How Can God Be Three yet One?

As believers, we should be clear concerning what we believe. One of the major tenets of the genuine Christian faith is what we believe concerning God. We believe that:

God is eternally one, and this one God is eternally the Father, the Son, and the Spirit; yet the three, being distinct, are not separate.

The above statement speaks of God being the Triune God. This truth concerning God is profound and, of course, cannot be treated fully in a blog post. We’ll only briefly discuss it here with a few points and verses in a basic way.

The Bible reveals that God is triune

The Bible is God’s own speaking, and to know God we must rely fully on what the Bible tells us. What the Bible reveals to us is that God is triune. The word triune literally means “three-one.” Although the word triune is not in the Bible, the fact that God is triune is revealed there through many verses.

Let’s look at some of these verses and discuss what it means to say that God is triune, or three-one.

God is one yet three

God is uniquely one. In this universe, only one God exists. The Bible is absolutely clear about this. For example, 1 Corinthians 8:4 says,

“There is no God but one.”

And 1 Timothy 2:5 says,

“For there is one God and one Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

The scriptural revelation that God is uniquely one is clear and definite.

Yet this one God is also three—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 says,

“Go therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Lord Jesus clearly spoke here of three. And yet we see the fact of one God in the Lord’s using the singular word “name,” not the plural “names,” when referring to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The fact that the three of the Trinity have only one name speaks of God being triune, three-one.

We must be clear, however, that though God has the aspect of three, this absolutely does not mean there are three Gods. We must remember verses in the Bible, such as the verses quoted above, that declare God is one. By putting those verses together with verses like Matthew 28:19, we see that God is three yet one, and He is also one yet three.

How can this be? This is mysterious and beyond our ability to comprehend. We simply cannot explain how God can be three and yet one, but this is what the Bible reveals to us concerning God, and as believers, we are blessed when we accept the divine revelation as it is. We may not know how this can be, but we know that it is, according to God’s own Word.

Even more mystery

Furthermore, the Son and the Father dwell in one another, as the Lord Jesus said in John 14:11: “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.” Since They dwell in one another, the Son and the Father cannot be separated. They cannot be divided into two separate and independent persons. Because the Father and the Son dwell in each other, Jesus said in John 10:30: “I and the Father are one,” and in John 14:9: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

And yet we read in Matthew 3:16-17 that at Jesus’ baptism, all three of the Triune God were present—the Father speaking from the heavens, the Son being baptized in the water, and the Spirit descending like a dove on the Son. How could all three be present in such a way, yet still be one God?

On the one hand, verses like John 14:11 show the mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son, and based on these verses, we have to say that the three of the Divine Trinity are inseparable and are one. On the other hand, verses like Matthew 3:16-17 show that the three coexist simultaneously, and based on these verses we must also say that the three of the Divine Trinity are distinct.

Once again we realize something mysterious here with God. The three of the Divine Trinity are inseparable and are one, and yet they are distinct. How this can be is beyond our ability to comprehend. Yet this is the revelation of the Bible, and though we can’t explain it, we are blessed when we receive it just as it is.

By what is revealed in the Bible in these verses and more, we must simply accept that our God is the Triune God, that He is one and yet has the aspect of three—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all God, coexisting together distinctly and indwelling each other inseparably from eternity to eternity.

The limitation of our mind

When it comes to understanding the truth in the Bible about God being triune, we have to realize that our mind is limited. God being triune is deep and mysterious, and our mind is simply not able to comprehend, define, or understand this thoroughly.

Just consider other areas where our mind’s ability is limited. For instance, we simply cannot understand some phenomena in the physical universe, though scientists have studied the universe for centuries. As we look at ourselves, we don’t thoroughly understand our own physical life. Even physical life is mysterious. And we can’t fully explain the inner soul of a human being. Though we might understand a little, we have to admit that much more remains that we don’t comprehend and can’t explain. Now consider God being triune. How could our finite mind fully understand the mystery of the infinite Triune God?

Not for understanding but for enjoyment

The revelation of the Triune God is not in the Bible for us to explain and define fully, since that is impossible. Not only so, the Triune God is not an “it”—a subject simply to be studied and dissected for the sake of knowledge. The Triune God revealed in the Bible is a wonderful, living Person who wants us to enjoy and experience Him as our life and our everything. And the moment we believed in Christ and were born again, this mysterious Triune God came to live in our spirit.

Now we can actually enjoy our mysterious and wonderful Triune God day by day. Because God is triune, He is able to impart Himself into our being to become everything to us for our enjoyment. We can see this in 2 Corinthians 13:14:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

How marvelous it is that each of us can personally and experientially know the love, grace, and fellowship of the Triune God! While we cannot mentally grasp the depths of the mystery of God’s being triune, daily we can enjoy the eternal love of God the Father, the precious grace of Christ the Son, and the intimate fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This is God’s desire for us. What a wonderful Triune God we have!

The truth concerning the Triune God is profound and unfathomable. We encourage you to read the verses in this post and their accompanying notes in the New Testament Recovery Version to gain a fuller view of the Triune God.


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