Did the Apostles believe in the Trinity?

We respect all who accept Jesus as their savior. The following is offered in the spirit of dialog.

Our Trinitarian friends define the Trinity as one God in three persons—Father, Son, and holy Spirit—who are co-equal and all three are without beginning and end.

If the Apostles believed in the Trinity, why was it 285 years after the death of the Apostles, AD 381, before the holy Spirit was finally officially declared a person. The noted Trinitarian historian Adolph Harnack observed that up to 325 AD the majority of Christians insisted the holy Spirit was not a person.

If the Apostles believed in the Trinity, why is it that neither their associates, who survived them nor their descendents (the so called early Church Fathers) believed the trinity? Why did it take 285 years after the Apostles died before the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD finally recognized the Trinity.

If the Apostles believed in the Trinity, three Gods in one, why was it that not until 229 years after their death, the Nicene Council (325 AD), under the extreme pressure of Emperor Constantine, ruled that only the Father and Son were two parts of one deity? The two main antagonists were Arius who believed Jesus had a beginning and Athanasias argued Jesus had no beginning. Most Arians dared not challenge Emperor Constantine by refusing to sign the creed. The trinity was not discussed since most still believed the holy Spirit was not a person. But Arius did refuse and was exiled.

Read more here:

18 comments to Did the Apostles believe in the Trinity?

  • Anonymous

    Sidgi, thanks for supporting the truth. But your view that weither or not a person believes in the trinity is inconsequential to salvation is confusing. The Bible says it is a gross sin to add or remove anything from God’s word. Are trinitarians not guilty of adding to God’s word? Secondly, trinitarians deny the truth that God has no equal, the very thing that makes God God. He alone is almighty, he alone has no begining and no end… Thirdly, if Jesus is God and equal to God then christians are the most pitiable because his death and ressurection would be a fraud since God can not die.(Hab.1:12). And this would further mean our salvation is an illusion. Hope you can now see why this false teaching has everything to do with salvation.

  • sidgi

    there are only two ways the apostles could have had legitimate belief in the trinity. The first way, would have been in their observance of the law covenant, and the many formal holy days and festivals. the other way would have been by Jesus telling them that he was part of a trinity.

    there is no record of either circumstance in the bible, so it would have had to have been an extra-biblical teaching. It would have had to have been taught and believed by the Jews, apart from the holy writings we are aware of, or taught by Jesus, but not recorded in the books and letters we have available to us.

    it seems that belief in the trinity teaching has to be read in to the text, so to speak, since no direct statement of the teaching exists in the bible, as it exists today. If the apostles believed in a triune God, they didn’t think it important enough to preserve the belief, by direct statement. One fact that jumps out because of that, is that belief in a trinity isn’t necessary to salvation, so argument about it is pointless.

    sidgi

  • Anonymous

    Alex, cant you see this is just what Satan wanted to achieve through Constantine- to get christians to blindly wordship a freakish idol. The concept is unscriptural, everything about it is pagan. At no time did Jesus refer to himself as God, nor did the apostles. He always maintained he was God’s son. Go back to all the prophecies identifying him as The Christ in the old testament, not one out of well over 25 of them suggested he was God or equal to God. Alex, the true God is one God, he can never be a trinity. P

  • Thanks for your reply Alex, Your posting of December 30th 2010 reminded me of some words of Adam Clarke in his Commentaries (circa 1810). ~ The quotes I’ve cut and pasted are all from Gen 1:1… ~ The links given have quotes from Adam Clarke that follow the subject matter as opposed to page numbers.

    ~~~~~

    Quote from – http://homepage.mac.com/craigadams1/CLARKE/THEO04.html
    IN Genesis i, 1, the original word Elohim, “God,” is certainly the plural form of El, or Eloah, and has long been supposed, by the most eminently learned and pious men, to imply a plurality of persons in the divine nature. As this plurality appears in so many parts of the sacred writings to be confined to three persons, hence the doctrine of the TRINITY, which has formed a part of the creed of all those who have been deemed sound in the faith, from the earliest ages of Christianity. Nor are the Christians singular in receiving this doctrine, and in deriving it from the first words of divine revelation. An eminent Jewish rabbin, Simeon ben Joachi, has these remarkable words: “Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet, notwithstanding, they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other.” In the ever blessed Trinity, from the infinite and indivisible unity of the persons, there can be but one will, one purpose, and one infinite and uncontrollable energy.
    end quote

    And the following actually precedes the lines above. Adam Clarke opens his Commentary with this on Genesis 1:1 –

    Quote – http://homepage.mac.com/craigadams1/CLARKE/THEO02.html
    MANY attempts have been made to define the term God: (Elohim) As to the word itself, it is pure Anglo-Saxon, and among our ancestors signified, not only the divine Being, now commonly designated by the word, but also good; as in their apprehensions it appeared that God and good were correlative terms; and when they thought or spoke of him they were doubtless led from the word itself to consider him as THE GOOD BEING, a Fountain of infinite benevolence and beneficence toward his creatures.

    A general definition of this great First Cause, as far as human words dare attempt one, may be thus given: The eternal, independent, and self-existent Being: the Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence: he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the most simple, and most spiritual of all essences; infinitely benevolent, beneficent, true, and holy: the cause of all being, the upholder of all things; infinitely happy, because infinitely perfect; and eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has made; illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence; known fully only to himself, because an infinite mind can be fully apprehended only by itself — in a word, a Being who, from his infinite wisdom, can not err or be deceived; and who, from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, right, and kind. Reader, such is the God of the Bible; but how widely different from the God of most human creeds and apprehensions!
    end quote –

    After reading that I became convinced that God is bigger than I’ll ever be able to figure out.

    • Peter K. (admin)

      I find it interesting how you believers in the Trinity make arguments that are answered in our Trinity articles. This suggests to me you are not reading our articles on the Trinity. I therefore will not take the time to respond.

  • Alex

    I do get a chuckle out of the way late latin picture of a three headed God! That is hilarius

    As a believer that the bible teaches all of the fundamental building blocks invovled in the trinity, I must clear up some misconception.

    God is one being, always has been, and always will be. He does not have three heads, in fact, he has no head at all! John 4 teaches that God is Spirit, therefore he has no head like the picture depicts!
    The Word of God took on flesh, he existed in eternity past (micah 5:2, John 1:1) as spirit, fully and completely God. He took on flesh in the NT. This is important to grasp, because it helps to clear up all the ‘havent seen God’ controversies. We only saw a manefestation of God when he wore flesh, we didn’t see YHWH’s complete glory because we can’t.

    So, I believe that only one God has ever existed, and only one God will ever exist.(Isaiah 44:8, 45:5)

    I know that most here do not agree, and have made up their minds. That is fine, and it is not my intention to argue you out of your beliefs, ask Jacqueline has wisley stated, that mever works. But when I see my views mis-represented, I must share.

    So in short, we do not believe in other Gods, we do not even believe there is any other God except one. We believe his name is wonderful, counselor, eternal father, prince of peace, mighty god, YHWH, Jehovah, Yeshua, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Lord, God, God Almighty, alpha & omega, awesome, I AM, and Glorious! How could God Almighty be limited to human language? These are his titles and names, we do not believe there is a contradiction here.

    Friends, we don’t walk by sight, or intellect, but by Faith through the Lord of Lords, King Yeshua.

    We give him the same honor as we give the Father, because the Father is in, and through, and one with his son Yeshua. You can’t worship Jehovah any other way but by falling at the feet of Jesus and seeing the Father in his eyes!

    I personally feel that trinitarian concepts are dripping throughout the scriptures, I would name them all, but it would be in vain. Instead, try paying attention to how often the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are mentioned together; share the same attributes, and seem to share titles as well.

    We simply believe that the Eternal God is so much higher than our thoughts and ways, that he must reveal himself before we can understand him. He must come to us before we can ‘see’ him.

    Good luck to you all, Shalom

  • Alex

    Good work Prying1, how about in the fingerprints of creation?

    What makes up the universe?
    *time, space, and matter

    What makes up time?
    *past, present, and future

    What makes up space?
    *length, width, and heighth

    What makes up matter?
    *solid, liquid, gas

    What makes up a human being?
    *body, soul, & spirit

    Interesting questions on why the Trinity doctrine didn’t form until later. Why not flip the question around and see if it holds water?

    Why wasn’t there doctrines of Christ being created before the councils? Uh oh, how do we handle this?

    Any one who is intelectually honest can go and read for themselves that the early church fathers proclaimed that the Son was Eternal!! Go to any christian book store, library, ect; look up any author from Martyr, Tertullian, ect; and see for yoursellf that they all believed Christ was God. Furthermore, if Christ isn’t fully God, according to the bible you must be polytheistic! ‘And the word was a god’…….the teaching of multiple gods is polytheism!

    Now why did both doctrines arrive later? (That is, Arius’ side & Athanasius’ side)

    They weren’t attacked until later, so the defense didn’t need to be theoligically laid out. So we come to the real controversy, what was the real doctrine? Because both came later, the argument that the Trinity is unbiblical is just as valid as saying that Christ is the archangel Michaell is unbiblical.

    So what really came first?

    Since anyone can see Tertullians teachings of the trinitarian concept, along with the other 200 plus church fathers, that one comes to our side!

    To say that they were scared into signing is a horrably inaccurate statement. They were all suffering persecution, torture, and impending death everywhere they went before ever coming to the council. They gave there lives for the true teaching of Jesus. And you want me to believe that they showed up to a council and signed the biggest heresy known to christendom?? Um, you are crazy! Sorry, but that is the most ridiculus thing I’ve ever heard. Besides, a small few didn’t sign it, and they weren’t tortured or anything! It doesn’t hold water friends, you have to concoct theories that none of you are sure of.

    Second, and most important, scripture!

    Is Christ called God in the New Testament?

    John 1:1, John 1:18, John 20:28
    Romans 9:5
    Philippians 2:6
    Col 1:15, 1:19, 2:9
    1 Timothy 6:14-16
    Titus 1:3-4, 2:13
    Hebrews 1:3, 1:8
    2 Peter 1:1
    1 John 6:20
    Revelation 1:8, 22:13, 22:16

    ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God (father), and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.’

    Thank you for letting me post here Peter, merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all.

  • I’d love to weigh in on this. First a bit of my history: Raised Catholic. Left the Catholic church at age 17-18. Age 20 I asked Jesus into my heart. His response was to fill my heart to overflowing with peace, joy and the knowledge that I was a new creation (although I did not know to word it that way at the time). To quote the old song, “He Touched Me”. He removed the heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh.

    Prior to his touching my heart He made no demands that I feel remorse for all past sins and in fact I continued on pretty much the same lifestyle (mainly lusting, drunkenness and smoking pot) for well over a month before I got hold of a New Testament (small pocket-size Gideon KJV) and then I learned that repentance (turning from sin) was needed. Matthew 5:27-28 did it! Through that whole episode of utilizing ‘cheap grace’ the Lord met me where I was at and stayed true to his word that he will never leave me nor forsake me.

    All that said, I see both teachings in scripture. I read on the Bible411 page (for those who missed it click on “Read more here” link above),

    Quote: Whenever the Arians were dominant, they persecuted the Trinitarians. And when the Trinitarians were dominant, they persecuted the Arians. Blood literally flowed in the streets.” – end quote –

    I had to wonder if either side had an ounce of blood flowing from a recreated heart that the Lord gives to those who invite Him into their heart. Were their hearts still made of stone?

    Romans 13:14 & Romans 14:1 – Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. –

    Setting aside the ‘faith is weak’ part I see that:
    1.) We do have a sinful nature (evidenced by blood flowing in the streets)
    2.) There ARE disputable matters. (Not all doctrine is cut and dried)

    Perhaps the Lord leaves some matters disputable so we can have a choice in how to react when opportunity for debate comes along. Will we argue until blood flows in the street or will we love one another which is His higher purpose for us.

    Personally I will stick with the Trinitarian Doctrine. I can counter each argument and see both sides which I’m sure was done by people wiser than I at the councils, etc.. For example, the Trinity being polytheism I think not and can see examples throughout nature that can attest to that. An egg for example. One egg has a shell, a white and a yolk. They can be separated yet it is still one egg. same can be said for a tree with roots, trunk and branches. Man himself is spirit soul and body and created in God’s image.

    One way or the other I do not believe God demands we need follow one disputable teaching over another to the point where we kill those who are opposed to our way of thinking. If he demanded we understand the true essence and composition of His being down to the spiritual level of atoms in order to be accepted by Him not one of us would be saved.

  • Adrian

    Peter , thank you for replying to my question . I plan to read the info over the weekend .

    One more question for you , how do you explain Thomas calling Jesus “My Lord and My God” ?

    Also I have a concern , the Bible says “Now is the Day of Salvation ” , Bible Students teach the Day of Salvation is future ? Is this not a dangerous theological position to hold ?

    Adrian

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Adrian,

      Let me answer one question at a time. First about the Trinity. I have a great quote for you from this link The Doctrine of Christ book

      “When Jesus offered to fulfill all the necessary conditions to make him believe his resurrection, Thomas cried out, “My [the] Lord and my [the] God” (John 20:28). God here is a translation of the Greek THEOS, which is defined by Dr. Young as “God, a god, object of worship.”7 It is a general term in the New Testament, used frequently to denote the Heavenly Father (such as in Matt. 27:46, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” and in many additional places). However, it is also used to depict other beings, whether good or bad. THEOS is used to describe Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), the saints, “gods, sons of the Most High” (John 10:34, 35, from Ps. 82:6, RSV), idols, or fabricated “gods who will go before us” (Acts 7:40), and heathen gods, “the gods have come down to us in human form!” (Acts 14:11, 12). Hence, THEOS is quite general in its application in Scripture, and the fact that it is occasionally used of Jesus should not be taken as proof that he was God the Father. Such usage alone is not conclusive to warrant such a distinction.”

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Adrian,

      Regarding your second question, it is never dangerous to follow the teachings of the Bible. There are many translations that rightly read “a day of salvation,” rather than “the day of salvation.” These include The Amplified Bible, The Bible in Basic English, Phillips, Rotherham, The New World, and many more. According to the Scriptures, now is “the day of salvation” for those who are to be the Bride of Christ, the Little Flock. Another day-a day of salvation is awaiting mankind in general, in the Millennial Age-“the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” ‘Acts 3:21. Notice how the scriptures speak of two different groups to be saved.

      1 John 2:2 – “He is an atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. – Weymouth
      1 Tim 4:10 – God…is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. NKJV
      Rev 22:17 – “the bride say, “Come!”… Whoever desires let him take the water of life freely.
      Rom 8:19,21 – “the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God… also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God NKJV
      1 Peter 2:12 – “Gentiles… they may, by your good works… glorify God in the day of visitation.”
      2 Thess 1:10 – He comes to be glorified in His saints & admired among all those who believe
      2 Cor 5:19 – God reconciling the world to Himself & committed to us the word of reconciliation.
      Acts 15:16-17 – I will rebuild tabernacle of David, So that the rest of mankind may seek LORD,
      Rom 11:30 – through mercy shown you [Gentile Christians], they [Jews] also may obtain mercy

  • Peter K. (admin)

    Adrian,

    I don’t claim I can prove who each of the messengers are, but I can say that Bible Students have studied the seven churches and we generally believe that they cover seven sequential time periods, each having a special messenger at the beginning of each period.

    Arius is viewed as the shining light for Pergamos on the basis of his leading role in defending the early church’s view of Jesus as the created Son of God and resisting mounting efforts to equate him with the Father. You can find more detail on the seven messengers and seven churches here:
    https://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/2010/07/the-seven-churches-of-revelation/

  • Adrian

    I notice from the Divine Plan of the Ages , Chronology Chart that Bible Students list Arius as one of the messengers to the Church – can you elaborate on why this is so and provide biblical proof ?

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