The Sublime Mystery of the Trinity of the Godhead

2 Corinthians 13:14; Deuteronomy 6:4

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Many think that Moses teaches in these words the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity. It may be so―a plurality is expressed in the word אלהינו  Eloheinu, which is translated “our God.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): No one can read the Bible without, of necessity, coming face to face with this doctrine of the Trinity…There is no doctrine which shows so clearly our absolute dependence upon the revelation that we have in the Scriptures. No human being would have thought of the doctrine of the Trinity. It comes directly from the Bible and from nowhere else at all.

B. B. WARFIELD (1851-1921): As the doctrine of the Trinity is indiscoverable by reason, so it is incapable of proof from reason. There are no analogies to it in nature, not even in the spiritual nature of man, who is made in the image of God. In His Trinitarian mode of being, God is unique; and, as there is nothing in the universe like Him in this respect, so there is nothing which can help us to comprehend Him.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Our narrow thoughts can no more comprehend the Trinity in Unity than a nutshell will hold all the water in the sea.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It is beyond any question the most mysterious and the most difficult of all biblical doctrines.

ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748): If we say that the Three Persons of the Trinity, by mutual indwelling and love, approach each other infinitely in one Divine nature, and yet lose not their distinct personality, it would be but an obscure account of this sublime mystery.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Let me lay down certain points of vital importance in this connection. The doctrine of the Trinity does not mean that there are three gods…While God in His innermost nature is one, He nevertheless exists as three Persons. Now we are already in trouble, are we not? Do you not want to ask me at this point: ‘Are you saying that there are three Persons, different in essence? If you are―then there must be three gods.’ To which my reply is this: “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah, our God, is one Jehovah.” I must say that. What is the trouble, therefore? Well, the trouble, once more, is due to the inadequacy of language. We have to talk about ‘persons’ because we cannot think of a higher category than persons, and as we think of persons we think of individuals, and we are separating them. But as the Bible uses these expressions, they obviously mean something different.

B. B. WARFIELD: The term “Trinity” is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Why should conscientious persons object to these terms―if they think them agreeable to the truth―merely because they are not expressed in the precise words of Scripture?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There are those who have tried to deny the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in this way: they say, “There are not three Persons, there is only one Person, there is only one God; but that one God can reveal Himself in different ways. He once revealed Himself as the Father; then at other times He reveals Himself as the Son; and again at other times He reveals Himself as the Holy Spirit.”…But the Bible rejects all that. Father, Son, and Spirit are not merely modes in which God appears―no, no―there are three Persons in the Godhead. The Persons refer to each other; Christ spoke about the others and referred to the others―not meaning Himself but the other Persons in the Holy Trinity. So we reject any teaching that there is only one God who shows Himself in these different forms.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The things which are revealed are enough, without venturing into vain speculations. In attempting to define the Trinity, or unveil the essence of Divinity, many men have lost themselves.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Very well, I can sum it up like this: The Trinity has existed in the Godhead from all eternity. A statement of the Athanasian Creed with regard to this gives a perfect definition: “The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet there are not three Gods but one God. The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Ghost is Lord, and yet there are not three Lords but one Lord. For as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the same truth to say that there are three Gods or three Lords.” And in reality you can never get beyond that.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The doctrine of the Deity of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, in union with the Father, so that they are not three Gods, but one God, is not merely a proposition expressed in words, to which our assent is required, but is absolutely necessary to be known; since without it no one truth respecting salvation can be rightly understood, no one promise duly believed, no one duty spiritually performed.  I take it for granted, that this doctrine must appear irrational and absurd in the eye of reason, if by reason we mean the reason of man in his fallen state, before it is corrected and enlightened by a heavenly teacher.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.

C. H. SPURGEON: We cannot explain how the Father, Son, and Spirit can be each one distinct and perfect in Himself, and yet that these three are one, so that there is but one God; yet we do verily believe it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: “But I cannot understand the doctrine of the Trinity,” says someone, “and because I cannot understand it, I don’t believe it.”

AUGUSTINE (354-430): Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Oh, I am not saying that I understand the Trinity, and I am not asking you to understand it. I am simply telling you that you will go to a Christless eternity unless you believe this message of the God who is, and always was, the three Persons in this blessed Godhead—coequal, coeternal in every respect. This is a great and eternal mystery. It is beyond us, but it is true.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): The doctrine of the Trinity! You ask me what that is? I answer, It is that doctrine that sheweth us the love of God the Father in giving His Son; the love of God the Son in giving Himself; and the love of God the Spirit in His work of regenerating us, that we may be made able to lay hold of the love of the Father by His Son.


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