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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Trinity: One God in Three Persons

Don Stewart :: How Do the Different Members of the Trinity Work with Each Other?

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How Do the Different Members of the Trinity Work with Each Other? (The Economic Trinity)

The Trinity: One God in Three Persons – Question 17

One of the terms used to describe the Trinity is “economic.” Economic, in this sense, means “the way things are ordered.” Understanding the difference between the nature, or being of God, and His economy, or the way in which He functions, is of vital importance.

They Are Equal in Nature but Have Different Roles

While the three members of the Trinity are fully God, and equal in nature, each member of the Trinity has a specific role to fulfill. Although each is fully God, the roles within the Trinity are distinct for each member. The following observations can be made about this topic:

1. Each Member of the Trinity Is in Full Cooperation

The three members of the Trinity are in full cooperation with each other; they do not have different wills or different agendas. However, the Bible teaches that each of them have certain roles with the Godhead.

Some make the distinction between the members of the Trinity as follows. The Father is the One creates, the Son redeems, and the Holy Spirit sets apart. Yet, they perform these roles in full cooperation with the other members. In each operation, all three members are present.

While this is a popular way of explaining their roles, we must be careful on insisting that this is how they always work. Although the Father is preeminently the Creator, the Son and Spirit were also involved in the creation of the universe. The Bible is clear on this fact.

While the Son is the Redeemer, God the Father and God the Spirit are described as sending the Son to redeem. Again, all three members were actively participating in the redemption of humanity.

The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier, the one who sets apart the people of God, yet the Father and Son also cooperate in this work.

Therefore, each member of the Trinity is in full cooperation with the other two, and is personally involved of all aspects of God’s work.

2. They Testify to Each Other

The members of the Trinity testify to each other. The Father testified to the Son at Jesus’ baptism. Matthew recorded what happened when Jesus was baptized:

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him.” (Matthew 3:17 NLT)

In this instance, God the Father testifies to God the Son.

We also find that the Son testified to the Father. John records Jesus’ words about the Father:

Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way.” (John 5:19 HCSB).

Jesus said that He only does what He sees the Father do. This is a testimony to the existence of the Father.

The Son also testified to the Holy Spirit. Jesus said of Him,

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you (John 14:26 NASB).

The Holy Spirit would bring to the remembrance of the disciples everything which Jesus said to them.

Later, the Holy Spirit would testify to the Son. Jesus promised the following to His disciples:

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” (John 15:26 NKJV)

Consequently, we find them testifying to the existence of each other.

The Son Submitted Himself to the Father

We also find that Jesus, God the Son, deliberately submitted His will to that of God the Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane we read the following:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV)

Jesus willingly did the Father’s bidding. Indeed, He not come to earth to do His own will.

The Holy Spirit Testifies To The Son

The same holds true for the Holy Spirit. He was sent to speak to believers about Jesus. Jesus Himself said,

“I have told you this while I’m still with you. However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you.” (John 14:25, 26 God’s Word)

The Holy Spirit, the Helper, would remind the disciple of what Jesus said. He would not speak about Himself. Jesus also said of the Holy Spirit,

“The helper whom I will send to you from the Father will come. This helper, the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father, will declare the truth about me.” (John 15:26 God’s Word)

The Holy Spirit has the job of declaring the truth about Jesus.

3. God’s Historical Work Involved the Trinity

God’s plan of redemption began in eternity past. When the work of redemption began in history, the Son entered the world in human form. At this time He was given a new name, Jesus. The Holy Spirit entered the world in a new way as the Spirit of Christ. In all of this, the three members worked together.

Thus, we find from a study of Scripture that the different members of the Trinity are in one accord in their actions.

Summary – Question 17
How Do the Different Members of the Trinity Work with Each Other? (The Economic Trinity)

While the members of the Trinity are co-equal and co-eternal, they have different roles or functions within the Godhead. This is known as the “economic Trinity.” Economic speaks of the way in which things are ordered among the persons of the Trinity.

Some attempt to specify the exact roles of each member of the Godhead. However, we must be careful here. From a reading of Scripture it seems that their roles overlap somewhat.

It is also important to realize that each member of the Godhead performs their role with full cooperation of the other members. It is absolutely essential that we understand that each member is wholly God and has a unified will, though they have different roles.

Indeed, we find from a study of Scripture that each member testifies to the other. God the Father testified to God the Son at Jesus’ baptism. The Holy Spirit has been sent to testify to Jesus. Jesus Himself testified to God the Father as well as to the ministry Holy Spirit. In other words, the three member of the Trinity always act in one accord.

Though the members of the Trinity testify to each other, and are in one accord, they have different roles. For at least the time the Son was on the earth, He was in a submissive relationship to God the Father. While the Son is in heaven the Holy Spirit is testifying to Him to those who are here upon the earth.

Thus, while the members of the Trinity are indeed unified there seems to be certain roles which each one has. Beyond saying this, we probably should not try to be too specific.

Does 1 John 5:7 Teach the Doctrine of the Trinity? ← Prior Section
Have the Different Members of the Trinity Had the Same Function for All Eternity? Next Section →
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