I was recently asked about how much Christians should focus or proclaim Jesus versus the other Persons within the Trinity: Father and Holy Spirit.
In other words, does an emphasis on Jesus properly reflect the Biblical teaching that we serve a God who is 3-in-1: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? See Jesus & God.
The following is a response worked out between Jesse Higgins and me.
New Testament Stats
This prompted me to look up how often the New Testament itself references the 3 persons of the Trinity. I found the following:
- God (Greek: “Theos”) + Father (Greek: “Pater”) = About 1,500 references (removing a portion of references to ‘Father’ that speak to a father other than God).
- Jesus (Greek: “Iesous”) + Christ (Greek: “Christos”) = About 1,400 references (removing a portion of references to ‘Jesus’ that speak to a different person named Jesus)
- Spirit (Greek: “Pneuma”) = About 300 references (removing a portion of references to ‘Spirit’ that refer to a spirit other than the Holy Spirit)
Please note that these are ballpark numbers. I did a quick estimate of how many references to remove to make sure it only is talking about THE Father/Jesus/Spirit, but would love if someone wanted to take the time to count the exact.
Glorifying Son and Father
Look now at John 16:13-24:
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you…
Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.John 16:13-24
This passage shows that the Spirit is here to glorify the Son (and the Son, in turn, glorifies the Father).
Examples of Glorifying Son and Father
An example of this is found in Luke 7:11-17. There Jesus resurrects a boy. The response?
There were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us…God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.Luke 7:16-17
Note that the Holy Spirit opened their eyes to perceive the Truth of this sign, yet they gave honor to the Prophet (Jesus) and glorified God who had visited his people.
Another example is John 6:28-40:
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”…
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
Even if the number of times each Person of the Godhead is mentioned was not a crescendo of instances magnifying the Father, we have clear explanations from the Son that the Holy Spirit comes to glorify the Son and in fact, does nothing on His own. The Son, who Himself does nothing on His own, in turn glorifies the Father.
Furthermore, we see the example of the Holy Spirit moving in Power through the signs and wonders of Jesus and in opening their spiritual eyes to perceive the Truth and their reaction is to honor the Son, the Good Teacher, the Prophet and to magnify and glorify God the Father.
The Holy Spirit comes to
- convict of sin, because the people do not believe in the Son,
- convict of Righteousness, because the Son has gone to the Father on our behalf
- convict of Judgment, because the ruler of this world is condemned.
Twice the Holy Spirit’s purpose on earth is listed in connection with everyone’s relationship to Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living GOD, either as unbelievers or believers, and once in connection to ruler of this world.
Even the authority we are given to ask anything in His name is as the Son. No precedent was set for telling the Holy Spirit to do anything, nor asking in His name. The Holy Spirit is not bereaved by our perceived lack of egalitarianism in the Godhead.
Baptizing in Jesus’ Name
I’d also add an interesting point that Acts mentions baptism in Jesus’ name though Matt 28:19 mentions the Trinity for baptism.
I think it does point that for the Christian, in some way, truly referencing Jesus as Lord-God carries with it Trinitarian implications, if that makes sense.
The Preciousness of God
Finally, if we consider that a goal of God is uniting us with Him through the gospel, think about the fellowship we have with the different Members of the Godhead:
- The Father only fellowshipped face-to-face with 2 humans: Adam and Eve.
- The Son came down to fellowship kind of in that way, though ultimately to bring to fellowship with God via the work of the cross. I think it was also his time of “not finding a helper suitable for him” (like Adam before Eve), so then He’s put to death and side is pierced and a bride is formed from Him (like Adam with Eve). This anticipates the intimate fellowship of Husband-Wife to come with Jesus/God, that no one experienced with Jesus while He was on the earth.
- Then the Spirit lives with us now, as a proxy (if I can say that) for the full fellowship yet to come.
In all this, each Person of the Godhead takes us into greater fellowship with the next. The Spirit unto the marriage banquet. Jesus unto the Father (since He came face-to-face with humans and they lived in a way that didn’t happen with the Father, and his sacrifice made reconciliation unto fellowship with the Father).
There is also something pointing to how rare the fellowship is.
- Fellowship with Father-humans = most rare.
- Fellowship with Jesus-humans confined to 33 years.
- Fellowship with Spirit-humans the least rare.
If you think of rarity corresponding with preciousness, they are pointing toward the ultimate, precious fellowship of humans with Father (alongside Son and Spirit).
Just something I was pondering…
Brian (with sections written by Jesse Higgins).