We say in church “God in three persons blessed Trinity.” Unfortunately this in no way explains the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The reference comes from the Latin Vulgate translated by Jerome in common use for many years in the Roman Catholic Church. Vulgate refers to the common language of the ordinary Italian at the time.
In that Bible the Godhead is referred to a “personna” meaning person. However, the original New Testament was written in Greek (with a little Aramaic) and the word to describe the God head is “homousias” meaning “the same essence.” While this term is hard to define, personna makes it worse.
What is an Essence
Consider this. You step into an elevator and there is a pleasant fragrance. You surmise that some woman has been in the elevator and leftover is her perfume. You think, “That might be vanilla!” The woman is no longer there but the fragrance lingers on.
Later you arrive at your appointment and voila! You smell that same scent. But this time the receptionist is that woman. It is distinctive now on her. There is no mistake about it. It identifies her.
So it is with God – not three different gods which personna suggests but the exact same essence or scent.
In 325 C.E. the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome at the Council of Nicea determined that indeed God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit were all the same essence, unique to them but yet all the same.
So let us apply this to our understanding – God, Jesus and Holy Spirit are all “ousias” essence, and “homousias” = the same essence.
The 2nd Coming of Jesus
When Jesus returns at the 2nd Coming it is called the “para-ousias” a combination of ‘besides’ and ‘essence.’ The “ousias” or essence of Jesus will be with or beside us. Perhaps only those who know him originally will recognize His scent when he comes?
Like the woman’s perfume in the elevator we recognize immediately – OH – I remember that from before and now recognize Jesus again now that He is here.
For others it may be the Smell of death.
2 Corinthians:2: 14-16 In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
Isn’t it interesting that Paul, writing this book, would refer to fragrance Here? A Greek-speaker as he was would know ‘ousias’ as fragrance; Jewish believers would not know this word.
The smell of Death
The same idea is repeated in our references to the devil, the snake, who seeks us out. Snakes have poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell. I wonder, does that snake smell the death on us, and then attack?
When Jesus comes back many people may not be able to smell the fragrance of the Almighty.