God the Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity


[Orthodox Christian Catechism]

We believe in one God. This God is Trinitarian. That is to say, God includes Three Persons the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But if He is Three Persons, how can He be One God? This is the greatest mystery that the human mind cannot absorb. It does not perplex only us. We are not the only ones who cannot understand by rational means the great mystery of the Holy Trinity. Great wise men and the great Fathers of the Church had the same problem. One Father of the Church, St. Augustine, studied the mystery of the Holy Trinity and although he was at his wits' end and, he still could not comprehend it. One day he was walking on the sandy beach by the ocean. There churned in his mind the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. He was talking to himself: "One God but three Persons. Three Persons--not three Gods but One God. What does it mean? How can it be explained? How can my mind take it in?" And so he was torturing his mind and beating his brains out, when he saw a little boy on the beach. He approached him to see what he was doing.

The child had dug a small hole in the sand. With his little hands he was carrying water from the ocean and was dumping it in the little hole. Saint Augustine asked, "What are you doing, my child?" The child replied, "I want to put all of the water of the ocean into this hole." Once more Saint Augustine asked, "But is it possible for all of the water of this great ocean to be contained in this little hole?" And the child asked him in return, "If the water of the ocean cannot be contained in this little hole, then how can the Infinite Trinitarian God be contained in your mind?" And the child disappeared. He was actually a little Angel.

Saint Augustine learned his lesson. He reverently thanked God Who taught him in such a miraculous way that the Mystery of the Holy Trinity cannot be comprehended with human reasoning. It is a matter of faith rather than of human reasoning. Whoever believes in God loves the mystery of the Holy Trinity and does not require rational proof.

We ourselves cannot prove rationally the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. It would not then be a mystery. However, we shall mention a few verses from the Old and New Testaments that speak about the Holy Trinity and do not leave any doubt that God is One, but Trinitarian. He has Three Persons.

In the Old Testament, the emphasis falls mostly on God as one. Moses shouted aloud to the Israelites, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one" (Deuteronomy 6:4). In spite of this, even in the Old Testament there are indications and references to the Holy Trinity. Not clearly and plainly, but in a cloudy way and veiled. There are many verses in which God is presented as being comprised of more than one Person. At the creation of man we read, "And God said, Let us make man in our own image and likeness" (Genesis 1:26). When men had committed many sins and when they were building the Tower of Babel not for the glory of God but for their own glory, in order to bring them to their senses, God decided to "confuse their tongues." And God said, "Let us go down and there we will confuse their tongues." There are other references in the Old Testament where God speaks in the plural. But why so? He is not using the "royal plural" form of the verb. Simply put, this plural form refers to the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. More concretely the Prophet Isaiah remarks that the Angels, the Seraphim, fly about the Throne of God and offer praises to Him, saying "Holy Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabbaoth, the entire earth is filled with His Glory." Why "Holy" three times? As the Fathers of the Church explain, it refers to the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity. "Holy" is the Father, "Holy" is the Son, and "Holy" is the Holy Spirit.

The New Testament teaches about the Mystery of the Holy Trinity more explicitly. When Christ was baptized in the Jordan River we have the manifestation (appearance) of the Holy Trinity. Christ was being baptized, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of dove. The Father exclaimed from Heaven, "This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." For this reason the holy Feast-Day is called Theophania or Theophany (The appearance of God). And after His Resurrection Christ said to His Disciples, "Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." Saint Paul greets the Corinthians, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spiri be with you all." With all of these verses and many more, the New Testament does not leave any doubt that God is Trinitarian. We cannot ask for an explanation of the Mystery. It would not be a mystery if it had an explanation. We accept the truth of God and we understand it and we live it only trough our faith.

"Thrice Holy One, Trinitarian God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we thank You that You have revealed Yourself to us. Together with the Seraphim, we glorify You, saying Holy is the Father, Holy is the Son, Holy is the Holy Spirit. We sinners humbly beseech You. Grant us peace and serenity. Lead the whole world to know You as You are, Trinitarian and Most Holy. Let no one be lost. Bring all to true faith. Unite us with Yourself. Keep us in Your love and in Your Kingdom."


The Father is infinite, and He has all of the Infinite Divine substance. And the Son is Infinite and has all of the Infinite Divine substance. And the Holy Spirit is Infinite and has all of the Infinite Divine substance. In the Orthodox Confession of Faith (The Nicene Creed) we confess: "I believe in One God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father trough whom all things were made…and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified…"

"The Personal or Hypostatical attributes of the All-Holy Trinity are designated thus: the Father is unbegotten; the Son is pre-eternally begotten; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.

The dogma of the begetting of the Son from the Father and the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father shows the mystical inner relations of the Persons in God and the life of God within Himself. One must clearly distinguish these relations which are pre-eternal from all eternity, and outside of time, from the manifestations of the Holy Trinity in the created world, from the activities and manifestations of God's Providence in the world as they have been expressed in such events as the creation of the world, the coming of the Son of God to earth, His Incarnation, and the sending down of the Holy Spirit."

"We worship the All-Holy Trinity with a single and inseparable worship. In the Church Fathers and the Divine services, the Holy Trinity is often called a unity in Trinity, a tri-hypostatical unity. In most cases, prayers addressed to one Person of the Holy Trinity end with glorification or doxology to all Three Persons (for example, in a prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ: "For most glorious art Thou, together with Thine unoriginate Father, and the All-Holy Spirit, unto the ages. Amen").

The Church, addressing the All-Holy Trinity in prayer, invokes It in the singular, not the plural, number. For example, "For Thee" (and not "You") "all the heavenly powers praise, and to Thee (not "to You") we send up glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

The dogma of the Three Persons indicates the fullness of the mystical inward life in God, for God is love, and the love of God cannot merely be extended to the world created by Him: in the Holy Trinity this love is directed within the Divine Life also. The dogma of the Three Persons indicates even more clearly for us the closeness of God to the world: God above us, God with us, God in us and in all creation.

Above us is God the Father, the ever-flowing Source, as it is expressed in the Church's prayer, the Foundation of all being, the Father of mercies Who loves and cares for us, His creation--for we are His children by Grace.

With us is God the Son, begotten by Him, Who for the sake of Divine love has manifested Himself to men as Man so that we might know and see with our own eyes that God is with us most intimately, partaker of flesh and blood with us (Heb. 2:14) in the most perfect way.

In us and in all creation--by His Power and Grace--is the Holy Spirit, Who fills things, is the Giver of Life, Life-Creator, Comforter, Treasury and Source of good things. Having an eternal and pre-eternal existence, the Three Divine Persons were manifested to the world with the coming and Incarnation of the Son of God, being "one power, one essence, one Godhead" (Stichera for Pentecost, Glory on "Lord, I have cried")."

With sincere agape in His Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George