The term “Trinity” derives from the Latin trinitas, meaning “three.” While not explicitly found in the Bible, it serves as a later theological descriptor to encapsulate the triunity of God, a concept abundantly present in Scripture. This term, though a man-made construct, aptly captures the unity and plurality of the divine Persons.
From the opening verses of the Bible, hints of divine plurality emerge. The Hebrew word for God, “Elohim,” used in Genesis 1 and throughout much of the Old Testament, is inherently plural. Distinctions within God are further illuminated in Genesis 1:1–2, where God is distinguished from the Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim). Genesis 2:4 introduces the Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) as the Creator. Throughout biblical history, Yahweh, the Lord God, interacts with humanity, often in a physical form, identified as “the angel of the Lord” or even as “a man.” These early references illustrate three distinct Persons, yet one in essence and equality: God, the Spirit of God, and the Representative of God to humanity.
Amidst the perceived complexity of the Trinity, two alternative explanations have arisen: one suggesting three separate gods (polytheism) and the other proposing three expressions or modes of the same person (modalism). However, both these views diverge from the biblical portrayal of the Trinity. The Bible underscores the coexistence of plurality and singularity, proclaiming, “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh is our Elohim. Yahweh is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Isaiah 48 offers a direct assertion of God’s triunity. The One who named Israel in Isaiah 48:12 refers to Himself as “the first and the last,” identifying as Yahweh, the King of Israel, and the only God. This same One claims to be the Creator and asserts, “now the Sovereign Lord has sent me, endowed with his Spirit” (Isaiah 48:16). This intricate interplay between the Father, the Son (preincarnate Jesus), and the Spirit aligns with the teachings of the New Testament, where Jesus embodies the roles and attributes ascribed to God in Isaiah 48.
In the New Testament, Jesus affirms His preexistence, interaction with Abraham, kingship, role as the first and the last, and Creatorship. He emphasizes His sending by the Father and empowerment by the Spirit. Isaiah 48:12 and 16 find echoes in John 14:15–16 and Matthew 28:19, where Jesus distinguishes the Father, Himself, and the Spirit. This triunity, encapsulated in the term Trinity, stands as a central biblical teaching, underlined by the teachings of Jesus Himself.