A Quick Look at God's Attributes


The attributes of God are all that he is. I have heard it said that "what comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us”. So the reason behind studying the attributes of God is to better understand who he is.

It is interesting that the Westminster Catechism describes God in Question 4 by listing his attributes. Q: What is God? A: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. How else could we describe who God is, other than describing what he is like?

Many theologians have often categorized between communicable and incommunicable attributes. Meaning that communicable attributes are attributes that God and man alike share or have in common whereas incommunicable attributes are attributes that God alone has. I think this is generally not a bad idea but in some ways we don’t share any attribute in common with God in quite the same way as he holds to it.

I think it is better to think of God’s attributes in that, in some ways we are more like him and others ways we are less like him.

Now I certainly cannot list all of his attributes off the top of my head, but I will try my best to name some. Sometimes I think there is actually no end to the amount of attributes we could ascribe to God. I mean look who we are trying describe, God, who is the fountain of all descriptions and all that there is to describe.

I will start with what are often called the incommunicable attributes. Ones he does not share with us at all or we share with him in a lesser way.

God is Trinity - God is three persons (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) Each person is fully God. Each person is distinct. That is God the Father is not God the Son and God the Son is not God the Holy Spirit and so on. The three are eternally related to one another. There is one God. (Matt. 28:19-20)

Incomprehensible - There is no way to fully comprehend him. (Romans 11:30-31, Isaiah 55)

Infinite - He is and everything that he is, that is every one of his attributes is infinite. That which cannot be measured.

Eternal - There is no beginning or end to God. He always was, always is and always will be. He is the uncreated one.

Holiness - He is completely and utterly separate. When people are declared holy, it is because God has set them apart unto him. But since there is no one for God to be set apart unto besides himself. To say that God is holy is to say that God is set apart. There is none like him. He is completely and utterly unique. (Isaiah 6)

God is immutable (unchanging) - God never changes in his being, his character, his purposes, or his eternal plan (decrees), though he might change how he relates to people based on how they respond to his revealed will.

God is omnipresent (all places at once) - All of God, not just part of God is here and part of God is there, but all of God is everywhere all the time.

God is omniscient (all knowing) - God knows all things. He knows himself perfectly. He knows everything he has created perfectly. He knows all of history perfectly. He is the source of all knowledge.

God is omnipotent (all powerful) - There is nothing that limits him, except he himself. He does whatsoever he pleases.

God is sovereign - He rules all that he has created well. (Romans 8:28)

Creator - He is the maker and sustainer of all things. He created all things and all things hold together through him. (Genesis 1:1)

Perfect - There is no flaw or defect of Character within him.

Self sufficient - He has no needs outside of himself Free - He is the only one who has 100% free will. That is, he is the only one who makes no decision based on anything outside of himself. He has no outside influences, nor outside constraints. He is the creator and sustainer of all influences and the author of all of history. Therefore everything he does is completely free. (Psalm 135:5)

Below I will list some of his communicable attributes. Ones that we tend to share with him in a more, readily, easily, seeable way. Especially as we are more and more conformed into his image.

Goodness - To say that God is good is to say that all that he does, thinks, or plans is good. Good is part of who God is. Every one of his attributes are good. Goodness stems from his very character, and therefore he is the very definition of good.

Love - God’s love is somewhat difficult to explain, yet simple to understand. He loves himself perfectly. That is there is a perfect fellowship and community of affections amongst the Trinity. The overflow of his love resulted in creation. God loves all that he has created. He has an extra special love for those whom are believers, that is those he has chosen before the foundation of the world to save through his son Jesus Christ.

Patient - Slow to anger. (Exodus 34:6)

Mercy - Does not do unto us as we deserve. (Exodus 34:6)

Grace - Does for us and treats us better than we deserve. (Exodus 34:6)

Wisdom - Acts in accordance with all that he knows well.

Just - He never does anything against his law. And he watches over, guides, and plans history in such a way that all wrongs will be made right and he will be glorified because of it.

Righteous - He is always faithful to who he is in every way and will never go against who he is.

Wrath - Righteous anger against sin and those things that dishonor him. (Romans 1)

There are many, many other attributes of God. It is probably one of the most needed studies we could use in our churches today. If we could better know who God is, we could better understand the scriptures, for we would have less of a tendency to look at things through man centered lenses, which is and always has been a particular plague. And besides, the main point of scripture is to get to know him better anyway.

The other thing that is very important, that we have to guard against and ever keep in mind is that none of God’s attributes work against each other and none of them are more pronounced or more important than any of the others. All of God is working together with all of God throughout all of history so that all of God’s attributes will all be most fully on display for all of eternity.