SERIES: Christ at the Center: The Fulcrum of Biblical Covenantalism –
A Summary of the One People in Three Concept
A triad is a group of three. As used by theologians like John Frame it refers to the three-in-oneness of an entity. In Appendix A of his The Doctrine of God, Frame lists many examples, some of the most obvious being:
1. Length, width, height
2. Beginning, middle, end
3. I, you, he
4. Faith, hope, love
5. The world, the flesh and the devil
6. Thought, word, deed
7. Liquid, solid, gas
8. Past, present, future
9. Husband, wife, child
10. Melody, harmony, rhythm
Some of the more interesting ones have to do with Speech-Acts: locution, illocution, perlocution; Ethical perspectives: teleological deontological, existential; and Divine disclosure: revelation, inspiration, illumination. Frame himself has become known for his triad of “Lordship Attributes”: Control, authority and presence; as well as his viewing of things from situational, normative, and existential perspectives. These are all Three-in-one and One-in-three. They reflect the world as it is in both its material and immaterial aspects. All I am calling attention to in this section of the series highlighting the central place of Jesus Christ in Scripture is that it should not seem surprising to anyone that those made in His image would compose a triad of peoples.
I have explained that the Father’s particular connection with Israel and the Son’s particular relation to the Church is set forth quite plainly in the Bible. I can find no similar teaching concerning the relation of the Nations to the Holy Spirit, but since in the age to come “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea” (Isa 11:9), it is feasible at least that a special Spirit – Nations relationship will be revealed in the future. If not, the silence cannot be used as an argument against the Father – Israel relation (Isa. 54:5), or the Christ – Church relation (Eph. 5:25, 29).
Saying all this does not mean that the Father does not bear a loving relationship with the Church, nor that the Son does not bear a loving communion with Israel. We are not forced by any of this to regard the Divine affections as split between competing parties. The Trinity loves and blesses all His elect. The unique relations which at least two of the Divine Persons have toward Israel and the Church respectively should perhaps be seen as expressions of the unique attributes of each hypostasis: paternity, sonship, procession in an extra-trinitarian movement.
The covenantal relation of both groups to Christ is a fundamental fact of salvation and hope. Christ is “set forth” by the Father and the Spirit to bring humanity to the Godhead, and I am suggesting that this will be done with Israel, the Church, and the gathered Nations enjoying special (though not exclusive) relationships with Father, Son and Holy Spirit respectively.
Be that as it may, let us not miss the main point. The Bible reveals that three people-groups from human history will be present in the eschaton. This is assured by the covenants which God has made and shall make with these parties; covenants which He has placed Himself under obligation to fulfill. And God will certainly fulfill His own covenant word in accordance with His truthful and unchanging character. The means by which this three-in-one scheme will be achieved is through the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Israel’s Messiah, the Church’s Head, and the Nations’ Light (another triad).