Trinitarian Spirit: Trinitarian Formulas

All of what we’ve already covered puts real teeth into the New Testament’s Trinitarian formulas that we hear from Peter, Paul, and Jesus.


In his Great Commission (Matt 28:19), Jesus gives a baptismal formula: “…in the name ← (singular) of the (plural) → Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19).


Paul’s description of the gifts of the Sprit says, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.” But Paul continues with an implicit Trinitarian thought: “There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord [Jesus Christ]. God [the Father] works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us” (1 Cor 12:4–6). And he closes his second letter to Corinth with the benediction, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor 13:14).

Then Paul laces his letter to the Ephesians with Trinitarian echoes. He describes the reconciling ministry of the gospel in the plainest of Trinitarian terms: “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us” (Eph 2:18). Speaking further of that mystery, Paul says, “When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.” (Ephesians 3:14–17a).

That leads him to describe the church’s unity in Trinitarian terms: “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord [Jesus Christ], one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all” (Eph 4:4–6).

Finally, a church that owes its very nature to the Trinity should show that in its worship: “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:18–20).


With Peter, I remind you, “God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace” (1 Pet 1:2).


Author: Dale A. Brueggemann

Leave a Reply