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The Attributes of God A Bible Study On Doctrine
The attributes of God are those characteristics that define who God is by nature. As one
studies the The Identity Of God it can be understood that; God is real, God is spirit,
God is living, God is personal, and God is one. So as we continue our study of God we
must look at the characteristics that define who God is by naturewhich are called His
According to Towns, The attributes of God are those virtues or qualities which manifest
His nature. In another way, an attribute of God is the extension of His nature.1
Enns states that, Gods attributes are to be distinguished from His works. Gods
attributes do not add anything to God; they reveal His nature.2
The attributes of God are to be studied and understood so that the nature of God and how
he operates in and with His creation is properly understood. It is when there is a
misbalance of understanding the attributes of God, that ones idea or concept of God
becomes out of order. This is seen in two of the attributes of God which are His
omnipotence, and His goodness. It is due to a misbalance of these two attributes that
leads to the debate between Calvinism (Reformed Theology) and Arminianism (Wesleyan
To begin our study of the attributes of God it must be noted that the attributes of God are
divided into two separate divisions which are called by many different names as listed
The Attributes of God Divided Into Two Categories
Absolute Attributes Relative Attributes
Incommunicable Attributes Communicable Attributes
Intransitive Attributes Transitive Attributes
Moral Attributes Non-moral Attributes
Not Discernable To Man Traceable To Man
The differences in the two types of attributes are as follows:
Communicable Attributesare those qualities of God for which at least a
partial counterpart can be found in his human creation.3
Incommunicable Attributesare those unique qualities for which no
counterpart can be found in humans.4
Now that we have determined that the attributes of God can be divided into two
categories, let us determine those infinite attributes which can also be found in man in a
finite sense. What this tells us is that no man who is created by God can obtain to the
character of God, but that through Christ we are to become imitators of Christ.
It is also for this reason that we study the attributes of God. Therefore the purpose for this
study can be summed up in three points:
1. The Study of Gods Nature which determines how He governs and responses to His creation.
2. The Study of Balance between Gods Attributes and the significance in theological perspectives mainly Calvinism vs. Arminianism (Unconditional
Eternal Security vs. Conditional Eternal Security).
3. The Study of Becoming like Christ in our character.
It must be noted that there are some debate over what all the Incommunicable Attributes
are in their entirety. Some scholars hold to a great number of incommunicable attributes
which are only seen in God and not in man such as (spirituality, self-existence,
immutability, unity, truth, love, and holiness) Enns in his list of absolute attributes as
noted.5 Others such as Arrington hold to a shorter list which are as listed (self-existence,
eternity, omnipresence, and immutability).6 The only problem that I have with
Arringtons list is that of his placement of the attribute known as omnipresence into this
list known as absolute or incommunicable attributes (this will be covered later in the
study in the communicable attributes).
It must be understood that incommunicable or absolute attributes can only be seen in God
and not in his creation. To be an absolute attribute means that man can not obtain this
As I study the attributes of God and the different division of the attributes I want to
divide the incommunicable attributes into two categories. The first category is that of the
absolute attributes that are just that absolute, for they are incommunicable or not
discernible in mankind. The second category of incommunicable attributes are those
absolute attributes that can not be seen in sinful man, who is unjustified, but can be seen
in the regenerated, justified, righteous, and sanctified man in Christ.
AbsoluteIncommunicable Attributes These AbsoluteIncommunicable Attributes are absolute to God and can not be found in
created man in any form or fashion what so every. They are total divine attributes and can
not be found even in redeemed or justified mankind.
SpiritualityGod is spirit (not a spirit, but is spirit).7 God does not have a physical or visible body form by nature.
God is invisible to man in the physical by nature, however; there are a few exceptions to
this found in Scripture.
Christ revealed Himself in the form of an angel in several points throughout the Old Testament (In Exodus 3:2 the Angel of the Lord was
a visible form of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.)
God revealed Himself to Moses as he allowed Moses to see His hinder parts in Exodus 33:20-23.
Christ has revealed the Father to us through His first advent and teaching and the Holy Spirit has revealed the Son through regeneration or the new
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the
bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
God is invisible and as John 4:24 would state God is spirit, which would imply that God
is not limited to carnal or physical limitation. God is eternal, immortal, invisible, the
source of wisdom; therefore, He is worthy of honor and glory forever and ever.
1 Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory
for ever and ever. Amen.
Self-existenceThe self-existence of God implies that He has the grounds for His existence in Himself.8
God is the I AMwhich means that God in majesty and in his self-sufficiency is the one
True God who is constant in His faithfulness to His people.9
Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the
children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
Life can be seen as a separate attribute, but I would hold that Life is given by God
because He is the only self-existent one.
John 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
It was Belshazzar who failed to acknowledge God as the self-existent one who gives life.
Let us not make the same disastrous mistake. For such a mistake Belshazzar and the
whole Babylonian Kingdom was weighed in the balances, and art found wanting
Daniel 5:23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of
his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk
wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood,
and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is,
and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
Man can not exist without God who is the creator of mankind. Life only exist because
God has created it and ordained it to exist for life is only from God for who there is no
beginning or end. It is from this point that some would state that one of Gods attributes
is that he is eternal but this can be stated in this attribute known as self-existence.
Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have
said, For we are also his offspring.
From all that one can learn from the self-existence of God is that He is naturally the
source of life for there was no creation of God which includes the Father, the Son, and
the Holy Spirit. God has always existed and will always exist. Therefore, He holds all
rights to give life in the physical and also in the spiritual. Because God deals according
to His nature with man God can give life in the spirit through the atoning work of Jesus
Christ and ones faith in that saving act known as redemption.
ImmutabilityIs that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promisesand is free
from all accession of diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or
God is compared to a rock which is unmovable.
Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and
without iniquity, just and right is he.
God does not change:
Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
God is the only perfect gift and in him there is no change, swaying, or turning back.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of
lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
God is the same day-after-day-after-day.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Arrington states, that though God is immutable or unchanging the Scriptures say