“What’s the Trinity, Daddy? Why isn’t this word in the Bible?”

“Mummy, is God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit the same person?”

“Huh? Does this mean that there are three Gods?”

You might have heard these questions from your kids that have left you scratching your head.

If you’re feeling a bit lost, don’t worry, because the Trinity is one of the most profound concepts of the Christian faith. It was as mysterious to the early church fathers as it is to us today—let alone to a six-year-old!

God has chosen not to reveal to us exactly what the triune God is like. And even if He did, our fallen human minds might not be able to grasp it.

At the same time, as parents, we have a role to play in teaching it to our children. So, how can we go about doing it?

Three Biblical Truths about the Trinity

The good news is, God has revealed enough about himself in His Word for us to piece the parts together as we try to understand the doctrine of the Trinity.

One thing to note is that the terms “Trinity” and “triune God” are not found in the Bible. But they have been used historically to describe the essence of the Creator God as revealed in the Bible.

Here are three biblical truths about the Trinity that serve as a good starting point:

  1. God is one God, not three Gods (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4–6).
  2. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are three distinct Persons (Matthew 3:16–17; 1 Peter 1:2). The Trinity is not one Person manifested in three different modes.
  3. The three Persons of the Godhead are equally God. None of them is inferior or less divine than the others (Philippians 2:6; Acts 5:3–4, which refers to the Holy Spirit as God).

As we try to explain the Trinity to our children, we need to bear in mind these three truths must be maintained, and should not be diluted or compromised in any way.

If your children can’t quite understand these truths, or have questions about their apparent contradictions, do not be too worried or discouraged. After all, even theologians struggle with the concept of Trinity!

The most important thing is to teach our children what the Bible says, and let the Holy Spirit do His job.

If our kids ask us something we don’t know, it’s okay for us to admit: “I don’t know the answer to your question right now, but I’ll find out.” Our admission might even teach them a thing or two about humility and honesty.

Of course, as parents, we should try to know enough about the doctrine to teach our children, though we may not have all the answers. And if we don’t, it’s time to consult the pastor.

The most important thing is to teach our children what the Bible says, and let the Holy Spirit do His job.

Explaining the Trinity with Jesus’ Baptism

We can explain the Trinity by looking at Bible passages that mention all three Persons of the Godhead. One of them is the account of Jesus’ baptism, which all four Gospels have recorded. Matthew 3:16–17 states:

As soon as Jesus was baptised,
he went up out of the water.
At that moment heaven was opened,
and he saw the Spirit of God
descending like a dove and alighting on him.
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son,
whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

We can read this passage with our children, pointing out descriptions of each Person of the Godhead: God the Father, whose voice is from heaven; God the Son, who is Jesus; and God the Spirit, who descended like a dove and alighted on Jesus.

This passage clearly shows that all three Persons of the Godhead are simultaneously—but distinctively—present.

At this point, a child might ask: “Does that mean there are three Gods?”

We can then flip to Deuteronomy 6:4, which gives us the answer: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

Our child might then quip: “But how is God one God, but also three Persons?”

At this point, some parents might be tempted to use the often-heard analogy of the three states of water (ice, water, and water vapour) to explain the three Persons in the Godhead.

Why the Analogy of Water Doesn’t Work

This analogy, however, is inadequate. Water cannot exist in the solid, liquid and gaseous states simultaneously—whereas all three Persons of the Godhead can, as Matthew 3:16–17 shows.

Not only is the water-states-as-Trinity analogy inadequate, it also supports an ancient heresy called modalism, which argues that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three different modes of God—instead of three distinct Persons.

While quoting an often-used analogy might seem like an easier way to explain the Trinity, ultimately there just isn’t an adequate illustration of the Trinity on earth.

While quoting an often-used analogy might seem like an easier way to explain the Trinity, ultimately there just isn’t an adequate illustration of the Trinity on earth. This is because nothing in this created universe is like the triune God: He is utterly unique.

Our children may not understand everything in the Bible, including the Trinity—but that’s okay. We can trust the Holy Spirit to teach and illumine them about divine truths (1 John 2:27), as He has taught generations of Christians before us throughout church history.

It’s Okay If Our Children Don’t Understand Everything

As parents, our duty is to pray that our children genuinely know and believe in the gospel themselves, before we teach them about the Trinity. As 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us, the unconverted person cannot accept spiritual things, let alone understand them. If our children are truly converted, they have the Holy Spirit to teach and illumine them about divine truths (1 John 2:27).

If we are confident that our children are genuinely converted, but still struggle with the concept of the Trinity, we can pray that the Spirit will work in our children’s hearts and over time, help them to accept His truths and grant them understanding.

As a parent of three, I can thankfully attest to the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s teaching. My children did not struggle with understanding the concept of the Trinity—not because they’re exceptionally smart or because their dad is a theologically-trained pastor, but because they’ve learnt to accept what the Bible says. They never questioned the inexplicable things of the Bible because the Holy Spirit, who indwells them, convinces them of the truth of what God’s Word says, including the doctrine of the Trinity. 

If our children have the Holy Spirit, in His time, they will come to a fuller understanding of not only the Trinity but also other challenging doctrines of the Christian faith.

Let us endeavour to not only teach our children about the Trinity, but to also exemplify the attitude of diligently knowing God through His Word. In time to come, our children may catch that from us, and learn to seek Him by themselves.


Rev. Dr. McCoy Chow is the pastor of Emmaus Evangelical Free Church, having pastored a Mandarin congregation in Singapore and an Australian church in Sydney. He obtained his M.Div and PhD (Theology) degrees from Bob Jones University, USA. He has been blissfully married to Michele for 26 years, and have two adult children and a bonus 11-year-old daughter.
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