A scene from The Canterbury Psalter (12th century)

Trinity in the Bible (Handout)

One of my favorite things to do as a teacher is show Christians how to see the Trinity in the Bible. I like to teach a three-session series on the topic, looking at five key passages (John 1:1-3, Matt 28:19, Gal 4:4-6, 2 Cor 13:14, and Eph 2:18). My goal is to spend enough time with each passage to sense its own dynamics, understand it in context, and develop the confidence to paraphrase its meaning. As Bible students get more comfortable with the key ideas, their paraphrasing can take many forms. But in a short course at the congregational level, I make sure to introduce the traditional terms (essence, person, preexistence, eternal generation, inseparable operations, etc.) and to treat them as helpful guidelines provided to us from the Christian church of the ages. The emphasis is sola scriptura (since God alone is fit to witness about himself), but the instruction is creed-conversant and tradition-friendly (since after all it was the fourth-century Hilary of Poitiers who said “God alone is fit to witness about himself”).

Here’s the handout I’ve been using lately. There are some advantages to doing the lessons with no handouts at all, because people enjoy seeing the doctrine take shape before their eyes in their very own Bibles. But there are also advantages to providing a simple handout with the Bible verses printed largest (for marking up!), and the technical terms spelled out, and of course a couple of diagrams. I’m posting the handout pdf here so I can send people to it if I run out of copies. I may silently update it with improvements later. And you may not find it perfectly clear, since it’s designed as a supporting document with talking points rather than as a standalone lesson.

About This Blog

Fred Sanders is a theologian who tried to specialize in the doctrine of the Trinity, but found that everything in Christian life and thought is connected to the triune God.

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