by Martin G. Collins
There is a critical distinction between God's transmittable attributes, which He shares with us, and His non-transmittable attributes, which He does not share with us. For example, when we attempt to describe God, we must consider that He is self-existent, self-sufficient, and eternal.
These three qualities denote that God has existed and always will exist. He has no origin, needs, or changes, and He answers to no one (Colossians 1:17; Isaiah 40:13; Job 33:13; 41:11; Malachi 3:6). These attributes set God wholly apart from every living being. All physical life has an origin. In addition, living beings have many needs like food, water, rest, and oxygen, and they are constantly changing—diminishing with time (Job 14:12; Psalm 102:26; Romans 8:20). Furthermore, all humans are accountable to someone, like parents or employers (or institutions like the government), and ultimately, to God.
To these initial attributes, without which God would not be God, we can add three more: omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, which express His majesty and His holiness in its fullest sense. These attributes are also non-transmittable. In other words, God alone possesses them; He does not share them with His creation. For comparison, transmittable qualities are those that God has offered to share with us, such as the ability to love, acquire knowledge, and show kindness.
Comment: In many instances in the Old Testament, especially in the book of Job, God refers to Himself by the Hebrew word Shaddai (Exodus 6:3; Job 40:2; Joel 1:15), which means "the Almighty." In the New Testament, He describes Himself with the Greek word Pantokrator (II Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 4:8), which means "fully and universally sovereign, almighty, and omnipotent."
God ultimately reigns in the universe and beyond, and all power and authority originate from Him (Daniel 4:35). He is Sovereign. He is the Supreme Being. He has the power to do all His pleasure, and He sees to the fulfillment of His plans without fail (Psalm 115:3; Isaiah 55:11).
Comment: Jesus confirms that "with God all things are possible." Job declares to God, "I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You" (Job 42:2). Describing God as "the Almighty" or "Omnipotent One" is, therefore, interpreted by some Bible students to mean that He has the power to do anything and everything without any bounds. However, while no creature possesses the capability to challenge God's limitless capacity, the Bible clearly shows that God cannot act contrary to His nature. For example, God cannot lie or deny Himself (Titus 1:2; II Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 6:18).
God's omnipotence, therefore, is not the power of doing anything and everything. Instead, it is the power to carry out the will of His own perfect, divine nature, which He does without any constraints (Proverbs 21:30).
Comment: The prophet Jeremiah proclaims that God is the all-powerful Creator: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You" (Jeremiah 32:17). The Almighty Himself rhetorically queries Abraham's wife, Sarah, in Genesis 18:14, "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" David asks in Psalm 106:2, "Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? Who can declare all His praise?"
The prophet Isaiah states, "Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing" (Isaiah 40:15). He is referred to as "Almighty" 48 times in the Old Testament and nine times in the New Testament. Though He never acts contrary to His will—His only restraints are self-imposed—He has infinite power to accomplish whatever He pleases.
In Part Two of our study, we will consider and examine God's omnipresence.