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God is Love: The Interrelationship of the Trinity

Trying to explain how God can be one and also saying that God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can be quite a challenge. Our brains automatically try and check out and say, “Does not compute! Does not compute!”

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This blog post is part 5 of the series Eight Steps to Experiencing His Victory

Our goal today is to try and describe how the three persons can indeed be one God. A major problem is that every time you focus on one aspect it leaves the other out. There is  is a passage in 1 John 4:7-8. It reads:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love [emphasis mine].

John, who is called the Apostle of Love, says that love comes from God. Believers are to love one another, not only because God loved them, but because God is love.

Many scholars believe that when John says that God is love, he is speaking of the essence of who God is. God is love. John did not say God was loving, which is true, but that He is love.

God is Relational

We see the relational aspect of God when He created Adam and Eve to have fellowship with Him. He made them in His image so He could relate to them like no other part of creation. Listen to the conversation within the Trinity. Notice how the one God speaks of Himself in the plural:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Did you notice that when God created man, He created them male and female? This is very important since the Bible in Genesis 2 makes an issue of Adam being alone. It says:

Then the LORD God said, “It’s not good that for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)

God brought all of the animals before the man but he could find no one suitable for him. God would have to provide someone else to complement the man.

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. Then the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:21-23)

God is relational and so He created man to be relational. He shows us that a man alone is not enough, even though He would have a relationship with God. Man, in order to be in the image of God, must have another in which he could relate. God fashioned a woman out of the flesh of the man.

God created a garden for the man and woman to tend. The book of Genesis describes God as “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). He was coming to have fellowship with the man and woman.

God is Love

The walk in the garden shows God’s desire to be in relationship with man as His special creation. There is more to understanding the concept of God is love.

When we say God is love, we are saying that the essence of who He is a God is relational. That God Himself is relating as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In other words, the one God is relational in Himself.

Millard Erickson does a fine job explaining the concept behind the need for more than one person to be in the Trinity if God is to be love. He puts it this way:

In a sense, God being love virtually requires that he be more than one person. Love, to be love, must have both a subject and an object. Thus, if there were not multiplicity in the person of the Godhead, God could not really be love prior to the creation of other subjects. For love to be genuine, there must be someone whom God could love, and this would necessarily be more than mere narcissism. The Father loves the Son; the Son loves the Father; the Father loves the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit loves the Father; the Son loves the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit loves the Son. The fact that God is three persons rather than merely two also is a demonstration of the character of love. There is an old statement, ―”Two‘s company; three‘s a crowd.” It is possible for two human persons to have a relationship of love for one another that is much more difficult for three persons to have among themselves. Two persons may simply reciprocate love, not having to share the other person‘s love with anyone else. With three persons, there must be a greater quality of selflessness, of genuine agapē. This Trinity founded upon love is a demonstration of the full nature of agapē.

It seems that a full and abiding love requires at a minimum three persons. If only one person existed in the Godhead it would result in narcissism. If only two persons existed it would be a mutual love. Yet if three persons exist it requires a love that expresses itself toward the other two.

God’s Love as Described by the Greek Word perichoresis

We looked at a definition by J. Scott Horrell that attempts to describe the social model of the Trinity that focuses on relationships in the post Understanding God as Trinity. He states:

My definition of social model of the Trinity is that the one divine Being eternally exists as three distinct centers of consciousness, wholly equal in nature, genuinely personal in relationships, and each mutually indwelling the other.

Horrell speaks of personal relationship and of each person mutually indwelling the other. The concept of the uniqueness of each person and the mutual indwelling of each in the others is described by the Greek word perichoresis.

This is how Thomas Torrence explains the concept of perichoresis:

The technical term adopted by the Church Fathers to express this mutual containing or interpenetration was περιχώρησις derived from χωρειν meaning both ’to make room‘ and ‘to contain.‘ Thus developed, the notion of περιχώρησις has an active nuance as mutual movement as well as mutual indwelling, which gives expression to the dynamic nature of the consubstantial Communion between the three divine Persons, in which their differentiating properties instead of separating them actually serve their oneness with one another. . . Since God is Spirit we must understand that περιχώρησις between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit within the One Being of God in a wholly spiritual and intensely personal way, not in a static, but in a dynamic yet ontological way, as the eternal movement of Communion which the Triune God ever is within himself in his active relations toward us through the Holy Spirit [writer‘s emphasis].

Whew! That was sure a lot to take in, but if it were easy to describe the being of God, then He probably wouldn’t be all that great. As we’ve seen, God is incredible.

Let’s Sum It Up

Let’s sum up some of the truths we can observe from our look at God today:

  • There is one God.
  • The one God exists in a social Trinity.
  • There is an interrelationship that takes place within the one God.
  • The essence of that self-giving interrelationship is love.
  • God is love.
  • The love of God is infinite and eternal because each member of the Trinity is infinite and eternal.

That is why God could say to Israel and us in Jeremiah 31:3:

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

God’s love for you is great. May you open up your heart today and receive His love in a new and deeper way. God’s love is personal, so it is uniquely for you. God’s love is infinite, so it can't run out. God’s love is eternal, so it will never end.

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I would love to hear what you think about the endless love of God. I know He has changed my life forever.

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About the Author

Terry Tuinder is the co-founder of Experiencing His Victory. His experience includes thirty-one years of pastoral ministry, an earned Doctor of Ministry degree from The King’s University, and nineteen years involvement in deliverance ministry. He helps people grow in their relationship with God.

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