is not an easy task. Most would say it is impossible for man’s finite mind to fully fathom the complete nature of a God who created everything from nothing (Isaiah 55:8,9; Romans 11:33; and 1 Corinthians 13:12). On the other hand, God’s Word gives us a clear concept of the Trinity, a concept woven throughout the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. With that said, let’s look at some of the most common questions we receive from our readers. Both the questions and answers are listed below:

Question: If Jesus was God, why would he kneel down and pray to himself "to remove this cup" (his impending death) from himself in the garden after the Last Supper, when the apostles all fell asleep? Why did he not grant himself his own wish? Why did he say to some other person, "...but let it not be my will, God, let it be yours."? Who was he talking to? Why was he talking to that person? What did that other person have to do with Jesus/God taking his own life (if, he actually did take his own life?) In this scripture I truly sense that it was very, very painful and heartbreaking for Jesus to sacrifice his life, and that if it were entirely up to him, he might re-structure things. But I'm convinced that it was not entirely up to him - there was an entirely different person involved that Jesus was trying to please, trying to impress. I believe that other person was Jesus’ Father, God, who Jesus was praying to.

Answer: First, let’s define the term “Trinity.” The way the word Trinity has always been described in Christianity, and as the concept is defined in Scripture, is this: There is one true God, and there are three co-equal persons that exist as that one true God. Though each of these persons exists as co-equal in the Trinity, they are not the same person (i.e., the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit). Within the Godhead, there exists a functional subordination among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the Son is subject to the Father, and the Holy Spirit is subject to the Father and the Son. It is true that the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible. But there are many concepts explained in the Bible that don’t make explicit reference to a specific term. For example, the term “Theocracy” is not in the Bible, but the concept is found throughout its pages. In fact, the term “Bible” is not in the Bible, but the “scriptures” are referenced many times in what we now call the “Bible.” 

With regard to Jesus, the Bible tells us he had both a divine and a human nature while he was here on earth. Please consider the following attributes of God that Jesus displayed in Scripture:

·         He was fully God (John 1:1, 14; John 8:58; John 20:28; Phil. 2:6; Col. 2:9)

·         He received and accepted worship (Matt. 28:9, 17; John 9:38; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:6), yet only God is allowed to receive worship. (Please look up the word “worship” in the Kingdom Interlinear to see that the same Greek word used to describe “worship” given to the Father is the same exact word used to describe the “worship” given to the Son. In other words, the Father does not receive a different type of worship than the Son.)

·         Only God knows the inner thoughts of man, yet Jesus saw evil in the hearts of the Jewish scribes (Matt. 9:4).

·         Only God knows the future, yet Jesus knew in advance those who would reject him (John 10:64) and those who would follow him (John 10:14).

·         He could read the hearts of every man and woman (Mark 2:8; John 1:48; 2:24-25; 4:16-19; Acts 1:24; 1 Cor. 4:5; and Rev. 2:18-23).

·         Jesus knows all things (John 16:30; 21:17).

·         Jesus also knew other things that only God could know. He knew where the fish were in the water; he knew which fish contained the coin; he knew Lazarus had died.

On the other hand, Jesus also displayed some very human traits:

·         Jesus was hungry at times.

·         He wept at times.

·         He felt “overwhelmed with sorrow” when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

·         Hebrews 4:15 says he was “tempted in every way, just as we are.”

So, when Jesus knelt down to ask the Father “to remove this cup,” he was speaking from his human nature. He was obviously going through a very difficult time, to the point of even sweating blood. Not only was Jesus about to lay down his life, but the One who had existed in perfect, holy unity with his Father before coming to the earth (John 1:1, 14) was now about to take upon himself the sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2; John 1:29). He had been chosen before the creation of the world to be THE sacrificial Lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:19-20), and only he could atone for the sins of all mankind. Yes, Jesus was definitely obeying the Father, but he was committed to following through because of his great love for you and for me…it was the very reason he came to earth. He came to seek and to save that which was lost.

Question: If Jesus/God died for my sins, who resurrected him? If he resurrected himself, did he truly "die" for my sins? When he said, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit", who was Jesus/God talking to? If Jesus/God
knew he had the ability to resurrect himself, what was sacrificed? What atonement was made for Adam's sin?

Answer: In other words, if Jesus is God, how could Jesus have been raised from the dead if God had been crucified? As mentioned in the previous answer, the teaching of the Trinity does not contradict the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead. The Father and the Holy Spirit were still in heaven while Jesus was on the earth. Though one person of the Godhead had been crucified, the other two persons (the Father and the Holy Spirit) were still overseeing the universe. However, according to Jesus’ own words, he did have the ability to resurrect himself. In John 10:17-18 Jesus said he had the authority to lay down his life, and the authority to take it up again. Jesus willingly laid down his life and shed his blood to atone for our sins (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10) and for the sinful nature we inherited from Adam (Romans 5:15). As a result, we can now receive the righteousness of God by having faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22). 

Question: When Jesus/God prayed at any time, who was he praying to? For  example, when Jesus prayed to God to resurrect Lazarus, saying, "Father, you wound, and you heal"...etc., who was he speaking to.
Answer: The previous answers for Questions 2 and 3 answer this question. Jesus was praying to his Father in heaven. He was not praying to himself.

Question: When Jesus/God was a baby in the manger, who was running the universe? Wouldn't that have been a good time for the Devil to kill Jesus/God? Was Baby/Jesus/God really a Baby/Jesus/God? Or was he a Baby/God waiting to be an Adult/God/Jesus?

Answer: When Jesus was a baby in the manger, God (the Father and the Holy Spirit) was running the universe, so there was no way the Devil was going to have free reign. In Phil. 2:6-9, the apostle Paul said that Christ “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Not only does this verse clearly state that Jesus was “in very nature God,” but that he willingly made himself nothing by taking on the body of a man. Christ was truly human and truly God. At times he displayed human attributes (he was tempted, weak, wept, etc.), and at other times he displayed Divine attributes (he raised people from the dead, claimed to be the “I AM”, forgave people of their sins, accepted worship, etc.) So, yes, Jesus was a real human baby, adolescent, and adult. And many of his experiences and temptations were very similar to ours, with the exception that he never sinned. 

Conclusion

Throughout the entire Bible, Jesus is compared to the God of the Old Testament (YHWH or Jehovah). For example, please consider the following verses:

·         In Zechariah 12:10, Jehovah is speaking and says, “they will look upon me, the one whom they have pierced.” We know that this is prophecy about Jesus, the One who is pierced many years later. Yet, here Jehovah is identified as the One who is pierced. (The Watchtower Society altered this verse in the New World Translation so it would appear as though Jehovah is not speaking about Himself in this verse.)

·         Revelation 1:7-8 says someone is coming. Who is coming? Verse 7 says it is someone who was pierced. But verse 8 says it is the “Alpha and Omega” who is coming. Verse 8 also says there is One “who is coming, the Almighty.” Compare this verse with Revelation 22:12-13, 20. Again, we are told that the Alpha and Omega is coming quickly. Verse 20 tells us the identity of the Alpha and Omega, the One who is coming…it is Jesus. Jesus is described as the Alpha and Omega, a term frequently used in the Old Testament to describe Jehovah.

·         In Isaiah 44:24 Jehovah says that he alone created everything, and that he stretched out the heavens and the earth by himself. However, John 1:2-3, 10 and Colossians 1:16 say that Jesus created all things.

·         In Isaiah 43:3 and 45:21, Jehovah declares that he alone is our Savior. Luke 2:11, Matt. 1:21, and John 1:29 tell us that Jesus is our Savior. This is confirmed again by the apostle Paul throughout the book of Titus, where he states that Jesus is our God and Savior.

·         Compare John 12:39-41 with Isaiah 6:1-5. We are told in John 12:41 that Isaiah said these things because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. However, Isaiah 6:5 says Isaiah saw the King, Jehovah.

·         Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that Jesus Christ was given a name above every name, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow..in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” The apostle Paul is alluding to Isaiah 45:22-24, where Jehovah says “Before me every knee will bow, by me every tongue will swear.” Paul is making the point that what is true of Jehovah is also true of Christ, the Lord of all humankind.

·         Compare Revelation 17:14 with 1 Timothy 6:15. Both the God and Jesus are identified as King of Kings and Lord or Lords.

·         Deuteronomy 32:3-4 says Jehovah is our Rock. Romans 9:33, 1 Corinthians 10:3-4, and 1 Peter 2:4-8 say Jesus is our Rock.

These are just a handful of the many verses that apply the same attributes to both Jesus and Jehovah. The point is that Jesus is much more than a name used to wrap up a prayer. He is the author and protector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). The name of Jesus is said to be higher than every other name. Consider the following:

·         Acts 4:12—By whose name, and no other, do we obtain salvation?

·         Acts 1:8—Whom are we to be witnesses of?

·         John 1:12, 3:16; Acts 10:43; 1 John 5:13—In whose name are we to believe and receive the forgiveness of sins?

·         1 Corinthians 1:2—Whose name did the apostle Paul tell us to call upon?

Scripture does not say Jesus is the Father. It simply shows us that the Father and Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) are the God that we know as Jehovah. This may be one of the reasons Jesus told us in John 5:23 that believers are “to honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” When we honor Jesus we honor the Father (John 12:26). Yes, the Trinity is a difficult concept to fully comprehend. Fortunately, God does not say we have to be able to fully comprehend everything about him (at least not in this life). In fact, whether we fully comprehend the Trinity isn’t the real issue at all. He simply says we must know and trust Him. John 17:3 says that eternal life is wrapped up in knowing God, not in taking in knowledge about him. John 5:39 says we can know all about the Scriptures, yet miss the most important fact of all…that we must come to Jesus alone for life. The apostle Paul’s greatest goal in life was to know Christ (Phil. 3:7-10). That is our highest calling…to know Jesus. To know Jesus is to know God, and knowing God is what life is all about.