Original Research - Special Collection: Trinity

The Trinity and the Old Testament

Stephanus D. Snyman
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2672 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2672 | © 2022 Stephanus D. Snyman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 August 2022 | Published: 07 November 2022

About the author(s)

Stephanus D. Snyman, Department of Old and New Testament Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


Confessing God as the triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is central to the Christian faith. A basic conviction is that the triune God is also the solitary God of the Old Testament. The problem that emanated from this conviction is how to relate the triune God with the one God of the Old Testament. It is argued that New Testament authors made use of Old Testament metaphors to conceptualise God as the triune God. The central question mentioned in this article may be formulated as follows: how do the Old Testament metaphors of God as Father, the Son of God and Holy Spirit contribute to a better understanding of the God that we confess to be the triune God? The revealing of God’s proper name in Exodus 3 and the meaning of Jesus’ name in Matthew 1 create a relationship between Jesus and God. The theological link between the name of God in the Old Testament and the name of Jesus in the New Testament functions as a firm indicator that God and Jesus are two persons in the Trinity. It is also argued that due cognisance should be taken of the fact that the Old Testament is also the Tanakh of Judaism. It is for this reason better to speak about the Trinity and the Old Testament rather than the Trinity in the Old Testament, as this would imply that the Christian concept of a triune God is read back into the Old Testament.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: These results serve as a challenge to the important and often neglected interdisciplinary debate between systematic theology and the study of the Old Testament. Insights gained from the side of Old Testament studies can enrich systemic theology in the study of theological themes. This investigation can also stimulate a debate between Old Testament studies and New Testament studies to gain a better understanding of how and why the New Testament made use of the theological vocabulary provided by the Old Testament.


Trinity; triune God; Old Testament; name of God; Tanakh.

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