God - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words


[ 1,,G2316, theos ]

(I) in the polytheism of the Greeks, denoted a god or deity," e.g., Acts 14:11; Acts 19:26; Acts 28:6; 1 Corinthians 8:5; Galatians 4:8.

(a) Hence the word was appropriated by Jews and retained by Christians to denote "the one true God." In the Sept. theos translates (with few exceptions) the Hebrew words Elohim and Jehovah, the former indicating His power and preeminence, the latter His unoriginated, immutable, eternal and self-sustained existence.

In the NT, these and all the other Divine attributes are predicated of Him. To Him are ascribed, e.g., His unity, or monism, e.g., Mark 12:29; 1 Timothy 2:5; self-existence, John 5:26; immutability, James 1:17; eternity, Romans 1:20; universality, Matthew 10:29; Acts 17:26-Acts 17:28; almighty power, Matthew 19:26; infinite knowledge, Acts 2:23; Acts 15:18; Romans 11:33; creative power, Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9; Revelation 4:11; Revelation 10:6; absolute holiness, 1 Peter 1:15; 1 John 1:5; righteousness, John 17:25; faithfulness, 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 John 1:9; love, 1 John 4:8,16; mercy, Romans 9:15,18; truthfulness, Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18. See GOOD, No. 1

(b) The Divine attributes are likewise indicated or definitely predicated of Christ, e.g., Matthew 20:18,19; John 1:1-John 1:3; John 1:18, RV, marg.; John 5:22-John 5:29; John 8:58; John 14:6; John 17:22-John 17:24; John 20:28; Romans 1:4; Romans 9:5; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 1:15; Colossians 2:3; Titus 2:13, RV; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 13:8; 1 John 5:20; Revelation 22:12,13.

(c) Also of the Holy Spirit, e.g., Matthew 28:19; Luke 1:35; John 14:16; John 15:26; John 16:7-John 16:14; Romans 8:9,26; 1 Corinthians 12:11; 2 Corinthians 13:14.

(d) Theos is used

(1) with the definite article,

(2) without (i.e., as an anarthrous noun). "The English may or may not have need of the article in translation. But that point cuts no figure in the Greek idiom. Thus in Acts 27:23 ('the God whose I am,' RV) the article points out the special God whose Paul is, and is to be preserved in English. In the very next verse (ho theos) we in English do not need the articles" (A. T. Robertson, Gram. of Greek, NT, p. 758).

As to this latter it is usual to employ the article with a proper name, when mentioned a second time. There are, of course, exceptions to this, as when the absence of the article serves to lay stress upon, or give precision to, the character or nature of what is expressed in the noun. A notable instance of this is in John 1:1, "and the Word was God;" here a double stress is on theos, by the absence of the article and by the emphatic position. To translate it literally, "a god was the Word," is entirely misleading. Moreover, that "the Word" is the subject of the sentence, exemplifies the rule that the subject is to be determined by its having the article when the predicate is anarthrous (without the article). In Romans 7:22, in the phrase "the law of God," both nouns have the article; in Romans 7:25, neither has the article. This is in accordance with a general rule that if two nouns are united by the genitive case (the "of" case), either both have the article, or both are without. Here, in the first instance, both nouns, "God" and "the law" are definite, whereas in Romans 7:25 the word "God" is not simply titular; the absence of the article stresses His character as lawgiver.

Where two or more epithets are applied to the same person or thing, one article usually serves for both (the exceptions being when a second article lays stress upon different aspects of the same person or subject, e.g., Revelation 1:17). In Titus 2:13 the RV correctly has "our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." Moulton (Prol., p.84) shows, from papyri writings of the early Christian era, that among Greek-speaking Christians this was "a current formula" as applied to Christ. So in 2 Peter 1:1 (cp. 2 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 3:18).

In the following titles God is described by certain of His attributes; the God of glory, Acts 7:2; of peace, Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20; of love and peace, 2 Corinthians 13:11; of patience and comfort, Romans 15:5; of all comfort, 2 Corinthians 1:3; of hope, Romans 15:13; of all grace, 1 Peter 5:10. These describe Him, not as in distinction from other persons, but as the source of all these blessings; hence the employment of the definite article. In such phrases as "the God of a person," e.g., Matthew 22:32, the expression marks the relationship in which the person stands to God and God to him.

(e) In the following the nominative case is used for the vocative, and always with the article; Mark 15:34; Luke 18:11,13; John 20:28; (Acts 4:24 in some mss.); Hebrews 1:8; Hebrews 10:7.

(f) The phrase "the things of God" (translated literally or otherwise) stands for

(1) His interests, Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33;

(2) His counsels, 1 Corinthians 2:11;

(3) things which are due to Him, Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25. The phrase "things pertaining to God," Romans 15:17; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 5:1, describes, in the Heb. passages, the sacrificial service of the priest; in the Rom. passage the Gospel ministry as an offering to God.

(III) The word is used of Divinely appointed judges in Israel, as representing God in His authority, John 10:34, quoted from Psalms 82:6, which indicates that God Himself sits in judgment on those whom He has appointed. The application of the term to the Devil, 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the belly, Philippians 3:19, virtually places these instances under

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words