PEOPLE who believe the Trinity teaching say that God consists of three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each of these three persons is said to be equal to the others, almighty, and without beginning. According to the Trinity doctrine, therefore, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, yet there is only one God.
Many who believe the Trinity admit that they are not able to explain this teaching. Still, they may feel that it is taught in the Bible. It is worth noting that the word “Trinity” never occurs in the Bible. But is the idea of a Trinity found there? To answer this question, let us look at a scripture that supporters often cite to uphold the Trinity.
“THE WORD WAS GOD”
John 1:1 states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (King James Version) Later in the same chapter, the apostle John clearly shows that “the Word” is Jesus. (John 1:14) Since the Word is called God, however, some conclude that the Son and the Father must be part of the same God.
Bear in mind that this part of the Bible was originally written in Greek. Later, translators rendered the Greek text into other languages. A number of Bible translators, though, did not use the phrase “the Word was God.” Why not? Based on their knowledge of Biblical Greek, those translators concluded that the phrase “the Word was God” should be translated differently. How? Here are a few examples: “The Logos [Word] was divine.” (A New Translation of the Bible) “The Word was a god.” (The New Testament in an Improved Version) “The Word was with God and shared his nature.” (The Translator’s New Testament) According to these translations, the Word is not God himself. * Instead, because of his high position among Jehovah’s creatures, the Word is referred to as “a god.” Here the term “god” means “mighty one.”
GET MORE FACTS
Most people do not know Biblical Greek. So how can you know what the apostle John really meant? Think of this example: A schoolteacher explains a subject to his students. Afterward, the students differ on how to understand the explanation. How can the students resolve the matter? They could ask the teacher for more information. No doubt, learning additional facts would help them to understand the subject better. Similarly, to grasp the meaning of John 1:1, you can look in the Gospel of John for more information on Jesus’ position. Learning additional facts on this subject will help you to draw the right conclusion.
For instance, consider what John further writes in chapter 1, verse 18: “No man has seen [Almighty] God at any time.” However, humans have seen Jesus, the Son, for John says: “The Word [Jesus] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory.” (John 1:14, KJ) How, then, could the Son be part of Almighty God? John also states that the Word was “with God.” But how can an individual be with someone and at the same time be that person? Moreover, as recorded at John 17:3, Jesus makes a clear distinction between himself and his heavenly Father. He calls his Father “the only true God.” And toward the end of his Gospel, John sums up matters by saying: “These have been written down so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” (John 20:31) Notice that Jesus is called, not God, but the Son of God. This additional information provided in the Gospel of John shows how John 1:1 should be understood. Jesus, the Word, is “a god” in the sense that he has a high position but is not the same as Almighty God.
CONFIRM THE FACTS
Think again about the example of the schoolteacher and the students. Imagine that some still have doubts, even after listening to the teacher’s additional explanation. What could they do? They could turn to another teacher for further information on the same subject. If the second teacher confirms the explanation of the first one, the doubts of most students may be put to rest. Similarly, if you are not sure what the Bible writer John was really saying about the relationship between Jesus and Almighty God, you could turn to another Bible writer for further information. Consider what was written by Matthew, for example. Regarding the end of this system of things, he quotes Jesus as saying: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36) How do these words confirm that Jesus is not Almighty God?
Jesus says that the Father knows more than the Son does. If Jesus were part of Almighty God, however, he would know the same facts as his Father. So, then, the Son and the Father cannot be equal. Yet, some will say: ‘Jesus had two natures. Here he speaks as a man.’ But even if that were so, what about the holy spirit? If it is part of the same God as the Father, why does Jesus not say that it knows what the Father knows?
As you continue your Bible studies, you will become familiar with many more Bible passages that have a bearing on this subject. They confirm the truth about the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit.—Psalm 90:2; Acts 7:55; Colossians 1:15.
^ par. 3 For a further discussion of John 1:1, see the article “Was the Word ‘God’ or ‘a god’?” in the November 1, 2008, issue of The Watchtower, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.