Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 11, 2008

Thinking as a Trinitarian

Although the “Trinity” is a theological construct not explicitly set forth in Scripture, it is difficult to deny that the NT writers thought in trinitarian categories.  Over and over again, for instance, Paul almost offhandedly structures portions of his letters to highlight in turn each One of the Three.  For example, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6:
1 Cor. 12:4-6 (ESV) 
    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;  [5] and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;  [6] and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 
   
I suspect we miss these trinitarian references at times, because we are used to thinking of “Lord” as referring to God generically, or to the Father, but not to Jesus. Jeff Weima reminded me of this common sort of reference in Paul in his essay “‘How You Must Walk to Please God’: Holiness and Discipleship in 1 Thessalonians,” in Patterns of Discipleship in the New Testament, ed. Richard N. Longenecker (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996).
The three exhortations to holiness in sexual conduct in [1 Thess. 4:]3-6a are followed in verses 6b-8 by three reasons that Paul’s converts are to be holy in this area of their lives.  This triple motivation for holy living involves each person of the Trinity.  The first reason is the future judgment of Christ: “Because the Lord is an avenger about all these things, as we told you beforehand and testified.”  The second is the past call of God: “For God has not called us for uncleanness but in holiness” (v 7).  And the third involves the present gift of the Holy Spirit: “Therefore, whoever disregards this disregads not human authority but God, who gives his Spirit, which is holy, into you” (v 8).
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