Grace, love and fellowship

| John Martens | June 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

We think of the Bible as revelation without always reflecting on the profound content of what God is revealing. As Pope Paul VI’s 1965 “Dei Verbum” says, “Through divine revelation, God chose to show forth and communicate himself and the eternal decisions of his will regarding the salvation of men. That is to say, he chose to share with them those divine treasures which totally transcend the understanding of the human mind.”

We need to reflect on this: Revelation offers us “divine treasures which totally transcend the understanding of the human mind.” Without revelation, we would not have access to the true nature of God, our salvation.

Now we need to reflect on this: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” That is how the Apostle Paul ends his second letter to the Corinthians. It is a beautiful and powerful benediction, which expresses the inexpressible mystery of the one, true God. This was revealed to the Apostle Paul so that humanity could truly know God. In this benediction, Paul reveals the reality of the Trinity as grace, love (agapé) and fellowship (koinonia or “communion”). Paul did not define the Trinity philosophically, yet his experience of God’s love, grace and fellowship guided him to describe the manner in which each person of the Trinity relates to humanity.

Still, the Trinity remains one of “those divine treasures which totally transcend the understanding of the human mind,” requiring God’s revelation. We tend to think of the “threeness” of God as a number, but “it refers to the incomparable fullness of the life of the one God,” who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as Ben Myers, who uses the Twitter handle @FaithTheology, recently tweeted.

The three persons of the Trinity are inseparable in action: When the Son acts, the Father and Holy Spirit are present, just as when the Holy Spirit acts, the Father and the Son are present, and when the Father acts, the Son and the Holy Spirit are present.

Defining God as one and three is not an attempt to complicate the simple divine reality, but rather to bear witness to the revealed nature of God. And the purpose of revelation is simply to draw us into the life of the Triune God, as the Gospel of John reveals: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

God as Trinity transcends the understanding of the human mind, yet reveals to us our divine destiny. God revealed himself so that we might live in the grace, love and communion of God forever.

Martens is a theology professor at the University of St. Thomas and director of the master of arts in theology program at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, both in St. Paul. He attends St. Thomas More in St. Paul.

Sunday, June 11
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity


  • Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9
  • 2 Cor 13:11-13
  • Jn 3:16-18

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Category: Sunday Scriptures