The Natural Relationship of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity

We have noted that each relative and finite being is comprised of three components:

  1. Its being and its substance (hypostasis);
  2. Its nature and kind or form;
  3. Its relationship and power by which the substance (hypostasis) is united with its nature, and whereby they comprise the being.

We also reflected upon the essence of the supreme Being and discovered that the three components come together in God by necessity and comprise His perfect, absolute, and complete essence. In the absolute and perfect essence of God, as in finite beings, are found being, kind, and power or relationship.

Concerning God, these are perfect and absolute qualities. The being of God is absolute, for there is no other being before it. The kind of God likewise is absolute, for there is no other kind before it. Finally, the power of God is absolute, for there is no other power before it. God, therefore, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is being, kind, and power – one God in essence – for the one being, the one kind; and the one power comprise the one absolute and perfect essence.

Previously it was demonstrated that in the Godhead the kind and the power are equal to the being from which they also spring – the kind, on the one hand, as generated from the being, the power, on the other hand, as proceeding from the being, uniting the being with the kind. The being is the eternal Father; the kind is the eternal Logos, the everlasting Son; and the power is the eternal Holy Spirit – three beings, perfect, equal, and held in equal honour.

Let us now seek an explanation of the great theological truth of the Holy Trinity with the assistance of didactic parallels in nature, so that with their aid the Holy Trinity may be better understood. The science of true theology springs primarily from truthful understanding of the Holy Trinity, and the moral good of man is dependent upon his knowledge of it.

Without knowledge of the Holy Trinity, true scientific knowledge of created beings is impossible. Without it, neither true morality nor true moral good, or spiritual or moral life in man, can exist. The truth of the blessed Trinity is the foundation of scientific knowledge and the solid basis of morality, because the triune God is the only prototype of true equality, morality, and righteousness, and of the perfect, moral way of life and the most holy living. Upon the truth of the Holy Trinity is founded the universe, the creator of which is the ineffable Trinity, and the unchangeable knowledge of the supreme Being.

God is one in three persons, and man is an icon of this. truth, for at his creation, God uttered these memorable words: “Let us make man according to our image and likeness . . .” (Genesis 1:26; LXX). As the icon of God in the temporal world, man reflects God, for he bears the characteristics of God. Man has three elements in his one essence:

  1. His substance (hypostasis);
  2. His spirit;
  3. His body.

These three elements comprise man, and he is the only being in the temporal creation chosen of God. We cannot fail to distinguish between the various elements of man, but neither can we say that these three elements produce three men or three essences, rather than one man and a single essence. Consequently, we state that man is one in essence but threefold in structure, according to the distinct and separate elements of which he is comprised.

In the essence of man are found the characteristics both of unity and of differentiation: one human being in three component parts. Substance (hypostasis), spirit, and body comprise a single human being. The body of man, his substance (hypostasis), and his spirit comprise the essence of man.

Man’s substance (hypostasis) is unseen; it is hidden; it is unobserved as God the Father is unobserved and unseen, as the evangelist St. John taught when he wrote, “No man hath seen God at any time . . .” (John 1:18). However, this substance (hypostasis) is known through the body and the spirit, as God the Father is known through the Logos, His Son, and through His Spirit. Thus the body is the likeness of the Son of God through whom God the Father is made known and revealed to us, as the inspired theologian stated, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18).

The human body is the icon of the soul in man. It is the outward and visible sign of the invisible personal and spiritual essence within. This is why it has been created as it is, so that it may represent outwardly, as by a portrait, the actions and movements of the personality, the ego within us. The head is the icon of the intelligence, and that is why it is situated high up, because the intelligence is the soul’s highest power, and this is shown outwardly by means of the head.

The chest is the icon of the parts of the soul that control the will and the determination. It lies between the head and the stomach, because the will operates in the brain between the intelligence and the desire, between thought and emotion. The area below the chest is the icon of the emotional part of the soul. Here we have the more humble parts. because feelings are lower than thoughts and decisions, and the capacity for emotion is more humble than that for intelligence and decision.

In this way the invisible soul within us is presented outwardly through the whole of the body. The soul, in its turn, is the icon of the invisible God the Father. Consequently, as the soul becomes visible through the body, so the invisible Father becomes known through His Son, for “. . . the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . . full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The spirit of man is not in his body, but in his soul. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is in the Father, and proceeding from the Father, passes to the Son. From the soul the spirit is transmitted to the body, and through the faculty of speech its presence is made known to other people. However, there are other ways and other examples which help us attain understanding of the truth of the Trinity.

The soul of man is an essence that thinks and makes decisions. Therefore, it is intelligence. In that it is intelligence, the soul also possesses reason with which it thinks and expresses its thoughts. It possesses spirit, too, and through its reason it communicates and transmits this, for it has contact with other minds. Hence mind, reason, and spirit comprise the one essence of man’s soul. Consequently, just as these three distinct components constitute the one essence of the soul, so also the three persons in the Godhead comprise the one God, the single essence of God.

Nevertheless, the mind of the soul. because it is the source of reason, generates reason or logos, and through speech or logos projects the spirit and communicates it to other minds. As the mind of the soul generates reason or logos, and projects the spirit through speech or logos, even so the Father, being absolute Mind, begets the Son, the Logos, and sends forth from Himself the Spirit. This Spirit He sends into the world through His Son to enlighten mankind.

Who can deny the word without simultaneously denying both the mind and the spirit? Or who can deny the spirit without simultaneously denying both the word and the mind? Mind without reason and spirit is a contradiction; it is matter. Yet reason without mind, or spirit without reason and mind, are also contradictions. In fact, this is a nightmare, logically impossible.

Hence those who honor God as God in one person are honoring mind without logos or spirit. This is a contradiction in terms, for they honour matter as if it were God. Conversely, those who confess God as a Trinity, one in three persons, truthfully perceive that God is perfect Mind, possessing Logos and Spirit that are equally perfect. This is why all who deny the personal substance (hypostasis) of the Logos in the God­head, the substance (hypostasis) of the Son, are atheists and without hope (Ephesians 2:12). For on the confession of faith in the truth of the Holy Trinity, Christianity is founded – the revelation of the Son of God in the world.

Therefore, all those who oppose the doctrine of the Holy Trinity are not Christians, but attack both the doctrine and the Trinity, and are enemies of Christ. These are persons such as Arius, deists, and universalist-unitarians, for they attack the very foundation of the Christian structure and proclaim and propagate impious, wicked, and diabolical heresy.

The divine truth of the Holy Trinity may be presented through numerous illustrations. It is evident that water wells up from a spring, and then flows along and pours into a cistern. From the cistern it is carried through a series of channels and is transported to the roots of plants and trees, and nourishes them. As the supply of water flows from the spring and falls into the cistern, and because of the water the cistern is united with the spring, even so from the Father or the eternal Mind proceeds the eternal Spirit, and the Spirit rests on the Logos who receives Him, as the cistern receiving the water. If no water spring existed, no cistern could exist either. And if no water existed, even a spring could not exist, let alone a cistern.

Likewise, without the Mind, the Logos could not exist, and without the Spirit and the Logos, the Mind could not exist. The water spring, the flowing water itself, and the cistern that receives it are three parts, but they make up one whole. Similarly, the Mind, the Logos, and the Spirit are three persons, but they comprise one essence.

We also may compare the truth of the Holy Trinity with a fruit tree, especially a vine. The vine’s lateral bears the bunch of grapes, and the grape bears within itself the sweet juice of the new wine. The lateral branch is distinct from the grape which is its fruit, and the􀁇 juice of the new wine is distinct from the grape itself which carries the wine within it. These three comprise the vine.

The quality of the tree is known by the quality of its fruit, for the fruit carries within itself the latent juice of the tree set there in readiness by the laws of nature. As the fruit reveals the invisible quality of the tree, even so the Logos reveals the invisible essence of the Mind. This is because the Logos is the fruit and offspring of the Mind, as the grape is the fruit of the vine’s lateral branch.

Does one actually see the roots of the branch buried in the earth? No. So also, no one sees the invisible Mind – except through His Logos. The grape indicates what the stock is like. But, as in the grape there is the juice of the new wine, which will become vintage wine, even so in the Logos there is the Spirit that originates from the Mind, as the wine originates from the vine’s branch. The Father is the branch, the Son is the grape, and the Holy Spirit is the wine within the grape.

From the illustrations which we have presented to better understand the truth of the Trinity, we have come to see not only the indispensability of its existence, but also the relationship through nature which is seen among the three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Now we must examine the moral relationship which exists among the three equally divine persons, and so complete our long voyage of discovery to find the Trinity, God in three persons. Indeed, we have not travelled in vain, and we soon shall come to the last stage.

This is the right moment to make the following observation. Orthodox Christianity, which is the truth itself revealed in the world, is founded and based on this premise which we have demonstrated at length – that God is one and three, one essence and three persons, equal and perfect. If Orthodoxy is true, it is because it is founded upon this truth. If anyone disputes it, he is not a Christian, but an enemy of Christ, one who denies the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and foolishly honours matter as God.

He who honours matter as God is an atheist, without God or any hope of salvation and eternal life. He who says that God is not God in three persons, attacks the foundation of Christianity. He denies the divinity of Jesus Christ, and makes God a liar, as well as Christ who revealed this sublime, basic truth to pious and fervent believers in Himself.

He who does not believe in the Holy Trinity cannot be a moral being, because he does not believe in the truth which leads to logical action and gives light on the path of virtue. Only the Christian can be a moral being because he believes in God, and God is the source of truth and of morality. Only the Christian may be called a man in the true sense of the word, because he believes in the truth and has a great light before him guiding him toward the attainment of real, genuine virtue.

This great light is the triune God of the Gospel in whom the Christian and truly learned man believes. It is only fools who do not believe in Him – and those who falsely appear to be wise and learned.

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