Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

The Number of Persons in the Godhead, and the Definition of “Person”

We carry on with the next two questions in Chytraeus’ first locus. His answer to the question “What is God?” was already Trinitarian and creedal, and he now expands upon God’s tri-unity. In the second question below he gives a definition of the term persona as it is used in reference to the Godhead. He calls it a substantia, which can sometimes mean ousia, essence, nature, etc., and sometimes a “subsistence,” its meaning here. It has four attributes, three of which are negative.

Quot sunt Personae Divinitatis?

Tres. Pater, Filius, & Spiritus Sanctus.

Quid est Persona?

Persona est substantia individua, intelligens, incommunicabilis, non sustentata in alio.


How many are the Persons of the Godhead?

Three. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 What is a Person?

A Person is an indivisible, understanding, incommunicable subsistence [or “hypostasis”], not upheld [or “preserved”] in another.


By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.