Mystery of the Most Blessed Holy Trinity
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16,KJV)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14, KJV)
How do I believe and understand it?
As per these True First Christian Champions of Faith (listed next) but let’s see who are they first?
1) Blessed St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, nicknamed ‘God-Bearing’, An Apostolic Father being the direct Disciple of the Blessed Apostle St. John, Martyr for Christ (c. 35 AD – c. 108 AD)
2) Blessed St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smryna, an Apostolic Father being the Disciple of the Blessed St. John the Apostle (c. 69 AD – c. 155 AD)
3) Blessed St. Justin Martyr, a Great Early Christian Apologist who is a Foremost Exponent of the Divine Word, who Influenced Virtually all of subsequent Christian philosophy and Catholic theology, Martyr for Christ (c. 100 AD – c. 160 AD)
4) Blessed St. Melito, Jewish Bishop of Sardis, of whom Polycrates of Ephesus to Pope Victor about 194 (Eusebius, Church History V.24) states that “Melito the eunuch [this is interpreted “the virgin” by Rufinus in his translation of Eusebius], whose whole walk was in the Holy Spirit”, was buried at Sardis and Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed as a prophet by many of the faithful (Died c. 180 AD)
5) Blessed St. Irenaeous of Lyons, Hearer of St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smryna, who is also an Apostolic Father being the Disciple of the Blessed St. John the Apostle (c. 130 AD – c. 202 AD)
6) Blessed St. Clement of Alexandria, Head of the Cathecathical School At Alexandria (c. 150 AD – c. 215 AD)
7) Blessed Tertullian (155 AD – 222 AD), the founder of Western theological scholarship.
8) Blessed St. Hippolytus of Rome, Hearer of Blessed St. Irenaeous of Lyons (c. 170 AD –235 AD)
9) Blessed Origen of Alexandria, the Great but surprisingly Modest Exegete of the Eastern Church, “Nicknamed: Admantius or Man of Steel”, Tortured and Martyred for Christ (c. 184 AD – c. 253 AD)
Note: NONE of these Church Fathers listed here has any prayer to Mary or equivalent in any of their writings. Please take note carefully and thus we need “not” practice those things at all to be like the ‘First Christians’. Are we supposed to Imitate their faith in Christ?
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1, KJV)
“that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12, NKJV)
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” (Philippians 3:17, KJV)
“Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16, NASB)
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:9, KJV)
Example Quotes from them as ‘how to understand this Mystery (Secret) of the Most Holy Trinity’ accurately, to quote:
- Ignatius of Antioch (c. 50–117): For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan, both from the seed of David and of the Holy Spirit. (Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, 18.2. Translation from Michael Holmes, Apostolic Fathers, 197)
- Ignatius (again): Consequently all magic and every kind of spell were dissolved, the ignorance so characteristic of wickedness vanished, and the ancient kingdom was abolished when God appeared in human form to bring the newness of eternal life. (Ibid., 19.3. Holmes, AF, 199)
- Ignatius (again): For our God Jesus Christ is more visible now that he is in the Father. (Ignatius, Letter to the Romans, 3.3. Holmes, AF, 229)
- Ignatius (again): I glorify Jesus Christ, the God who made you so wise, for I observed that you are established in an unshakable faith, having been nailed, as it were, to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 1.1. Holmes, AF, 249.)
- Ignatius (again): Wait expectantly for the one who is above time: the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible; the Intangible, the Unsuffering, who for our sake suffered, who for our sake endured in every way. (Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp, 3.2. Holmes, AF, 265.)
- Polycarp of Smyrna (69–155): Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal high priest himself, the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth . . ., and to us with you, and to all those under heaven who will yet believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead. (Polycarp, Philippians, 12:2. Holmes, AF, 295)
- Epistle of Barnabas (written c. 70–130): “If the Lord submitted to suffer for our souls, even though he is Lord of the whole world, to whom God said at the foundation of the world, “Let us make humankind according to our image and likeness,” how is it, then, that he submitted to suffer at the hands of humans?” (Epistle of Barnabas, 5.5. Holmes, AF, 393)
- Justin Martyr (100–165): And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man, and Angel, and in the glory of fire as at the bush, so also was manifested at the judgment executed on Sodom, has been demonstrated fully by what has been said. (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 128. Translation from Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, I:264)
- Justin (again): “Permit me first to recount the prophecies, which I wish to do in order to prove that Christ is called both God and Lord of hosts.” (Ibid., 36. ANF, I:212.)
- Justin (again): Therefore these words testify explicitly that He [Jesus] is witnessed to by Him [the Father] who established these things, as deserving to be worshipped, as God and as Christ. (Ibid., 63. ANF, I:229)
- Justin (again): The Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. And of old He appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses and to the other prophets; but now in the times of your reign, having, as we before said, become Man by a virgin . . .” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 63. ANF, I:184)
- Justin (again): For if you had understood what has been written by the prophets, you would not have denied that He was God, Son of the only, unbegotten, unutterable God. (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 126. ANF, I:263)
- Melito of Sardis (d. c. 180): “He that hung up the earth in space was Himself hanged up; He that fixed the heavens was fixed with nails; He that bore up the earth was born up on a tree; the Lord of all was subjected to ignominy in a naked body – God put to death! . . . [I]n order that He might not be seen, the luminaries turned away, and the day became darkened—because they slew God, who hung naked on the tree. . . . This is He who made the heaven and the earth, and in the beginning, together with the Father, fashioned man; who was announced by means of the law and the prophets; who put on a bodily form in the Virgin; who was hanged upon the tree; who was buried in the earth; who rose from the place of the dead, and ascended to the height of heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father.” (Melito, 5. ANF, VIII:757)
- Irenaeus of Lyons (120–202): “For I have shown from the Scriptures, that no one of the sons of Adam is as to everything, and absolutely, called God, or named Lord. But that He is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth. Now, the Scriptures would not have testified these things of Him, if, like others, He had been a mere man. . . . He is the holy Lord, the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Beautiful in appearance, and the Mighty God, coming on the clouds as the Judge of all men; — all these things did the Scriptures prophesy of Him.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.19.2. ANF, I:449)
- Irenaeus (again): “He received testimony from all that He was very man, and that He was very God, from the Father, from the Spirit, from angels, from the creation itself, from men, from apostate spirits and demons.” (Ibid., 4.6.7. ANF, I:469)
- Irenaeus (again): “Christ Jesus [is] our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father.” (Ibid., 1.10.1. ANF, I:330)
- Irenaeus (again): “Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living, who spoke to Moses, and who was also manifested to the fathers.” (Ibid., 4.5.2. ANF, I:467)
- Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–215): “This Word, then, the Christ, the cause of both our being at first (for He was in God) and of our well-being, this very Word has now appeared as man, He alone being both, both God and man—the Author of all blessings to us; by whom we, being taught to live well, are sent on our way to life eternal. . . . . . . The Word, who in the beginning bestowed on us life as Creator when He formed us, taught us to live well when He appeared as our Teacher; that as God He might afterwards conduct us to the life which never ends” (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen, 1. ANF, II:173)
- Tertullian (c. 160–225): For God alone is without sin; and the only man without sin is Christ, since Christ is also God.” (Tertullian, Treatise on the Soul, 41. ANF, III:221)
- Tertullian (again): “Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. . . . That which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is made a second in manner of existence—in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth. This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man united.” (Tertullian, Apology, 21. ANF, III:34–35)
- Hippolytus (170–235): “The Logos alone of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God, being the substance of God.” (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 10.29. ANF, V:151)
- Origen (c. 185–254): “Jesus Christ . . . in the last times, divesting Himself (of His glory), became a man, and was incarnate although God, and while made a man remained the God which He was.” (Origen, De Principiis, Preface, 4. ANF, IV:240)
Source for each of these “22 quotes”:
Peace to you
Issue: Some Christians have problem understanding the Trinity because that word is not found in the Bible and that they see that the Father is Greater than the Son.
Though the Word Trinity is not found in the Bible, this Mysterious Concept pertaining to God is Certainly Found in the Bible as First Christianity Testifies to this Truth too.
The Father is Greater than the Son as Lord Jesus Christ Himself quoted and calls the Father “My God” simply because Christ “left His Equality with God the Father due to His Humility to Fulfill all Law & Prophets” (Philippians 2:6 – 8, Matthew 5:17 – 19) including “Praying to the Father” (Leadership by Example as God became Flesh to ‘Walk His Own Talk’ too).
Further Explanation regarding Theophilus of Antioch’s First Use of the Greek Equivalent of the Word Trinity & Brief Biblical Exegesis in Support of this, please consider:
Theophilus’ Reference to the Word (John 1:1 as God).
Wisdom is often in reference to His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, John 14:26, John 16:13, 1 John 4:1 – 6).
Philippians 2:5 – 8.
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard EQUALITY with GOD [the Father] a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – apostle Paul (Philippians 2:5 – 8, NASB)
[Emphasis Mine for Clarity]
Lord Jesus Christ is Equal to God the Father (Philippians 2:6, John 10:30).
And He left His Equality to Fulfill the Law & Father’s Will in Philippians 2.
Hebrews 7:3, Christ the Actual of the Melchizedek Type has “no” Father, nor beginning of days, nor end of life proving that He is Not a Creation & that Trinity is True.
“Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, He [Lord Jesus Christ] remains a priest perpetually.” – Anonymous (Hebrews 7:3, NASB)
Yes, Hebrews 7:3 refers to Christ as “Son of God” with “no” father and “no” mother proving that the Context here is in the Absolute Sense & not His Incarnation in the Flesh as the Son of God only especially since He had a mother in the flesh temporarily for His Incarnation (i. e. The Word, Logos referring to Christ “was God”, John 1:1 Who Became “Flesh as Man”, John 1:14).
Please take note that the Majority Greek Text, Textus Receptus (e. g. used by the KJV translators, the Catholic Church & Eastern Orthodox Church primarily) has the word “God” (Theos in Greek) for the phrase “God was Manifest in the Flesh” in its 1 Timothy 3:16 as opposed to the ‘later & recently discovered manuscripts used by the NASB translators for example which has the pronoun ‘He’ instead of God for this same Verse’.
It is well known that these ‘newly discovered Dead sea Scrolls or such manuscripts’ do not contain the Verses in “full” sometimes as per the ancient “Majority Text” used by “First Christianity” and thus becomes a point of ridicule sometimes by some memes on Facebook too by say KJV-Defenders who point out such ‘missing phrases or Verses’ in such translations such as the NIV or NASB which often uses the ‘latter incomplete manuscripts’.
When these Manuscripts are taken together say in regards to understanding 1 Timothy 3:16 correctly “as it is Written”, we find that the “He” that “became Flesh” is “God” (‘Theos’), ‘simple & nothing difficult here’.
Here are more facts in Support of the Trinity:
One cannot be baptized in the name of a creation.
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are Equal in Baptism Reference, Trinity is Found in this Great Commission Verse too post His Resurrection (Matthew 28:19).
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19, NASB)
Someone was arguing with me mentioning that Theophilus of Antioch meant ‘some other Trinity’. Here’s my reply:
Also, Theophilus of Antioch referred NOT to the Trinity as “God, Word, Wisdom” as you claim but some scholars say that it refers to the
Trinity of God.
Trinity of His Word.
Trinity of His Wisdom.
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are “Trinity” in their Power as “God, Word & Wisdom”.
“In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity [Τριάδος], of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man.”
The Trinity in Man is often understood to mean his body + soul + spirit post Resurrection too.
This Explanation is strengthened by the first “Latin” use of Trinity by Tertulian implying a similar meaning as follows:
Tertullian, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early 3rd century, is credited as being the first to use the Latin words “Trinity”, “person” and “substance” to explain that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are “tres personae, una substantia”.
Both Quotes are from the Wikipedia Source below:
“We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.”– Saint Athanasius the Great (of Alexandria) from a letter
Peace to you
Other Related Posts in Enhancing the Understanding of the Trinity, please consider:
Jewish Fallacy on the Trinity
Yahweh, our God Yahweh, is One.
I don’t see how you can mistake Deuteronomy 6:4 for a 3 in 1 God.
“Us” – Genesis.
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; …” (Genesis 1:26, NASB)
It’s always been Plural though the Mystery was not Revealed “plainly” till the New Testament.
Using the Old Testament, Please consider this Post too:
Right …. so what you are saying is … for 1400 years , no-one noticed the ” us ” ?
I am convinced …. where do I sign up ?
So be it, they didn’t notice that God has a Son too (Proverbs 30:4) or that the Son is the ‘Everlasting Father’ (Isaiah 9:6).
“Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His Name or HIS SON’s NAME? Surely you know!” (Proverbs 30:4, NASB)
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, NASB)
It’s the Hebrew Grammar that requires God to be Called as the Plural “Us”. An example of this grammar rule Emperor Alexander 1st begins of Russia “By the Grace of God, We, Alexander 1st, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russia ….”.
That Analogy proves ‘what you want it to prove’.
That’s not how God Talks.
God Speaks Plural meaning that He Manifests Himself in more than one Way and says He is One because it is One God doing that.
Your explanation puts the “plural-part” as being “pointless as if it was used in a singular word” making His Word for Plural to be ‘pointless’.
I reject it. It’s not about Hebrew Grammar as God has used the ‘Singular’ Pronoun “I” and equivalent throughout the Old Testament too. And in your biased figure of speech too, the “we” refers to more than just the Emperor (plus those in his authority or on his side too), proving the Trinity Claim by your own grammar analogy too, thanks again.