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Colossians 1:15-29 
 
[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
 
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
 
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
 
(ESV)
Thinking Thus About the Trinity
Cyprian of Carthage, Pastor and Martyr
16 September 2015
How do we understand the inter-Trinitarian relations? Huh? What does that question even mean?! In other words, how do the persons of the Trinity relate to each other? This is not an unimportant question, because the answers we give to this question will affect what we think about the incarnation of our Lord. Who is it that in the manger lies? We can only answer that question when we know who He is in relation to His Father and the Spirit. We, of course, stand on the shoulders of giants; the ancient church's faithful defenders of the Trinitarian faith, such as Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Cyril of Alexandria, and others. They drew out from the Holy Scripture the implications of the Trinitarian teaching, clarifying only what was quite clearly there when they were forced to do so by the enemies of the truth. Only when the opponents of the truth of the Trinity rejected that truth did men like Athanasius seek to make clear the article of the holy Trinity for the people of their time. Their efforts bore fruit in the various ecumenical statements of the faith, which arose beginning in 325 with the Nicene Symbol.
 
One of those groups whose teaching demanded a clear reply were the Sabellians, who taught that the godhead was a single person that changed in mode rather than subsisting in three persons. In Sabellianism, it is as though God were a Transformer, like the child's toy and movie character: Father changing into Son, changing into Spirit. This heresy was also called modalism; in which God simply changes in mode to become Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. This was an attempt to maintain the oneness of God; unfortunately at the cost of denying the three persons of the Trinity. Sabellianism also implied that the Father died as well as the Son, because Son is only a mask or mode of God. For this reason the ancient church also called Sabellianism "patripassionism," which means "the-Father-suffered-ism." If the Son is merely a mode of God, then indeed the Father must have died when the Son died. The Cappadocians especially argued that the internal relations of the Trinity were not equal and were "divided." The Father does not die, only the Son. Who is it then, who in the manager lies: He is God of God, the Creator of all that is. He has existed in the bosom of His Father from eternity (Jn 1:18). He is begotten without beginning and without end from His Father as God from God. He does not beget the Father, but is begotten of Him. This Child born of Mary is none other than God of God, and yet a subsisting individual.
 
A related question is 'How do the persons of the Trinity relate to us?' The persons of the Trinity relate to us in an undivided manner; that is that they, all three persons, work together in all they do to accomplish our salvation. What theologians have called the external relations of the Trinity are undivided. This means that the will of God the Father to save the world in His Son, and to share that salvation in the work of the Holy Spirit, is really a single divine will, not subject to any kind of partition or division. It was the eternal God's united will toward us that Christ should bear our flesh of the Virgin and bearing us in that flesh, die in our place. It does matter that you think thus about the Trinity (Athanasian Creed, 26).

 

Athanasius of Alexandria

"We do not hold a Son-Father, as do the Sabellians, calling Him of one but not of the same essence, and thus destroying the existence of the Son. Neither do we ascribe the body subject to suffering which He bore for the salvation of the whole world to the Father. Neither can we imagine three subsisting beings separated from each other, as results from their bodily nature in the case of humans, lest we hold a plurality of gods like the heathen. But just as a river, produced from a spring, is not separate, yet there are in fact two visible objects and two names. For the Father is not the Son, nor is the Son the Father. The Father is Father of the Son, and the Son, Son of the Father. For just as the spring is not a river, nor the river a spring, but both are one and the same water which is conveyed in a channel from the spring to the river, so the Father's deity passes into the Son without flow and without division. For the Lord says, 'I came from the Father and have come into the world' (Jn 16:28). But He is ever with the Father, for He is in the bosom of the Father, nor was ever the bosom of the Father void of the deity of the Son. For He says, 'I was beside him, like a master workman' (Pro 8:30).
 
However, we do not regard God the Creator of all, the Son of God, as a creature, or thing made, or as made out of nothing, for He is truly existent from Him who exists, alone existing from Him who alone exists, in as much as the like glory and power was eternally and conjointly begotten of the Father. 'Whoever has seen [the Son] has seen the Father' (Jn 14:9). All things were made through the Son; but He Himself is not a creature, as Paul says of the Lord: 'For by him all things were created...all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things' (Col 1:16-17). Now He says not, 'was created' before all things, but 'is' before all things. To be created is applicable to all things, but 'is before all' applies to the Son alone."

Athanasius, Statement of Faith, 2
 
Prayer
Lord Christ, You are begotten of the Father from eternity and yet You condescended to be born in time of the Virgin Mary, that you might bear our flesh unto life. Grant us to know You as the second person of the holy Trinity, who works in complete unity with Your Father and the Holy Spirit to accomplish our salvation. Amen.
 
For all those caring for an ill child, that the Lord would grant them strength now and hope for eternity
 
For those whose hearts are set on things below, not on things above, that God the Lord would call them to an upward calling in Christ

For John Meyer, that the Lord Jesus would grant him strength and peace
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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