Some passages on the Trinity and the Incarnation

I thought it might be helpful to think through a couple of passages that teach how Jesus Christ pre-existed before he came into the earth, and that he came from Heaven where he lived with the Father to be among us. I will cite passages in bold and you should look it up on your Bible and then read on.

First turn to John 1:1-18. In this passage we see this thing called “the Word” with both existed “in the beginning that was both “with” and “was” God. Put another way, this thing, from the creation of the world, was somehow both “with” the Father (“with God”) and “was” of the same stuff as the Father, i.e., the Word shared in the Father’s deity (“was God”). So this thing, the Word, was with God and is also divine just like God is. Verse 14 then teaches that this thing, “the Word” was “made flesh” (was made “incarnate”, literally, “enfleshed” form the Latin: carnem = flesh; compare the English word “carnal” or being “fleshly”/”worldly”) and pitched a tent/dwelling among mankind in Israel, as it says in verse 14; and in that same verse, this “Word” is identified as “the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

There are other reasons to think that “the Word” figure is a personal agent. Two passages spring to mind. Genesis 15:1 depicts a figure called “the Word of the LORD” appearing to Abraham in a vision and referring to himself in the first person pronoun (“I”). And in Revelation 19:13, the Heavenly Rider (who is Jesus Christ) is explicitly named “the Word of God.”

Secondly, Philippians 2:6-11 is an ancient creed (or statement of belief) from the early church. In it, in verse 6, we are told that Jesus Christ is “in very nature God”, that is, is truly divine, who is also “equal” with God. Verse 7 then describes how this person did something to themselves, namely, “made himself nothing” and took on a “human likeness.” In other words, this is an act that the subject of the sentence (Jesus Christ) did to himself; Jesus Christ made himself nothing and entered into human form. And that is what we call the incarnation: God the Son entering into our world into a human body and nature and becoming one with our race so as to be made the bringer of our salvation through the sacrifice of himself (compare Hebrews 2:14-18).

Third, I would point you to a couple of simple statements in John from Jesus that indicate that he believed he had come from heaven and was returning there. In John 6:38 Jesus says he has “come down from Heaven” (compare the crowd’s reaction in verses 41-42). Then, later on, in John 6:62, Jesus speaks of his “ascension” (going up) to where we “was before” clearly indicating a prior existence in Heaven before coming to earth, so as to make it possible not merely to “go” there but to “go back” or “return” there via “ascending” upward towards it. Last,  in John 17:5, at the beginning of his great and final prayer before crucifixion, Jesus speaks of having had “glory with” the Father “before the world began.” Jesus existed with the Father in the unity o the Holy Spirit prior to the creation of all things, and Jesus asks to return to that state, which he does after his resurrection from the dead. This is in perfect tandem with later on in John 17:24, when Jesus mentions how he was “loved” by the Father before the world began. Of course, you can only love a person. And Jesus was loved by the Father before the world began. Why? Because Jesus existed with the Father in the unity of the eternal godhead — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — which Christians call “the Trinity”: one God in three persons; not three gods, not one person in thee different ways: but one God who is a great unity of three.

Hopefully, these passages are interesting to you and help you think through who Jesus is, according to the Scriptures. Hey, you might also like to check out this neat video.* It gets to the heart of the Christian faith, in how the Trinity and the incarnation illustrate most supremely the great love of God in the Word of God’s entering into our world into human flesh to dwell among us.

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you and dwell in your hear through the Son, who entered into our world, and gave himself up for our sins, and conquered sin and death on our behalf so that we might not die the death we deserve, and that we, in him, may too share in the newness of life.


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2 thoughts on “Some passages on the Trinity and the Incarnation

  1. Mal says:

    How would you respond to a Muslim who asks “why doesnt the bible just have an explicit statement saying ‘Jesus is God’ or ‘Jesus is God and God is a Trinity”?

    • Hey Mal, thanks for your comment. I’d respond to our Muslim friends in saying that what matters is not the phrase “Jesus is God” or “God is a Trinity” appearing explicitly, but rather whether or not the concepts denoted by those phrases we use in Theology are clearly derived from scripture. And I would say that they are. So, for instance, Scripture teaches in Colossians 1 and elsewhere that Jesus created all thing. Now, we know that creation is a divine act.; that is something that God has done, and thus we can say Jesus is the Creator who is divine/deity/God. Or take the heavenly worship of Jesus Christ in Revelation. That kind of glory only God can receive. So we say Jesus is divine/deity/God. Similarly, it seems to us on Scripture that the one eternal God is represented as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, united in Love: three persons in one being. And that’s what we call the Trinity: the tri-une God, three united as one. So your Muslim friends are being simplistic when they’re asking for something like a straight-forward phrase. What we should be interested in are whether or not the the concepts which form the doctrines are in the Bible. Then once we agree on what those concepts are, we can denote them with extra-biblical phrases, like the “deity of Christ” and the “Trinity” respectively.

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