“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
The Trinity Summarized
Here is a summary of the Trinity. When we say that we believe in one God, what we mean is that God is one undivided essence. Within His one essence, there are three persons (or hypostases). Whenever the name of God is used by itself, the Son, Spirit, and Father are meant. When the Son is mentioned along with the Father, relationship comes into view, so we must distinguish between the Persons. But even the Persons have an order within them. The first and origin being is the Father. Because whenever Scripture mentions the Father and Son, or the Father and Spirit together, the name of God is given especially to the Father. In this way, the unity of essence is retained. All three Persons are fully God. Difference is made in respect to the order of the Persons. This is no way takes away anything from the divinity of the Son and Spirit.
Furthermore, the apostle declare that the Son of God is the One whom Moses and the prophets declared to be Yahweh. We must believe in the unity of God’s essence. Therefore, we hold that is a blasphemy to call the Son a different God from the Father, because the simple name “God” doesn’t speak about any kind of relationships. God, in His own essence, cannot be said to be this or that. The name “Yahweh,” taken by itself may be applied to Christ. Paul says as much in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9: “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
The name of the “Lord” there in this passage means Yahweh. Paul does not restrict it only to the Father. It refers to the Son. Peter does the same thing in Acts 2:21: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The term “Lord” which is used for Yahweh in the Old Testament is applied to Christ in the New.
It is sufficient to remember that when Paul prays to God alone, he immediately adds the name of Christ. The Spirit is also called God by Christ Himself. Nothing prevents from holding that He is the entire spiritual essence of God in which exists Father, Son, and Spirit. This is plain from Scripture. The Spirit is said to be both of God and from God.