If you walk into a crowded room and start asking people what they think about “god,” you’ll get all kinds of answers, based on people’s religious, or non-religious, beliefs. If you talk to someone who respects the Bible, you’ll likely hear about one all-powerful deity, the big guy upstairs who created and watches over us all. But, what does the word “god” actually mean in the Bible?
Well, it’s complex. First of all, the spiritual being that the Bible calls "God" is transcendent and the author of all reality as we know it. Any knowledge that we have about such a being will always be limited and partial, because a Creator by definition is above and beyond that which is created. But the story of the Bible also describes a God who wants to connect with his creation in a genuine partnership, to reveal the divine purpose and plan. And so, when God appears to people in the Bible, it’s both understandable to them (people can see, hear, and interact with God as a person), but it also breaks their categories at the same time. It’s not just that understanding God is complex; it turns out that this God himself is extremely complex.
In this video we explore the complex portrait of God in the Bible, how he reveals himself in ways that both make sense to us and simultaneously break our understanding of reality. When God’s attributes are described in the Hebrew Scriptures, or when God’s Spirit is talked about, we find divine beings are both divine and distinct from God at the same time. When the biblical authors want to talk about humanity’s future partnership with God in ruling the world together, we find a figure called “the son of man” (in Daniel 7) . And this figure, like God’s attributes and Spirit, is both distinct from God, but also a part of God’s own identity.
The conclusion is unavoidable: in the Hebrew Scriptures God is a complex unity. God’s “person-hood” is like our own, but also unlike it in important ways.
And when we turn to the New Testament, we find the same complex God revealed in and through Jesus. He claimed to be the embodiment of the biblical God in human form. Jesus is presented as both distinct from God and also God. He addressed God as “my Father” but also claimed that he and the Father are the One God of the Bible. And when Jesus experienced the love of the Father, it was through the personal presence of the Spirit, who is both one with Jesus and the Father and yet distinct from both. And while our minds aren’t fully capable of comprehending a being who is both one and more than one, this is precisely the portrait of “God” that is presented to us in the story of the Bible. The Hebrew Scriptures prepared us for the concept of a God who is a “complex unity,” and the New Testament claims that in Jesus we see the most perfect portrait of this Creator being, who is an eternal community of unified love; the one who is Three and One.
This is not an easy concept to understand, but the biblical story isn’t asking us to simply “comprehend” the idea of God. Rather, in the story of Jesus we are being invited to know and be known by this being, who wants us to participate in his eternal love. The Bible isn’t just giving us some new ideas to think about God. It’s an invitation to know your Creator and discover why you exist in the universe. And the answer, it turns out, is remarkably simple: You exist to be loved, just as Jesus was loved from eternity past by his Father. This video is an introduction to the wonderful and complex portrait of God that leads us to a deeper understanding of Jesus, and of ourselves.
This content is from thebibleproject.com.