Christian conception of God as consisting of three persons (hypostases) — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — sharing the same substance (ousia)

In the Christian religion, the Trinity is the most known doctrine about the nature of God in most Christian churches. This idea is used to explain that three distinct divine personsGod the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit—are of the same essence (homoousion), share the same qualities, and are therefore One God.

A diagram used to explain the relationships between each person in the Trinity. The Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit isn't the Father. (See Athanasian Creed).

Each person in the Trinity has the same qualities as God because they are each fully God; no other member is less God than the other. Because God is uncreated and has always existed, this also applies to them.

Before the idea was made dogma at the First Council of Nicaea, there were also other ideas about the nature of God. These included:

  • God adopted Jesus during his baptism (known as Adoptionism).
  • That Jesus wasn't a human at all; his human form was nothing but an illusion (Docetism).
  • They are three distinct gods who worked as a team to form one Godhead (Tritheism).
  • The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three distinct persons but are only different names for the same being (God), and each is a manifestation of God (Modalism).
  • God the Father is the only person of the Trinity who is fully God; the Son and Holy Spirit weren't fully God, and they had a beginning (Subordinationism).
  • God the Father is the only true God; the Son had a beginning, so he wasn't God; and the Holy Spirit is not a person (Arianism).

Where the word Trinity is from


The English word "Trinity" comes from Latin "Trinitas", meaning "the number three".[1] This abstract noun is formed from the adjective trinus (three each, threefold, triple),[2] the word unitas is the abstract noun formed from unus (one).

The corresponding word in Greek is "Τριάς" (Trias), meaning "a set of three" or "the number three."[3]

The first recorded use of this Greek word in Christian theology was by Theophilus of Antioch in about 170. He did not speak about the Trinity of God. He wrote:[4][5]

"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."[6]

Tertullian, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early third century, was the first to use "Trinity"[7] "person" and "substance"[8] to explain that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "one in essence – not one in Person."[9]

About a century later, in 325, the First Council of Nicaea established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy and adopted the Nicene Creed[10] that described Christ as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father."

The Trinity in Christian texts


Many but not all Christians worship God in the form of the Trinity.[11] In the Old Testament there are several places where there seems to be evidence for a Trinity. Each individual is distinct in their own right and can be seen in the same scene in several texts of the Bible. Genesis 1:26 states that God said "Let us make man in our image". Deuteronomy 6:4 states that “The Lord our God is one Lord”. The word that has been translated as one can also be translated as united.

The Trinity is also implied in the New Testament, though that term is not used. Jesus never explained it fully in his teachings to people, but he made a number of claims to be God. The disciple John was one of Jesus' best friends on Earth, so he understood Jesus better than many other people. He starts his gospel by saying, "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God." He calls Jesus "the Word" because Jesus was how God told people about himself. In John 8:58, Jesus said, "before Abraham was even born, I AM!" I AM is what God said his name was to Moses, meaning that he is always there, anywhere in time or space. In John 10:30 and 10:38, he tells people, "The Father and I are one." and "the Father is in me, and I am in the Father." Lastly, he forgave people for their sins, which only God can do. The teacher of the law recognized this and said

.“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:7

Sculptural group from the Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc, Czech Republic, 18th century

When Jesus came the early Christians had to make sense of the fact that God had come among them through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew wrote in his gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Several things in the gospel of John are often thought to point to a God who is more than just one being. The three persons of God are also mentioned in the second book of Corinthians.

In Hebrews 1:9, God the Father refers to the exalted Son as "God," saying, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." This proves that no one is more or less God than the other.

It was several hundred years after the life of Jesus before many Christians accepted the idea that God was a trinity. It was a difficult idea because the Hebrew scriptures talk about God being One. The Greeks and the Romans could only understand Christ as a person who was bringing God’s word. It was not until the 4th century that the doctrine of the Trinity was fully developed in more technical and theological terms. This was established by the Council of Nicaea in 325 where, in the debate with Arius over the nature, incarnation and pre-existence of Jesus, the Son of God was explained as being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father. Christians had held to the tri-unity of God for centuries prior to this, and referred to Jesus as "God" and spoke in trinitarian language even before Nicaea codified the terminology (for example, see 1 Clement, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Letters of Ignatius etc.).[12]

In the 5th century Saint Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland. There is an old Irish legend that says that Patrick used the shamrock to explain the idea of the Trinity. The shamrock has three small leaves. Patrick told the people that the three leaves represented God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He said that the whole plant represented God.

In Christian churches, the Sunday after Pentecost (the 50th day after Easter) is called the “Feast of the Holy Trinity." This feast probably started in the 10th century. In 1334 Pope John XXII made it official for the whole church. In the Anglican and Lutheran Churches the weeks that follow The Feast of the Trinity are dated according to how many weeks after Trinity they are (e.g. the 20th Sunday after Trinity). In the Roman liturgy these Sundays are dated “after Pentecoste” (e.g. the 21st Sunday after Pentecoste).

In other religions


Islam teaches that God cannot be divided.[13] Several verses of the Qur'an teach that the doctrine of the Trinity is blasphemous (against God).[14]

The concept of the Trinity in Meitei religion also exist as Mangang Luwang Khuman.[15][16][17]


  1. "Lewis and Short: trinitas".
  2. "Lewis and Short: trinus".
  3. Liddell & Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. "entry for Τριάς". Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  4. Theophilus of Antioch, "To Autolycus"., II.XV (retrieved on December 19, 2006).
  5. W.Fulton in the "Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics"
  6. Theandros, an online Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy, vol. 3, Fall 2005.
  7. "Against Praxeas, chapter 3".
  8. "Against Praxeas, chapter 2". and in other chapters
  9. "History of the Doctrine of the Trinity". Archived from the original on July 23, 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
  10. "Creedal Christians: The Nicene Creed | That Ancient Faith". 2 June 2019. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  11. "Christianity". MSN. Archived from the original on 2009-08-20. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  12. Hall, Christopher A.; Olson, Roger E. (2002). The Trinity (Guides to theology). Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. pp. 16, 17. ISBN 978-0802848277.
  13. Encyclopedia of the Qur'an. Thomas, David. 2006. Volume V: Trinity.
  14. Qur'an 3:79-80, 112:1-4, etc.
  15. Singh, Wahengbam Ibohal (1986). "The History of Manipur: An early period".
  16. Basanta, Ningombam (2008). Modernisation, Challenge and Response: A Study of the Chakpa Community of Manipur. ISBN 9788183701525.
  17. Roy, Jyotirmoy (1973). "History of Manipur".

Other websites