Since starting this topic I’ve found myself often chasing my tail. At times it appears too big to pursue. Other times it seems so obviously clear that the Bible does speak of a triune God that it’s hard to see how others find such merit for the concept. Then there is the sobering thought that my thoughts are in the minority. Like that’s a first.
As I’ve been reading the scriptures, not books about the scriptures, I find myself coming back to one central question t regarding Paul’s writings. If Paul believed, or understood, God to be God and Jesus to be God and the Holy Spirit to be God, that would have been a more than radical departure from his Hebrew upbringing. It would have been such a paradigm shift it seems hard to fathom that he would not have addressed the issue specifically and not simply in what appears to be passing reference. Furthermore, if Paul had adopted a system of belief that saw God in three persons, he could not have avoided expressing that in his preaching and teaching throughout his missionary journeys. Consequently, one would think the churches he established or visited would have had more than a few questions about the idea. And those questions would have been addressed in one or more of his letters. However, that does not appear to be the case. Why?
Another observation about Paul’s writings. In almost every letter of Paul the introduction makes a clear distinction between God the Father and Jesus, the son of God. 1Corinthians 1:3 is a good example; “Grace to you and peace from God our Father AND the Lord Jesus Christ.” Just a couple of comments about these types of greetings. In many instances Paul uses a conjunction to distinguish between God the Father and Jesus. Also, often when he refers to Jesus he uses the term kurios – lord. If, in Paul’s mind and theology, Jesus was God and he thought in terms of kurios being a term equal to Jehovah, there would be no need for a conjunction. He could simply say, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Of course he doesn’t say that – as near as I can tell he never says it.
Now I’ll make a brief comment about one of the sticking points to this whole trinitarian thought process – the prologue in John’s Gospel. Here’s a typical translation; “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” If we first note that John does not say “God was the Word” which might settle things once for all, he says that “the Word was theos” – could he have meant “the Word was divine?” If we make a further note by linking those beginning words with some of John’s closing words, “…these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God…” He does not say Jesus is God the son, or those things were written were so that we would believe that Jesus is God, or that Jesus was God, he says that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the very son of God. That’s a huge distinction from what he said in the beginning and it must be reconciled.
As you can tell, I’m a bit confused not by what scripture says, but apparently, what it does not say. I can pick a verse here or there and say “see it says that Jesus is the exact representation of God” so that must mean he IS God and that he and the Father are one along with the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t seem to be what the Bible actually says when looking at the full voice of scripture. It may be, as was noted in the on-line version of the ISBE – “…the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in formulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions…” Perhaps I need to pay more attention to the allusions.