Why isn’t the word “Trinity” used in the Bible?

This is one in a series on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. To see MRM’s website page on the Trinity to see other resources, please click here.

By Eric Johnson

Some critics say that the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be true because the word Trinity is not found in the Bible. While it is true that the word “trinity” is not found in scripture, we shouldn’t expect to find it there since the word comes from a language not used in the Bible. In fact, the prefix “tri” and the root word “unity” are Latin, not Hebrew/Aramaic (as the Old Testament was written in) or Koine Greek (as the New Testament was written in). This explanation fully answers the criticism.

While the word might not be found in the Bible, the concept of the Trinity certainly is. After all, the Bible states how

  • There is one God (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29)
  • The Father is God (Gen. 1:1, Is. 43:10, Is. 44:6, 8; etc)
  • The Son is God (John 1:1-14; John 8:58; John 10:30; John 20:28; Col 1:15-17; 2:9; Phil. 2:5-11; etc)
  • The Spirit is God (Gen. 1:2; John 16:5-16; Acts 5:4, 10:44; etc) (For more, check out Is there Biblical support for the Trinity?

The Bible does not contradict itself by stating that there is one God and yet three Persons making up God! Each Person of the Trinity is considered deity in the Bible and yet the three come together to form one God.

Typically the person who brings up this argument (the word “Trinity is not found in the Bible”) is not an atheist but belongs to a non-Trinitarian church, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon, or Apostolic/Oneness Pentecostal. If this is the case, it is possible to use several specific illustrations to show the silliness of this argument. Ask:

Jehovah’s Witness: 

  • Where do you find the word “kingdom hall” in the Bible? (Jehovah’s Witness meet in buildings called “kingdom halls.”) The word “church” (ecclesia) is found, but not “kingdom hall.” Does that mean people shouldn’t gather at kingdom halls to worship? Or why do JWs go to the annual “conventions” held in cities around the word? After all, “convention” is not a biblical word.
  • Where does the word “awake” in the Bible refer to a magazine (currently published regularly by the JWs)? Or how come “New World Translation”–the JW’s own translation of the Bible–not mentioned by name in the Bible? Should these JW-produced items not be read and studied?
  • Should the “governing body” (the leaders of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) be rejected? The Bible doesn’t use these words to describe the leaders of the church, but rather it uses the word “apostles.”
  • In the New World Translation, the word “Jehovah” has been added into the pages of the Bible. However, this is neither a Hebrew nor Greek word, but rather a conflation of  the Greek “Adonai” (Lord) with the Hebrew consonants “YHWH” (God). The word Jehovah was not created until the Middle Ages! Since JWs insist on using the name of “Jehovah” for God (after all, they like to be called “Jehovah’s Witnesses”), then should the very God whom they claim to worship be considered false? Of course this would be a silly argument to be used against the JW!

Mormons

  • Where are the words “ward,” “stake,” “institute,” and “seminary” found in the Bible? How about “Sunday School”? Should Mormons go to those buildings and classes if these are not biblical words?
  • Should Mormons take “sacrament” on a weekly basis? This word is Latin and is therefore not found in the Bible.
  • How about doctrinal terms such as “preexistence/premortality,” “spirit prison,” “agency,” “age of accountability,” “born in the covenant,” “telestial kingdom,” “eternal increase,” “first estate,” and “enduring to the end” (along with many other terms)? Do we reject these ideas merely because these words are not found in the Bible?
  • Should we not accept the first or second counselors in the First Presidency since these offices are not biblical? Or should we ignore “General Conference” because it’s not a biblical concept? Where in the Bible does it explain that the leaders gathered twice a year for meetings?

Oneness Pentecostals/Apostolic

  • Is the word “Bible” found in the Bible? (Certainly, the Greek word “graphos” (writing) is found there, and so is the word scripture. But “Bible” is not there. Does this mean we shouldn’t use the Bible?

This is one in a series on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. To see MRM’s website page on the Trinity to see other resources, please click here.