Studying God’s Word

Proverbs 8:22-31
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15 [166C]
Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost and heard of the workings the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in building up the church. In today’s readings, we delve more deeply into this central mystery of our faith: one God in three Persons.
The opening line in today’s first reading from Proverbs speaks of “the wisdom of God.” The Book of Proverbs belongs to the Jewish wisdom tradition—seven books from the Old Testament that preserve the lessons and insights from the storied past of Israel. Within our own Christian tradition, the church teaches that this “wisdom” that the Old Testament refers to is one of the early images of the Holy Spirit. Today’s reading from Proverbs offers some of the Bible’s most beautiful and vivid images of the Holy Spirit. First we hear that, from the very beginning, the Holy Spirit was with God, “the beginning of his ways,” and that the Holy Spirit was “poured forth” into God’s creation. Second, we learn that from the beginning the Holy Spirit was “beside [God] as his craftsman” and that the Holy Spirit was God’s “delight day by day,” literally “playing” with God. And third, we discover that this Holy Spirit also “found delight in the human race”: ever-present, playful, and delighted with humanity. 
In his Letter to the Romans, Paul speaks of the inner workings of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Paul tells the Roman Christians that believers are “justified” because through Christ “we have peace with God.” He also tells the Christians in Rome that through the Holy Spirit, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” For Paul, peace and love are central aspects to our triune God. In today’s reading, we also hear Paul speak of the three virtues of faith, hope, and love. These virtues are a common theme in many of Paul’s authentic letters. (See, for example, 1 Thes 1:3; 5:8; Gal 5:5-6; 1 Cor 13:13.) It is especially interesting to observe how images associated with these three virtues evolve and change throughout these four letters written over a span of seven years, from 1 Thessalonians in AD 50 to Romans in AD 56). In Romans, Paul speaks of believers as being justified by faith, as able to boast in hope of the glory of God, and as having the love of God poured into our hearts. Each of these human virtues is inextricable linked to the divine attributes of our triune God, all working for the salvation of humanity.
Once again the Gospel reading is taken from the farewell discourse of the Gospel of John (we have heard from John’s farewell discourse for the past five Sundays). In today’s reading, Jesus as Son speaks to the disciples of three of the most important functions of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers. First, the Holy Spirit as “Spirit of truth … will guide you to all truth.” Second, the Holy Spirit will “declare to you the things that are coming.” Third, the Holy Spirit “will glorify me [Jesus Christ].” In this way, Jesus revealed to the disciples how the Father, Son, and Spirit cooperate with each other as three Persons in perfect union and with the intent to bring salvation to all who profess faith in the Son.
Even though it is beyond our human ability to fully know God, the readings for Trinity Sunday reveal certain aspects about our triune God. We learn from Scripture that the divine is not only ever-present, playful, and delighted with us, but that the Trinity is also the essence of peace, love and truth. For these reasons we come together on Trinity Sunday and celebrate what our God has revealed to us about the inner workings of his divine nature.
Dr. Daniel J. Scholz