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Trinity – A New Name for God

J. Dan Gill

In time there came to be a new Gentile name for the new Gentile idea of God. In the third century CE a Christian by the name of Tertullian proposed a Latin word to describe God, his spirit and his Messiah. The term was trinitas (Trinity).[1] The word originally referenced any triad or grouping of three things. Hence, it did not in itself have reference to God. Tertullian was not a Trinitarian and for him the one God (ho theos) is still the Father.[2] With no name in the Bible which identified a three person God,[3] “Trinity” eventually caught on and in time came to be treated as a name for the new “three in one” version of God. The word “Trinity” became integrated with Gentile Christian worship. It found its way into poems, songs and liturgy. Christians today are often surprised to learn that it is not a Hebrew or Bible name for God. We have seen it used so much in matters which are associated with the Bible that we make the assumption that it is in the Bible. It is peculiar to see well-intended Christians sometimes incorporating the word “Trinity” into the names of their churches, not realizing that they have adopted a very non-biblical, Gentile name for a post-biblical configuration of God.

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Gill, J. Dan (2016). “Trinity” – A New Name for God. In, The One: In Defense of God (p. 246). Nashville, TN: 21st Century Reformation Publishing.


[1] Trinitas is a Latinization of he trias which is Greek for ‘‘the triad.’’ It is thought that Tertullian was the first to use this term in Latin with reference to God, God’s spirit and Christ. The Greek term had been used earlier in similar fashion by Theophilus of Antioch (Ad Autolycum 2.15).

[2] Tertullian was not a Trinitarian. He identified the one God as the Father, not the Trinity and did not accept the required coequality provisions of the Trinity. He believed that the son was not equal to the Father. He also believed that the son had a beginning at a point in time. See Dale Tuggy, ‘‘Tertullian the Unitarian’’ (2013) Also see William C. Placher, A History of Christian Theology —– An Introduction (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1983), 73.

[3] The word ‘‘God’’ itself is never used in the Bible to reference the Trinity. Anthony Buzzard states: ‘‘If one takes the evidence of Scripture as a whole, there is not a single occasion on which the word ‘God’ means the triune God!’’ Anthony Buzzard, Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian (Morrow, GA: Restoration Fellowship, 2007), 31.

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