Question 23:

Throughout the Old Testament it is said that God was one, not a person, absolutely no one was at his side. The term Trinity is used for the first time by Tertullian [African Church Father (ca. 160 – ca. 225)] in the year 200 after Christ. Can you show any point in the Old Testament that contains, or even makes only a reference to, the term Trinity.


Answer: How is the revelation of God as a triune reality, as a community of love, given in the faith of the Old Testament? The reader should read once more the introduction to the theme “God the Three in One”, part III.

The Jew, the believer of the Old Testament, who awaited God, already knew God. Jesus also grew up in the faith of the Jewish people. In choosing him, God brought the Jewish people – and thus every devout Jew – to an awareness of this vocation: God had assumed responsibility for their existence through the covenant. Long ago God spoke to their ancestors in many and various ways through the prophets (Heb 1:1). God stood before the people as a living being, who challenged them (the people) to dialogue. However, how far this dialogue was to go, what effort God was prepared to make, what answer the people were to give, the Old Testament was not yet prepared to give an answer here. A distance remained between God and his most faithful servants. God is a God merciful and gracious (Ex 34:6), he has the passion of a bridegroom and the tenderness of a father (refer here to Hos 11 and Jer 2:1-9). However, what secrets did God hold back behind these images, which answered the deepest desire of the faithful and which was their sustenance, but still veiled reality itself?

This secret was revealed in Jesus Christ. As a result of his appearance in history, judgment takes place, a division of hearts. Those who refused to believe in Jesus may well say about his Father: He is our God; but they hardly know him and are saying, so to speak, only a lie (Jn 8:54 onwards; see 8:19). Those who believe in Jesus, however, are no longer withheld from the secret or, to put it better, they have been invited into the secret itself, into Gods impenetrable secret, they are at home in this secret, they are led into it by the Son: I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father (Jn 15:15). There are no more images, no more secrets. Jesus speaks openly of his father (Jn 16:25). There are no more questions that one could have asked him (Jn 16:23), no more uncertainty (Jn 14:1), the disciples have seen the Father (Jn 14:7).

God is love: that is the secret (1 Jn 4:8, 16) that we gain only through Jesus Christ, and we gain this in that we „acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and that we thus recognise for ourselves, and put our faith in, the love God has for us (1 Jn 4:16).

From the meditative readings on the New Testament it arises that the God of Jesus Christ, that is, the God that Jesus encounters in the writings of the Old Testament, is his Father. When Jesus turns to him, then he does so with the familiarity and immediacy of the Son, Abba. But he is also his God because the Father, who possesses divinity without receiving this from anyone else, grants this in all its fullness to the Son, whom he begot before eternity, like the Holy Spirit with whom both are united. In this way, Jesus reveals the identity of the father and God, the divine secret and the triune secret. Saint Paul repeats three times the set phase that expresses this revelation: the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 15:6; 2 Cor 11:31; Eph 1:3). Christ reveals to us the divine Trinity by means of the only way that we – if one may say so – are able to perceive; that is, the way that God predetermined for us by creating us in his likeness, namely, by means of a relationship as to a child.

However, because the Son is the ideal image, in his Fathers eyes, of the creature before God, Jesus reveals in God the ideal image of a God, who recognises true wisdom and who has revealed himself to Israel. The God of Jesus Christ has those traits which God revealed of himself in the Old Testament in an abundance and a nativeness which humanity could never have dared to imagine. God is for Jesus in a way that he is not for any of us the first and the last, the one from whom Christ emanates and to whom he returns. He is the one who explains all, and from whom everything originates, the one whose will must be fulfilled under all circumstances and who is always enough. He is the holy one, the only one that is good. The one Lord. He is the only one against whom nothing counts. However, Jesus sacrifices himself to show how majestic and how sublime the father is, in other words so that the world may know that I love the Father (Jn 14:31). Every radiance of creation counters Satan’s power and takes away the horror of suffering, of death, yes, the death of one unjustly condemned to die by crucifixion. The father is the living God, constantly watching out for his creation, full of love towards his children. It is his fervour that consumes Jesus until he hands over the kingdom to his father (Lk 12:50).

The encounter between the Father and the Son is consummated in the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Spirit Jesus hears the father say to him, “You are my son” and receives his fathers pleasure (Mk 1:10). In the Holy Spirit, he lets his joy at being the Son rise to the father (Lk 10:21 onwards). Just as Jesus Christ can only be united with the father in the Holy Spirit, so he cannot reveal the father without also simultaneously revealing the Holy Spirit. When the father and the son are one in spirit, then they are so in giving, in the gift. However, this means that their oneness is a gift and brings forth a gift. However, if the spirit, which is a gift, thus sets the seal on the unity between the father and the son, then this means that they are a gift in their very being, that their common essence exists in order that they may give to one another, to exist in the other and to love the other. This power of life, communication and freedom is the Holy Spirit.

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