God is One. Who then are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

Christianity is a monotheistic religion [1]: it’s adherents, the Christians, like their Jewish forerunners, believe that there is One God who presides over the universe. It doesn’t accommodate multiple gods, or a pantheon of higher and lower gods governing different aspects of life and the elements. The Creed [2], which every Christian is expected to know, starts off this way:

“I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”  [3]

In the previous chapter we went over who God is; His attributes, His character, and His position in the universe. The Holy Bible names Him as the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the end of all things [4 - 7]. These adjectives ascribed to God serve to establish that He is the One True God, and there is no other god before, after, above, beneath, or beside Him.

In the case of pantheons, or in most pantheons, each god usually has a name specific to them, or to their nature. The Roman pantheon has primary gods and goddessess: Jupiter and Juno, Neptune and Minerva, Mars and Venus, Apollo and  Diana, Vulcan and Vesta, and many, many more. In Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism), there are the primary gods Brahma and Saraswati, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Shiva and Parvati (or Sati), followed by secondary gods and demigods of the pantheon.

The Judeo-Christian community believes that God’s progressive revelation of Himself to mankind goes back to the earliest man, revolving around multiple covenants – promises of reconciliation and faithfulness – with men through the ages, the most significant one before Christ being the Mosaic covenant made with the Patriarch Moses, which solidified the status of the ancient Israelites as God’s chosen people [8]. These covenants distinguished God as the True God from among the multiple false gods worshipped by nations surrounding the faithful Patriarchs and Prophets.

Until the Mosaic covenant the people of God addressed Him as Elohim [9], [10], which translated simply to “God”, or as El Shaddai  [11], which translates to “God Almighty”. However, apart from these titles, the faithful before Moses knew God’s actual name to be Yehovah, also pronounced as Yahweh. This, in Greek called the Tetragrammaton [12], was the colloquial pronunciation of the four consonants for the Biblical Hebrew phrase “Yodh-He-Waw-He”, abbreviated as YHWH. Many translations exist for this in English, with popular ones including “I Am Who I Am”, “I Am the One Who exists”, or even “I Am Always Present”, all based on the Hebrew verb for “to be” stemming from the consonants HWH. The consensus is that while this name was known to the ancient Hebrews and faithful before nation of Israel, its significance and power was only revealed to Moses during his first encounter with God on Mount Sinai.

This is the Divine Name of God, which both Jews and Catholics consider too holy to be spoken. For this reason, the Jews substitute this name with the Hebrew Adonai [13] in Holy Scripture, while Catholics by modern translation substitute it with the Greek Kyrios, Latin Dominus, or English Lord. This Lord is different from Lord, the latter being a synonym for Master.

If we return to the Creed, we encounter the statement:

“I believe in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, through Whom all things were made.” [3]

And a little later, the Creed also states,

“I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, Who has spoken through the Prophets.” [3]

If Christians affirm that there is One God, the Lord, and that there is no other god but He, who then are the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost? From a cursory reading of the Creed one would conclude that these are god figures. This, however, would contradict the Christian proclamation of God’s singularity. It would also violate the First Commandment of the Decalogue, which was given to the Israelites through Moses:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.” [14]

And so we come to the central “Mystery” of the Christian Faith [15]: That God is One, and in Him, there are Three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, all equally Perfect and equally True. The Lord is a Triune God; a Holy Trinity of One God. The Divine Persons who make up this Trinity are the same God; they are not different incarnations of the same being, but separate Persons who exist simultaneously, with a united Divine Will.

Many will argue that this is an inconsistency: logic dictates that a singular deity cannot be multiple free beings simultaneously and yet share the same mind. This, the Church teaches, is the Mystery of Faith, and it cannot be fully comprehended by mortal minds; it can only be revealed by God to one who has faith. In fact, the Church condemns a number of heresies [16] that attempt to rationalise the Holy Trinity and take away the absolute Divinity and Eternity of the Three Divine Persons or deny the Singularity of God.

Modern Jewish scholars maintain that the Holy Trinity is a purely Christian invention, incompatible with ancient Jewish belief, and is inspired from pagan belief systems. However, it can be demonstrated from Holy Scripture that the ancient Israelites were aware of the Divine Persons, however, they may have either not known of the number of Divine Persons, nor of their relationship with each other.

For example, in the Book of Genesis, which is the first book of both Jewish and Christian Holy Scripture, we read:

“Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” [17]

And in the same book, when mankind rebels against God and commits the first sin, the Lord says,

“See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” [18]

While these may be dismissed by scholars as the remnant of ancient polytheistic influence on Jewish society, we see more examples of scripture referencing the Lord’s compound unity. The Book of Deuteronomy, which covers the events surrounding the formation of the nation of Israel and the formulation of the ancient Israelite religion, we have:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” [19]         

Interestingly, the word used for alone for this verse, and many other verses in Holy Scripture, in the ancient Hebrew text is echad which stands for a “compound one” or “united one”, and not yachid which means a only one.

Consider also this verse from the Book of Zachariah, a Prophet of God who lived many centuries after the events of the Book of Deuteronomy:

“For thus said the Lord of hosts (after his glory sent me) regarding the nations that plundered you: Truly, one who touches you touches the apple of my eye. See now, I am going to raise my hand against them, and they shall become plunder for their own slaves. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me.” [20]

Here, the Lord speaks of Himself in both the first and third person in the same statement. Many such statements can be found through all of Holy Scripture.

There are many references to the “Angel of the Lord” [21] in Judeo-Christian Holy Scripture, who not only speaks for God, but speaks as God Himself. There are also references to the “Spirit of God” [22] throughout Judeo-Christian Holy Scripture. This Spirit is not considered a lower being than God Himself, yet He is sent from God, and works with the full power and authority of God. These are also examples of God’s Three Divine persons working as a Singular Godhead.

It is through the person of Jesus Christ the Holy Trinity of God is revealed to us. Christian Holy Scripture, which includes all books written by the chosen disciples of Jesus Christ or those who learnt of Christ through them, identifies the Three Divine Persons as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost (or God the Holy Spirit). In fact, Jesus Christ Himself speaks of the Trinity when He gives His disciples the Great Commission in His final moment on earth. [23]

The Father is the First Divine Person of the Holy Trinity. God the Father is the Creator of all things, and He is also the Sovereign Lord over all Creation. God the Father is the origin of all Christians, the Almighty Father of all mankind.

The Son is the Second Divine Person of the Holy Trinity. God the Son is the Word of Creation that proceeds from God the Father. He goes out from God and accomplishes all that God the Father wills. It is God the Son, Who has existed eternally with God the Father, Who was incarnate as Jesus Christ, both fully God and fully man. God the Son is the Saviour of all mankind, the One Who takes away the sins of the world.

The Holy Ghost is the Third Divine Person of the Holy Trinity. He spirates from God the Father and God the Son, eternally, as the first two Divine Persons are also eternal [24]. He is the Spirit of God Who sanctifies all of Creation and orients all men towards God. He is the Helper of all Christians, the giver of life.

The Gospel account of St. John the Evangelist also begins with an acknowledgement of Jesus Christ’s Divinity with the following passage:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” [25]

God the Father actively and eternally generates God the Son. From them the Holy Ghost spirates eternally. The title Elohim, plural for Eloah, refers to all Three Divine Persons. The Divine Name YHWH, the Lord, is applied to all Three Divine Persons.

God the Father is the Almighty God most notably recognised by the ancient Jews. God the Son, the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, is the Angel of God often encountered in Holy Scripture. He is also the Word of God that went forth from God the Father. God the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God Who fills all living things with life throughout the ages. He is the Advocate, the Paraclete, promised to Christians by the Lord Jesus Christ.

This Greatest Mystery permeates every aspect of the Christian faith; every time a Christian sits down to pray, they do so by invoking the Three Divine Persons; every time the Christian community gathers to worship the Lord, they invoke the Holy Trinity; every time a person or object is blessed, it is done in the name of the Triune God; every time a person is welcomed into the Christian community, they are baptised in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Everything that is Christian is so because it belongs to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

The Glory of the Holy Trinity, however, is most visible in the Christian family. The Catholic Church affirms that marriage is desired by God, and in marriage the beauty of the Holy Trinity is made visible. Just as God the Father and God the Son love each other freely, totally, fruitfully, and faithfully, as demonstrated by the love of Jesus Christ, Who is God the Son, for the Lord God the Father.

Just as Jesus Christ freely loved His Father, so are husband and wife called to love each other freely, without any coercion and malice. Just as Jesus Christ submitted Himself totally to the Will of the Father, to the point of sacrificing Himself on a Cross, so are husband and wife called to empty themselves to each other. Just as Jesus Christ and the Father spirate the Holy Spirit as the fruit of their love, so are husband and wife called to be fruitful by letting their love pour out into life in children. Just as Jesus Christ and the Father are eternally faithful to each other, husband and wife are called to honour their fidelity to one another, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, till death do them apart. Thus, through the Christian family, where husband and wife become one flesh, we see the Mystery of God’s Triunity come to life. All of humanity is made in the image of the Holy Trinity, in the image of the Lord God.

Grasping the reality of the Most Holy Trinity can be a daunting task. Do not worry, but let God guide you, one day at a time. The quest to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him is a long road and a lifelong journey, but one where you are not alone. Keep seeking the Truth that is Jesus Christ, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost.


  1. Monotheism, Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent. Available at: Monotheism
  2. Creed, Catholic Encyclopedia, Catholic Answers. Available at: Creed
  3. What We Believe, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Available at: What We Believe
  4. Revelations ch. 1, v. 8
  5. Revelations ch. 22, v. 13
  6. Isaiah ch. 44, v. 6
  7. John ch. 1, vv. 1 - 3
  8. I: The Stages of Revelation, Article I: The Revelation of God, Chapter Two: God Comes to Meet Man, Section One “I Believe – We Believe”, Part One: The Profession of Faith, Catechism of the Catholic Church, pp. 54 - 64.
  9. Elohim, Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent. Available at: Elohim
  10. Elohim, Catholic Dictionary, Catholic Culture. Available at: Elohim
  11. El Shaddai, Catholic Dictionary, Catholic Culture. Available at: El Shaddai
  12. Jimmy Akin. Yahweh, A to Z of Apologetics, Catholic Answers. Available at: Yahweh
  13. Adonai, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New Advent. Available at: Adonai
  14. Exodus ch. 20, vv. 2 - 3
  15. Paragraph 2: The Father, Article I: “I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth”, Chapter One: I Believe in God the Father, Section Two “The Creeds”, Part One: The Profession of Faith, Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 234.
  16. Lesson 1: The Trinity and the Major Heresies, The One and Triune God – Study Materials, International Catholic University. Available at: The Trinity and the Major Heresies
  17. Genesis ch. 1, v. 26
  18. Genesis ch. 3, v. 23
  19. Deuteronomy ch. 6, v. 4
  20. Zechariah ch. 2, v. 8
  21. Jimmy Akin. Jesus and the Angel of God, Jimmy Akin. Available at: Jesus and the Angel of God
  22. Article 8: “I Believe in the Holy Spirit”, Chapter Three: I Believe in the Holy Spirit, Section Two “The Profession of the Christian Faith”, Part One: The Profession of Faith, Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 687.
  23. Danielle Milliken. Our Role in the “Great Commission”, Blog Posts, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Grapevine, Texas. Available at: Our Role in the “Great Commission”
  24. Lesson 8: Spiration of the Holy Spirit, The One and Triune God – Study Materials, International Catholic University. Available at: Spiration of the Holy Spirit
  25. John ch. 1, vv. 1 - 5
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Ave Christus Rex!
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