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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Introduction: Meaning of Terms


1. Mythological Survivals

2. Created Sonship

3. Israel's Collective Covenant Sonship

4. Individual and Personal Relation

5. Universalizing the Idea


1. Physical and Limited Sonship Disappears

2. As Religious Experience, or Psychological Fact

(1) Filial Consciousness of Jesus

(2) Communicated to Men

3. As Moral Condition, or Ethical Fact

4. As State of Being, or Ontological Fact

(1) Essence of Christ's Sonship

(2) Men's Sonship

5. As Relation to God, or Theological Fact

(1) Eternal Generation

(2) The Work of Grace

Introduction: Meaning of Terms:

Children (Sons and Daughters) of God (bene and benoth 'elohim, literally "sons and daughters of God"; tekna theou, and huioi theou): so the King James Version; but the Revised Version (British and American) translates the latter Greek phrase more accurately "sons of God." Tekna contains the idea of origin or descent, but also that of personal relation, and is often used metaphorically of "that intimate and reciprocal relationship formed between men by the bonds of love, friendship, trust, just as between parents and children" (Grimm-Thayer). Huioi, too, conveys the ideas of origin, and of personal relation, but the latter in the fuller form in which it appears in mature age. "The difference between huios and teknon appears to be that whereas teknon denotes the natural relationship of child to parent, huios implies in addition to this the recognized status and legal privileges reserved for sons" (Sanday and Headlam, on Romans 8:14). This difference obtains, however, only in a very general sense.

The above phrases denote the relation in which men are conceived to stand to God, either as deriving their being from Him and depending upon Him, or as standing in that personal relation of intimate trust and love toward Him which constitutes the psychological fact of sonship. The exact significance of the expression depends upon the conception of God, and particularly of His Fatherhood, to which it corresponds. It therefore attains to its full significance only in the New Testament, and its meaning in the Old Testament differs considerably, even though it marks stages of development up to the New Testament idea.

I. Old Testament Teaching.

The most primitive form of the idea appears in Genesis 6:1-4, where the sons of God by marrying the fair daughters of men become the fathers of the giants.

1. Mythological Survivals:

These were a subordinate order of Divine beings or demi-gods, and the title here may mean no more, although it was probably a survival of an earlier idea of the actual descent of these gods from a higher God. The idea of a heavenly court where the sons of God come to present themselves before Yahweh is found in quite late literature (Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7 Psalm 29:1; Psalm 89:6). In all these cases the phrase implies a certain kinship with God and dependence upon Him on the part of the Divine society around Him. But there is no evidence to show whether the idea of descent of gods from God survived to any extent, nor is there any indication of a very close personal relationship. Satan is unsympathetic, if not hostile. In one obviously polytheistic reference, the term implies a similarity of appearance (Daniel 3:25). In a secondary sense the titles "gods," and "sons of the Most High" are given to magistrates, as exercising God's authority (Psalm 82:6).

2. Created Sonship:

The idea of creation has taken the place of that of procreation in the Old Testament, but without losing the sense of sonship. "Saith Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: Ask me. concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands" (Isaiah 45:11). Israel acknowledges the absolute sovereignty of God as her Father and Maker (Isaiah 64:8). Israel's Maker is also her Husband, and by inference the Father of her children (Isaiah 54:5). Since all Israel has one Father, and one God created her, the tribes owe brotherly conduct to one another (Malachi 2:10). Yahweh upbraids His sons and daughters whom He as their Father bought, made and established. "He forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that gave thee birth" (Deuteronomy 32:6, 15, 18). These passages reveal the transition from the idea of original creation to that of making and establishing Israel as a nation. All things might be described as children of God if creation alone brought it to pass, but Israel stands in a unique relation to God.

3. Israel's Collective Covenant Sonship:

The covenant relation of God with Israel as a nation is the chief form in which man's sonship and God's fatherhood appear in the Old Testament. "Israel is my son, my firstborn" (Exodus 4:22); "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt" (Hosea 11:1). And to be children of God involves the obligation to be a holy people (Deuteronomy 14:1, 2). But Israel has proved unworthy of her status: "I. have brought up children, and they have rebelled against me" (Isaiah 1:2, 4; Isaiah 30:1, 9). Yet He will have pity upon them: "for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn" (Jeremiah 31:9, 20). Israel's unworthiness does not abolish the relation on God's side; she can therefore return to Him again and submit to His will (Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8); and His pity exceeds a mother's love (Isaiah 49:15). The filial relation of Israel to God is summed up and symbolized in a special way in the Davidic king: "I will be his father, and he shall be my son" (2 Samuel 7:14 = 1 Chronicles 17:13; compare 1 Chronicles 22:10; 1 Chronicles 28:6 Psalm 2:7).

4. Individual and Personal Relation:

God's fatherhood to collective Israel necessarily tends to develop into a personal relation of father and son between Him and individual members of the nation. The children of Israel, whatever their number, shall be called "the sons of the living God" (Hosea 1:10). Yahweh's marriage relation with Israel as a nation made individual Israelites His children (Hosea 2:19, 20 Jeremiah 3:14, 22; compare Isaiah 50:1 Ezekiel 16:20, 21; Ezekiel 23:37), and God's ownership of His children, the individual members of the nation, is asserted (compare Psalm 127:3). Chastisement and pity alike God deals forth as Father to His children (Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 8:5 Psalm 103:13), and these are intimate personal relations which can only obtain between individuals.

5. Universalizing the Idea:

In another direction the idea of God as the father of Israel tends to be modified by the inclusion of the Gentiles. The word "first-born" (in Exodus 4:22 and Jeremiah 31:9, 20) may be only an emphatic form of expressing sonship, or it may already suggest the possibility of the adoption of the Gentiles. If that idea is not present in words, it is an easy and legitimate inference from several passages, that Gentiles would be admitted some day into this among the rest of Israel's privileges (Isaiah 19:25; Isaiah 65:1 Zechariah 14:16).

II. New Testament Teaching.

1. Physical and Limited Sonship Disappears:

As the doctrine of Divine fatherhood attains its full spiritual and moral significance in the New Testament, so does the experience and idea of sonship. All traces of physical descent have disappeared. Paul's quotation from a heathen poet: "For we are also his offspring" (Acts 17:28), whatever its original significance, is introduced by the apostle for the purpose of enforcing the idea of the spiritual kinship of God and men. The phrase "Son of God" applied to Christ by the Roman centurion (Matthew 27:54 Mark 15:39) may or may not, in his mind, have involved the idea of physical descent, but its utterance was the effect of an impression of similarity to the gods, produced by the exhibition of power attending His death. The idea of creation is assumed in the New Testament, but generally it is not prominent in the idea of sonship. The virgin birth of Jesus, however, may be understood as implying either the creative activity of the Holy Spirit, or the communication of a preexistent Divine being to form a new human personality, but the latter idea also would involve creative activity in the physical realm (compare Luke 3:38: "Adam (son) of God"). The limitations of the Old Testament conception of sonship as national and collective disappear altogether in the New Testament; God is father of all men, and of every man. In potentiality at least every man and all men are sons of God. The essence of sonship consists in a personal experience and moral likeness which places man in the most intimate union and communion with God.

2. As Religious Experience, or Psychological Fact:

(1) Filial Conciousness of Jesus.

Divine sonship was first realized and made manifest in the consciousness of Jesus (Matthew 11:27). For Him it meant unbroken personal knowledge of God and communion with Him, and the sense of His love for Him and of His satisfaction and delight in Him (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5 Mark 1:11; Mark 9:7 Luke 3:22; Luke 9:35). Whether the "voice out of the heavens saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" was objective or not, its message always dwelt in the filial consciousness of Jesus. The Father's love was to Him a source of knowledge and power (John 5:20), the reward of His self-sacrifice (John 10:17) and the inspiration of His love for men (John 15:9).

Sonship meant for Him His Messianic mission (Matthew 16:16, 17). It involved His dependence on the Father and His obedience to Him (John 5:19, 30; John 8:29), and a resulting confidence in His mission (John 5:36; John 10:36, 37). It filled Him with a sense of dignity, power and glory which the Father gave Him, and would yet give in larger measure (Matthew 26:63, 14; Matthew 16:27 John 17:5).

(2) Communicated to Men.

Jesus communicated His own experience of God to men (John 14:9) that they also might know the Father's love and dwell in it (John 17:26). Through Him and through Him alone can they become children of God in fact and in experience (John 1:12; John 14:6 Matthew 11:27). It is therefore a distinctively Christian experience and always involves a relation of faith in Christ and moral harmony with Him. It differs from His experience in one essential fact, at least in most men. It involves an inner change, a change of feeling and motive, of ideal and attitude, that may be compared to a new birth (John 3:3). Man must turn and return from disobedience and alienation through repentance to childlike submission (Luke 15:18-20). It is not the submission of slaves, but the submission of sons, in which they have liberty and confidence before God (Galatians 4:6), and a heritage from Him for their possession (Galatians 4:6, 7 Romans 8:17). It is the liberty of self-realization. As sons they recognize their kinship with God, and share his mind and purpose, so that His commands become their pleasure: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3). They have boldness and access to God (Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12). With this free union of love with God there comes a sense of power, of independence of circumstances, of mastery over the world, and of the possession of all things necessary which become the heirs of God (Matthew 6:26, 32; Matthew 7:11). "For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4). They learn that the whole course and destiny of creation is for the "revealing of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19, 21).

3. As Moral Condition, or Ethical Fact:

Christ's sonship involved His moral harmony with the Father: "I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10; John 8:53). He accomplished the work which the Father gave Him to do (John 17:4; John 5:19), "becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). And sonship makes the same demand upon men. The peacemakers and those who forgive like God are His children (Matthew 5:9, 45 Luke 6:35). "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these (and these only) are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). God will be Father to the holy (2 Corinthians 6:18). The test and mark of the children of God is that they do righteousness and love the brethren (1 John 3:10). They are blameless and harmless, without blemish, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15). Therefore their ideal of life is to be "imitators of God" and to walk in love even as Christ did (Ephesians 5:1). Sonship grows to its consummation as the life grows in the likeness of Christ, and the final destiny of all sons is to be ever like Him (1 John 3:2).

4. As State of Being, or Ontological Fact:

Sonship is properly and primarily a relation, but it may so dominate and transform the whole of a man's life, thought and conduct as to become his essential being, the most comprehensive category under which all that he is may be summed up.

(1) Essence of Christ's Sonship.

It is so that the New Testament comprehends the person of Christ. Everything that He did, He did as God's son, so that He is the Son, always and ever Son. In the beginning, in the bosom of the Father, He is the ONLY BEGOTTEN (which see) Son (John 1:1, 18). He is born a Son of God (Luke 1:35). He begins life in the things of His Father (Luke 2:49). His whole life is that of the beloved Son (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). As Son of God He dies (Matthew 26:63 Luke 22:70 Matthew 27:40, 43; compare John 5:18). In His resurrection He was declared to be the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4); as Jesus the Son of God He is our great high priest in heaven (Hebrews 4:14), and in the glory of His father He will come to judge in the last day (Matthew 16:27).

(2) Men's Sonship.

Unlike Him, men's moral sonship is neither eternal nor universal. Are they therefore sons in any sense always and everywhere? All children are heirs of the kingdom of God and objects of the Father's care (Luke 18:16 Matthew 18:10). But men may turn away from the Father and become unworthy to be called His sons (Luke 15:13, 19). They may become children of the devil (1 John 3:10 John 8:44), and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Then they lose the actuality, but not the potentiality, of sonship. They have not the experience or character of sons, but they are still moral and rational beings made in the image of God, open to the appeal and influence of His love, and able to "rise and go to their Father." They are objects of God's love (John 15:13 Romans 5:8) and of His gracious search and seeking (Luke 15:4 John 11:52). But they are actual sons only when they are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14); and even so their sonship will only be consummated in the resurrection (Romans 8:23 Luke 20:36).

5. As Relation to God, or Theological Fact:

In the relation of father and son, fatherhood is original and creative. That does not necessarily mean priority in time.

(1) Eternal Generation.

Origen's doctrine of the eternal generation of Christ, by which is meant that God and Christ always stood in the relation of Father and Son to one another, is a just interpretation of the New Testament idea that the Son "was in the beginning with God" (pros ton Theon). But Jesus was conscious of His dependence upon the Father and that His sonship was derived from Him (John 5:19, 36). Still more manifest is it that men derive their sonship from God. He made them for Himself, and whatever in human nature qualifies men to become sons of God is the free gift of God. But men in their sin and disobedience could not come to a knowledge of the Father, had He not "sent forth his Son. that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:4, 5): "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God" (1 John 3:1); "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son" (which see) who gave men "the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 3:16; John 1:12). It is not the children of the flesh but the children of the promise who are children of God (Romans 9:4). The mere act of birth does not constitute men into children of God, but His covenant of free grace must be added. God being essentially Father made men and the universe, sent His Son and His Spirit, "for the revealing of the sons of God." But they can only know the Father, and realize their sonship when they respond to His manifestation of fatherly love, by faith in God and obedience to Him.

(2) The Work of Grace.

The question whether sonship is natural and universal or conditional upon grace working through faith, does not admit of a categorical answer. The alternatives are not strict antitheses. God does all things as Father. To endow man with rational and moral nature capable of his becoming a son was an act of love and grace, but its whole purpose can be communicated only in response to faith in Christ. But a natural sonship which is not actual is meaningless. A man's moral condition and his attitude toward God are the most essential elements of his nature, for a man's nature is just the sum total of his thoughts, acts and states. If these are hostile or indifferent to God, there is nothing left that can have the reality or bear the name of son. For if the word son be used of mere creaturehood and potentiality, that is to give it a meaning entirely different from New Testament usage. All men by nature are potential sons, because God has made them for sonship and does all things to win them into their heritage. Men may be sons of God in a very imperfect and elementary manner. The sharp transitions of Pauline and Johannine theology are rather abstract distinctions for thought than actual descriptions of spiritual processes. But Paul and John also contemplate a growth in sonship, "till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).


For lit. and further discussion, see special articles on ADOPTION; GOD; JESUS CHRIST.

T. Rees


In the Christian religion God is conceived of as "Father," "Our Father. in heaven" (Matthew 6:9, 14, 26, etc.), "the God and Father of the Lord Jesus" (2 Corinthians 11:31, etc.). The tenderness of relation and wealth of love and grace embraced in this profound designation are peculiar to Christ's gospel. Pagan religions also could speak of God as "Father" (Zeus Pater), and in the general sense of Creator God has a universal fatherly relation to the world (Acts 17:24-28). In the Old Testament God was revealed as Father to the chosen nation (Exodus 4:22), and to the special representative of the nation, the king (2 Samuel 7:14), while fatherly love is declared to be the image of His pity for those who fear Him (Psalm 103:13). In the gospel of Jesus alone is this Fatherhood revealed to be of the very essence of the Godhead, and to have respect to the individual. Here, however, there is need for great discrimination. To reach the heart of the truth of the Divine Fatherhood it is necessary to begin, not with man, but with the Godhead itself, in whose eternal depths is found the spring of that Fatherly love that reveals itself in time. It is first of all in relation to the eternal Son-before all time-that the meaning of Fatherhood in God is made clear (John 1:18). In "God the Father" we have a name pointing to that relation which the first Person in the adorable Trinity sustains to "Son" and "Holy Spirit"-also Divine (Matthew 28:19). From this eternal fountain-head flow the relations of God as Father

(1) to the world by creation;

(2) to believers by grace.

Man as created was designed by affinity of nature for sonship to God. The realization of this-his true creature-destiny-was frustrated by sin, and can now only be restored by redemption. Hence, the place of sonship in the gospel, as an unspeakable privilege (1 John 3:1), obtained by grace, through regeneration (John 1:12, 13), and adoption (Romans 8:14, 19). In this relation of nearness and privilege to the Father in the kingdom of His Son (Colossians 1:13), believers are "sons of God" in a sense true of no others. It is a relation, not of nature, but of grace. Fatherhood is now the determinative fact in God's relation to them (Ephesians 3:14). It is an error, nevertheless, to speak of fatherhood as if the whole character of God was therein sufficiently expressed. God is Father, but equally fundamental is His relation to His world as its Moral Ruler and Judge. From eternity to eternity the holy God must pronounce Himself against sin (Romans 1:18); and His fatherly grace cannot avert judgment where the heart remains hard and impenitent (Romans 2:1-9). For the fuller discussion of these points see GOD; CHILDREN OF GOD; TRINITY.

James Orr


god ('Elohim, 'El, [`Elyon], Shadday, Yahweh; Theos):


1. The Idea in Experience and in Thought

2. Definition of the Idea

3. The Knowledge of God

4. Ethnic Ideas of God

(1) Animism

(2) Fetishism

(3) Idolatry

(4) Polytheism

(5) Henotheism

(6) Pantheism

(7) Deism

(8) Semitic Monolatry

(9) Monotheism


1. The Course of Its Development

2. Forms of Its Manifestation

(1) The Face or Countenance of God

(2) The Voice and Word of God

(3) The Glory of God

(4) The Angel of God

(5) The Spirit of God

(6) The Name of God

(7) Occasional Forms

3. The Names of God

(1) Generic

(2) Attributive

(3) Yahweh

4. Pre-prophetic Conceptions of God

(1) Yahweh Alone Is the God of Israel

(a) His Early Worship

(b) Popular Religion

(c) Polytheistic Tendencies

(i) Coordination

(ii) Assimilation

(iii) Disintegration

(d) No Hebrew Goddesses

(e) Human Sacrifices

(2) Nature and Character of Yahweh

(a) A God of War

(b) His Relation to Nature

(3) Most Distinctive Characteristics of Yahweh

(a) Personality

(b) Law and Judgment

5. The Idea of God in the Prophetic Period

(1) Righteousness

(2) Holiness

(3) Universality

(4) Unity

(5) Creator and Lord

(6) Compassion and Love

6. The Idea of God in Post-exilic Judaism

(1) New Conditions

(2) Divine Attributes

(3) Surviving Limitations

(a) Disappearing Anthropomorphism

(b) Localization

(c) Favoritism

(d) Ceremonial Legalism

(4) Tendencies to Abstractness

(a) Transcendence

(b) Skepticism

(c) Immanence

(5) Logos, Memra', and Angels


1. Dependence on the Old Testament

2. Gentile Influence

3. Absence of Theistic Proofs

4. Fatherhood of God

(1) In the Teaching of Jesus Christ

(a) Its Relation to Himself

(b) To Believers

(c) To All Men

(2) In Apostolic Teaching

(a) Father of Jesus Christ

(b) Our Father

(c) Universal Father

5. God Is King

(1) The Kingdom of God

(2) Its King

(a) God

(b) Christ

(c) Their Relation

(3) Apostolic Teaching

6. Moral Attributes

(1) Personality

(2) Love

(3) Righteousness and Holiness

7. Metaphysical Attributes

8. The Unity of God

(1) The Divinity of Christ

(2) The Holy Spirit

(3) The Church's Problem


I. Introduction to the General Idea.

1. The Idea in Experience and in Thought:

Religion gives the idea of God, theology construes and organizes its content, and philosophy establishes its relation to the whole of man's experience. The logical order of treating it might appear to be, first, to establish its truth by philosophical proofs; secondly, to develop its content into theological propositions; and finally, to observe its development and action in religion. Such has been the more usual order of treatment. But the actual history of the idea has been quite the reverse. Men had the idea of God, and it had proved a creative factor in history, long before reflection upon it issued in its systematic expression as a doctrine. Moreover, men had enunciated the doctrine before they attempted or even felt any need to define its relation to reality. And the logic of history is the truer philosophy. To arrive at the truth of any idea, man must begin with some portion of experience, define its content, relate it to the whole of experience, and so determine its degree of reality.

Religion is as universal as man, and every religion involves some idea of God. Of the various philosophical ideas of God, each has its counterpart and antecedent in some actual religion. Pantheism is the philosophy of the religious consciousness of India. Deism had prevailed for centuries as an actual attitude of men to God, in China, in Judaism and in Islam, before it found expression as a rational theory in the philosophy of the 18th century Theism is but the attempt to define in general terms the Christian conception of God, and of His relation to the world. If pluralism claims a place among the systems of philosophy, it can appeal to the religious consciousness of that large portion of mankind that has hitherto adhered to polytheism.

But all religions do not issue in speculative reconstructions of their content. It is true in a sense that all religion is an unconscious philosophy, because it is the reaction of the whole mind, including the intellect, upon the world of its experience, and, therefore, every idea of God involves some kind of an explanation of the world. But conscious reflection upon their own content emerges only in a few of the more highly developed religions. Brahmanism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity are the only religions that have produced great systems of thought, exhibiting their content in a speculative and rational form. The religions of Greece and Rome were unable to survive the reflective period. They produced no theology which could ally itself to a philosophy, and Greek philosophy was from the beginning to a great extent the denial and supersession of Greek religion.

Biblical literature nearly all represents the spontaneous experience of religion, and contains comparatively little reflection upon that experience. In the Old Testament it is only in Second Isaiah, in the Wisdom literature and in a few Psalms that the human mind may be seen turning back upon itself to ask the meaning of its practical feelings and beliefs. Even here nothing appears of the nature of a philosophy of Theism or of religion, no theology, no organic definition and no ideal reconstruction of the idea of God. It never occurred to any Old Testament writer to offer a proof of the existence of God, or that anyone should need it. Their concern was to bring men to a right relation with God, and they propounded right views of God only in so far as it was necessary for their practical purpose. Even the fool who "hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1), and the wicked nations "that forget God" (Psalm 9:17) are no theoretical atheists, but wicked and corrupt men, who, in conduct and life, neglect or reject the presence of God.

The New Testament contains more theology, more reflection upon the inward content of the idea of God, and upon its cosmic significance; but here also, no system appears, no coherent and rounded-off doctrine, still less any philosophical construction of the idea on the basis of experience as a whole. The task of exhibiting the Biblical idea of God is, therefore, not that of setting together a number of texts, or of writing the history of a theology, but rather of interpreting the central factor in the life of the Hebrew and Christian communities.

2. Definition of the Idea:

Logically and historically the Biblical idea stands related to a number of other ideas. Attempts have been made to find a definition of so general a nature as to comprehend them all. The older theologians assumed the Christian standpoint, and put into their definitions the conclusions of Christian doctrine and philosophy. Thus, Melanchthon: "God is a spiritual essence, intelligent, eternal, true, good, pure, just, merciful, most free and of infinite power and wisdom." Thomasius more briefly defines God as "the absolute personality." These definitions take no account of the existence of lower religions and ideas of God, nor do they convey much of the concreteness and nearness of God revealed in Christ. A similar recent definition, put forward, however, avowedly of the Christian conception, is that of Professor W. N. Clarke: "God is the personal Spirit, perfectly good, who in holy love creates, sustains and orders all" (Outline of Christian Theology, 66). The rise of comparative religion has shown that "while all religions involve a conscious relation to a being called God, the Divine Being is in different religions conceived in the most different ways; as one and as many, as natural and as spiritual, as like to and manifested in almost every object in the heavens above or earth beneath, in mountains and trees, in animals and men; or, on the contrary, as being incapable of being represented by any finite image whatsoever; and, again, as the God of a family, of a nation, or of humanity" (E. Caird, Evolution of Religion, I, 62). Attempts have therefore been made to find a new kind of definition, such as would include under one category all the ideas of God possessed by the human race. A typical instance of this kind of definition is that of Professor W. Adams Brown: "A god in the religious sense is an unseen being, real or supposed, to whom an individual or a social group is united by voluntary ties of reverence and service" (Christian Theology in Outline, 30). Many similar definitions are given: "A supersensible being or beings" (Lotze, Asia Minor Fairbairn); "a higher power" (Allan Menzies); "spiritual beings" (E.B. Tylor); "a power not ourselves making for righteousness" (Matthew Arnold). This class of definition suffers from a twofold defect. It says too much to include the ideas of the lower religions, and too little to suggest those of the higher. It is not all gods that are "unseen" or "supersensible," or "making for righteousness," but all these qualities may be shared by other beings than gods, and they do not connote that which is essential in the higher ideas of God. Dr. E. Caird, looking for a definition in a germinative principle of the genesis of religion, defines God "as the unity which is presupposed in the difference of the self and not-self, and within which they act and re-act on each other" (op. cit., I, 40, 64). This principle admittedly finds its full realization only in the highest religion, and it may be doubted whether it does justice to the transcendent personality and the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. In the lower religions it appears only in fragmentary forms, and it can only be detected in them at all after it has been revealed in the absolute religion. Although this definition may be neither adequate nor true, its method recognizes that there can be only one true idea and definition of God, and yet that all other ideas are more or less true elements of it and approximations to it. The Biblical idea does not stand alone like an island in mid-ocean, but is rather the center of light which radiates out in other religions with varying degrees of purity.

It is not the purpose of this article to deal with the problem of the philosophy of religion, but to give an account of the idea of God at certain stages of its development, and within a limited area of thought. The absence of a final definition will present no practical difficulty, because the denotation of the term God is clear enough; it includes everything that is or has been an object of worship; it is its connotation that remains a problem for speculation.

3. The Knowledge of God:

A third class of definition demands some attention, because it raises a new question, that of the knowledge or truth of any idea whatsoever. Herbert Spencer's definition may be taken as representative: God is the unknown and unknowable cause of the universe, "an inscrutable power manifested to us through all phenomena" (First Principles, V, 31). This means that there can be no definition of the idea of God, because we can have no idea of Him, no knowledge "in the strict sense of knowing." For the present purpose it might suffice for an answer that ideas of God actually exist; that they can be defined and are more definable, because fuller and more complex, the higher they rise in the scale of religions; that they can be gathered from the folklore and traditions of the lower races, and from the sacred books and creeds of the higher religions. But Spencer's view means that, in so far as the ideas are definable, they are not true. The more we define, the more fictitious becomes our subject-matter. While nothing is more certain than that God exists, His being is to human thought utterly mysterious and inscrutable. The variety of ideas might seem to support this view. But variety of ideas has been held of every subject that is known, as witness the progress of science. The variety proves nothing.

And the complete abstraction of thought from existence cannot be maintained. Spencer himself does not succeed in doing it. He says a great many things about the "unknowable" which implies an extensive knowledge of Him. The traditional proofs of the "existence" of God have misled the Agnostics. But existence is meaningless except for thought, and a noumenon or first cause that lies hidden in impenetrable mystery behind phenomena cannot be conceived even as a fiction. Spencer's idea of the Infinite and Absolute are contradictory and unthinkable. An Infinite that stood outside all that is known would not be infinite, and an Absolute out of all relation could not even be imagined. If there is any truth at all in the idea of the Absolute, it must be true to human experience and thought; and the true Infinite must include within itself every possible and actual perfection. In truth, every idea of God that has lived in religion refutes Agnosticism, because they all qualify and interpret experience, and the only question is as to the degree of their adequacy and truth.

A brief enumeration of the leading ideas of God that have lived in religion will serve to place the Biblical idea in its true perspective.

4. Ethnic Ideas of God:

(1) Animism:

Animism is the name of a theory which explains the lowest (and perhaps the earliest) forms of religion, and also the principle of all religion, as the belief in the universal presence of spiritual beings which "are held to affect or control the events of the material world, and man's life here and hereafter; and, it being considered that they hold intercourse with men, and receive pleasure or displeasure from human actions, the belief in their existence leads naturally, and, it might almost be said, inevitably, sooner or later, to active reverence and propitiation" (E.B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, I, 426-27). According to this view, the world is full of disembodied spirits, regarded as similar to man's soul, and any or all of these may be treated as gods.

(2) Fetishism:

Fetishism is sometimes used in a general sense for "the view that the fruits of the earth and things in general are divine, or animated by powerful spirits" (J.G. Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 234); or it may be used in a more particular sense of the belief that spirits "take up their abode, either temporarily or permanently, in some object,... and this object, as endowed with higher power, is then worshipped" (Tiele, Outlines of the History of Religion, 9).

(3) Idolatry:

Idolatry is a term of still more definite significance. It means that the object is at least selected, as being the permanent habitation or symbol of the deity; and, generally, it is marked by some degree of human workmanship, designed to enable it the more adequately to represent the deity. It is not to be supposed that men ever worship mere "stocks and stones," but they address their worship to objects, whether fetishes or idols, as being the abodes or images of their god. It is a natural and common idea that the spirit has a form similar to the visible object in which it dwells. Paul reflected the heathen idea accurately when he said, "We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man" (Acts 17:29).

(4) Polytheism:

The belief in many gods, and the worship of them, is an attitude of soul compatible with Animism, Fetishism, and Idolatry, or it may be independent of them all. The term Polytheism is more usually employed to designate the worship of a limited number of well-defined deities, whether regarded as pure disembodied spirits, or as residing in the greater objects of Nature, such as planets or mountains, or as symbolized by images "graven by art and device of man." In ancient Greece or modern India the great gods are well defined, named and numerable, and it is clearly understood that, though they may be symbolized by images, they dwell apart in a spiritual realm above the rest of the world.

(5) Henotheism:

There is, however, a tendency, both in individuals and in communities, even where many gods are believed to exist, to set one god above the others, and consequently to confine worship to that god alone. "The monotheistic tendency exists among all peoples, after they have reached a certain level of culture. There is a difference in the degree in which this tendency is emphasized, but whether we turn to Babylonia, Egypt, India, China, or Greece, there are distinct traces of a trend toward concentrating the varied manifestations of Divine powers in a single source" (Jastrow, The Study of Religion, 76). This attitude of mind has been called Henotheism or Monolatry-the worship of one God combined with the belief in the existence of many. This tendency may be governed by metaphysical, or by ethical and personal motives, either by the monistic demands of reason, or by personal attachment to one political or moral rule.

(6) Pantheism:

Where the former principle predominates, Polytheism merges into Pantheism, as is the case in India, where Brahma is not only the supreme, but the sole, being, and all other gods are but forms of his manifestation. But, in India, the vanquished gods have had a very complete revenge upon their vanquisher, for Brahma has become so abstract and remote that worship is mainly given to the other gods, who are forms of his manifestation. Monolatry has been reversed, and modern Hinduism were better described as the belief in one God accompanied by the worship of many.

(7) Deism:

The monistic tendency, by a less thorough application of it, may take the opposite turn toward Deism, and yet produce similar religious conditions. The Supreme Being, who is the ultimate reality and power of the universe, may be conceived in so vague and abstract a manner, may be so remote from the world, that it becomes a practical necessity to interpose between Him and men a number of subordinate and nearer beings as objects of worship. In ancient Greece, Necessity, in China, Tien or Heaven, were the Supreme Beings; but a multiplicity of lower gods were the actual objects of worship. The angels of Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Islam and the saints of Romanism illustrate the same tendency. Pantheism and Deism, though they have had considerable vogue as philosophical theories, have proved unstable and impossible as religions, for they have invariably reverted to some kind of polytheism and idolatry, which seems to indicate that they are false processes of the monistic tendency.

(8) Semitic Monolatry:

The monistic tendency of reason may enlist in its aid many minor causes, such as tribal isolation or national aggrandizement. It is held that many Sere tribes were monolatrists for either or both of these reasons; but the exigencies of intertribal relations in war and commerce soon neutralized their effects, and merged the tribal gods into a territorial pantheon.

(9) Monotheism:

Monotheism, ethical and personal: One further principle may combine with Monism so as to bring about a stable Monotheism, that is the conception of God as standing in moral relations with man. Whenever man reflects upon conduct as moral, he recognizes that there can be only one moral standard and authority, and when God is identified with that moral authority, He inevitably comes to be recognized as supreme and unique. The belief in the existence of other beings called gods may survive for a while; but they are divested of all the attributes of deity when they are seen to be inferior or opposed to the God who rules in conscience. Not only are they not worshipped, but their worship by others comes to be regarded as immoral and wicked. The ethical factor in the monistic conception of God safeguards it from diverging into Pantheism or Deism and thus reverting into Polytheism. For the ethical idea of God necessarily involves His personality, His transcendence as distinct from the world and above it, and also His intimate and permanent relation with man. If He rules in conscience, He can neither be merged in dead nature or abstract being, nor be removed beyond the heavens and the angel host. A thoroughly moralized conception of God emerges first in the Old Testament where it is the prevailing type of thought.

II. The Idea of God in the Old Testament.

1. Course of Its Development:

Any attempt to write the whole history of the idea of God in the Old Testament would require a preliminary study of the literary and historical character of the documents, which lies beyond the scope of this article and the province of the writer. Yet the Old Testament contains no systematic statement of the doctrine of God, or even a series of statements that need only to be collected into a consistent conception. The Old Testament is the record of a rich and varied life, extending over more than a thousand years, and the ideas that ruled and inspired that life must be largely inferred from the deeds and institutions in which it was realized; nor was it stationary or all at one level. Nothing is more obvious than that revelation in the Old Testament has been progressive, and that the idea of God it conveys has undergone a development. Certain well-marked stages of the development can be easily recognized, without entering upon any detailed criticism. There can be no serious question that the age of the Exodus, as centering around the personality of Moses, witnessed an important new departure in Hebrew religion. The most ancient traditions declare (perhaps not unanimously) that God was then first known to Israel under the personal name Yahweh (Yahweh (YHWH) is the correct form of the word, Yahweh being a composite of the consonants of Yahweh and the vowels of 'adhonay, or lord. Yahweh is retained here as the more familiar form). The Hebrew people came to regard Him as their Deliverer from Egypt, as their war god who assured them the conquest of Canaan, and He, therefore, became their king, who ruled over their destinies in their new heritage. But the settlement of Yahweh in Canaan, like that of His people, was challenged by the native gods and their peoples. In the 9th century we see the war against Yahweh carried into His own camp, and Baal-worship attempting to set itself up within Israel. His prophets therefore assert the sole right of Yahweh to the worship of His people, and the great prophets of the 8th century base that right upon His moral transcendence. Thus they at once reveal new depths of His moral nature, and set His uniqueness and supremacy on higher grounds. During the exile and afterward, Israel's outlook broadens by contact with the greater world, and it draws out the logical implications of ethical monotheism into a theology at once more universalistic and abstract. Three fairly well-defined periods thus emerge, corresponding to three stages in the development of the Old Testament idea of God: the pre-prophetic period governed by the Mosaic conception, the prophetic period during which ethical monotheism is firmly established, and the post-exilic period with the rise of abstract monotheism. But even in taking these large and obvious divisions, it is necessary to bear in mind the philosopher's maxim, that "things are not cut off with a hatchet." The most characteristic ideas of each period may be described within their period; but it should not be assumed that they are altogether absent from other periods; and, in particular, it should not be supposed that ideas, and the life they represent, did not exist before they emerged in the clear witness of history. Mosaism had undoubtedly its antecedents in the life of Israel; but any attempt to define them leads straight into a very morass of conjectures and hypotheses, archaeological, critical and philosophical; and any results that are thus obtained are contributions to comparative religion rather than to theology.

2. Forms of the Manifestation of God:

Religious experience must always have had an inward and subjective aspect, but it is a long and difficult process to translate the objective language of ordinary life for the uses of subjective experience. "Men look outward before they look inward." Hence, we find that men express their consciousness of God in the earliest periods in language borrowed from the visible and objective world. It does not follow that they thought of God in a sensuous way, because they speak of Him in the language of the senses, which alone was available for them. On the other hand, thought is never entirely independent of language, and the degree in which men using sensuous language may think of spiritual facts varies with different persons.

(1) The Face or Countenance of God:

The face or countenance (panim) of God is a natural expression for His presence. The place where God is seen is called Peniel, the face of God (Genesis 32:30). The face of Yahweh is His people's blessing (Numbers 6:25). With His face (the Revised Version (British and American) "presence") He brought Israel out of Egypt, and His face (the Revised Version (British and American) "presence") goes with them to Canaan (Exodus 33:14). To be alienated from God is to be hid from His face (Genesis 4:14), or God hides His face (Deuteronomy 31:17, 18; Deuteronomy 32:20). In contrast with this idea it is said elsewhere that man cannot see the face of God and live (Exodus 33:20; compare Deuteronomy 5:24 Judges 6:22; Judges 13:22). In these later passages, "face" stands for the entire being of God, as distinguished from what man may know of Him. This phrase and its cognates enshrine also that fear of God, which shrinks from His majesty even while approaching Him, which enters into all worship.

(2) The Voice and Word of God:

The voice (qol) and word (dabhar) of God are forms under which His communion with man is conceived from the earliest days to the latest. The idea ranges from that of inarticulate utterance (1 Kings 19:12) to the declaration of the entire law of conduct (Deuteronomy 5:22-24), to the message of the prophet (Isaiah 2:1 Jeremiah 1:2), and the personification of the whole counsel and action of God (Psalm 105:19; Psalm 147:18, 19 Hosea 6:5 Isaiah 40:8).

(3) The Glory of God:

The glory (kabhodh) of God is both a peculiar physical phenomenon and the manifestation of God in His works and providence. In certain passages in Exodus, ascribed to the Priestly Code, the glory is a bright light, "like devouring fire" (24:17); it fills and consecrates the tabernacle (29:43; 40:34, 35); and it is reflected as beams of light in the face of Moses (34:29). In Ezekiel, it is a frequent term for the prophet's vision, a brightness like the appearance of a rainbow (1:28; 10:04; 43:2). In another place, it is identified with all the manifested goodness of God and is accompanied with the proclamation of His name (Exodus 33:17-23). Two passages in Isaiah seem to combine under this term the idea of a physical manifestation with that of God's effectual presence in the world (3:8; 6:3). God's presence in creation and history is often expressed in the Psalms as His glory (Psalm 19:1; Psalm 57:5, 11; 63:02:00; 97:6). Many scholars hold that the idea is found in Isaiah in its earliest form, and that the physical meaning is quite late. It would, however, be contrary to all analogy, if such phenomena as rainbow and lightning had not first impressed-the primitive mind as manifestations of God.


(4) The Angel of God:

The angel (mal'akh) of God or of Yahweh is a frequent mode of God's manifestation of Himself in human form, and for occasional purposes. It is a primitive conception, and its exact relation to God, or its likeness to man, is nowhere fixed. In many passages, it is assumed that God and His angel are the same being, and the names are used synonymously (as in Genesis 16:7 ff; 22:15, 16; Exodus 3:2, 4 Judges 2:4, 5); in other passages the idea blurs into varying degrees of differentiation (Genesis 18; Genesis 24:40 Exodus 23:21; Exodus 33:2, 3 Judges 13:8, 9). But everywhere, it fully represents God as speaking or acting for the time being; and it is to be distinguished from the subordinate and intermediate beings of later angelology. Its identification with the Messiah and the Logos is only true in the sense that these later terms are more definite expressions of the idea of revelation, which the angel represented for primitive thought.

(5) The Spirit of God:

The spirit (ruach) of God in the earlier period is a form of His activity, as it moves warrior and prophet to act and to speak (Judges 6:34; Judges 13:25 1 Samuel 10:10), and it is in the prophetic period that it becomes the organ of the communication of God's thoughts to men.


(6) The Name of God:

The name (shem) of God is the most comprehensive and frequent expression in the Old Testament for His self-manifestation, for His person as it may be known to men. The name is something visible or audible which represents God to men, and which, therefore, may be said to do His deeds, and to stand in His place, in relation to men. God reveals Himself by making known or proclaiming His name (Exodus 6:3; Exodus 33:19; Exodus 34:5, 6). His servants derive their authority from His name (Exodus 3:13, 15 1 Samuel 17:45).

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In Genesis 1:26, 27, the truth is declared that God created man in His own "image" (tselem), after His "likeness" (demuth). The two ideas denote the same thing-resemblance to God. The like conception of man, tacit or avowed, underlies all revelation. It is given in Genesis 9:6 as the ground of the prohibition of the shedding of man's blood; is echoed in Psalm 8; is reiterated frequently in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11:7 Ephesians 4:24 Colossians 3:10 Isaiah 3:9). The nature of this image of God in man is discussed in other articles-see especially ANTHROPOLOGY. It lies in the nature of the case that the "image" does not consist in bodily form; it can only reside in spiritual qualities, in man's mental and moral attributes as a self-conscious, rational, personal agent, capable of self-determination and obedience to moral law. This gives man his position of lordship in creation, and invests his being with the sanctity of personality. The image of God, defaced, but not entirely lost through sin, is restored in yet more perfect form in the redemption of Christ. See the full discussion in the writer's work, God's Image in Man and Its Defacement; see also Dr. J. Laidlaw, The Bible Doctrine of Man.

James Orr



1. The Phrase "His Name"

2. Classification.


1. 'Elohim

2. 'El

3. 'Eloah

4. 'Adhon, 'Adhonay

5. Yahweh (Yahweh)

6. Tsur (Rock)

7. Ka`dhosh

8. Shadday


1. 'Abhir

2. 'El-'Elohe-Yisra'el

3. `Elyon

4. Gibbor

5. 'El-ro'i

6. Tsaddiq

7. Qanna'

8. Yahweh Tsebha'oth

9. "I Am That I Am"

IV. New Testament NAMES OF GOD

1. God

2. Lord

3. Descriptive and Figurative Names


I. Introduction:

To an extent beyond the appreciation of modern and western minds the people of Biblical times and lands valued the name of the person. They always gave to it symbolical or character meaning.

While our modern names are almost exclusively designatory, and intended merely for identification, the Biblical names were also descriptive, and often prophetic. Religious significance nearly always inhered in the name, a parent relating his child to the Deity, or declaring its consecration to the Deity, by joining the name of the Deity with the service which the child should render, or perhaps commemorating in a name the favor of God in the gracious gift of the child, e.g. Nathaniel ("gift of God"); Samuel ("heard of God"); Adonijah ("Yahweh is my Lord"), etc. It seems to us strange that at its birth, the life and character of a child should be forecast by its parents in a name; and this unique custom has been regarded by an unsympathetic criticism as evidence of the origin of such names and their attendant narratives long subsequent to the completed life itself; such names, for example, as Abraham, Sarah, etc. But that this was actually done, and that it was regarded as a matter of course, is proved by the name given to Our Lord at His birth: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save his people" (Matthew 1:21). It is not unlikely that the giving of a character name represented the parents' purpose and fidelity in the child's training, resulting necessarily in giving to the child's life that very direction, which the name indicated. A child's name, therefore, became both a prayer and a consecration, and its realization in character became often a necessary psychological effect. Great honor or dishonor was attached to a name. The Old Testament writings contain many and varied instances of this. Sometimes contempt for certain reprobate men would be most expressively indicated by a change of name, e.g. the change of Esh-baal, "man of Baal," to Ish-bosheth, "man of shame" (2 Samuel 2:8), and the omission of Yahweh from the name of the apostate king, Ahaz (2 Kings 15:38, etc.). The name of the last king of Judah was most expressively changed by Nebuchadnezzar from Mattaniah to Zedekiah, to assure his fidelity to his overlord who made him king (2 Kings 24:17).


1. The Phrase "His Name":

Since the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament are essentially for purposes of revelation, and since the Hebrews laid such store by names, we should confidently expect them to make the Divine name a medium of revelation of the first importance. People accustomed by long usage to significant character indications in their own names, necessarily would regard the names of the Deity as expressive of His nature. The very phrase "name of Yahweh," or "His name," as applied to the Deity in Biblical usage, is most interesting and suggestive, sometimes expressing comprehensively His revelation in Nature (Psalm 8:1; compare 138:2); or marking the place of His worship, where men will call upon His name (Deuteronomy 12:5); or used as a synonym of His various attributes, e.g. faithfulness (Isaiah 48:9), grace (Psalm 23:3), His honor (Psalm 79:9), etc. "Accordingly, since the name of God denotes this God Himself as He is revealed, and as He desires to be known by His creatures, when it is said that God will make a name for Himself by His mighty deeds, or that the new world of the future shall be unto Him for a name, we can easily understand that the name of God is often synonymous with the glory of God, and that the expressions for both are combined in the utmost variety of ways, or used alternately" (Schultz, Old Testament Theology, English translation, I, 124-25; compare Psalm 72:19 Isaiah 63:14; also Davidson, Old Testament Theol., 37-38).

2. Classification:

From the important place which the Divine name occupies in revelation, we would expect frequency of occurrence and diversity of form; and this is just that which we find to be true. The many forms or varieties of the name will be considered under the following heads:

(1) Absolute or Personal Names,

(2) Attributive, or Qualifying Names, and

(3) Names of God in the New Testament. Naturally and in course of time attributive names tend to crystallize through frequent use and devotional regard into personal names; e.g. the attributive adjective qadhosh, "holy," becomes the personal, transcendental name for Deity in Job and Isaiah. For fuller details of each name reference may be made to separate articles.

II. Absolute or Personal Names of God in the Old Testament:

1. 'Elohim:

The first form of the Divine name in the Bible is 'Elohim, ordinarily translated "God" (Genesis 1:1). This is the most frequently used name in the Old Testament, as its equivalent theos, is in the New Testament, occurring in Genesis alone approximately 200 t. It is one of a group of kindred words, to which belong also 'El and 'Eloah. (1) Its form is plural, but the construction is uniformly singular, i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective, unless used of heathen divinities (Psalm 96:5; Psalm 97:7). It is characteristic of Hebrew that extension, magnitude and dignity, as well as actual multiplicity, are expressed by the plural. It is not reasonable, therefore, to assume that plurality of form indicates primitive Semitic polytheism. On the contrary, historic Hebrew is unquestionably and uniformly monotheistic.

(2) The derivation is quite uncertain. Gesenius, Ewald and others find its origin in 'ul, "to be strong," from which also are derived 'ayil, "ram," and 'elah, "terebinth"; it is then an expanded plural form of 'el; others trace it to 'alah, "to terrify," and the singular form is found in the infrequent 'eloah, which occurs chiefly in poetical books; BDB inclines to the derivation from 'alah, "to be strong," as the root of the three forms, 'El, `Eloah and 'Elohim, although admitting that the whole question is involved in uncertainty (for full statement see BDB, under the word.); a somewhat fanciful suggestion is the Arabic root 'ul, "to be in front," from which comes the meaning "leader"; and still more fanciful is the suggested connection with the preposition 'el, signifying God as the "goal" of man's life and aspiration. The origin must always lie in doubt, since the derivation is prehistoric, and the name, with its kindred words 'El and 'Eloah, is common to Semitic languages and religions and beyond the range of Hebrew records.

(3) It is the reasonable conclusion that the meaning is "might" or "power"; that it is common to Semitic language; that the form is plural to express majesty or "all-mightiness," and that it is a generic, rather than a specific personal, name for Deity, as is indicated by its application to those who represent the Deity (Judges 5:8 Psalm 82:1) or who are in His presence (1 Samuel 28:13).

2. 'Eloah:

The singular form of the preceding name, 'Eloah, is confined in its use almost exclusively to poetry, or to poetic expression, being characteristic of the Book of Job, occurring oftener in that book than in all other parts of the Old Testament. It is, in fact, found in Job oftener than the elsewhere more ordinary plural 'Elohim. For derivation and meaning see above under 1 (2). Compare also the Aramaic form, 'elah, found frequently in Ezra and Daniel.

3. 'El:

In the group of Semitic languages, the most common word for Deity is El ('el), represented by the Babylonian ilu and the Arabic 'Allah. It is found throughout the Old Testament, but oftener in Job and Psalms than in all the other books. It occurs seldom in the historical books, and not at all in Lev. The same variety of derivations is attributed to it as to ELOHIM (which see), most probable of which is 'ul, "to be strong." BDB interprets 'ul as meaning "to be in front," from which came 'ayil, "ram" the one in front of the flock, and 'elah, the prominent "terebinth," deriving ['El] from 'alah, "to be strong." It occurs in many of the more ancient names; and, like ['Elohim], it is used of pagan gods. It is frequently combined with nouns or adjectives to express the Divine name with reference to particular attributes or phases of His being, as 'El `Elyon, 'El-Ro'i, etc. (see below under III, "Attributive Names").

4. 'Adhon, 'Adhonay:

An attributive name, which in prehistoric Hebrew had already passed over into a generic name of God, is 'Adhon, 'Adhonay, the latter formed from the former, being the construct plural, 'adhone, with the 1st person ending -ay, which has been lengthened to ay and so retained as characteristic of the proper name and distinguishing it from the possessive "my Lord." the King James Version does not distinguish, but renders both as possessive, "my Lord" (Judges 6:15; Judges 13:8), and as personal name (Psalm 2:4); the Revised Version (British and American) also, in Psalm 16:2, is in doubt, giving "my Lord," possessive, in text and "the Lord" in the margin. 'Adhonay, as a name of Deity, emphasizes His sovereignty (Psalm 2:4 Isaiah 7:7), and corresponds closely to Kurios of the New Testament. It is frequently combined with Yahweh (Genesis 15:8 Isaiah 7:7, etc.) and with 'Elohim (Psalm 86:12). Its most significant service in Massoretic Text is the use of its vowels to point the unpronounceable tetragrammaton YHWH, indicating that the word " 'Adhonay" should be spoken aloud instead of "Yah-weh." This combination of vowels and consonants gives the transliteration "Yahweh," adopted by the American Standard Revised Version, while the other English Versions of the Bible, since Coverdale, represents the combination by the capitals LORD. Septuagint represents it by Kurios.

5. Yahweh (Yahweh):

The name most distinctive of God as the God of Israel is (Yahweh, a combination of the tetragrammaton (YHWH) with the vowels of 'Adhonay, transliterated as Yehowah, but read aloud by the Hebrews 'adhonay). While both derivation and meaning are lost to us in the uncertainties of its ante-Biblical origin, the following inferences seem to be justified by the facts:

(1) This name was common to religions other than Israel's, according to Friedr. Delitzsch, Hommel, Winckler, and Guthe (EB, under the word), having been found in Babylonian inscriptions. Ammonite, Arabic and Egyptian names appear also to contain it (compare Davidson, Old Testament Theol., 52); but while, like 'Elohim, it was common to primitive Semitic religion, it became Israel's distinctive name for the Deity.

(2) It was, therefore, not first made known at the call of Moses (Exodus 3:13-16; Exodus 6:2-8), but, being already known, was at that time given a larger revelation and interpretation: God, to be known to Israel henceforth under the name "Yahweh" and in its fuller significance, was the One sending Moses to deliver Israel; "when I shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said. I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE. say. I WILL BE hath sent me" (Exodus 3:13, 14 margin). The name is assumed as known in the narrative of Genesis; it also occurs in pre-Mosaic names (Exodus 6:20 1 Chronicles 2:25; 1 Chronicles 7:8).

(3) The derivation is from the archaic chawah, "to be," better "to become," in Biblical Hebrew hayah; this archaic use of w for y appears also in derivatives of the similar chayah, "to live," e.g. chawwah in Genesis 3:20.

(4) It is evident from the interpretative passages (Exodus 3; Exodus 6) that the form is the fut. of the simple stem (Qal) and not future of the causative (Hiph`il) stem in the sense "giver of life"-an idea not borne out by any of the occurrences of the word. The fanciful theory that the word is a combination of the future, present and perfect tenses of the verb, signifying "the One who will be, is, and was," is not to be taken seriously (Stier, etc., in Oehler's Old Testament Theology, in the place cited.).

(5) The meaning may with some confidence be inferred from Origen's transliteration, Iao, the form in Samaritan, Iabe, the form as combined in Old Testament names, and the evident signification in Exodus 3 and other passages, to be that of the simple future, yahweh, "he will be." It does not express causation, nor existence in a metaphysical sense, but the covenant promise of the Divine presence, both at the immediate time and in the Messianic age of the future. And thus it became bound up with the Messianic hope, as in the phrase, "the Day of Yahweh," and consequently both it and the Septuagint translation Kurios were applied by the New Testament as titles of Christ.

(6) It is the personal name of God, as distinguished from such generic or essential names as 'El, 'Elohim, Shadday, etc. Characteristic of the Old Testament is its insistence on the possible knowledge of God as a person; and Yahweh is His name as a person. It is illogical, certainly, that the later Hebrews should have shrunk from its pronunciation, in view of the appropriateness of the name and of the Old Testament insistence on the personality of God, who as a person has this name. the American Standard Revised Version quite correctly adopts the transliteration "Yahweh" to emphasize its significance and purpose as a personal name of God revealed.

6. Tsur (Rock):

Five times in the "Song" of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 30, 31) the word tsur, "Rock," is used as a title of God. It occurs also in the Psalms, Isaiah and poetical passages of other books, and also in proper names, Elizur, Zuriel, etc. Once in the King James Version (Isaiah 44:8) it is translated "God," but "Rock" in the American Standard Revised Version and the American Revised Version, margin. The effort to interpret this title as indicating the animistic origin of Old Testament religion is unnecessary and a pure product of the imagination. It is customary for both Old Testament and New Testament writers to use descriptive names of God: "rock," "fortress," "shield," "light," "bread," etc., and is in harmony with all the rich figurativeness of the Scriptures; the use of the article in many of the cases cited further corroborates the view that the word is intended to be a descriptive title, not the name of a Nature-deity. It presents the idea of God as steadfast: "The appellation of God as tsur, `rock,' `safe retreat,' in Deuteronomy refers to this" (Oehler, Old Testament Theology). It often occurs, in a most striking figure, with the pers. suffix as "my rock," "their rock," to express confidence (Psalm 28:1).

7. Kadhosh:

The name (qadhosh, "holy") is found frequently in Isaiah and Psalms, and occasionally in the other prophets. It is characteristic of Isaiah, being found 32 times in that book. It occurs often in the phrase qedhosh yisra'el, "Holy One of Israel." The derivation and meaning remain in doubt, but the customary and most probable derivation is from qadhash, "to be separate," which best explains its use both of man and of the Deity. When used of God it signifies: (1) His transcendence, His separateness above all other beings, His aloneness as compared to other gods; (2) His peculiar relation to His people Israel unto whom He separated Himself, as He did not unto other nations. In the former sense Isaiah used it of His sole deity (40:25), in the latter of His peculiar and unchanging covenant-relation to Israel (43:3; 48:17), strikingly, expressed in the phrase "Holy One of Israel." Qadhosh was rather attributive than personal, but became personal in the use of such absolute theists as Job and Isaiah. It expresses essential Deity, rather than personal revelation.

8. Shadday:

In the patriarchal literature, and in Job particularly, where it is put into the mouths of the patriarchs, this name appears sometimes in the compound 'el shadday, sometimes alone. While its root meaning also is uncertain, the suggested derivation from shadhadh, "to destroy," "to terrify," seems most probable, signifying the God who is manifested by the terribleness of His mighty acts. "The Storm God," from shadha', "to pour out," has been suggested, but is improbable; and even more so the fanciful she, and day, meaning "who is sufficient." Its use in patriarchal days marks an advance over looser Semitic conceptions to the stricter monotheistic idea of almightiness, and is in accord with the early consciousness of Deity in race or individual as a God of awe, or even terror. Its monotheistic character is in harmony with its use in the Abrahamic times, and is further corroborated by its parallel in Septuagint and New Testament, pantokrator, "all-powerful."

III. Descriptive Names of God in the Old Testament:

It is often difficult to distinguish between the personal and the attributive names of God, the two divisions necessarily shading into each other. Some of the preceding are really attributive, made personal by usage. The following are the most prominent descriptive or attributive names.

1. 'Abhir:

This name ('abhir), translated in English Versions of the Bible "Mighty One," is always combined with Israel or Jacob; its root is 'abhar, "to be strong" from which is derived the word 'ebher, "pinion," used of the strong wing of the eagle (Isaiah 40:31), figuratively of God in Deuteronomy 32:11. It occurs in Jacob's blessing (Genesis 49:24), in a prayer for the sanctuary (Psalm 132:2, 5), and in Isaiah (1:24; 49:26:00; 60:16), to express the assurance of the Divine strength in behalf of the oppressed in Israel (Isaiah 1:24), or in behalf of Israel against his oppressors; it is interesting to note that this name was first used by Jacob himself.

2. 'El-'Elohe-Israel:

The name 'El is combined with a number of descriptive adjectives to represent God in His various attributes; and these by usage have become names or titles of God. For the remarkable phrase 'EL-'ELOHE-ISRAEL (Genesis 33:20), see separate article

3. `Elyon:

This name (`elyon, "highest") is a derivative of `alah, "to go up." It is used of persons or things to indicate their elevation or exaltation: of Israel, favored above other nations (Deuteronomy 26:19), of the aqueduct of "the upper pool" (Isaiah 7:3), etc. This indicates that its meaning when applied to God is the "Exalted One," who is lifted far above all gods and men. It occurs alone (Deuteronomy 32:8 Psalm 18:13), or in combination with other names of God, most frequently with El (Genesis 14:18 Psalm 78:35), but also with Yahweh (Psalm 7:17; Psalm 97:9), or with Elohim (Psalm 56:2 the King James Version; Psalm 78:56). Its early use (Genesis 14:18 f) points to a high conception of Deity, an unquestioned monotheism in the beginnings of Hebrew history.

4. Gibbor:

The ancient Hebrews were in constant struggle for their land and their liberties, a struggle most intense and patriotic in the heroic days of Saul and David, and in which there was developed a band of men whose great deeds entitled them to the honorable title "mighty men" of valor (gibborim). These were the knights of David's "Round Table." In like manner the Hebrew thought of his God as fighting for him, and easily then this title was applied to God as the Mighty Man of war, occurring in David's psalm of the Ark's Triumphant Entry (Psalm 24:8), in the allegory of the Messiah-King (Psalm 45:3), either alone or combined with El (Isaiah 9:6 Jeremiah 32:18), and sometimes with Yahweh (Isaiah 42:13).

5. 'El-Ro'i:

When Hagar was fleeing from Sarah's persecutions, Yahweh spoke to her in the wilderness of Shur, words of promise and cheer. Whereupon "she called the name of Yahweh that spake unto her, Thou art El roi" (Genesis 16:13 margin). In the text the word ro'i, deriv. of ra'ah, "to see," is translated "that seeth," literally, "of sight." This is the only occurrence of this title in the Old Testament.

6. Tsaddiq:

One of the covenant attributes of God, His righteousness, is spoken of so often that it passes from adjective to substantive, from attribute to name, and He is called "Righteous" (tsaddiq), or "the Righteous One." The word is never transliterated but always translated in English Versions of the Bible, although it might just as properly be considered a Divine name as `Elyon or Qadhosh. The root tsadhaq, "to be straight" or "right," signifies fidelity to a standard, and is used of God's fidelity to His own nature and to His covenant-promise (Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 42:6; compare Hosea 2:19); it occurs alone (Psalm 34:17), with El (Deuteronomy 32:4), with Elohim (Ezra 9:15 Psalm 7:9; Psalm 116:5), but most frequently with Yahweh (Psalm 129:4, etc.). In Exodus 9:27 Pharaoh, in acknowledging his sin against Yahweh, calls Him `Yahweh the Righteous,' using the article. The suggestive combination, "Yahweh our Righteousness," is the name given to David's "righteous Branch" (Jeremiah 23:6) and properly should be taken as a proper noun-the name of the Messiah-King.

7. Kanna:

Frequently in the Pentateuch, most often in the 3 versions of the Commandments (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14 Deuteronomy 5:9), God is given the title "Jealous" (qanna'), most specifically in the phrase "Yahweh, whose name is Jealous" (Exodus 34:14). This word, however, did not bear the evil meaning now associated with it in our usage, but rather signified "righteous zeal," Yahweh's zeal for His own name or glory (compare Isaiah 9:7, "the zeal of Yahweh," qin'ah; also Zechariah 1:14; Zechariah 8:2).

8. Yahweh Tsebha'-oth:

Connected with the personal and covenant name Yahweh, there is found frequently the word Sabaoth (tsebha'oth, "hosts"). Invariably in the Old Testament it is translated "hosts" (Isaiah 1:9 Psalm 46:7, 11, etc.), but in the New Testament it is transliterated twice, both in the Greek and English (Romans 9:29 James 5:4). The passage in Roman is a quotation from Isaiah 1:9 through Septuagint, which does not translate, but transliterates the Hebrew. Origin and meaning are uncertain. It is used of heavenly bodies and earthly forces (Genesis 2:1); of the army of Israel (2 Samuel 8:16); of the Heavenly beings (Psalm 103:21; Psalm 148:2 Daniel 4:35). It is probable that the title is intended to include all created agencies and beings, of which Yahweh is maker and leader.

9. "I Am That I Am":

When God appeared to Moses at Sinai, commissioning him to deliver Israel; Moses, being well aware of the difficulty of impressing the people, asked by what name of God he should speak to them: "They shall say to me, What is his name?" Then "God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM. say. I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 3:14). The name of the Deity given here is similar to Yahweh except that the form is not 3rd person future, as in the usual form, but the 1st person ('ehyeh), since God is here speaking of Himself. The optional reading in the American Revised Version, margin is much to be preferred: "I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE," indicating His covenant pledge to be with and for Israel in all the ages to follow. For further explanation see above, II, 5.

IV. New Testament Names of God.

The variety of names which characterizes the Old Testament is lacking in the New Testament, where we are all but limited to two names, each of which corresponds to several in the Old Testament. The most frequent is the name "God" (Theos) occurring over 1,000 t, and corresponding to El, Elohim, etc., of the Old Testament.

1. God:

It may, as ['Elohim], be used by accommodation of heathen gods; but in its true sense it expresses essential Deity, and as expressive of such it is applied to Christ as to the Father (John 20:28 Romans 9:5).

2. Lord:

Five times "Lord" is a translation of despotes (Luke 2:29 Acts 4:24 2 Peter 2:1 the King James Version; Jude 1:4 Revelation 6:10 the King James Version). In each case there is evident emphasis on sovereignty and correspondence to the 'Adhon of the Old Testament. The most common Greek word for Lord is Kurios, representing both Yahweh and 'Adhonai of the Old Testament, and occurring upwards of 600 times. Its use for Yahweh was in the spirit of both the Hebrew scribes, who pointed the consonants of the covenant name with the vowels of Adhonay, the title of dominion, and of the Septuagint, which rendered this combination as Kurios. Consequently quotations from the Old Testament in which Yahweh occurs are rendered by Kurios. It is applied to Christ equally with the Father and the Spirit, showing that the Messianic hopes conveyed by the name Yahweh were for New Testament writers fulfilled in Jesus Christ; and that in Him the long hoped for appearance of Yahweh was realized.

3. Descriptive and Figurative Names:

As in the Old Testament, so in the New Testament various attributive, descriptive or figurative names are found, often corresponding to those in the Old Testament. Some of these are: The "Highest" or "Most High" hupsistos), found in this sense only in Luke (1:32, 35, 76; 2:14, etc.), and Equivalent to 'Elyon (see III, 3, above); "Almighty," Pantokrator (2 Corinthians 6:18 Revelation 1:8, etc.), corresponding to Shadday (see II, 8 above; see also ALMIGHTY); "Father," as in the Lord's Prayer, and elsewhere (Matthew 6:9; Matthew 11:25 John 17:25 2 Corinthians 6:18); "King" (1 Timothy 1:17); "King of kings" (1 Timothy 6:15); "King of kings," "Lord of lords" (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16); "Potentate" (1 Timothy 6:15); "Master" (Kurios, Ephesians 6:9 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 6:10); "Shepherd," "Bishop" (1 Peter 2:25).


Theology of Old Testament by various authors: Oehler, Schultz, Davidson; Delitzsch, Psychology of the Old Testament; H.P. Smith, "Theophorous Names of OT" in Old Testament and Semitic Studies; Gray, HPN; "God" in HDB and EB.

Edward Mack




stranj: The word "strange," as used in this connection in the Old Testament, refers to the fact that the god or gods do not belong to Israel, but are the gods which are worshipped by other families or nations. In several cases a more exact translation would give us the "gods of the stranger" or foreigner. So in Genesis 35:2, 4 Joshua 24:2 Judges 10:16 Deuteronomy 31:16; Deuteronomy 32:12, etc. In a few passages like Deuteronomy 32:16 Psalm 44:20; Psalm 81:9 Isaiah 43:12, the word is an adjective, but the idea is the same: the gods are those which are worshipped by other peoples and hence are forbidden to Israel, which is under obligation to worship Yahweh alone (compare 2 Esdras 1:6).

In the New Testament the phrase occurs only once, in the account of Paul's experiences in Athens (Acts 17:18), when some of his auditors said, "He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods" (xena daimonia). Here the thought is clearly that by his preaching of Jesus he was regarded as introducing a new divinity, that is one who was strange or foreign to the Athenians and of whom they had never heard before. Like the Romans of this period the Athenians were doubtless interested in, and more or less favorable to, the numerous new cults which were coming to their attention as the result of the constant intercourse with the Orient. See preceding article.

Walter R. Betteridge


In Genesis 28:17, 22 = BETHEL (which see). In Judges, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Psalms, etc. (beth ha-'elohim), a designation of the sanctuary = "house of Yahweh" (of the tabernacle, Judges 18:31; Judges 20:18, 26 the King James Version; of the temple, 1 Chronicles 9:11; 1 Chronicles 24:5 the King James Version; 2 Chronicles 5:14 Psalm 42:4 Isaiah 2:3, etc.; of the 2nd temple, Ezra 5:8, 15 Nehemiah 6:10; Nehemiah 13:11; compare Matthew 12:4). Spiritually, in the New Testament, the "house of God" (oikos theou) is the church or community of believers (1 Timothy 3:15 Hebrews 10:21 1 Peter 4:17; compare 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16, 17 1 Peter 2:5).


(he basileia ton ouranon; he basileia tou theou):


1. Place in the Gospels

2. "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Kingdom of God"

3. Relation to the Old Testament (Daniel, etc.)


1. Current Jewish Opinions

2. Relation of Jesus to Same

3. Growing Divergence and Contrast

4. Prophetic Character of the "Temptation"

5. Modern "Futuristic" Hypothesis (J. Weiss, Schweitzer)

6. Weakness of This View

7. Positive Conceptions of Jesus


1. Apostolic and Post-apostolic Age

2. Early Christian Centuries

3. Reformation Period

4. Later Ideas


1. Danger of Exaggeration

2. Elements of Living Power in Idea


The "kingdom of God" is one of the most remarkable ideas and phrases of all time, having begun to be used very near the beginnings of history and continuing in force down to the present day.

I. Meaning and Origin of the Term

1. Place in the Gospels:

Its use by Jesus is by far its most interesting aspect; for, in the Synoptists, at least, it is His watchword, or a comprehensive term for the whole of His teaching. Of this the ordinary reader of Scripture may hardly be aware, but it becomes evident and significant to the student. Thus, in Matthew 4:23, the commencement of the ministry is described in these words, "And Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people"; and, somewhat later, in Luke 8:1, the expansion of His activity is described in the following terms, "And it came to pass soon afterwards, that he went about through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good tidings of the kingdom of God, and with him the twelve." When the Twelve are sent forth by themselves, the purpose of their mission is, in Luke 9:2, given in these words, "And he sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick." In Matthew 13:11, the parables, which formed so large and prominent a portion of His teaching, are denominated collectively "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven"; and it will be remembered how many of these commence with the phrase, "The kingdom of heaven is like."

2. "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Kingdom of God":

In these quotations, and in others which might easily be adduced, it will be observed that the phrases "the kingdom," "the kingdom of God," "the kingdom of heaven" are used interchangeably. The last of the three, "the kingdom of heaven," is confined to the First Gospel, which does not, however, always make use of it; and it is not certain what may have been the reason for the substitution. The simplest explanation would be that heaven is a name for God, as, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the penitent says, "I have sinned against heaven," and we ourselves might say, "Heaven forbid!" It is not, however, improbable that the true meaning has to be learned from two petitions of the Lord's Prayer, the one of which is epexegetic of the other, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." Here the disciples are instructed to pray that the kingdom of God may come, but this is equivalent to the petition that the will of God may be done on earth; Jesus is, however, aware of a region in the universe where the will of God is at present being perfectly and universally done, and, for reasons not difficult to surmise, He elevates thither the minds and hearts of those who pray. The kingdom of heaven would thus be so entitled because it is already realized there, and is, through prayer and effort, to be transferred thence to this earth.

3. Relation to the Old Testament (Daniel, etc.):

Although, however, the phrase held this master position in the teaching of Jesus, it was not of His invention. It was employed before Him by John the Baptist, of whom we read, in Matthew 3:1, "And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Indeed, the phrase is far older; for, on glancing toward the Old Testament, we come at once, in Daniel 2:44, to a passage where the young prophet, explaining to the monarch the image of gold, silver, iron and clay, which, in his dream, he had seen shattered by "a stone cut out without hands," interprets it as a succession of world-kingdoms, destined to be destroyed by "a kingdom of God," which shall last forever; and, in his famous vision of the "son of man" in 7:14, it is said, "There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."

These passages in Daniel form undoubtedly the proximate source of the phrase; yet the idea which it represents mounts far higher. From the first the Jewish state was governed by laws believed to be derived directly from heaven; and, when the people demanded a king, that they might be like other nations, they were reproached for desiring any king but God Himself. With this sublime conception the actual monarchy was only a compromise, the reigning monarch passing for Yahweh's representative on earth. In David, the man after God's own heart, the compromise was not unsatisfactory; in Solomon it was still tolerable; but in the majority of the kings of both Judah and Israel it was a dismal and disastrous failure. No wonder that the pious sighed and prayed that Yahweh might take to Himself His great power and reign, or that the prophets predicted the coming of a ruler who would be far nearer to God than the actual kings and of whose reign there would be no end. Even when the political kingdom perished and the people were carried away into Babylon, the intelligent and truly religious among them did not cease to cherish the old hope, and the very aspect of the worldpowers then and subsequently menacing them only widened their conceptions of what that kingdom must be which could overcome them all. The return from Babylon seemed a miraculous confirmation of their faith, and it looked as if the day long prayed for were about to dawn. Alas, it proved a day of small things. The era of the Maccabees was only a transitory gleam; in the person of Herod the Great a usurper occupied the throne; and the eagles of the Romans were hovering on the horizon. Still Messianic hopes flourished, and Messianic language filled the mouths of the people.

II. Its Use by Jesus-Contrast with Jewish Conceptions.

1. Current Jewish Opinions:

Schurer, in his History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ (II, 11, 126;), has drawn up a kind of Messianic creed, in no fewer than eleven articles, which he believes was extensively diffused at this period. The Sadducees, indeed, had no participation in these dreams, as they would have called them, being absorbed in money-making and courtiership; but the Pharisees cherished them, and the Zealots received their name from the ardor with which they embraced them. The true custodians, however, of these conceptions were the Prosdechomenoi, as they have been called, from what is said of them in the New Testament, that they "waited for the kingdom of God." To this class belonged such men as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:51), but it is in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke that we are introduced to its most numerous representatives, in the groups surrounding the infant Baptist and the infant Saviour (Luke 2:25, 38); and the truest and amplest expression of their sentiments must be sought in the inspired hymns which rose from them on this occasion. The center of their aspirations, as there depicted, is a kingdom of God-not, however, of worldly splendor and force, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; beginning in humility, and passing to exaltation only through the dark valley of contrition.

2. Relation of Jesus to Same:

Such was the circle in which both the Baptist and Jesus were reared and it was out of this atmosphere that the conception of the kingdom of God came into their minds. It has frequently been said that, in making use of this term, Jesus accommodated Himself to the opinions and language of His fellow-countrymen; and there is truth in this, because, in order to secure a footing on the solid earth of history, He had to connect His own activity with the world in which He found Himself. Yet the idea was native to His home and His race, and therefore to Himself; and it is not improbable that He may at first have been unaware of the wide difference between His own thoughts on the subject and those of His contemporaries.

3. Growing Divergence and Contrast:

When, however, He began, in the course of His ministry, to speak of the kingdom of God, it soon became manifest that by Him and by His contemporaries it was used in different senses; and this contrast went on increasing until there was a great gulf fixed between Him and them. The difference cannot better be expressed than by saying, as is done by B. Weiss, that He and they laid the accent on different halves of the phrase, they emphasizing "the kingdom" and He "of God." They were thinking of the expulsion of the Romans, of a Jewish king and court, and of a world-wide dominion going forth from Mt. Zion; He was thinking of righteousness, holiness and peace, of the doing of the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven. So earthly and fantastic were the expectations of the Jewish multitude that He had to escape from their hands when they tried to take Him by force and make Him a king. The authorities never acknowledged the pretensions of One who seemed to them a religious dreamer, and, as they clung to their own conceptions, they grew more and more bitter against One who was turning the most cherished hopes of a nation into ridicule, besides threatening to bring down on them the heavy hand of the Roman. And at last they settled the controversy between Him and them by nailing Him to a tree.

4. Prophetic Character of the "Temptation":

At one time Jesus had felt the glamor of the popular Messianic ideas, and at all times He must have been under temptation to accommodate His own ideas to the prejudices of those on whose favor His success seemed to be dependent. The struggle of His mind and will with such solicitations is embodied in what is called the Temptation in the Wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). There He was tempted to accept the dominion of the world at the price of compromise with evil; to be a bread-king, giving panem et circenes; and to curry favor with the multitude by some display, like springing from the pinnacle of the temple. The incidents of this scene look like representative samples of a long experience; but they are placed before the commencement of His public activity in order to show that He had already overcome them; and throughout His ministry He may be said to have been continually declaring, as He did in so many words at its close, that His kingdom was not of this world.

5. Modern "Futuristic" Hypothesis (J. Weiss, Schweitzer):

It is very strange that, in spite of this, He should be believed, even by Christian scholars, to have held a purely futuristic and apocalyptic view of the kingdom Himself. He was all the time expecting, it is said, that the heavens would open and the kingdom descend from heaven to earth, a pure and perfect work of God. This is exactly what was expected by the Jewish multitude, as is stated in Luke 19:11; and it is precisely what the authorities believed Him to be anticipating. The controversy between Him and them was as to whether Yahweh would intervene on His behalf or not; and, when no intervention took place, they believed they were justified in condemning Him. The premises being conceded, it is difficult to deny the force of their argument. If Jesus was all the time looking out for an appearance from heaven which never arrived, what better was He than a dreamer of the ghetto?

6. Weakness of This View:

It was by Johannes Weiss that this hypothesis was started in recent times; and it has been worked out by Schweitzer as the final issue of modern speculation on the life of Christ (see his The Quest of the Historical Jesus). But in opposition to it can be quoted not a few sayings of Jesus which indicate that, in His view, the kingdom of God had already begun and was making progress during His earthly ministry, and that it was destined to make progress not by catastrophic and apocalyptic interference with the course of Providence, but, as the grain grows-first the blade, then the ear, after that the full grain in the ear (Mark 4:26-29). Of such sayings the most remarkable is Luke 17:20, "And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you." "Observation," in this quotation, is an astronomical term, denoting exactly such a manifestation in the physical heavens as Jesus is assumed to have been looking for; so that He denies in so many words the expectation attributed to Him by those representatives of modern scholarship.

7. Positive Conceptions of Jesus:

In the nature of the case the kingdom must have been growing from stage to stage during His earthly ministry. He Himself was there, embodying the kingdom in His person; and the circle gathered around Him partook of the blessings of the kingdom. This circle might have grown large enough to be coextensive with the country; and, therefore, Jesus retained the consciousness of being the Messiah, and offered Himself in this character to His fellow-countrymen by the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But the citizens of the kingdom had to enter it one by one, not in a body, as the Jews were expecting. Strait was the gate; it was the narrow gate of repentance. Jesus began by repeating the initial word of the teaching of His forerunner; and He had too much reason to continue repeating it, as the hypocrisy and worldliness of Pharisees and Sadducees called for denunciation from His lips. To the frailties of the publicans and sinners, on the contrary, He showed a strange mildness; but this was because He knew the way of bringing such sinners to His feet to confess their sins themselves. To the penitent He granted pardon, claiming that the Son of man had power on earth to forgive sins. Then followed the exposition of righteousness, of which the Sermon on the Mount is a perfect specimen. Yet it commences with another watchword-that of blessedness, the ingredients of which are set forth in all their comprehensiveness. In the same way, in other passages, He promises "rest" "peace" and the like; and again and again, where He might be expected to employ the term "kingdom of God," He substitutes "life" or "eternal life." Such were the blessings He had come into the world to bestow; and the most comprehensive designation for them all was "the kingdom of God."

It is true, there was always imperfection attaching to the kingdom as realized in His lifetime, because He Himself was not yet made perfect. Steadily, from the commencement of the last stage of His career, He began to speak of His own dying and rising again. To those nearest Him such language was at the time a total mystery; but the day came when His apostles were able to speak of His death and ascension as the crown and glory of His whole career. When His life seemed to be plunging over the precipice, its course was so diverted by the providence of God that, by dying, He became the Redeemer of mankind and, by missing the throne of the Jews, attained to that of the universe, becoming King of kings and Lord of lords.

III. The Idea in History.

1. Apostolic and Post-apostolic Age:

After the death of Jesus, there soon ensued the destruction of the Jewish state; and then Christianity went forth among the nations, where to have spoken of it as a kingdom of God would have unnecessarily provoked hostility and called forth the accusation of treason against the powers that be. Hence, it made use of other names and let "the kingdom of God" drop. This had commenced even in Holy Scripture, where, in the later books, there is a growing infrequency in the use of the term. This may be alleged as proof that Jesus was being forgotten; but it may only prove that Christianity was then too much alive to be trammeled with words and phrases, even those of the Master, being able at every stage to find new language to express its new experience.

2. Early Christian Centuries:

In the early Christian centuries, "the kingdom of God" was used to designate heaven itself, in which from the first the development of the kingdom was to issue; this, in fact, being not infrequently the meaning of the phrase even in the mouth of Jesus. The Alexandrian thinkers brought back the phrase to designate the rule of God in the conscience of men. Augustine's great work bears a title, De Civitate Dei, which is a translation of our phrase; and to him the kingdom of God was the church, while the world outside of the church was the kingdom of Satan. From the time of Charlemagne there were in the world, side by side, two powers, that of the emperor and that of the pope; and the history of the Middle Ages is the account of the conflict of these two for predominance, each pretending to struggle in the name of God. The approaching termination of this conflict may be seen in Wycliffe's great work De Dominio Divino, this title also being a translation of our phrase.

3. Reformation Period:

During the struggles of the Reformation the battles of the faith were fought out under other watchwords; and it was rather amongsuch sectaries as the Baptists, that names like Fifth Monarchy and Rule of the Saints betrayed recollection of the evangelic phraseology; but how near, then and subsequently, the expression of men's thoughts about authority in church and state came to the language of the Gospels could easily be demonstrated, for example, from the Confessions and Books of Discipline of the Scottish church.

4. Later Ideas:

The very phrase, "the kingdom of God," reappeared at the close of the Reformation period among the Pietists of Germany, who, as their multiplying benevolent and missionary activities overflowed the narrow boundaries of the church, as it was then understood, spoke of themselves as working for the kingdom of God, and found this more to their taste than working for the church. The vague and humanitarian aspirations of Rationalism sometimes assumed to themselves the same title; but it was by Ritschl and his followers that the phrase was brought back into the very heart of theology. In the system of Ritschl there are two poles-the love of God and the kingdom of God. The love of God enfolds within itself God's purpose for the world, to be realized in time; and this progressive realization is the kingdom of God. It fulfils itself especially in the faithful discharge of the duties of everyone's daily vocation and in the recognition that in the course of Providence all things are working together for good to them that love God.

IV. Place in Theology.

1. Danger of Exageration:

There are those to whom it appears self-evident that what was the leading phrase in the teaching of Jesus must always be the master-word in theology; while others think this to be a return from the spirit to the letter. Even Jesus, it may be claimed, had this phrase imposed upon Him quite as much as He chose it for Himself; and to impose it now on theology would be to entangle the movements of Christian thought with the cerements of the dead.

2. Elements of Living Power in Idea:

This is an interesting controversy, on both sides of which much might be said. But in the phrase "the kingdom of God" there are elements of living power which can never pass away.

(1) It expresses the social Power inside of Christianity. A kingdom implies multitude and variety, and, though religion begins with the individual, it must aim at brotherhood, organization and expansion.

(2) It expresses loyalty. However much kings and kingdoms may fail to touch the imagination in an age of the world when many countries have become or are becoming republican, the strength to conquer and to endure will always have to be derived from contact with personalities. God is the king of the kingdom of God, and the Son of God is His vicegerent; and without the love of God the Father and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ no progress can be made with the Christianization of the world.

(3) It keeps alive the truth, suggested by Jesus in the Lord's Prayer, that the doing of the will of God on earth is the one thing needful. This is the true end of all authority in both church and state, and behind all efforts thus directed there is at work the potency of heaven.

(4) It reminds all generations of men that their true home and destiny is heaven. In not a few of our Lord's own sayings, as has been remarked, our phrase is obviously only a name for heaven; and, while His aim was that the kingdom should be established on earth, He always promised to those aiding in its establishment in this world that their efforts would be rewarded in the world to come. The constant recognition of a spiritual and eternal world is one of the unfailing marks of genuine Christianity.


Seethe works on New Testament Theology by Weiss, Beyschlag, Holtzmann, Feine, Schlatter, Weinel, Stevens, Sheldon; and on the Teaching of Jesus by Wendt, Dalman, Bruce; Candlish, The Kingdom of God; Robertson, Regnum Dei; Stalker, The Ethic of Jesus.

James Stalker


(ho amnos tou theou): This is a title specially bestowed upon our Lord by John the Baptist (John 1:29-36), "Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!" In Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs an apocryphal book, probably of the 2nd century-we have the term used for the Messiah, "Honor Judah and Levi, for from them shall arise for you the Lamb of God, saving all nations by grace." But the term does not seem to have been of any general use until it received its distinctly Christian significance. It has been generally understood as referring to the prophetic language of Jeremiah 11:19, and Isaiah 53:7.

1. Sacrificial Sense of the Term:

It is far more probable, however, that the true source of the expression is to be found in the important place which the "lamb" occupies in the sacrifices, especially of the Priestly Code. In these there was the lamb of the daily morning and evening sacrifice. How familiar this would be to the Baptist, being a member of a priestly family! On the Sabbath the number of the offerings was doubled, and at some of the great festivals a still larger number were laid upon the altar (see Exodus 29:38 Numbers 28:3, 9, 13). The lamb of the Passover would also occupy a large place in the mind of a devout Israelite, and, as the Passover was not far off, it is quite possible that John may have referred to this as well as to other suggested ideas connected with the lamb. The sacrificial significance of the term seems to be far more probable than the mere comparison of the character of our Lord with meekness and gentleness, as suggested by the words of the prophets, although these contain much more than the mere reference to character (see below). That this became the clearly defined conception of apostolic teaching is clear from passages in Paul and Peter (1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Peter 1:18 f). In the Book of Revelation the reference to the Lamb occurs 27 times. The word here used differs from that in John. The amnos of the Gospel has become the arnion of the Apocalypse, a diminutive form suggestive of affection. This is the word used by our Lord in His rebuke and forgiveness of Peter (John 21:15), and is peculiarly touched therefore with an added meaning of pathetic tenderness. Westcott, in his Commentary on John 1:29, refers to the conjecture that there may have been flocks of lambs passing by on their way to Jerusalem to be used at the feast. This is possible, but fanciful. As applied to Christ, the term certainly suggests the meekness and gentleness of our Lord's nature and work, but could not have been used by John without containing some reference to the place which the lamb bore in the Judaic ritualism.

2. As Variously Understood:

The significance of the Baptist's words has been variously understood. Origen, Cyril, Chrysostom, among the ancients, Lucke, DeWette, Meyer, Ewald, Alford, among the moderns, refer it to Isaiah 53:7; Grotius, Bengel, Hengstenberg, to the paschal lamb; Baumgarten-Crusius, etc., to the sin offering; Lange strongly urges the influence of the passage in Isaiah 53, and refers to John's description of his own mission under the influence of the second part of Isaiah, in which he is supported by Schaff. The importance of the Isaiah-thought is found in Matthew 8:17 Acts 8:32 1 Peter 2:22-25.

3. As Set Forth by Isaiah:

It is to be observed that the Septuagint in Isaiah 53:7 translates the Hebrew word for sheep (seh), by the Greek word for lamb. In 53:10, the prophet's "suffering one" is said to have made "his soul an offering for Isaiah sin," and in 53:4 "he hath borne our griefs," where bearing involves the conception of sin offering, and as possessing justifying power, the idea of "taking away." John indeed uses not the Septuagint word (pherein), but (airein), and some have maintained that this simply means "put away" or "support," or "endure." But this surely loses the suggestion of the associated term "lamb," which John could not have employed without some reference to its sacrificial and therefore expiatory force. What Lange calls a "germ perception" of atonement must certainly have been in the Baptist's mind, especially when we recall the Isaiah-passages, even though there may not have been any complete dogmatic conception of the full relation of the death of Christ to the salvation of a world. Even the idea of the bearing of the curse of sin may not be excluded, for it was impossible for an Israelite like John, and especially with his surroundings, to have forgotten the significance of the paschal lamb, both in its memorial of the judgment of Egypt, as well as of the deliverance of Israel. Notwithstanding every effort to take out of this striking phrase its deeper meanings, which involve most probably the combination of all the sources above described, it must ever remain one of the richest mines of evangelical thought. It occupies, in the doctrine of atonement, a position analogous to that brief word of the Lord, "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24), in relation to the doctrine of God.

The Lamb is defined as "of God," that is, of Divine providing. See Isaiah 53 Revelation 5:6; Revelation 13:8. Its emphatic and appointed office is indicated by the definite article, and whether we refer the conception to a specific sacrifice or to the general place of a lamb in the sacrificial institution, they all, as being appointed by and specially set apart for God, suggest the close relation of our Lord to the Divine Being, and particularly to His expiatory sacrifice.

L. D. Bevan


pur'-pus (prothesis (Romans 9:11 Ephesians 1:11)): The word "purpose" seems to be an equivalent of the word "decree" as used in regard to man's relation to eternity. More correctly stated, it softens the word "decree" and refers back to the cause of the decree as lodged in an intelligent design and forward to an aim consistent with the character of God.


2315. theopneustos -- God-breathed, ie inspired by God
... God-breathed, ie inspired by God. Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration:
theopneustos Phonetic Spelling: (theh-op'-nyoo-stos) Short Definition: God-breathed ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2315.htm - 8k

2316. theos -- God, a god
... God, a god. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine; Noun, Masculine Transliteration: theos
Phonetic Spelling: (theh'-os) Short Definition: God, a god Definition: (a) God ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2316.htm - 7k

2319. theostuges -- hating God
... hating God. Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration: theostuges Phonetic Spelling:
(theh-os-too-gace') Short Definition: hating God, hateful to God Definition ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2319.htm - 7k

2318. theosebes -- God-fearing
... God-fearing. Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration: theosebes Phonetic Spelling:
(theh-os-eb-ace') Short Definition: devout, pious Definition: devout, pious ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2318.htm - 7k

5377. philotheos -- loving God
... loving God. Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration: philotheos Phonetic Spelling:
(fil-oth'-eh-os) Short Definition: loving God Definition: loving God. ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/5377.htm - 6k

2312. theodidaktos -- taught of God
... taught of God. Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration: theodidaktos Phonetic
Spelling: (theh-od-id'-ak-tos) Short Definition: taught by God Definition ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2312.htm - 6k

2314. theomachos -- fighting against God
... fighting against God. Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration: theomachos Phonetic
Spelling: (theh-om'-akh-os) Short Definition: fighting against God ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2314.htm - 6k

2241. eli -- my God
... my God. Part of Speech: Hebrew Form (Indclinable) Transliteration: eli Phonetic
Spelling: (ay-lee') Short Definition: Eli Definition: Eli, my God (Hebrew). ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2241.htm - 6k

2313. theomacheo -- to fight against God.
... 2312, 2313. theomacheo. 2314 . to fight against God. ... Word Origin from
theomachos Definition to fight against God. fight against God. ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2313.htm - 6k

2317. theosebeia -- fear of God
... fear of God. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: theosebeia Phonetic
Spelling: (theh-os-eb'-i-ah) Short Definition: reverence for God Definition ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2317.htm - 6k

Strong's Hebrew
433. eloah -- God, god
... 432, 433. eloah. 434 . God, god. Transliteration: eloah Phonetic Spelling:
((shortened) >eloahh {el-o'-ah) Short Definition: God. Word Origin prol. ...
/hebrew/433.htm - 6k

426. elah -- God, god
... 425, 426. elah. 427 . God, god. Transliteration: elah Phonetic Spelling:
(el-aw') Short Definition: God. Word Origin (Aramaic) corresponding ...
/hebrew/426.htm - 6k

430. elohim -- God, god
... 429, 430. elohim. 431 . God, god. Transliteration: elohim Phonetic Spelling:
(el-o-heem') Short Definition: God. Word Origin pl. ...
/hebrew/430.htm - 6k

410. el -- God, in pl. gods
... 409, 410. el. 411 . God, in pl. gods. Transliteration: el Phonetic Spelling:
(ale) Short Definition: God. Word Origin a prim. root Definition God, in pl. ...
/hebrew/410.htm - 6k

447. Eliel -- "my God is God," the name of several Israelites
... 446, 447. Eliel. 448 . "my God is God," the name of several Israelites.
Transliteration: Eliel Phonetic Spelling: (el-ee-ale') Short Definition: Eliel. ...
/hebrew/447.htm - 6k

511. Elqanah -- "God has created," or "God has taken possession ...
... 510, 511. Elqanah. 512 . "God has created," or "God has taken possession,"
the name of several Israelites. Transliteration: Elqanah ...
/hebrew/511.htm - 6k

3068. Yhvh -- the proper name of the God of Israel
... 3067, 3068. Yhvh. 3069 . the proper name of the God of Israel. Transliteration:
Yhvh Phonetic Spelling: (yeh-ho-vaw') Short Definition: LORD. ...
/hebrew/3068.htm - 6k

3069. Yhvh -- God
... 3068, 3069. Yhvh. 3070 . God. Transliteration: Yhvh Phonetic Spelling:
(yeh-ho-vee') Short Definition: God. Word Origin the same as Yhvh, qv. God ...
/hebrew/3069.htm - 6k

472. Elisheba -- "God is an oath," the wife of Aaron
... 471, 472. Elisheba. 473 . "God is an oath," the wife of Aaron. Transliteration:
Elisheba Phonetic Spelling: (el-ee-sheh'-bah) Short Definition: Elisheba. ...
/hebrew/472.htm - 6k

6005. Immanuel -- "with us is God," the name of a child
... 6004, 6005. Immanuel. 6006 . "with us is God," the name of a child.
Transliteration: Immanuel Phonetic Spelling: (im-maw-noo-ale') Short Definition: ...
/hebrew/6005.htm - 6k


Three Friends of God
Three Friends of God. <. Three Friends of God Frances Bevan. Table of Contents.
//christianbookshelf.org/bevan/three friends of god/

Treatise on the Love of God
Treatise on the Love of God. <. Treatise on the Love of God St. Francis
de Sales. Table of Contents. Title Page. DEDICATION. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/francis/treatise on the love of god/

City of God
City of God. <. City of God St. Augustine. translated by Rev. Marcus Dods,
DD Table of Contents. Title Page. Editor's Preface. The City of God. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/augustine/city of god/

The Good News of God
The Good News of God. <. The Good News of God Charles Kingsley.
Transcribed from the 1887 Macmillan and Co. edition ...
//christianbookshelf.org/kingsley/the good news of god/

Working For God!
Working For God! . Working For God! Andrew Murray. Table of Contents.
Title Page. INTRODUCTION. I Waiting and Working. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/murray/working for god/

On the Workmanship of God
On the Workmanship of God. <. On the Workmanship of God Lactantius. translated
by the rev. william fletcher, dd Table of Contents. Title Page. Chap. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/lactantius/on the workmanship of god/

On the Government of God
On the Government of God. <. On the Government of God Salvian. Table
of Contents. Title Page. TO MY FATHER. INTRODUCTION. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/salvian/on the government of god/

On Cleaving to God
On Cleaving to God. <. On Cleaving to God Saint Albert the Great.
Table of Contents. Title Page. Translator's Introduction. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/albert/on cleaving to god/

The Sovereignty of God
The Sovereignty of God. <. The Sovereignty of God Arthur W. Pink. Table
of Contents. Title Page. FOREWORD TO THE FIRST EDITION. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/pink/the sovereignty of god/

A Treatise on the Anger of God. Addressed to Donatus
A Treatise on the Anger of God. Addressed to Donatus. <. A Treatise on the
Anger of God. Addressed to Donatus Lactantius. translated by the rev. ...
/.../lactantius/a treatise on the anger of god addressed to donatus/

Smith's Bible Dictionary

(good). Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures two chief names are used for the one true divine Being--ELOHIM, commonly translated God in our version, and JEHOVAH, translated Lord . Elohim is the plural of Eloah (in Arabic Allah); it is often used in the short form EL (a word signifying strength , as in EL-SHADDAI, God Almighty, the name by which God was specially known to the patriarchs. (Genesis 17:1; 28:3; Exodus 6:3) The etymology is uncertain, but it is generally agreed that the primary idea is that of strength, power of effect , and that it properly describes God in that character in which he is exhibited to all men in his works, as the creator, sustainer and supreme governor of the world. The plural form of Elohim has given rise to much discussion. The fanciful idea that it referred to the trinity of persons in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars. It is either what grammarians call the plural of majesty , or it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God. Jehovah denotes specifically the one true God, whose people the Jews were, and who made them the guardians of his truth. The name is never applied to a false god, nor to any other being except one, the ANGEL-JEHOVAH who is thereby marked as one with God, and who appears again in the New Covenant as "God manifested in the flesh." Thus much is clear; but all else is beset with difficulties. At a time too early to be traced, the Jews abstained from pronouncing the name, for fear of its irreverent use. The custom is said to have been founded on a strained interpretation of (Leviticus 24:16) and the phrase there used, "THE NAME" (Shema), is substituted by the rabbis for the unutterable word. In reading the Scriptures they substituted for it the word ADONAI (Lord), from the translation of which by Kurios in the LXX., followed by the Vulgate, which uses Dominus , we have the LORD of our version. The substitution of the word Lord is most unhappy, for it in no way represents the meaning of the sacred name. The key to the meaning of the name is unquestionably given in God's revelation of himself to Moses by the phrase "I AM THAT I AM," (Exodus 3:14; 6:3) We must connect the name Jehovah with the Hebrew substantive verb to be , with the inference that it expresses the essential, eternal, unchangeable being of Jehovah. But more, it is not the expression only, or chiefly, of an absolute truth: it is a practical revelation of God, in his essential, unchangeable relation to this chosen people, the basis of his covenant.

ATS 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 JEHOVAH, which signifies He is. But the Jews, from a feeling of reverence, avoid pronouncing this name, substituting for it, wherever it occurs in the sacred test, the word ADONAI, Lord; except in the expression, ADONAI JEHOVAH, Lord Jehovah, for which they put, ADONAI ELOHIM, Lord God. This usage, which is not without an element of superstition, is very ancient, dating its origin some centuries before Christ; but there is no good ground for assuming its existence in the days of the inspired Old Testament writers. The proper word for God is ELOHIM, which is plural in its form, being thus used to signify the manifold perfections of God, or, as some think, the Trinity in the godhead. In Exodus 3:14, God replies to Moses, when he asks Him His name, I AM THAT IAM; 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.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
(A.S. and Dutch God; Dan. Gud; Ger. Gott), the name of the Divine Being. It is the rendering (1) of the Hebrew 'El, from a word meaning to be strong; (2) of 'Eloah_, plural _'Elohim. The singular form, Eloah, is used only in poetry. The plural form is more commonly used in all parts of the Bible, The Hebrew word Jehovah (q.v.), the only other word generally employed to denote the Supreme Being, is uniformly rendered in the Authorized Version by "LORD," printed in small capitals. The existence of God is taken for granted in the Bible. There is nowhere any argument to prove it. He who disbelieves this truth is spoken of as one devoid of understanding (Psalm 14:1).

The arguments generally adduced by theologians in proof of the being of God are:

(1.) The a priori argument, which is the testimony afforded by reason.

(2.) The a posteriori argument, by which we proceed logically from the facts of experience to causes. These arguments are,

(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 and 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.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (a. & n.) Good.

2. (n.) A being conceived of as possessing supernatural power, and to be propitiated by sacrifice, worship, etc.; a divinity; a deity; an object of worship; an idol.

3. (n.) The Supreme Being; the eternal and infinite Spirit, the Creator, and the Sovereign of the universe; Jehovah.

4. (n.) A person or thing deified and honored as the chief good; an object of supreme regard.

5. (n.) Figuratively applied to one who wields great or despotic power.

6. (v. t.) To treat as a god; to idolize.

God (45911 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary (AS and Dutch God; Dan. Gud; Ger. ... The existence of God
is taken for granted in the Bible. There is nowhere any argument to prove it. ...
/g/god.htm - 101k

God-fearing (24 Occurrences)
God-fearing. God'dess, God-fearing. God-given . Noah Webster's Dictionary
(a.) Having a reverential and loving feeling towards God; religious. ...
/g/god-fearing.htm - 13k

God-ward (3 Occurrences)
God-ward. God-taught, God-ward. Goel . Multi-Version Concordance
God-ward (3 Occurrences). 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such ...
/g/god-ward.htm - 7k

God'dess (2 Occurrences)
God'dess. Goddess, God'dess. God-fearing . Multi-Version Concordance
God'dess (2 Occurrences). 1 Kings 11:5 And Solomon ...
/g/god'dess.htm - 7k

God-given (1 Occurrence)
God-given. God-fearing, God-given. God-haters . Multi-Version Concordance
God-given (1 Occurrence). 1 John 3:9 No one who is a child ...
/g/god-given.htm - 6k

One-god (2 Occurrences)
One-god. One-fourth, One-god. One-half . Multi-Version Concordance One-god
(2 Occurrences). Mark 10:18 Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? ...
/o/one-god.htm - 6k

God-breathed (1 Occurrence)
God-breathed. God, God-breathed. Goddess . Multi-Version Concordance
God-breathed (1 Occurrence). 2 Timothy 3:16 Every ...
/g/god-breathed.htm - 6k

God-taught (1 Occurrence)
God-taught. Godspeed, God-taught. God-ward . Multi-Version
Concordance God-taught (1 Occurrence). 1 Thessalonians 4:9 ...
/g/god-taught.htm - 6k

God-haters (1 Occurrence)
God-haters. God-given, God-haters. Godhead . Multi-Version Concordance
God-haters (1 Occurrence). Romans 1:30 evil-speakers ...
/g/god-haters.htm - 6k

God's (602 Occurrences)
...God's (602 Occurrences). ... Matthew 5:34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all;
neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: (KJV WEY WBS NIV). ...
/g/god's.htm - 33k

Bible Concordance
God (45911 Occurrences)

God is found 45911 times in 12 translations.

You can narrow your search using the Advanced Bible Search.



God Accepting Me

God Answering Prayers

God Being Our Husband

God for Other Anthropomorphic Scriptures by Israel

God for Other Anthropomorphic Scriptures: Saul

God Forgiving

God Giving Talent

God in Prospering Asa

God in Prospering Daniel

God in Prospering Hezekiah

God in Prospering Jehoshaphat

God in Prospering Job

God in Prospering Jotham

God in Prospering Uzziah

God in Rescuing Jeremiah

God in the Banishment of John to Patmos

God in the Conquest of Canaan

God in Turning the Heart of the King of Assyria to Favor the Jews

God is a Spirit

God is Declared to Be: A Consuming Fire

God is Declared to Be: Compassionate

God is Declared to Be: Eternal

God is Declared to Be: Faithful

God is Declared to Be: Glorious

God is Declared to Be: Good

God is Declared to Be: Gracious

God is Declared to Be: Great

God is Declared to Be: Holy

God is Declared to Be: Immortal

God is Declared to Be: Immutable

God is Declared to Be: Incorruptible

God is Declared to Be: Invisible

God is Declared to Be: Jealous

God is Declared to Be: Just

God is Declared to Be: Light

God is Declared to Be: Long-Suffering

God is Declared to Be: Love

God is Declared to Be: Merciful

God is Declared to Be: Most High

God is Declared to Be: Omnipotent

God is Declared to Be: Omnipresent

God is Declared to Be: Omniscient

God is Declared to Be: Only-Wise

God is Declared to Be: Perfect

God is Declared to Be: Righteous

God is Declared to Be: True

God is Declared to Be: Unsearchable

God is Declared to Be: Upright

God Knows Your Name

God Loving all of his Children

God Made Us Perfect

God on High

God Speaking to You

God Speed

God Testing Abraham

God With Us

God Working Through You

God: A Spirit

God: Access To

God: Appearances of To Abraham

God: Appearances of To Adam

God: Appearances of To Ezekiel

God: Appearances of To Gideon

God: Appearances of To Isaiah

God: Appearances of To Israel

God: Appearances of To Jacob, at Beth-El

God: Appearances of To Moses and Joshua

God: Appearances of To Moses, at Sinai

God: Appearances of To Moses, in the Flaming Bush

God: Appearances of To Solomon

God: Comforter

God: Creator

God: Creator of Man

God: Delaying and Destroying Pharaoh

God: Delivering the Israelites

God: Dividing the Red Sea

God: Elijah's Trials

God: Eternity of

God: Faithfulness of

God: Fatherhood of

God: Feeding Elijah and the Widow

God: Fighting the Battles of Israel

God: Fills Heaven and Earth

God: Foreknowledge of

God: Glory of

God: Goodness of

God: Grace of

God: Guide

God: Holiness of

God: Immutable

God: Impartial

God: Incomprehensible

God: Infinite

God: Invisible

God: Israelites

God: Jealous

God: Job's

God: Judge, and his Justice

God: Knowledge of

God: Longsuffering of

God: Longsuffering of, Abused

God: Love of

God: Love of, Exemplified

God: Mercy of

God: Name of

God: Name of Proclaimed

God: None Before Him

God: None Beside Him

God: None Good But He

God: None Like to Him

God: Not to be Profaned

God: Omnipotent

God: Onnipresent

God: Perfection of

God: Personality of

God: Power of

God: Praised

God: Presence of

God: Preserver

God: Preserver by Abijah

God: Preserver in Delivering from the Oppressions of the King of Syria

God: Preserver in Exempting the Land of Goshen from the Plague of Darkness

God: Preserver in Exempting the Land of Goshen from the Plague of Flies

God: Preserver in Gerar

God: Preserver in Giving Peace With Other Nations

God: Preserver in Preserving Their Cattle from the Plague of Murrain,

God: Preserver in Saving the Firstborn, when the Plague of Death Destroyed the Firstborn of Egypt,

God: Preserver in the Wilderness

God: Preserver: Ahab

God: Preserver: As he Journeyed in the Land of Canaan

God: Preserver: Daniel and the Three Hebrew Captives

God: Preserver: Deliverance from Egypt,

God: Preserver: Delivering Israel by Jeroboam Ii

God: Preserver: Delivering the Kingdom of Israel from Syria

God: Preserver: Delivering Them from the Army of the Assyrians

God: Preserver: Hezekiah

God: Preserver: Jeremah and Baruch

God: Preserver: Jesus and his Parents

God: Preserver: Jonah

God: Preserver: On Account of Samuel's Intercession

God: Preserver: Paul

God: Preserver: Paul and Silas

God: Preserver: Peter

God: Preserver: The Ethiopian Host

God: Preserver: The Wise Men of the East

God: Preserver: To Abraham and Sarah, in Egypt

God: Preserver: To David,

God: Preserver: To Hagar, when Abraham Cast Her Out

God: Preserver: To Jacob, when he Fled from Laban, his Father-In-Law

God: Preserver: To Joseph, in Egypt

God: Preserver: To Lot, when Sodom Was Destroyed

God: Preserver: To Moses, in his Infancy

God: Preserver: To Noah and his Family, at the Time of the Flood

God: Preserver: To the Israelites, in Bringing About Their Deliverance from Bondage

God: Preserver: To the Kingdom of Judah: in Delivering from Egypt

God: Preserver: Under David

God: Preserver: Under Deborah

God: Preserver: Under Ehud

God: Preserver: Under Gideon

God: Preserver: Under Jephthah

God: Preserver: Under Othniel

God: Preserver: Under Shamgar

God: Preserver: Victories Over the Canaanites Under Joshua

God: Preserver: when he Met Esau

God: Profaned

God: Protecting Abraham, Sarah, and Abimelech

God: Protection of Homes While at Feasts

God: Providence of

God: Providence of, Mysterious and Misinterpreted

God: Providence of, Overruling Interpositions of The

God: Purifying the Waters of Marah

God: Rebuilding the Walls of Jerusalem

God: Repentance Attributed To

God: Restoration of the Jews

God: Restoring Epaphroditus

God: Restoring Manasseh After his Conversion

God: Righteousness of

God: Saving David's Army

God: Saving Noah

God: Saviour

God: should be Worshipped in Spirit and in Truth

God: Sovereign

God: Special Grace: To Abraham

God: Special Grace: To Enoch

God: Special Grace: To Jacob

God: Special Grace: To Moses

God: Special Grace: To Noah

God: Special Grace: To Solomon

God: Supplying Manna and Quail

God: Supplying Water at Meribah

God: Symbolized by the Darkness of the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle

God: Symbolized by the General Structure of the Most Holy Place, See

God: Symbolized by the Pillar of Fire

God: The Call of Abraham

God: The Care of Isaac

God: The Deliverance of Lot

God: The Mission of Joseph

God: The Pillar of Cloud

God: The Revolt of the Ten Tribes

God: To be Reverenced

God: Truth

God: Ubiquitous

God: Unclassified Scriptures Relating To

God: Unity of

God: Unsearchable

God: Warning Joseph in Dreams

God: Warning Pharaoh About the Famine

God: Warning the Wise Men from the East

God: Wisdom of

God: Works of

Sarcasm: God Reproaching Israel

Related Terms

God-fearing (24 Occurrences)

God-ward (3 Occurrences)

God'dess (2 Occurrences)

God-given (1 Occurrence)

One-god (2 Occurrences)

God-breathed (1 Occurrence)

God-taught (1 Occurrence)

God-haters (1 Occurrence)

God's (602 Occurrences)

Star-god (1 Occurrence)

Know (8133 Occurrences)


Zerub'babel (23 Occurrences)

Keepest (16 Occurrences)

Yah (40 Occurrences)

Zealous (40 Occurrences)

Secrets (26 Occurrences)

Shook (33 Occurrences)

Speed (22 Occurrences)

Showbread (18 Occurrences)


Shows (42 Occurrences)

Savior (60 Occurrences)

Sits (52 Occurrences)

Saving (37 Occurrences)


Simply (27 Occurrences)

Speakest (30 Occurrences)


Zebub (4 Occurrences)

Sinning (59 Occurrences)

Kadmiel (8 Occurrences)

Sincerity (17 Occurrences)

Saves (19 Occurrences)

Visited (40 Occurrences)

Spite (28 Occurrences)

Section (22 Occurrences)

Showing (41 Occurrences)

Skies (36 Occurrences)

Zechari'ah (51 Occurrences)

Homage (51 Occurrences)

Visions (43 Occurrences)

Yielded (28 Occurrences)

You-ward (9 Occurrences)

Victorious (17 Occurrences)

Vanities (14 Occurrences)

Sang (28 Occurrences)

Kingship (17 Occurrences)

Shortly (21 Occurrences)

Sabachthani (2 Occurrences)

Searcher (6 Occurrences)

Shewing (23 Occurrences)

Seemly (10 Occurrences)

Sinneth (25 Occurrences)

Speedily (38 Occurrences)

Keeps (154 Occurrences)

Snares (24 Occurrences)

Slaying (21 Occurrences)

Sakes (35 Occurrences)

Sorrows (37 Occurrences)

Sorrowful (29 Occurrences)

Various (52 Occurrences)

Vast (54 Occurrences)

Keepeth (60 Occurrences)

Zerubbabel (25 Occurrences)

Vowed (34 Occurrences)

Yielding (19 Occurrences)

Quickening (7 Occurrences)

Venture (10 Occurrences)

Valiantly (9 Occurrences)

Solemnly (62 Occurrences)

Seemeth (36 Occurrences)

Zeal (45 Occurrences)

Scripture (51 Occurrences)

Searches (11 Occurrences)

Sido'nians (11 Occurrences)

Silvanus (4 Occurrences)

Sanctuaries (14 Occurrences)

Shutteth (17 Occurrences)

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