The Trinity: Illustrations and Examples
In our previous studies on the Trinity we learned that God is one and there are three distinct persons within one God. Each is a separate and distinct person, yet each one is God. It’s impossible to totally grasp this principle with the finite mind. However, we can understand the concept and know it is the clear teaching of the Word of God. Below are several scriptural and non-scriptural illustrations and examples of the Trinity. No illustration is perfect, but these will help us understand the infinite God (Job 11:7).
Scriptural Examples of the Trinity
- The birth of Jesus. In Luke 1:35 an angel appeared to Mary he said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” All three members or persons of the trinity are mentioned in this verse concerning Mary’s miraculous conception.
- The discourse of Jesus in John 14 and 15. In these verses all three persons of the trinity are mentioned and often interchangeably. The Father is mentioned in John 14:2, the Son in John 14:7-9, and the Holy Spirit in John 14:15-18 and 15:26.
- Creation. All three persons of the trinity or Godhead are referred to as participating in creation. The Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2 is seen “Moving over the surface of the waters” just prior to creation. The Son of God is mentioned as being a part of creation, “His Son, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2).
Both the Father and the Son are involved here. Of the Son it is said, “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 through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
- The baptism of Jesus. Luke 3:21-22 says, “Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” Here we see the Son being baptized, the Holy Spirit descending upon Him, and the Father speaking out of heaven.
- Paul’s benediction. In 2 Corinthians 13:14 Paul says to the Corinthians, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” He pronounces a blessing on them utilizing all three persons of the Trinity.
- The resurrection of Christ. All three persons of the Trinity are seen as active participants in the resurrection. The Father raised Jesus from the dead, “God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways” (Acts 3:26).
Jesus claimed He would raise Himself from the dead. He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:19 and 21).
The Holy Spirit also is said to have raised Jesus from the dead, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
Each person of the Trinity was equally involved in the resurrection.
Non-Scriptural Examples of the Trinity
- Man. Man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Man is made up of three parts. He has a body, soul and spirit. Take away any part of him and he ceases to be, yet there are three distinct parts to man. Man has three parts, a trinity, yet he is one man.
- The sun. There are three parts to the sun – heat rays, light rays and chemical rays. Heat rays are felt and not seen, light rays are seen but not felt. Chemical rays have an effect though they are not seen nor felt. All together we have sunshine, three rays and one light.
Without one aspect we would have no sunlight. The same is true of the Trinity or Godhead. God is made up of the three distinct parts or persons, take away any aspect and we cease to have God.
- Addition and multiplication. In addition, 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. In multiplication three ones multiplied together equals one. Three ones equals one? I don’t pretend to be a mathematician, but that doesn’t make much sense to me. However, I know it’s a mathematical fact. Likewise, we may not be able to completely grasp the concept of three persons in one God, but it’s a Biblical fact.
- A triangle. A triangle has three sides. Take away either side and it will cease to be a triangle. It’s similar with the trinity (Godhead). Take away one aspect and He ceases to be God.
- The universe. “Uni” means one, yet the universe is made up of space, time and matter. Take away any of the three components and it is no longer a universe. The same is true of God, take away any one of His persons and He ceases to be God.
- Water. In thermodynamics, the triple point of a substance is the temperature and pressure at which three phases (gas, liquid and solid) of that substance coexist in thermodynamic equilibrium. Water under pressure, in a vacuum and at a given temperature below freezing, simultaneously exists as liquid, steam and ice. We see the Trinity (Godhead) in all of creation (Romans 1:20).
- Our government. The United States Government is one government with three branches: executive, judicial and legislative. There are three distinct parts of the one government. So it is with God, there are three distinct persons within the one God.
Applications of the Trinity
Know Him. In 2 Timothy 1:12 Paul said, “I know whom I have believed.” Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Let’s seek both to know personally and all we can about Him.
Defend the faith. We are to fight for and defend the faith that was delivered to us (Jude 3). There are many false teachers and cults who pervert the pure gospel and Jesus Himself (2 Corinthians 11:3-5, Galatians 1:6-9). This requires you must “Study to show yourself approved” (2 Timothy 2:15). We must be equipped to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Pete 3:15).
Disassociate. We are to disassociate ourselves from all who do not hold to solid Biblical doctrine. I’m not talking about peripheral areas of theology but the fundamentals or essentials of our faith.
The Bible makes it clear we should not associate with those who hold and propagate false doctrine (1 Corinthians 15:33). In fact, we are not to let them into our home or even give them greeting. I know this may seem harsh, but God said it not me.
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 1:7-11).