Orthodox teachings of the Holy Trinity

Valentina Kirikova
28.05.2015

The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity- God, one in essence and threefold in persons (persons); Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is the one and only God, known in three equally equal, equal, not merging together, but also inseparable persons in one being, or hypostasis.
Images of the Holy Trinity in the material world
How can the Lord God be simultaneously the One and the Trinity? We should not forget that the usual earthly dimensions, including the category of the number, are not applicable to God. After all, only objects separated by space, time and forces can be counted. And between the persons of the Holy Trinity there is no gap, nothing inserted, no section or separation. The Divine Trinity is absolute unity. The mystery of the Trinity of God is inaccessible to the human mind. Some visible examples, rough analogies of it can serve:
- the sun - its circle, light and heat;
- the mind giving rise to an ineffable word (thought) expressed by breathing;
- a source of water hidden in the ground, a key and a stream;
- the mind, word, and spirit inherent in the godlike human soul.
One nature and three self-awareness
Being one in nature, the persons of the Holy Trinity differ only in their personal characteristics: unborn in the Father, birth in the Son, and origin in the Holy Spirit. The Father is beginningless, not created, not created, not born; The son is eternal (timeless) born of the Father; The Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father.


The personal attributes of the Son and the Holy Spirit are indicated in the Creed: “From the Father who was born before all ages,” “From the Father who proceeds.” “Birth” and “origin” cannot be thought of either as a one-time act, or as some kind of process, which is long in time, since the deity exists outside of time. The very terms “birth” and “emanation”, which the Holy Scripture reveals to us, are only indications of the mysterious intercourse of divine persons, these are only imperfect images of their unspeakable communion. As says of sv. John of Damascus, "the image of birth and the image of origin for us is incomprehensible."
There are three personalities in God, three "I." But the analogy of human faces is inapplicable here, faces are connected without merging, but mutually penetrating so that they do not exist one outside the other. Persons of the Holy Trinity are in constant mutual communication with each other: the Father is in the Son and the Holy Spirit; The Son is in the Father and the Holy Spirit; The Holy Spirit is in the Father and the Son (John 14:10).
Three faces have:
- one will (desire and will),
- one force
- one action. Any act of God is one: From the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. The unity of action in relation to God should be understood not as a certain sum of three mutually solidary actions of individuals, but as a literal, strict unity. This action is always fair, merciful, holy ...


The Father is the Source of Being the Son and the Holy Spirit
The Father (being without beginning) is the one beginning, the source in the Holy Trinity: He eternally bears the Son and eternally harasses the Holy Spirit. The Son and the Holy Spirit simultaneously go back to the Father as to one cause, and the origin of the Son and the Spirit does not depend on the will of the Father. The Son and the Spirit, according to the figurative expression of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, are the “two hands” of the Father. God is one not only because His nature is one, but also because those faces come from a single face to Him.
The Father does not have more power and honor than the Son and the Holy Spirit.
True knowledge of God the Trinity is impossible without the inner transformation of man.
The experiential knowledge of the trinity of God is possible only in a mystical revelation through the action of divine grace, to a man whose heart is cleansed of passions.The Holy Fathers experienced the contemplation of the One Trinity, among them we can highlight the Great Cappadocians (Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa), St. Gregory Palamus, Venerable Simeon the New Theologian, Seraphim of Sarov, St. Alexander Svirsky, St. Silouan of Athos.
St. Gregory the Theologian: “I have not yet begun to think about the Unit, as the Trinity illuminates me with His radiance. As soon as I began to think of the Trinity, the Unity embraced me again. ”
How to understand the words "God is love"
According to the definition given by the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, God is love. But God is love not because He loves the world and humanity, that is, His creation, then God would not be completely Himself outside and apart from the act of creation, would not have perfect being in Himself, and the act of creation would not be free, but forced by the very "nature" of God. According to Christian understanding, God is love in Himself, because the being of the One God is the co-being of divine hypostasis, staying among themselves in the "eternal movement of love", according to the word of the VIIth theologian Maximus the Confessor.
Each person of the Trinity does not live for Himself,but without surrender, gives himself to other persons, while remaining completely open to their response, so that all three are in love with each other. The life of divine persons is interpenetration, so that the life of one becomes the life of another. Thus, the being of God the Trinity is realized as love, in which the personal existence of the individual is identified with self-giving.
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity - the basis of Christianity
According to the word of sv. Gregory the Theologian, the dogma of the Holy Trinity is the most important of all Christian dogmas. St. Athanasius of Alexandria defines the Christian faith itself as faith in the “unchanging, perfect and blissful Trinity”.
All the tenets of Christianity rest on the doctrine of God, one essentially and threefold in persons, the Trinity coessential and indivisible. The doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity is the supreme goal of theology, since knowing the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity in its fullness means entering the divine life.
In order to clarify the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the holy fathers pointed to the human soul, which is the image of God. “Our mind is the image of the Father; our word (we usually call the undelivered word thought) is the image of the Son; spirit - the image of the Holy Spirit, - teaches St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov.- As in the Trinity-God, three Persons do not form a single Divine Being inseparably and inseparably, so in a Trinity-man three persons constitute one being, not mixing with each other, not merging into one person, not dividing into three beings. Our mind has given birth and does not cease to give rise to thought, thought, having been born, does not cease to be born again and at the same time remains born, intimate in the mind. The mind cannot exist without thought, and the thought cannot exist without the mind. The beginning of one is surely the beginning of another; the existence of the mind is certainly the existence of thought. Similarly, our spirit emanates from the mind and promotes thought. That is why every thought has its own spirit, every way of thinking has its own separate spirit, every book has its own spirit. There can be no thought without the spirit, the existence of one is necessarily accompanied by the existence of the other. In the existence of the one and the other is the existence of the mind. "

The very doctrine of the Holy Trinity is the doctrine of “Mind, Word, and Spirit — of a single co-nature and divinity,” as St. Matthew said about It. Gregory the Theologian. “The First Mind is Jehovah, God coessential in Himself has the Word with the concomitant Spirit, never without the Word and the Spirit,” teaches Saint. Nikita Studioi.
The Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity is the doctrine of the divine mind (Father), the divine word (Son) and the divine spirit (Holy Spirit) - three divine persons possessing a single and inseparable divine being.
God has an all-perfect mind (mind). The divine mind is beginningless and endless, boundless and unlimited, omniscient, knows the past, present and future, knows the non-existing as already existing, knows all the creatures before their being. In the divine mind, there are ideas of the entire universe, there are plans for all creature beings. “Everything from God has its being and existence, and everything before being is in His creative Mind,” says St. Simeon the New Theologian.
The divine mind forever generates the divine word with which He creates the world. The divine word is “the Word of the Great Mind, transcending every word, so that there was not, there is not and there will not be a word that is higher than this Word,” teaches St. St. Maximus the Confessor. The divine word is all perfect, immaterial, soundless, does not require human language and symbols, without beginning and endlessly, forever. It is always inherent in the divine mind, born from it eternally, why the mind is called the Father, and the word - the Only Begotten Son.
The divine mind and the divine word are spiritual, for God is immaterial, incorporeal, immaterial. He is the perfect spirit. The divine spirit dwells outside space and time, has no image and appearance, above any limitation. His all-perfect being is infinite, "disembodied and formless, and invisible, and indescribable" (St. John of Damascus).
The divine mind, word and spirit are wholly personal, therefore they are called persons (hypostases). The hypostasis or the person is the personal way of being of the divine essence, which equally belongs to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one in their divine nature or entity, one-on-one and consubstantial. The Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. They are absolutely equal in their divine dignity.
Every person possesses omnipotence, omnipresence, perfect holiness, the highest freedom, is not created and not dependent on anything created, uncreated, forever. Each person carries all the properties of the Divine. The doctrine of the three faces in God means that the relationship of divine faces for each person is threefold. It is impossible to imagine one of the divine persons without the other two not immediately existing.
The Father is the Father only in relation to the Son and the Spirit. As for the birth of the Son and the emanation of the Spirit, the one presupposes the other. God is "The Mind, the Abyss of Reason, the Parent of the Word, and through the Word the Tutor of the Spirit, who reveals Him," teaches St. John of Damascus.
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three full-fledged personalities — persons, each of whom has not only the fullness of being, but is the whole God. One hypostasis is not a third of the general essence, but it contains the fullness of the divine essence. The Father is God, not a third of God, the Son is also God, and the Holy Spirit is also God. But all three together are not three gods, but one God. We confess "the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit - Trinity coessential and inseparable" (from the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). That is, three hypostases do not divide a single entity into three entities, but a single entity does not merge and does not mix three hypostases into one.
Can a Christian appeal to each of the three persons of the Holy Trinity?
Undoubtedly: in the prayer “Our Father” we address the Father, in the Jesus prayer - to the Son, in the prayer “To the Heavenly King, the Comforter” - to the Holy Spirit.
Who is each of the divine persons aware of themselves and how do we properly recognize our conversion, so as not to fall into the pagan confession of the three gods? Divine faces are not aware of themselves,as separate individuals.
We appeal to the Father, the everlasting Son, whose spokesman is the Holy Spirit eternally proceeding from the Father.
We appeal to the Son, eternally born from the Father, whose spokesman is the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father.
We refer to the Holy Spirit as the spokesman of the Son, who is eternally born of the Father.
Thus, our prayers do not contradict the doctrine of unity (including will and action) and the inseparability of the persons of the Holy Trinity.

According to legend, when St. Augustine walked along the seashore, reflecting on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, he saw a boy who dug a hole in the sand and poured water into it, which he scooped up with a shell from the sea. Blessed Augustine asked why he was doing this. The boy answered him:
- I want to scoop out all the sea in this hole!
Augustine grinned and said it was impossible. To which the boy told him:
- And how are you trying to exhaust with your mind the inexhaustible mystery of the Lord?
And then the boy disappeared.

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