Why did God wait to reveal the Trinity? Why did he wait to reveal hell and Satan in full?

This is something that has been on my mind as of late. I am a Christian, but certain questions have always plagued me. Why did God wait to reveal the Trinity, and the full story about hell and Satan? I know there are hints and subtle reference in the Old Testament, but we don’t get a full story until the New (I know the word “Trinity” isn’t used in the New, but it’s described there, essentially). He could have told Adam that YHWH existed as Father, Word, and Spirit. He could have told Abraham or Moses about hell and Satan.
I guess the main thought is that that stuff was very important, and God saved it for the “main event,” AKA the New Testament. Since the Word was becoming flesh, he’d use that time to describe the Trinity.
Any thoughts on this subject?

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Maybe you nailed it right there.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law…
Galatians 4:4

And welcome, btw. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I will say this. The question seems to presume a whole lot of things. There will definitely be several different opinions on this.

  1. If you look at the word for hell in the New Testament it is Gehenna. It’s focused on the valley there which plays the role of being a major corpse pileup throughout the Old Testament. The grave, is based on hades. I feel like your question presumes that hell is synonymous with souls of the damned being conscious and alive and tortured/in pain for all eternity. This view is called eternal conscious torment. Many argue that historically, that’s the most recent of the three main views. The other views of hell being universalism and conditional immortality. For CI I suggest the book “the fire that consumes” by Edward Fudge and the 400+ hour worth of interviews, debates and discussion o hell by Chris Date’s podcast “rethinking hell”. Holding to one of those two views may alter the way you think about your question.

  2. Not everyone views satan the same. Some in here don’t even believe he’s an actual being but rather a human condition given personhood for literary sake or symbolism for general sin, disorders and so on.

The majority of Jews seem to not believe in Satan as an evil being. In Judaism there is no satanic angel fall. That’s something that is read into older passages by hyperlinking newer ideas and verses to them.

I personally believe Satan is an actual angel. That one of the satans rose to the top and became the devil in the Bible we know .however, I don’t think his rebellion happened until after he tried to kill Jesus. So I don’t think God waited to reveal any of that stuff.

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Hmm how to answer this without going into a huge essay length response?

Firstly, the early bible record was largely oral until the prophets. Excluding the writings of Moses…of which we dont have originals, the earliest extant virtually complete writing we have is the Isaiah scroll (dated about 150-350b.c.) and if memory serves me correct, its deduced from its language and characters, that Isaiah lived about 700b.c. we know Moses predated Isaiah by centuries …so to say we werent told of the trinity until the new testament isnt accurate (read Isaiah 9:6)

The trinnity doctrine is deduced from both old and new testament writers. As more light was shed on this by successive writers, a better understanding of the doctrine was recorded, however the basis of the doctrine was clearly well known even in old testament times (despite the fundamental jewish faith denials and thats obviouly because they do not believe in Christ as the Messiah, they do not see the New testament as scripture…it should be noted that traditional Jews are not Christian. Also, ironically, Messianic Jews do follow trinitarian belief)

The idea of Satan is illustrated quite directly in Genesis and this same belief is consistently repeated throughout the rest of the bible. Probably the difference is that prophetic parrallelism and metaphorical language seems to increase, or perhaps its better to say, is expanded greatly in the new testament…partcularly in the book of Revelation.

The idea of hell is problematic…religious denominations differ in what they believe hell is.

SDAs for example, do not believe it is a place as such rather (i suppose in simple terms) that hell/hades is a description of eternal death. We do not believe in a literal eternal suffering and torment because if the book of Revelation describes cleansing of the universe from all evil, how can that include evil and evil cohorts remaining alive somewhere in a place of torment for all eternity ?

Having said that, Revelation says there will be no more tears or death or suffering
), its a difficult one because the scapegoat azazel (symbolic of Satan) in the Old Testament Day of Atonement service was cast out into the wilderness so we don’t know for certain what the happened to the goat after it was cast out…it is only assumed via possible jewish legend/tradition that the goat died somewhere (or was cast off a cliff perhaps).

I think theologically, death is hotly debated between TEism and YECism because one says death is spiritual, the other (YEC) says its a separation from God that has both literal physical and spiritual consequences.

One thing is in agreement, the bible clearly states that without God all things die. It is He who makes life possible and only He sustains it.

Good question,
I have just been reading about how the full concept of Trinity opened in the churches in the east and west. Much debates about details, like should we say ‘homoousion’ [same in being/essence] or ‘homoiousios’ [like in substance] or some other close form of the word. If we exclude Arianism and related beliefs, everybody agreed that Jesus came from the Father (not a created being) and was ‘one with the Father’ but it took time before all could agree what would be the right words to express the matter correctly. They did not yet have the term ‘Trinity’, so they speaked about ‘the Holy Triad’ or something like it.

The roots of the concept of ‘Trinity’ can be seen in the Judaism and Hebrew Bible but there was no doctrine about it or any term for it, except that God is one. The Palestinian Targumim explained about the creation story that God, the word of God and the glory of God created the world. In this kind of teaching, in the theophanies within the scriptures, and other teachings there were hints about the manifold nature of the one and only God, visible to those who dived deep into the scriptures.

When Christians started to spread the gospel about Jesus Christ (Yeshua Hamashiach), the main focus of apologists was to make it clear that Christians believe in one God, not multiple gods. Clarifying the exact relationship of Jesus and the Holy Spirit with the Father was not a priority at that point - God is more than we can understand, so it was ok just to use the vague expressions used in the scriptures and the apostolic teaching. The time for more detailed definitions came when the pressure of persecutions was lifted away. When you are possibly being killed soon, it was enough to tell the simplest expression of Christian faith: Jesus is the Lord.


God had this habit of not saying much more than was necessary for the time. We modern types think it would have been wonderful if He’d thrown in some propositional truth, but the Orthodox have it right: God’s theology is experiential, and what isn’t helpful for the experience doesn’t get revealed.

That said, Second Temple Judaism already recognized that there were “two YHWHs”, one Who stayed in heaven and one Who came down on Earth to talk with people face-to-face, and there was a strain of discussion on the status of the Divine Spirit: was He yet a third YHWH within this One Elohim?

This is why the doctrine of the Trinity shows up fast and early in church history; the concepts were already there in Judaism and Jewish scholars who became Christians would have immediately seen that Jesus was the “second YHWH”, the difference being that this time He didn’t make a body for Himself, He got Himself born as one, and that meant that the Holy Spirit was likely another YHWH after all. So when John wrote that the Logos became flesh, educated Jews would have nodded their heads and understood that the Logos was YHWH without a problem – the radical part was that He “became flesh” (troubling to a Jew, utterly abhorrent to a Greek).

It bugs me that people claim that the Trinity is a concept from pagan philosophy when the reality is that it was the heresies that rested on pagan theology!

As for “hell”, that one got tacked on due to the church expanding most rapidly in the East where everything was Hellenized; people brought their mythology into the church and if it seemed to fit it got stuck in. The version of Hell as it is popularly understood just isn’t found in the scriptures, not even in Paul.


The closest was the “Two Powers” teaching in Second Temple Judaism, but I don’t know that this was a technical term or just a rough label.

I had to search for more info about the ‘two powers’ teaching although what you wrote was already illuminating. Here is a link to a page that is informative and gives references:
Two powers in Heaven

Judaism was not uniform in the sense that there were different kind of teachings, as can be seen on the pages of Gospels and Acts. As with other teachings that speculated about the manifold nature of the one God, everything that seemed to give support to Christian teachings was later doomed as heretical or wiped away. That is at least the impression I got from everything I have read.

I have read that the popular mental image of Hell originates from medieval stories and pictures, like those in the book Divina Commedia by Dante. Painters like Hieronymus Bosch gave vivid visual representations of these wild stories. Some speculate that the toxins of ergot (from bread, beer and other food made from grains infested with ergot) may have helped the painters to get hellish visions of the afterlife.

It should also be remembered that the tales told during the medieval period were quite violent and included often torture and other mistreatment of people - the sanitized versions that can be told to our kids are late modifications. The tales typically included a lesson, do not act like this or something bad happens, or stay faithful and everything will turn well. The horrible versions of afterlife and Hell fit well to the scope of medieval stories, especially if we think that there was an attempt to paint the afterlife of the doomed ones as horrible as possible to give the teaching that you should be obedient to the church and socially acceptable manners, or…

The popular image of Hell is very, very far from what the biblical scriptures teach. It resembles more descriptions of Tartarus in the Hellenistic myths than anything told in the biblical scriptures.

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If you go back and read my response to this question, you will recall i suggested reading Isaiah 9:6. There is a significantly good reason for this…

firstly this entire chapter in Isaiah is about the coming Messiah (that is scholarly fact…there is unanimous agreement about this and it would be academically pointless for anyone to attempt to dispute the meaning of this passage of scripture).

Ok so now…what does it say

Isaiah 9:6

6For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given,
and the government will be upon His shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The point is, we know that Isaiah existed at approx 700 B.C and he clearly prophesied of the nature of God at least 700 years before Christ came to this earth. It is very easy to then acknowledge that the Israelites clearly understood this doctrine even before their captivity in Babylon and i would suggest that we can confidently make the claim they knew the doctrine almost certainly back as far as the time of Moses.

Some may ask why the time of Moses? Well that is quite simple, from biblical accounts, we know that during the time of Moses, the Israelites were given in written form almost all of their doctrines concerning their title as the chosen people of God, the law, the sanctuary service… coming out of Egypt into the Sinai desert was not the fastest way to Canaan. Scholars are quite sure that the reason God took them into the desert was to re teach doctrines lost through hundreds of years of corruption from Egyptian culture. They had to unlearn all of this and return to their roots.

I think the irony of the council of Nicea was that it too was a return to the roots of the doctrine of the trinity…it was the corruption of Arianism that caused this issue to come to a head and the outcome was quite decisive in favour of the traditional doctrine of the trinity. They studied the writings and found that indeed the 3 in 1 God was biblical.

Thank you for the responses on this, guys. They has been very helpful. On top of everything that has been said, an Orthodox Jewish friend of mine says that Hellenistic Jews were already starting to discuss and write about concepts that seem trinitarian (or at least binitarian). To me, the NT does not at all teach anything polytheistic. YHWH exists as three persons, but He’s still one YHWH.

I like that. It fits nicely with experiencing his Fatherly interventions, the fun ones are more fun, but the hard ones are good too.

Aha – I thought I recalled Heiser talking about it! Nice summary piece there; I notice the reading list has some items that are on my reading list!

A rabbi I met at St. Louis University admitted it; he thought it crippled Jewish thought unnecessarily.

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It’s interesting that he even knows about it, moreso that he acknowledges it!

Oh yeah, this particular friend is interesting. He’s a convert, and he’s Modern Orthodox. He is the ultimate academic, studying all camps within basically all academic subjects, especially the social sciences. Don’t know if he studies math or physics, but he’s basically into everything else you could think of. Brilliant guy, speaks several languages as well, I believe.

I am a Trinitarian Christian but it seems likely that I do not believe in the same things in regards to these issues.

I believe in the doctrine of the Trinity which is that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons but only one God. But that doesn’t mean I believe God is three or a Trinity. That is a later distortion which I do not accept. I think it more likely that God is infinite and the three is only the limit of our knowledge of God.

I believe in the adversary (Satan) in the story of Genesis but not in the rebellion in heaven taught by the book of Enoch because angels wanted to have sex with human women giving birth to fairy tale giants. I think it more likely that the story in Genesis 6 is about the question of who did the sons of Adam marry and how their children became men of renown – “giants among men” in that sense, leaders of human civilization. And I think it more likely that angels simply do what they are told by God including the adversary who was given that role by God Himself.

So… I don’t see that God waited to reveal anything – nothing which wouldn’t take an eternity to reveal anyway. God is infinite and learning all there is to know about Him will take forever and it is part of the eternal life promised to us.

As an Orthodox lecturer I listened to recently said, the Trinity is not a description of What/Who God is, it is a summation of what has been revealed.
I love the way the Orthodox so often remind us of the limitations of theology!


The Trinity does not come into relevance until the birth of Christ. It is a theological answer to God being in two places at once. It has virtually no other practical use other thn to confirm the divinity of Christ and insure that salvation comes from God not man.

Judaism has no concept of Heaven and Hell. The dead go to Sheol which is neither good, nor bad, just limbo. Christ Himself basically introduced the idea of the Devi as Lord of the demonic forces that were already recognised, albeit within a certain amount of myth and misunderstanding illness. Hell becomes the antipathy of being with God in Heaven

Why wait?

I think any sort of question involving time becomes academic if you accept the concept of God being outside of it.

God remains beyond our comprehension so any attempt to define or box Him in becomes futile at best.

Haven and Hell are basically carrot & stick for people who respond to that sort of stimulus.
Neither should be necessary. Correct behaviour should be intrinsically right, not subject to reward or punishment.(IMHO)


God is in two places at once on the Old Testament every time God came down and talked to people – that’s where the Two Powers doctrine came from: a YHWH who was always in heaven and a YHWH who walked on the earth as man.

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I like the typo – don’t correct it. :slightly_smiling_face: