Wobble, did you read this? Don't you agee that the light gets brighter?
The Trinity in the New Testament
a) Matthew 28:19 ----------------------------------------------------------
The most explicit reference to the Trinity in the Gospels is Christ’s baptismal formula found at Matthew 28:19: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit …” (NAB). “This is perhaps the clearest expression in the New Testament of the Trinitarian belief” (NAB notes, Matthew 28:19).
Not surprisingly, the Jehovah's Witnesses don’t see it that way, stating: “Do these verses say that God, Christ and the holy spirit constitute a Trinitarian godhead, that the three are equal in substance, power and eternity? No, they do not, no more than listing three people, such as Tom, Dick, and Harry, means that they are three in one” (Should You Believe, Chapter 9).
The Jehovah's Witnesses have missed the point entirely. No credible scholar claims that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one just because they are numerated like Tom, Dick and Harry. That’s silly. The unity of the three Persons or hypostases - the oneness of the three and singleness of essence - is indicated by the singular use of “name” by which all three Persons are referred to, not their plural “names.” If, for instance, the Son were merely a separate subordinate creature as the Jehovah's Witnesses falsely teach, Jesus would have them baptizing in the “names” of the Father and Son, at a minimum. But he did not. Having all the same “name” puts Father, Son and Holy Spirit on par, on an equal plane with all which this connotes.
“Name” (Greek Onoma), “… as a noun, is used in general of the “name” by which a person or thing is called ….” It also stands “for all that a “name” implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that a name covers” (Strong and Vine’s, 178). The phrase “in the name” may represent the “authority of Christ” … or “in the power of” … or “in recognition of the authority of …. (MT 18:20; cf 28:19; …” (ibid.).
Under either scenario a Trinitarian formula is patently obvious. If the “name” into which believers are to be baptized is that by which a person or thing is called then Father, Son and Holy Spirit share the same name, that of God, and all three are called by God’s name; three Persons in unity sharing the divine essence, yet distinct. It equates the three Persons, and ascribes to them essence, power and eternity equally.
The Jehovah's Witnesses reject the conventional application of “name” at Matthew 28:19 and argue that “name” does not mean a personal name at all, that “God” is not a name like Jehovah, but means “power or authority” (Should You Believe, Chapter 8). So, “‘baptism in the name of the holy spirit recognizes the authority of the spirit, that it is from God and functions by divine will” (ibid.).
Actually, “I AM” can’t be considered a name in the conventional English sense either, but that is what Jehovah said His name is. A name can have wide application, as Isaiah attests about Jesus, whose name is “God.”
And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NWT)
Another weakness in their approach is that baptism under the Jehovah's Witnesses’ interpretation would be into three separate and unequal powers and authorities, with the Son possessing less than the Father because they believe Father and Son are not equal, since their Jesus is nothing more than a man, always inferior (Should You Believe, Chapter 7). This would conceivably require at least two separate baptisms but that would contravene Ephesians 4:5 which says that there is only “one baptism.”
For the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Holy Spirit is only a power similar to electrical current flowing from God (Should You Believe, Chapter 8). But if that were the case, baptizing into the names of God and the Holy Spirit would be redundant, ascribing the same authority twice; it ascribes an authority and power of the Holy Spirit distinct from God, but that’s not what Jesus meant.
The expression “in the name of” (literally, ‘into the name’), indicates a dedication or consecration to the one named. Thus Christian Baptism is a dedication or consecration to God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since the Son and the Holy Spirit are mentioned here on a par with the Father, the passage clearly teaches that they are equally divine with the Father, who is obviously God. (Catholic Encyclopedia, 306)
“From the vocabulary and grammar of the Greek original, the intention of the hagiographer to communicate singleness of essence in three distinct Persons was easily derived” (ibid., 299).
b) 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 ----------------------------------------------- [Top]
Likewise, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 does not attempt to prove equality and unity simply by listing “Spirit,” “Lord” and “God.” Rather, the three are put on a par, thus indicating their divine nature, and consequently, their omnipotence, omniscience and eternal existence. In speaking of the spiritual gifts or charisms that are bestowed upon Christians, Paul says:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. (NAB)
This passage witnesses to the doctrine of the Trinity by ascribing the various charisms, viz, gifts, ministries, and workings, to the Spirit, the Lord (the Son), and God (the Father), respectively. Since all these charisms of their very nature demand a divine source, the three Persons are put on a par, thus clearly indicating their divine nature while at the same time maintaining the distinction of Persons (Catholic Encyclopedia, 306).
The Spirit is the donor in each instance and each gift contributes to the corporate life of the body of Christ, the Church. The one Spirit, Lord or God, is at work in the body; the embryonic Trinitarian formula is to be noted, ….” (C.S.C. Williams, Peake’s Commentary on the Bible [London: Nelson and Sons, Ltd., 1964], 961) (Peake’s Commentary)
c) 2 Corinthians 13:13 (14) ----------------------------------------------- [Top]
2 Corinthians 13:13 (14) provides “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the charity (love) of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” “[This] is one of the clearest Trinitarian passages in the New Testament” (NAB notes 13, 11-13). What makes Paul’s “use of these terms so significant is that they appear against a strictly monotheistic background” (Catholic Encyclopedia, 306).
This blessing is perhaps a quotation from the early Christian liturgy. The grammatical usage in this blessing, especially the subjective genitives …. gives us a basis not only for the distinction of persons, but also for their equality in as much as all the benefits are to flow from the one Godhead.” (ibid.)
2 Corinthians 13:13(14) “not only sums up the apostolic teaching, but it interprets the deeper meaning of the Trinity in Christian experience, the saving grace of the Son as that which gives access to the love of the Father and the communion of the Spirit” (New Bible Dictionary, 1299).
d) Romans 8:9-11------------------------------------------------------------- [Top]
Romans 8:9-11 also makes a strong statement that the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ both dwell in the believer, and accordingly the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ since there is only one Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), an indwelling exemplified in a true Trinitarian fashion: God is in you, Christ is in you, and the Holy Spirit which proceeds from both (in the Latin Western tradition) is in you the true believer, all existing as one principle ultimately.
But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Sprit of God really dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. (Romans 9:8-11 RSV)
Jehovah is the spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17 NWT; “the Lord is the Spirit” RSV)
“[T]here are many other implicit references, for example at Jesus’ baptism, where the Father speaks from the cloud and the Spirit descends as a dove upon the Son (Matthew 3.16-17). In Paul’s letters there are many examples of Father, Son and Spirit being closely linked in their activity. [I]n Ephesians he speaks of ‘one Spirit …one Lord … one God and Father’ (4.4-6). In 2 Corinthians he speaks of God establishing us in Christ and giving us the Spirit as a first installment (1.21-2). He said to the Galatians that ‘God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ (4.6)” (Oxford, 1208).