3 The triune God

51 Who is the triune God?


God is a spiritual, perfect, and completely independent being. He is eternal, without beginning and without end. The one God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

When we talk about “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”, we are not referring to three different gods, but rather three persons who are the one God.


The Trinity of God: see Questions 61→ et seq., 198→

52 What characteristics of God do we know?


Human beings are incapable of fully describing God. However, we know some of God’s characteristics: He is the One God (the only God), the Holy One, The Almighty, the Eternal, the Loving One, the Gracious One, the Righteous One, and the Perfect One.

53 What does it mean when we say: “God is the One God”?


There is only one God. Belief in the One God is a fundamental profession of the Old and New Testaments, and is thus also fundamental to the Christian faith.

‘Monotheism’ is the designation for the doctrine that there is only a single God. Monotheistic religions include, for example, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

“Thus says the Lord, the King of I srael, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.’” Isaiah 44: 6

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one...” Mark 12: 29

54 What does it mean to say: “God is the Holy One”?


Holiness is part of God’s nature, being, and activity. Holiness incorporates majesty, inviolability, and separateness from the profane. God’s word and will are likewise holy.

The holiness of God sanctifies the place where He reveals Himself.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6: 3

55 What does it mean when we say: “God is the Almighty”?


God can do all things. Nothing is impossible for Him. God’s will and activity cannot be limited by anyone. The creation clearly demonstrates that God is almighty. All things have been created through His word alone. He has created everything that exists— including everything that we human beings can see, and everything that we cannot see—from nothing. It will also be through His omnipotence that the new creation will come into being. God’s omnipotence also includes His omniscience and omnipresence.


New creation: see Question 581→.

“But He said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God’.” Luke 18: 27


“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11: 3

56 What does it mean to say: “God is the Eternal”?


God is without beginning and without end. There are no chronological limitations for Him. God is the Creator of time and is Lord over it.

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90: 2

57 What does it mean when we say: “God is the Loving One”?


Already in the old covenant, God revealed Himself as the Loving One by electing the people of Israel and liberating them from captivity in Egypt. He revealed Himself to all mankind as the Loving One by sending His Son for the salvation of all human beings. Apostle John wrote: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4: 16).

“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31: 3

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16

58 What does it mean when we say: “God is the Gracious One”?


God turns to mankind in mercy, grace, patience, and kindness (cf. Psalm 103: 8). That God is gracious is demonstrated first and foremost by the fact that He accepts human beings, who are entangled in sin, and forgives sin. Also included here is the fact that God became human in Jesus Christ.
No one can earn the grace of God. It is a gift.

59 What does it mean to say that “God is the Righteous One”?


Everything that God does is right. He makes no mistakes. “His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice” (Deuteronomy 32: 4). Human beings can depend on God’s righteousness and reliability: “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5: 24).

Another expression of God’s righteousness are His laws, for example, that human beings reap what they sow (cf. Galatians 6: 7), and that the wages of sin is death (cf. Romans 6: 23).

However, God’s grace stands above everything else. This too is part of His righteousness. Through Jesus Christ, sinners—who have only earned punishment— can receive grace. As a result, God will no longer hold their sins and transgressions against them.

“The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgements endures forever.” Psalm 119: 160


“Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgements.” Revelation 16: 7


“[They are] justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3: 24

60 What does it mean to say: “God is the Perfect One”?


God’s works are good and His ways are right. He does not act on the basis of any external necessities or constraints, but solely on the basis of His own perfect will. God is completely free in His decisions.

God’s perfection incorporates truth. With God there is no lie, deception, or uncertainty, nor is there any difference between His will and His actions.


Human beings can experience the perfection of God in Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ was the only one on earth who was perfect, that is, without sin, without error, in word or deed.

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalm 18: 30

61 What does it mean when we talk about the “triune God”?


When we talk about the “triune God”, we mean that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the one God. Here we are not referring to three gods, but rather one God in three persons.

62 Why do Christians believe that God is triune?


Both the Old and New Testaments contain many references to the trinity of God. It is on the basis of these biblical attestations that Christians believe in the triune God.

63 What references to the triune God are there in the Old Testament?


The first such reference to the trinity of God is found in Genesis 1: 26: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” The use of the plural “Let Us” is a reference to the activity of God in several persons.

God appeared to Abraham in Mamre in the form of three men (cf. Genesis 18). This is understood as a reference to the trinity of God.

It is the same with the threefold blessing (“Aaronic blessing”), which Aaron spoke over the people of Israel (Numbers 6: 24-26).

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6: 24-26

64 What references to the trinity of God are recorded in the New Testament?


When Jesus, the Son of God, was baptised in the Jordan, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. From heaven, the Father attested: “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1: 10- 11). The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were thus present together.

The three divine persons are also mentioned in the Great Commission which Jesus issued to His Apostles: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28: 18-19).

The wording of the benediction recorded in 2 Corinthians 13: 14 likewise refers to the trinity of God: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God [the Father], and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all!”

65 When was the doctrine of the trinity of God formulated?


The trinity of God has existed from eternity. The doctrine of the trinity of God was formulated in the Councils of Nicaea (325 AD) and Constantinople (381 AD).
The doctrine of the trinity of God is among the fundamental statements of the Christian faith.


Council: see explanation to Question 33→.

66 What is the relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to one another?


Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are names for the three divine persons. Although they are to be distinguished from one another, they are nevertheless the one God.

In Christian tradition, each of the three divine persons is assigned a particular point of emphasis:

God, the Father, is the Creator of heaven and earth.

God, the Son, is the Redeemer who became human and gave His life as a sacrifice for the redemption of mankind.

God, the Holy Spirit, is the Maker of the new creation: He sees to it that the salvation of God is made accessible to mankind and that the new creation comes to its completion.


New creation: see Questions 528→ et seq.

67 What does the term “Father” mean when it is used in relationship to God?


When the term “Father” is used in relationship to God, it is associated with divine aspects of creatorship, authority, and loving care. God is the source and sustainer of that which He has created. In this respect, all human beings are able to address God, who is their Creator, as “Father”.


See also Child of God: explanation of Question 530→.

68 What do we know about God as the Creator?


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1: 1), both the visible—that is, the material creation— and the invisible. Everything has emanated from God’s creative activity.

God has created from nothing and without any template: “God [...] calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4: 17). He has also fashioned things and living beings from matter He had previously created (cf. Genesis 2: 7-8, 19) and has laid His laws into them. All created things are subject to Him.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. [...] Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” Genesis 2: 7-8, 19

69 What does the creation tell us about God?


The creation and the laws by which it functions bear witness to God’s wisdom, the magnitude of which cannot even be imagined by man. In admiration the psalmist exclaims: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19: 1).

70 In what span of time did God create the world?


God created the world in six “days of creation”. The term “day of creation” refers to a period of time whose duration is not precisely specified. A “day” in the creation of God is not to be equated with a day according to our reckoning of time.

Genesis 2: 2 states: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had done.”

71 What does the Bible relate about God’s creation?


The Bible relates that heaven and earth, the light, the shape of the earth, the sun, the moon and stars, the plants and animals, as well as human beings, came into being through the word of God. Everything was very good (cf. Genesis 1: 31).

72 Does the creation of God only consist of that which human beings can grasp with their senses?


No. There is also an invisible creation of God. Its mysteries elude human inquiry— like God Himself. Holy Scripture nevertheless contains references to realms, occurrences, conditions, and beings outside of the material creation.

73 What belongs to the invisible creation?


The invisible creation incorporates the realm where God rules, the angels, the immortal souls of human beings, as well as the realm of the dead.


Realm of the dead: see Questions 537→ et seq.

74 Is the Devil part of the invisible creation?


The Devil was originally one of the angels. As such he is part of the invisible creation. This angel rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven and the fellowship of God with his followers owing to his disobedience, envy, and lies.


Evil: see Questions 217→ et seq.

“For [...] God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell.” 2 Peter 2: 4

“And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgement of the great day.” Jude 6

75 What are angels?


Angels are spiritual beings created by God. They are part of the invisible creation. In individual cases they can become visible to human beings in accordance with God’s will.

76 What is the task of the angels?


It is the task of the angels to worship God, fulfil His commissions, and thereby serve Him.


God’s love for human beings is also revealed in that he allows angels to serve human beings. From Matthew 18: 10 we may even conclude that children have special angel protection.

“I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One. [...] For not of any favour of mine, but by the will of our God I came; wherefore praise him for ever.” Tobit 12: 15, 18


“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”   Matthew 18: 10

77 Should angels be worshipped?


No, because angels only act in accordance with the will of God. For this reason it is not to them, but to God alone, that thanks and worship are due.

Angels are “all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” Hebrews 1: 14

78 Why should human beings concern themselves with the invisible?


Man is an entity consisting of spirit, soul, and body (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5: 23). The body is mortal and thus belongs to the visible creation of God. Soul and spirit thus belong to the invisible creation of God. Because soul and spirit continue to exist even after physical death, it is important to concern oneself with the invisible.


The attitude which a person adopts toward God during earthly life will have consequences for his existence in the beyond. This insight can help him resist the temptations of the Devil and lead a life that is pleasing to God.


The significance of the invisible is clarified by Apostle Paul: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18). Occupying themselves with the invisible therefore helps human beings process that which they experience.