What is the Trinity? (part 2): glory and unity...

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In part one, I wrote of the practical aspects of who God is as Trinity with a special focus on the Biblical truth that God is love with the Father as the source. This post will focus on Jesus Who conveys most clearly His Father because He is His Father's Son.

Apart from the Son, there is no Father; with no Father, there is no Son. The identity of each Person of the Trinity is tied to the others. This may be confusing but that’s because we’re not God. Nevertheless we benefit from this reality. It’s a matter of life and death.

As we saw in part one, the Trinity drives us to our knees and carries our prayers. Without the Trinity we don’t know how to pray. It shouldn’t be surprising that Jesus gave His disciples an insider’s view into what Trinitarian discourse (prayer) sounds like on the very night He was betrayed (John 17). His prayer is a dizzying revelation of the glory of the Father...

as the Son calls on the Father to glorify the Son; not only with a glory He didn’t have, but with the glory He has had with the Father for all eternity (see John 17:1-5).

Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. - John 17:5

Keep in mind that God tells us He does not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8).  Since Jesus has always had glory with the Father, He must be God. 

And He is God, but He is also Man. Jesus didn't ask for something He lost as if He needed to be "reinstated" as God. He asked for glory in addition to what He had from the beginning. He said “glorify me with..."

With what? With the glory He had with the Father.

Two glories: one Son

Some think Jesus has two identities: God the Son, and then there’s Jesus... the man... as if He is actually two persons. But this is the heresy of Nestorianism.

In fact, Jesus is one Person with both a divine nature and a human nature. Jesus' prayer shows us this truth in the glory Jesus requests. He asks to be glorified (future tense) with the glory He’s had for eternity. Ultimately, Jesus is praying for the resurrection, ascension, and glorification of His body. Jesus is not asking to be reinstated to His previous position--as if He was not God. He has always been God. Jesus is asking for something new by virtue of something from of old.

Because Jesus’ two natures are unified, He told His disciples that anyone who sees Him sees the Father (John 14:9). Since Jesus came to reveal the Father, His taking on the flesh of man (instead of woman) is essential to revealing the Father. Jesus has modeled in the flesh true Father-Son love that we must imitate as obedient sons adopted by the Father. He glorified His Father through obedience and we must obey also.

Some try to say Jesus only obeyed His Father as a man. They think there can be no obedience within the Godhead (i.e. “subordination”).

As we noted above, Jesus prays as a Person, not only as a human Person. When people say Jesus obeyed only as a man, they are actually engaging in blasphemy because they are really saying He is two persons: this is latent Nestorianism. Combatting that heresy, it is important to note that Jesus was sent by the Father before He took on flesh. His obedience was not only as a man, but as the Son.

The heart of Jesus’ relationship to His Father has always been one of obedience. He was obedient to take on the form of a slave (Philippians 2), and this is the life Paul has commended to us to imitate. It is no stretch of the imagination to think a man owes God such obedience...but it should cause us to marvel that the eternal Son submitted as He did. That’s why Paul used Jesus as the example. The eternal Son’s humiliation should silence our complaining.

Can you imagine grumbling and complaining in light of Who Jesus is and what He endured? Are you offended by a harsh word returned by your wife? Meditate on the Son's rejection by those He came to save! No, we must have the attitude of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). The least we can do is die to ourselves (Romans 6:8). That’s what the obedient Son did.

Too, that Jesus took on flesh to win a Bride has great relevance to the purity of the church, the purity of our marriages, and purity as we wait for marriage. There isn’t enough room to detail the relevance, but this much I will say to spur on husbands and those seeking a wife: Christ desires a spotless Bride. We are called to die for our wives, to sanctify our wives (Ephesians 5:25-27) as Christ died for His Bride, the Church.

If you desire to take a wife, consider that in Christ’s life and ministry on earth, He did not marry. Yet it was not because marriage is beneath Him. It is because His Bride is the Church. He desires His Bride and her purity, and He will have her. Had He taken a wife in this life, it would have looked like fornication. He didn’t come to marry one bride, later to marry another. He will only have one Bride. He is no polygamist. So you too must seek a bride whose purity you work hard to preserve before and after marriage.


Even if it's difficult to put into words, the unity Jesus asks for is of great benefit to us. He expresses His unity with the Father, yet He is in some way anticipating union with the Father. It seems confusing, but that’s because we’re not God. In John 17 we see the Son in the flesh marching toward the cross desiring to be with the Father, yet already One with Him. In that unity, He prays for our unity:

Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. - John 17:11

The unity of Christ’s two natures means man can be in unity with God. Being the Son, He is the quintessential Son, which is why He took on flesh to bring many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10). Our adoption as sons must reflect Christ’s sonship and be ignited by the same source as the Son. There is no greater glory for us than Christ being formed in us. We have hope now and hope to come. Had Christ not been asking for the glorification of His body, we would have no real benefit. But Christ is a glorious Husband seeking the good of His Bride. His prayer continues:

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. - John 17:22-24

The glory of Christ becomes our own by virtue of Him being our Head. He is our Head because He took on the flesh of man, “invading” the world to win a Bride for Himself. Not just any bride, but a fair one that He clothes with the very glory He is given by the Father through the resurrection. His resurrection rests on the eternal love that unites Him with the Father.

Through that same Trinity of love, we are united to God.

And also to one another.

Craig French is a former deacon and member at Christ the Word (PCA) in Toledo, OH. He and his wife Tai have four daughters.