The Relation of The Various Persons in The Trinity
The Relation of The Various Persons in The Trinity
God’s Word teaches us that there are three persons in the Godhead. These persons are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three persons are one in essence, and equal in power and glory. They are not separate, but distinct. Our purpose in this study is to search the Scriptures to determine how the three persons relate one to another. In this specific portion we shall seek to see the Father in relation to the other two persons of the Trinity. As we study this topic we should remember that many of the statements made about God in the Scriptures are anthropomorphisms. They speak of God and attribute human-like characteristics to Him so that we can gain a little understanding of Him who is beyond being totally understood by man. We should also remember that “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24) KJV Being spirit, God is not fleshly and statements such as His begetting the Son should not be thought of in the same manner as that in which we think of human procreation.
The Father The Source of All Things
God the Father is the source and originator of all things. Apart from Him there would be nothing. “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6) KJV The apostle is used of God here to tell us that all things are of God the Father. It is by the command of God the Father that the worlds were made. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” ( Psalms 33:6-9) KJV “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” ( Hebrews 11:3) KJV We know that these passages are speaking of God the Father because He made all things by Jesus the Son of God. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” (Hebrews 1:1,2) KJV Thus we see that God the Father is the source of all things.
God The Father Begat God The Son
As we consider the fact that God the Father begat God the Son we must see that the nature of God demands the understanding that this begetting is neither temporal nor physical. It is an eternal begetting because the Son is God and God is eternal. The Father did not beget the Son in time. Neither is it a physical begetting, but it is spiritual in nature. At this point it is not our aim to discuss in depth the nature of the begetting of the Son, but only the fact thereof. Numerous New Testament verses testify that God the Father is the Father of Jesus (2Cor 1:3; Eph 1:2,3;3:14; Col 3:19;1Pet 1:3 are a few examples.).
John gives us a wonderful and rich passage concerning the eternal generation of the Son by the Father. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. ” (John 1:1-3,14) KJV The Father’s glory shines forth in His only begotten Son who is the image of the Father. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” ( Hebrews 1:1-3) KJV
God the Father also declared that He begat the Son, saying “ For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” ( Hebrews 1:5) KJV God the Father spoke from Heaven on two different occasions acknowledging Jesus as His Son. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” ( Matthew 3:16,17) KJV “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” ( Matthew 17:5) KJV
The Eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ
The eternal sonship of Jesus is a very important doctrine. It is also a doctrine that cannot be fully comprehended by mortal man. On the other hand, mortals must at least accept this doctrine as being true. Remembering that God is spirit and is not bound by time, space, and material/bodily constraints, will help us to more readily accept this truth. Being the Son of God means that Jesus is God. The Son has the nature of the Father. This means that the Son is eternal. Though He was begotten and not made, the Son is eternal. While these things are hard to be understood, let us attempt to attain a rudimentary knowledge of them.
The Son Eternally Begotten of The Father
Before Jesus was ever begotten in the womb of the virgin Mary He was the Son of God. The Sonship of Jesus is not a physical sonship, but a spiritual one. As Isaiah prophesied of the coming of Jesus, he told us, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ( Isaiah 9:6) KJV This passage tells us that Jesus was the Son before He became a man; He was given as the Son. Not only so, but He is one with His Father, which tells us that the Son of God is God. We again read, “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” ( John 3:16,17) KJV The Son was given and sent thus testifying to the fact that Jesus was the Son before He became a man.
There has never been a time when God in all of His glorious perfection did not have a complete comprehension of who He is. Never has there been a time in which God did not have a full understanding of all His nature and His deeds. In the midst of this perception that God has of Himself is to be found the fact that God delights in Himself; He is the happy God (1Tim 1:11). This idea, love, delight, and contemplation of His own perfections is so complete that it stands forth as another person. This person is the second person of the Godhead, the Son of God. This is a begetting in a spiritual sense because the One begotten is truly the eternal offspring of the Father. The Son is eternally begotten, because there has never been a time that God has not had this perfect delight in, and understanding of, who He is. This means that the Son is eternal. It also means that the Son is indeed divine in all facets of His nature. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:1-8 ) KJV This passage speaks volumes about this wonderful truth. It tells us that the Son is of the same character as the Father, He is the Son who is begotten of God, is due worship, and is God.
The Father’s Witness to The Son
The Father bore witness to the Sonship of Jesus at least three times while He was on earth. The first was at His baptism: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16,17) KJV The second time was when He spoke to Peter, James, and John in the Mount of Transfiguration: “ While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5) KJV Finally, the Father testified of the Sonship of Jesus when He raised Christ from the dead. Paul said that He was “ declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4) KJV This is, I believe, a faithful representation of the Sonship of Jesus Christ, our Creator and Redeemer.
The Eternal Procession of The Holy Spirit
Just as the eternal Sonship of Jesus is important, so is the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit. While we will never be able to fully comprehend this great truth, it is our duty to believe it and worship our Tri-une God. Once again we need to remember that God is not bound by time and space constraints as we are. Neither is He any less than eternal in any of the persons of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is eternal just as the Father and the Son are eternal. From the eternal Father has always proceeded the eternal Spirit.
The Spirit Proceeds From The Father
The Father loves the Son with an everlasting and boundless love. The love that exists between the Father and the Son is the spirit of the Godhead. It is the “aura” that proceeds from them, much like that which is seen in a married couple who have achieved a high degree of unity and love (though that spirit in the Godhead is much more than this human comparison can adequately describe). This spirit is a person. He is called the Holy Spirit and He proceeds from the Father. Jesus testified to this truth saying, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” ( John 15:26) KJV This Spirit is called the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. “ But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:9,10) KJV This truth is also seen in Romans chapter five where Paul said, “ And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5 ) KJV The Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father for His Son and the Spirit brings this same love into the hearts of God’s born again children.
The Spirit Proceeds Eternally From The Father
Jesus statement concerning the Spirit teaches us that the Spirit proceeds from the Father even now. This procession is not bound by time, but is eternal. Jesus said, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” ( John 15:26) KJV Without giving respect to time Jesus said that the Spirit “proceedeth from the Father.” Not that the Spirit did proceed, or shall proceed, but that the Spirit is even now proceeding from the Father. This is because that the love that the Father bears for the Son is an eternal love. Jesus prayed and said, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24) KJV The Spirit is even spoken of as being eternal. “ For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13,14) KJV From this we believe that it is safe to conclude that the Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father.
The Spirit Is God
With all of the above being true, we must conclude that the Spirit is God as well as the Father and the Son are God. The Spirit has personality, because He is spoken of as willfully bearing witness to the Son, which means that He both has a will and speaks. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” ( John 15:26) KJV The Word of God in other places specifically tells us that the Lord is the Spirit, thus presenting us with the fact that the Spirit is Divine. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) KJV Again, the Spirit is spoken of as being the very presence of God. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” (Psalms 139:7,8 ) KJV Wherever one may go the Spirit of God, who is the very presence of God, is there. Finally, the Spirit is called God in a very plain manner by the apostle Peter. “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” ( Acts 5:1-4) KJV This I believe to be a faithful and Biblical representation of the relations of the various persons in the Trinity.