The Inseparable Operations of the Trinity in John’s Gospel

james-coleman-741674-unsplash.jpgFew books in the Bible give us more “raw material” about the Trinity than John’s Gospel. While the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, testimony to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is. And in the Fourth Gospel, the works of the Trinity are displayed in their greatest fullness.

Helping us to see the inseparable operations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the ESV Study Bible nicely charts most of the instances of God’s Work. In what follows, notice how every work of God is “shared” by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To say it more carefully, whenever God acts he acts as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Whether it is in creation, salvation, or revelation, each person of the Trinity acts in a way appropriate to their personhood. Yet, such personal properties are never divided from the other members of the Trinity. We can speak variously about the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but we can never speak of them independent from one another, or as if the Father does one thing, the Son another, the Spirit a third.

While personal properties apply in all of God’s actions—e.g., the Father creates as the Father, the Son creates as the Son, and Spirit creates as the Spirit—the triune God always works as one God. This reality helps us to know God in his triune glory and to appreciate how each member works in union with one another. Even more, as we see in John’s Gospel, when the Father sends the Son and Spirit and the Father and Son send the Spirit, we begin to learn who God is through what God has done in redemptive history.

Expanding this vision of God’s triune work in redemption, the ESV Study Bible’s chart will assist greatly.

The Work of the Trinity

Though the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, by presenting the Father, Son, and Spirit all doing what no one else ever does, the Gospel of John gives us the raw material on which this doctrine is based. Observing what God says and does helps us to know him, and observing which actions are done by which members of the Godhead helps us to see which roles they play. (ESV Study Bible, p. 2055)

Actions Common to Father and Son and Spirit

Action Father Son Spirit
Give life 5:21, 26; (6:33); 17:3 5:21, 25–26, 40; 6:33; 17:3 3:6, 8; 6:63
Proclaim future 1:33 13:19, 26, 36–38; 14:3, 29; 16:1–4, 16–28, 32; 20:18 16:13
Indwell believers 14:23 14:20, 23; (15:4–7); 17:23, 26 14:17
Teach 6:45; 7:16, 17; 8:28 7:14; (8:2); 8:20; 13:13–14 14:26
Testify to Jesus 5:32, 37; 6:27; 8:18 8:12–14, 18 15:26
Glorify Jesus 5:22–23; 8:50, 54; 13:31–32; 17:1, 22 (1:14); 2:11; 13:31–32; 17:5, 24 16:14

Actions Common to Father and Son

Action Father Son
Glorify the Father 4:23; 12:28; 13:31–32 (2:16); (9:3–4); 11:40; 12:28; 13:31–32; 14:13; 17:1, 4–5
Give the Spirit 3:34; 14:16 (4:10–14); (7:37–39); 20:22
Send the Spirit 14:26 15:26; 16:7

Actions Common to Son and Spirit

Action Son Spirit
Be given by the Father 3:16 (4:10–14); 14:16
Be sent by the Father 3:17; 4:34; 5:23–24, 36; 6:29, 57; 7:28–29, 33; 8:16, 26, 29, 42; 9:4; 10:36; 11:42; 12:44–45; 13:20; 15:21; 17:3, 8, 18, 23, 25; 20:21 14:26; 15:26
Speak not from himself (5:19); 5:30; (6:38); 7:16; 12:49–50 16:13
Speak only what he hears 3:32; (3:34); (5:30); 8:26, 40; 12:50; 15:15 16:13
Convict 3:19–20; 4:16, 18; (5:27); (8:7); 8:34, 40; 11:40; 12:7–8; 13:8 16:7–11
Be received 1:12 (cf. 1:10–11) 7:39(cf. 14:17)
Disclose what belongs to God 1:18 16:13–14

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

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