*THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD*
part 1 of 2
The attributes of God are those qualities which are the essential, permanent, and distinguishing features of His person. One satisfying way to classify God’s attributes is to divide His non-moral attributes from His moral attributes. Another possible strategy would be to list all attributes under either “infinity” or “goodness.” A third would be to classify attributes under incommunicable (attributes humans can never share) or communicable (attributes that saved humans can share in glory).
*A. GOD’S NON-MORAL ATTRIBUTES*
*1. GOD IS SPIRIT*
Although God may assume bodily form either temporarily as in the Angel of the Lord or permanently as in Christ, God is not a physical being. God neither needs a body nor can His fullest essence be contained in a body alone. God’s spiritual character also relates to His invisibility.
”God is SPIRIT”Jn4:24.
”And He is the image of the INVISIBLE God”Col1:15.
”Now unto the King, eternal, immortal, INVISIBLE, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever”1Tim1:17.
”and whom no man has seen or can see”1Tim6:16.
*2. GOD IS ETERNAL*
God is infinite in relation to time. He is without beginning and without ending. Eternality means not only that God dwells in unending duration from eternity past to eternity future, it also means He dwells in another dimension outside of time. To God all history appears past. The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev13:8). The justified are as good as already glorified (See past tenses in Rom8:30). All history is also present (Ex3:14; Jn8:58). We view the parade of time from the street corner. God above sees the whole parade past, present and future at once. Eternality seems to be an “infinite” attribute that is at least partially communicable to believers. (See Gen21:33; Ex3:14; Deut.32:40; Job36:26; Ps90:2;93:2;102:27; Is9:6;40:28;41:4;57:15; Micah5:2;Jn1:1;8:58;Rom16:26;1 Tim1:17;6:16;Heb1:10-12;2Pet3:8;Rev1:4,8;10:6;15:7.
”…even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God”Ps90:2.
”Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired”Is40:28.
”For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever”Is57:15.
”Now to the King eternal…”1Tim1:17.
”But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end”Heb1:12.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”Rev1:8.
*3. GOD IS OMNIPRESENT*
God is not only infinite relative to time, He is also infinite relative to space. God is above being subject to time, and He is above being subject to space. He is ever present both in time and in space, and He is greater than either time or space. Nevertheless, the Bible teaches there is a special presence of God in certain places: heaven (Matt6:9;Col3:1;Heb1:3;12:2), the tabernacle (Ex.25:8;40:34-35), the temple (Matt23:21), between the cherubim (Ps80:1), in Jerusalem (Matt5:35), inside believers (Jn14:16-17,23; Rom8:9-10; 1Cor6:19-20), and with the humble (Jam4:6-8; Is57:15). The Bible also teaches there is a special removal of God’s presence from the wicked and proud (Is59:1-2; Hab1:13;2Thess1:8-9; 1Pet3:12). Thus, difficult as it may be to grasp, we must distinguish between a general presence of God in all places and a special presence of God in certain localities. Here are proof-texts for omnipresence: 1Kg8:27;2Chron2:6;6:18;Ps139:7ff.;Prov15:3;Is66:1;Jer23:24;Matt18:20;28:20;Acts17:27;Heb4:13;13:5.
”But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built!”1Kg8:27.
”Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there. If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there”Ps.139:7,8.
”The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good”Prov.15:3.
“Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?”Jer.23:24.
*4. GOD IS IMMUTABLE*
Although God can and does vary His works, He never changes in His attributes. He is infinite in perfection. He cannot change for the better because He is already perfect. He cannot change for the worse, because He would no longer be perfect. This attribute relates to the dependability of God’s promises and predictability in His standards (Mal3:6;Jam1:17; Heb1:12,13:8).
”For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed”Mal3:6.
”but Thou art the same”Heb1:12.
”Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever”Heb13:8.
”Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow”Jam1:17.
*5. GOD IS OMNISCIENT*
God is infinite in knowledge. He knows about inanimate creation (Ps147:4), animals (Matt10:29), Sheol (Job26:6; Ps139:8; Prov15:11), the days in a man’s life (Job14:5; Ps139:16), and hairs on a head (Matt10:30). God knows about the future (Is.41:22;42:9;44:7;46:10;Acts2:23) and about our needs before we discover them (Matt6:8,32). Not only does God know all things actually in the future, He knows all things potentially in the future (1Sam23:11-12;2Sam12:8;2Kings13:19;Ps81:14-15; Jer. 1:5;38:17-20;Ezek3:5-7;Matt11:21-24). God knows the most secret thoughts (1Sam16:7; 1Kings8:39; 2Chron16:9; Job34:22; Ps44:21;139:1,4,23-24;Prov16:2; Jer11:20;17:9-10;20:12;Ezek11:5; Lk16:15; Rom8:27;1Cor3:20). God’s omniscience is supported by many texts (Ps147:5;Is40:13-14, 28;Jn2:24;16:30;21:17;Rom11:33-34;1Jn3:20).
”Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite”Ps147:5.
”His understanding is inscrutable”Is40:28.
”Lord, You know all things”Jn21:17.
”Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”Rom11:33.
”for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things”1Jn3:20.
*6. GOD IS SELF-EXISTENT*
God is self-sufficient. He never has depended upon another for existence. He is the uncaused first cause, infinite in self-sufficiency.
”For just as the Father has life in Himself”Jn5:26.
”I AM WHO I AM”Ex.3:14(also Jn8:58).
”For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things…”Rom11:36.
”the first-born of all creation. For because by Him all things were created”Col1:15,16.
*7. GOD IS OMNIPOTENT*
God is infinite in power. This assumes He will not do anything contrary to His own nature. He cannot deny Himself (2Tim2:13), lie (Num23:19;1Sam15:29; Tit1:2;Heb6:18), be tempted with evil (Jam1:13), change (Jam1:17), or tolerate sin (Hab1:13). See also Gen17:1;18:14;Ex6:3; Job42:2; Ps62:11;Is.9:6;26:4;Jer32:17,27;Matt19:26;28:18;Lk1:37;18:27;Eph3:20; Rev1:8;4:8,11;16:14;17:14;19:6,15-16).
”Is anything too difficult for the LORD?”Gen18:14.
”Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by thine out-stretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee”Jer32:17.
”Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”Jer32:27.
“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”Matt19:26.
”For nothing will be impossible with God”Lk1:37.
”Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”Eph3:20.
”They do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”Rev4:8.
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns”Rev19:6.
”God the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS”Rev19:15,16.
*8. GOD IS UNITED*
See our study on the Trinity.
*B. GOD’S MORAL ATTRIBUTES*
*1. GOD IS HOLY*
Holiness means God is separate and distinct from all His creatures, exalted above them, transcendent. Holiness also means that God is totally separate from all sin and impurity. Some theologians distinguish “majestic holiness” from “ethical holiness.” Majestic holiness means God is separate, transcendent above His creatures. Ethical holiness means He is separate from any sin. Holy is used approximately 699 times in the Old Testament with 111 of these references referring to an attribute of God. The New Testament contains 230 references to holiness. (Approx. 94 of these attribute holiness to the Holy Spirit, 6 to God the Father, and 3 to God the Son.) The last 4 references in this list concerning God’s holiness do not contain the word holy but assert that God the Son is “without sin” (Ex15:11; Lev11:44;19:2;20:26;21:8; Josh24:19; 1Sam2:2;6:20; Job6:10; Ps22:3;30:4;47:8;60:6;89:35;92:15; 97:12;99:3,5,9;145:17; Is5:16;6:3;43:14;47:4;49:7;57:15;Ezek39:7; Hos11:9; Hab1:12-13; Luke1:49; John 17:11; Heb.12:10; 1 Pet1:15-16; Rev4:8;15:4; Mark1:24; Lk4:34; Jn6:69;8:46; 2Cor5:21; Heb.4:15; 1Pet.2:22).
”who is like Thee, majestic in holiness?” Ex15:11.
”and be holy; for I am holy”Lev11:44.
”And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” Is6:3.
”For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy” Is57:15.
“Art Thou not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil.” Hab1:12-13.
”saying, “What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are the Holy One of God!” Mk1:24.
”Holy Father, keep them in Thy name” Jn17:11.
”who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth” 1Pet2:22.
…end of part 1