The Holy Trinity

I ASK your attention to that tremendous theme, the Holy Trinity, and I am going to read, not exactly as a text but as a starting point, the most frequently quoted text in the Bible. I do not think there can be any question as to what that text is. In tens of thousands of churches in this and other lands all over the world, two or three or more times every Lord's Day and uncounted thousands of times at week-night services this text is quoted. It is the last verse of the 13th chapter of the second epistle to the Corinthians. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen" (2 Cor. 13:14).

Surely I am correct in saying there is no other verse in the Bible that is quoted and has been quoted throughout all the Christian centuries more frequently than this one, and it sets before us in a very definite way the unity of the Godhead and yet the three persons in the Holy Trinity. The truth of the Holy Trinity forms one of the great revelations of grace. I do not mean by that that we never find the Trinity in the Old Testament. We do, but not so definitely as in the New Testament.

The very first verse of our Bible does more than suggest a trinity in the Godhead. It positively affirms it. We read in Gen. 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." It is a well-known fact that the Hebrew word for God here is Elohim, and the "im" at the end of a Hebrew noun is the plural form. In Hebrew, as in some other languages, there are three numbers, singular, dual and plural. The singular, of course, is one; the dual is two and the plural signifies that the noun refers to three or more. The singular for God is El, or Eloah, the plural Elohim. There is no dual in this instance. So we read here, "In the beginning Elohim (the Triune God) created the heavens and the earth." It has often been pointed out by scholars that while the word "God" is in the plural, the word "created" is singular, so this in itself suggests the wonderful mystery of the Trinity acting in unity; three persons in one God, acting together, in the creation of the universe. It is perfectly right to say we believe in God the Father, Creator of the heavens and the earth; also correct to say God by His Spirit made the heavens and the earth; also correct to say that the Son was the Creator. "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."

In the book of the Prophet Isaiah there are two very prominent scriptures that bring the three persons of the Godhead clearly before us. In chapter 48, verse 16, we hear Messiah speaking. Throughout this section of the book the Spirit of God brings before us the coming and rejection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Israel's Messiah, and in verse 16 Messiah, speaking through the prophet, says this, "Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me." We know that these words refer to the Lord Jesus Christ for we read in God's Word that He declared "In secret have I said nothing" (John 18:20), and this is the passage to which He referred. So here we are listening to the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel's Messiah, the eternal holy Son of God who was to be manifested in the flesh. "I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now (looking on to the Incarnation) the Lord God, and his Spirit (that is, the Holy Spirit), hath sent me (that is, the Son)." So there you have the Trinity in the book of the Prophet Isaiah. It is often said the Old Testament doesn't tell us anything about the Trinity of the Godhead and some of our Jewish friends consider the doctrine of the Trinity as solely a Christian idea, but there is no question but that here in Isaiah you have the three persons definitely indicated—Messiah (the Lord Jesus Christ), God the Father and the Holy Spirit.