Is the Trinity to Be Worshiped?

Historic Christians worship the triune God. Consider this part of the Athanasian Creed (probably written in the fifth or sixth century) that is recited in liturgical churches throughout the world on Trinity Sunday:

That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence. For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit still another. But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.1

Of course, there are plenty of religious groups that are antitrinitarian (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, Latter-day Saints, Oneness Pentecostals, Muslims, etc.) and they insist that God is not triune. They contend that the Trinity doctrine is not taught in Scripture, and therefore it is idolatrous to worship the Trinity (one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

In fact, I recently received the following challenge about this topic on social media. Here’s the stated challenge followed by my response. I think this interaction can be helpful to Christians who engage in evangelism and interreligious (or counter-cult) apologetics.

I found your article entitled “Is the Trinity Doctrine Biblical?” to be not only extremely one-sided, but also scripturally inaccurate. If the Trinity doctrine truly is biblical, then the two must be in complete harmony. But are they? See for yourself.

The Trinity doctrine says: “In all things . . . , the Trinity is to be worshipped.”

In the Bible, Jesus said: “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way” (John 4:23, NLT). Nowhere in this verse are the “true worshipers” (Christians) instructed to worship three persons as a single God. Only the Father is “looking” for worship, not the Son or the Holy Spirit.

Greetings. Thanks for your challenge concerning whether the Trinity should be worshiped.

When interpreting Scripture, we must consider all relevant passages on a given topic and then evaluate their harmony. While you’ve cited John 4:23, you haven’t considered other critical passages concerning the proper worship of God.

In fact, in John 5:23 Jesus says: “[T]hat all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”

The ESV Study Bible comments on this passage:

The statement that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father in effect establishes Jesus’ right to be worshiped and also amounts to a claim to deity. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him shows that religions such as Judaism and Islam that consider Jesus merely a great prophet do not represent the truth about God, because they fail to worship and honor Jesus.2

Also, consider Matthew 28:16–17 and John 20:27–28:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted (Matthew 28:16–17).

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27–28)

In both cases Jesus is worshiped by his disciples after his resurrection.

Theologian John Jefferson Davis explains: “In neither instance does Jesus give any indication that such acts of adoration are inappropriate. Contrast Acts 14:11–15, where Paul and Barnabas refuse religious veneration from the crowds in Lystra and Derbe, and Revelation 19:9–10 where the angel refuses worship from John.”3

Further, in Isaiah 45:22–23 we see that only God or Yahweh is to be worshiped:

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.

So only before God will every knee bow and every tongue swear, which constitutes worship. Yet in Philippians 2:9–11 the apostle Paul applies this worship to Jesus:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So the worship that is only to be given to God or Yahweh in the Old Testament is given to Jesus in the New Testament. Therefore, to worship God is to worship both the Father and the Son.

Now how about the Holy Spirit? Is the Spirit worshiped in the New Testament as well? I think the implication is yes. Consider Acts 13:1–13:

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

So while the Christian leaders at Antioch were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke and commissioned Saul and Barnabas. “The Lord” or God who was worshiped includes the Holy Spirit and that’s why the Holy Spirit responded.

Is the Spirit the Lord or God as well? Consider 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

The ESV Study Bible says one viable way of interpreting this difficult and compressed passage is to conclude that the Spirit is also the Lord (and like the Son, the Spirit is also an extension of Yahweh). “Paul is saying that Yahweh in the OT is not just Father and Son, he is also Spirit.”4

Further, in Acts 5:3–4 the Holy Spirit is equated with being God and in various other places in Scripture the Spirit has divine attributes.5 I think it’s therefore reasonable and in accord with sound exegesis to conclude that the apostle Paul and the other leaders of the primitive Jewish-Christian church viewed the Holy Spirit as the Lord and God and worshiped the Spirit along with the Son and Father. Thus the triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is worshiped in the New Testament.

Historic Christianity therefore sees the worship of the Trinity as being harmonious with the Bible.

When Christians through the centuries, including today, have worshiped the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as God in their creeds and church liturgies they were acting in accord with the teaching of the apostles as seen in the New Testament.



1. Athanasian Creed, Christian Reformed Church, accessed February 1, 2024.

2. ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2031.

3. John Jefferson Davis, Handbook of Basic Bible Texts: Every Key Passage for the Study of Doctrine & Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 72.

4. ESV Study Bible, 2227. 5. See Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 135.