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A Closer Look at the Godhead

Bible Topics

A Closer Look at the Godhead

Bob Yandian

2 Corinthians 13

vs. 14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

The purpose of Paul’s prayer from 2 Corinthians 13 was to instruct the Corinthian congregation about the individual ministries of the members of the godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This New Testament prayer is filled with New Testament doctrine. The individual ministries of the godhead were unknown in the Old Testament. Old Testament prayers are filled with Old Testament doctrine. Look at this verse of instruction from Moses.

Numbers 6

vs. 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:”

vs. 24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;”

vs. 25 “The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;”

vs. 26 “The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

In this passage, God is called “the Lord.” Throughout the Old Testament, God is usually not connected with the other two members of the godhead. He is usually presented as “one” to the writers and inhabitants of Israel. Although the godhead is presented in the Old Testament, the prophets and believers did not understand the separate functions of all three members. The godhead is taught and explained in the New Testament. Our greater understanding of the godhead began when Jesus came and entered his public ministry, and increased through the writings of the epistles of Paul, John, and Peter.

 How Can God be More than One?

People often wonder how it is possible for God to be more than one, but Old Testament scriptures reveal there is more than one member of the godhead.

Genesis 1

vs. 26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

Isaiah 48

vs. 16 “…now the Lord God (Father), and his spirit (Holy Spirit) has sent me (Christ).”

The teaching of God being more than one is an elementary teaching to the Christian faith and life, many still do not understand how God can be three yet one. Our hymns are filled with phrases such as, “Glory to the three in one,” and “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Is God one person? Are the different titles recorded simply multi-faceted sides or personalities of the one God?

God is often referred to as the “Trinity” to help us in our understanding of God as three persons acting as one. All three are one in vision, goals, and purpose. Studying other words will help in our understanding God. “Team” is one word that describes many. “Army” is also a word describing a multitude of members. In both cases, the group acts as one. On the field, the team works as one in their desire to score points. On the battlefield, the army works as one in their combat maneuvers to win the war. Although each member of the team or army has different responsibilities, their individual functions work together for the common good of victory. We find examples of teamwork in the Word of God—many individuals acting together as one.

2 Chronicles 5

vs. 13 “Indeed, it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one

Judges 20

vs. 1 “So all the children of Israel came out, from Dan to Beersheba, as well as from the land of Gilead, and the congregation gathered together as one…

How can God be one, yet three? The easiest example of all to understand comes from marriage.

Ephesians 5

vs. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

The man and wife are still two separate individuals, but they now become one in purpose, vision, and goals. In fact, after many years, they even begin to think alike. Although the two can still surprise each other at times, they now know how the other will respond in various situations and under certain conditions. They have not only become one flesh, they have become one soul. In some ways, it is almost as if they have become one person.

If the three members of the godhead could be separated and asked the same question, they would each give the same answer.

How are the Members of the Godhead Alike?

God is said to be “one” because there are characteristics all three members of the godhead possess. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all sovereign. They do not need man’s opinion or permission to do the things they do. They are accountable to themselves.

Secondly, all three are righteous. Man has relative righteousness. Once man possesses God’s righteousness, he can mature and grow stronger in it. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cannot grow in righteousness because they are absolute righteousness. They always have been righteous, are righteous, and always will be as righteous as possible.

Thirdly, all three possess eternal life. They have always existed and will always exist.  Man has everlasting life. His connection with God has a beginning and no ending.

Other attributes all three members of the godhead share include justice, love, omniscience (all knowing), omnipresence (everywhere), omnipotence (all-powerful) and immutability (unchanging).

How are the Members of the Godhead Different?

A married couple may be “one,” but they are still two distinct individuals. So it is with the godhead. All three are one, but each has different tasks and responsibilities.

God is the originator of all divine plans. Jesus Christ executes the plans, bringing them to pass. The Holy Spirit is the revealer of the plans.

In creation, God the Father planned creation, Jesus Christ created all elements of the creation (Colossians 1:16, 17), and the Holy Spirit revealed creation through the Word of God.

In redemption, God the Father planned salvation for all mankind, Jesus Christ went to the cross and accomplished redemption, and the Holy Spirit is the revealer of the plan of redemption to the hearts of all mankind.

New Testament References to the Trinity

The term “godhead” is mentioned three times in the New Testament. The term is used in Acts 17:29, in Romans 1:20, and in Colossians 2:9. There are also some very specific verses speaking of all three members of the godhead. One is found in Matthew 3:16-17.

Matthew 3

vs. 16 “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.

vs. 17 “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

As Jesus (second member) was coming out of the water, the Holy Spirit (third member) came from heaven and landed upon Him. Then the Father (first member) spoke from heaven and gave His approval of Jesus’ ministry.

Another passage which is very clear is found in the great commission in Matthew 28.

vs. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

Our prayer life is made possible because there are three members of the godhead each doing their job.

Ephesians 2

vs. 18 “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”

The Godhead in Our Daily Life

In our opening passage, the apostle Paul tells believers how the godhead is involved in our everyday life.

2 Corinthians 13

vs. 14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Jesus Christ brings God’s grace to us each day for the forgiveness of sins, healing of our diseases, and meeting of our every need.

2 Corinthians 8

vs. 9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

God the Father is the author of love and is even named after this attribute.

1 John 4

vs. 8 “…for God is love.”

The Holy Spirit is our partner, our daily companion. The Greek word for communion in Paul’s prayer is koinonia. It is a word speaking of joint partnership. He joins Himself with us at the new birth to be our comforter, advocate, intercessor, and best friend. He will be with us until the day we die and then He will turn us over to the presence of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank God for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Understanding the Trinity (CDs)
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