The Church teaches that the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith.
But what do you know about this mystery?
What is his story ?
What does it mean?
And how to prove it?
Here are 12 things to know and share …
1. Where does the word “Trinity” come from?
It comes from the Latin word trinitas, which means “three” or “triad”. The Greek equivalent is triads.
2. When was it first used?
The earliest surviving use of the term (there may have been earlier uses that are now lost) was around AD 170 by Theophilus of Antioch, who wrote:
In the same way also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity. [Τριάδος], of God, and of his Word, and of his wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, so that there is God, the Word, wisdom, man [To Autolycus 2:15].
3. What is the Trinity?
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it as follows:
The Church expresses her Trinitarian faith by professing a belief in the unity of God in whom there are three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The three divine Persons are one God because each of them also possesses the fullness of the one and indivisible divine nature.
They are really distinguished from each other by the relationships that put them in correspondence.
The Father begets the Son; the Son is begotten by the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son [CCC 48].
4. Is the Trinity the central mystery of the Christian faith?
Yes. The Compendium explains:
The central mystery of faith and of Christian life is the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.
Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit [CCC 44].
5. When did the Church infallibly define the Trinity?
The dogma of the Trinity was defined in two stages, at the First Council of Nicaea (AD 325) and at the First Council of Constantinope (AD 381).
First Nicaea defined the divinity of the Son and wrote the part of the Creed that deals with the Son.
This council was called to deal with the heresy known as Arianism, which claimed that the Son was a supernatural being but not God.
Constantinople first defined the divinity of the Holy Spirit and wrote the part of the Creed that deals with the Spirit.
This council dealt with a heresy known as Macedonism (because its advocates were from Macedonia) which denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. This heresy was also called pneumatomachianism (from a Greek expression meaning “to fight the Spirit”).
6. How to prove the Trinity?
The Trinity can only be proven by the divine revelation that Jesus has brought to us. This cannot be proven by natural reason or from the Old Testament alone. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
God left some traces of his Trinitarian being in creation and in the Old Testament, but his intimate being like the Holy Trinity is a mystery inaccessible to the sole reason or even to the faith of Israel before the Incarnation of the Son of God. and sending the Holy Spirit.
This mystery was revealed by Jesus Christ and it is the source of all other mysteries [CCC 45].
Although the vocabulary used to express the doctrine of the Trinity has been slow to develop, we can demonstrate different aspects of the doctrine from the scriptures.
7. How can we show from the scriptures that there is only one God?
The fact that there is only one God was already clearly stated in the Old Testament. For example, the book of Isaiah proclaims:
“You are my witnesses,” says the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know me, believe me and understand that I am him. Before me no god was formed, and there will be no god after me [Isaiah 43:10].
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no god ” [Isaiah 44:6].
8. How can we show that the Father is God?
The Father is proclaimed as God many times in the New Testament. For example, Saint Paul declares:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort [2 Corinthians 1:3].
There is. . . one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all [Ephesians 4:4-6].
9. How can we show that the Son is God?
This is proclaimed in various places in the New Testament, including at the beginning of the Gospel of John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we beheld his glory, glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father [John 1:1, 14].
Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands; and stretch out thy hand, and lay it on my side; do not be unfaithful, but a believer.
Thomas answered him: “My Lord and my God! [John 20:27-28].
10. How can we show that the Holy Spirit is God?
In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a divine Person who speaks and to whom we can lie:
As they worshiped the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Set me apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. ” [Acts 13:2].
But Peter said, “Ananias, why did Satan fill your heart with lying to the Holy Spirit and withholding part of the income of the land? . . . You did not lie to men but to God ” [Acts 5:3-4].
11. How to show that the Father, the Son and the Spirit are distinct Persons?
The distinction of persons can be demonstrated, for example, in the fact that Jesus speaks To his father. It wouldn’t make sense if they were one and the same.
At that time Jesus said: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the wise and clever and revealing them to the children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will ‘ [Matthew 11:25-26].
The fact that Jesus is not the same person as the Holy Spirit is revealed when Jesus – who functioned as a counselor (Greek, Parakletos) of the disciples – says he will pray To the Father and the father will then give “another Counselor,” who is the Holy Spirit. This shows the distinction of the three Persons: Jesus who prays; the Father who sends; and the Spirit who comes:
And I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, because he lives with you and will be in you [John 14:16-17].
12. How can we show that the Son is begotten by the Father and that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son?
The fact that the Son is begotten by the Father is indicated by the names of these Persons. Sons are begotten by fathers. The second person of the Trinity would not be a Son if it was not generated by the First Person as its Father.
The fact that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son is reflected in another statement from Jesus:
But when the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you on behalf of the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me. [John 15:26].
It represents the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son (“whom I will send”). Here, the outward operations of the Persons of the Trinity reflect their mutual relationship. We can also say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the son.
To learn more about the procession of the Holy Spirit, Click here.
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This article was originally published on May 26, 2013 in the Registry.