Trinity

Did the Apostles Believe in the Trinity?

In Jewish Jesus by Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

It is no secret that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity as such is not found in the Bible. It is systematized from various Biblical texts by later Christians to present one coherent and accurate teaching that attempts to unify all true believers. Traditional Christianity holds that:

  • The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are One God (not three Gods)
  • The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are equal in power and glory (same in essence).
  • The Father functionally is superior to the Son and the Holy Spirit (both Son and the Spirit are obedient to the Father).

As we think through this important topic, here are few things to keep in mind:

First, the original Christ-following movement was still very Jewish and as such was not very interested in doctrines per se. What really concerned first-century Jews was not so much the details of correct beliefs, but rather the details of holy living.

Second, some Jews even prior to Jesus thought of the relation between God and his Word in nearly identical terms as does John’s Gospel (John 1:1). Other pre-Jesus Jews, among many intriguing things, believed in the notion of “the Son of Man” as eternal heavenly being whom God will one day seat on the throne of His glory.

Third, while the Apostles did not think of the Holy Spirit as simply God’s power void of any kind of personality (as in Jehovah Witnesses’ theology) there is embarrassingly little about the divinity of the Holy Spirit in New Testament.

I therefore conclude that if the Apostles were presented with the Christian doctrine of Trinity in its traditional form they would be deeply puzzled as to why such a systematization was necessary or considered essential. But then after being pressed for an answer they would have with some hesitation agreed that the basic ideas presented to them were correct.

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