The Bible And The Trinity In Recent Thought: Review, Analysis, And Constructive Proposal -- By: Scott R. Swain

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 60:1 (Mar 2017)
Article: The Bible And The Trinity In Recent Thought: Review, Analysis, And Constructive Proposal
Author: Scott R. Swain


The Bible And The Trinity In Recent Thought:
Review, Analysis, And Constructive Proposal

Scott R. Swain*

* Scott Swain is President and James Woodrow Hassell Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary—Orlando, 1231 Reformation Drive, Oviedo, FL 32765. He delivered this plenary address at the 68th annual meeting of the ETS in San Antonio, TX on November 17, 2016. He can be contacted at sswain@rts.edu.

Abstract: The Bible and the Trinity are bound together at the heart of the Christian confession. The present article considers the relationship between the Bible and the Trinity from two vantage points and by means of engagement with some of the most significant recent studies on the Bible and the Trinity. First, the article considers how the Bible is “in the Trinity,” addressing the Bible’s place within the triune God’s self-presentation to his people. Second, it considers how the Trinity is “in the Bible,” focusing on three patterns of divine naming that recur throughout Holy Scripture. The article observes a monotheistic pattern that identifies the three persons with the one God of Israel, a relational pattern that distinguishes the persons by virtue of their mutual, asymmetrically ordered, dialogical relations, and a metaphysical pattern that indicates how the person transcend categories of creaturely being and creaturely naming.

Key Words: Trinity, divine names, monotheism, relations, metaphysics

I. Introduction

Christians confess the Holy Trinity: “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 Cor 8:6). Christians confess the Holy Trinity on the basis of Holy Scripture. The Bible proclaims a triune creator (Ps 33:6; John 1:1–3) and a triune redeemer (Gal 4:4–6). The Bible, moreover, promises a triune reward to its faithful readers: “The river of the water of life … flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1) is our promised inheritance (Rev 21:6–7). Holy Scripture mandates baptism in God’s triune name (Matt 28:19), calls us to bless God’s triune name (Eph 1:3–14), and blesses us in God’s triune name: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (

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