Is God One or Three?

There are many things we simply do not know about God. Everything we do know comes directly from what He has chosen to reveal to us in His Holy Word. When Jesus came to earth, He brought to light a few more aspects of the nature of God, further helping us to know and understand Him. But even with that, man is still perplexed about the true nature of Yahweh. Perhaps, the most difficult concept to comprehend is that God is One being (Mark 12:29), while at the same time, He is three beings – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7; John 10:30). That’s not easy to get our minds around! So, indeed, how are we supposed to understand this? 

Let’s start by by first considering what Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” The “us” and “our image” are suggestive of an intimate plurality of which God consists and is associated. It stands in perfect harmony with other Scripture, such as Matthew 3:16,17 where we see the three “persons” presented together at Jesus’ baptism. The Father is seen in the voice (v17), the Son had just risen from baptism, and the Spirit was “descending like a dove and alighting upon Jesus”. Another revealing teaching comes directly from Jesus when He stated, “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30) Again, this harmonizes perfectly with John 1:1 which reveals that the Word (Jesus) was not only there with God at the creation, but that He IS God. These, along with other verses such as John 15:26; Acts 10:38; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2 which speak about the three persons separately while being one are what makes God unique, underscoring why there is no other God besides Him.

Yet, over the centuries, man has conjured up various philosophies and theories in an effort to explain God’s nature. These have names such as Arianism and Modalism, with the most popular one being, Trinitarianism. This is where we get our word “trinity,” which was formed by joining together the words “three” (tri) and “unity.” The concept of the trinity is generally understood that God is three persons who share one essence. But sadly, this theory has added only more confusion to the religious world and still doesn’t completely explain the full nature of the Godhead.

For example, such a doctrine has led to people blending the three together so much so that they no longer mark a difference between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As a result, many people now pray to the trinity instead of addressing the Father as the One to whom we should pray, with Jesus as Mediator (John 15:16; 1 Tim 2:5). It has also led to the other extreme, where people overemphasize the individuality of the three. To some, the doctrine of the trinity creates a sharp distinction between the three persons of the Godhead – essentially creating a polytheism consisting of three separate gods which function completely apart from the others. As a result, some are teaching that one should only be baptized in the name of Jesus and not in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, as is commanded in Matthew 28:18-19. Some also believe we should pray directly to Jesus, although He never taught His disciples to do so and even stated that, “in that day, you will ask me nothing,” (John 16:23-26).

The bottom line is, we simply do not know everything there is to know about God and probably never will. What we do know is found in the Bible, so we should be careful how we describe Him. Scripture describes distinct and subtle nuances between the “one” and “three” characteristics of His nature. May we never deny the three distinct beings which make up God as seen throughout the Scriptures. Let us also never deny that the Lord our God is one and we are called to love and obey Him. He is our God and He is sovereign because there is no other.