top of page

Attributes of God

There are so many incredible attributes of God. Let’s attempt to get a glimpse into the character of our God as revealed in scripture by touching on some of His many unique qualities.

God is eternal and self-existent. He is from “everlasting to everlasting,” having no beginning and no end (Psalm 90:2; Hebrews 7:3; Rev. 1:8; Psalm 102:27). He depends on nothing outside of Himself for existence. God refers to Himself as “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). The aseity of God is reflected in Jesus’ declaration as “the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25), who also said: “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself (John 5:26). God’s creation, however, does not have life in itself. We are utterly dependent on God for our existence. Nothing exists outside of God’s existence and power and preservation, who “upholds the universe by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). Scripture teaches that “through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). God “gives everyone life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:25). Like the apostle Paul, we agree with the ancient Greek poets who said, “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28).

God is revealed to mankind in His oneness. God introduces the Ten Commandments to Israel by declaring, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). God says in Isaiah chapter 44 verse 6 and in many other places: “besides me there is no god.” God has been, is, and will forever be the only God (Rev. 1:8). That’s why He says, “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Isaiah 43:10).

One of the fantastic mysteries of God’s nature is that in His oneness, He is also a triune being. Scripture reveals God in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is demonstrated as God in John 6:27, where Jesus refers to His Father as God. The Son is shown to be God in Heb. 1:8, where the Father applies the title of “God” to His Son. The Holy Spirit is credited with having raised Jesus from the dead, making Him equal with the Father and Son, who are also are credited with having raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 4:10; Romans 8:11; John 2:19).

Scripture also clarifies that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct: meaning that the Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. The distinctions are shown in scripture, for example, in the Father sending the Son (John 3:16), and the Father and Son sending the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; Acts 2:33). They are sometimes distinct in their roles and always in cooperation. Father loves the world and set forth the plan to redeem mankind by His Son (John 3:16; Gal. 4:4-5). The Son came not to do his own will but His Father’s (John 6:38; 1 Tim. 2:3). The Holy Spirit does not speak on his own authority, but takes what is Jesus’ and declares it (John 16:13-14).

All three appear to have been involved in creation (Genesis 1:1-2, 26; John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2). We also see their distinct and necessary roles in the work of redemption: Jesus offered himself on the cross, for the sins of mankind, to God through the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14). We see the Spirit’s work in the incarnation of the Son. Concerning the conception of the Son of God, we can read that The Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her (Luke 1:35). The Father and Holy Spirit are present at Jesus’ baptism; and all three are mentioned in Matthew’s description of the Great Commission (Luke 3:22; Matthew 28:19).

All attributes defining God can be ascribed to all three (i.e. love, holiness, omniscience, etc.). At the same time, they may relate to mankind in different ways according to their identities and specific, cooperative, and sometimes overlapping roles. The Spirit indwells the redeemed of God: guiding, teaching, helping, comforting, sealing, interceding and sanctifying the Bride of Christ (Romans 8:9; John 16:13; John 14:16, 26; Eph. 1:13, Romans 8:27; Romans 15:16). The Son saves, redeems, reconciles, forgives, justifies, sanctifies, and judges, having received all authority from the Father (Titus 2:13; Romans 5:9; Hebrews 13:12; Acts 17:31; Matthew 28:18). He is our mediator and intercedes as a glorified, perfected, resurrected man, as well as our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13; 1 Tim. 2:5; Luke 24:39; Hebrews 7:25). The Father receives our prayers in Jesus’ name (John 16:23-24). He also predestines, calls, justifies, and glorifies us (Romans 3:26; 8:30). God is one, revealed in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

God is Love (1 John 4:8). Greater than all other gifts of the Holy Spirit is love: the more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31; 1 Cor. 13:13). Love is mentioned first on the list of fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). I would argue that love is the greatest of God’s attributes. Without this attribute, there would be no plan for redemption. God’s redemptive plan is founded upon His love:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The power of God’s love towards those who are in Christ Jesus is so strong and unbreakable that nothing in all creation can separate them from it (Romans 8:37-39). God’s love is so great towards man, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us and made us alive together with Him, saving us by His grace. (Romans 5:8; Eph. 2:4-5). God abounds in steadfast love (Psalm 86:15), loving those who are His with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

This love was ultimately displayed in the death of God’s Only Son: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32). Jesus, though in the form of God, made himself a man, submitting to the will of God the Father in order to save mankind through His suffering death—bringing, to those who believe, an everlasting heavenly inheritance (Phil. 2:6-8; 1 Peter 1:4). This is the greatest display of love one could ever show: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The Apostle John teaches, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” God is love, whose love has clearly been manifested in Jesus Christ.

Closely related to love is God’s attribute of mercy. The Lord our God is a merciful God (Deuteronomy 4:31). Mercy is defined as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone who it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” All of mankind are sinners (Romans 3:23). We deserve God’s wrath and judgment (Eph. 2:3). God’s mercy is displayed in that he chooses not to give us what we deserve; He provided a redemptive plan in which man can find forgiveness and eternal life simply by believing in the Gospel. For those in Christ Jesus, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). God is good and forgiving, saving us according to His mercy (Psalm 86:5; Titus 3:5). His mercies are endless (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Coupled with God’s mercy and nearly synonymous with it is His grace. Grace as it relates to Christianity could be defined as “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” God is merciful and gracious (Psalms 145:8). Scripture declares that “the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you” (Isaiah 30:18). God’s graciousness is reflected in how He has chosen to save man: by grace, and not works (Eph. 2:8-9). We who believe in Jesus are encouraged to “draw near to the throne grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus is the embodiment of grace and truth: “For the law was given to Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

Our gracious God is also holy. The love, mercy, and grace of God cannot be truly appreciated unless set against the backdrop of God’s holiness, righteousness, justice, and wrath. The Hebrew word for “holy” used in the Old Testament is “qodesh,” which means “apartness, set-apartness, separateness, or sacredness.” The Greek word for “holy” used in the New Testament is “hagious,” which means “set apart, reverend, sacred, and worthy of veneration.” In reference to God, a distinctness and otherness that is transcendent over His creation ought to be in view. Jesus references this other-worldly transcendence when he says about himself in relation to man: “You are from below; I am from above” (John 8:23). Nothing in all creation can compare to God: "There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides you; nor is there any rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2).

The revelation of God’s holiness before man will always expose man’s sin. In a vision, Isaiah “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1). He exclaims, “"Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory." Isaiah’s response was to declare: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes heave seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). The light of God’s exalted holiness uncovers the depth of humanity’s fallen state. This is also seen in Job’s encounter with the Lord. After the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, Job confesses: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

God’s holiness does not endure the presence of sin. Speaking of the Lord, Habakkuk says, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and you cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Habakkuk 1:13). Concerning Heaven, Revelation teaches that “nothing unclean will ever enter it” (Rev. 21:27). Those who are cleansed from their sin by the blood of Jesus will be able to enter Heaven, where God’s holiness is continually on full display. In Heaven, the four creatures before God’s throne continually worship the Lord night and day, never ceasing, saying “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts” (Rev. 4:8). God is indeed holy, highly exalted in the Heavens above all things.

In His holiness, God is also righteous and just. “Righteous are you, O LORD, and upright are Your judgments (Psalm 119:137). The Law exclaims concerning God: “The Rock! His work is perfect. For all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4). The foundation of God’s throne is righteousness and justice (Psalm 97:2). His righteousness, like His other attributes, will see no end (Psalm 119:142). Only God is righteous; only God is good (Romans 3:10; Mark 10:8). The righteousness of God has been manifested among us through Jesus’ coming in the flesh: by His perfect life, death, and resurrection (Romans 3:21; Romans 8:3; 1 John 4:2; 1 Cor. 15:4).

In His righteousness, God loves justice (Isaiah 61:8). He will not pervert justice (Job 34:12). He exercises it. God’s execution of justice is a blessing for the oppressed, lowly, and righteous: “"He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing” (Deut. 10:18). It is the Lord “who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous; The LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked” (Psalm 146:7-9).

God also executes justice in the punishment of the wicked. “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality” (Col. 3:25). As a righteous and just God, He does not allow sin to go unpunished. “Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished, but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered” (Proverbs 11:21). Unless one becomes an offspring of Christ through faith, he must face judgment, because God is just (John 5:29; John 5:24; John 1:12). God’s justice in punishing sin is reflected in how He responded to Adam’s transgression in Genesis by cursing him with death (Genesis 3:3). As offspring of Adam, this curse of the fall has spread to all men. We have inherited a sinful nature by birth, and will die (Romans 5:12; Psalm 51:5; Romans 6:23). More than that, eternal punishment awaits the wicked (Matthew 25:46). Unforgiven sinners must not only face the prospect of a physical death, but of eternal punishment after death: “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). At the last resurrection, the dead will be judged according to their deeds (Rev. 20:12-13). Jesus warns, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). God is just and must punish sin.

In step with God’s righteousness and justice is His wrath, revealed particularly against “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). We learn that “the Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty” (Nahum 1:1-3). According to the Book of Ecclesiastes, “God will bring every deed into judgement” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Every sin will receive a just and due penalty (Hebrews 2:2). The unregenerate continually sin against God, storing up more and more deserved punishment from a just God: “because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5).

On a day in the future, called in Romans 2:5 a “day of wrath,” God’s righteous judgment will be revealed in His wrath.Revelation chapter 6 speaks of this day when the wicked will say: “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand” (verses 16-17)? His wrath is described in scripture as being “poured out like fire” (Nahum 1:6). In Revelation chapter 14 we read:

“If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night” (Rev. 14:9-11).

The ultimate end and portion for sinners “will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

Fortunately, God’s love, mercy, and grace cover those who believe in Jesus, who died for our sins so that we can live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus made propitiation for the sins of the world by His blood, thereby appeasing the wrath of God for all who would believe in His name (Romans 3:23-25; 1 John 4:10). For those who do not believe, there will be wrath and fury (Romans 2:8). John 3:36 tells us that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Speaking of Jesus, we are warned to “kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12). We who trust in Jesus indeed have refuge, and are saved from the wrath of God to come (Romans 5:9; Col. 3:6).

Another attribute of God is His omniscience, meaning He knows everything. God declares the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). He had His plan of redemption in mind from the beginning. For instance, the names of the redeemed have been written in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). The redeemed have been chosen in Christ since the beginning (Eph. 1:4). Even more, the details of Christ’s birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension were prophesied and foreordained by God Himself. Jesus was indeed “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

Scripture clearly asserts that God knows everything (1 John 3:20). His understanding is beyond measure and unsearchable (Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:28). He foreknows His creation (Jeremiah 1:5). Every star in the heavens is numbered and named by God (Psalm 147:4). God knows at all times what we do, and what we will do. David puts it this way:

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:1-6). God needs no one to counsel Him (Isaiah 40:13).

There is an unsearchable depth to the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God (Romans 11:33), who knows the hearts of all people (Acts 1:24) and foresees all things (Isaiah 46:10).

God would not be God if He was all-knowing but not all powerful as well. God reigns omnipotent (Rev. 19:6). His power is of surpassing greatness to everything (Eph. 1:19). Nothing rivals God in any way:

“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, 'What have You done'” (Daniel 4:35)?

Nothing is impossible for God (Matthew 19:26; Genesis 18:14), for He can do all things (Job 42:1). And no one can undo God’s working and will (Isaiah 14:27; 43:13).

For God to be all powerful, He must also be capable of being all places at once. Scripture reveals that God is omnipresent. “’Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?’ declares the LORD ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:24). No one is hidden from God’s sight (Hebrews 4:13), who is before all things and sees all of our steps (Col. 1:17; Job 34:21). His eyes “are in every place, watching the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). There is nowhere we can flee from God’s presence: not even in the remotest part of the sea or in the grave (Psalm 139:7-10).

Who could trust in a god who is always changing? Essential to the character of God is His immutability. God’s immutability ensures that He will always be omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, holy, righteous, just, full of love, mercy, grace, and so on. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). God does not change (Malachi 3:6), nor does he lie (Numbers 23:19). His unchangeable character and veracity means we can take His word for it. An oath from God actually means something (Hebrews 6:17). Unlike men, God always follows through on his promises (Numbers 23:19). He is faithful. What He says He’ll do He does. For with God there is “no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:7). The promises and blessings He gives to men will not be taken away: “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). If God could change, we would have no Rock upon which to stand, trust, and believe. We could have no assurance of anything. God’s immutability and veracity means we can rest on the promises given in His word about the hope of eternal hope through Jesus Christ.

We’ve grazed through some of God’s incredible attributes. We’ve discovered Him in His aseity, infinity, oneness, trinity, love, mercy, grace, holiness, righteousness, justice, wrath, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability, and veracity. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but merely a glimpse into the infinite depths and greatness of our God.


bottom of page