(WDGR Lesson 11: “Beliefs and Customs That Displease God”)
If the Trinity is a Biblical Doctrine, why does the Bible teach that Jesus is subject to God? Is there a single verse in the Bible that proves the Trinity?
CINDY: Karen, last week in our study of the Watchtower brochure, What Does God Require of Us?, we started reading about “Beliefs and Customs that Displease God,”1. and you had mentioned that you believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is from the Bible even though similar concepts are taught in pagan religion.
KAREN: Yes, Cindy, in our study, we also read from page 11 of the Watchtower brochure Should You Believe in the Trinity?, and discovered that many of the sources that the Society quotes in order to prove that the Trinity doctrine is from paganism, actually teach that the Biblical writers inserted pagan doctrines into the Bible. Therefore, these sources claim that Christianity adopted paganism because the Bible is pagan. I had asked, since the Watchtower has to go to books that teach that the Bible is the source of paganism, in order to prove their point that the Trinity doctrine is pagan, how can we trust any of their literature regarding alleged paganism in Christianity?
CINDY: Karen, we had a good discussion on that, but one thing we didn’t get to talk about is the fact that the Bible teaches that Jesus is subject to God. If Jehovah really is a Trinity—three persons in one God—why did Jesus say that the Father is greater than He is?2.
KAREN: Cindy, when you were growing up, was there anyone in your family equal in authority to your father?
CINDY: No. My father was in charge of leading the family. So everyone followed the rules and guidelines he setup.
KAREN: What about your brother? Did he follow those rules?
CINDY: Of course he did. But what’s your point, Karen?
KAREN: My point is this. Does the fact that your father was in a greater position of authority than your brother was, prove that your brother—his son—was inferior to him? If so, are we to argue that your brother is less human than your father is because he obeyed your father’s rules?
CINDY: Of course not, Karen.
KAREN: Then why does the Watchtower Society argue that Jesus as God’s Son and is inferior to the Father simply because He “is subject to God” and obeys His rules?3. Being in a greater position of authority doesn’t make a person inherently better than someone else, does it? At Luke 2:51, the Bible says that Jesus was subject to Mary and Joseph. Does this mean that He was inferior to them?
CINDY: Well, no, Karen. That’s a good point. But how can Jesus be God when He said that His Father is the “only true God”? If the Trinity—three persons in one God— is a Bible teaching, why is the word “Trinity” not found in the Bible?4.
KAREN: Cindy, do you believe that the new system of things will be a “theocracy” in which Jehovah God will rule the world?
KAREN: If the fact that the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, proves that it is not a Biblical teaching, are we to argue that the concept of a theocracy—in which God will rule mankind—is not Biblical simply because the word “theocracy” is not found in the Bible?
CINDY: Well, no, Karen. But where do we see the concept of the Trinity in the Bible? Can you show me even one verse that proves the Trinity?
KAREN: Yes! Cindy, would you read John 1:3 in your Bible?
CINDY: “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.”5.
KAREN: Who is the “him” that this passage is talking about?
CINDY: It’s talking about Jesus and how He was “with God” in the beginning creating the world.
KAREN: That’s right, Cindy. Let’s draw this out into a chart. Here on the right side of the column, let’s list the things that were created “through” Jesus, and on the left side, let’s put the things that were not created because they have always existed. Now, what are some things that were created?
CINDY: Well, basically everything…the earth, stars, plants, animals, mankind…
KAREN: Would angels fit into that category of things that were created through Jesus?
CINDY: Oh, yes, Karen. Angels would fit.
KAREN: O.K. Now lets go to the other side and list things that were never created because they have always existed.
CINDY: Jehovah is eternal. He was never created.
KAREN: O.K. So lets write down “the Father” in this category of things that have always existed. What about the Holy Spirit? Was God’s Spirit created?
CINDY: No. God’s Spirit is as eternal as Jehovah is.6.
KAREN: So here we have the Father and the Holy Spirit. Now, Cindy, where are we going to put Jesus? John 1:3 says that “All things came into existence” through Christ and that “nothing” that has been created was created “apart” from Him. So where should we put Jesus? If Jesus is one of those beings that was created, we’d have to put him in the category of things that were created through Christ. Does that make any sense? How could Jesus have created Himself?
CINDY: I guess you’re right, Karen. That doesn’t make any sense. Jesus could not have created Himself.
KAREN: So, you can see, Cindy, we must put Jesus in the category of things that were never created because they have always existed, and look at what we have: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—all sharing the eternal essence of the one true God. Can you see, how even though the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, the concept is Biblical? In the Bible, the Father is called “God.”7. The Son is called “God.”8. And the Holy Spirit is called “God.”9. Yet, the Bible is very clear that there is only one true God. Can you see why Christians throughout history have embraced monotheism in the form of the Trinity doctrine?
Friends, just as Cindy discovered, simply because the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible does not prove that it is not a Biblical teaching. At Matthew 28:19, Jesus said: “Go therefore and make disciples… baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.…”10. Notice that in this verse, plurality within unity is indicated by the fact that the word “name” is in the singular form while the definite article “the” is placed in front of each of the persons: “…the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.…” The doctrine of the Trinity is not Modalism—the view that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all one person; nor is it Tritheism—the view that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate Gods. Each member is distinct in His Personhood, yet together they comprise the one God. Thus, in defining the Trinity doctrine, the Athanasian Creed states: “Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.…and yet they are not three Gods, but one God.”
1. What Does God Require of Us?, 1996, p. 22-23
2. What Does God Require of Us?, p. 22:2
3.What Does God Require of Us?, p. 22:2
4. Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, 1995, p. 31
5. New World Translation
6. See Hebrews 9:14
7.See 1 Peter 1:2; Philippians 2:11
8. See John 1:1 20:28; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1; Titus 2:13
9. . See Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16-1
10. New American Standard Bible