Grace Bible Church
Basic Training in Doctrine
July 17, 2007
Apologetics for the Doctrine of the Trinity
JW Basic argument #1: “The Trinity is beyond human reason.”
Rationalism relies on human reason and logical consistency as the criterion for reality, totally apart from authority or revelation.
Empiricism establishes reality based on the experience of the senses. Reality is what you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch.
Faith is reality based on confidence in the authority and veracity of God. Faith comprehends infinite spiritual truths that are beyond the finite reasoning powers and sensory system.
Rahner and Vorgrimler state in their Theological Dictionary:
“The Trinity is a mystery . . . in the strict sense . . . , which could not be known without revelation, and even after revelation cannot become wholly intelligible.”
1. We say that the Trinity is confusing. [false]
2. They say the Trinity can only come from revelation. [true]
3. Therefore this revelation is confusing. [false]
4. No revelation from God can be confusing. [true]
5. Therefore the Trinity is a false doctrine. [false]
God has given us the visual aide of light for the doctrine of the Trinity.
1 John 1:5
And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
UV, the unseen and unfelt light, is a perfect picture of God the Father, the Planner.
Visible light, which is both seen and felt, is a perfect picture of God the Son, the Executor.
IR, which is unseen but felt, is a perfect picture of God the Holy Spirit, the Revealer.
JW Basic argument #2: The word “Trinity” is not in the Bible and the term was not used until third century A.D. Nor is the concept of the Trinity taught in either the O.T. or the N.T.
The true witness of God is that truth, that Jesus Christ is the source of eternal life to anyone who believes, which is a doctrine, by the way, that JW’s do not believe.
Historically, the formal doctrine of the Trinity derives from a succession of early church controversies and councils which sought to explain the biblical testimony regarding:
1. the oneness and unity of God in three persons;
2. the deity of Christ;
3. the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit.
The Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) declared the Son to have the same nature as the Father.
The Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) asserted the deity of the Holy Spirit.
The Hebrew word for God is Elohim, which is plural indicating the existence of more than one person in the Godhead.
The plural use of Elohim asserts that all three persons had a part in the creation. God the Father conceived the plan, God the Son accomplished creation (JOH 1:1-3; COL 1:16; HEB 1:2), and the Holy Spirit restored the creation (GEN 1:2) after satan’s fall from heaven.
a. God the Son accomplished creation.
1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created by Him and for Him.
1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
b. God the Holy Spirit restored the creation.
And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Thou dost send forth Thy Spirit, they are created;
And Thou dost renew the face of the ground.
The JW’s attempt to explain the plural Elohim as something called the plural of majesty, which in essence is an argument that says the plural is used because God is so majestic and great.
The plural of majesty is “comparable to the tendency in Canaanite religion (such as “Ashtartes” and “Anaths”, personal names of individual Canaanite goddesses).” [Complete Biblical Library]
Another problem that the Trinity antagonists have is the fact that the plural Elohim is often used with singular verbs.
The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures
The Trinity is one God in three persons acting as One, hence a plural subject and a singular predicate would be the only way to convey this.
The plural “We” was regarded by the fathers and earlier theologians almost unanimously as indicative of the Trinity: modern commentators, on the contrary, regard it either as pluralis majestatis; or as an address by God to Himself, the subject and object being identical; (Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
One should not continue to use rationalism to interpret Biblical truth, nor should one use commentators, old or new, to find Biblical truth, but rather faith in what the word of God says.
The Watchtower Society published in 1974: “Sincere seekers for the truth want to know what is right. They realize they would only be fooling themselves if they rejected portions of God’s Word while claiming to base their beliefs on other parts.”
There are a number of usages of Elohim as a plural referring to pagan gods. It is sometimes used in reference to angels as the “sons of God” in GEN 6:2; JOB 1:6, and it is also used to describe single gods such as Baal (fertility god of the Canaanites), Asthoreth (goddess of Sidonians), Chemosh (the god of Moab), Milcom (the god of the Ammonites), and Dagon (the grain and fertility god of the Philistines).
When expounding on all related texts to the Son and the Holy Spirit it is clear that they are both God along with God the Father. When this is seen in the Scripture the interpretation of plural majesty has to be thrown out.
“like one” = k’achab (singular “One”)
“of Us” = mimenuw (plural preposition).
Achab is used most famously in the phrase written in Due 6:4: Shema Yisrael (Hear O Israel) Adonai Eloheynuw (the Lord is our Elohim), Adonai echab (the Lord is One).
1. There is only one true God.
2. The Father is God.
3. Jesus Christ, the Son, is God.
In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!” (NWT)
ISA 9:6 For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (NWT)
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. (NWT)
kaí [and] theós [God] eén [was] ho [the] Lógos [word]
“and the word was God.”
The Journal of Biblical Literature says that expressions “with an anarthrous [no article] predicate preceding the verb, are primarily qualitative in meaning.” As the Journal notes, this indicates that the lo’gos can be likened to a god.
Colwell, Harner, and Mantey as well as all decent translations have stated that theos in John 1:1 is not indefinite and should NOT be translated “a god.”
ROM 9:5 to whom [the Jews] the forefathers belong and from whom the Christ [sprang] according to the flesh: God, who is over all, [be] blessed forever. Amen. (NWT)
hoón [whose] hoi [the] patéres [fathers] kaí [and] ex [from] hoón [whom] ho [the] Christós [Christ] tó katá [according to] sárka [flesh] ho [who] oón [being / is] epí [over and above] pántoon [all] Theós [God] eulogeetós [blessed / worthy of praise and glorification] eis [for] toús aioónas [ever] Ameén
“Christ” = nominative masculine singular
“is” = nominative masculine singular
“God” = nominative masculine singular
Thus, our Lord is spoken of as God, the One who is well-spoken of, eulogized, praised, forever.
while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus, (NWT)
Grandville Sharp’s rule as defined by Wuest: When there are two nouns in the same case connected by kai (and), the first noun having the article, the second noun not having the article, the second noun refers to the same thing the first noun does and is a further description of it.
According to the Grandville Sharp rule both expressions (God and Savior) refer to the same individual, Jesus Christ.
toú [the] megálou [great] Theoú [God] kaí [and] Sooteéros [Savior] heemoón [our] Ieesoú Christoú [Jesus Christ]
2 Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith, held in equal privilege with ours, by the righteousness of our God and [the] Savior Jesus Christ: (NWT)
2 Peter 1:1
Toú [the] Theoú [God] heemoón [our] kaí [and] Sooteéros [Savior] Ieesoú [Jesus] Christoú [Christ]
4. God the Holy Spirit is a Person and is God.
a. The Holy Spirit is a person:
The Spirit of God has made me,
And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
b. The Holy Spirit speaks.
For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
And while Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you.”
And the Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. And these six brethren also went with me, and we entered the man’s house.
And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers
c. The third person masculine singular personal pronoun is used to describe God the Holy Spirit.
“He” here in verse 14 refers to the Spirit of truth mentioned in verse 13 – the Holy Spirit.
The word for “spirit” is pneuma.
The Greek noun pneuma was given the gender of neuter.
The first word in verse 14 in the Greek is the Greek pronoun ekeinos and it refers back to the Spirit of truth in verse 13 – it refers back to pneuma.
Nominative signifies that it is the subject of the sentence.
Singular makes it clear that ekeinos refers to the Spirit of truth, rather than any other noun in the previous sentence.
The neuter form of this pronoun in the nominative singular would be ekeino.
We have ekeinos. This is the MASCULINE form of this pronoun.
He used this opportunity to clarify for all future readers of this Gospel that the noun pneuma does not refer to an “it”. Pneuma is a He, the Third Person of the Trinity!
d. God the Holy Spirit is God:
Who spoke through Isaiah? Adonai who is Jehovah.
Adonai asks, “who will go for Us?” We have the plural use in the prepositional phrase for the Trinity.
Isaiah spoke these things because He saw His glory and he spoke of Him.
Isaiah saw the glory of Jehovah, which is Jesus Christ according to John 12:41.
The three uses of “Holy” refers to the three members of the Trinity. Interestingly Jehovah is used in verse three instead of Elohim to emphasize that they are one.
e. It is God the Holy Spirit that gives life.
1 Tim 6:13
I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things
The Holy Spirit Sovereignly distributes spiritual gifts.
The Holy Spirit is eternal.
“eternal” is the Greek adjective aionios which means eternal.
Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the NT:
As a predicate of God aionios contains not merely the concept of unlimited time without beginning or end, but also of the eternity which transcends time.
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
1 Cor 12:11
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. says of ´elo·him’: “It is almost invariably construed with a singular verbal predicate, and takes a singular adjectival attribute.” To illustrate this, the title ´elo·him’ appears 35 times by itself in the account of creation, and every time the verb describing what God said and did is singular.