The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
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The International Association Jehovah's Witnesses

Biblical Truths

 
Is there a Trinity?
 
    FUNDAMENTAL doctrine of so-called "Christendom" is that known as the "Holy Trinity". It is accepted as Scriptural truth and held sacred by millions of persons. The doctrine, in brief, is that there are three gods in one: "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost," all three equal in power, substance and eternity. As defined by the Catholic Encyclopedia under the heading "Trinity, The Blessed", "The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion— ... in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another. Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: 'The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods, but one God.'"

    Such a doctrine, with its attempted explanation, is very confusing. To excuse it with the word "Mystery!" is not satisfying. If one has in mind the apostle's words, "God is not the author of confusion" (1 Corinthians 14:33), it is at once seen that such doctrine is not of God. Well, one might ask, if God is not the author of this confusing doctrine, who is?

    The origin of the trinity doctrine is traced back to the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians and other ancient mythologists. It will not be disputed by Jews and Christians that these ancient peoples worshiped demon gods and that God's typical nation of Israel was warned not to mingle with them because of this. It follows, then, that God was not the author of this doctrine. Two more interesting facts are: (1) A religionist living in the second century, by the name of Tertullian, located in Carthage, Africa, introduced the term trinitas into Latin ecclesiastical writings, the term "trinity" not once being used in the inspired Scriptures. (2) The doctrine of the triad was first introduced into Greek ecclesiastical writings by a clergyman named Theophilus, also living in the second century. In the fourth century, or the year 325 (A.D.), a council of clergymen met under the jurisdiction of unbaptized Emperor Constantine at Nice in Asia Minor and confirmed the doctrine. It thus came to be declared the doctrine of the religious organization of Christendom, and the clergy have ever held to this complicated doctrine. The obvious conclusion is, therefore, that Satan is the originator of the trinity doctrine.

    One might ask, But what about the scriptures cited to support the "trinity"? Would they not prove the doctrine as taught by the clergy to be different from the trinity of ancient Babylon? Every honest and God-fearing person wants to know the facts. He realizes that knowledge is a defense against error and that to gain such knowledge both sides of an argument must be frankly considered. To this end let us turn our attention to the main scriptures used to support the trinity doctrine.
First, the text appearing at 1 John 5:7, King James Version and Douay Version. This reads: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." Second, John 10:30, which simply states: "I and my Father are one." Third, Paul's words regarding Christ Jesus, at 1 Timothy 3:16: "God was manifest in the flesh." And, fourth, the well-known text at John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

    When the clergy are asked by their followers as to how such a combination of three in one can possibly exist, they are obliged to answer, "That is a mystery." Some will try to illustrate it by using triangles, trefoils, or images with three heads on one neck. Nevertheless, sincere persons who want to know the true God and serve him find it a bit difficult to love and worship a complicated, freakish-looking, three-headed God. The clergy who inject such ideas will contradict themselves in the very next breath by stating that God made man in his own image; for certainly no one has ever seen a three-headed human creature.

    The position taken by true Christians is, "Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar." The standard they accept is: "Every word of God is pure." (Romans 3:4, NW; Proverbs 30:5) Since the scriptures here quoted are from God's pure Word, the Bible, it is vital that they be given careful attention. With this in mind let us consider 1 John 5:7: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."
That is a glaring example of adding to God's Word, though such adding is expressly condemned. In commenting on this text, a Greek Scripture translator, Benjamin Wilson, writes in his The Emphatic Diaglott: "This text concerning the heavenly witness is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifteenth century. It is not cited by any of the Greek ecclesiastical writers; nor by any of the early Latin fathers, even when the subjects upon which they treated would naturally have led them to appeal to its authority. It is therefore evidently spurious." The truthfulness of this statement is borne out by the fact that the modern translations (except Roman Catholic translations from the Latin versions) do not include the text.

    Our next scripture for consideration is John 10:30: "I and my Father are one." Reading this text by itself one might be justified in arguing that God and Jesus were one; but one in what way? Jehovah counsels, "Get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7) This rule must always be applied, and no less in the present case.
What Jesus meant at John 10:30 he himself explains in his prayer to the Father on the night before his execution: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one." (John 17:20-22) Jesus was praying for those who would become members of his body, the congregation. Paul supports this thought, at 1 Corinthians 12:12: "As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." Illustrating this point he writes: "The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." (Ephesians 5:23) And now tying Jehovah in as Head over all, the apostle writes further: "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (1 Corinthians 11:3) The plain truth reveals itself, that is, just as Christ and his body members are regarded as one, so are Jehovah and Christ regarded as one. They are all one in agreement, purpose and organization. If this were not the logical conclusion Jesus would never have said: "My Father is greater than I," and therefore, "Not my will, but thine, be done." (John 14:28; Luke 22:42) Hence all, including Jesus, are in complete subjection to the great Head, Almighty God.

    The claim which the clergy make that Almighty God was manifested in the flesh to men on this earth brings up the text at 1 Timothy 3:16, which states: "God was manifest in the flesh." Says a footnote in The Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson, on the said verse: "Nearly all the ancient manuscripts, and all the versions have 'He who' instead of 'God,' in this passage. This has been adopted." The Catholic Douay Version of this verse reads: "And evidently great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh." The American Standard Version reads: "He who was manifested in the flesh"; and so does Moffatt's. Had this been God Almighty incarnated, which it would have to be if the trinity were true, then these words of John would be false: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (John 1:18) However, these words make clear the fact that Jesus, being at complete unity with the Father, was able to declare or explain him, both in word and in deed, before all men while in the flesh. Hence Jesus said: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."—John 14:9.

    David, speaking under inspiration, describes man as being made "a little lower than the angels". In Hebrews 2:9 we find the very same words quoted to describe Jesus: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death." If the trinity doctrine is true, then God was lower than the angels while on earth; which is contrary to his supremacy. Yet we know that Jesus came to earth to provide a corresponding ransom by his perfect human life. The ransom, therefore, must be equal to the thing lost, namely, perfect human life as Adam had it in Eden. Hence we read concerning Jesus: "Who, although he was existing in God's form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave's form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself." (Philippians 2:6-8, NW) God's justice would not let Jesus, as a ransom, be more than a perfect man. So he could not be the supreme God Almighty in the flesh.

    The final text under consideration as to sup-porting the trinity is John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." To dispose of any seeming contradiction here let us refer to the word-for-word translation of the Greek as it appears in the sublinear reading of The Emphatic Diaglott. It reads: "In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word." Note the clause. "The Word was with the God." In this instance "God" is written with the article "the" before it, while in the following clause, "and a god was the Word," you will note "god" is written with the indefinite article "a". This proves that two persons are spoken of as being with each other, and not two persons as being one and the same God. So the New World Translation is correct in rendering John 1:1,2: "Originally the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was originally with God."

    Sober thinking upon this text will bring other enlightening facts to mind. Psalm 90:2 declares that God is "from everlasting to everlasting". Since this is true, then how could the Word, if being the God, have a beginning? The truth of the matter is that the Word is God's Son who became Jesus Christ and who did have a beginning. At Revelation 3:14, he distinctly says he was the beginning of the creation by God. That is why he is spoken of as the "only begotten" of the Father, at John 1:14: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." The apostle Paul sustains this truth when he speaks of Jesus as "the firstborn of every creature". (Colossians 1:15) So again the trinity teachers must defend themselves by stating: "It's a mystery!"

    THE HOLY SPIRIT

    In the four scriptures which the clergy erroneously quote as supporting the trinity, only the first one (1 John 5:7, Dy) included the words "and the Holy Ghost", and these words were found to be spurious. The general thought about the "Holy Ghost" is that it is a spirit person, the third person of the "trinity" and equal with God and Christ in power, substance and eternity. In English the Greek word for spirit is translated by the Old English word ghost meaning "spirit" or "breath". A little searching of any Greek-English dictionary will reveal that the Greek word pneuma translated "spirit" is the same word translated also in the Bible as "wind". Just as the wind is invisible to man, so is the spirit of God. When a man has God's spirit upon him it means he has been authorized by God to do a certain work, whatever that work may be. So the holy spirit is the invisible active force of Almighty God which moves his servants to do his will.

    For the sake of argument, let us assume that God and Jesus were one in equality, power and eternity during the time Jesus was on the earth, up until he was baptized. Where, then, was the third person of the "trinity", the "Holy Ghost"? The trinitarians will state they were all three in one throughout that period. But is it not true that the Bible states that at the time Jesus was baptized the spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove and immediately Jesus was led away by the spirit? Trinitarians will say that all three persons of the "trinity" were clearly in evidence on that occasion and will quote Matthew 3:16,17: "Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

    However, the trinitarian teachers will have several embarrassing questions to answer on this text, such as, Whose voice came from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son"? Jesus' own voice? And where, till then, had the "Holy Ghost" or holy spirit been, seeing that first now it descended upon Jesus? And were not the heavens open to Jesus, if God, during the previous thirty years of his earthly sojourn? If he was God or a part of a trinity and equal in power, substance and eternity with God, he would always have access to the heavens. These and other equally embarrassing questions have convinced the clergy that it is far better to say it is all a great mystery.

    Yes, it would be a mystery if the trinity doctrine were true. One of the most mysterious things is the question, Who ran the universe during the three days that Jesus was dead and in the grave, or, for that matter, during his thirty-three and a half years on the earth while he was made a "little lower than the angels"? If Jesus was God, then during Jesus' death God was dead and in the grave. What a wonderful opportunity for Satan to take complete control! But the mere fact that he could not do so proves it was the only-begotten Son, and he alone, that was dead. The Scriptures state, at 1 Timothy 1:17, that God is "the King eternal, immortal". Therefore, if Jesus was the immortal God, he could not have died. During Jesus' earthly course the Devil had expended every effort to bring about his death; and now, surely, after he had finally succeeded, he would not permit Jesus' resurrection if it was Almighty God that was dead. How inconsistent it all is, according to the "trinity"!

    Here Jesus' words at John 14:28 are appropriate: "My Father is greater than I." That means "greater" not only as to office but also as to person. Faithful to his promise, the Father resurrected his Son on the third day. If Jehovah and the dead Christ were one in substance, the resurrection would have been impossible. The religionists will quote Jesus' words at John 10:17,18: "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." Thus they hope to prove that Jesus was God and able to resurrect himself.

    However, the logical conclusion, even from the King James Version's rendering of John 10:17,18, is that Jesus, because of willingly laying down his life, was assured by his Father's commandment that he would be resurrected and given life again. He took back life when God gave it to him by resurrection. Here the New World Translation properly reads: "I surrender my soul, in order that I may receive it again. No man has taken it away from me, but I surrender it of my own initiative. I have authority to let go of it, and I have authority to receive it again. The commandment on this I received from my Father." This makes it clear that by obedience to God's will Jesus voluntarily laid down his life in ransom, and as a reward for faithfulness he had the authority to receive life again at the hands of the Father through his resurrecting him.

    The trinity doctrine was not conceived by Jesus or the early Christians. Nowhere in the Scriptures is even any mention made of a trinity. Therefore, if, as claimed, it is the "central doctrine of the Christian religion", it is passing strange that this complicated, confusing doctrine received no attention by Christ Jesus, by way of explanation or teaching. Stranger still that imperfect men living over a hundred years later should have the idea injected into their religion by pagans and should teach it as Scriptural truth. The plain truth is that this is another of Satan's attempts to keep God-fearing persons from learning the truth of Jehovah and his Son, Christ Jesus. No, there is no trinity!