Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
1. General aspects of the apostolic doctrine. -The object of this article is to investigate the doctrine of God as it is presented in the Christian writings of the apostolic period; but, in view of the scope of this Dictionary, the teaching of our Lord Himself and the witness of the Gospel records will be somewhat lightly passed over.
The existence of God is universally assumed in the NT. The arguments that can be adduced, e.g. from the consent of mankind and from the existence of the world, are only intended to show that the belief that God is is reasonable, not to prove it as a mathematical proposition. But undoubtedly the fact that the doctrine is by such arguments shown to be probable will lead man to receive with more readiness the revealed doctrine of God’s existence. The biblical writers, however, did not, in either dispensation, concern themselves to prove a fact which no one doubted. Psalms 10:4; Psalms 14:1; Psalms 53:1 are no exceptions to this general consent. The ungodly man (the ‘fool’) who said in his heart ‘There is no God,’ did not deny God’s existence, but His interfering in the affairs of men. ‘The wicked … saith, He will not require it. All his thoughts are, There is no God.’
The apostolic doctrine of God as we have it in Acts, Revelation, and the Epistles does not come direct from the OT. It presupposes a teaching of our Lord. At first this teaching was in the main handed down by the oral method, and the Epistles, or at least most of them, do not defend on any of our four Gospels, though it is quite likely that there were some written evangelic records in existence even when the earliest of the Epistles were written ( Luke 1:1). St. Paul, writing on certain points of Christian teaching, tells us that he handed on what he himself had received ( 1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Corinthians 15:3; the expression ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίον in 1 Corinthians 11:23 probably does not mean ‘from the Lord without human mediation’: it was tradition handed on from Christ).
In approaching the apostolic writings we must bear in mind two points. ( a ) The NT was not intended to be a compendium of theology. The Epistles, for example, were written for the immediate needs of the time and place, doubtless without any thought arising in their writers’ minds of their being in the future canonical writings of a new volume of the Scriptures. We should not, therefore, a priori expect to find in them any formulated statement of doctrine. ( b ) There is a considerable difference between the Epistles on the one hand and the Gospels on the other in the presentation of doctrine. The Gospels are narratives of historical events, and in them, therefore, the gradual unfolding of Jesus’ teaching, as in fact it was given, is duly set forth. This is especially the ease with the Synoptics, though even in the Fourth Gospel there is a certain amount of progress of doctrine. At the first the doctrines taught by oar Lord are set forth, so to speak, in their infancy, adapted to the comprehension of beginners; and they are gradually unfolded as the Gospel story proceeds. In the Epistles, on the other hand, the writer treats his correspondents as convinced Christians, and therefore, though he instructs them, he plunges at once in medias res . There is no progress of doctrine from the first chapter of an Epistle to the last.
The question we have to ask ourselves is, What did the apostles teach about God? Or rather, in order not to beg any question (since it is obviously impossible in this article to discuss problems of date and authorship), we must ask, What do the books of the NT teach about God?
2. Christian development of the OT doctrine of God. -It is an essential doctrine of the NT writers that a new and fuller revelation was given by the Incarnation and by the fresh outpouring of the Holy Ghost.
( a ) The revelation by the Incarnate .-That the Son had made a revelation of old by the part which He took in creation (see below, 6 ( e )) is not explicitly stated, but is implied by Romans 1:20, which says that creation is a revelation of God’s everlasting power and Divinity (θειότης, ‘Divine nature and properties,’ whereas θεότης is ‘Divine Personality’ [see Sanday-Headlam, International Critical Commentary , 1902, in loc .]). But the Incarnate reveals God in a fuller sense than ever before: ‘God … hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in [his] Son’ ( Hebrews 1:1 f.). The revelation by the Incarnation is a conception specially emphasized in the Johannine writings, not only in the Gospel, but also in the First Epistle and the Apocalypse. The Prologue of the Gospel says that ‘God only begotten’ (or ‘the only begotten Son’ [see below, 6 ( c )]) ‘which is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared him’ ( John 1:18). ‘What he hath seen and heard, of that he beareth witness’ ( John 3:32). The revelation of the Son is the revelation of the Father ( John 14:7-11). The ‘life which was with the Father’ was manifested and gave a message about God ( 1 John 1:2-5). The revelation of eternal life which is in the Son was made when God bore witness concerning His Son ( 1 John 5:10 f.). This new and fuller revelation is that with which the Apocalyptist begins his book ( Revelation 1:1): ‘the revelation (apocalypse) of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to shew unto his servants’ (see Swete, Com. in loc. , who gives good reasons fox thinking that the revelation mode by Jesus, rather than that made about Jesus, is meant; cf. Galatians 1:12).
We find the same teaching, though in a somewhat less explicit form, in the Pauline Epistles. Christ is ‘the power of God and the wisdom of God … made unto us wisdom from God’ ( 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30). In Him ‘are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden’ ( Colossians 2:3). In the new ‘dispensation of the fulness of the times’ God has ‘made known unto us the mystery of his will’ ( Ephesians 1:9 f., a passage where ‘mystery’ specially conveys the idea of a hidden thing revealed , rather than one kept secret). To St. Paul personally Jesus made a revelation ( Galatians 1:12; see above). That our Lord made a new revelation is also stated in the Synoptics: ‘Neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal [him]’ ( Matthew 11:27; cf. Luke 10:22). So in Acts, Jesus bids the disciples ‘wait for the promise of the Father, which [said he] ye heard from me’ ( Acts 1:4); and St. Peter ( Acts 10:36) calls the new revelation ‘the word which [God] sent unto the children of Israel, preaching good tidings of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all).’ Sanday ( Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) ii. 212) points out that the passages about our Lord being the ‘image’ of God, and ‘in the form of God’ (see below, 6 ( c )), express the fact that He brings to men’s minds the essential nature of God.
( b ) The revelation by the Holy Ghost .-The new revelation of the nature of God by the full outpouring of the Spirit, in a manner unknown even in the old days of prophetical inspiration, is also, as far as the promise is concerned, a favourite Johannine conception (see especially John 14-16). The promise is, however, alluded to by St. Luke ( Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4), and its fulfilment is dwelt on at great length in Acts, which may be called the ‘Gospel of the Holy Spirit,’ and in which the action of the Third Person in guiding the disciples into all the truth ( John 16:13) is described very fully. Jesus gave commandment to the apostles ‘through the Holy Ghost’ ( Acts 1:2). The guidance of the Spirit is described, e.g. , in Acts 2:17 f.; Acts 8:9; Acts 10:19; Acts 11:12; Acts 13:2; Acts 16:6 f.; Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11, though these passages speak rather of the practical loading of the disciples in the conduct of life rather than of the teaching of the truth. St. Paul says that ‘the things which eye saw not’ (he seems to be paraphrasing Isaiah 64:4) have been revealed by God ‘unto us ’ (ἡμῖν is emphatic here) ‘through the Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God’ ( 1 Corinthians 2:9 f.; so 1 Corinthians 2:13). It is the Holy Spirit only who can teach us that ‘Jesus is Lord’ ( 1 Corinthians 12:3).
3. Attributes of God in the NT .-Before considering the great advance on the OT ideas made by the Christian doctrine of God, we may notice certain Divine attributes which are emphasized in the NT, but which are also found in the OT.
( a ) God is Almighty .-The word used in the NT (as in the Eastern creeds) for this attribute is παντοκράτωρ, chiefly in the Apocalypse ( Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:7; Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:6; Revelation 19:15; Revelation 21:22), but also in 2 Corinthians 6:18, as it is used in the Septuagint, where it renders ṣ e bhâ’ôth and Shaddai . We notice in each instance in Rev. how emphatically it stands at the end: ‘the Lord God, which is and which was … the Almighty,’ ‘the Lord God, the Almighty’; not ‘Lord God Almighty’ as Authorized Version(the Authorized Versiontranslates the word by ‘omnipotent’ in Revelation 19:6 only). The word omnipotens occurs in the earliest Roman creed.-But what does ‘Almighty’ imply? To the modern reader it is apt to convey the idea of omnipotence, as if it were παντοδύναμος, i.e. ‘able to do everything,’ on account of the Latin translation omnipotens . So Augustine understands the word in the Creed ( de Symbolo ad Catechumenos , 2 [ed. Ben. vi. 547]), explaining it, ‘He does whatever He wills’ (Swete, Apostles’ Creed , p. 22). Undoubtedly God is omnipotent, though this does not mean that He can act against the conditions which He Himself makes-He cannot sin, He cannot lie ( Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18; so 2 Timothy 2:13 of our Lord). As Augustine says ( loc. cit .), if He could do these things He would not be omnipotent. But this is not the meaning of ‘Almighty.’ As we see from the form of the Greek word (παντοκράτωρ), and as is suggested by the Hebrew words which it renders, it denotes sovereignty over the world. It is equivalent to the ‘Lord of heaven and earth’ of Acts 17:24, Matthew 11:25. Everything is under God’s sway (see Pearson, Expos. of the Creed , articlei., especially notes 37-43). The Syriac bears out this interpretation by rendering the word aḥîdh kûl , i.e. ‘holding ( or governing) all.’
( b ) God is ‘living.’ -He has ‘life in himself’ ( John 5:26). He is ‘the living God’ ( Revelation 7:2), ‘that liveth for ever and ever’ ( Revelation 10:6); and therefore is eternal, the ‘Alpha and Omega, which is and which was and which is to come’ (ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος), ‘the beginning and the end’ ( Revelation 1:8; Revelation 21:6; cf. Revelation 16:5)-these words are here (but not in Revelation 22:13; see below, 6 ( e )) rightly ascribed by Swete to the Eternal Father. ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day’ ( 2 Peter 3:8; cf. Psalms 90:4; see also Romans 1:20).
( c ) God is omniscient .-He knows the hearts of all men (καρδιογνῶστα πάντων, Acts 1:24; Acts 15:8.; The prayer in Acts 1:24 is perhaps addressed to our Lord); He knows all things ( 1 John 3:20). St. Paul eloquently exclaims: ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!’ ( Romans 11:33), and ascribes glory ‘to the only wise God,’ i.e. to God who alone is wise ( Romans 16:27; the same phrase occurs in some Manuscriptsof 1 Timothy 1:17, but ‘wise’ is there an interpolation). Even the uninstructed Cornelius recognizes that we are in God’s sight ( Acts 10:33). Such sayings cannot but be a reminiscence of our Lord’s teaching that ‘not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God’ ( Luke 12:6). They are summed up in the expressions ‘God is light’ ( 1 John 1:5) and ‘God is true’ (‘This is the true God,’ 1 John 5:20; for the reference here see A. E. Brooke’s note in International Critical Commentary , 1912, in loc .), God ‘cannot lie’; see above ( a ).
( d ) God is transcendent .-This Divine attribute had been exaggerated by the Jews just before the Christian era, but it is nevertheless dwelt on in the apostolic writings. The ‘things of God’ are indeed ‘deep,’ so that man cannot, though the Spirit can, ‘search them out’ ( 1 Corinthians 2:10 f.; cf. Job 11:7). God, who ‘only hath-immortality,’ dwells ‘in light unapproachable, whom no man hath seen nor can see’ ( 1 Timothy 6:16; cf. John 1:18, 1 John 4:12; 1 John 4:20). He is spirit ( John 4:24 Revised Version margin) and invisible ( Colossians 1:15, 1 Timothy 1:17, Hebrews 11:27), unchangeable ( Hebrews 6:17 f.,; cf. Malachi 3:6, Psalms 102:27), infinite, omnipresent ( Acts 7:48; Acts 17:24; Acts 17:27; cf. Psalms 139:7 ff.) These statements do not mean, however, that God is altogether unknowable by men; for God in His condescension reveals Himself to man (see above, 2).
( e ) God is immanent .-That God dwells in man is stated several times. ‘God is in you indeed,’ says St. Paul ( 1 Corinthians 14:25 Authorized Versionand Revised Version margin; Revised Versiontext has ‘among’; the Gr. is ἐν ὑμῖν). ‘There is one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all’ ( Ephesians 4:8). ‘God abideth in us’ ( 1 John 4:12). His ‘tabernacle is with men’ and He ‘shall dwell with them … and be with them’ ( Revelation 21:3). For the immanence of the Son and the Spirit in man see below, 6 ( e ) and 7 .
( f ) Moral attributes .-God is love ( 1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16); love is His very nature and being, and therefore love is the foundation of all true religion; love is of God (v. 7; see Brooke’s notes on these verses [ op. cit. ]). The love of God is specially emphasized by Christianity; cf. also John 3:16 (the kernel of the gospel message), Romans 5:5; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:31-39, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Colossians 1:13 (‘the Son of his love’), 2 Thessalonians 3:5, 1 Timothy 2:4 (desire of universal salvation), 1 John 2:5; 1 John 3:1. The ‘love of God’ may be God’s love for us, or our love for God; but the latter, as St. John teaches (see above), comes from the former.
God is holy . This attribute is emphasized both in the OT ( Leviticus 11:44) and in the NT ( 1 Peter 1:15 f.). The four living creatures cry ‘Holy (ἄγιος), holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty’ ( Revelation 4:8; cf. Isaiah 6:3). ‘Thou only art holy’ (ὅσιος)*[Note: The word ὅσιος (equivalent to the Latin pius) ‘represents God as fulfilling His relation to His creatures, even as He requires them to fulfil theirs towards Himself’ (Swete, Com. in loc.).]cry the conquerors ( Revelation 15:4; cf. Revelation 16:5)-a striking comment on the ascription of holiness to our Lord and to the Spirit (below, 6 ( e ), 7 ). Brooke ( op. cit. ) thinks it unnecessary to determine whether ‘the Holy One’ in 1 John 2:20 is the Father or the Son.
God is just ; He has no respect of persons ( Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:8, 1 Peter 1:17; cf. Deuteronomy 10:17).
He is righteous (for the meaning of this see below, 6 ( e )); St. Paul not only speaks of the ‘righteous judgment’ (δικαιοκρισία, Romans 2:5; cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:5), but of the ‘righteousness’ (δικαιοσύνη), of God ( Romans 1:17; Romans 3:22; Romans 10:3). On this phrase, δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, see an elaborate investigation by Sanday in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) ii. 209-212; it was familiar to the Jews, and to them meant the personal righteousness of God. Many commentators take it, as used in the NT, to mean the righteous state of man, of which God is the giver. But in either case it predicates righteousness of God. In Philippians 3:9 we find τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην, ‘the righteousness which is of God.’ The Apocalyptist also emphasizes this attribute ( Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:5; Revelation 16:7).
God is merciful ( Romans 11:32; Romans 15:9, etc,). This is really the same attribute as love; but it is not the same as the Musulman idea of the mercy of God, which can scarcely be distinguished from indifference. Love and justice combined produce the true Divine mercy.
He is the God of hope ( Romans 15:13). A despairing pessimism is rebellion against the good God who makes us to hope, and who promises to overthrow Satan.
He is the God of peace ( Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 3:16, Hebrews 13:20).
( g ) God is Creator and Saviour .-That God the Father is the Maker of the world is again and again insisted on ( Acts 14:15-17; Acts 17:25-29, Romans 1:20-25; Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 3:9, Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 3:9 [cf. Ephesians 3:14 f.] Colossians 1:15 f, Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 4:4; Hebrews 12:9 [the spirits of men], James 1:17 f. [‘the lights,’ the heavenly bodies], Revelation 4:11; Revelation 10:6). Man was made in God’s likeness ( 1 Corinthians 11:7, James 3:9). That God made the world was also much emphasized by the sub-apostolic writers (Swete, Apostles’ Creed , p. 20), in opposition to the Gnostic conception of a Demiurge, an inferior God who was Creator, and who was more or less in opposition to the supreme God. (For God the Father as Saviour , see below, 6 ( e ); for the part of the Son and of the Spirit in creation see below, 6 ( e ), 7).
4. The Fatherhood of God .-We now pass to the great developments made by the Christian doctrine of God. In the OT it had been freely taught that God was Father; but the conception scarcely went further than a fatherhood of the chosen people. ‘ Israel is ray son, my first born.… Let my son go that he may serve me,’ is Jahweh’s message to Pharaoh ( Exodus 4:22). The Deuteronomist goes no farther ( Exodus 8:5, Exodus 32:6, and especially Exodus 14:1 f.: ‘Ye are the children of the Lord your God … for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth’). The restrictive words of Psalms 103:13 are very significant: ‘Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him .’ The prophets made no advance on this. To Judah and Israel God says: ‘Ye shall call me, My father’ ( Jeremiah 3:19; cf. Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 30:1; Isaiah 30:9, Malachi 1:6); ‘When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt’ ( Hosea 11:1).
The NT greatly develops this doctrine. It teaches that God is Father of all men, though in a special sense Father of believers. But, above all, God is the Father of our Lord in a sense quite unique.
( a ) The Father of our Lord .-Jesus ever makes a difference between the Father’s relationship to Himself and to the rest of the world. The striking words of the twelve-year-old Child; ‘Wist ye not that I must be in my Father’s house?’ (or ‘about my Father’s business,’ ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου, Luke 2:49) are the first indication of this. Jesus speaks of ‘my Father’ and ‘the Father’ and ‘your Father,’ but never of ‘our Father,’ though He teaches the disciples to use these words ( Matthew 6:9). In John 20:17 the Evangelist represents our Lord as using what would otherwise be an unintelligible periphrasis: ‘My Father and your Father, and my God and your God.’ This same distinction is kept up in the rest of the NT. Thus in Romans 8:3 St. Paul calls our Lord God’s ‘own Son’ (τὸν ἑαυτοῦ υἱόν), in a manner in which we could not be designated ‘sons’; we can only be ‘conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren’ ( Romans 8:29), while Jesus is ‘his own Son’ (τοῦ ἰδίου υἱοῦ, Romans 8:32; cf. Colossians 1:13 : ‘Son of his love’). St. Paul exhibits a fondness for the phrase ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ ( Romans 15:16, 2 Corinthians 1:3, Ephesians 1:3; cf. Colossians 1:3 ‘God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’), which is re echoed by St. Peter ( 1 Peter 1:3), and in the Apocalypse ( Revelation 1:8 ‘his God and Father’). (On the other hand, in Ephesians 1:17 we read: ‘the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory.’) In Revelation 3:21 our Lord is speaking, and uses the words ‘my Father.’ This distinction is at the root of the Johannine title ‘Only-begotten,’ applied to our Lord ( 1 John 4:9, John 1:14; John 1:18; John 3:16; John 3:18). See Adoption, Only-Begotten.
( b ) The Father of all men .-This relationship is expressly affirmed by St. Paul in his speech at Athens ( Acts 17:28 f.). God has created us; ‘in him we live and move and have our being, as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.’ And he endorses this heathen saying by continuing: ‘Being then the offspring of God,’ etc. ( Acts 17:29). We may compare our Lord’s saying: ‘that ye may be sons of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust’ ( Matthew 5:45); ‘he is kind towards the unthankful and evil’ ( Luke 6:35). The same thought seems to be at the root of St. Paul’s saying that all fatherhood (πᾶσα πατριά) in heaven and earth is named from God the Father ( Ephesians 3:14 ff; see Family). ‘There is one God and Father of all , who is over all, and through all, and in all’ ( Ephesians 4:6). ‘To us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things and we unto him’ ( 1 Corinthians 8:6). In several passages in the Epistles where we read ‘our Father’ ( Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 4:20, etc.), there is no special restriction to God’s relationship to Christians, such as we find with regard to the chosen people in the OT passages. St. James speaks of ‘the Father of lights’ ( James 1:17), i.e. of the created heavenly bodies. And the writer of Hebrews refers to a universal Fatherhood due to creation. As contrasted with the ‘fathers of our flesh,’ God is ‘the Father of spirits’-the Author not only of our spiritual being but of all spiritual beings ( Hebrews 12:9; see Westcott, Com. in loc .).
( c ) The Father of believers .-Side by side with the doctrine of universal fatherhood is the special relationship of God to believers, not only as Saviour ( 1 Timothy 4:10) but as Father. Here the apostolic writers ascribe to Christians the prerogatives of the chosen people in the old covenant. This special fatherhood is brought out in the passages where St. Paul applies the metaphor of adoption to Christians ( Romans 8:14-17; Romans 8:23, Galatians 4:5 f., Ephesians 1:5; see Adoption; cf. also 1 Peter 1:17, 1 John 3:1 f, John 1:12, etc.).
( d ) ‘The Father’ in general .-In many passages we find the absolute expression ‘the Father,’ comprehending any or all of the above meanings, as, e.g. , 1 Corinthians 8:6, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 5:20 (‘give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father’), Colossians 1:12, James 3:9 Revised Version(‘the Lord and Father’), 1 John 2:13; 1 John 2:15 f.; and 2 Peter 1:17, 1 John 1:2, where there is a special reference to our Lord.
The word ‘Father’ stands at the head of most Christian creeds, but it is probable that it was not originally in that of Rome. The Creed of Marcellus of Ancyra, an early Western specimen, though coming from an Eastern bishop, begins; ‘I believe in Almighty (παντοκράτορα) God’ (Epiphanius, Haer . lxxii. 3). The language of Tertullian ( de Virg. Vel . 1-one of his later works) leads us to suppose that the creed used by him: began similarly; he speaks of ‘the rule of believing in one only God omnipotent, the Creator of the universe, and His Son Jesus Christ.’ But thenceforward it appears in the Western creeds (see Swete, Apostles, Creed , p. 19f.).
5. The Holy Trinity
( a ) The technical terms by which the Christian Church has expressed the faith that it derived from the Scriptures were not invented for a considerable time after the apostolic period. Thus no one would expect to find the terms ‘Trinity’ and ‘Person’ in the NT. It is usually said that the word ‘Trinity,’ referred to God, was first used by Theophilus of Antioch ( ad Autol . ii. 15; c. [Note: . circa, about.]a.d. 180), as far as extant Christian literature is concerned. This is true, but the context shows that it was not then an accepted technical term. The first three days of creation are said to be ‘types of the trinity (τριάς), God, and His Word, and His Wisdom.’ Theophilus goes on to say that the fourth day finds its antitype in man, who is in need of light, so that we get the series: God, the Word, Wisdom, Man. Swete justly remarks that an author who could thus ‘convert the Divine trinity into a quaternion in which Man is the fourth term, must have been still far from thinking of the Trinity as later writers thought’ ( Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church , p. 47). Or we should perhaps rather put it that Theophilus did not use the word ‘Trinity’ in the technical sense which immediately afterwards is found; as when Tertullian speaks of ‘the Trinity of the one God-head, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’ ( de Pudic. 21; cf. adv. Prax . 2), and as when Hippolytus says: ‘Through this Trinity the Father is glorified, for the Father willed, the Son did, the Spirit manifested’ (circa, about Noet . 14).
The words which we render ‘Person’ (ὑπόστασις, πρόσωπον, persona ) are of a still later date, and at first exhibited a remarkable fluidity of signification. Thus ὑπόστασις was used at one time to denote what is common to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what we should call the Divine ‘substance,’ at another it was used to distinguish between the Three; so that in one sense there is one ὑπόστασις in the Holy Trinity, in the other there are three. With regard to the word ‘Person,’ the student must necessarily be always on his guard against the supposition that ‘Person’ means ‘individual,’ as when we say that three different men are three ‘persons’; or that ‘Trinity’ involves tritheism, or three Gods. These technical expressions are but methods of denoting the teaching found in the NT that there are distinctions in the Godhead, and that, while God is One, yet He is not a mere Monad. These technical terms are not found in the apostolic or sub-apostolic writers; with regard to the second of them, it may be remembered that the idea of personality was hardly formulated in any sense till shortly before the Christian era; and its application to theology came in a good deal later.
( b ) The name ‘God’ used absolutely .-In considering the distinctions in the Godhead taught by the NT, it must be borne in mind that, when the name ‘God’ is used absolutely , without pronoun or epithet, it is never, with one possible exception, applied explicitly to the Son as such or to the Spirit as such. It is, indeed, most frequently used without any special reference to the Person. But it is often, when standing absolutely, used in contrast to the Son or to the Spirit, and then the Father is intended. Instances of this are too numerous to mention; but we may take as examples Acts 2:22 (‘Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved or God … by mighty works … which God did by him’), Acts 13:30 (‘God raised him from the dead.’), Romans 2:16 (‘God shall judge the secrets of men … by Jesus Christ’), Ephesians 4:30 (‘the Holy Spirit of God’). This is sometimes the case also when ‘God’ is not used absolutely, as in Acts 3:13 (‘the God of our fathers hath glorified his Servant [παῖδα] Jesus’), Acts 5:30 (‘the God of our fathers raised up Jesus’), Acts 22:14, Romans 1:8 (‘I thank my God through Jesus Christ’). In Revelation 3:2; Revelation 3:12 our Lord calls the Father ‘my God’; compare the similar Pauline phrases quoted above, 4 ( a ). See below, 8 .
The one possible exception is Acts 20:28 ‘to feed the church of God which he purchased with his own blood.’ This is the reading of א B and other weighty authorities (followed by Authorized Versionand Revised Versiontext), but ACDE read ‘the Lord’ instead of ‘God’. The balance of authority is in favour of the reading ‘God,’ and it is decidedly more difficult than the other variant. At first sight, to say the least, the word ‘God’ (if read) must refer to our Lord, and yet this usage is unlike that of the NT elsewhere, and a scribe finding θεοῦ would readily alter it to κυρίου because of the strangeness of the expression. Thus both because of superior attestation, and because a difficult rending is ordinarily to be preferred to an easier one, θεοῦ has usually been accepted here (so Westcott-Hort’s Greek Testament, ii  Appendix, p. 98). To get rid of the strangeness of the expression, it has been suggested that the reference is to the Father, and that ‘his own blood’ means ‘the blood which is his own,” i.e. the blood of Christ who is essentially one with the Father; but this seems to be a rather forced explanation. A somewhat more probable conjecture (that of Hort) is that there is here an early corruption, and that the original had ‘with the blood of his own Son,’ The beat reading of the last words of the verse, supported by overwhelming authority, is διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου: and this conjecture supposes that υἱοῦ has dropped out at the end (cf. Romans 8:32). However this may be, it would seem that the verse as we hate it in א B was so read by Ignatius, and gave rise to his expression ‘the blood of God’ ( Ephesians 1 )-a very early Instance of what later writers called the communicatio idiomatum , by which the properties of one or our Lord’s natures are referred to when the other nature is in question, because of the unity of His Person (see 6 ( b )). Another early instance is perhaps to be found in Clement of Rome ( Cor . ii. 1): τὰ παθήματα αὐτοῦ (‘his sufferings’), θωοῦ having just preceded; but the reading, though accepted by Lightfoot, is not quite certain. On these two passages see Lightfoot, Apostolic Father , ‘S. Ignatius and S. Polycarp2,’ 1889, ii. 29f., S. Clement of Rome,’ 1890, ii 13-16. Tertullian uses the expression ‘the blood of God’ ( ad Uxor . ii.3).
( c ) Trinitarian language .-In the NT teaching the Son and the Spirit are joined to the Father in a special manner, entirely different from that in which men or angels are spoken of in relation to God. Perhaps the beat example of this is the apostolic benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14, which has no dogmatic purpose, but is a simple, spontaneous prayer, and is therefore more significant than if it was intended to teach some doctrine. The ‘grace of our Lord,’ the ‘love of God,’ and the ‘communion of the Holy Ghost’ are grouped together, and in this remarkable order. In many passages Father, Son, and Spirit are grouped together, just as the Three are mentioned together in the account of our Lord’s Baptism ( Matthew 3:16 f.), only in a still more significant way. Thus in Acts 5:31 f. we read that God exalted Jesus to be a Prince and a Saviour, and gave the Holy Ghost ‘to them that obey him.’ Stephen, being full of the Holy Ghost, saw the glory of God, and Jeans standing at the right hand of God ( Acts 7:55). The Holy Ghost is in one breath called by St. Paul the ‘Spirit of God’ and the ‘Spirit of Christ’ ( Romans 8:9). See also 1 Corinthians 12:3-6 (‘the Spirit of God … Jesus is Lord … the same Spirit … the same Lord … the same God’), Acts 2:33, 1 Peter 1:2 (‘foreknowledge of God the Father,’ ‘sanctification of the Spirit,’ ‘sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ’), Titus 3:4-6 (‘the kindness of God our Saviour’ [the Father], ‘renewing of the Holy Ghost,’ ‘through Jesus Christ our Saviour’), 1 John 4:2, and especially Judges 1:20, where the writer’s disciples are bidden to pray in the Holy Spirit, to keep themselves in the love of God, and to look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the greeting of all the Pauline Epistles but one, the Father and Son are joined together as the source of grace and peace; e.g. ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’ ( Romans 1:7); the only exception being Colossians 1:2 Revised Version, which has ‘grace to you and peace from God our Father.’ And this Pauline usage is also found in 2 John 1:3. It is difficult to conceive the possibility of this zeugma unless our Lord be God. With this compare St. James’s description of himself as ‘a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ’ ( James 1:1), and many other passages such as ‘one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him’ ( 1 Corinthians 8:6; see above, 4 ( b )); ‘in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus’ ( 2 Timothy 4:1); ‘fellowship with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ’ ( 1 John 1:3); ‘he that denieth the Father and the Son’ ( 1 John 2:22); ‘the same hath both the Father and the Son’ ( 2 John 1:9); ‘the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple thereof’ ( Revelation 21:22); ‘the throne of God and of the Lamb’ ( Revelation 22:1; Revelation 22:3).
These expressions are the counterpart of our Lord’s words in the Fourth Gospel: ‘I am in the Father and the Father in me’ ( John 14:10). We might try the effect of substituting for ‘Son’ and ‘Spirit’ the names of ‘Peter,’ ‘Paul,’ or even of ‘Michael,’ ‘Gabriel,’ to see how intolerable all these expressions would he on any but the Trinitarian hypothesis. St. Paul uses a similar argument in 1 Corinthians 1:13 : ‘Was Paul crucified for you, or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?’
These passages are taken from the NT outside the Gospels. The Fourth Gospel, which is full of the same doctrine, is here passed by. But one passage of the Synoptics must be considered. How did St. Paul come by the phraseology of his benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14? Some would say that he invented it, and was the real founder of Christian doctrine (see below, 9). For those who cannot accept this position-and the Apostle betrays no consciousness of teaching a new doctrine, but, as we have seen (above, 1), professes to hand on what he has received-the only conclusion can be that the benediction is based on teaching of our Lord. In the Synoptics there is one passage ( Matthew 28:19) which would at once account for St. Paul’s benediction. According to this, our Lord bade His followers ‘make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name (εἱς τὸ ὄνομα) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.’ This passage has been criticized on three grounds. (1) It has been said not to be an authentic part of the First Gospel. This, however, is not a tenable position (see Baptism, § 4); but it is important to distinguish it from the view which follows. (2) It has been acknowledged to be an authentic part of Mt., but said to have been due to the Christian theology of the end of the 1st cent., to the same line of thought that produced the Fourth Gospel; and not to have been spoken by our Lord. (3) In support of this it is urged that as a matter of fact, the earliest baptisms, as we read in Acts, were not ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,’ but ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus,’ or the like. But may there not be a mistake here on both sides? ‘It is quits unnecessary to suppose on the one hand that the passages in Acts describe a formula used in baptism, or, on the other, that our Lord in Matthew 28:19 prescribed one. All the passages may, and probably do, express only the theological import of baptism (for authorities, see Baptism as above).*[Note: We are not here concerned with the meaning of ‘in’ or ‘into the name.’ The argument is independent of the disputed interpretation of these words.]It was not the custom of our Lord to make minute regulations, as did the Mosaic Law. He rather laid down general principles; and it would be somewhat remarkable if He made just one exception, in regulating the words to be used in baptism. (The justification of the Christian formula is the general consent of the ages, dating from immediately after the apostolic period.) Nor is it necessary to suppose that Matthew 28:19 gives us-any more than the other Gospel records do-the ipsissima verba of Jesus. It is almost certain that such teaching, if given, would be much expanded for the benefit of the hearers, and that we have only a greatly abbreviated record. But that our Lord gave such ‘Trinitarian’ teaching in some shape on the occasion of giving the baptismal command is the only way of accounting for the phenomena of Acts, Epistles, and Revelation. This would explain not only the apostolic benediction, but also the whole trend of the teaching of the NT outside the Gospels.
Having now considered the general scope of apostolic teaching with regard to distinctions in the Godhead, we must consider in particular the doctrine with regard to the Godhead of our Lord and of the Holy Ghost.
6. The Godhead of our Lord .-In historical sequence the realization of our Lord’s Divinity came before the teaching which we have already considered. The disciples first learnt that their Master was not mere man, but was Divine; and then that there are distinctions in the Godhead.
( a ) Jesus is the Son of God .-Of this the apostles were fully convinced. The passages are too numerous to cite, but they occur in almost every book of the NT, whether they give the title to our Lord in so many words, or express the fact otherwise (see above, 4 ( a )). Before considering the meaning of the title, we may ask if the name παῖς (‘child’ or ‘servant’) applied to our Lord ( Acts 3:13; Acts 3:26; Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30) has the same signification. Sanday points out ( Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) iv. 574, 578) that παῖς is taken in the sense of ‘Son’ in the early Fathers, as in the Epistle to Diognetus (viii. 9f.; c. [Note: . circa, about.]a.d. 150?). This may also be the meaning of St. Luke in Acts; but it is equally probable that he refers to the OT ‘servant of Jahweh.’ This is clearly the meaning in Matthew 12:18, whore Isaiah 42:1 is quoted: ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen,’ etc.
But what is the significance of the title ‘Son of God’? It was not exactly a now title when used in the NT, though Daniel 3:25 cannot be quoted for it (‘a son of the gods,’ Revised Version; Authorized Versionwrongly, ‘the Son of God’). It is probable that Psalms 2:7 was t
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
GOD . The object of this article is to give a brief sketch of the history of belief in God as gathered from the Bible. The existence of God is everywhere assumed in the sacred volume; it will not therefore be necessary here to consider the arguments adduced to show that the belief in God’s existence is reasonable. It is true that in Psalms 14:1; Psalms 53:1 the ‘fool’ ( i.e. the ungodly man) says that there is no God; but the meaning doubtless is, not that the existence of God is denied, but that the ‘fool’ alleges that God does not concern Himself with man (see Psalms 10:4 ).
1. Divine revelation gradual . God ‘spake,’ i.e. revealed Himself, ‘by divers portions and in divers manners’ ( Hebrews 1:1 ). The world only gradually acquired the knowledge of God which we now possess; and it is therefore a gross mistake to look for our ideas and standards of responsibility in the early ages of mankind. The world was educated ‘precept upon precept, line upon line’ ( Isaiah 28:10 ); and it is noteworthy that even when the gospel age arrived, our Lord did not in a moment reveal all truth, but accommodated His teaching to the capacity of the people ( Mark 4:33 ); the chosen disciples themselves did not grasp the fulness of that teaching until Pentecost ( John 16:12 f.). The fact of the very slow growth of conceptions of God is made much clearer by our increased knowledge with respect to the composition of the OT; now that we have learnt, for example, that the Mosaic code is to be dated, as a whole, centuries later than Moses, and that the patriarchal narratives were written down, as we have them, in the time of the Kings, and are coloured by the ideas of that time, we see that the idea that Israel had much the same conception of God in the age of the Patriarchs as in that of the Prophets is quite untenable, and that the fuller conception was a matter of slow growth. The fact of the composite character of the Pentateuch, however, makes it very difficult for us to find out exactly what were the conceptions about God in patriarchal and in Mosaic times; and it is impossible to be dogmatic in speaking of them. We can deal only with probabilities gathered from various indications in the literature, especially from the survival of old customs.
2. Names of God in OT . It will be convenient to gather together the principal OT names of God before considering the conceptions of successive ages. The names will to some extent be a guide to us.
( a ) Elohim; the ordinary Hebrew name for God, a plural word of doubtful origin and meaning. It is used, as an ordinary plural, of heathen gods, or of supernatural beings ( 1 Samuel 28:13 ), or even of earthly judges ( Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:5 , cf. John 10:34 ); but when used of the One God, it takes a singular verb. As so used, it has been thought to be a relic of pre-historic polytheism, but more probably it is a ‘plural of majesty,’ such as is common in Hebrew, or else it denotes the fulness of God. The singular Eloah is rare except in Job; it is found in poetry and in late prose.
( b ) El , common to Semitic tribes, a name of doubtful meaning, but usually interpreted as ‘the Strong One’ or as ‘the Ruler.’ It is probably not connected philologically with Elohim (Driver, Genesis , p. 404). It is used often in poetry and in proper names; in prose rarely, except as part of a compound title like El Shaddai , or with an epithet or descriptive word attached; as ‘God of Bethel,’ El-Bethel ( Genesis 31:13 ); ‘a jealous God,’ El qannÃ¢’ ( Exodus 20:5 ).
( c ) El Shaddai . The meaning of Shaddai is uncertain; the name has been derived from a root meaning ‘to overthrow,’ and would then mean ‘the Destroyer’; or from a root meaning ‘to pour,’ and would then mean ‘the Rain-giver’; or it has been interpreted as ‘my Mountain’ or ‘my Lord.’ Traditionally it is rendered ‘God Almighty,’ and there is perhaps a reference to this sense of the name in the words ‘He that is mighty’ of Luke 1:49 . According to the Priestly writer (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ), the name was characteristic of the patriarchal age ( Exodus 6:3 , cf. Genesis 17:1; Genesis 28:3 ). ‘Shaddai’ alone is used often in OT as a poetical name of God ( Numbers 24:4 etc.), and is rendered ‘the Almighty.’
( d ) El Elyon , ‘God Most High,’ found in Genesis 14:18 ff. (a passage derived from a ‘special source’ of the Pentateuch, i.e. not from J [Note: Jahwist.] , E [Note: Elohist.] , or P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ), and thought by Driver ( Genesis , p. 165) perhaps to have been originally the name of a Canaanite deity, but applied to the true God. ‘Elyon’ is also found alone, as in Psalms 82:5 (so tr. [Note: translate or translation.] into Greek, Luke 1:32; Luke 1:35; Luke 1:76; Luke 6:35 ), and with ‘Elohim’ in Psalms 57:2 , in close connexion with ‘El’ and with ‘Shaddai’ in Numbers 24:15 , and with ‘Jahweh’ in Psalms 7:17; Psalms 18:13 etc. That ‘El Elyon’ was a commonly used name is made probable by the fact that it is found in an Aramaic translation in Daniel 3:26; Daniel 4:2; Daniel 5:18-21 and in a Greek translation in 1Es 6:31 etc., Mark 5:7 , Acts 16:17 , and so in Hebrews 7:1 , where it is taken direct from Genesis 14:18 LXX [Note: Septuagint.] .
( e ) Adonai (= ‘Lord’), a title, common in the prophets, expressing dependence, as of a servant on his master, or of a wife on her husband (Ottley, BL 2 p. 192 f.).
( f ) Jehovah , properly Yahweh (usually written Jahweh ), perhaps a pre-historic name. Prof. H. Guthe ( EBi [Note: EncyclopÃ¦dia Biblica.] ii. art. ‘Israel,’ Â§ 4 ) thinks that it is of primitive antiquity and cannot be explained; that it tells us nothing about the nature of the Godhead. This is probably true of the name in pre-Mosaic times; that it was then in existence was certainly the opinion of the Jahwist writer ( Genesis 4:25 , J [Note: Jahwist.] ), and is proved by its occurrence in proper names, e.g. in ‘Jochebed,’ the name of Moses’ mother ( Exodus 6:20 , P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ). What it originally signified is uncertain; the root from which it is derived might mean ‘to blow’ or ‘to breathe,’ or ‘to fall,’ or ‘to be.’ Further, the name might have been derived from the causative ‘to make to be,’ and in that case might signify ‘Creator.’ But, as Driver remarks ( Genesis , p. 409), the important thing for us to know is not what the name meant originally, but what it came actually to denote to the Israelites. And there can be no doubt that from Moses’ time onwards it was derived from the ‘imperfect’ tense of the verb ‘to be,’ and was understood to mean ‘He who is wont to be,’ or else ‘He who will be.’ This is the explanation given in Exodus 3:10 ff.; when God Himself speaks, He uses the first person, and the name becomes ‘I am’ or ‘I will be.’ It denotes, then, Existence; yet it is understood as expressing active and self-manifesting Existence (Driver, p. 408). It is almost equivalent to ‘He who has life in Himself’ (cf. John 5:26 ). It became the common name of God in post-Mosaic times, and was the specially personal designation.
We have to consider whether the name was used by the patriarchs. The Jahwist writer (J [Note: Jahwist.] ) uses it constantly in his narrative of the early ages; and Genesis 4:26 (see above) clearly exhibits more than a mere anachronistic use of a name common in the writer’s age. On the other hand, the Priestly writer (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ) was of opinion that the patriarchs had not used the name, but had known God as ‘El Shaddai’ ( Exodus 6:2 f.); for it is putting force upon language to suppose that P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] meant only that the patriarchs did not understand the full meaning of the name ‘Jahweh,’ although they used it. P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] is consistent in not using the name ‘Jahweh until the Exodus. So the author of Job, who lays his scene in the patriarchal age, makes the characters of the dialogue use Shaddai,’ etc., and only once (12:9) ‘Jahweh’ (Driver, p. 185). We have thus contradictory authorities. Driver (p. xix.) suggests that though the name was not absolutely new in Moses’ time, it was current only in a limited circle, as is seen from its absence in the composition of patriarchal proper names.
‘Jehovah’ is a modern and hybrid form, dating only from a.d. 1518. The name ‘Jahweh’ was so sacred that it was not, in later Jewish times, pronounced at all, perhaps owing to an over-literal interpretation of the Third Commandment. In reading ‘Adonai’ was substituted for it; hence the vowels of that name were in MSS attached to the consonants of ‘Jahweh’ for a guide to the reader, and the result, when the MSS are read as written (as they were never meant by Jewish scribes to be read), is ‘Jehovah.’ Thus this modern form has the consonants of one word and the vowels of another. The Hellenistic Jews, in Greek, cubstituted ‘Kyrios’ (Lord) for the sacred name, and it is thus rendered in LXX [Note: Septuagint.] and NT. This explains why in EV [Note: English Version.] ‘the Lord’ is the usual rendering of ‘Jahweh.’ The expression ‘Tetragrammaton’ is used for the four consonants of the sacred name, YHWH, which appears in Greek capital letters as Pipi , owing to the similarity of the Greek capital p to the Hebrew h , and the Greek capital i to the Hebrew y and w [thus, Heb. ×™×”×•×” = Gr. ×€×—×€×” ].
( g ) Jah is an apocopated form of Jahweh , and appears in poetry ( e.g. Psalms 68:4 , Exodus 15:2 ) in the word ‘Hallelujah’ and in proper names. For Jah Jahweh see Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 26:4 .
( h ) Jahweh TsÄ•bÃ¢Ã´th (‘Sabaoth’ of Romans 9:29 and James 5:4 ), in Ev ‘Lord of hosts’ (wh. see), appears frequently in the prophetical and post-exilic literature ( Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 6:3 , Psalms 84:1 etc.). This name seems originally to have referred to God’s presence with the armies of Israel in the times of the monarchy; as fuller conceptions of God became prevalent, the name received an ampler meaning. Jahweh was known as God, not only of the armies of Israel, but of all the hosts of heaven and of the forces of nature (Cheyne, Aids to Devout Study of Criticism , p. 284).
We notice, lastly, that ‘Jahweh’ and ‘Elohim’ are joined together in Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 3:22; Genesis 9:26 , Exodus 9:30 , and elsewhere. Jahweh is identified with the Creator of the Universe (Ottley, BL p. 195). We have the same conjunction, with ‘Sabaoth’ added (‘Lord God of hosts’), in Amos 5:27 . ‘Adonai’ with ‘Sabaoth’ is not uncommon.
3. Pre-Mosaic conceptions of God . We are now in a position to consider the growth of the revelation of God in successive ages; and special reference may here be made to Kautzsch’s elaborate monograph on the ‘Religion of Israel’ in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] , Ext. vol. pp. 612 734, for a careful discussion of OT conceptions of God. With regard to those of pre-Mosaic times there is much room for doubt. The descriptions written so many centuries later are necessarily coloured by the ideas of the author’s age, and we have to depend largely on the survival of old customs in historical times customs which had often acquired a new meaning, or of which the original meaning was forgotten. Certainly pre-Mosaic Israel conceived of God as attached to certain places or pillars or trees or springs, as we see in Genesis 12:6; Genesis 13:18; Genesis 14:7; Genesis 35:7 , Joshua 24:26 etc. It has been conjectured that the stone circle, Gilgal ( Joshua 4:2-8; Joshua 4:20 ff.), was a heathen sanctuary converted to the religion of Jahweh. A. B. Davidson (Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] ii. 201) truly remarks on the difficulty in primitive times of realizing deity apart from a local abode; later on, the Ark relieved the difficulty without representing Jahweh under any form, for His presence was attached to it (but see below, Â§ 4 ). Traces of ‘Totemism,’ or belief in the blood relationship of a tribe and a natural object, such as an animal, treated as the protector of the tribe, have been found in the worship of Jahweh under the form of a molten bull ( 1 Kings 12:28; but this was doubtless derived from the Canaanites), and in the avoidance of unclean animals. Traces of ‘Animism,’ or belief in the activity of the spirits of one’s dead relations, and its consequence ‘Ancestor-worship,’ have been found in the mourning customs of Israel, such as cutting the hair, wounding the flesh, wearing sackcloth, funeral feasts, reverence for tombs, and the levirate marriage, and in the name elohim ( i.e. supernatural beings) given to Samuel’s spirit and (probably) other spirits seen by the witch of Endor ( 1 Samuel 28:13 ). Kautzsch thinks that these results are not proved, and that the belief in demoniacal powers explains the mourning customs without its being necessary to suppose that Animism had developed into Ancestor-worship. Polytheism has been traced in the plural ‘Elohim’ (see 2 above), in the teraphim or household gods ( Genesis 31:30 , 1 Samuel 19:13; 1 Samuel 19:16 : found in temples, Judges 17:5; Judges 18:14; cf. Hosea 3:4 ); and patriarchal names, such as Abraham, Sarah , have been taken for the titles of pre-historic divinities. Undoubtedly Israel was in danger of worshipping foreign gods, but there is no trace of a Hebrew polytheism (Kautzsch). It will be seen that the results are almost entirely negative; and we must remain in doubt as to the patriarchal conception of God. It seems clear, however, that communion of the worshipper with God was considered to be effected by sacrifice.
4. Post-Mosaic conceptions of God . The age of the Exodus was undoubtedly a great crisis in the theological education of Israel. Moses proclaimed Jahweh as the God of Israel, supreme among gods, alone to be worshipped by the people whom He had made His own, and with whom He had entered into covenant. But the realization of the truth that there is none other God but Jahweh came by slow degrees only; henotheism , which taught that Jahweh alone was to be worshipped by Israel, while the heathen deities were real but inferior gods, gave place only slowly to a true monotheism in the popular religion. The old name Micah (= ‘Who is like Jahweh?’, Judges 17:1 ) is one indication of this line of thought. The religion of the Canaanites was a nature-worship; their deities were personified forces of nature, though called ‘Lord’ or ‘Lady’ ( Baal, Baalah ) of the place where they were venerated (Guthe, EBi [Note: EncyclopÃ¦dia Biblica.] ii. art. ‘Israel,’ Â§ 6); and when left to themselves the Israelites gravitated towards nature-worship. The great need of the early post-Mosaic age, then, was to develop the idea of personality . The defective idea of individuality is seen, for example, in the putting of Achan’s household to death ( Joshua 7:24 f.), and in the wholesale slaughter of the Canaanites. (The defect appears much later, in an Oriental nation, in Daniel 6:24 , and is constantly observed by travellers in the East to this day.) Jahweh, therefore, is proclaimed as a personal God; and for this reason all the older writers freely use anthropomorphisms. They speak of God’s arm, mouth, lips, eyes; He is said to move ( Genesis 3:8; Genesis 11:6; Genesis 18:1 f.), to wrestle ( Genesis 32:24 ff.). Similarly He is said to ‘repent’ of an action ( Genesis 6:6 , Exodus 32:14; but see 1 Samuel 15:29 .), to be grieved, angry, jealous, and gracious, to love and to hate; in these ways the intelligence, activity, and power of God are emphasized. As a personal God He enters into covenant with Israel, protecting, ruling, guiding them, giving them victory. The wars and victories of Israel are those of Jahweh ( Numbers 21:14 , Judges 5:23 ).
The question of images in the early post-Mosaic period is a difficult one. Did Moses tolerate images of Jahweh? On the one hand, it seems certain that the Decalogue in some form or other comes from Moses; the conquest of Canaan is inexplicable unless Israel had some primary laws of moral conduct (Ottley, BL p. 172 f.). But, on the other hand, the Second Commandment need not have formed part of the original Decalogue; and there is a very general opinion that the making of images of Jahweh was thought unobjectionable up to the 8th cent. b.c., though Kautzsch believes that images of wood and stone were preferred to metal ones because of the Canaanitish associations of the latter ( Exodus 34:17 , but see Judges 17:3 ); he thinks also that the fact of the Ark being the shrine of Jahweh and representing His presence points to its having contained an image of Jahweh (but see Â§ 3 above), and that the ephod was originally an image of Jahweh ( Judges 8:26 f.), though the word was afterwards used for a gold or silver casing of an image, and so in later times for a sort of waistcoat. In our uncertainty as to the date of the various sources of the Hexateuch it is impossible to come to a definite conclusion about this matter; and Moses, like the later prophets, may have preached a high doctrine which popular opinion did not endorse. To this view Barnes (Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] , art. ‘Israel,’ ii. 509) seems to incline. At least the fact remains that images of Jahweh were actually used for many generations after Moses.
5. The conceptions of the Prophetic age . This age is marked by a growth, perhaps a very gradual growth, towards a true monotheism. More spiritual conceptions of God are taught; images of Jahweh are denounced; God is unrestricted in space and time ( e.g. 1 Kings 8:27 ), and is enthroned in heaven. He is holy ( Isaiah 6:3 ) separate from sinners (cf. Hebrews 7:26 ), for this seems to be the sense of the Hebrew word; the idea is as old as 1 Samuel 6:20 . He is the ‘Holy One of Israel’ ( Isaiah 1:4 and often). He is Almighty, present everywhere ( Jeremiah 23:24 ), and full of love. The prophets, though they taught more spiritual ideas about God, still used anthropomorphisms: thus, Isaiah saw Jahweh on His throne ( Isaiah 6:1 ), though this was only in a vision. The growth of true monotheistic ideas may be traced in such passages as Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 4:39; Deuteronomy 6:4; Deuteronomy 10:14 , 1 Kings 8:60 , Isaiah 37:16 , Joel 2:27; it culminates in Deutero-Isaiah ( Isaiah 43:10 ‘Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me’; Isaiah 44:6 ‘I am the first and I am the last, and beside me there is no God’; so Isaiah 45:5 ). The same idea is expressed by the teaching that Jahweh rules not only His people but all nations, as in the numerous passages in Deutero-Isaiah about the Gentiles, in Jeremiah 10:7 , often in Ezekiel ( e.g. Jeremiah 35:4; Jeremiah 35:9; Jeremiah 35:15 of Edom), Malachi 1:5; Malachi 1:11; Malachi 1:14 , and elsewhere. The earlier prophets had recognized Jahweh as Creator (though Kautzsch thinks that several passages like Amos 4:13 are later glosses); but Deutero-Isaiah emphasizes this attribute more than any of his brethren ( Isaiah 40:12; Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 40:28; Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 45:12; Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 48:13 ).
We may here make a short digression to discuss whether the heathen deities, though believed by the later Jews, and afterwards by the Christians, to be no gods, were yet thought to have a real existence, or whether they were considered to be simply non-existent, creatures of the imagination only. In Isaiah 14:12 (the Babylonian king likened to false divinities?) and Isaiah 24:21 the heathen gods seem to be identified with the fallen angels (see Whitehouse, in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] i. 592); so perhaps in Deutero-Isaiah ( Isaiah 46:1 f.). In later times they are often identified with demons. In Eth. Enoch (19:1) Uriel speaks of the evil angels leading men astray into sacrificing to demons as to gods (see Charles’s note; and also xcix. 7). And the idea was common in Christian times; it has been attributed to St. Paul ( 1 Corinthians 10:20; though 1 Corinthians 8:5 f. points the other way, whether these verses are the Apostle’s own words or are a quotation from the letter of the Corinthians). Justin Martyr ( Apol . i. 9, 64, etc.), Tatian ( Add. to the Greeks , 8), and IrenÃ¦us ( HÃ¦r . iii. 6:3), while denying that the heathen deities are really gods, make them to have a real existence and to be demons; Athenagoras ( Apol . 18, 28), Clement of Alexandria ( Exh. to the Greeks , 2f.), and Tertullian ( Revelation 10 Revelation 10 ) make them to be mere men or beasts deified by superstition, or combine both ideas.
6. Post-exilic conceptions of God . In the period from the Exile to Christ, a certain deterioration in the spiritual conception of God is visible. It is true that there was no longer any danger of idolatry, and that this age was marked by an uncompromising monotheism. Yet there was a tendency greatly to exaggerate God’s transcendence , to make Him self-centred and self-absorbed, and to widen the gulf between Him and the world (Sanday, in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] ii. 206). This tendency began even at the Exile, and accounts for the discontinuance of anthropomorphic language. In the Priest’s Code (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ) this language is avoided as much as possible. And later, when the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] was translated, the alterations made to avoid anthropomorphisms are very significant. Thus in Exodus 15:3 LXX [Note: Septuagint.] the name ‘Man of war’ (of Jahweh) disappears; in Exodus 19:3 LXX [Note: Septuagint.] Moses went up not ‘to Elohim,’ but ‘to the mount of God’; in Exodus 24:10 the words ‘they saw Elohim of Israel’ become ‘they saw the place where the God of Israel stood.’ So in the Targums man is described as being created in the image of the angels , and many other anthropomorphisms are removed. The same tendency is seen in the almost constant use of ‘Elohim’ rather than of ‘Jahweh’ in the later books of OT. The tendency, only faintly marked in the later canonical books, is much more evident as time went on. Side by side with it is to be noticed the exaltation of the Law, and the inconsistent conception of God as subject to His own Law. In the Talmud He is represented as a great Rabbi, studying the Law, and keeping the Sabbath (Gilbert, in Hastings’ DCG [Note: CG Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels.] i. 582).
Yet there were preparations for the full teaching of the gospel with regard to distinctions in the Godhead. The old narratives of the Theophanies, of the mysterious ‘Angel of the Lord’ who appeared at one time to be God and at another to be distinct from Him, would prepare men’s minds in some degree for the Incarnation, by suggesting a personal unveiling of God (see Liddon, BL ii. i. Î² ); even the common use of the plural name ‘Elohim,’ whatever its original significance (see Â§ 2 above), would necessarily prepare them for the doctrine of distinctions in the Godhead, as would the quasi- personification of ‘the Word’ and ‘Wisdom’, as in Proverbs, Job, Wisdom, Sirach, and in the later Jewish writers, who not only personified but deified them (Scott, in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] , Ext. vol. p. 308). Above all, the quasi-personification of the ‘Spirit of God’ in the prophetical books (esp. Isaiah 48:16; Isaiah 63:10 ) and in the Psalms (esp. Psalms 51:11 ), and the expectation of a superhuman King Messiah, would tend in the same direction.
7. Christian development of the doctrine of God . We may first deal with the development in the conception of God’s fatherhood . As contrasted with the OT, the NT emphasizes the universal fatherhood and love of God. The previous ages had scarcely risen above a conception of God as Father of Israel, and in a special sense of Messiah ( Psalms 2:7 ); they had thought of God only as ruling the Gentiles and bringing them into subjection. Our Lord taught, on the other hand, that God is Father of all and loving to all; He is kind even ‘toward the unthankful and evil’ ( Luke 6:35 , cf. Matthew 5:45 ). Jesus therefore used the name ‘Father’ more frequently than any other. Yet He Himself bears to the Father a unique relationship; the Voice at the Baptism and at the Transfiguration would otherwise have no meaning ( Mark 1:11; Mark 9:7 and || Mt. Lk.). Jesus never speaks to His disciples of the Father as ‘our Father’; He calls Him absolutely ‘the Father’ (seldom in Synoptics, Matthew 11:27; Matthew 24:36 [RV [Note: Revised Version.] ] Matthew 28:19 [see Â§ 8 ], Mark 13:32 , Luke 10:22 , passim in Jn.), or ‘my Father’ (very frequently in all the Gospels, also in Revelation 2:27; Revelation 3:5 ), or else ‘my Father and your Father’ ( John 20:17 ). The use of ‘his Father’ in Mark 8:38 and || Mt. Lk. is similar. This unique relationship is the point of the saying that God sent His only-begotten Son to save the world ( John 3:16 f., 1 John 4:9 ) a saying which shows also the universal fatherhood of God, for salvation is offered to all men (so John 12:32 ). The passage Matthew 11:27 (= Luke 10:22 ) is important as being ‘among the earliest materials made use of by the Evangelists,’ and as containing ‘the whole of the Christology of the Fourth Gospel’ (Plummer, ICC [Note: CC International Critical Commentary.] , ‘St Luke,’ p. 282; for the latest criticism on it see Sanday, Criticism of the Fourth Gosp . p. 223 f.). It marks the unique relation in which Jesus stands to the Father. We have, then, in the NT three senses in which God is Father. ( a ) He is the Father of Jesus Christ . ( b ) He is the Father of all His creatures (cf. Acts 17:28 , James 1:17 f., Hebrews 12:9 ), of Gentiles as well as of Jews; Mark 7:27 implies that, though the Jews were to be fed first, the Gentiles were also to be fed. He is the Father of all the Jews, as well as of the disciples of Jesus; the words ‘One is your Father’ were spoken to the multitudes also ( Matthew 23:1; Matthew 23:9 ). ( c ) But in a very special sense He is Father of the disciples , who are taught to pray ‘Our Father’ ( Matthew 6:9; in the shorter version of Luke 11:2 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , ‘Father’), and who call on Him as Father ( 1 Peter 1:17 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). For Pauline passages which teach this triple fatherhood see art, Paul the Apostle, iii. 1. The meaning of the doctrine of the universal fatherhood is that God is love ( 1 John 4:6 ), and that He manifests His love by sending His Son into the world to save it (see above).
8. Distinctions in the Godhead . We should not expect to find the nomenclature of Christian theology in the NT. The writings contained therein are not a manual of theology; and the object of the technical terms invented or adopted by the Church was to explain the doctrine of the Bible in a form intelligible to the Christian learner. They do not mark a development of doctrine in times subsequent to the Gospel age. The use of the words ‘Persons’ and ‘Trinity’ affords an example of this. They were adopted in order to express the teaching of the NT that there are distinctions in the Godhead; that Jesus is no mere man, but that He came down from heaven to take our nature upon Him; that He and the Father are one thing ( John 10:30 , see below), and yet are distinct ( Mark 13:32 ); that the Spirit is God, and yet distinct from the Father and the Son ( Romans 8:9 , see below). At the same time Christian theology takes care that we should not conceive of the Three Persons as of three individuals. The meaning of the word ‘Trinity’ is, in the language of the Quicunque vult , that ‘the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they are not three Gods, but one God.’
The present writer must profoundly dissent from the view that Jesus’ teaching about God showed but little advance on that of the prophets, and that the ‘Trinitarian’ idea as found in the Fourth Gospel and in Matthew 28:19 was a development of a later age, say of the very end of the 1st century. Confessedly a great and marvellous development took place. To whom are we to assign it, if not to our Lord? Had a great teacher, or a school of teachers, arisen, who could of themselves produce such an absolute revolution in thought, how is it that contemporary writers and posterity alike put them completely in the background, and gave to Jesus the place of the Great Teacher of the world? This can be accounted for only by the revolution of thought being the work of Jesus Himself. An examination of the literature will lead us to the same conclusion.
( a ) We begin with St. Paul, as our earliest authority. The ‘Apostolic benediction’ ( 2 Corinthians 13:14 ) which, as Dr. Sanday remarks (Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] ii. 213), has no dogmatic object and expounds no new doctrine indeed expounds no doctrine at all unequivocally groups together Jesus Christ, God [the Father], and the Holy Ghost as the source of blessing, and in that remarkable order. It is inconceivable that St. Paul would have done this had he looked on Jesus Christ as a mere man, or even as a created angel, and on the Holy Ghost only as an influence of the Father. But how did he arrive at this triple grouping, which is strictly consistent with his doctrine elsewhere? We cannot think that he invented it; and it is only natural to suppose that he founded it upon some words of our Lord.
( b ) The command to baptize into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost ( Matthew 28:19 ), if spoken by our Lord, whatever the exact meaning of the words, whether as a formula to be used, or as expressing the result of Christian baptism would amply account for St. Paul’s benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14 . But it has been strenuously denied that these words are authentic, or, if they are authentic, that they are our Lord’s own utterance. We must carefully distinguish these two allegations. First , it is denied that they are part of the First Gospel. It has been maintained by Mr. Conybeare that they are an interpolation of the 2nd cent., and that the original text had: ‘Make disciples of all the nations in my name, teaching them,’ etc. All extant manuscripts and versions have our present text (the Old Syriac is wanting here); but in several passages of Eusebius ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 260 340) which refer to the verse, the words about baptism are not mentioned, and in some of them the words ‘in my name’ are added. The allegation is carefully and impartially examined by Bp. Chase in JThSt [Note: ThSt Journal of Theological Studies.] vi. 483 ff., and is judged by him to be baseless. As a matter of fact, nothing is more common in ancient writers than to omit, in referring to a Scripture passage, any words which are not relevant to their argument. Dean Robinson ( JThSt [Note: ThSt Journal of Theological Studies.] vii. 186), who controverts Bp. Chase’s interpretation of the baptismal command, is yet entirely satisfied with his defence of its authenticity. Secondly , it is denied that the words in question were spoken by our Lord; it is said that they belong to that later stage of thought to which the Fourth Gospel is ascribed. As a matter of fact, it is urged, the earliest baptisms were not into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but in the name of Jesus Christ, or into the name of the Lord Jesus, or into Christ Jesus, or into Christ ( Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5 , Romans 6:3 , Galatians 3:27 ). Now it is not necessary to maintain that in any of these places a formula of baptism is prescribed or mentioned. The reverse is perhaps more probable (see Chase, l.c. ). The phrases in Acts need mean only that converts were united to Jesus or that they became Christians (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:2 ); the phrase in Matthew 28:19 may mean that disciples were to be united to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost by baptism, without any formula being enjoined; or if we take what seems to be the less probable interpretation (that of Dean Robinson), that ‘in the name’ means ‘by the authority of,’ a similar result holds good. We need not even hold that Matthew 28:19 represents our Lord’s ipsissima verba . But that it faithfully represents our Lord’s teaching seems to follow from the use of the benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14 (above), and from the fact that immediately after the Apostolic age the sole form of baptizing that we read of was that of Matthew 28:19 , as in Didache 7 (the words quoted exactly, though in Â§ 9 Christians are said to have been baptized into the name of the Lord), in Justin Martyr, Apol . i. 61 (he does not quote the actual words, but paraphrases, and at the end of the same chapter says that ‘he who is illuminated is washed in the name of Jesus Christ’), and in Tertullian, adv. Prax . 26 (paraphrase), de Bapt . 13 (exactly), de PrÅ“scr. HÃ¦r . 20 (paraphrase). Thus the second generation of Christians must have understood the words to be our Lord’s. But the same doctrine is found also in numerous other passages of the NT, and we may now proceed briefly to compare some of them with Matthew 28:19 , prefacing the investigation with the remark that the suspected words in that verse occur in the most Jewish of the Gospels, where such teaching is improbable unless it comes from our Lord (so Scott in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] , Ext. vol. p. 313).
( c ) That the Fourth Gospel is full of the doctrine of ‘Father, Son, and Spirit’ is allowed by all (see esp. John 14:1-31; John 15:1-27; John 16:1-33 ). The Son and the Spirit are both Paracletes, sent by the Father; the Spirit is sent by the Father and also by Jesus; Jesus has all things whatsoever the Father has; the Spirit takes the things of Jesus and declares them unto us. In John 10:30 our Lord says: ‘I and the Father are one thing’ (the numeral is neuter), i.e. one essence the words cannot fall short of this (Westcott, in loc. ). But the same doctrine is found in all parts of the NT. Our Lord is the only-begotten Son (see Â§ 7 above), who was pre-existent, and was David’s Lord in heaven before He came to earth ( Matthew 22:45 : this is the force of the argument). He claims to judge the world and to bestow glory ( Matthew 25:34 , Luke 22:69; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10 ), to forgive sins and to bestow the power of binding and loosing ( Mark 2:5; Mark 2:10 , Matthew 28:18; Matthew 18:18; cf. John 20:23 ); He invites sinners to come to Him ( Matthew 11:28; cf. Matthew 10:37 , Luke 14:26 ); He is the teacher of the world ( Matthew 11:29 ); He casts out devils as Son of God, and gives authority to His disciples to cast them out ( Mark 3:11 f., Mark 3:15 ). The claims of Jesus are as tremendous, and (In the great example of humility) at first sight as surprising, in the Synoptics as in Jn. (Liddon, BL v. iv.). Similarly, in the Pauline Epistles the Apostle clearly teaches that Jesus is God (see art. Paul the Apostle, iii. 3 , 4 ). In them God the Father and Jesus Christ are constantly joined together (just as Father, Son, and Spirit are joined in the Apostolic benediction), e.g. in 1 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6 . So in 1 Peter 1:2 we have the triple conjunction ‘the foreknowledge of God the Father,’ ‘the sanctification of the Spirit,’ ‘the blood of Jesus Christ.’ The same conjunction is found in Judges 1:20 f. ‘Praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life’; cf. also 1 Corinthians 12:3-6 , Romans 8:14-17 etc.
The Holy Spirit is represented in the NT as a Person, not as a mere Divine influence. The close resemblance between the Lukan and the Johannine accounts of the promise of the Spirit is very noteworthy. St. Luke tells us of ‘the promise of my Father,’ and of the command to tarry in the city until the Apostles were ‘clothed with power from on high’ ( Luke 24:49 ); this is interpreted in Acts 1:5 as a baptism with the Holy Ghost, and one of the chief themes of Acts is the bestowal of the Holy Ghost to give life to the Church ( Acts 2:4; Acts 2:33; Acts 8:15 ff; Acts 19:2 ff. etc.). This is closely parallel to the promise of the Paraclete in John 14:1-31; John 15:1-27; John 16:1-33 . Both the First and the Third Evangelists ascribe the conception of Jesus to the action of the Holy Ghost ( Matthew 1:18; Matthew 1:20 , Luke 1:35 , where ‘the Most High’ is the Father, cf. Luke 6:35 f.). At the baptism of Jesus, the Father and the Spirit are both manifested, the appearance of the dove being an indication that the Spirit is distinct from the Father. The Spirit can be sinned against ( Mark 3:29 and || Mt. Lk.); through Him Jesus is filled with Divine grace for the ministry ( Luke 4:1; Luke 4:14; Luke 4:18 ), and casts out devils ( Matthew 12:28; cf. Luke 11:20 ‘the finger of God’). The Spirit inspired David ( Mark 12:36 ). So in St. Paul’s Epistles He intercedes, is grieved, is given to us, gives life (see art. Paul the Apostle, iii. 6). And the distinctions in the Godhead are emphasized by His being called the ‘Spirit of God’ and the ‘Spirit of Christ’ in the same verse ( Romans 8:9 ). That He is the Spirit of Jesus appears also from Acts 16:7 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , 2 Corinthians 3:17 , Galatians 4:6 , Philippians 1:19 , 1 Peter 1:11 .
This very brief epitome must here suffice. It is perhaps enough to show that the revelation which Jesus Christ made caused an immeasurable enlargement of the world’s conception of God. Our Lord teaches that God is One, and at the same time that He is no mere Monad, but Triune. Cf. art. Trinity.
A. J. Maclean.
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology 
The Old Testament . In the Old Testament the plural form elohim [אֱלֹהִים] became the favored generic term for God. This development is lost in obscurity, but the evidence from ancient literature contemporary with the Old Testament attests to the use of the plural form in other cultures around Israel as the designation of a single deity that embodies the entirety of divine life. Some have taken the plural form as a plural of intensity, representing the indescribable, or as an abstract plural, corresponding to our words "Godhead" or "divinity, " and there is justification for both views.
Precisely when and why the Israelites took this title for their God, rather than the singular el [אֵל אֵל] or eloh , is not known. However, based on the Book of Genesis and the story of the revelation of the divine name in Exodus 3:14 , we suspect that elohim [אֱלֹהִים], along with other terms, was widely used by the Israelites from the earliest times as a designation for God.
In the course of time, however, God revealed his distinctive divine name, Yahweh, by which Israel should know him. This name, according to Genesis 4:26 , was known in the prepatriarchal era, but Exodus 3:14 leads us to the conclusion that it assumed a new and more distinctive meaning in the Mosaic era.
As a general rule, the literary context has a great deal to do with which of the terms ( Elohim [אֱלֹהִים] or Yahweh ) the text used to designate Israel's God. Elohim [אֱלֹהִים] seems more appropriate for contexts that require a universal view of the deity, or contexts that connote his power and omnipotence, while Yahweh may be more appropriate for those contexts that deal with Israel and Israel's historical experience, or the deity's personal presence and involvement in Israel and the world. For example, the creation narrative of Genesis 1 employs Elohim [אֱלֹהִים] since the creation of the universe is in view and God is acting in his sovereign role, but the parallel narrative of Genesis 2 introduces the dual name Yahweh God (Lord God), in view of Yahweh's personal involvement in the creation of man and woman.
God as Creator . It is significant that the first impression of God the Bible gives is God as Creator of the heavens and earth ( Genesis 1:1 ). The phrase "heavens and earth" is a merismus, which means that everything in the universe as we know it was created by God.
The Bible makes no attempt to prove that God exists. Rather, the universe is the affidavit of his existence. Moreover, the fact that he is the Creator means that the world belongs to him. So when God offers Abraham the land of Canaan, it is his right to give it because he created the world.
The gods of Canaan represented natural forces; there was no clear dividing line between nature and the divine. On the other hand, the creation narratives of Genesis 1-2 , which are best understood as depicting twenty-four-hour days, establish the theological premise that God is distinct from nature, that he brought nature into existence, and that he controls nature. In addition to being God's supreme witnesses in the world, human beings are also his representatives to bring the natural world into the service of God ("Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground, " Genesis 1:28 ). Thus the God of the Old Testament is from the beginning the God who stands apart from nature and rules over it. As the story of the Old Testament unfolds, it is appropriate to describe him as the God of history.
The creation narrative puts forward what is perhaps, along with the doctrine of the incarnation in the New Testament, the most remarkable concept for making God known in all of Scripture, the image of God ( Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6 ). This distinctive of creation meant that God related to humankind personally and imparted something of his own nature to his creation. While the history of interpretation has offered no unanimity on the meaning of this phrase, the most satisfactory explanation is a comprehensive one. The image of God implies all that is distinctive to human nature: the spiritual, psychological, sociological, and physical aspects, all of which are reflections of God's nature. The spiritual implies that human beings are made to relate to their Creator; the psychological, that they are reasoning and emotional creatures; the sociological, that they are created to relate to one another; and the physical, that man's corporal form reflects an essential aspect of God'snot in the sense that he has a body, but in the sense that his being is multifaceted and multifunctional. He speaks, sees, hears, and walks, for example, without requiring the physical organs that human beings must have to enable these activities. The ultimate expression of this attribute of God's being is his incarnation in human flesh. So the image of God is not limited to one aspect of human nature, like the mind or the spirit, but is comprehensive. Therefore, when God created man in his image, he left the indelible stamp of his nature on human beings. They were not divine, but reflected the nature of the deity.
The view of God as personal is grounded in the image of God. He is a self-conscious being, who has will and purpose. The parallel creation narrative of Genesis 2:4b-25 further communicates this view of God as personal in anthromorphic terms as he forms man from the dust of the ground, breathes the breath of life into his nostrils, makes the birds and beasts of the field, fashions woman from the man, and finally plants a garden for their habitat in Eden. This initial portrait of God, therefore, invests the biblical story with a view of God who is personal. Regardless of whether the creation narrative is early or late in its composition, its canonical position in the Old Testament gives it anterior advantage, and the biblical reader proceeds through the Old Testament with this view of the Creator God who was personally involved in the world he created. So one is not surprised to find him walking in the garden, addressing Adam and Eve, laying out plans to save a morally debased world, covenanting with Abraham, intervening on Moriah to spare Isaac's life, speaking to Jacob in a dream, and preserving Joseph in a foreign and hostile environment in order to procure his will for the people he had chosen to bear his name in the world.
God of the Fathers . With the introduction of the patriarchs of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), God became known as the "God Almighty, " El Shaddai ( Genesis 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 48:3; 49:25; Exodus 6:3; Ezekiel 10:5 ), and less frequently "God everlasting" ( El Olam ), "God of seeing" ( El Roi ), and "God most high, " El Elyon ( Genesis 21:33; 16:13 ). The latter two terms arise out of specific historical situations and suggest something about God's involvement in the lives of his people.
The name of God is personalized in the general title "God of your fathers, " referring to the patriarchs ( Exodus 3:13-16; Deuteronomy 1:11,21; 4:1; 6:3; 12:1; 27:3; Joshua 18:3 , etc. ). He is also called the "Shield of Abraham" ( Genesis 15:1 ), the "Kinsman of Isaac" ( Genesis 31:42,53 ), and the "Mighty One of Jacob" ( Genesis 49:24 ). As a rule, the Canaanite deities were named by the place where they were worshiped, but in this personal form, the God of the patriarchs is revealed as an omnipresent God who is involved in history and the lives of those whom he chooses.
God of Israel's National Events. The Exodus . Perhaps the single most important era for the shaping of Israel's God-concept, despite the opinions of the historical critics, was the Mosaic era, and no text is more important in this regard than Exodus 3:14 , where God identifies himself to Moses as I am who I am . This text stands alongside Genesis 1:27 in theological importance. Its complementary text is Exodus 6:2-9 . Numerous explanations have been offered for this enigmatic statement. The key word is the verb "to be" ( haya [אֶהְיֶה הָיָה]), occurring here in the imperfect form (lit. I will be who I will be), but the Hebrew imperfect verb can bear both the future and the present senses ("I am who I am"). The shortened form of the name occurs at the end of the sentence, "I am has sent me to you." And Exodus 3:15 equates I am with the God of the fathers: "The Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacobhas sent me to you."
The most satisfactory explanation of this name is one that grows out of the context. Recognizing this, Walter Eichrodt suggested that its significance lies in the promise of God's presence. When Moses objected to Yahweh's plan that he should go to Pharaoh, Yahweh said, "I will be with you" ( Exodus 3:12 ). This meaning not only takes seriously the immediate context, but the larger context of the Old Testament as well. Yahweh (the vocalization of the name is the contribution of modern scholars) will be with the Israelites. This promise of God's presence became a crucial factor during the Mosaic era and was the point of contention in Exodus 33 , when Yahweh responded to the golden calf episode by first declaring that his presence would not accompany Israel into Canaan. Moses thereupon pleaded with God to go personally with them, or otherwise not take them into Canaan at all. God acceded to this request and promised his personal presence. This promise of divine presence with Israel reaches its summit in the Old Testament text of Isaiah 7:14 , when God promises that a child would be born and that his name would be Immanuel, which means "God is with us."
The sum of the matter is that God or Yahweh is a God who is present with his people, present in the world he made, present in peace and war, present in crisis and serenity, especially present in the soon-occurring exodus from Egypt toward which Exodus 3:14 is pointing.
God as the saving God can be seen on a universal scale in the story of the flood ( Genesis 6-9 ), and on a personal scale in the stories of the patriarchs ( Genesis 12-50 ). This notion of God is raised to a national level in the exodus from Egypt, a narrative for which the Joseph story serves as an appropriate transition from the view of God as personal Savior to national Savior. God's saving Israel from Egypt becomes the paradigm of saving in the Old Testament, so that when Israel faces the national crisis of exile to Babylonia, the imagery of God's saving Israel from Egypt is the standard with which the return to Judea is compared. In the historical books, God as the saving God delivers his people from national oppression and humiliation, and in the psalms, delivers Israel and individuals from personal danger, sickness, and other threatening circumstances. While God's saving action in the Old Testament is largely set in time and space, it is the foundation on which the New Testament builds the doctrine of eternal salvation that transcends time and space. Further, already in the Fourth Servant Song of Isaiah ( Isaiah 52:13-53:12 ), God's saving action becomes passive suffering and thus forms a link between the Old Testament view of God and the New Testament view of the suffering Messiah.
Sinai . What God had done on behalf of the patriarchs, he had done on Israel's behalf. Sinai was a summing up of his work that preceded it and that aimed to make Israel Yahweh's special people and shape them into a community loyal to him. God began this work when he created the world, and continued it in his work of grace executed in the lives of the heroes and heroines of faith, like Enoch who walked with God ( Genesis 5:22,24 ), Noah who found favor in the eyes of the Lord ( Genesis 6:8 ), Abraham whose faith God counted as righteousness ( Genesis 15:6 ), and Joseph whom God sustained in Egypt through adversity and success ( Genesis 39:23 ). Sinai was the place where God revealed himself to Israel. This revelation took the form of Torah ( law ). The reconciling work God had engaged in since the fall ( Genesis 3 ) assumed institutional status in the Torah. God instituted an agent (priesthood) to serve as an intermediary of reconciliation between himself and Israel, a place (tabernacle) where he and Israel should meet each other in worship, and a means (sacrificial system) that provided the formal expression of Israel's and the individual's desire to do God's will and to live in obedience to his commandments.
While the Torah was the broad revelation of God's will and Israel's responsibility toward God, God put his signature on the Torah in a more formal arrangement called a covenant ( berit [בְּרִית]). The covenant he made with Abraham was activated on a national level at Sinai and designed with particulars that formalized the relationship between Israel and Yahweh. Not only did God commit himself to Israel, but he called Israel to a binding commitment to him.
In this covenant, God established the theological premise of his oneness: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one" ( Deuteronomy 6:4 ). While this premise distinguishes him from the pluralistic notion of deity so common in the ancient Near East, it also makes a statement about his inner unity, involving his unity of both person and purpose. Although the Old Testament can speak of God in plural terms (e.g., "let us make man in our image, " Genesis 1:26 ), his plurality of inner being, perhaps indicative of the interactive and complex nature of his person, functions with a unity of purpose. He should not be conceived of, therefore, like the ancient pantheon of gods and goddesses who sometimes worked against one another's purposes. Rather, he is one in person and purpose. Thus, Israel was called to worship God with a singleness of devotion, giving their loyalty to him and to no other gods ( Exodus 20:3-6 ). The prophets later helped Israel understand that this undivided loyalty was in fact directed to the only God who existed (e.g., Isaiah 45:5 ). The other gods were mere figments of the imagination.
The Sinai covenant had a dual purpose, stipulating how God would relate to Israel and how Israel should relate to God and the world. The same vocabulary that describes God in the Old Testament is used to call Israel to covenant loyalty.
For example, God calls Israel to be holy premised on his being holy: "Be holy, for I am holy" ( Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26; 21:8 ). The Sinai legislation provides no more distinctive concept of God than God as holy. This character of God by extension applies to the high priestly garments, the tabernacle, the Sabbath, and Israel. The Book of Leviticus is so devoted to the concept of holiness that chapters 17-20 have been called the Holiness Code. Basically the word "holy" connotes separation from the profane and appointment to Yahweh's service. Yahweh's holiness involves his power ( 1 Samuel 6:20 ), transcendence, and moral perfection ( Isaiah 6:3; 35:8 ). His commandment to be holy does not imply the assumption of his incommunicable attributes by human beings such as transcendence and omnipotence, but requires one to fear him and to seek moral perfection. Isaiah, deeply moved by his encounter with the holy God ( Isaiah 6:3 ), sensed his own uncleanness (v. 5). His recognition of God's holiness is confirmed by his frequent reference to God as the Holy One of Israel.
The moral core of the covenant, however, was described by another word, hesed, a rich concept requiring multiple terms in translation, such as "steadfast love, " "lovingkindness, " "mercy, " "faithfulness, " "trustworthiness, " and "loyalty." This "trustworthiness" or "loyalty" that characterized God is set down in the ethical centerpiece of the law, the Ten Commandments, where God declares that he will show hesed "to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments" ( Exodus 20:6 ). In some instances, it also carries the idea of compassion ( Jeremiah 16:5 ).
Whereas God related to Israel with a steadfastness of love and compassion, Israel should also relate to him with the same kind of loving loyalty. The prophet Micah (6:8) articulated it most clearly: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy ( hesed ), and to walk humbly with your God."
Thus, at Sinai God spells out his holy and loving character toward Israel and calls Israel to the same kind of holy living and loving loyalty toward him and toward their neighbors.
Wilderness Wanderings and Conquest . The Old Testament God as a God of war becomes prominent in the era between the exodus and the monarchy. Already at the exodus from Egypt the Israelites proclaimed him as "warrior" ( Exodus 15:3 ), and the writer of Samuel speaks of Israel's battles belonging to the Lord ( 1 Samuel 18:17; 25:28 ).
The Book of Judges operates on the thesis that Joshua tried to carry out the commandment to destroy the Canaanites, but the period of the judges operated by a new principle, allowing the Canaanites to remain in the land in order to test Israel's resolve to follow the Lord ( Judges 2:20-23 ). In Judges, God intervenes in history at critical moments and manifests his sovereignty over nations.
Yet we must admit that the command to wage war against the Canaanites and God's involvement in such wars pose a challenge to Old Testament theology. At the same time, we also have to remember that the Old Testament speaks out of an ancient context in which survival was most often the survival of the fittest. War was part of life. When human beings reject God's kindness, he resorts to methods that characterize sinful human naturenot to redeem the methods, but to redeem Israel and the world. Paul articulated this principle clearly in Romans 2:4-5 . Another dimension of the command to exterminate the Canaanites is that they posed a threat to Israel's faith ( Exodus 23:23-33; Numbers 33:50-56; Deuteronomy 7:1-6; Judges 2:2 ). Even in the time of Abraham, the Lord noted that the iniquity of the Amorites (Canaanites) was not yet full ( Genesis 15:16 ).
Thus, God's presence was critical to the success of the conquest of Canaan. He involved himself personally ( Joshua 6:8; 10:11,12-14 ) and the writer of Joshua took account of this in his statement, "the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel" (10:42).
Exile and Restoration . Israel's history concludes with the fall of Samaria in 722 b.c., and Judah's history dips into a hiatus called the exile with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c. In these national crises, God is seen as a God of judgment and wrath, but in the return from exile and the restoration, the Old Testament presents him as the God of compassion and salvation.
From the time of Moses to Malachi, God sent his servants the prophets, as his messengers. Whereas he had spoken to the patriarchs in dreams and visions, and to Moses directly, he spoke to Israel through the prophets. Elijah was the exemplary prophet, calling Israel to return to Yahweh's covenant and worship only him. Through these intermediaries God again took the initiative in revelation and action as he had done in Israel's past, choosing the time and place where he would speak to his people. Just as he had entrusted his word to Moses, he also gave his word to the prophets and equipped them to speak it boldly ( Isaiah 6:6-13; Jeremiah 1:9-10 ).
Their message was basically twofold. First, God is Judge . The sins of Israel had earned God's just punishment, which came ultimately in the form of conquest and the exile of Israel (722 b.c.) and Judah (586 b.c.), a series of events that the prophets were inclined to call the day of the Lord ( Amos 5:18-20 ). Yahweh was not a despot whose actions were irrational, but he acted according to the principles of justice that he had set forth in the Torah, and he required that Israel operate by the same standard of justice. At the heart of that system was the demand for undeviating loyalty to God and his will. This meant, as the Torah had commanded, that the Israelites should have no other gods besides Yahweh. Thus, the disloyalty for which the prophets indicted Israel was best summed up in their blatant idolatry. The Book of Lamentations stands as an assessment of Judah's fall and a witness to Yahweh's mercy, which is renewed every morning ( Lamentations 3:22-24 ). The writer attributes the disaster to the failure of the prophets and priests, who were more interested in personal gain than the souls for whom they were responsible ( Lamentations 4:13-16 ). The restoration, originating in God's mercy, would be hastened by the people's despairing of their sin and hoping in the Lord. With a prayer for restoration the book closes (5:19-22).
Second, God is compassionate . The final word in prophetic theology is grace. No prophet knew that better than Isaiah, who announced the era of restoration as a time when Yahweh would comfort his people and proclaimed Yahweh's forgiveness of Judah's sins (40:1-2). God's actions to restore Judah after the exile to Babylonia would be as mighty and compassionate as his deliverance of their ancestors from Egypt; that is, he would perform a second exodus ( Isaiah 35; 45 ). This miraculous era would manifest Yahweh's greatness in ways that would summon the nations to turn to him for salvation ( Isaiah 45:22 ). So deep was God's compassion for Israel and the world that he would assume the form of a servant and take on himself Israel's suffering and sin ( Isaiah 53:4-6 ).
The God of Israel's Sages and Singers. God of Israel's Sages (Wisdom) . God is known in the Old Testament as the God of wisdom in the Torah and Prophets, but this attribute never receives the kind of emphasis it does among the wise men (sages) and in the Wisdom Literature they produced (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes). The idea of God's wisdom implies his understanding of the universe and its operation, both on the broad scale and the personal level. Thus, the wisdom of God includes his knowledge and administration of the created order ( Job 38-39 ). It further implies that God implanted a certain orderliness and regularity in the universe, and that same design should be reflected in human life. It is this latter dimension of wisdom that contributes to the personal and practical expressions of wisdom in the Book of Proverbs. Thus, one must live an orderly (moral) life in society so that society might become a reflection of the orderly universe, which in turn reflects something important about the nature of God.
Rather than emphasizing the precepts of the Torah or the oracles of the prophets, wisdom stresses the design of nature as a means of divine revelation. Since God, then, speaks more indirectly through nature than the Torah and prophets, it is not surprising that the Book of Ecclesiastes describes him as sometimes elusive, particularly in revealing to men and women the meaning of life. Yet to the persistent, a modicum of meaning can be found in the routine and work of life ( Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 ).
The God of wisdom operates on the principle of just rewards and punishment. That is, he rewards the righteous and punishes the wickeda principle promoted by Job's friends and espoused by the Book of Proverbs. Yet the view of Wisdom Literature is broad enough to consider those cases when the innocent suffer and the wicked prosper. This is the problem of Job; even though the principle of retribution is basic to an orderly universe, Job insists that God does not always honor that principle. When Yahweh finally speaks to Job out of the whirlwind ( Job 38:1-42:6 ), he does not defend the principle or explain the breath of it, but proclaims his majestic knowledge and expert operation of the universe he made, and expounds the finite understanding of man. While human beings would argue the issue on the level of justice, God would prefer to argue it on the level of grace. So in the epilogue of Job (42:7-17), he not only restores Job's possessions but doubles them.
God of Israel's Singers (Psalms) . To sum up the view of God in psalms poses the same difficulty as the Torah and the Prophets. In the psalms God is so multifaceted and multifunctional that any summary is inadequate. Yet the psalms are a microcosm of Old Testament religion. They contain some law, some prophecy, and some wisdom. Whatever portrait of God one finds in these genres of the Old Testament can generally also be identified somewhere in the psalms. God is Creator and Sustainer ( Psalm 104 ), Redeemer and Savior ( Psalm 25:22 ), Vindicator of the Innocent ( Psalm 26 ), and Giver of mercy to the guilty ( Psalm 51 ). Although they portray God as the God of Israel who Acts on their behalf in history, the psalms are the basic Old Testament witness to personal religion. They are indeed Israel's hymnbook of worship, but they also document God's responsiveness to the devout worshiper who comes to him for mercy and help.
The New Testament . From the Christian point of view, the God of the Old Testament is the same God as in the New, except he manifests himself in different ways, most importantly in the incarnation. Yet the basic attributes of God are the same as those of the Old Testament. In one sense, the study of God in the New Testament is a study of Christology, even though that is not the focus of this article.
The generic term for God in the New Testament is theos, but kurios , the Greek rendering of the Hebrew YHWH, is frequently used instead of the generic term. Long before the Christian era, the Jews had stopped pronouncing the divine name so as not to disrespect of defame it. Instead, they gave to this four-consonant name (YHWH) the vowels of another Hebrew word, Adonai, which means "my Master" or "my Lord." Rather than pronouncing it, they pronounced the loan word, Adonai . When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, the name YHWH or Adonai was rendered by the Greek word kurios, which means "Lord." So the God of the New Testament is frequently called kurios or Lord, as is Jesus.
The New Testament, like the Old, does not try to prove God's existence. Rather it declares, also like the Old Testament, that he exists and manifests himself in various ways, but finally he speaks through his Son Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 1:1-4 ), who is superior to angels, priests, and all other manifestations of the divine Word.
God in the Synoptic Gospels . The Synoptic Gospels present the story of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet behind that story is God. Matthew relates the birth of Jesus as a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy of the coming of Immanuel, "God with us" ( Matthew 1:23 ). The God of the Old Testament makes himself present in the world in the form of human flesh.
The Kingdom of God . The Synoptics focus on the God who sends Jesus and empowers him by stressing the kingdom of God, the salvation of God, and Christ as the son of God. They present the message of Jesus in terms of the imminent approach of the kingdom of God (Matthew prefers kingdom of heaven), a phrase that has both material and spiritual connotations. In the Old Testament Yahweh's kingdom refers to his sovereign reign over the world ( Psalm 103:10; 145:13 ). The principles of this kingdom derive from its King, God himself, and they are laid down in the Sermon on the Mount ( Matthew 5-7 ). The citizens of the kingdom are known as "children of God" ( Matthew 5:9 ), and the standard of righteousness demanded of them originates in God himself ( Matthew 5:48 ), in much the same way as God demanded Israel to be holy because he was holy. The kingdom of God is a concept that links to the original command that humankind as his agents should subdue and take dominion of the earth ( Genesis 1:28 ). This long process with its successes and failures laid out in Old Testament history, finally arrives at a new level of accomplishment in the appearance of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, of whose divinity the Synoptics are convinced. On behalf of humankind, he personally took dominion over the world as he cast out demons, healed diseases, commanded nature ( Mark 11:20; Luke 8:24-26 ), and forgave sinners. In Christ God was taking dominion of the world he had made. The kingdom of God was realized in Jesus Christ as the reign of God in much the same way as a modern monarch reigns (but does not rule), anticipating the rule of God in the eschatological age. Yet the reign of God can become the rule of God in the hearts of those individuals who submit to the power of Christ as they await the historical reality of the kingdom when the kingdom of the world becomes "the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" ( Revelation 11:15 ).
The Salvation of God . In the Old Testament God's saving action appears in the form of deliverance from war, personal distress, illness, and political oppression. While these dimensions of salvation are not all laid aside in the New Testament, the concept has assumed a spiritual dimension that becomes the controlling idea. In sending Jesus, declared Luke, God has "raised up a horn of salvation" for Israel in the house of David ( Luke 1:69 ), which includes the forgiveness of sins ( Luke 1:77 ). When Simeon saw the infant Christ, he declared "My eyes have seen your salvation" ( Luke 2:30 ). Luke interprets the ministry of John the Baptist in the wilderness as the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (40:3-5) that the salvation of God would illuminate the wilderness ( Luke 3:4-6 ). This is the sense of salvation in Luke 19:9 , where Jesus declares that as a consequence of Zacchaeus's repentant spirit, salvation had come to his house.
The Son of God . This phrase can refer to human beings ( Luke 3:38 ), but the meaning that concerns us here is its reference to Jesus because he is God and partakes of the divine nature. The title could simply designate the Messiah ( Mark 1:1; Matthew 16:16 ), but in Matthew 11:25-27 Jesus' sonship involves a unique and exclusive relationship between the Father and the Son. His knowledge of the Father is in the same degree as the Father's knowledge of him.
God in the Fourth Gospel . If the Synoptics leave a slight margin of uncertainty about the divinity of Jesus, the Gospel of John declares it unequivocally, calling Jesus the Word ( logos [1:1). John accents the theological doctrine that Isaiah had expressed so clearly (43:1-7,14-16; 45:1-7), that the Creator and the Redeemer are one (1:10-13; see also 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16 ). Further, the Gospel subtly identifies Jesus with Yahweh of the Old Testament, who revealed himself as i am to Moses ( Exodus 3:14; see John 6:35,48; 8:12; 10:7,9; 10:11,14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1,5 ).
God as Father . The concept of God as Father of Israel ( Deuteronomy 32:6 ) and the individual ( Deuteronomy 8:5 ) originates in the Old Testament. While the Synoptics use the term also, John's Gospel capitalizes on this title for God, emphasizing Jesus' intimate relationship to God as Son: "I and the Father are one" (10:30). Jesus' enemies heard in the description of his relationship to the Father a claim to equality with God (5:18). Yet Jesus' reference to God as his Father is only one side of the picture. The other is that God acknowledges Jesus as his Son, a point made more directly by Matthew and Luke than by John. At the baptism of Jesus the voice from heaven declared, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well please" ( Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22 ).
God as Spirit . The Old Testament witnesses insist that God is a spiritual Being, even though they often speak of him in anthropomorphic terms. Indeed, they urge an absolute difference between God and man ( Numbers 23:19; Hosea 11:9 ). Jesus puts the idea of God as Spirit in the context of worship in the new age that he inaugurated: "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" ( John 4:24 ). The spiritual nature of God demands a spiritual response from human beings that is not tied to localities as was worship in the temple, whether on Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem, but is centered on Christ the Truth.
John goes beyond this idea and lays out the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father (15:26) and is sent by the Son (16:7). In the Old Testament the term "holy Spirit" refers to the manifestation of God's presence in the world ( Psalm 51:11 ). In the Fourth Gospel the Holy Spirit is a Person as are the Father and Son. Yet the unity of God is still maintained by Jesus and by Paul ( Mark 12:29; Romans 3:30 ). The trinitarian view of God is already implied in the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19 and the Pauline benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14 .
God in the Acts of the Apostles . The Book of Acts represents God's action in history after the resurrection and ascension of Christ. God sent the Holy Spirit to empower his people for the task of proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Peter announced at Pentecost that God had raised Jesus from the dead ( Acts 2:24 ). The reality of the resurrection, so shattering to the kingdom of sin and death, is the dominating theme of this new age. While Acts is a witness to the risen Christ, it was the God of the fathers who raised him from the dead ( Acts 5:30 ) and empowered the disciples to carry on his mission to the world.
God in the Pauline Letters . The apostle Paul plumbs the depths of the meaning of the cross and the resurrection. In these events, God has revealed his wisdom and power. In the cross God took on himself the weakness of human flesh and showed that his weakness is insurpassably greater than the power of men and that his wisdom is unimaginably wiser than human understanding ( 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 ). The blessings that God has prepared for those who love him are summed up in the cross and resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ). In fact, the salvation that God had bestowed upon Old Testament Israel only in part became a historical reality in Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15:15 ). God has elected believers, not merely in Abraham, but before the foundation of the world ( Ephesians 1:4 ). Paul understands the mystery of the gospel that the Old Testament witnesses had not comprehendedthat God has united in one body both Jews and Gentiles through the cross ( Ephesians 2:15-16; 3:4-5 ), and through Christ has reconciled the world to himself ( 2 Corinthians 5:19 ). Indeed, in Christ God has not merely repaired the broken human creature, but has re-created him ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ) and conformed him to the image of his Son ( Romans 8:29 ).
God in the General Epistles . God, who spoke so clearly and in various ways in the Old Testament, ultimately and decisively has spoken in the new age through his Son Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 1:1-3 ). The old ways of speaking through angels, Moses, Joshua, and the levitical priests were inadequate, so God has spoken through Christ with decisive finality. When Christ's suffering on the cross was finished, he sat down in his place of honor and authority at the right hand of God in heaven ( Hebrews 10:12; 12:2 ). The entire historical process of faith, represented by Old Testament worthies known and unknown, reached its climax in Jesus Christ, who has become the focus of faith. The rallying cry of the weak and heartless is now, "Consider him who endured from sinners such opposition from sinful men" ( Hebrews 12:1-3 ).
How one should live during the interim between the resurrection and the second coming of Christ was a major topic of discussion in the New Testament church. That concern preoccupied James. Although God, the Father of lights, has redeemed his people (1:17-18) and planted his Word in their hearts (1:21), there are yet temptations and trials to deal with before they inherit the kingdom of God (2:5). James offers admonitions for this interim period.
Peter's understanding of God contains the basics of the doctrine of the Trinity. He mentions the Father, Spirit, and Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 1:2 , and the three Persons of the Trinity figure prominently in the work of redemption as Peter outlines it. This marvelous light into which God, sovereign and transcendent, has called his people, was planned by God before the world came into existence ( 1 Peter 1:20 ). And not only had he preordained this work of grace, but he had reconstituted the nation as a "chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, " that they might declare his praises ( 1 Peter 2:9 ).
John's teaching in this three epistles also provides instruction for living during this interim period. When one sins, Christ is the Advocate with the Father ( 1 John 2:1 ), who forgives and cleanses us from unrighteousness ( 1 John 1:9 ). In addition to portraying God as a loving Father, John provides two other descriptive themes: God is light and God is love. Both originate in the Old Testament. The concept of God as light, in whom is no darkness, links John's thought to Genesis 1:3 , where God created light and separated it from darkness, thus separating himself from darkness and associating himself with light. This light has shone finally and resplendently in Jesus Christ, and it is in that light that the new life becomes reality ( 1 John 1:5-7 ). The second theme, so reminiscent of Old Testament theological language to describe God's relationship to Israel (cf. Deuteronomy 7 ), declares God is love ( 1 John 4:8 ). Only in that truth can one fulfill the commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself, a commandment based in the nature of Yahweh ( Leviticus 19:18 ). This commandment, so contrary to human nature, has found in Christ a new orientation ( 1 John 3:16 ) and a new enablement by a rebirth into God through Christ ( 1 John 3:9; 4:7 ).
God in the Revelation of John . In the canonical order of the Bible there is a wonderful symmetry between the first book (Genesis) and the final book (Revelation). The sovereign, omnipotent God, who created the universe by his Word, re-creates the heavens and earth and takes his abode among his people, destroying death and all its emotional accouterments ( Revelation 21:1-4 ). By his omnipotent power God brings his kingdom, outlined in Israel's history and anticipated by the prophets, to reality, transforming the kingdom of the world into his kingdom, and thus achieving the subjection of the world to his sovereign will and purpose, a task encumbent upon the first man ( Genesis 1:28 ) and accomplished by the Second Man Jesus Christ ( Revelation 11:15 ).
C. Hassell Bullock
Bibliography . C. Barth, God with Us ; W. Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament ; G. W. Bromiley, ISBE, 2:493-503; C. H. Bullock, An Introduction to Old Testament Prophets ; J. S. Chesnut, The Old Testament Understanding of God ; P. C. Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament ; R. W. Gleason, Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament ; G. E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament ; W. H. Schmidt, The Faith of the Old Testament: A History ; M. C. Tenney, New Testament Survey ; C. Westermann, What Does the Old Testament Say about God? W. Elwell, TAB pp. 44-66.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
an immaterial, intelligent, and free Being; of perfect goodness, wisdom, and power; who made the universe, and continues to support it, as well as to govern and direct it, by his providence. Philologists have hitherto considered the word God as being of the same signification with good; and this is not denied by M. Hallenberg. But he thinks that both words originally denoted unity; and that the root is אתד , unus; whence the Syriac Chad and Gada; the Arabic Ahd and Gahd; the Persic Choda and Chuda; the Greek αγαθος and λαθος ; the Teutonic Gud; the German Gott; and our Saxon God. The other names of God, this author thinks, are referable to a similar origin.
2. By his immateriality, intelligence, and freedom, God is distinguished from Fate, Nature, Destiny, Necessity, Chance, Anima Mundi, and from all the other fictitious beings acknowledged by the Stoics, Pantheists, Spinosists, and other sorts of Atheists. The knowledge of God, his nature, attributes, word, and works, with the relations between him and his creatures, makes the subject of the extensive science called theology. In Scripture God is defined by, "I am that I am, Alpha and Omega; the Beginning and End of all things." Among philosophers, he is defined a Being of infinite perfection; or in whom there is no defect of any thing which we conceive may raise, improve, or exalt his nature. He is the First Cause, the First Being, who has existed from the beginning, has created the world, or who subsists necessarily, or of himself.
3. The plain argument, says Maclaurin, in his "Account of Sir I. Newton's Philosophical Discoveries," for the existence of the Deity, obvious to all, and carrying irresistible conviction with it, is from the evident contrivance and fitness of things for one another, which we meet with throughout all parts of the universe. There is no need of nice or subtle reasonings in this matter; a manifest contrivance immediately suggests a contriver. It strikes us like a sensation; and artful reasonings against it may puzzle us, but it is without shaking our belief. No person, for example that knows the principles of optics, and the structure of the eye, can believe that it was formed without skill in that science; or that the ear was formed without the knowledge of sounds; or that the male and female in animals were not formed for each other, and for continuing the species. All our accounts of nature are full of instances of this kind. The admirable and beautiful structure of things for final causes, exalts our idea of the Contriver; the unity of design shows him to be one. The great motions in the system performed with the same facility as the least, suggest his almighty power, which gave motion to the earth and the celestial bodies with equal ease as to the minutest particles. The subtilty of the motions and actions in the internal parts of bodies, shows that his influence penetrates the inmost recesses of things, and that he is equally active and present every where. The simplicity of the laws that prevail in the world, the excellent disposition of things, in order to obtain the best ends, and the beauty which adorns the work of nature, far superior to any thing in art, suggest his consummate wisdom. The usefulness of the whole scheme, so well contrived for the intelligent beings that enjoy it, with the internal disposition and moral structure of these beings themselves, shows his unbounded goodness. These are arguments which are sufficiently open to the views and capacities of the unlearned, while at the same time they acquire new strength and lustre from the discoveries of the learned. The Deity's acting and interposing in the universe, show that he governs as well as formed it; and the depth of his counsels, even in conducting the material universe, of which a great part surpasses our knowledge, keeps up an reward veneration and awe of this great Being, and disposes us to receive what may be otherwise revealed to us concerning him. It has been justly observed, that some of the laws of nature now known to us must have escaped us if we had wanted the sense of seeing. It may be in his power to bestow upon us other senses, of which we have at present no idea; without which it may be impossible for us to know all his works, or to have more adequate ideas of himself. In our present state, we know enough to be satisfied of our dependency upon him, and of the duty we owe to him, the Lord and Disposer of all things. He is not the object of sense; his essence, and, indeed, that of all other substances, are beyond the reach of all our discoveries; but his attributes clearly appear in his admirable works. We know that the highest conceptions we are able to form of them, are still beneath his real perfections; but his power and dominion over us, and our duty toward him, are manifest.
4. Though God has given us no innate ideas of himself, says Mr. Locke, yet, having furnished us with those faculties our minds are endowed with, he hath not left himself without a witness; since we have sense, perception, and reason, and cannot want a clear proof of him as long as we carry ourselves about us, To show, therefore, that we are capable of knowing, that is, of being certain that there is a God, and how we may come by this certainty, I think we need go no farther than ourselves, and that undoubted knowledge we have of our own existence. I think it is beyond question, that man has a clear perception of his own being; he knows certainly that he exists, and that he is something. In the next place, man knows, by an intuitive certainty, that bare nothing can no more produce any real being, than it can be equal to two right angles. If, therefore, we know there is some real Being, it is an evident demonstration, that from eternity there has been something; since what was not from eternity had a beginning; and what had a beginning must be produced by something else. Next it is evident, that what has its being from another must also have all that which is in, and belongs to, its being from another too; all the powers it has must be owing to, and derived from, the same source. This eternal source, then, of all being, must be also the source and original of all power; and so this eternal Being must be also the most powerful. Again: man finds in himself perception and knowledge: we are certain, then, that there is not only some Being, but some knowing, intelligent Being, in the world. There was a time, then, when there was no knowing Being, or else there has been a knowing Being from eternity. If it be said there was a time when that eternal Being had no knowledge, I reply, that then it is impossible there should have ever been any knowledge; it being as impossible that things wholly void of knowledge, and operating blindly, and without any perception, should produce a knowing Being, as it is impossible that a triangle should make itself three angles bigger than two right ones. Thus from the consideration of ourselves, and what we infallibly find in our own constitutions, our reason leads us to the knowledge of this certain and evident truth, that there is an eternal, most powerful, and knowing Being, which, whether any one will call God, it matters not. The thing is evident; and from this idea, duly considered, will easily be deduced all those other attributes we ought to ascribe to this eternal Being. From what has been said, it is plain to me, that we have a more certain knowledge of the existence of a God, than of any thing our senses have not immediately discovered to us. Nay, I presume I may say that we more certainly know that there is a God, than that there is any thing else without us. When I say we know, I mean, there is such a knowledge within our reach, which we cannot miss, if we will but apply our minds to that as we do to several other inquiries. It being then unavoidable for all rational creatures to conclude that something has existed from eternity, let us next see what kind of thing that must be. There are but two sorts of beings in the world that man knows or conceives; such as are purely material without sense or perception, and sensible, perceiving beings, such as we find ourselves to be. These two sorts we shall call cogitative and incogitative beings; which to our present purpose are better than material and immaterial. If, then, there must be something eternal, it is very obvious to reason that it must be a cogitative being; because it is as impossible to conceive that bare incogitative matter should ever produce a thinking, intelligent being, as that nothing should of itself produce matter. Let us suppose any parcel of matter eternal, we shall find it in itself unable to produce any thing. Let us suppose its parts firmly at rest together, if there were no other being in the world, must it not eternally remain so, a dead inactive lump? Is it possible to conceive that it can add motion to itself, or produce any thing? Matter, then, by its own strength cannot produce in itself so much as motion. The motion at has must also be from eternity, or else added to matter by some other being, more powerful than matter. But let us suppose motion eternal too, yet matter, incogitative matter, and motion could never produce thought: knowledge will still be as far beyond the power of nothing to produce. Divide matter into as minute parts as you will, vary its figure and motion as much as you please, it will operate no otherwise upon other bodies of proportionable bulk, than it did before this division. The minutest particles of matter knock, impel, and resist one another, just as the greater do; so that if we suppose nothing eternal, matter can never begin to be; if we suppose bare matter without motion eternal, motion can never begin to be; if we suppose only matter and motion to be eternal, thought can never begin to be; for it is impossible to conceive that matter, either with or without motion, could have originally in and from itself, sense, perception, and knowledge, as is evident from hence, that then sense, perception, and knowledge must be a property eternally inseparable from matter, and every particle of it. Since, therefore, whatsoever is the first eternal Being must necessarily be cogitative; and whatsoever is first of all things must necessarily contain in it, and actually have, at least all the perfections that can ever after exist, it necessarily follows, that the first eternal Being cannot be matter. If, therefore, it be evident that something, must necessarily exist from eternity, it is also evident that that something must necessarily be a cogitative Being. For it is as impossible that incogitative matter should produce a cogitative Being, as that nothing, or the negation of all being, should produce a positive Being or matter.
This discovery of the necessary existence of an eternal mind sufficiently leads us to the knowledge of God. For it will hence follow, that all other knowing beings that have a beginning must depend upon him, and have no other ways of knowledge or extent of power than what he gives them; and therefore if he made those, he made also the less excellent pieces of this universe, all inanimate bodies, whereby his omniscience, power, and providence will be established, and from thence all his other attributes necessarily follow.
5. In the Scriptures no attempt is made to prove the existence of a God; such an attempt would have been entirely useless, because the fact was universally admitted. The error of men consisted, not in denying a God, but in admitting too many; and one great object of the Bible is to demonstrate that there is but one. No metaphysical arguments, however, are employed in it for this purpose. The proof rests on facts recorded in the history of the Jews, from which it appears that they were always victorious and prosperous so long as they served the only living and true God, Jehovah, the name by which the Almighty made himself known to them, and uniformly unsuccessful when they revolted from him to serve other gods. What argument could be so effectual to convince them that there was no god in all the earth but the God of Israel? The sovereignty and universal providence of the Lord Jehovah are proved by predictions delivered by the Jewish prophets, pointing out the fate of nations and of empires, specifying distinctly their rise, the duration of their power, and the causes of their decline; thus demonstrating that one God ruled among the nations, and made them the unconscious instruments of promoting the purposes of his will. In the same manner, none of the attributes of God are demonstrated in Scripture by reasoning: they are simply affirmed and illustrated by facts; and instead of a regular deduction of doctrines and conclusions from a few admitted principles, we are left to gather them from the recorded feelings and devotional expressions of persons whose hearts were influenced by the fear of God. These circumstances point out a marked singularity in the Scriptures, considered as a repository of religious doctrines. The writers, generally speaking, do not reason, but exhort and remonstrate; they do not attempt to fetter the judgment by the subtleties of argument, but to rouse the feelings by an appeal to palpable facts. This is exactly what might have been expected from teachers acting under a divine commission, and armed with undeniable facts to enforce their admonitions.
6. In three distinct ways do the sacred writers furnish us with information on this great and essential subject, the existence and the character of God; from the names by which he is designated; from the actions ascribed to him; and from the attributes with which he is invested in their invocations and praises; and in those lofty descriptions of his nature which, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have recorded for the instruction of the world. These attributes will be considered under their respective heads; but the impression of the general view of the divine character, as thus revealed, is too important to be omitted.
7. The names of God as recorded in Scripture convey at once ideas of overwhelming greatness and glory, mingled with that awful mysteriousness with which, to all finite minds, and especially to the minds of mortals, the divine essence and mode of existence must ever be invested. Though ONE, he is אלהים , Elohim, Gods persons adorable. He is יהוה , JEHOVAH, self-existing; אל , EL, strong, powerful; אהיה , EHIEH, I am, I will be, self- existence, independency, all-sufficiency, immutability, eternity; שדי , SHADDAI, almighty, all-sufficient; אדן , ADON, Supporter, Lord, Judge. These are among the adorable appellatives of God which are scattered throughout the revelation that he has been pleased to make of himself: but on one occasion he was pleased more particularly to declare his name, that is, such of the qualities and attributes of the divine nature as mortals are the most interested in knowing; and to unfold, not only his natural, but also those of his moral attributes by which his conduct towards his creatures is regulated. "And the Lord passed by and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation," Exodus 34. This is the most ample and particular description of the character of God, as given by himself in the sacred records; and the import of the several titles by which he has thus in his infinite condescension manifested himself, has been thus exhibited. He is not only JEHOVAH, self-existent, and EL, the strong or mighty God; but he is, says Dr. A. Clarke, " רחום , ROCHUM, the merciful Being, who is full of tenderness and compassion; חנון , CHANUN, the gracious One, he whose nature is goodness itself, the loving God. ארכּ? פים , Erec Apayim long- suffering, the Being who, because of his tenderness, is not easily irritated, but suffers long and is kind; רב , RAB, the great or mighty One: חסד , Chesed the bountiful Being, he who is exuberant in his beneficence; אמת , EMETH, the Truth, or True One, he alone who can neither deceive nor be deceived; נצר חסד , Notser Chesed the Preserver of bountifulness, he whose beneficence never ends, keeping mercy, for thousands of generations, showing compassion and mercy while the world endures; נשא עון ופשע וחטאה , Nose Avon Vapesha Vechataah he who bears away iniquity, transgression, and sin; properly the Redeemer, the Pardoner, the Forgiver, the Being whose prerogative it is to forgive sin, and save the soul; נקה לא ינקה Nakeh Lo Yinnakeh the righteous Judge, who distributes justice with an impartial hand; and עין פקד , Paked Avon &c, he who visits iniquity, he who punishes transgressors, and from whose justice no sinner can escape; the God of retributive and vindictive justice."
8. The second means by which the Scriptures convey to us the knowledge of God, is by the actions which they ascribe to him. They contain, indeed, the important record of his dealings with men in every age which is comprehended within the limit of the sacred history; and, by prophetic declaration, they also exhibit the principles on which he will govern the world to the end of time; so that the whole course of the divine administration may be considered as exhibiting a singularly illustrative comment upon those attributes of his nature which, in their abstract form, are contained in such declarations as those which have been just quoted. The first act ascribed to God is that of creating the heavens and the earth out of nothing; and by his fiat alone arranging their parts, and peopling them with living creatures. By this were manifested—his eternity and self- existence, as he who creates must be before all creatures, and he who gives being to others can himself derive it from none:—his almighty power, shown both in the act of creation and in the number and vastness of the objects so produced:—his wisdom, in their arrangement, and in their fitness to their respective ends:—and his goodness, as the whole tended to the happiness of sentient beings. The foundations of his natural and moral government are also made manifest by his creative acts. In what he made out of nothing he had an absolute right and prerogative; it awaited his ordering, and was completely at his disposal: so that to alter or destroy his own work, and to prescribe the laws by which the intelligent and rational part of his creatures should be governed, are rights which none can question. Thus on the one hand his character of Lord or Governor is established, and on the other our duty of lowly homage and absolute obedience.
9. Agreeably to this, as soon as man was created, he was placed under a rule of conduct. Obedience was to be followed with the continuance of the divine favour; transgression, with death. The event called forth new manifestations of the character of God. His tender mercy, in the compassion showed to the fallen pair; his justice, in forgiving them only in the view of a satisfaction to be hereafter offered to his justice by an innocent representative of the sinning race; his love to that race, in giving his own Son to become this Redeemer, and in the fulness of time to die for the sins of the whole world; and his holiness, in connecting with this provision for the pardon of man the means of restoring him to a sinless state, and to the obliterated image of God in which he had been created. Exemplifications of the divine mercy are traced from age to age, in his establishing his own worship among men, and remitting the punishment of individual and national offences in answer to prayer offered from penitent hearts, and in dependence upon the typified or actually offered universal sacrifice:—of his condescension, in stooping to the cases of individuals; in his dispensations both of providence and grace, by showing respect to the poor and humble; and, principally, by the incarnation of God in the form of a servant, admitting men into familiar and friendly intercourse with himself, and then entering into heaven to be their patron and advocate, until they should be received into the same glory, "and so be for ever with the Lord:"—of his strictly righteous government, in the destruction of the old world, the cities of the plain, the nations of Canaan, and all ancient states, upon their "filling up the measure of their iniquities;" and, to show that "he will by no means clear the guilty;" in the numerous and severe punishments inflicted even upon the chosen seed of Abraham, because of their transgressions:—of his long-suffering, in frequent warnings, delays, and corrective judgments inflicted upon individuals and nations, before sentence of utter excision and destruction:—of faithfulness and truth, in the fulfilment of promises, often many ages after they were given, as in the promises to Abraham respecting the possession of the land of Canaan by his seed, and in all the "promises made to the fathers" respecting the advent, vicarious death, and illustrious offices of the "Christ," the Saviour of the world:—of his immutability, in the constant and unchanging laws and principles of his government, which remain to this day precisely the same, in every thing universal, as when first promulgated, and have been the rule of his conduct in all places as well as through all time:—of his prescience of future events, manifested by the predictions of Scripture:— and of the depth and stability of his counsel, as illustrated in that plan and purpose of bringing back a revolted world to obedience and felicity, which we find steadily kept in view in the Scriptural history of the acts of God in former ages; which is still the end toward which all his dispensations bend, however wide and mysterious their sweep; and which they will finally accomplish, as we learn from the prophetic history of the future, contained in the Old and New Testaments.
Thus the course of divine operation in the world has from age to age been a manifestation of the divine character, continually receiving new and stronger illustrations until the completion of the Christian revelation by the ministry of Christ and his inspired followers, and still placing itself in brighter light and more impressive aspects as the scheme of human redemption runs on to its consummation. From all the acts of God as recorded in the Scriptures, we are taught that he alone is God; that he is present every where to sustain and govern all things; that his wisdom is infinite, his counsel settled, and his power irresistible; that he is holy, just, and good; the Lord and the Judge, but the Father and the Friend, of man.
10. More at large do we learn what God is, from the declarations of the inspired writings. As to his substance, that "God is a Spirit." As to his duration, that "from everlasting to everlasting he is God;" "the King, eternal, immortal, invisible." That, after all the manifestations he has made of himself, he is, from the infinite perfection and glory of his nature, incomprehensible: "Lo, these are but parts of his ways, and how little a portion is heard of him!" "Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out." That he is unchangeable: "The Father of Lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." That "he is the fountain of life," and the only independent Being in the universe: "Who only hath immortality." That every other being, however exalted, has its existence from him: "For by him were all things created, which are in heaven and in earth, whether they are visible or invisible." That the existence of every thing is upheld by him, no creature being for a moment independent of his support: "By him all things consist;" "upholding all things by the word of his power." That he is omnipresent: "Do not I fill heaven and earth with my presence, saith the Lord?" That he is omniscient. "All things are naked and open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do." That he is the absolute Lord and Owner of all things: "The heavens, even the heaven of heavens, are thine, and all the parts of them:" "The earth is thine, and the fulness thereof, the world and them that dwell therein:" "He doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth." That his providence extends to the minutest objects: "The hairs of your head are all numbered:" "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." That he is a Being of unspotted purity and perfect rectitude: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!" "A God of truth, and in whom is no iniquity:" "Of purer eyes than to behold iniquity." That he is just in the administration of his government: "Shall not the Judge of the whole earth do right?" "Clouds and darkness are round about him; judgment and justice are the habitation of his throne." That his wisdom is unsearchable: "O the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" And, finally, that he is good and merciful: "Thou art good, and thy mercy endureth for ever:" "His tender mercy is over all his works:" "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ:" "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them:" "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
11. Under these deeply awful but consolatory views, do the Scriptures present to us the supreme object of our worship and trust; and they dwell upon each of the above particulars with inimitable sublimity and beauty of language, and with an inexhaustible variety of illustration. Nor can we compare these views of the divine nature with the conceptions of the most enlightened of Pagans, without feeling how much reason we have for everlasting gratitude, that a revelation so explicit, and so comprehensive, should have been made to us on a subject which only a revelation from God himself could have made known. It is thus that Christian philosophers, even when they do not use the language of the Scriptures, are able to speak on this great and mysterious doctrine, in language so clear, and with conceptions so noble; in a manner too so equable, so different from the sages of antiquity, who, if at any time they approach the truth when speaking of the divine nature, never fail to mingle with it some essentially erroneous or grovelling conception. "By the Word of Gods," says Dr. Barrow, "we mean a Being of infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, the Creator and the Governor of all things, to whom the great attributes of eternity and independency, omniscience and immensity, perfect holiness and purity, perfect justice and veracity, complete happiness, glorious majesty, and supreme right of dominion belong; and to whom the highest veneration, and most profound submission and obedience are due." "Our notion of Deity," says Bishop Pearson, "doth expressly signify a Being or Nature of infinite perfection; and the infinite perfection of a being or nature consists in this, that it be absolutely and essentially necessary; an actual Being of itself; and potential, or causative of all beings beside itself, independent from any other, upon which all things else depend, and by which all things else are governed." "God is a Being," says Lawson, "and not any kind of being; but a substance, which is the foundation of other beings. And not only a substance, but perfect. Yet many beings are perfect in their kind, yet limited and finite. But God is absolutely, fully, and every way infinitely perfect; and therefore above spirits, above angels, who are perfect comparatively. God's infinite perfection includes all the attributes, even the most excellent. It excludes all dependency, borrowed existence, composition, corruption, mortality, contingency; ignorance, unrighteousness, weakness, misery, and all imperfections whatever. It includes necessity of being, independency, perfect unity, simplicity, immensity, eternity, immortality; the most perfect life, knowledge, wisdom, integrity, power, glory, bliss, and all these in the highest degree. We cannot pierce into the secrets of this eternal Being. Our reason comprehends but little of him, and when it can proceed no farther, faith comes in, and we believe far more than we can understand; and this our belief is not contrary to reason; but reason itself dictates unto us, that we must believe far more of God than it can inform us of." To these we may add an admirable passage from Sir Isaac Newton: "The word GOD frequently signifies Lord; but every lord is not God: it is the dominion of a spiritual Being or Lord that constitutes God; true dominion, true God; supreme, the Supreme; reigned, the false god. From such true dominion it follows, that the true God is living, intelligent, and powerful; and from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or supremely perfect; he is eternal and infinite; omnipotent and omniscient; that is, he endures from eternity to eternity; and is present from infinity to infinity. He governs all things that exist, and knows all things that are to be known; he is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present; he endures always, and is present every where; he is omnipresent, not only virtually, but also substantially; for power without substance cannot subsist. All things are contained and move in him, but without any mutual passion; he suffers nothing from the motions of bodies; nor do they undergo any resistance from his omnipresence. It is confessed, that God exists necessarily, and by the same necessity he exists always and every where. Hence also he must be perfectly similar, all eye, all ear, all arm, all the power of perceiving, understanding, and acting; but after a manner not at all corporeal, after a manner not like that of men, after a manner wholly to us unknown. He is destitute of all body, and all bodily shape; and therefore cannot be seen, heard, or touched; nor ought he to be worshipped under the representation of any thing corporeal. We have ideas of the attributes of God, but do not know the substance of even any thing; we see only the figures and colours of bodies, hear only sounds, touch only the outward surfaces, smell only odours, and taste tastes; and do not, cannot, by any sense, or reflex act, know their inward substances; and much less can we have any notion of the substance of God. We know him by his properties and attributes."
12. Many able works in proof of the existence of God have been written, the arguments of which are too copious for us even to analyze. It must be sufficient to say that they all proceed, as it is logically termed, either a priori, from cause to effect, or, which is the safest and most satisfactory mode, a posteriori, from the effect to the cause. The irresistible argument from the marks of design with which all nature abounds, to one great intelligent, designing Cause, is by no writers brought out in so clear and masterly a manner as by Howe, in his "Living temple," and Paley, in his "Natural Theology."
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
The Bible makes no attempt to prove the existence of God, but assumes it from the outset ( Genesis 1:1). This God is neither an impersonal ‘force’ nor an abstract ‘principle’ but a living person, and people find true meaning to existence by coming into a living relationship with him ( John 17:3).
The personal God revealed
As people observe the physical world, they may conclude that there is an intelligent and powerful God who is the ultimate cause and controller of all things ( Acts 17:23-27; Romans 1:19-20; Hebrews 3:4; see Creation ). As they reflect upon their awareness of right and wrong, they may conclude that there is a moral God to whom all rational creatures are answerable ( Acts 17:23; Romans 2:15-16). However, God has not left people with only a vague or general knowledge of himself. He has revealed himself more fully through history, and he has recorded that revelation in the Bible ( Jeremiah 1:1-3; 2 Peter 1:21; see Revelation ). The central truth of that revelation is that there is only one God ( Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6; Jeremiah 10:10; Mark 12:29; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Timothy 2:5), though he exists in the form of a trinity (see Trinity ).
In any study of the character of God, we must bear in mind that God is a unified personality. He is not made up of different parts, nor can he be divided into different parts. Also, he is not simply a person who has certain qualities (e.g. goodness, truth, love, holiness, wisdom) but he is the full expression of these qualities. The Bible’s way of putting this truth into words is to say that God is love, he is light, he is truth ( John 14:6; 1 John 1:5; 1 John 4:16; see Love ; Light ; Truth ). (In the present article many of the qualities, or attributes, of God can be mentioned only briefly. For fuller details see the separate articles as indicated.)
Eternal and independent
Since it is impossible to give a complete definition or description of God, the Bible makes no attempt to do so. In addition, it forbids the use of anything in nature or anything made by human hands as a physical image of God, for such things can lead only to wrong ideas about God ( Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 4:15-19; see Idol, Idolatry )
When Moses asked for a name of God that would give the Israelites some idea of his character, the name that God revealed to him was ‘I am who I am’ ( Exodus 3:14). The name was given not to satisfy curiosity, but to tell God’s people that their God was independent, eternal, unchangeable and able always to do what he, in his absolute wisdom, knew to be best. (Concerning this and other names of God see Yahweh .)
God’s existence cannot be measured according to time, for he is without beginning and without end. He is eternal ( Psalms 90:2; Isaiah 48:12; John 5:26; Romans 1:23; Romans 16:26; 1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8; see Eternity ). He is answerable to no one. He does not need to give reasons for his decisions or explanations of his actions ( Psalms 115:3; Isaiah 40:13-14; Daniel 4:35; Acts 4:28; Romans 9:20-24), though in his grace he may sometimes do so ( Genesis 18:17-19; Ephesians 1:9). His wisdom is infinite and therefore beyond human understanding ( Psalms 147:5; Isaiah 40:28; Daniel 2:20; Romans 11:33; Romans 16:27; see Wisdom ).
A God who is infinite has no needs. Nothing in the works of creation or in the activities of humans or angels can add anything to him or take anything from him ( Psalms 50:10-13; Acts 17:24-25; Romans 11:36). He is under obligation to no one, he needs no one, and he depends on no one. Whatever he does, he does because he chooses to, not because he is required to ( Ephesians 1:11). But, again in his grace, he may choose people to have the honour of serving him ( Psalms 105:26-27; Acts 9:15).
Majestic and sovereign
As the creator and ruler of all things, God is pictured as enthroned in majesty in the heavens ( Psalms 47:7; Psalms 93:1-2; Psalms 95:3-5; Hebrews 1:3; see Glory ). Nothing can compare with his mighty power ( Isaiah 40:12-15; Isaiah 40:25-26; Jeremiah 32:17; Romans 1:20; Ephesians 1:19-20; Ephesians 3:20; see Power ).
God is the possessor of absolute authority and nothing can exist independently of it ( Psalms 2:1-6; Isaiah 2:10-12; Isaiah 2:20-22; Isaiah 40:23; see Authority ). He maintains the whole creation ( Psalms 147:8-9; Matthew 5:45; Colossians 1:17), he controls all life ( Deuteronomy 7:15; Deuteronomy 28:60; Job 1:21; Psalms 104:29-30; Matthew 10:29) and he directs all events, small and great, towards the goals that he has determined ( Genesis 45:5-8; Psalms 135:6 : Proverbs 16:33; Isaiah 10:5-7; Isaiah 44:24-28; Isaiah 46:9-11; Amos 3:6; Amos 4:6-11; John 11:49-53; Acts 2:23; Acts 17:26; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; see Predestination ; Providence ). Yet people have the freedom to make their own decisions, and they are responsible for those decisions ( Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Isaiah 1:16-20; Matthew 27:21-26; Romans 9:30-32).
There are no limits to God’s knowledge or presence. This is a cause for both fear and joy: fear, because it means that no sin can escape him; joy, because it means that no one who trusts in his mercy can ever be separated from him ( Psalms 139:1-12; Proverbs 15:3; Isaiah 40:27-28; Isaiah 57:15; Jeremiah 23:24; Hebrews 4:13). God is not only over all things, but is also in all things ( Acts 17:24; Acts 17:27-28; Ephesians 4:6).
Since God is sovereign, people must submit to him and obey him. Refusing to do this, they rebel against him. They want to be independent, but instead they become slaves of sin ( Genesis 3:1-7; John 8:34; see Sin ). They cannot escape God’s judgment through anything they themselves might do. They can do nothing but repent of their rebellion and surrender before the sovereign God, trusting solely in his grace for forgiveness ( Acts 17:30-31; Ephesians 2:8; see Grace ).
The rebellion of sinners, though in opposition to God, does not destroy God’s sovereignty. God allows evil to happen, but he never allows it to go beyond the bounds that he has determined ( Job 1:12; see Evil ; Satan ). God still works according to his purposes, for his own glory. He still causes to happen whatever does happen, even to the salvation of rebellious sinners ( Isaiah 14:24; Isaiah 37:26; Matthew 25:34; Acts 2:23; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 3:20; see Election ).
Invisible yet personal
From the above it is clear that God is not an impersonal ‘force’, but a personal being. He has knowledge, power, will and feelings. Human beings also have knowledge, power, will and feelings, but that does not mean that God is like a human being ( Hosea 11:9). On the contrary, human beings have these attributes only because God has them; for they have been made in God’s image ( Genesis 1:26; see Image ).
Being spirit, God is invisible ( John 4:24; Romans 1:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27). Since human language cannot properly describe a person who has no physical form, the Bible has to use pictures and comparisons when speaking of God. It may speak of God as if he has human features, functions and emotions, but such expressions should not be understood literally ( Genesis 2:2; Numbers 12:8; Deuteronomy 29:20; Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalms 2:4; John 10:29; Hebrews 4:13).
Not only is God a person, but believers are so aware of a personal relationship with him that they can collectively call him ‘our God’ and individually ‘my God’ ( Acts 2:39; Philippians 4:19). They have an increased appreciation of God’s character through their understanding of Jesus Christ; because, in the person of Jesus Christ, God took upon himself human form and lived in the world he had created ( John 1:14; John 1:18; John 14:9; Colossians 1:15; see Jesus Christ ). God is the Father of Jesus Christ ( Mark 14:36; John 5:18; John 8:54) and through Jesus Christ he becomes the Father of all who believe ( Romans 8:15-17; see Father ).
Unchangeable yet responsive
Although God is personal, he is unchangeable. Everything in creation changes, but the Creator never changes ( Psalms 33:11; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 1:10-12; 1 Peter 1:24). This does not mean that God is mechanical, that he has no emotions, or that he is the helpless prisoner of his own laws. What it means may be summarized from two aspects.
Firstly, the unchangeability of God means that, because he is infinite, there is no way in which any of his attributes can become greater or less. They cannot change for either better or worse. God can neither increase nor decrease in knowledge, love, righteousness, truth, wisdom or justice, because he possesses these attributes in perfection ( Exodus 34:6-7).
Secondly, God’s unchangeability means that he is consistent in all his dealings. His standards do not change according to varying emotions or circumstances as do the standards of human beings. His love is always perfect love, his righteousness is always perfect righteousness ( Hebrews 6:17-18; James 1:17). God’s unchangeable nature guarantees that every action of his is righteous, wise and true.
We must not understand God’s unchangeability to mean that he is unmoved by human suffering on the one hand or human rebellion on the other. In his mercy he may have compassion on the weak, and in his wrath he may punish the guilty ( Exodus 2:23-25; Exodus 32:9-10; James 5:4; 1 Peter 3:12). He may change his treatment of people from blessing to judgment when they rebel ( Genesis 6:6-7; 1 Samuel 15:11; 1 Samuel 15:23) or from judgment to blessing when they repent ( Joel 2:13-14; Jonah 3:10).
This does not mean that events take God by surprise and he has to revise his plans. He always knows the end from the beginning, and he always bases his plans on his perfect knowledge and wisdom ( Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Isaiah 14:24; Isaiah 46:9-10; Romans 11:29).
Righteous yet loving
When the Bible speaks of God as holy, the emphasis is not so much on his sinlessness and purity as on his ‘separateness’ from all other things. A thing that was holy, in the biblical sense, was a thing that was set apart from the common affairs of life and consecrated entirely to God. God is holy as the supreme and majestic one who exists apart from all else and rules over all ( Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 40:25; John 17:11; Revelation 4:8-9; Revelation 15:4; see Holiness ). Any vision of such a holy God overpowers the worshipper with feelings of awe, terror and unworthiness ( Job 40:1-4; Isaiah 6:1-5; Habakkuk 3:3; Habakkuk 3:16; Revelation 1:17).
Since holiness means separation from all that is common, it includes separation from sin. Therefore, God’s holiness includes his moral perfection. He is separate from evil and opposed to it ( Habakkuk 1:12-13). The Bible usually speaks of this moral holiness of God as his righteousness ( Psalms 11:7; Psalms 36:6; Isaiah 5:16; Hebrews 1:9; 1 John 3:7; see Righteousness ). God’s attitude to sin is one of wrath, or righteous anger. He cannot ignore sin but must deal with it ( Psalms 9:8; Isaiah 11:4-5; Jeremiah 30:23-24; Romans 1:18; Romans 2:8; see Wrath ; Judgment ).
But God is also a God of love, grace, mercy and longsuffering, and he wants to forgive repentant sinners ( Psalms 86:5; Psalms 145:8-9; Romans 2:4; Titus 3:4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 4:16; see Love ; Patience ). His love is not in conflict with his righteousness. The two exist in perfect harmony. Because he loves, he acts righteously, and because his righteous demands against sin are met, his love forgives. All this is possible only because of what Jesus Christ has done on behalf of sinners ( Romans 3:24; see Propitiation ). The God who is the sinners’ judge is also the sinners’ saviour ( Psalms 34:18; Psalms 50:1-4; 1 Timothy 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:18; Titus 3:4-7; see Salvation ).
Holman Bible Dictionary 
God is unique in nature. No person, object, or idea can be compared to God. Anything said about God must be based on His revelation of Himself to us. Anything said about God must be said in human terms, the only terms we have and understand. The reality of God is always much greater than human minds can understand or express.
God as the Bible's Primary Subject The Bible and history begin with God ( Genesis 1:1 ). The last chapter of the Bible describes God as the “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” ( Revelation 22:13 NRSV). All the way through Scripture God is primary. For Christians the primacy of God is reassuring, liberating, and instructive. It reassures us that God controls all existence. It liberates us to know the loving, redeeming God seeks to set us free. It instructs us to be able to look for signs of God throughout His universe.
God as Present with Us God is present in His world in a unique manner. He is never separated from any part of His creation. As spirit, God has the perfect capability of being present everywhere in the world at once. The psalmist exclaimed, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there” ( Psalm 139:7-8 ). The prophet looked for the Messiah to be named Emmanuel, meaning, “God with us”; and Matthew reported that God fulfilled that promise in Jesus ( Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23 ). The end time will make the presence of God even more clear: God will live with His people ( Revelation 21:3 ). Atheists affirm the total absence of God, saying God does not exist, but most human experience affirms a sense of the divine within the reality of life. In some mysterious way God is immanent, that is, He is present in the day-to-day human existence. He enters into personal relationships with the people who inhabit His world.
The Bible speaks of God's presence in two major ways: in space and in relationships. Theologians used the term omnipresence , derived from Latin, to speak of God's presence everywhere in all the world's space. Moses experienced that presence on a wilderness mountain ( Exodus 3:1 ); Isaiah, in the Jerusalem Temple ( Isaiah 6:1 ); and Paul, on an international highway ( Acts 9:1 ). Most often the Bible speaks in terms of God being present in relationships. He called Israel to be His people ( Exodus 19:3-6 ). He appeared to Elijah in a “still, small voice” ( 1 Kings 19:12 ). Most of all God appeared Person to person in the human flesh of His Son Jesus.
God as Mystery Revealed in Christ The personal presence of God in Jesus Christ is the central and normative source of knowledge about God. Christ is known today through the witness of inspired Scripture and through the personal witness of the Holy Spirit. Still, what is revealed is the mystery of Christ. Even as it is revealed, God's revelation in Jesus Christ remains mysterious ( Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:1-10; Colossians 1:24-27; Colossians 4:2-4 ). Faith believes that what remains hidden in mystery is totally consistent with what is revealed in Christ.
Revelation of Christ in the form of Bible narrative allows us to describe God but not to define Him. Perhaps the closest we can come to a definition is that God is the holy Being who is love in servant form. This rises out of Bible statements: “the Lord our God is holy” ( Psalm 99:9 ); “God is love” (1John 4:8, 1 John 4:16 ). These contain partial descriptions, not definitions. The norm for a definition comes in Jesus, who said, “but I am among you as one who serves” ( Luke 22:27 NRSV). Thus Christian preaching echoes Paul: “we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord; and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake” (2 or. Luke 4:5 NRSV).
God's Unique Nature God is the only God. He is not simply the greatest of many gods—He is the only true God. God is the living God. This separates Him from all other gods and idols, which are merely forms humans have created in the image of things God created ( Isaiah 41:22-24; Isaiah 44:9-20; Isaiah 46:1-2 ,Isaiah 46:1-2, 46:6-7 ). “The Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king” ( Jeremiah 10:10; compare 1 Thessalonians 1:9 ). Christians see this in Jesus, joining Peter in confessing, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” ( Matthew 16:16 ).
The living God is also Lord and Master. In English translations He is Lord in two ways. Lord spelled with small caps represents the Hebrew Yahweh , the personal name of God, by which He introduced Himself to Moses ( Exodus 3:15; Exodus 6:3 ). See Exodus 34:23 ). He is “Lord of lords” ( Deuteronomy 10:17 ). The New Testament proclaims, “let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” ( Acts 2:36 NIV). Thus Jesus receives the same titles as the Father, leading to a doctrine of the Trinity.
God is holy . The most basic word we have to describe God is holy. This is the unique quality of God's existence that marks Him off as separate and distinct from all else. Holiness includes the ideas of righteousness and purity, but it is more. Holiness belongs to God alone. It sets Him above us in majesty, power, authority, righteousness, and love. Persons or objects can be said to be holy only by virture of being drawn into relationship with God. (Compare Isaiah 5:16; Isaiah 6:3; 1 Peter 1:15-16 .)
God is eternal . He has no beginning and no ending. All else begins and ends as an expression of the will of God, but God has always existed and will always continue to exist.
God is spirit . He is not material or physical as we are. As spirit, He does not have the limitations of material form. Spirit is the highest form of existence. It enables God to be with His people everywhere simultaneously. As spirit, God chose to humble Himself and take on the form of human flesh ( Philippians 2:6-11 ).
God is love . “God is love itself” is the nearest humans can get to making a non-symbolic statement about God (1John 4:8, 1 John 4:16 ). His love is coordinated perfectly with His righteousness. God's love is always righteous, and His righteousness is always marked by love. Love is the primary motivation behind revelation ( John 3:16 ). God's love is expressed as His mercy in forgiving sinners and in rescuing or blessing those who do not deserve His attention. His love is expressed in grace, the love and power of God reaching to those who do not deserve His blessing. God's grace is shown in forgiveness, conversion, blessing, nurturing, and chastising of individual persons. God's grace creates a response of love, faith, and obedience in the hearts of people whom He is trying to reach. His grace also works in and through His servants to give them guidance and power as they seek to carry out His will.
God is Father . The love of God finds supreme expression as Father. God is known in Scripture as Father in three separate senses that must not be confused: (1) He is Father of Jesus Christ in a unique sense—by incarnation ( Matthew 11:25-27; Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6; 2 Peter 1:17 ); (2) He is Father of believers—by adoption or redemption ( Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 11:2 , Luke 11:13; Galatians 3:26 ); (3) He is Father of all persons—by creation ( Psalm 68:5; Isaiah 64:8; Malachi 2:10; Matthew 5:45; 1 Peter 1:17 ).
God is intimate . He is not an impersonal force like gravity, exerting influence in some mechanical, automatic way. He has personal characteristics, just as we do. God is living, working in His world, and relating to His people. He is aware of what is going on, makes plans, and carries them out. He forms relationships and has purpose and will. He is a jealous God, taking himself seriously and insisting that others take Him seriously ( Exodus 34:14; Nahum 1:2; 1 Corinthians 10:22 ). He wants more than divided loyalty or indifference from His people.
Attributes of God God has distinctive qualities that summarize what He is like.
God's glory refers to the weight or influence He carries in the universe and to the overwhelming brillance when He appears to people ( Exodus 16:7-10; Isaiah 6:3; Ephesians 1:12-17; Hebrews 1:3 ). It is His presence in all His sovereign power, righteousness, and love. Sometimes the Bible describes the glory of God as a physical manifestation. Sometimes it is a spiritual perception as in a sense of tremendous awe before God. We see the glory of God when we are deeply impressed with a sense of His presence and power.
God's wisdom is His perfect awareness of what is happening in all of His creation in any given moment. This includes His knowledge of the final outcome of His creation and of how He will work from beginning to ending of human history ( Job 11:4-12; Job 28:1-28; Psalm 139:1; Romans 11:1 ). It also includes His ability to know what is best for each and every one of His creatures. Sometimes this is called His omniscience.
God's power is His ability to accomplish His purposes and carry out His will in the world. He can do what needs to be done in any circumstance ( Job 36:22-33; Isaiah 40:10-31; Daniel 3:1-30; Matthew 19:16-26; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 ). This is sometimes called His omnipotence.
God's righteousness expresses itself in many ways ( Exodus 2:23-25; Joshua 23:1-16; Psalm 71:14-21; Isaiah 51:5-8; Acts 10:34-35; Romans 3:5-26 ). He is the ultimate standard of right and wrong. He is faithful, constant, and unchanging in His character. He works for the right, seeking to extend righteousness and justice throughout the world. He defends the defenseless, helpless, victimized, and oppressed. He opposes evil through personal expressions of His wrath, anger, judgment, punishment, and jealousy. He sits in present and eternal judgment on those who do evil.
His attributes show that God is able to accomplish His will. Nothing can limit Him except limits He places on Himself.
God at Work in His World God is not an inert being far removed from the world. God is the personal God who cares about and works in the world He created. Creation was His first work but certainly not His last.
God works as Redeemer to save the sinful, rebellious human creatures and to renew His fallen creation. He makes salvation possible. His love makes Him a saving kind of God. He redeemed Israel in the Exodus from Egypt ( Exodus 1-15 ); through the prophets He promised a Messiah who would save His people, and in Jesus Christ provided that salvation ( John 3:16 ). Redemption in Christ completes creation, carrying out the purposes of God and making final, complete salvation possible.
God works in history . The sovereign God exercises His lordship or ownership of the world by continuing to work in His world and through His people. God allows people the freedom to be themselves and make their own free choices but works within those choices to accomplish His eternal purposes. This is called God's providence. God has not predetermined all the events of human history; yet He continues to work in that history in ways we do not necessarily see or understand.
God works toward and in the end time to fulfill His eternal purposes. God will one day bring His purposes to fulfillment, bringing history to a close and ushering in eternity. The sovereign, absolute Lord will accomplish His will in His world.
God as Trinity Finally, God has revealed Himself as Father and Creator, as Son and Savior, and as Holy Spirit and Comforter. This has led the church to formulate the uniquely Christian doctrine of the Trinity. New Testament passages make statements about the work and person of each member of the Trinity to show that each is God; yet the Bible strongly affirms that God is one, not three ( Matthew 28:19; John 16:5-11; Romans 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6 ). The doctrine of the Trinity is a human attempt to explain this biblical evidence and revelation. It is an explicit formulation of the doctrine of God in harmony with the early Christian message that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” ( 2 Corinthians 5:19 ). It expresses the diversity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in the midst of the unity of God's being. See Christ; Holy Spirit; Trinity .
John W. Eddins, Jr. and J. Terry Young
Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words 
'Êl ( אֵל , Strong'S #410), “god.” This term was the most common general designation of deity in the ancient Near East. While it frequently occurred alone, 'êl was also combined with other words to constitute a compound term for deity, or to identify the nature and functions of the “god” in some manner. Thus the expression “God, the God of Israel” (Gen. 33:20) identified the specific activities of Israel’s God.
In the ancient world, knowledge of a person’s name was believed to give one power over that person. A knowledge of the character and attributes of pagan “gods” was thought to enable the worshipers to manipulate or influence the deities in a more effective way than they could have if the deity’s name remained unknown. To that extent, the vagueness of the term 'êl frustrated persons who hoped to obtain some sort of power over the deity, since the name gave little or no indication of the god’s character. This was particularly true for El, the chief Canaanite god. The ancient Semites stood in mortal dread of the superior powers exercised by the gods and attempted to propitiate them accordingly. They commonly associated deity with the manifestation and use of enormous power. Perhaps this is reflected in the curious Hebrew phrase, “the power [ 'êl ] of my hand” (Gen. 31:29, Kjv; Rsv “It is in my power”; cf. Deut. 28:32). Some Hebrew phrases in the Psalms associated 'êl with impressive natural features, such as the cedar trees of Lebanon (Ps. 80:10) or mountains (Ps. 36:6). In these instances, 'êl conveys a clear impression of grandeur or majesty.
Names with 'êl as one of their components were common in the Near East in the second millennium B.C. The names Methusael (Gen. 4:18) and Ishmael (Gen. 16:11) come from a very early period. In the Mosaic period, 'êl was synonymous with the Lord who delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt and made them victorious in battle (Num. 24:8). This tradition of the Hebrew 'êl as a “God” who revealed Himself in power and entered into a covenant relationship with His people was prominent in both poetry (Ps. 7:11; 85:8) and prophecy (Isa. 43:12; 46:9). The name of 'êl was commonly used by the Israelites to denote supernatural provision or power. This was both normal and legitimate, since the covenant between “God” and Israel assured an obedient and holy people that the creative forces of the universe would sustain and protect at all times. Equally, if they became disobedient and apostate, these same forces would punish them severely.
‘Ĕlâhh ( אֱלָהּ , Strong'S #426), “god.” This Aramaic word is the equivalent of the Hebrew ĕloâh. It is a general term for “God” in the Aramaic passages of the Old Testament, and it is a cognate form of the word ’allah —the designation of deity used by the Arabs. The word was used widely in the Book of Ezra, occurring no fewer than 43 times between Ezra 4:24 and 7:26. On each occasion, the reference is to the “God” of the Jewish people, whether the speaker or writer was himself Jewish or not. Thus the governor of the province “Beyond the River” (i.e., west of the river Euphrates) spoke to king Darius of the “house of the great God” (Ezra 5:8). So also Cyrus instructed Sheshbazzar, the governor, that the “house of God be builded” in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:15).
While the Persians were certainly not worshipers of the “God” of Israel, they accorded Him the dignity that befitted a “God of heaven” (Ezra 6:10). This was done partly through superstition; but the pluralistic nature of the newly-won Persian empire also required them to honor the gods of conquered peoples, in the interests of peace and social harmony. When Ezra himself used the word ĕlâhh , he frequently specified the God of the Jews. Thus he spoke of the “God of Israel” (5:1; 6:14), the “God of heaven” (5:12; 6:9) and “God of Jerusalem” (7:19); he also associated “God” with His house in Jerusalem (5:17; 6:3). In the decree of Artaxerxes, Ezra was described as “the priest, the scribe of the God of heaven” (7:12, 21). This designation would have sounded strange coming from a pagan Persian ruler, had it not been for the policy of religious toleration exercised by the Achaemenid regime. Elsewhere in Ezra, ĕlâhh is associated with the temple, both when it was about to be rebuilt (5:2, 13) and as a finished edifice, consecrated for divine worship (6:16).
In the only verse in the Book of Jeremiah that was written in Aramaic (10:11), the word ĕlâhh appears in plural form to describe “gods” that had not participated in the creation of the universe. Although such false “gods” were being worshiped by pagan nations (and perhaps worshiped by some of the Hebrews who were in exile in Babylonia), these deities would ultimately perish because they were not eternal in nature.
In the Book of Daniel, ĕlâhh was used both of heathen “gods” and the one true “God” of heaven. The Chaldean priests told Nebuchadnezzar: “And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh” (Dan. 2:11). The Chaldeans referred to such “gods” when reporting that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to participate in idol worship on the plain of Dura (Dan. 3:12). The “gods” were enumerated by Daniel when he condemned Nebuchadnezzar’s neglect of the worship of Israel’s one true “God” (Dan. 5:23). In Dan. 3:25, the word refers to a divine being or messenger sent to protect the three Hebrews (Dan. 3:28). In Dan. 4:8-9, 18; and 5:11, the phrase “the spirit of the holy gods” appears (Kjv, Rsv, Neb, Niv ) Elsewhere the references to ĕlâhh are to the living “God” whom Daniel worshiped.
‘Ĕlôahh (אֱלֹהַּ, Strong'S #433), “god.” This Hebrew name for “God” corresponds to the Aramaic ĕlâhh and the Ugaritic il —(or, if denoting a goddess, ilt ). The origin of the term is unknown, and it is used rarely in Scripture as a designation of deity. Indeed, its distribution throughout the various books of the Bible is curiously uneven. Ĕlôahh occurs 40 times in the Book of Job between 3:4 and 40:2, while in the remainder of the Old Testament it is used no more than 15 times.
Certain scholars regard the word as being a singular version of the common plural form 'ĕlôahim , a plural of majesty. Ĕlôahh is commonly thought to be vocative in nature, meaning “O God.” But it is not clear why a special form for the vocative in an address to God should be needed, since the plural 'ĕlôahim is frequently translated as a vocative when the worshiper is speaking directly to God, as in Ps. 79:1. There is an obvious general linguistic relationship between 'ĕlôahh and 'ĕlôahim but determining its precise nature is difficult.
The word 'ĕlôah is predominant in poetry rather than prose literature, and this is especially true of the Book of Job. Some scholars have suggested that the author of Job deliberately chose a description for godhead that avoided the historical associations found in a phrase such as “the God of Bethel” (Gen. 31:13) or “God of Israel” (Exod. 24:10). But even the Book of Job is by no means historically neutral, since places and peoples are mentioned in introducing the narrative (cf. Job 1:1, 15, 17). Perhaps the author considered 'ĕlôahh a suitable term for poetry and used it accordingly with consistency. This is also apparently the case in Ps. 18:31, where 'ĕlôah is found instead of 'êl , as in the parallel passage of 2 Sam. 22:32. Ĕlôahh also appears as a term for God in Ps. 50:22; 139:19; and Prov. 30:5. Although Ĕlôahh as a divine name is rarely used outside Job, its literary history extends from at least the second millennium B.C. (as in Deut. 32:15) to the fifth century B.C. (as in Neh. 9:17).
'Êl— shadday ( אֵל , Strong'S #410, שַׁדַּי , Strong'S #7706), “God Almighty.” This combination of ‘el with a qualifying term represents a religious tradition among the Israelites that was probably in existence by the third millennium B.C. A few centuries later, shadday appeared in Hebrew personal names such as Zurishaddai (Num. 1:6) and Ammishaddai (Num. 1:12). The earliest Old Testament appearance of the appellation as a title of deity (“God Almighty”) is in Gen. 17:1, where “God” identifies Himself in this way to Abraham.
Unfortunately, the name is not explained in any manner; and even the directions “walk before me, and be thou perfect” throw no light on the meaning of shadday. Scholars have attempted to understand the word relating it to the Akkadian shadu (“mountain”), as though “God” had either revealed His mighty power in association with mountain phenomena such as volcanic eruptions or that He was regarded strong and immutable, like the “everlasting hills” of the blessing of Jacob (Gen. 49:26). Certainly the associating of deity with mountains was an important part of Mesopotamian religion. The “gods” were believed to favor mountaintop dwellings, and the Sumerians constructed their staged temple-towers or ziggurats as artificial mountains for worship. It was customary to erect a small shrine on the uppermost stage of the ziggurat so that the patron deity could descend from heaven and inhabit the temple. The Hebrews began their own tradition of mountain revelation just after the Exodus, but by this time the name ‘el shadday —had been replaced by the tetragrammaton of Yahweh (Exod. 3:15, 6:3).
'Êl— shadday served as the patriarchs’ covenant name for “God,” and continued as such until the time of Moses, when a further revelation took place (Exod. 6:3). The Abrahamic covenant was marked by a degree of closeness between “God” and the human participants that was distinctive in Hebrew history. “God Almighty” revealed Himself as a powerful deity who was able to perform whatever He asserted. But the degree of intimacy between 'êl shadday —and the patriarchs at various stages shows that the covenant involved God’s care and love for this growing family that He had chosen, protected, and prospered. He led the covenant family from place to place, being obviously present with them at all times. His covenant formulations show that He was not preoccupied with cultic rites or orgiastic celebrations. Instead, He demanded a degree of obedience that would enable Abraham and his descendants to walk in His presence, and live blameless moral and spiritual lives (Gen. 17:1). The true covenantal service of 'êl shadday , therefore, was not cultic or ritualistic, but moral and ethical in character.
In the early Mosaic era, the new redemptive name of “God” and the formulation of the Sinai covenant made 'êl shadday largely obsolete as a designation of deity. Subsequently, the name occurs about 35 times in the Old Testament, most of which are in the Book of Job. Occasionally, the name is used synonymously with the tetragrammaton of Yahweh (Ruth 1:21; Ps. 91:1-2), to emphasize the power and might of “God” in characteristic fashion. ‘El ‛ôlâm ( אֵל , Strong'S #410, עֹלָם , Strong'S #5769), “God of eternity; God the everlasting; God for ever.” The word ‛ôlâm has related forms in various ancient Near Eastern languages, all of which describe lengthy duration or distant time. The idea seems to be quantitative rather than metaphysical. Thus in Ugaritic literature, a person described as ’bd ‘lm —was a “permanent slave,” the term |‘lm(the same as the Hebrew ‛ôlâm ) expressing a period of time that could not be measured other than as lengthy duration.
Only in rare poetic passages such as Ps. 90:2 are temporal categories regarded inadequate to describe the nature of God’s existence as 'êl ‛ôlâm . In such an instance, the Creator is deemed to have been “from everlasting to everlasting”; but even this use of ôlâm expresses the idea of continued, measurable existence rather than a state of being independent of temporal considerations.
The name 'êl ‛ôlâm was associated predominantly with Beer-sheba (Gen. 21:25-34). The settlement of Beer-sheba was probably founded during the Early Bronze Age, and the Genesis narrative explains that the name means “well of the oath” (Gen. 21:31). But it could also mean “well of the seven”—i.e., the seven lambs that were set apart as witnesses of the oath.
Abraham planted a commemorative tree in Beer-sheba and invoked the name of the Lord as 'êl ‛ôlâm. The fact that Abraham subsequently stayed many days in the land of the Philistines seems to imply that he associated continuity and stability with 'êl ‛ôlâm , who was not touched by the vicissitudes of time. Although Beer-sheba may have been a place where the Canaanites worshiped originally, the area later became associated with the veneration of the God of Abraham.
At a subsequent period, Jacob journeyed to Beer-sheba and offered sacrifices to the God of Isaac his father. He did not offer sacrifices to 'êl ‛ôlâm by name, however; and although he saw a visionary manifestation of God, he received no revelation that this was the God Abraham had venerated at Beer-sheba. Indeed, God omitted any mention of Abraham, stating that He was the God of Jacob’s father.
Gen. 21:33 is the only place in the Old Testament where the title 'êl ‛ôlâm occurs. Isa. 40:28 is the only other instance where ‛ôlâm is used in conjunction with a noun meaning God. See also—Lord.
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
The names by which God makes Himself known are various.
1. El, 'the strong or mighty one.' It is often used of God, especially in Job and the Psalms. Job 5:8; Psalm 22:1 , etc.; and of the Lord Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 . It is also used for the false gods, Psalm 81:9; Daniel 11:36; and is translated 'mighty' in Psalm 29:1; Psalm 82:1 .
2. Eloah ( Elah Chaldee), Elohim. The names most commonly used for God the Creator, the One with whom man has to do, the supreme Deity. Genesis 1:1-31 . (Running all through the O.T. to Malachi 3:18 .) These words are also applied to God's representatives, such as angels and judges. Exodus 22:28; Psalm 82:6; and also to false gods. Leviticus 19:4 . Elohim (which is plural, called the plural of majesty or excellency) is the word of most frequent occurrence. When it is distinctly used for the one true God the article is often added.
3. Jehovah. This is a name of relationship with men, especially with Israel, taken by God in time. It is derived from havah, 'to exist,' and may be expanded into 'who is, who was, and is to come.' God thus reveals Himself in time as the ever-existing One: that is, in Himself eternally, He is always the same: cf. Hebrews 1:12 . The above 'relationship' may be seen in the change from Elohim, the Creator, in Genesis 1 , to Jehovah Elohim in Genesis 2 , when man was brought into relationship with God. Again in Genesis 7:16 Elohim ordered Noah to make the ark but Jehovah shut him in. Unfortunately the name Jehovah is seldom employed in the A.V. It is generally represented by LORD (sometimes GOD) printed in small capitals.* There is a contraction of Jehovah into Jah, also translated in the A.V. by LORD, except in Psalm 68:4 , where Israel is exhorted to sing unto God, and "extol him by his name JAH." Jah signifies the absolute supremacy of the self-existing One; whereas Jehovah was the name made known to Israel, and on which they could count. "God said unto Moses, I AM That I Am" Exodus 3:14 , where the word is Ehyeh, which is from the same root as Jehovah, the Eternal existing One; He that was, and is, and the coming One.
* In fourplaces the A.V. has preserved the name Jehovah, namely, Exodus 6:8; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 26:4 .
4. Shaddai , 'the Almighty,' is another name of God, and is often so translated, especially in Job, without any other name attached. Job 6:4 ,14; Psalm 68 :14, etc. At times it is associated with one of the above words, and was the name by which He was especially known to the Patriarchs, as El Shaddai, God Almighty, Exodus 6:3; which passage does not mean that the Patriarchs had not heard of the name of Jehovah, but that it was not the especial name for them.
5. Elyon, 'the Most High,' is another name of God, which stands alone, as in Deuteronomy 32:8; 2 Samuel 24:14; and in Daniel 4:17-34 (from a kindred word); or it has one of the above words added and is then 'the most high God,' Genesis 14:20; or 'the LORDmost high.' Psalm 7:17 . It is not confined to Israel, for He is "the Most High over all the earth." Psalm 83:18 .
6,7. Adon and Adonai, and the plural Adonim, are all translated 'Lord'; they occur frequently, and are found in some of the following compounds:-
Adon Jehovah, Exodus 23:17 , the Lord GOD.
Adon Jehovah Elohim, Isaiah 51:22 , thy Lord, the LORD,and thy God.
Adon Jehovah Sabaoth, Isaiah 19:4 , the Lord, the Lordof Hosts
Adonai Elohim, Psalm 86:12 , O Lord my God: cf. Daniel 9:3,9,15 .
Adona Jehovah, Deuteronomy 9:26 , O Lord GOD (occurs frequently).
Adonai Jehovah Sabaoth, Jeremiah 2:19 , the Lord GOD of hosts.
El Elohim, Genesis 33:20 , El-elohe [Israel]; Genesis 46:3 , God, the God [of thy father].
El Elohim Jehovah, Joshua 22:22 , the LORDGod of gods.
El Shaddai, Genesis 28:3 , etc., God Almighty.
Jah Jehovah, Isaiah 26:4 , the LORDJEHOVAH.
Jehovah Adon, Nehemiah 10:29 , the LORDour Lord.
Jehovah Adonai, Psalm 68:20 , GOD the Lord.
Jehovah El, Psalm 31:5 , O LORDGod.
Jehovah Elohim, Genesis 9:26 , etc., the LORDGod.
Jehovah Elohim Sabaoth Adonai, Amos 5:16 , the LORD,the God of hosts, the Lord.
Jehovah Jehovah El, Exodus 34:6 , the LORD,the LORDGod.
Jehovah Sabaoth, Jeremiah 46:18 , the LORDof hosts.
Jehovah Sabaoth Elohim, Jeremiah 27:4 , etc., the LORDof hosts, the God [of Israel].
For titles in combination with Jehovah, See JEHOVAH.
The true pronunciation of Jehovah is declared to be lost: the Jews when reading the O.T. never utter it (from a constrained interpretation of Leviticus 24:16 ), but say, 'the name,' 'the great and terrible name,' etc.
In the N.T. the word Θεός is constantly translated God; and Κύριος is the word commonly rendered Lord. In the O.T. the latter is used by the LXX as the translation of Jehovah, so in the N.T. it often represents Jehovah, and is then mostly, if not always, without the article, as in Matthew 1:20,22,24 , etc. The Lord is also called 'the Almighty,' Revelation 1:8 , etc.; and there are a few compound names as in the O.T.:
God Almighty, Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:15 .
Lord Almighty, 2 Corinthians 6:18 .
Lord God Almighty, Revelation 4:8; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:7; Revelation 21:22 .
Lord of Sabaoth, Romans 9:29; James 5:4 .
The characteristic name of God in the N.T. in relationship with His saints is that of FATHER:it was used anticipatively in the Lord's intercourse with His disciples, but made a reality after His resurrection, when He sent the message: "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." John 20:17 .
THE TRINITY. In reference to this term the Father is God. Philippians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:1 , etc. The Lord Jesus is God. Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:8 . The Holy Spirit is God: "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Genesis 1:2 . Ananias lied to 'the Holy Ghost,' 'unto God;' and Sapphira unto the 'Spirit of the Lord,' Acts 5:3,4,9; 'Spirit of God.' 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16 , etc. That there are three divine Persons (if we may so express it) is plain from scripture. The Father sent the Son, and He came to earth. The Father sent the Holy Spirit, and the Lord Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, and He came from heaven. He is a divine Person, of which there are many proofs (See HOLY SPIRIT).There is but one God.
Scripture reveals what God is in Himself, 'God is love' (used absolutely), 1 John 4:8; and 'God is light' (used relatively, in opposition to darkness), 1 John 1:5; and Christ is the expression of both in a Man. The principal of God's attributes and characteristics as revealed in scripture are
1. His Eternity. Habakkuk 1:12; Romans 1:20 .
2. Invisibility. Colossians 1:15 .
3. Immortality. Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17 .
4. Omnipotence. Job 24:1; Matthew 19:26; only Potentate. 1 Timothy 6:15 .
5. Omnipresence. Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:23,24 .
6. Omniscience. 1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 42:8,9; Romans 8:29,30; Hebrews 4:13 .
7. Incorruptibility. Romans 1:23; James 1:13 .
8. Immutability. Malachi 3:6; James 1:17 .
9. Wisdom. Psalm 104:24; Romans 11:33-36 .
10. Holiness. Psalm 47:8; Psalm 99:3,5; Revelation 4:8 .
11. Justice. Psalm 89:14; 2 Timothy 4:8 .
12. Grace and mercy. Psalm 136; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 2:4 .
13. Longsuffering. Exodus 34:6; Romans 9:22 .
14. Faithfulness. Psalm 36:5; Hebrews 10:23 .
God's eternal power and divinity may be known in creation, Romans 1:20; but He has revealed Himself in the person of Christ, the Son, the eternal Word. God has been pleased also to reveal Himself in His written word. His purposes, His ways, and what He has done for sinful man, all demand universal reverence, adoration, and worship.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words 
(I) in the polytheism of the Greeks, denoted "a god or deity," e.g., Acts 14:11; 19:26; 28:6; 1—Corinthians 8:5; Galatians 4:8 .
Mark 12:29 1—Timothy 2:5 John 5:26 James 1:17 Romans 1:20 Matthew 10:29 Acts 17:26-28 Matthew 19:26 Acts 2:23 15:18 Romans 11:33 Romans 11:36 1—Corinthians 8:6 Ephesians 3:9 Revelation 4:11 10:6 1—Peter 1:15 1—John 1:5 John 17:25 1—Corinthians 1:9 10:13 1—Thessalonians 5:24 2—Thessalonians 3:3 1—John 1:9 1—John 4:8,16 Romans 9:15,18 Titus 1:2 Hebrews 6:18Good Matthew 20:18,19 John 1:1-3 1:18 Romans 1:4 9:5 Philippians 3:21 Colossians 1:15 2:3 Titus 2:13 Hebrews 1:3 13:8 1—John 5:20 Revelation 22:12,13 Matthew 28:19 Luke 1:35 John 14:16 15:26 16:7-14 Romans 8:9,26 1—Corinthians 12:11 2—Corinthians 13:14 Acts 27:23 John 1:1 Romans 7:22 Revelation 1:17 Titus 2:13 2—Peter 1:1 Acts 7:2 Romans 15:33 16:20 Philippians 4:9 1—Thessalonians 5:23 Hebrews 13:20 2—Corinthians 13:11 Romans 15:5 2—Corinthians 1:3 Romans 15:13 1—Peter 5:10 Matthew 22:32 Mark 15:34 Luke 18:11,13 John 20:28 Acts 4:24 Hebrews 1:8 10:7 Matthew 16:23 Mark 8:33 1—Corinthians 2:11 Matthew 22:21 Mark 12:17 Luke 20:25 Romans 15:17 Hebrews 2:17 5:1 John 10:34 Psalm 82:6 2—Corinthians 4:4 Philippians 3:19
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
God. The name of the Creator and the supreme Governor of the universe. He is a "Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth." He is revealed to us in his works and providential government, Romans 1:20; but more fully in the Holy Scriptures and in the person and work of his only begotten Son, our Lord. 1. Names. There are three principal designations of God in the Old Testament—Elohim, Jehovah (Javeh), and Adonai. The first is used exclusively in the first chapter of Genesis; chiefly in the second book of Psalms, Psalms 42:1-11; Psalms 43:1-5; Psalms 44:1-26; Psalms 45:1-17; Psalms 46:1-11; Psalms 47:1-9; Psalms 48:1-14; Psalms 49:1-20; Psalms 50:1-23; Psalms 51:1-19; Psalms 52:1-9; Psalms 53:1-6; Psalms 54:1-7; Psalms 55:1-23; Psalms 56:1-13; Psalms 57:1-11; Psalms 58:1-11; Psalms 59:1-17; Psalms 60:1-12; Psalms 61:1-8; Psalms 62:1-12; Psalms 63:1-11; Psalms 64:1-10; Psalms 65:1-13; Psalms 66:1-20; Psalms 67:1-7; Psalms 68:1-35; Psalms 69:1-36; Psalms 70:1-5; Psalms 71:1-24; Psalms 72:1-20, called the Elohim Psalms, and occurs alternately with the other names in the other parts of the Old Testament. It expresses his character as the almighty Maker and his relation to the whole world, the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The second is especially used of him in his relation to Israel as the God of the covenant, the God of revelation and redemption. "Adonai," I.E., my Lord, is used where God is reverently addressed, and is always substituted by the Jews for "Jehovah," which they never pronounce. The sacred name Jehovah, or Yahveh, is indiscriminately translated, in the Common Version, God, Lord, and Jehovah. 2. The Nature Of God. God is revealed to us as a trinity consisting of three Persons who are of one essence, Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 1:1-3—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. To the Father is ascribed the work of creation, to the Son the redemption, to the Holy Spirit the sanctification; but all three Persons take part in all the divine works. To each of these Persons of the Trinity are ascribed the essential attributes of the Supreme God. Thus, the Son is represented as the Mediator of the creation. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:4. 3. The Unity of the Godhead is emphasized in the Old Testament, while the trinity is only shadowed forth, or at best faintly brought out. The reason for the emphasis of the unity of the Godhead was to show the fallacy of polytheism and to discourage idolatry, which the heathen practiced. God is denominated "one Lord." Deuteronomy 6:4. Over against the false deities of the heathen, he is designated the "living" God. This belief in God as one was a chief mark of the Jewish religion.— Condensed From Schaff.
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary 
We enter with profound veneration and holy awe upon any attempt to explain what is in itself beyond the grasp of men or angles to apprehend. When we pronounce the glorious name of God, we desire to imply all that is great, gracious, and glorious in that holy name; and having said this, we have said all that we can say. The Scriptures have given several names, by way of expressing all that can be expressed of him; that he is the First and the Last, and the Author and Creator of all things. It is worthy observation, that the Lord speaking of himself to Moses, ( Exodus 6:2-3) saith, "I am JEHOVAH: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty (El Shaddai,) but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them." By which we are not to imagine, that the Lord was not known to the patriarchs as their Creator, and as self-existing; but the meaning is, that he had not so openly revealed himself. They know him in his adorable perfections, but not so clearly in his covenant relations. So that the name itself was not so different, as the great things implied in the name. For certain it is, that very early in the church men began to call upon the name of JEHOVAH, ( Genesis 4:26) And Abram told the king of Sodom, that he had lifted up his hand unto the Lord, the most High God. Here we have both the names expressly used by Abram, Genesis 14:22. But certain it is, that never until this revelation by Moses, did the church understand how the incommunicable name of JEHOVAH became the security of fulfilling all the promises.
And this seems to be more fully revealed from the very manner in which the Lord communicated it to Moses. I AM that I AM; that is, I have a being in myself, and, consequently, I give being to all my promises. And it is worthy farther of remark, that the very name JEHOVAH carries this with it; for it is an Hemantick noun, formed from Hayah, he was; as expressing his eternity. The Jews had so high a veneration for this sacred name, that they never used it but upon memorable occasions. We are told by Eusebius, that in his days the Jews wrote the holy name in Samaritan characters, when they had occasion to mention the name of the Lord, lest that strangers, and not of the stock of Israel, should profane it. And in modern times it is generally observed by the seed of Abraham, when marking the number fifteen (which in the ordinary way of doing it by letters would take the Yod (10,) and the He (5.) forming the incommunicable name of Jah,) they always take the Teth and the Vau, that is the 9 and the 6, instead of it, to make the number fifteen by. A plain proof in what high veneration the sacred name was held by them. It were devoutly to be wished, that men calling themselves Christians were always to give so lively an evidence of their reverence to that "glorious and fearful name, THE Lord Thy God" ( Deuteronomy 28:58)
It is said in the history of the Jews, that after their return from Babylon, they lost the true pronunciation of this glorious name JEHOVAH. And certain it is, that none know the real and correct manner in which it should be pronounced. But what a precious thought is it to the believer in Jesus that "if any man love God, the same is known by him." ( 1 Corinthians 8:3) I only add, that in confirmation of the blessed doctrine: of our holy faith, it is our happiness to know, that this glorious name is equally applied to each and to all the persons of the GODHEAD. To God the Father, Ephesians 1:3; to God the Son, John 1:1; and to God the Holy Ghost, Acts 5:3-4. And to the whole Three glorious persons in the unity of the divine essence, 1 John 5:7.
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
(See Genesis , on Εlohim and Υahweh ). Εlοηιμ expresses the might of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Εlυον , His sublimity, ( Genesis 14:22), "the Most High." Sηαddαι , the "Almighty," His all sufficiency ( Genesis 17:1; Philippians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Jεηοvαη , His unchangeable faithfulness to His covenanted promises to His people. Αdοναι , His lordship, which being delegated to others as also is His might as Elohim, Adonai and ELOHIM are used occasionally of His creatures, angels and men in authority, judges, etc. ( Psalms 8:5; Psalms 97:7 (Hebrew); Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6-7.) "Lord" in small letters stands for Hebrew ADONAI in KJV, but in capitals ("LORD") for Jehovah. Elyon, Shaddai and JEHOVAH are never used but of GOD; Jehovah the personal God of the Jews, and of the church in particular.
Εlοαη , the singular, is used only in poetry. The derivation is 'Aalah "to fear," as Genesis 31:42; Genesis 31:53, "the fear of Isaac," or 'Aalah "to be mighty." The plural ELOHIM: is the common form in prose and poetry, expressing that He combines in Himself all the fullness of divine perfections in their manifold powers and operations; these the heathen divided among a variety of gods. ELOHIM concentrates all the divine attributes assigned to the idols severally, and, besides those, others which corrupt man never of himself imagined, infinite love, goodness, justice, wisdom, creative power, inexhaustible riches of excellence; unity, self existence, grace, and providence are especially dwelt on, Exodus 3:13-15; Exodus 15:11; Exodus 34:6-7. The plural form hints at the plurality of Persons, the singular verb implies the unity of Godhead.
The personal acts attributed to the Son ( John 1:3; Psalms 33:6; Proverbs 8:22-32; Proverbs 30:4; Malachi 3:1, the Lord the Sender being distinct from the Lord the Sent who "suddenly comes") and to the Holy Spirit respectively ( Genesis 1:2; Psalms 104:30) prove the distinctness of the Persons. The thrice repeated "LORD" ( Numbers 6:25-27) and "Holy" ( Isaiah 6:3) imply the same. But reserve was maintained while the tendency to polytheism prevailed, and as yet the redeeming and sanctifying work of the Son and the blessed Spirit was unaccomplished; when once these had been manifested the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity was fully revealed in New Testament.
The sanctions of the law are temporal rather than spiritual, because a specimen was to be given in Israel of God's present moral government. So long as they obeyed, Providence engaged national prosperity; dependent not on political rules or military spirit, as in worldly nations, but on religious faithfulness. Their sabbatical year, in which they neither tilled nor gathered, is a sample of the continued interposition of a special providence. No legislator without a real call from God would have promulgated a code which leans on the sanction of immediate and temporal divine interpositions, besides the spiritual sanctions and future retributions.
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary 
The self-existent, infinitely perfect, and infinitely good Being, who created and preserves all things that have existence. As the Divine Being possesses a nature far beyond the comprehension of any of his creatures, of course that nature is inexplicable. "All our knowledge of invisible objects is obtained by analogy; that is, by the resemblance which they bear to visible objects; but as there is in nature no exact resemblance of the nature of God, an attempt to explain the divine nature is absurd and impracticable. All similitudes, therefore, which are used in attempting to explain it must be rejected." Yet, though we cannot fully understand his nature, there is something of him we may know. He hath been pleased to discover his perfections, in a measure, by the works of creation and the Scriptures of truth; these, therefore, we ought to study, in order that we may obtain the most becoming thoughts of him. For an account of the various attributes or perfections of God, the reader is referred to those articles in this work.
There are various names given to the Almighty in the Scriptures, though properly speaking, he can have no name; for as he is incomprehensible, he is not nominable; and being but one, he has no need of a name to distinguish him; nevertheless, as names are given him in the Scriptures, to assist our ideas of his greatness and perfection, they are worthy of our consideration. these names are, El, which denotes him the strong and powerful God, Genesis 17:1 . Eloah, which represents him as the only proper object of worship, Psalms 45:6-7 . Shaddai, which denotes him to be all-sufficient and all-mighty, Exodus 6:3 . Hheeljon, which represents his incomparable excellency, absolute supremacy over all, and his peculiar residence in the highest heavens, Psalms 50:11 . Adoni, which makes him the great connector, supporter, lord, and judge, of all creatures, Psalms 110:1 . Jah, which may denote his self-existence, and giving of being to his creatures, or his infinite comeliness, and answerableness to himself, and to the happiness of his creatures, Exodus 15:2 . Ehjeh, I am, or I will be, denotes his self-existence, absolute independency, immutable eternity, and all-sufficiency, to his people, Exodus 3:14 . Jehovah, which denotes his self- existence, absolute independence, unsuccessive eternity, and his effectual and marvellous giving of being to his creatures, and fulfilling his promises. Genesis 2:4 , &c. In the New Testament, God is called Kurios, or Lord, which denotes his self-existence, and his establishment of and authority over all things; and Theos, which represents him as the maker, pervader, and governing observer of the universe.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
(a) The cosmological, by which it is proved that there must be a First Cause of all things, for every effect must have a cause.
(b) The teleological, or the argument from design. We see everywhere the operations of an intelligent Cause in nature.
(c) The moral argument, called also the anthropological argument, based on the moral consciousness and the history of mankind, which exhibits a moral order and purpose which can only be explained on the supposition of the existence of God. Conscience and human history testify that "verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth."
The attributes of God are set forth in order by Moses in Exodus 34:6,7 . (see also Deuteronomy 6:4; 10:17; Numbers 16:22; Exodus 15:11; 33:19; Isaiah 44:6; Habakkuk 3:6; Psalm 102:26; Job 34:12 .) They are also systematically classified in Revelation 5:12,7:12 .
God's attributes are spoken of by some as absolute, i.e., such as belong to his essence as Jehovah, Jah, etc.; and relative, i.e., such as are ascribed to him with relation to his creatures. Others distinguish them into communicable, i.e., those which can be imparted in degree to his creatures: goodness, holiness, wisdom, etc.; and incommunicable, which cannot be so imparted: independence, immutability, immensity, and eternity. They are by some also divided into natural attributes, eternity, immensity, etc.; and moral, holiness, goodness, etc.
Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'God'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/g/god.html. 1897.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
This name, the derivation of which is uncertain, we give to that eternal, infinite, perfect, and incomprehensible Being, the Creator of all things, who preserves and governs all by his almighty power and wisdom, and is the only proper object of worship. The proper Hebrew name for God is Exodus 3:14 , God replies to Moses, when he asks Him His name, I AM That I Am; which means either, I am he who I am, or, I am what I am. In either case the expression implies the eternal self-existence of Jehovah, and his incomprehensible nature. The name I AM means the same as Jehovah , the first person being used instead of he third.
The Bible assumes and asserts the existence of God, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;" and is itself the most illustrious proof of his existence, as well as our chief instructor as to his nature and will. It puts a voice into the mute lips of creation; and not only reveals God in his works, but illustrates his ways in providence, displays the glories of his character, his law, and his grace, and brings man into true and saving communion with him. It reveals him to us as a Spirit, the only being from everlasting and to everlasting by nature, underived, infinite, perfect, and unchangeable in power, wisdom, omniscience, omnipresence, justice, holiness, truth, goodness, and mercy. He is but one God, and yet exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and this distinction of the Thee in One is, like his other attributes, from everlasting. He is the source, owner, and ruler of all beings, foreknows and predetermines all events, and is the eternal judge and arbiter of the destiny of all. True religion has its foundation in the right knowledge of God, and consists in supremely loving and faithfully obeying him. See Jesus Christ , and Holy, Holiness Spirit
King James Dictionary 
1. The Supreme Being Jehovah the eternal and infinite spirit, the creator,and the sovereign of the universe.
God is a spirit and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4 .
2. A false god a heathen deity an idol.
Fear not the gods of the Amorites. Judges 6 .
3. A prince a ruler a magistrate or judge an angel. Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.
Exodus 22 . Psalms 97
Gods here is a bad translation.
4. Any person or thing exalted too much in estimation, or deified and honored as the chief good.
Whose god is their belly. Philippians 3
GOD, To deify. Not used.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
from the same Saxon root as good, thus beautifully expressing the divine benignity as the leading attribute of the most general term for the Deity, and corresponding almost invariably to two Hebrew words, both from a common root ( אוּל , Au, To Be Strong). Hengstenberg, however, regards the simpler of these words ( אֵל , El) as a primitive (Auth. Of Pent. 1:251), while some consider the extended form ( אֵֵלוֹהּ , Elo'Dh) as derived from a different root (the obsolete אָלָהּ , found in Arabic = to Worship). The corresponding Shemitic terms are: Arabic, Al or Allah (q.v.); Syriac, Ilo or Eloho; Samar. El or Chilah (= Powerful; Castell, in Walton's Polyglot Bible , 6, s.v.); Phoenician El ( Ἠλ or Ἰλ ), as in En-el ( ῎Ενυλος , עינאל ), Gag-el (Gagilus, גגאל ), Ε᾿Λοείμ (Sanchon.). (See Almighty).
The only other Hebrew word generally employed in naming the Supreme Being is Jehovah, יְהוָֹה , which some (so Havernick, Historische-Critsche Einleitung Ins Alte Testament, Berlin, 1839) propose to point יִהְוֶה , Jahveh, meaning " The Existing One, " holding that Elohim is used merely to indicate the abundance and super-richness contained in the Divine Being. With such, therefore, Jehovah is not of the same origin as the heathen Jove, but of a strictly peculiar and Hebrew origin. Both names are used by Moses discriminately, in strict conformity with the theological idea he wished to express in the immediate context; and, pursuing the Pentateuch nearly line by line, it is astonisling to see that Moses never uses any of the names at mere random or arbitrarily, but is throughout consistent in the application of the respective terms. Elohim is the abstract expression for absolute Deity apart from the special notions of unity, holiness, substance, etc. It is more a philosophical than devotional term, and corresponds with our term Deity, in the same way as state or government is abstractly expressive of a king or monarch. Jehovah, however, seems to be the revealed Elohim, the Manifest, Only, Personal, and Holy Elohim: Elohim is the Creator, Jehovah the Redeemer, etc. (See Jehovah).
The translators of the Eng. A.V. have invariably translated this last Hebrew word by " Lord," which is printed in those passages in small capitals in our common Bibles, but whenever the two words which they thus render occur together, Adonai-Jehovah, the latter is rendered "God," in order to prevent the repetition of " Lord." The Greek has Θεός (either with or without the art.). Jerome and the Rabbins enumerate ten Heb. words as meaning God; but they relate rather to his attributes. (See Lord).
I. Usage of the Hebrew terms properly rendered "God."
1. אֵל , El. This term is used in the most general way as a designation of Deity, whether of the true God or of the false gods, even the idols, of the heathen. In the latter reference it occurs Isaiah 44:10; Isaiah 44:15; Isaiah 45:20; Isaiah 46:6; and in the plur. אֵלַים , Elim', Exodus 15:11; Daniel 11:36; though in both these last instances it may be questioned whether the word is not used in the sense of Mighty Ones. To render the application of the term in this reference more specific, such epithets as אִחֵר , Other, Foreign ( Exodus 34:14), זָר , Strange, Hostile ( Psalms 81:10), נֵכָר , Strange ( Deuteronomy 32:12), are used. When used of the true God, אֵל is usually preceded by the article ( הָאִל , Genesis 31:13; Deuteronomy 7:9), or followed by such distinctive epithets as שִׁדִּי , Almighty ( Exodus 6:3); עוֹלָם , Eternal ( Genesis 21:33; Isaiah 40:28); עִלְיוֹן , Supreme ( Genesis 14:18); חִי , Living ( Joshua 3:10); גַּבּרֹ , mighty ( Isaiah 9:5); or such qualifying adjuncts as כָּבוֹד , Of Glory ( Psalms 29:3); אֵֶמת , of truth ( Psalms 31:6); גְּמֻלוֹת , Of Retributions ( Jeremiah 51:56); בֵּיתאּאֵל , Of Bethel ( Genesis 31:13). יַשְׂרָאֵל , of Israel ( Genesis 33:20); יְשֻׁרוּן ( Deuteronomy 33:26). In poetry אֵל sometimes occurs as a sign of the superlative; as הִרִרֵיאּאֵל , Hills Of God Very High Hills ( Psalms 36:7); אִרְזֵיאּאֵל , Cedars Of God ( Psalms 80:11). The phrase בְּנֵיאּאֵלַים . occurs Psalms 29:1; Psalms 89:7; and is supposed by some to refer to Angels; but others take אלים here for אילים , and translate Sons Of The Mighty (see Rosenmuller, ad loc.). There is no instance of אֵל in the singular being used in the sense of Mighty One or Hero; for even if we retain that reading in Ezekiel 31:11 (though thirty of Kennicott's codices have the reading איל , and the probability is that in those which present אל the י is implied), the rendering "God of the nations" may be accepted as conveying a strong but just description of the power of Nebuchadnezzar, and the submission rendered to him; compare 2 Corinthians 4:4. In proper names אל is often found sometimes in the first member of the compound word, e.g. אליה , Elijah; אלדד , Eldad, etc., and sometimes as the last member, e.g. שׁמואל Samuel; למואל , Lemuel; טבאל , Tabeel, etc. (See El).
2. אלֵוֹהִּ , Elo'Ah, plur. אלֵהַים , Elohim'. The singular form occurs only in poetry, especially in Job, and in the later books, such as Daniel, Nehemiah, and Chronicles. It is used as well of idol deities as of the true God ( Daniel 11:37-38; Habakkuk 1:11; Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalms 1:22; Habakkuk 3:3, etc.); once in the former case with the addition of נֵכָר ( Daniel 11:39), and in the latter with that of יִעֲקֹב ( Psalms 114:7). The more common usage is that of the plural. This pervades all the books of the Old Test., from the earliest to the latest. Thus it is used principally of the true God, and in this case frequently with the article prefixed ( Genesis 5:22; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 6:11; Genesis 17:18), as well as with such adjuncts as הִשָּׁמִיַם ( Nehemiah 1:4), or with the addition of וְהָאָרֶו ֹ ( Genesis 24:3); אָמֵן ( Isaiah 65:16); צִדַּק ( Psalms 4:2); הִצִּבָּאוֹת ( Amos 3:13), etc. When the relation of Israel to God is to be indicated, the phrases God of Israel, Jacob, Abraham are used ( Ezekiel 5:1; Psalm 20:2; 47:10, etc.); and in this case, as the term Elohim is equivalent in effect to Jehovah, it is often used interchangeably with that term; thus Moses, who is designated עֵבֶד יְהֹוָה , Ebed-Jehovah ( Deuteronomy 34:5), is called in the same sense ע אלֵהַים , Ebed-Elohim ( Daniel 9:11); and the same object is designated indifferently רוּחִ יְהֹוָה , Ruach-Jehovah, and ר אלֵהַים , Ruach-Elohim (Comp. Judges 3:10, and Exodus 31:3, etc.). Not unfrequently the two terms are combined ( Leviticus 18:2; Leviticus 18:4, etc.; Leviticus 19:2, etc.; 2 Samuel 5:10; 1 Kings 1:36; 1 Kings 14:13; Psalms 18:29, etc.). Most commonly, however, they are used distinctively, with respect, probably, to the difference between their primary meanings (see Hengstenberg, Auth. D. Pent. 1:181 sq.). In the Pentateuch this discriminative usage has given ground for certain hypotheses as to the composition of that work. (See Pentateuch).
In the earlier historical books, Jehovah is more frequently used than Elohim; in Job, Jehovah is more frequently used in the poetical, Eloah or Elohim in the prosaic portions; in the Psalms, sometimes the one, sometimes the other predominates, and this has been thought to afford some criterion by which to judge of the age of the psalm, the older psalms being those in which Elohim is used; in Proverbs we have chiefly Jehovah; in Ecclesiastes, Daniel, and Jonah almost exclusively Elohim, and in the other prophets chiefly Jehovah. Elohim is also used of idol deities or false gods, because these are worshipped as if they were God ( Exodus 19:20; Exodus 32:31; Joshua 24:20; Jeremiah 2:11; Jonah 1:5, etc.); and, like El, it is used as a superlative ( Psalms 68:16; Psalms 65:10, etc.). Kings and judges, as the vicegerents of Deity, or as possessing a sort of repreasentative majesty, are sometimes called Elohim ( Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6; Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8). Whether the term is used of Angels may be made matter of question. This is the rendering given to אֵֹלהַים by the Sept.,Vulg., Targ., Syr., etc., in Genesis 3:5; Psalms 8:6; Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6; Psalms 97:7; Psalms 138:1; but in the majority of these instances there can be little doubt that the translators were swayed by were dogmatical considerations in adopting. that rendering; they preferred it because they avoided thus the strongly by anthropomorphic representation which a literal rendering would have preserved. In all these passages the proper signification of אלֹהַים may be retained, and in some of them, such as Genesis 3:5; Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6, this seems imperatively required. In Psalms 8:6 also the rendering "angels" seems excluded by the consideration that the subject of the writer is the grace of God to man in giving him Dominion Over The Works Of His Hands, in which respect there can be no comparison between man and the angels, of whom nothng of this sort is affirmed. In Psalms 97:7, the connection of the last clause with what precedes affords sufficient reason for our giving Elohim its proper rendering, as in the A.V. That the author of the epistle to the Hebrews should have adopted the Sept. rendering in citing these two passages ( Hebrews 2:7; Hebrews 1:6), cannot be held as establishing that rendering, for, as his argument is not affected by it, he was under no call to depart from the rendering given in the version from which he quotes. But, though there be no clear evidence that Elohim is ever used in the sense of angels, it is sometimes used vaguely to describe unseen powers or superhemman beings that are not properly thought of as divine. Thus the witch of Endor saw "Elohim ascending out of the earth" ( 1 Samuel 28:13), meaning thereby some beings of. an unearthly, superhuman character. So also in Zechariah 12:8 it is said, "The house of David shall be as Elohim, as the angel of the Lord," where, as the transition from Elohim to the angel of the Lord is A Minori Ad Majus, we must regard the former as a vague designation of supernatural powers. Hengstenberg would explain Psalms 8:6 in accordance with this; but the legitimmicy of this may be doubted. SEE ELOHIM.
On the use or absence of the article with אֵֹלהַים see Quarry (Genesis, page 270 sq.), who, after an elaborate examination of the subject, sums up the results as the following: "The dispelling of the supposition that any essential difference existed, at least in the earlier books, between Elohim with and without the article — any difference at all, but such as the exigencies of each occasion with respect to sense or grammar would have made in the case of any common appellative; the illustration of the use of the article with particles and prepositions, elucidating many passages of Scripture, and explaining many seeming causes of perplexity; and the establishment of an important characteristic difference as regards the usage in the case of Elohim with or without the article, between the earlier and later books of the sacred canon." (See Article (In Grammar).)
II. The Attributes ascribed to God by Moses are systematically enumerated in Exodus 34:6-7, though we find is isolated passages in the Pentateuch and elsewhere additional properties specified, which bear more directly upon the dogmas and principles of religion, such as, e.g. that he is not the author of sin ( Genesis 1:31), although since the fall man is prone to sin ( Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21, etc.). But, as it was the avowed design of Moses to teach the Jews the unity of God in opposition to the polytheism of the other nations with whom they were to come in contact, he dwelt particularly and most prominently on that point, which he hardly ever omitted when he had an opportunity of bringing forward the attributes of God ( Deuteronomy 6:4; Deuteronomy 10:17; Deuteronomy 4:39; Deuteronomy 9:16, etc.; Numbers 16:22; Numbers 33:19, etc.; Exodus 15:11; Exodus 34:6-7, etc.).
In the prophets and other sacred writers of the Old Testament these attributes are still more fully developed and explained by the declarations that God is the first and the last ( Isaiah 44:6); that he changes not ( Habakkuk 3:6); that the earth and heaven shall perish, but he shall endure ( Psalms 102:26) — a distinct allusion to the last doomsday — and that he is omnipresent ( Proverbs 15:3; Job 34:22, etc.).
In the New Testament also we find the attributes of God systematically classified ( Revelation 5:12; Revelation 7:12), while the peculiar tenets of Christianity embrace, if not a further, still a more developed idea, as presented by the apostles and the primitive teachers of the Church (compare Semisch's Justin Martyr, 2:151 sq., translated by J.E. Ryland, 1843).
The expression "to see God" ( Job 19:26; Job 13:5; Isaiah 38:11) sometimes signifies merely to experience his help; but in the Old Testament Scriptures it more usually denotes the approach of death ( Genesis 32:30; Judges 6:23; Judges 13:22; Isaiah 6:5). (See Death).
The term בֶּןאּאֵֹלהַים "son of God," applies to kings (Psalm 2:7; 82:6, 27). The usual notion of the ancients that the royal dignity was derived from God may here be traced to its source: hence the Homeric Διογένης Βασιλεύς . This notion, entertained by the Oriental nations with regard to kings, made the latter style themselves Gods ( Psalms 82:6). Add. בְּנֵי אֵֹלהַים "sons of God," in the plural, implies inferior gods, angels ( Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6);also faithful adherents, worshippers of God ( Deuteronomy 14:1; Psalms 73:15; Proverbs 14:26). אַישׁ אֵֹלהַים "man of God," is sometimes applied to an angel ( Judges 13:6; Judges 13:8), as also to a prophet ( 1 Samuel 2:27; 1 Samuel 9:6; 1 Kings 13:1).
When, in the Middle Ages, scholastic theology began to speculate on the divines attributes as the basis of systematic and dogmatic Christianity, the Jews, it appears, did not wish to remain behind on that head, and, collecting a few passages from the Old Testament, and more especially from Isaiah 11:2, and 1 Chronicles 29:11, where the divine attributes are more amply developed and enumerated, they strung them together in a sort of cabbalistic tree, but in reality representing a human figure. (See Cabbala).
III. The Scriptures contain frequent notices of False Gods as objects of idolatrous worship:
1. By The Hebrews. These were of two kinds:
a. Adoration of other beings than Jehovah, held as divine (Ehrlen, De Diis Et Deab. Gentil. In S.S. Memoratis, Argent. 1750; Leusden, De Idolis V.T. in his Philolog. Hebr. Mixt . page 291 sq.; Kalkar, Udsigt Over Den Idolatr. Cultus Som Omtales I Bibeln, Odense, 1838 sq.). Such false deities (which are generally identified with their images, Deuteronomy 4:28 sq.; Psalms 115:4 sq.; Psalms 135:15 sq.; 2 Maccabees 2:2; comp. also עֲצָבַים , Idols, in passages like 1 Samuel 31:9; Hosea 4:17) are called אֵַלילַים nothings (perhaps a play upon אֵֹלהַים ), in the Jewish Church phraseology ( Leviticus 19:4; Leviticus 26:1; comp. Habakkuk 2:18), or חֲבָלַים , breaths, i.e., vanities ( Jeremiah 2:5; Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 14:22), הִבְלֵי שׁ וְא utter vanities ( Jonah 2:9; comp. Τὰ Μάταια , Acts 14:15), שַׁקּוּצַים , abominations ( 1 Kings 11:5; Kings 23:13); derisively גַּלּוּלַים , Logs ( Ezekiel 6:4; Ezekiel 14:3); their sacred rites אָיֶן , Frivolity ( 1 Samuel 15:23; Isaiah 66:3), and their whole worship harlotry (Ezekiel 23; compare זָנָה , and derivatives, in Winer, Simonis Lex. p. 286 sq.), in contrast with which Jehovah is called the True God ( אֵֹלהַים חִיַּים , Jeremiah 10:10 sq.; Daniel 6:20; Daniel 6:26 [compare מֵתַים , Psalm 116:28]; Acts 14:15; 2 Corinthians 6:16), the God Of Heaven ( Judith 5:7; compare Jeremiah 10:11, etc.). Indeed idolatry was reprobated as a capital offense in the Mosaic law, under penalty of extirpation and destruction in the case of the whole people ( Leviticus 19:4; Deuteronomy 6:15; Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 11:16 sq.; Deuteronomy 28:15 sq.; Deuteronomy 30:17 sq.; Deuteronomy 31:16 sq.; comp. Joshua 23:16; 1 Kings 9:6 sq.), and stoning for individuals ( Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 17:2 sq.; comp. Deuteronomy 6:14 sq.; Deuteronomy 7:16; Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 13:2 sq.; Exodus 20:3; Exodus 20:23); and the Israelites were admonished in their campaigns utterly to demolish idolatrous images ( Exodus 23:24; Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 12:2 sq.; comp. 1 Chronicles 14:12; 1 Maccabees 10:84), and not to tolerate any heathen whatever in their land ( Exodus 23:33; Deuteronomy 20:17), and, furthermore, to shun all connection (even civil and political) with idolatrous nations ( Exodus 23:32; Exodus 34:15 sq.; Deuteronomy 7:1 sq.). Even instigation to idolatry was liable to punishment by death ( Deuteronomy 13:6 sq.). In spite, however, of these severe statutes, we find the Israelites, not only during the passage through the wilderness and the unsettled period of their polity ( Numbers 25:2; Deuteronomy 13:13; Joshua 24:23; comp. Amos 5:25 sq.), but also under the monarchy, sadly departing from the worship of Jehovah, and addicting themselves to the adoration of Phoenico-Philistine-Syrian and Arabico-Saboean (in the time of the Maccabees also to Graeco-Syrian) deities (see Gramberg, Religionsideen, 1:436), such as Baal, Ashtaroth, Moloch, Chemosh, Thammuz, etc., and connecting therewith soothsaying and sorcery ( Deuteronomy 18:10 sq.; comp. Dale, De Divinationib. Idolol. V.T. in his work De Origine Et Progr. Idolol. page 363 sq.). See each of these names in its place.
The service rendered to foreign deities was very multiform (Mishna, Sanhedrinm, 7:6), but consisted principally of vows ( Hosea 9:10), incense ( 1 Kings 11:8; 2 Kings 22:17; 2 Kings 23:5; Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 7:9; Jeremiah 11:12; Jeremiah 13:15; Jeremiah 32:29), bloodless ( Jeremiah 7:18) and bloody offerings ( 2 Kings 5:17), including even human beings. (See Moloch). The incense and offerings were presented on high places and hills ( Isaiah 57:7; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6; Jeremiah 13:27; Hosea 4:13; 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:5; comp. Philostr. Apoll. 2:4; Spanheim, ad Callim. Del. 70; (See High Place) ), on roofs. ( Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29; Isaiah 65:3), under shady trees ( 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:4; 2 Kings 17:10; Hosea 4:13; Isaiah 1:29; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:13; Jeremiah 17:2; 2 Chronicles 28:4; Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 20:28; see Movers, Ph Ö Nic. page 577 sq.), also in valleys ( Jeremiah 2:23; 2 Chronicles 28:3) and gardens ( Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 65:3). (See Grove). The votaries of many of these deities made an offering of their own chastity to them, and illicit commingling of the sexes was a chief element of such cultus. (See Baal); (See Astarte). Sitting upon graves formed also a part of idolatry, either as a propitiation to the manes or in necromancy ( Isaiah 65:4). Lustration even was not wanting ( Isaiah 66:17). The priestly castes of these idolatrous systems were numerous ( 1 Kings 18:22; 2 Kings 10:21) and in good station ( Hosea 10:5). One kind of them was called Kemarim ( כַּמָרַים , Zephaniah 1:4; 2 Kings 23:5; a Syriac word, Gesen. Thes. page 693; Mishna, Megil. 4:9). (See Idolatry).
b. The worship of Jehovah, under the form of any image whatever, was strictly forbidden ( Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16; Deuteronomy 5:8; Deuteronomy 27:15; comp. Tacit. Hist. 5:5). Such symbols as the Golden Calf (q.v.) were borrowed from Egypt ( Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:7 sq.). See Ewald, Isr. Gesch. 2:109 sq.; Gerritsen, Cur Hebraei Ante Exil. Babyl. Se Ad Idolorum Et Plurium Deor. Cultum Valde Promos Ostenderint, in the Annal. Acad. Rheno-Traject. 1822-3, page 120 sq.; Michaelis, Mos. Recht, 5:98 sq.; Otho, Lex. Rabb. page 286 sq. (See Image).
2. Idolatry Of Non-Israelitish Nations. — See each in its place. This was frequently portrayed by the prophets in all its grossness ( 1 Kings 18:27; comp. Deyling's Observ. 1:136 sq.), especially by exhibitions of the (mechanical) construction of these gods (images, Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 2:20; Isaiah 44:10 sq.; Jeremiah 10:3 sq.; Hosea 13:2; Psalms 115:4; Baruch 6:3 sq.; Wisdom of Solomon 13:11 sq.; Wisdom of Solomon 15:7 sq.; compare Philo, 2:472; Horace, Sat. 1:81 sq. Arnob. 3:12; 6:13 sq.; Augustine, Civ. Dei. 6:10), and their powerlessness ( Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 46:1-2; Jeremiah 2:28; compare Deuteronomy 4:28; Deuteronomy 28:36 Psalms 115:5 sq.; Habakkuk 2:18). The images of the gods ( מִצֵּבוֹת ) were sometimes Cast (metallic, Judges 17:4; Isaiah 2:20; Isaiah 40:19; Hosea 13:2), נֶסֶךְ , מִסֵּכָה ; sometimes Carved (of wood, Isaiah 44:13; Jeremiah 10:3; comp. Pliny, 12:2; 13:17; Pausan. 2:19, 3), פֶּסֶל , פְּסַיל (See Diana), or even moulded of clay ( Wisdom of Solomon 15:8; Pliny distinguishes "Lignea et Fictilia simulacra," 34:16). They were fastened with chains, so as not to fall down or be carried away ( Isaiah 41:7; Jeremiah 10:4; comp. Pausan. 3:15, 5; 8:41, 4; Arnob. 6:13), and were usually overlaid with gold or silver, and were, besides, richly decked with apparel ( Isaiah 2:20; Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 31:7; Isaiah 40:19; Jeremiah 10:4; Hosea 8:4; Baruch 12:16; compare Dougtaei Analect. 2:179 sq.; Bahr, Symbol. 1:277 sq.). They were also painted with red (vermilion) color ( Wisdom of Solomon 13:14; compare Pliny, 33:7, 36; 35:12, 45; Virgil, Eclog. 6:22; 10:26 sq.; Plutarch, Quaest. Romans 98; Arnob. 6:10; Bahr, Symbol. 1:334). They were taken by armies with them into battle ( 2 Samuel 5:21; comp. Curtius, 8:14, 11; Polyamn. 7:4). Victors were accustomed to carry them about in triumph, in order to despoil the subject nations of their divinities ( Isaiah 10:10; Isaiah 36:19; Isaiah 37:12), or to bind them to greater fidelity ( Isaiah 46:1 sq.; Jeremiah 48:7; Jeremiah 49:3; Hosea 10:5; Daniel 11:8; compare Pausan. 8:46, 1; see Bochart, Hieroz. 1:372; Withof, Opusc. page 143 sq.). The weapons of slain enemies were hung as trophies in the temples of the gods ( 1 Samuel 31:10; Pausan. 1:13, 3; Xenoph. Anab. 5:3, 4; Euseb. Chron. Arm. 1:67). Soothsaying and sorcery ever stand in, connection with this cultus ( Isaiah 19:3). (See Mark In The Flesh).
IV. The Christian Doctrine Of God. —
1. Source. — The Christian idea of God is derived from the Scriptures. The statement GOD IS GOD suffices for the wants of theology in itself, and is given as a complete proposition in the Scriptures ( Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 43:12). But the Scriptures afford many indications, not merely as to the character of God, but also as to his nature. The substance of these teachings may be summed up in the statements. God is a Spirit, God is Love, God is Lord. These statements include the idea of an immaterial, intelligent, and free personal Being, of perfect goodness, wisdom, and power, who made the universe and continues to support it, as well as to govern and direct it, by his providence. Dr. Adam Clarke gives the following general statement of the doctrine of the Great First Cause: "The eternal, independent, and self-existent Being; the Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence; he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the most simple, the most spiritual of all essences; infinitely benevolent, beneficent, true, and holy; the cause of all being, the upholder of all things; infinitely happy, because infinitely perfect; and eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has made; illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence; known fully only to himself, because an infinite mind can only be fully comprehended by itself. In a word, a Being who, from his infinite wisdom, can not err or be deceived, and, from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, and right, and kind." The Christian doctrine of God, in its development, involves the idea of the Trinity: God the Fathar, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. (See Trinity).
2. Connotation Of The Term God. — The word Θεός , God, taken to signify "an object of religious venersation," was formerly applied to the pretended deities of the heathen, and accordingly Δευς and Deus were employed by the promulgators of the Gospel when calling on the heathen to transfer their worship from their idols to Jehovah. But the word "God" has come to signify in Christian sense the Maker and Ruler of the world, and is absolutely and exclusively applied to him. There is "one God" in the Christian sense, and there can be but one. "It is not meant merely that we believe this as a fact, but that it is moreover implied in the very meaning we attach to the word. And this is a distinction which should always be carefully attended to. The word 'Mohamedan' means nothing more or less than a believer in Mohammed, though the Christian regards Mohammed as having been in fact an impostor, and the Mohammedans regard him as a true prophet; but neither of these is implied (or connoted) by the word 'Mohammedan' when used by a Christian. On the contrary, thee word 'God' does imply what has been above stated, as is evident from this: that any one who should deny that there exists any such being as a Maker and Governor of the world, would be considered by Christians not only as in error, but as an Atheist — as holding that there is no God (while whoever should affirm the existence of more than one God would be held to be an idolater); and this not the less though he should admit the existence of some being superior to man, such as the fairies, demons, nixes, etc., which are still feared lay the vulgar in almost all parts of Christendom; the genii of the Eastern nations, and the gods and goddesses of the ancient heathens, which were all of this description. None of them was accounted the 'Creator,' and the births of most of them are recorded in their mythology; and altogether the notions entertained of time seem to have been very nears the same as the vulgar superstitions still prevailing in most parts of Europe relative to the fairies, etc., these being doubtless no other than the ancient heathen deities of those parts, the belief in their existence and dread of their power having survived the introduction of Christianity, though the title of 'gods' has been dropped, as well as the words 'sacrifice' and 'worship' in reference to the offerings, invocations, and other tokens of reverence with which they are still in several places honored. It appears, therefore, that as the ancient heathens denounced the early Christians as Atheists for contemning the heathen deities, so they may be considered as being, in the Christian sense of the word, themselves Atheists (as indeed they are called in Ephesians 2:12), and that consequently the word 'God,' in the Christian sense sand in the heathen must be regarded as having two meanings. Wide, therefore, of the truth is the notion conveyed in Pope's 'Universal Prayer,' the Pantheism, as it is called, of the ancient heathen philosophers and the Brahmins of the present day, who applied the word God to a supposed soul of the universe:
"'Mens agitat molem, et toto se coampore miscet,'
a spirit pervading all things (but not an agent or a person), and of which the souls of man and brutes are portions. In the Book of Revelation, 'Jehovah, the self-existent and all-perfect Being, with the world which he created and which he is ever ruling, alone meets our view. Though intimately present with all his works, he is yet entirely distinct from them. In him we live, and move, and have our being. He is infinitely nigh to us and he is intimately present with us, while we remain infinitely distant from his all-perfect and incommunicable essence'" (Eden).
3. Can God Be Known? — The Scriptures declare that God is invisible ( Exodus 33:20; John 1:18; 1 John 4:12; 1 Timothy 6:16, etc.) and unsearchable ( Job 11:7; Job 37:23). But the very existence of the idea of God, and even the use of the name God, with its connotation as given above, imply, not indeed that it is possible for man to comprehend God, but that it is not impossible to know God. And so the Scriptures make it man's duty to become "acquainted with God" ( 1 Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 9:24; 2 Peter 1:2; John 17:3, etc.). Even Atheists are bound to explain the Res In Intellectu manifested in the thought and language of men. To deny absolutely that God can be known is to deny that he exists; and, on the other hand, the proof, or even the admission that God exists, implies that it can not be absolutely unknown what or how he is: the knowledge of his existence implies as a necessary condition some knowledge of the mode of his existence, i.e. his power, wisdom, justice, etc. The passages cited above, declaring that God is invisible, etc., are not to be tortured to favor the idea that the human mind is absolutely incapable of knowing God. On the contrary, their purpose is to vindicate the claims of revelation as the source of knowledge of God. The Scriptures teach that God is made known him Christ (1) by his works ( Romans 1:20; Psalms 19:1-2); (2) through his Son, which is, in part, his essence. True, God revealed his "glory" to Moses ( Exodus 33:18-23), but the manifestation was given through a medium, or, rather, reflection, making "the goodness" of God to "pasbefore" Moses. Not sight, but faith, is the condition and means of our knowledge of God in this life ( 2 Corinthians 5:7). God, then, can be known, but only so far as he gives the knowledge of himself, and so far as the capacity of man can reach. Johannes Damascenus said truly, "It is not possible to know God altogether; neither is it altogether impossible to know God." To see him with the bodily eyes would be fatal to a sinful creature (see citations above). But there is a dead "knowledge of God" ( Romans 1:21; James 2:19); and, in contrast with it, there is a living knowledge of God, which includes a spiritual seeing of the invisible, the privilege of all who are in vital union with God through faith is his Son ( Hebrews 11:27).
Science trusts to the functions and laws of the human mind as its instruments for the discovery of truth. But to know the truth, and to recognize the ground and object of phenomena in their connection and unity, is a process which leads invariably to the knowledge of the original and perfect Being; for every science which recognizes truth and goodness in the world, in nature and in reason, recognises therewith a power of wisdom and goodness. But as we cannot recognize such a power abstractly, in recognizing it at all we recognize the eternal God (Suabedissen, Metaphysik, 1836, page 143). Yet as man, by science, can know the works of God only very imperfectly and incompletely, criticism and skepticism are alwvays the companions of science, and she can be, at best, only the pioneer of true religious knowledge, or its servant. For the true religious knowledge of God is not founded upon science, but upon life — the life of communion with God. In the religious life the consciousness of God is before and apart from all reflection, all speculation; the souls, in its rapid dialectics, under the pressure of religious needs, has no need of syllogism to prove the existence of God. So Tertullian declares (in his Testimonium Animae ) that even the common heathen mind, a part from philosophy, reached a truer knowledge of God and of divine things than the heathen mythology and philosophy could teach. Even the Platonic philosophy taught that the longing of the soul for the truth and beauty of goodness leads to a renunciation of the outward and visible in behalf of an apprehension of the spiritual and real. Spiritual Christianity transforms this teaching into a higher one, viz. that the longing of the soul for God, the search for God in Christ, is always rewarded, and that the "pure in heart" see God with the spiritual eyes of faith. Luther's doctrine that God may be taught, named, and apprehended in Christ, and in Christ alone, is quite in harmony with the early theology of the Church (e.g. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 2).
Not that a mere intellectual faith in Christ brings this knowledge of God. With the conversion of the soul begins its new, spiritual capacity to receive and apprehend God; and as the soul is emptied of self and purged from sin by the Holy Spirit, it grows in knowledge of God, in light and love, until the "life of God" becomes the "life of the soul." Dr. Nevin (Reply to Dorner, 1869) has the following striking passage as to the specifically Christian conception of God: "There is a sense in which the absolute being of God, as related immediately and directly to our created being, must be considered the necessary ground of our knowing him and coming into union with him in the way of religion. The whole possibility of religion for us starts in the God-consciousness, or direct sense of Deity, which is as much a part of our original nature as the sense we have of the world around us or of our own existence. It is not put into us by any outward evidence or argument. It authenticates and necessitates itself as a fundamental fact in our life; and in doing this it certifies, to the same extent, the truth of the object on which it is exercised. Or, rather, we must say, the truth of the object on which it is exercised, which is the Divine Being, or the existence of the Absolute, certifies itself, makes itself sure in and through the consciousness into which it enters. In this sense, the idea of God comes before Christianity, as it comes before religion in every other form. But who will say that this general idea of God can be for us, therefore, the actual root of Christianity, so that any among us, starting with that alone, could ever by means of it come to a full construction of what God is for true Christian faith? It lies at the ground of pantheism, dualism, polytheism, deism, and all false religions, no less than at the ground of Christianity. For the distinctive knowledge of Christianity, then, we need some other specific principle or root. which, however it may be comprehended in the general principle of all religion, must be regarded at the same time nevertheless as the ground and beginning, exclusively and entirely, of religion under this its highest and only absolutely complete form. Where, now, is that principle to be found? Where does the whole world of Christianity, the new creation of the Gospel (life, power, doctrine, and all), take its rise and start? Where do we come to the source of its perennial revelation, the ground of its indestructible life? Where, save in the presence of the Word Incarnate, the glorious Person of him who is the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright and morning Star — the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God!"
But Religion has had her errors and excesses as well as Science. As the latter seeks in its pride, by purely intellectual effort, to apprehend the absolute, so the former has at certain periods allowed mysticism to take the place of the simple revealed truth as to the life of God in the soul, and, in the spirit of the Oriental theosophy, has called the "redeemed soul but a drop in the ocean of God", (See Mysticism). The orthodox Christian doctrine keeps the golden mean between these extremes. It asserts, and has asserted from the beginning, that a real and objective knowledge of God comes only from God's revelation, and that only Κατὰ Τὸἐφικτόν , Pro Virili (Arist. De Mund.), according to the best capacity of man. It teaches not only that God is "incomprehensible," but also that every step taken in the true knowledge of God by the soul makes his "incomprehe
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
The two principal Hebrew names of the Supreme Being used in the Scriptures are Jehovah and Elohim. Dr. Havernick proposes the reading Jahveh instead of Jehovah, meaning 'the Existing One.'Both names, he admirably proves, are used by Moses discriminately, in strict conformity with the theological idea he wished to express in the immediate context; and, pursuing the Pentateuch nearly line by line, it is astonishing to see that Moses never uses any of the names at mere random or arbitrarily, but is throughout consistent in the application of the respective terms. Elohim is the abstract expression for absolute Deity apart from the special notions of unity, holiness, substance, etc. It is more a philosophical than devotional term, and corresponds with our term Deity, in the same way as state or government is abstractedly expressive of a king or monarch. Jehovah, however, he considers to be the revealed Elohim, the Manifest, Only, Personal, and Holy Elohim: Elohim is the Creator, Jehovah the Redeemer, etc.
To Elohim, in the later writers, we usually find affixed the adjective 'the living' (;;;; ), probably in contradistinction to idols, which might be confounded in some cases with the true God.
The attributes ascribed to God by Moses are systematically enumerated in , though we find in isolated passages in the Pentateuch and elsewhere, additional properties specified, which bear more directly upon the dogmas and principles of religion, such as e.g. that he is not the author of sin , although since the fall, man is born prone to sin (; , etc.). But as it was the avowed design of Moses to teach the Jews the Unity of God in opposition to the polytheism of the other nations with whom they were to come in contact, he dwelt particularly and most prominently on that point, which he hardly ever omitted when he had an opportunity of bringing forward the attributes of God (;;; , etc.;; , etc.;; , etc.).
In the Prophets and other sacred writers of the Old Testament, these attributes are still more fully developed and explained by the declarations that God is the first and the last , that He changes not , that the earth and heaven shall perish, but He shall endure —a distinct allusion to the last doomsday—and that He is Omnipresent (; , etc.).
In the New Testament also we find the attributes of God systematically classified , while the peculiar tenets of Christianity embrace, if not a farther, still a more developed idea, as presented by the Apostles and the primitive teachers of the church.
The expression 'to see God' (;; ) sometimes signifies merely to experience His help; but in the Old Testament Scriptures it more usually denotes the approach of death .
The term 'son of God' applies to kings . The usual notion of the ancients, that the royal dignity was derived from God, may here be traced to its source. This notion, entertained by the Oriental nations with regard to kings, made the latter style themselves gods .
'Sons of God,' in the plural, implies inferior gods, angels ; as also faithful adherents, worshippers of God (;; ).
'Man of God' is sometimes applied to an angel ; as also to a prophet (;; ).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
When the people had settled down in peaceful relations with their neighbors, and began to have commercial and diplomatic transactions with them, it was inevitable that they should render their neighbor's gods some degree of reverence and worship. Courtesy and friendship demanded as much (compare 2 Kings 5:18 ). When Solomon had contracted many foreign alliances by marriage, he was also bound to admit foreign worship into Jerusalem ( 1 Kings 11:5 ). But Ahab was the first king who tried to set up the worship of Baal, side by side with that of Yahweh, as the national religion (James M.A. DD General Editor. Entry for 'God'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/g/god.html. 1915.1 King Copyright Statement These files are public domain and were generously provided by the folks at WordSearch Software. Bibliography Information Orr
- God from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- God from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- God from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
- God from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- God from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- God from Holman Bible Dictionary
- God from Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words
- God from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- God from Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words
- God from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- God from Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
- God from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- God from Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
- God from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- God from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- God from King James Dictionary
- God from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
- God from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
- God from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia