The Bible and the Trinity: What did Jesus have to say about the Trinity?

For those who are Christians, most have had at least a casual relationship with the Church from birth. While doctrinal issues are often studied, questioned or even challenged, the question of who God is, is rarely questioned.

The Trinity is a settled issue, so ensconced in tradition that it’s rarely ever questioned, even though it has for centuries been a source of confusion.

There are two issues, really, with the Trinity. One, is the source of the Trinity Doctrine; and Two, just when did it become part of Christian doctrine?

To make a run at those 2 questions we had a thread:

The Bible and the Trinity: The Trinity and the OT.

and while there is never unanimity in a MB debate, there seemed to be a general consensus that the OT was not the source of the Christian Trinity. (and even then there was a less than compelling attempt to make a case for OT Trinity. How’s that for confusion?)

So…was Jesus the source of the Trinity? And…was the Trinity established Doctrine among his followers?

So, as before, I offer the following as facts to be refuted:

  1. Jesus never once mentioned the Trinity, or anything resembling it.

  2. Jesus always represented himself as inferior and subordinate to his God every single time he ever mentioned him. Every time.

  3. In the few instances where he made a passing reference to his pre-human existence he never represented himself as God.

  4. When he mentioned where he was going, he said, “I am going my way to my God and your God.”

  5. More than once he showed the capacity to have a different will than his father as when he prayed, “let not my will take place, but yours” in the final night of his life.

I submit that the words of Jesus making an overwhelming refutation of the Trinity Doctrine.

What say you?
(I would prefer to have this thread dwell on Jesus’s words, and leave the rest of the Gospel commentary as a different discussion)

IMO that one verse is all you need to refute the doctrine of the Trinity.

Matthew 28:19

It’s a start, at least.

I agree, yet the Gospels are full of text that all but mocks the Trinity.

If not for 1500 years of history driven amnesia that all but anesthetizes people’s reasoning abilities, I can’t see how a single person could buy into the Trinity after reading the Gospels.

Indeed it is.

But I would ask you…In the absence of a previous belief in the Trinity would a reader of that text—especially in context with the verses that precede it--------come to the conclusion that the 3 were in fact one entity, or would they conclude that the 3 shared a common purpose or common values?

This text is but a couple of the many words spoken by Jesus that might imply the Trinity. But they require at least two things: 1) a benign ignorance of the fact that imputing the Trinity into these texts stands in contradiction to many other texts, and 2) He’s not actually saying he’s God, or part of a God head!

As Trinitarians, we see “Jesus as God” in these texts because we had [faulty] prior knowledge that he is God. It’s confirmation bias.

While I can understand that, it seems a little disingenuous in thread entitled “The Bible and the Trinity”. The Bible is more than Jesus’ words. And Jesus’ words are more than what appear in a standard “Bible”. We also have the problem that Paul, in particular, puts all sorts of words into Jesus mouth despite never having met the physical being known as Jesus. So are we to exclude all the words of Jesus that Paul heard in his visions?

The problem is further complicated because what Jesus said and what has become universal Christian doctrine are two very different things.
Jesus said that the generation he was preaching to would not pass away until the sun ceased shining even during the daytime. And there were international wars, earthquakes, famines and other disasters, all of a sort never known before in the entire history of the universe. Things were to be so bad that grown men would be literally dieing from fear. And then that generation would see Jesus returning in the clouds to begin his rulership of the Earth.

And all that was supposed to happen before the generation of people he was speaking to died. And the people he was speaking to at the time were going to witness all that, and be able to use it as a sign that the end was near.

Now obviously none of that happened within 120 years of Jesus death. People in Judea never saw unprecedented earthquakes, or famines. The sun never stopped shining during the daytime. They never saw the worst wars the world has ever seen. or id they see Jesus returning in the clouds.

So if we just restrict a discussion to “Jesus’ words”, Jesus was a liar or mad. Instead, Christian tradition has universally evolved to intrepret this to refer to other generations, despite the explicit words of Jesus in the gospel that it was referring to the generation alive when Jesus was speaking.

So to try to restrict a debate on an less clear-cut matter of Christainity, such as the Trinity, to solely the quotations in the Gospels is an astounding attempting at fixing the goalposts so that they are so narrow that your opponents can never kick a goal.Just as one could never hope to refute the position that Jesus intended to return within 120 years of his physical death without using extra-gospel sources, so it is with the Trinity.

The Christian doctrine is now, much, much more than the words of Jesus. And that is true for all Christian sects without exception.

If we are forced to restrict it only to quotes from Jesus, in the Gospels this is certainly true. If we are allowed to use other NT sources, it certainly is not true.

Which is a straw man, because all Trinitarians, AFAIK, accept that the embodied Son was subservient to the Heavenly God.

He never represented himself as being *anything *explicitly.Saying that he never represented his pre-incarnations as God doesn’t favour a non-Trinitarian viewpoint, because he also never represented himself as a man, or as an angel, or a a duck billed platypus. There can be no disputing that he had pre-incarnation, but the lack of information on what form that was can’t be used to support a non-Trinitarian position because we can equally say that he never represented himself as whatever form the non-Trinitarian position supposes he was in.

IOW this is an argument from ignorance. He doesn’t give any information at all on what his previous incarnations were. That doesn’t prove that he wasn’t God.

I can’t quite see why this supports a non-Trinitarian viewpoint. I don’t think you quite understand this aspect of Trinitarianism. The three parts are not simply different names for the one being. They are distinct *aspects *of that being.

The incarnated Jesus speaking of going to his God is no more contradictory to the Trinity than someone speaking of a river going to its sea being indicative that the river is not water. Both the river and the sea are water, they are distinct aspects of water, and one goes to the other, but there are important distinctions between a river and a sea that humans need to appreciate if they rely on water to survive.

The river is water. The sea is water. Both are aspects of water, Yet nobody would suggest the phrases “The river is going to its sea” is indicative of the river being non-water.

So if Jesus is God, and the Father is God and both are aspects of God, why is the phrase “I am going my way to my God” indicative of a non-Trinitarian viewpoint.

If we take that literally, as you seem to wish, then it makes a mockery of Christianity.

If Jesus’ will really was that he didn’t want to die, then God allowed him to be killed against his will. Jesus was not a willing sacrifice, since his will was explicitly that he did *not * want to be sacrificed. Jesus died against his will, solely because God wanted him to die. God, being omnipotent, could have prevented Jesus death and still saved mankind via another sacrifice. If God couldn’t save Jesus and still save mankind then he was, obviously, not omnipotent.

So Jesus didn’t want to die. He was an unwilling sacrifice. He died against his will and God didn’t do anything to stop it, even though he could have done so. God didn’t *allow *Jesus to sacrifice himself as an act of love on both parts. God could have easily prevented Jesus from dying, as Jesus wanted, but *chose *not to because that was what he felt like doing.

Clearly no Christian believes any of that. The whole basis of Christianity is that Jesus was a willing sacrifice, who laid down his life willingly for the love of humanity. It was the willingness of Jesus sacrifice that made it meaningful. A perfect man willingly giving his life to atone for the perfect man who rebelled. It was the act of free will that made it “necessary”, since God doesn’t interfere with free will.

The standard Christian interpretation of this passage, Trinitarian or otherwise, is that the incarnated Jesus was fully human, albeit with some divine knowledge. That was necessary for the incarnation to achieve its purpose of reconciling God and humanity. The human body and brain have a very strong survival drive. Jesus human body and brain were trying to keep him alive, they didn’t want to die. Jesus was confused as a result, with a passionate desire to live overwhelming the purpose he knew that he has to serve.

It’s hard under those circumstances to know what the correct path is. We tend to revert to animal instincts. Jesus, fighting against those instincts, prayed to the God aspect of the Trinity for guidance. To let the divine, non-human nature have its way and help him overcome the animal part of human nature: the survival instinct.

Nothing in the passage conflicts with Trinitarian doctrine. It doesn’t support it either, since it applies equally to an incarnated angel or a reincarnated Elisha version of Jesus. But the point is that it’s perfectly consistent with the Trinity.

Note that, rather more explicitly, Jesus said:

Which is a rather stronger indication that he did claim to be God, and that he and God are one being: Jesus in God and God in Jesus. The river in the sea and the sea in the river.

Now of course you will claim that these staments are not meant to be taken literally. That Jesus meant that he and God agreed on this specific subject, and that God is in all men and that God knew what he was thinking.

Which is fine as far as it gos, but it means that we need to apply non-literal interpretations to “let not my will take place, but yours”. Which utterly invalidates it as evidence against a Trinity.

They fall well short of that.

If we are to reject the Trinity, then we have to accept that Jesus’ references to whether he and God are one being or different beings are not to be taken literally, and interpreted figuratively. But once we accept that such statements are non-literal, then they, and any other statements, can’t be interpreted literally as evidence against the Trinity.

So your only point you had that isn’t an argument from ignorance or strawman ( “let not my will take place, but yours”) is rendered moot.

The rest of your points are arguments from ignorance. Jesus never represented himself as an angel or human just as much as he never represented himself as God. The incarnated Jesus being subservient to and waiting to return to God are not in any way inconsistent with Trinitarian doctrine, nor is Jesus asking for teh Divine will to prevail over the human at a moment of great stress.

Added to this, your non-Trinitarian interpretation of "“let not my will take place, but yours” requires that Jesus died against his will, not as the willing sacrifice that Christianity requires. So such an interpretation actually favours the Trinity.

And finally, Jesus himself explicitly says that he and the Father are one, and that he is i God just as God is in him. Taken literally it proves the Trinity. If it is to be taken figuratively, then so are all other quotes on this subject from Jesus, which renders all your arguments invalid.

Not in any sense an overwhelming refutation.

Note, I personally don;t find the Trinity to have strong scriptural support. But non-Trinitarian viewpoints are also not strongly supported. There enough points that are highly ambiguous, such as “In the beginning was the word…” and “God is in me and I am in God” that an equally strong case can be made wither way.

To me the strongest case is that such an important, novel and radical overhaul of Jewish theology wasn’t spelled out explicitly by Jesus. However the existence of dead-man angels/ghosts or the concept of rebellious angels are equally radical departures from Jewish theology, and they are unambiguous on the Gospels and never explicitly spelled out by Jesus either.

So it seems that Jesus introduced lots of highly novel theological concepts to his followers, and they were never expanded on in the Gospels. The Trinity may be just one of those. Ultimately it’s not all that important, much less so than the nature of Stan or the state of the faithful dead, so I can’t see why it wouldn’t be skipped over.

Well there is the beginning of John:

That seems to imply at least a dual aspect of God, although I still think that the “take this cup from my lips” speech refutes it.

Unfortunately it also refutes Jesus’ own words, and the core of Christian doctrine: the willing sacrifice.

So which is it. Does Jesus give up his life voluntarily. Or does he give it up against his will only because God orders him to.

It can’t be both. It can’t be Jesus’ will that he not die, while simultaneously volunteering to die.

It would make sense that Jesus have a *desire *not to die, despite being willing to do so. But that wouldn’t be in any way at odds with the trinity. But how can Jesus be wiling to die, yet at the same time his will be not to do?


I’ll go through your post and respond and ask you refine future posts in this thread so it doesn’t end up war and peace. And please read the previous thread.

The thread title was “The Bible and the Trinity: What did Jesus have to say about the Trinity?”, and I mentioned twice that we would----if there was interest-----discuss the NT commentary. It’s hardly disingenuous to want a comprehensive discussion; and separating the OT, Jesus, ans the NT does that.

Be back later.

If you can believe there was a dude that rose from the dead so that all of humanity can be saved from sin, reasoning is not on your priority list. It takes faith to believe in any of it.

When I was Christian, the weirdness of the Trinity was only a niggling concern, just a popcorn kernal suck in my teeth relative to the bigger stuff that I just couldn’t swallow at all. I imagine most Christians aren’t really all that fixated on it. Yeah, it doesn’t make a ton of sense, but there’s lots of nonsensical stuff in Christianity. Better not to think about any of it too hard.

John 1:1 and the indefinite article is an exhaustive discussion and I doubt it would fare well on this MB.


I said I’d get back with you so I am.

Your post seems to miss the point. The first part (afaict) appears to show the inherent contradictions in Jesus’s words. That’s a different thread.

The rest of it doesn’t address any texts but is sort of a personal treatise on the Trinity and other things.

But it doesn’t make a case for the Trinity from Jesus’s words. I just don’t know how to answer your post without going way way off the OP, considering it starts out that way.

If you can make a concise case from the texts where Jesus identified himself as part of the Trinity I’d love to see it.

I’ll reiterate…

My consideration of the Trinity involved the OT, the NT, and making a distinction for Jesus actually said. (Do I need to explain why Jesus’s words are more important than the other NT writers?)

If…the Bible couldn’t or didn’t make a case for the Trinity, than it’s worth considering what the real source of the Trinity is.

Almost every discussion devolves and splinters when too broad a topic is undertaken. This is an effort to have a really comprehensive discussion.

It’s hardly disingenuous.

Sure it can. The straightforward way to read that passage is that he volunteered for the job, had second thoughts when the moment of his death approached, but overcame them in the end. But I don’t see any possible interpretation that doesn’t involve two separate wills.

Besides, if you believe in the Bible, “it can’t be both” is very dangerous ground. As Biblical contradictions go, that one is so mild that in many years of debates about the Bible, I’ve never even considered using it as an example of a contradiction. There are many, many more explicit contradictions available.


It’s not about contradictions in Jesus’ words. It’s about the contradiction between Christian doctrine, including the NT, and Jesus’ words. It’s a core issue in this thread because you wish to debate a doctrinal issue, the Trinity, using solely Jesus’ words. Since all Christians agree that you can’t reach a true understanding of doctrine exclusively from Jesus’ quotes, then this debate can not reach a valid conclusion within the parameters you have set.

No, it specifically addresses the text. It’s no more a personal treatise on the Trinity than your anti-Trinitarian position is personal treatise on the Trinity.

You can’t seriously expect us to debate whether Jesus’ words support the trinity without explaining what the Trinity is

Can you?

I guess that’s one way to win a debate. Forbid the opposition from using most resources, and forbid them from applying attributes to the entity they seek to defend. Then apply an argument from ignorance when they can’t prove you wrong.

Guaranteed win. Not really a debate.

First off, that is exactly what it does. It even provides quotes of where Jesus says that he and God are one being, and that God is in him and he is in God. I don’t know how you could interpret that as not making a case for the Trinity from Jesus’ words.

And secondly, much of it wasn’t intended to make a case for the trinity. It was simply demolishing your argument by demonstrating that it wasn’t, in fact, anti-Trinitarian at all, simply an argument from ignorance coupled with an strawman scriptural interpretations.

My post did that with resounding success, to the extent that you literally can not defend a single point that you made.

I just don’t know how to answer your post without going way way off the OP, considering it starts out that way.[/quopte]

I’ll make it simple: explain to us how Jesus’ not revealing whether his pre-incranations were human, God or angelic somehow supports your anti-trinitarian position? You asserted that it did. I demonstrated that it did not. Now you can explain to us how it does.

See, no need to go off the topic. Just explain how your own explicitly-stated position is anything but an argument from ignorance.

I have already done that.

If you could even make some sort of attempt to defend your position, i would love to see it.

It seems that all you have is an argument from ignorance: Jesus never explicitly used the word Trinity, so he must not have been part of the Trinity.

It doesn’t work that way. If all you have to offer is this argument from ignorance, I think we can conclude that this debate has been won and lost. And not by the side claiming an **overwhelming **refutation of the Trinity.

They may make a consideration of those things, but we have been forbidden from entertaining anything that Jesus didn’t say.

And yes, you do need to explain why Jesus’s words are more important than the other NT writers in the case of the Trinity, when you clearly don’t believe that in the case of other doctrinal issues, such as the timing of the second coming. If you can’t then it is blatant special pleading in order to deprive your opponents of the bulk of their support.

And if a frog had wings, it would be worth considering whether it would bump its arse on the ground when it hopped.

But you have no more produced an overwhelming refutation of the Trinity Doctrine than you have produced and **overwhelming **refutation of the existence of wingless frogs.

So you are simply begging the question.

When I specifically point out that your explicitly stated positoin is an argument from ignorance and goes no way at all to refuting the trinity, that is hardly broadening the topic.
When I specifically point out that your explicitly stated position is not in fact contradictory to the Trinity as it is understood by >95% of Christians, that is hardly broadening the topic.
You inability or unwillingness to address such points speaks volumes of your overwhelming refutation of the Trinity Doctrine.

Another interesting one is Matthew 24:36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” It seems pretty blunt.

For me, I think, the biggest problem with the Trinity is that no one can describe it meaningfully. You get a lot of mystical language, and confusing things about “persons” and “aspects” and so on – and the lovely physics metaphor of the triple point of water – but, ultimately, people have to say, “It’s mysterious, and I don’t understand it.”

Harold Camping, in his many radio shows, answering questions about the Bible, has repeatedly had to say that he cannot explain the concept, because it is too mysterious for our understanding. To me, that’s an awfully weak defense for something someone is claiming to be true.

So which was it. Was Jesus’ will done, or was God’s will done? It had to be one or the other, because we have already established that there were two separate wills involved, and Raindog tells us that Jesus’ will and his Father’s will were different on this issue.

So, who’s will was done in the end: Jesus’, or his Father’s?

If Jesus’ will was done, then he dies willingly, but his prayer went unanswered, because his will was done, and not his Father’s.

If his Father’s will was done, then Jesus died unwillingly, and his Father let him die against his will.

And no, Raindog. This isn’t some tangential personal interpretation of the Trinity. It’s the perfect example of why your position is an argument from ignorance and not an **overwhelming **refutation of the Trinity. Your position resulsti8n an interpretation that is just as scripturally baseless and results in just as many logical contradictions as the Trinitarian viewpoint.

That’s not an **overwhelming **refutation of the Trinity. It’s just an argument from ignorance.

No doubt about that. But that doesn’t actually resolve the contradiction.

While the contradiction exists, the anti-Trinitarian explanation is no more logically viable than the Trinitarian one. Either one produces an apparent contradiction within this text. Pointing out that the Trinitaraian interpretation is contradictory is no refutation of the Trinity, because the anti-Trinitarian position is at least as contradictory.

Of course exactly the same is true of Christianity as a whole. Any interpretation of Christianity. I’m sure you’ve seen that in every discussion of Christianity in this very forum. But I’ve also discussed Christianity with many people of all levels of knowledge and education, and nobody can actually explain something as fundamental as Jesus’ sacrifice. It always inevitably comes back to “It’s mysterious, and I don’t understand it”.

So that;s hardly a fatal flaw within context. If the entire religion is premised on “divine mysteries” that “just require faith”, then it’s hardly an insurmountable problem that one aspect of once sect is based on on the exact same premises.


I’m asking you to make a concise case for the Trinity using cites. Your lengthy posts look more like rants than a response to the OP.

Please stick to the requests and stop hijacking the thread.


I have made my case for the trinity: a direct quote from Jesus where he says that he and God are one, that he is in God and that God is in him.

How much simpler can he make it.

Now can you please address my criticisms of you self-proclaimed **overwhelming **refutation of the Trinity.

Your persistent refusal to do so make sit look like you are just here to witness.