Do Christians believe in three gods?

One God-three Persons

The Bible teaches that God is one in essence, three in Person: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19). God is not three gods but One. Finite human minds can’t fully understand the nature of God. Like one rope with three united strands, the three persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit make up the One God.

In the Holy Bible, God commanded, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Being the only true God, the Lord requires that He alone be worshiped. Jesus affirmed that, “…The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:29). The Scripture passage here quoted reflects the distinctive belief of the Jews and Christians in the one true God, in contrast with the many gods of the heathen nations.

Old Testament

Genesis started to shed light on the Godhead. It said, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The Hebrew word here for God is Elohim. It is a plural noun that is used more than 2,700 times in the Old Testament. This meant that inspired authors preferred to use Elohim about 10 times more than the singular form “El” when they described God.

In the book of Daniel, we see a picture of the Father and the Son as two separate persons: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him” (Daniel 7:13). The Son of man, Jesus, is seen coming before the Ancient of Days—who is, obviously, God the Father.

The meaning of one

The confusion regarding the number of beings composing the Godhead springs from a simple misunderstanding of the word “one.” The word one in the Bible does not always mean numerical quantity. Depending on the Scripture, “one” can often mean unity.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). “One flesh” here does not mean that a married couple melt into one human after their wedding, but rather they are to be united into one family.

Jesus prayed that the apostles would be one: “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:22, 23).

Gospels

The New Testament writings are full with this concept of one God with three united, fully divine persons. We see the three persons of the Godhead clearly at the baptism of Jesus: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16, 17).

At the transfiguration mount, the Father in heaven witnessed to His Son on earth. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Luke 9:35 also 2 Peter 1:16–18).

And when Jesus departed from the Temple for the last time, the Father’s voice was heard from heaven testifying of His Son. Jesus prayed to His Father saying, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name. Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again” (John 12:27, 28).

Jesus described the second coming. “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). It is clear from this verse that both God the Father and God the Son will be seen at the second coming.

Before His ascension to heaven, Jesus taught us to use the three Names of the Godhead in the great commission. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

Acts

At the stoning of Stephen, the martyr was filled with the Holy Spirit and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God the Father. “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,  and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:54-56).

Epistles

The apostle John testified of heaven. “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:7,8).

The apostle Paul affirmed that there were three divine persons. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). And he added, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

Revelation

Also, John the Revelator spoke of the Father and the Son as distinct and separate from each other. “From the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:4–6).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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