Celtic Trinity Symbol
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4. Celtic Trinity Symbol
Revelation 1.4-6

"John, to the province of Asia's seven churches: 'Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the earth's kings.' To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father - to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen." (Revelation 1.4-6)

Seven Spirits

Trinity IconThe phrase "seven spirits before his throne" may indicate "the sevenfold Spirit" or "the Holy Spirit." "The seven spirits" may also refer to the Revelation churches' seven leaders in Asia. Under the Holy Spirit's guidance, John of Patmos sends letters to these churches situated on a curved crescent-shaped line in Turkey. Each one addresses not only their current conditions but also their futures. He commends their strengths and warns them of their failures. These directions and suggestions are appropriate for today's churches and also apply to our personal lives. Like some Early Churches, Christians today can become loveless, immoral, or compromising in their faith. Our Lord clarifies how he feels about these faults.


Trinity SymbolIn this passage, God the Holy Trinity greets John of Patmos, "Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come." The specific phrase "Trinity," though not found in the Bible, is inferred here and in several places where the three persons of Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit, are linked together as at Jesus' Baptism and his Transfiguration. The Latin word "Trinitas" also gives rise to other English words like "tripod" or three-legged stand, "triangle" with three sides, a "tricycle" or a cycle with three wheels, and a "trimaran," a boat with three hulls. This threefold greeting has curious similarities to the "Celtic Trinity symbol" or "Triquetra" and also the "Trinity Knot." ✞

Tinners' Rabbits

The word "Trinity" initially appeared in the writings of the theologian Tertullian (c155-c220 AD) in the early third century. He explained that the word "Trinity" meant the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who were "three persons, one in essence - not one in person." The Trinity symbol also existed as the "three hares." The three hares circular motif appears in ancient sacred sites from the Middle and the Far East to some medieval Devon churches. Known as the "Tinners' Rabbits," or "three hares," it is carved as three hares or rabbits chasing each other in a circle. Each of the "tinnes rabbits' ears" is shared by two rabbits so that only three ears appear. Early occurrences also appear in Chinese Buddhism cave temples from the 6th to 7th Centuries AD.

Remembering God's Name

Tie KnotRevelation 1.4 words describe the Trinity, "who is, and who was, and who is to come." Interestingly, the Complete Jewish Bible translates Exodus 3.14-15 as, "God said to Moshe, 'Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am or will be what I am or will be],' and added, 'Here is what to say to the people of Isra'el: "Ehyeh [I Am or I Will Be] has sent me to you."' God said further to Moshe, 'Say this to the people of Isra'el: "Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai], the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitz'chak and the God of Ya'akov, has sent me to you." This word is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation." The Hebrew "I am" sounds like and may be related to "Lord" and may represent an old version of the Holy Trinity's three persons in one God's name. ✞

Faithful Witness

Jesus FaceJesus Christ, as God's Son, is described as "the faithful witness." A court witness relates what they have seen or heard. A faithful witness's testimony has to be reliable every time. Jesus Christ is also called "the firstborn from the dead." John of Patmos uses the Greek word "prototokos" for 'firstborn' referring to the birth order in a traditional family, where the first male child inherits from his birth father. Jesus Christ is "the ruler of the earth's kings," for he governs and regulates all earthly kings and leaders, sometimes keeping them from doing evil or frustrating their plans, sometimes using them to serve his purposes.

By Divine Providence

ObedienceThe concept of the "firstborn" or "divine providence" is counter to the "divine right of kings," or "God's mandate" brought in by King Henry VIII (1491-1547) when he declared himself supreme head of the Church of England at the Reformation in 1531. Divine right is a religious doctrine of political legitimacy in a monarchy and is often expressed in the phrase "by the Grace of God," attached to the reigning monarch's titles. Interestingly, my Admitting Certificate to the Office of Evangelist on 16th December 1975 was signed by "Donald, by Divine Providence, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and Primate of All England." I remember Lord Coggan as a caring, kind, and godly gentleman in the interview process for Church Army. Revelation 1.5a clearly states, however, "Jesus is the ruler of the earth's kings." Jesus always has the last say!

Saint Patrick's Blessing

360 DegreesThe Celtic churchman Saint Patrick (385-461 AD) became famous for using the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Trinity concept to Irish clan leaders and gave us a Holy Trinity blessing. Patrick held out his arm with a finger pointing straight ahead and then turned around three hundred and sixty degrees. This blessing acknowledged God's supreme control over all of life and of creation everywhere. Irish Celtic churchmen believed that this Holy Trinity blessing applied in every place, every way, and at all times.

Patrick's Grave

Interestingly, Saint Patrick's grave in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, contains the remains of Saint Columba (521-597 AD) and Saint Brigid (451-525 AD). They are in one tomb together, covered by a heavy uncut stone. On an Irish sightseeing holiday, my wife and I visited this especially holy graveyard. An enormous rock lies at the top of the hill in the "Holy and Undivided Trinity Cathedral Church" cemetery in Downpatrick. We were naturally curious as to why such a large stone rested on their remains. We discovered it was necessary to prevent local people and visitors from removing gravesite soil to treat sick people and heal them!

Saint Catherine's Prayer

Saint CatherineOn the other side of the world, Saint Catherine of Sienna (1347-1380 AD) was a mystic and an Italian patron saint with Saint Francis of Assisi (c1181-1226 AD). She wrote a masterful poem and meditation on the Holy Trinity,

"You, O eternal Trinity, are a deep sea,
Into which the more I enter, the more I find,
And the more I see, the more I seek.
I cannot satisfy my soul in your abyss,
For she continually hungers after you, The eternal Trinity,
I desire to see you with the light of your light.
As my heart desires the springs of living water,
So my soul longs to leave the prison of this dark body and see you in truth."

An Encouragement

TrinityDr. Thomas Ken (1637-1711 AD), the former Anglican Bishop of Bath and Wells, adds a special Holy Trinity blessing of his own.

"Blessing and honor, thanksgiving and praise more than we can utter be unto thee,
O most adorable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
by all angels, men, and creatures forever and ever, Amen and Amen.
To God, the Father, who first loved us and made us accepted in the Beloved.
To God, the Son who loved us and washed us from our sins in his blood.
To God, the Holy Ghost, who sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts,
all love and all glory for time and eternity. Amen."

May the Holy Spirit's Blessing remain in all our lives forever!✞

"Celtic Trinity symbol"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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