The Trinity Delusion An examination of the doctrine of the Trinity

2 Corinthians 3:17


"Now the Lord is the Spirit."


Proof of the Trinity Error

Paul identifies the Risen Jesus as the Holy Spirit.


The Evidence

In Trinitarian doctrine, the Father is not the Spirit and Jesus is not the Spirit. In fact, the doctrine of the Trinity cannot stand true without insisting that Jesus is not the Holy Spirit. But here we have a passage that explicitly indicates Jesus is indeed the Holy Spirit.


1. The Overall Context: The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

In 2 Corinthians chapter 3, Paul is discussing the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He begins by referring to "the Spirit of the Living God" (3:3). And then he points out that the new covenant is not like the old covenant. The old covenant was "of the letter" on tablets of stone. The new covenant is "of the Spirit" and written on human hearts. (3:2-6). The Law condemned us by exposing our sins but the Spirit is life-giving so Paul says "the letter kills but the Spirit is life." We can see plainly that Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit.


2. The Immediately Preceding Context: The Veil is Removed in Christ the Lord

Paul then goes on to explain how the glory of God was veiled to the people of the Old Testament but the ministry of the Spirit is much more glorious (3:8). And then he says:

But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

We can see in the above passage that the "Lord" whom Paul has in mind is Jesus Christ. The veil is removed in Christ and only when a person turns to the Lord is the veil taken away. These are quite plainly parallel statements. And so, "the Lord IS the Spirit."

The veil is removed in Christ
The veil is taken away when one turns to the Lord

It is quite clear that "the Lord" of 2 Corinthians 3:17 is Jesus Christ. It is also quite clear that Paul is talking about the Holy Spirit and saying that Christ is the Holy Spirit.


3. The Immediately Following Context: We Preach Jesus Christ as Lord

Paul even makes it more explicitly clear. He tells us explicitly who he has in mind as "the Lord" when he says, "the Lord is the Spirit." There were no chapter and verse divisions in Paul's original letters. He immediately goes on to identify the Lord in question as Jesus Christ.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. (3:14-4:5).

Paul tells us plainly who he has in mind when he refers to "the Lord" in verse 17. The honest person will be able to see quite clearly that Paul is most certainly referring to Jesus when he says, "the Lord is the Spirit." The honest person will also see that the Spirit in question is the Holy Spirit.

But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord , the Spirit. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ , who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. (3:14-4:5).


4. More Contextual Evidence: Glory of Christ = Glory of the Spirit

And there is even more contextual information that compels us to identify Jesus as "the Lord" of verse 3:17. Notice what the next few verses say:

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will not the ministry of the Spirit will be in more glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.... But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Carefully regard the parallels:

the glory of the Spirit
the glory of the Lord
the glory of Christ

Christ the Lord is the Spirit.


5. "The Same Image": What Image Would that Be? And Whose Image would that Be?

Notice what we are being told:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Now compare:

The first Adam became a living soul; the last Adam life-giving Spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)
Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the Image of the heavenly.

Now the Lord the Spirit is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Also note:

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29; cf. Php 3:10, 20-21)

We are to be transformed into the same image as CHRIST. "The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And we will unveiled faces are being transformed into the SAME IMAGE from glory unto glory." What is the same image? The Spirit? We are being transformed into the same image as who? Christ!


6. The Wider Context

In speaking of us being "transformed into the same image from glory unto glory," Paul then leads into the glory of the resurrection body:

We all... are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.... we have this treasure in earthen vessels... that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body... that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh... He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus... our inner man is being made new day by day For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.... Now He who prepares us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. (2 Corinthians 4:17-5:5).

if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you... if Christ dwells in you... if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.... For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a Spirit of sonship by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (see Gal 4:6, "Spirit of God's Son) The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us... the freedom of the glory of the children of God... our sonship, the redemption of our body....the Spirit Himself intercedes for us... He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son... He also glorifies....Christ Jesus... intercedes for us. (Romans 8:10-30).


7. There is ONE Spirit

At Ephesians 4:4-5, we read that there is ONE Spirit. There is ONE Spirit, not two, not three, not four. Hence, when we read that Jesus has been raised "Life-giving Spirit" at 1 Corinthians 15:45, we know this must be the same Spirit, the Holy Spirit. It is plainly obvious then that the risen Lord is this Spirit, "Life-making Spirit," the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Life-giving Spirit.


8. Another Trinitarian Contradiction

A common first defence by Trinitarians is to vaguely define "the Lord" as "Yahweh." This is vague since in Trinitarian doctrine "Yahweh" could variously be the Triune God or the Father or the Son. The idea here is to avoid any specific identification of "the Lord" as either the Father, or the Son, or the Triune God, since those are the only choices they have and none of them will work for their doctrine.

So Trinitarians often choose to appeal to Exodus 34:34 and declare the Lord in view at 2 Corinthians 3:17 is "Yahweh." The funny thing here is that when 2 Corinthians 3:17 is not in view, Trinitarians also commonly insist that Yahweh who spoke to Moses was the pre-incarnate Jesus. So on one day they insist Yahweh who spoke to Moses at Exodus 34:34 is Jesus and on another day they insist "the Lord" at 2 Corinthians 3:17 is not Jesus but Yahweh who spoke to Moses at Exodus 34:34. And so they speak with forked tongue and contradict themselves. Oddly, they never seem to notice their own contradiction here.

Moreover, Paul is contrasting how things were in the past with Moses and the Law to the present time and how things are in Christianity. God made Jesus "Lord" when he seated him at his right hand (Acts 2:33-36; Php 2:9-11; Matthew 28:18). In order to identify "the Lord" of 2 Corinthians 3:17, we need only to see that the Lord of the Christians is Jesus. But this is what Trinitarians are trying to avoid.

So when pressed on the specific identity of their "Yahweh" claim, Trinitarians tend to do one of two things. They tend to simply refuse to do so, or they resort to insisting that "the Lord" at 2 Corinthians 3:17 is "the Spirit" since it does not fit their doctrine to say the Lord is either the Triune God or the Father or Jesus. And so it is insisted the Paul meant, "the Spirit is the Spirit."


9. An Absurd Trinitarian Interpretation: "The Spirit is the Spirit"

Why do Trinitarians always resort to contrivances? They can't say the Triune God is the Spirit or that would be saying their Triune God is the third person of the Trinity. That would not agree with their doctrine. They can't say the Father is the Spirit because then they would be saying the first person of the Trinity is the third person of the Trinity. And that would also not agree with their doctrine. And they cannot say Jesus is the Spirit in the same manner.

So their only recourse is to claim that "the Lord" of verse 3:17 is the Holy Spirit and Paul is consequentially saying, "the Spirit is the Spirit." It won't work for two reasons. First, it is simply ludicrous even on the face of it. This would have Paul creating a redundancy of insisting that the Spirit is the Spirit. What point would Paul be making to declare that the Spirit is the Spirit especially in this context? It is a senseless proposition. Second, the words which follow, "Spirit of the Lord," would make absolutely no sense since the Trinitarian interpretation would then amount to "the Spirit of the Spirit" resulting in even more absurdities. Hence, they are caught between an inescapable dilemma.

Paul is referring to the glorification of Jesus' resurrection body. He was raised, as Paul says, "life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor 15:45). His mortal body of flesh was consumed by the immortality of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is life (2 Cor 3:6). Death was swallowed up in victory; the Spirit consumed Jesus' physical body. His body was clothed in Holy Spirit in such a way that his body and the Spirit became one new creation, a new kind of humanity, the new Adam. We can also see that Paul has this in mind here in 2 Corinthians 3 since he goes in to describe the resurrection body at 4:18-5:10.

If we are honest with ourselves the message is quite plain. Paul is discussing the work of the Holy Spirit in Christian lives. He indicates the veil that was over the Old Covenant minds is only taken away in Christ; it is only removed when one turns to the Lord. Paul is also discussing the glory of the New covenant. The ministry of the Spirit is much more glorious. And then he says, "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord." Paul comes right out and explicitly tells us precisely who he had in mind when he said "the Lord is the Spirit." He is referring to the glorified and resurrected Jesus who is, as Paul says, "Life-giving Spirit."



Determining Factors

  • Paul is discussing the glory of the Holy Spirit.
  • Paul indicates the Lord is the Spirit.
  • Paul calls the risen Jesus "life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor 15:45).
  • The identity of "the Lord" in verse 17 is revealed in the preceding context: the veil is removed in Christ; the veil is taken away when one turns to the Lord
  • The identity of "the Lord" is revealed when we are immediately told Paul is referring to the "Spirit of the Lord"
  • The identity of "the Lord" is revealed when Paul then says he is preaching Jesus Christ as Lord.
  • The identity of "the Lord" is revealed by observing the glory of the Spirit, glory of Christ, and glory of the Lord, are all the same thing.
  • We are being transformed into the same image. The same image is the Spirit. The same image as who? Jesus.
  • Paul explains we will be transformed into the same image as the risen Jesus who is "life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor 15:45,49).
  • The Wider context also confirms the above and we find Paul leading into the glorification of the body in the resurrection where we are now given the Spirit as a pledge and are in this way being transformed into the same image, life-giving Spirit, from glory unto glory.
  • The Trinitarian interpretation violently absuses and completely denies the immediate context and overall context for the sake of their tradition.
  • The Trinitarian interpretation that the Lord of verse 17 is "the Spirit" is shown to be totally absurd on several accounts.


Conclusion

Trinitarian doctrine claims Jesus is most definitely NOT the Holy Spirit. This is because that would mean the first person of the Trinity is identical to the third and the doctrine of the Trinity would be destroyed. However, Paul the Apostle is insisting the risen Jesus most definitely IS the Spirit. These are two diametrically opposed claims and the Trinity is absolutely proven false if Jesus is indeed the Spirit. Who should we believe? Paul or Trinitarians?



He who.. Anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
The mystery among the nations, which is the Anointed One in you, the hope of glory.



Last Updated: February 28, 2013
HOME