What does the Bible teach about the nature of God? What does it say about the Trinity?

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What does the Bible teach about the nature of God? What does it say about the Trinity?

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God is the Sovereign of the universe, existing supremely above all else. God is spirit (John 4:24 John 4:24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
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), existing in a different realm from that of humans, who are flesh. Our understanding and perception of God, therefore, are based on God’s revelation to us through His written Word, the Bible.
The Father and the Son

The Bible reveals God as the “Father” and Jesus Christ as His “Son.” The distinction between the two is implicit from the very beginning of God’s revelation (Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
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), where the Hebrew word Elohim is used (Elohim is the plural form of the Hebrew word for God, Eloah). There has been communication between these two from the beginning, as seen in the example of Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
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, where the pronouns Us and Our refer to Elohim.

The Old Testament focuses on the God of Israel, who identifies Himself as “I AM” and “the Lord God … of Abraham, … of Isaac, and … of Jacob” (Exodus 3:14-15 Exodus 3:14-15 14 And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. 15 And God said moreover to Moses, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial to all generations.
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, the word Lord being derived from the Hebrew YHWH). In John 8:58 John 8:58Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.
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, Christ refers to Himself as “I am.” This is the same God who delivered the Israelites out of Egypt and accompanied them in the wilderness and who was later known in the New Testament as Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4 1 Corinthians 10:4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
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). Both the Old Testament and New Testament contain references to more than one personage in the Godhead (Psalms 110:1 Psalms 110:1The LORD said to my Lord, Sit you at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.
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, for example, which is quoted in Acts 2:29-36 Acts 2:29-36 29 Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he has shed forth this, which you now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, 35 Until I make your foes your footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
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). The New Testament identifies Them as God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son (1 Corinthians 8:6 1 Corinthians 8:6But 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.
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). The Son is also called God (Hebrews 1:8-9 Hebrews 1:8-9 8 But to the Son he said, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
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).

Jesus Christ is called the “Word,” who “was with God” in the beginning and is also identified as “God” (John 1:1-2 John 1:1-2 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God.
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). He created all things (verses 3, 10), and later became flesh and dwelled with humans (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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). He is also called “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
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). Humans have the wonderful potential and opportunity to enter the family of God (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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, 19; John 1:12 John 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
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; 1 John 3:1-2 1 John 3:1-2 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
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).

The relationship between the Word and the Father is more clearly defined in the New Testament, when “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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, King James Version; Philippians 2:5-11 Philippians 2:5-11 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. 9 Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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), revealed the Father to His disciples (Matthew 11:25-27 Matthew 11:25-27 25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight. 27 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
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), was sacrificed for the forgiveness of our sins and has now once again been exalted by the Father (John 17:5 John 17:5And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
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).

The New Testament emphasizes the unity between the Father and Son, yet makes the distinction between the two clear in numerous scriptures (e.g., John 20:17 John 20:17Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
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; Romans 15:6 Romans 15:6That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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). We read in Ephesians that God “created all things through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9 Ephesians 3:9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
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; Hebrews 1:1-3 Hebrews 1:1-3 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 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:
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). The relationship between the Father and the Son demonstrates God’s perfect and eternal way of life. The Father has always loved the Son, and the Son has always loved the Father (John 17:4 John 17:4I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do.
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, 20-26). The harmony between the Father and the Son is a singleness of mind and purpose, which Jesus Christ asked the Father to bring about among His disciples, Himself, and the Father (verses 20-23).

“God,” as used in the Bible, can be a reference to either the Father (Acts 13:33 Acts 13:33God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that he has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you.
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; Galatians 4:6 Galatians 4:6And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
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), Jesus Christ the Son (Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
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; John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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, 14) or both (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you 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.
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), depending on the context of the scriptures.
The Holy Spirit

The power and mind that proceed from God are called the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2 Isaiah 11:2And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
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; Luke 1:35 Luke 1:35And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.
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; Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
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; 10:38; 2 Corinthians 1:22 2 Corinthians 1:22Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
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; 2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
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). The Holy Spirit of God is not identified as a third person in a trinity, but is consistently described as the power of God. The Holy Spirit is given to mankind upon repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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) to serve as a guarantee or down payment on eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22 2 Corinthians 1:22Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
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; Ephesians 1:14 Ephesians 1:14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.
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).

How is it possible that so many have embraced an inaccurate idea about the nature of the Holy Spirit? The idea of three persons in the Godhead evolved over the first few centuries of Christianity, somewhat in reaction to popular ideas perceived as threats to the truth. Well-meaning attempts to “protect the truth” actually contradicted the Scriptures. The doctrine of the Trinity is not, as our literature explains, a teaching of the Bible.

For more information, please read our booklet Is God a Trinity?