What is the Godhead?
Friday, May 30, 2009 at 9:30pm
term "Godhead" is found three times in the King James Version:
"Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God,
we ought not to think that the
is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are
clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even
his eternal power and Godhead;
so that they are without excuse:"
"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the
Three different Greek words are used, but each one means “divinity.”
It is important for us to understand from the outset that
God exists in three Persons.
The concept of the Godhead is that God
is one yet God is three. How can this be?
While the word “trinity” is not
found in the Scriptures, the concept is found there from beginning to
end. There is no question about it—the
doctrine of the Trinity is divinely revealed biblical truth: our one God
exists in three persons. That is not to say that the authors
of Scripture understood it clearly. When Peter, John, and the other
disciples first saw Jesus they did not say, “Oh look, there goes
God in flesh, the second person of
the holy Trinity.” Yet as they heard Him claim to be the
revelation of the Father with the prerogatives of
deity, and as they
watched Him perform the supernatural works of deity,
they came to the convinced persuasion
that He was God the Son.
Additionally, they probably gave very
little thought at first to the Holy Spirit being the third
person of the eternal Godhead. But
when the events of the day of
Pentecost had ended, it was obvious to them that the power they had
witnessed working in them and through them was not their own. It was the
power of God. The Spirit who
indwelled them was none other than God Himself. So then,
led by that same divine Spirit, they
revealed to us in their writings the Trinity of the eternal God.
Explanation of the Triune Godhead
What then does it mean that God exists
as the Trinity? It is a basic
principle of our biblical faith that there is only one God.
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy
6:4). The unity of the
Godhead is indisputable. God
does not consist of parts. He
is one. But Scripture reveals
that there are, in that one divine essence,
three eternal distinctions.
Those distinctions seem best described
as persons, known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
All three have identical attributes,
however, and therefore they are one—not merely one in mind and purpose,
but one in substance. To
possess all the exact same attributes is to be one in essential nature.
The three persons of the Godhead
possess identical attributes.
They are one in substance and one in
essence, and therefore they are one God.
Evidence for the Triune Godhead
While the primary emphasis of the Old
Testament is on the unity of God, the indications of
His triune nature are clearly seen
even there. We need not read very far to find the first one: “In
the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis
1:1). Elohim, the Hebrew
name for God in this verse, is plural. That may not prove the
Trinity, but it definitely points to
more than one person in the Godhead. There was no other logical
reason to choose a plural name. As such, we are not surprised, then, to
hear Him say a short time later, “Let
us make man in our image” (Genesis
1:26, emphasis added). The
plural pronouns could not refer to angels because they were never
associated with God in His creative activity. Consequently,
more than one divine person was
clearly involved. The plural pronouns make no sense otherwise (Genesis
Genesis 11:7). John reiterates this truth when, speaking of
Jesus, he declares: “All things
came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being
that has come into being.” (John
1:3). Clearly Jesus was
present and involved in the act of creation and
Genesis 1:1 says that “God
created the heavens and the earth.”
The undeniable biblical testimony
to the Trinity is simply that all three persons are referred to as
Father is called God.
He is referred to as “God the
1:1), “God our Father”
Ephesians 1:2), and “the
God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ” (Ephesians
1:3). His deity is
Son is likewise referred to as God.
He possesses the attributes of deity
such as eternality, immutability, omnipotence, omniscience, and
omnipresence. He bears the
names of deity such as Jehovah
83:18 KJV), Lord (Isa
48:16), Immanuel (Isa
Matt 1:23), and the Word (Jn
1:1,14). He even
permitted Thomas to call Him “my Lord and my God” (John
20:28). He exercises the
prerogatives of deity such as
forgiving sins, raising the
dead, and judging all men.
And He accepts worship reserved only
Jesus claimed that He deserved the
very same reverence that was reserved for God the Father. He was
not a liar or a lunatic, so He must have been who He claimed to be—God
the Son, equal with the Father and worthy of the same honor as the
Father. The Father Himself
addressed His Son as God: “But
of the Son He says, "YOUR
THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND
EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.” (Hebrews
1:8). Paul further explains that “in
Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians
2:9). The Greek word translated “godhead” is theotēs which
means “divinity,” so the
totality of divinity (God) is in
Jesus. The prologue to John’s gospel tells us one
reason Christ came to earth: to make
the Father known, to reveal God to men (John
1:18). We can know more of what God is like by examining
the person of Jesus Christ. He
was God in flesh. As we explore Scripture and seek to discover
who God is, we cannot neglect the earthly life of Jesus Christ.
He is God the Son.
the Holy Spirit is also part of the
Godhead. His name is “the
Spirit of God” (Genesis
1:2). He too possesses the
attributes of deity
and performs the works of deity. While He is
"the Spirit of truth who
proceeds from the Father" (John
15:26), He is at the same time called “the
Spirit of Christ” (Romans
8:9). He is coequal
with both the Father and the Son. The apostle
Peter clearly viewed Him as God
when he said to Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to
lie to the Holy Spirit? . . . You have
not lied to men, but to God.” (Acts
If the Father, the Son, and the
Spirit all bear the names of God,
possess the attributes of God,
and perform the works of God,
then there is no alternative but to
acknowledge that our one God exists in three persons.
The Ministry of the Triune Godhead
Scripture links these three persons
of the Godhead together so closely in so many divine activities that it
would be foolish to deny that any one of them is God. Let's
observe some of those activities.
Creating the World.
All three were involved in
creation: the Father
1:1); the Son
Colossians 1:16); and the
If all three created, then God the
Creator must exist in three persons.
All three members of the Trinity were
active in the incarnation. When Mary questioned the angel about
the possibility of a virgin birth, the angel answered her, “The angel
answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will
come upon you, and the power of
the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born
will be called the Son of God’”
The power of the
Father, ministered through the agency of the Spirit, resulted in the
birth of the Son into the world. This close association in the birth of the Savior is further
indication of their oneness.
Identifying the Messiah. At precisely the proper moment,
Jesus Christ was revealed to Israel as
her Messiah. John the Baptist
was the chosen instrument and the act of baptism was the chosen means
As the Spirit came upon the Son, the
Father’s voice was heard from heaven expressing His approval. It was
testimony to the eternal triune Godhead.
Providing Redemption. Two central passages bring the
three members of the Godhead together
in providing for man’s eternal salvation. “how much more will
the blood of Christ, who
through the eternal Spirit
offered Himself without blemish to God,
cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews
9:14). It was the
offering of the Son to
the Father by the power
of the Spirit. The Apostle Peter taught, furthermore, that
God the Father chose us to salvation,
God the Son paid for it by
shedding His blood, and God the Spirit
set us apart unto the obedience of faith (1
Without each person of the Godhead
doing His part, we would remain in our sins.
Proclaiming Salvation. In the early years of the church,
God did some spectacular things to
verify the gospel message which the apostles were preaching. The
writer to the Hebrews tells us: “How shall we escape if we neglect so
great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the
Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing
witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of
the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Hebrews
It was the same message that was first spoken by the
Son Himself. When the
apostles proclaimed it, the Father
bore witness to its truthfulness by bestowing miraculous gifts through
It was not only a powerful witness to
the truth of the message, but another demonstration of the triune God at
The reality of the triune Godhead cannot be denied.
Those outside of Christ may object to it, but their objections arise
primarily because they seek to understand the Creator in terms of the
creature, to see God as merely a bigger and better version of man when
in reality He is a totally different kind of being, an infinite being
whom our finite minds cannot fully comprehend.
the Spirit. The
three persons of the Trinity are so interwoven in sending the Spirit
into the world that it is difficult to distinguish between them.
In one passage it is stated that the Father would send the
in Christ’s name and that He would testify concerning
14:26). In another it is said that the
Son would send
Him from the
15:26). In yet another, the
Him and calls Him the
His Son (Galatians
What a picture of unity—such
perfect unity that the actions of
one are considered to be the actions of the other.
proceeds from both the
Father and the Son. But all three are vitally involved in His coming.
Indwelling Believers. Jesus taught His disciples that both He and His Father would make their
home with them (John
14:23). But their indwelling would be in the person of the Comforter, the Spirit of truth
the Spirit of both the Father and the Son, His indwelling is the
indwelling of the Godhead. That would not be possible
unless the three are one.
Baptizing Believers. In our Lord’s commission to His
disciples He said, “Therefore go
and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
The unity of the Godhead is
declared by combining them in one “name” (singular).
Yet the distinctiveness of the
persons is maintained by listing them separately. It is
another link in the long chain
of evidence that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are
Entering God’s Presence. All three members of the Godhead are intimately involved in the
believer’s access into the presence of God. Speaking of Christ,
the apostle Paul taught, “for
through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”
Both Jews and
Gentiles can approach the Father through the merits of the Son with the
help of the Spirit.
In Paul’s final remarks to the Corinthian Christians he linked the
three members of the Godhead together
in a beautiful benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus
Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be
with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Unless the three are one, eternally and equally supreme, there would
be little reason to put them together on an equal basis
like this in a divine blessing. The apostle certainly
considered them to be one.
believe in the Godhead not because we understand it, but because God has
It is not incidental or unimportant. It is the very essence of His
being, the way He is. And it is
necessary for us to know it if we hope to grow in our understanding of
His nature and perfections.
beyond proof is faith. Belief in spite of proof is folly.
or email me if you have questions.