The Trinity Explained in Four Sentences
John ShoreBesides here on Crosswalk, John blogs on JohnShore.com.
- 2009 Jan 11
This is the first of a series I'm starting wherein I'll share my thoughts on The Book of John as I read my way through it. For text I'll be using the NIV (New International Version) Bible. I'll post a new take on the next selection of John at least every Sunday morning following the last such post.
Below is John 1: 1-4. (If you're new to learning the Bible, what "John 1:1-4" means is that we're looking at The Book of John [sometimes also called "The Gospel According to John," or, most often, just "John"], chapter one, verses 1-4.)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
"Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
I think these first four sentences of John are expressing the reality of the Trinity. It's saying that God comes in three modes: Absolute and unchanging ("God"), exuberantly creative ("Word"), and personally and specifically inside of each and every man ("the light of men").
And there's the ineffable mystery of the three-in-one God. There, in four (heartbreakingly elegant) sentences, is the basis for the entirety of Christianity.
Jesus, of course, is the Word, the active aspect of God; he is God's unending potential manifested in real space and time. Jesus is the perfect means by which God's absolute, undifferentiated power is physically, corporeally expressed.
"Word" perfectly captures that extraordinary dynamic. A thing doesn't really have an identity, hasn't ever been definitively differentiated from everything else in the world, until it has been named---until someone has attached a unique word to it that, from then on out, refers exclusively to that thing. Naming something marks the finality of the process by which something gains its own distinct, enduring presence; it's how a thing transforms from unknown to known.
Put in the broadest possible terms, it's how a thing moves from the world of undivided and absolute God, to the differentiated, relative, human world in which God became Jesus.
"Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."
And there it is: by the power of the active, creative force of God, which ultimately personified itself into the Jesus we worship today, all things that ever were or will be were created. Jesus is the Word through which God created us, and our world.
And as to, "In him was life was life, and that life was the light of men."? To me, that's just an extremely perfect way of saying that, ultimately, what Jesus brought is the means by which his essence ("the light") is meant to be fully imparted and awakened in the hearts and minds of all who believe that he was who he said he was. I think it's pointing to the Holy Spirit.