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One Substance And Three Persons

Bishop Moussa


Our great God is One Substance and Three Persons:

In Him is:


The Divine Identity 

The Divine Wisdom

The Divine Life 

These Three Persons are not separate, but are all One Substance, one God.  It is so easy to say: 


The Divine Identity + the Divine Wisdom + the Divine Life = One God.  Is there any difficulty in this simple equation?  Let us study the matter in detail.


The Meaning of the Word "Substance":
 The word "substance" means the nature that characterizes a being.  For example, there is a divine "substance", which is the nature of divinity: the simple spirit that can do anything, that fills every place, that creates all living things.  There is a human "substance", which is the nature of humanity, that was created in  the   image   of   God   in   beauty, knowledge, freedom, and eternity. It is limited and derives its existence from God.  It has a human soul + a human body + a human spirit + a human mind, and so on.


Therefore, our God has one substance, that is, He is unique and is above all beings because He is their Creator and loves and protects them.


This Divine uniqueness and infinite sublimeness makes our knowledge of Him limited and deficient, even impossible.  For how can the finite encompass the infinite?


As long as we are in the flesh and subject to the limitations of the human mind, it is impossible for us to comprehend God in His depth and His supreme being.  That is why theologians call the Divine nature "the Holy Cloud".  If when we look at the sun, one of the things created by God, we quickly retreat in some sort of blindness, how much more if we look at our great God?


We do not hope to understand the depths of God while we are in the flesh, but rather we wait for eternity when we shall see Him "face to face" after we only saw  Him   "in  a mirror darkly" (1 Cor. 13: 12).


This is what Job said: "And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God." (Job 19: 26).


Therefore, let us approach our God in holiness and humility so that He reveals to us a little through His Spirit that dwells in us.



The Meaning of the Word "Person":
The word "person" in the Greek language is Epo stase and consists of two parts: Epo (under), and Stase (dwelling or standing).  Thus, the person is the characteristic without which the divine substance cannot exist.  For example:

  1. There is the characteristic of being or of having an identity... and can it be reasonable that God should be without it?  God forbid; on the contrary, He definitely exists and is the source of existence.  He gives all beings the potential to exist.  It is therefore impossible for God not to exist or not to have an identity.
  2. The same is true of wisdom or of the mind ...   Is  it  rational  that  God should be without these characteristics?

How then does He give us a mind?

How does He run the universe? ffb

It is unquestionable that God is wise.

  1. The character of life is definitely basic in God, for He is alive, the giver of life and it is impossible that He should be without life.


 Therefore, the great God is simply: a wise living identity or a rational living Being.  Is there a problem with that?  Every human is the same,  so how  can it be otherwise with Him Who created us in His image?


The Names of the Persons:
The problem, therefore, is not that God is one, for all religions believe this and we declare this in our Creed: "We believe in one God", and we say "In the Name", not "In the Names" of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.  The Bible is full of verses that confirm our faith in there being one God, such as: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one!" (Deut. 6: 4), (Ps. 12: 29).  "You believe that there is one God. You do well." (Jas. 2: 19). The problem is not in the Persons, for it has been shown that they are merely characteristics inherent in the one Divine Substance.


The problem is in the naming of the Persons:
 We call the Divine Identity the Father.  The word Father here means the origin, and is not an inherited fatherhood of the flesh, but a spiritual fatherhood that is given equally to all of us.  We all say about the Nile that it is our father and that Egypt is our mother.


We call the Divine Wisdom the Son, for wisdom and the mind are an expression of the identity.  When I say that the mind of a certain individual has solved this problem, this means this individual has solved this problem.


Therefore, the mind of the individual = the individual himself, and the mind of God = God Himself. It is a spiritual sonship, not an inherited one, just like our sonship to the Nile and to Egypt.


We call the Divine Life the Spirit,  for  the  spirit  is  the breath of life.  When the spirit leaves a human being, he dies.  Therefore the spirit of man = man himself.


These are, therefore, merely names that explain to us the crucial meanings that God  "exists in His identity, speaks in His Word, lives in His Spirit.  God is one, and in Him there are three Persons.


The persons are distinctive but not separate:
It is clear that the identity is not wisdom and not life, but is it possible to separate them?  If we did, everything would naturally end.  They are distinct in their work, for the Identity or Self creates, and the Wisdom is incarnated and saves, while the Spirit sanctifies the human being, but the three are One Substance.


Some Comparisons:
1.   Human Life:
 The human being solves a mathematical problem with his mind, but his self works with him.  That is also true of his breathing and movements; thus he writes and calculates.


 When he paints a picture, the burden is on the identity that feels, but does that mean that he has canceled understanding or breathing?  Impossible, for his mind works with his identity on the painting, and his hands also move and draw.


 When a human competes in a running race, the burden is on his breathing, but th 7cc e identity is keen to get the prize, and the intellect thinks of the best way to achieve success.


2.  The Sun:
This is a simple and lovely comparison:  a disc + light + heat = one sun.

The disc is different from the light and from the heat, but the three cannot be separated.

The disc generates light, and heat radiates from it.

The heat streams from the disc, and it is sent to us via the rays of light just as the Holy Spirit emanates from the Father and is sent to us by the Son.


3.  A Mathematical Comparison:
We do not say 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, but 1 x 1 x 1 =1. "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.." (Jn. 14:10);  "I and My Father are one." (Jn. 10: 30).


Let us bow down to the Holy Trinity, our  great God, offering Him worship and asking Him for His effectiveness in our hearts.




||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

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