The number three and groups of three occur frequently in Scripture. As the second prime number, three maintains the indivisibility of the number one and introduces a concept of a more-than-one number that is not easily divisible. In the area of relationships, three expands the possibilities greatly. Between A and B is one relationship. Between A, B, and C there are at least seven relationships (AB, AC,BC; A-BC,B-AC,C-AB,ABC).


The number three allows the possibility of a pattern. One time is unique, twice might be a coincidence, but a third repetition begins to look like something intentional. Three often conveys God’s persistence in the Bible. The Lord’s visit to Samuel came about as a threefold call in the night that the young man at first did not understand (1 sam 3). When Balaam journeyed to curse Israel in Numbers 22, God put an angel in front of Balaam’s donkey that only the animal could see. Three times the animal balked at going on and received a severe beating. Then the donkey spoke and reprimanded Balaam severely on God’s behalf! In the New Testament, after denying three times that he knew Jesus, Peter was stunned into shame by a rooster’s call (Matt. 26:69-75; Mk 14:66-72; Lk 22:54-62; Jn 18:15-27). Days later, Jesus three times asked Peter about his love and commanded the fragile disciple to feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15-19). A little later, in Acts 10, Peter had to expand his understanding of who Jesus meant by sheep when three times on a rooftop in Joppa God sent down a large linen sheet filled with animals (some of them considered unclean) and invited Peter to eat. In 2 Corinthians 12:6-10, Paul described the way he prayed three times about a recurring problem he had, until God settled the matter for him: “But he told me: ‘My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.’ So I will brag even more about my weakness in order that Christ’s power will live in me” (v. 9).

As is the case with much of literature, the repetition of three creates emphasis. Ezekiel records God’s words: “Ruins! Ruins! I will turn this place into ruins! it will not be restored until its rightful owner comes. Then I will give it to him” (21:27). When Jonah refused to go to Nineveh with God’s message, he spent three days in the belly of a large fish changing his attitude. Jesus used that event to point to the three days he would spend in the grave after the crucifixion. When Isaiah was given a vision of the throne room in which God’s presence dwells, he heard an angelic chorus speaking repeatedly: “They called to each other and said, ‘Holy, holy,holy, is the Lord of Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory’ ” (Isa. 6:3).


While the term Trinity is not found in the Bible, clearly God has revealed himself to his creation as three-in-one. He is both the divine One and the divine Three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are fully one, yet they are revealed as three distinct persons as they impact humanity. The Trinity is made explicit in John 14-16, where we see that the Father directs and serves the son, the Son serves and obeys the Father, and the Holy Spirit points to the Son. These persons are distinct; they are also one in essence. The great and only God, Maker of heaven and earth, displays himself quite comfortably and effectively as three persons in absolute unity who bring about what we could never accomplish for ourselves: salvation and eternal life.


A cord of three strands is not easily broken–when God is in the CENTER of a marriage the relationship will have lasting strength.

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