What does the Trinity teach us about human relationships? This is profound question to ask for a variety of reasons. One, the Trinity is one of, if not the, most crucial doctrine to understand when you want to know who God is. Since man was made in the image of God, if we want to bear God’s image properly we must accurately know who God is. Thus we must know about the Trinity if we want to reflect God.
We must not only know about the Trinity if we want to reflect God generally in all areas of our lives. If want to reflect God in our relationships with other humans, including in our Christian marriages or dating relationships, we again must know about the Trinity.
So what does the Trinity teach us about human relationships?
What Is the Trinity?
What is the Trinity? The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible. However, it is a theological term that is used to express a truth that is clearly seen throughout Scripture: God is one and three persons. For example:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
“Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” (Genesis 1:26)
There are many more Bible verses that teach us about the Trinity. If you wanted to summarize what the Bible says about the Trinity, the best way I have found is through 7 biblical statements: God is one, the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. God is one God and three different persons.
The Trinity Teaches Us that Humans Are Made for Community
So what does this teach us about human relationships? The first thing the Trinity teaches us about human relationships is that people need other people. In other words, humans were made to live within community and to have meaningful love relationships with other humans. Why do we know this? Because we are made in God’s image and God has existed for eternity within a love relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has existed within the community of the Godhead for eternity and since we are made in his image it should not be a surprise that humans are made to need community.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2)
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” (Genesis 1:26)
“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” (Genesis 2:18)
So when you have a desire for friends, family, and even for a spouse if you are single, this is a godly desire. Of course we can idolize these relationships and want them more than God himself which would be sin. But the desire for a relationship is not sin. It is good. God made us this way. If you isolate yourself you are harming yourself.
People were made for relationships because we were made in the image of the triune God.
The Trinity Teaches Us that Roles in Relationships Are Good
Another important truth that the we learn about relationships from the Trinity is that roles within relationships are good. There are many roles in all human relationships between each other, but this idea is seen most clearly in the marriage, family, and in the church.
One common lie that ruins relationships is that different roles between men and woman means one gender must be getting mistreated by the other. Thus, in this view, the only way to ensure equality is sameness. Any difference between the sexes is seen as discrimination. This is unbiblical and will sabotage the health of a relationship between a man and woman.
We can see from the Trinity that roles in relationships do not devalue one person over the other. There are different roles in human relationships because there are different roles in the Trinity. This is a large topic, so for the sake of summary the Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equal in deity but they function differently in relationship to one another. In short, the Father appoints what happens, the Son accomplishes the Father’s will, and the Holy Spirit applies what the Son has accomplished to humans.
For example, the Father planned for Jesus to accomplish the gospel, Jesus accomplished the gospel, and the Holy Spirit applies the gospel work to our lives when he comes to dwell within us at the moment of our conversions. This is why Jesus could say “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Jesus was talking about his submission to the Father in function (role), not in his form (deity). Philippians 2:6-7 explain:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Here we see that Jesus is God and in deity is equal to the Father. But he took on the nature of a human because his role in the triune relationship is to accomplish the Father’s will. John 17:4-5 explains:
“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
So what’s my point? Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of equal importance and are all fully God, they do function in different roles within their relationship towards one another. It should be no surprise, therefore, that since men and woman are made in God’s image they too are of equal importance and are fully image bearers but they are to function in different roles within their relationship towards one another.
(For more on this, see my article, Complementarianism in Context.)
The Trinity Teaches Us that Unity and Love Go Together
There are many more truths that the Trinity can teach us about human relationships. One of the most important truths the Trinity teaches us about relationships is that unity and love must always go together. The oneness of God and the love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not separate. God’s love unifies and because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are perfectly one they can love each other perfectly.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14)
Therefore if we hope to emulate the love of God within the Trinity in our relationships with one another, we must see and seek the love that produces unity. In Philippians 2:6-11 we see how Jesus operated towards the Father in sacrificial love. In Philippians 2:5 we are told to imitate the attitude of Christ as we seek to love one another, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” What was Christ’s attitude? His equality with God was not something to be used for his own advantage, but instead he took the humble form of a human to accomplish the will of the Father in love. Philippians 2:1-4 show us the link again between unity and love:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
God loves us with his presence. He loves us by uniting us with himself. Likewise, without unity and harmony in our relationships with one another, we cannot express the love of Christ to one another.
So in the context of a Christian relationship or a Christian marriage, we must seek to be imitate God’s image by being united with one another through God’s love.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)
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