3.2.4 The unity of the three divine persons

Christians profess the one triune God. Each of the divine persons–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–is true God. The Christian faith states that God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–has always existed, namely from eternity.

Accordingly, "Father", "Son", and "Holy Spirit" are not merely names that designate various modes of being and revelation of God. Rather the three names stand for divine persons who are different from one another in their being. The Father is actually not the same as the Son, and the Son not the same as the Father. The Holy Spirit is not the same as the Father or the Son. This is because the "Father" is the begetter, the "Son" the begotten one, and the "Holy Spirit" the one emanating from both.

The three divine persons are continually interrelated and are eternally one. The distinctiveness of the three divine persons does not dissolve God's oneness, for they are one nature, or substance. In them there is no contradiction of will. The Father is entirely in the Son, entirely in the Holy Spirit. The Son is entirely in the Father, entirely in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is entirely in the Father, entirely in the Son.

Christians profess that all acts of God in creation, salvation, and the new creation are acts of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While all divine acts are, at the same time, acts of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they are not always carried out in the same manner. Whereas creation was an act of God the Father and God the Son, it was neither God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit, but God the Son alone, who became incarnate. It was neither the Father nor the Son, but rather the Holy Spirit alone, who was poured out. In Christian tradition, the three divine persons are each assigned a point of emphasis (appropriation): God the Father is Creator, the Son is Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is the Maker of the new creation.

SUMMARY

God's actions in the creation and in history are the works of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (3.2)

References to the trinity of God can be found in the first account of the creation, in the three messengers of God who visited Abraham, in the threefold Aaronic blessing, and in the three-fold praise of the angel in the inaugural vision of the prophet Isaiah. (3.2.1)

An example for the presence of the triune God can be found at the baptism of Jesus, when the Father and the Holy Spirit attest to the sending of the Son. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are also mentioned in Jesus' great commission as well as in the benediction formula recorded in 2 Corinthians 13: 13. (3.2.2)

The doctrine of the trinity of God was formulated at the Ecumenical Councils of the fourth and fifth centuries. At the Council of Nicaea the divine oneness of substance of the Father and the Son became binding doctrine. At the Council of Constantinople the oneness of substance of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son was enshrined as doctrine. (3.2.3)

"Father", "Son", and "Holy Spirit" are different divine persons in their being, however, they are continually interrelated and eternally one. (3.2.4)

In Christian tradition each of the three divine persons is assigned a particular point of emphasis: God, the Father, is the Creator, while God, the Son, is the Redeemer, and God, the Holy Spirit, is the Maker of the new creation. (3.2.4)

See also