GOD IS ONE

           Is God one being and only one being, which is a basic belief in Judaism.  Is this what the Bible says?  Is God one distinct individual with three modes or forms of being or a trinity as is a basic belief in many Christian churches? Or is God a family consisting of two individuals who are Father and Son?

          What does the Word of God, the Christian Bible, mean when it says “God is one”?  In this article we are going to take a brief look at what the bible reveals to us regarding the oneness of God.

          The different concepts of who and what God is revolve around the scripture Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:”   Deuteronomy 6:4 has two parts: which is translated in the King James Version to read

1.  The first is a command to hear, that is to absorb or listen with the intellect to what is being said.

2.  The second part tells what is to be heard and absorbed!

          To properly understand the term “God is one LORD”, we need to know what Moses actually intended to convey when he wrote Deuteronomy 6:4.

          The second part of Deuteronomy 6:4 is a Hebrew verbless clause and has been translated four different ways:

          The LORD our God, the LORD is one; (NIV) (1)

          or The LORD our God is one LORD; (KJV) (2)

          or The LORD is our God, the LORD is one; (NASB) (3)

          or The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. (NLT) (4)

          Which translation conveys what God told Israel to hear?

          A 1996 article by Carl D. Franklin entitled “The Two Jehovah’s of the Pentateuch”, states “As the foremost authority in the interpretation of verbless clauses, Francis Andersen (5) comes to the conclusion that there exists an implied question in Deuteronomy 6:4, based on the first commandment: "You shall not have other gods [Elohim] besides Me" (Ex. 20:3).  The implied question is: If we shall have no other gods (Elohim) besides You, Who then is our God (Elohim)? Deuteronomy 6:4 answers this implied question with the proper construction: "Our one God (Elohim) is Yhwh Yhwh (Jehovah Jehovah)."  The meaning of Deuteronomy 6:4 is then completed with the only conclusion we can properly draw: He (Jehovah) is our only God (Elohim).  Thus we have come full circle back to the original commandment, "You shall not have other gods (Elohim) besides Me."  In other words, the Hebrew text is emphatically stating that Israel's only God is YHWH (Jehovah).

End of quote.

          From the article above, we see that Deuteronomy 6:4 when properly understood, is not telling us that God is a single being but that “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone”(6).  All others are false!

          Since Deuteronomy says that the God of Israel is the only God to be worshipped, what does the Hebrew word for God in Deuteronomy 6:4 mean?

          The Hebrew word for God in Deuteronomy 6:4 is Elohim.

          Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary says Elohim “is a uniplural word meaning gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God;

          The Hebrew word Elohim can mean one God or it can mean more than one God.

          What did the original Church of God believe?  A. E. J. Rawlinson, an Anglican Bishop and scholar wrote, “trinitarianism had to fight its way and make good its footing against a strong tendency, both within and without the church, towards belief in a Godhead of two persons only”.  (Essays on the trinity and the incarnation).

          Rawlinson’s statement that the original Christian Church had a “strong tendency towards belief in Godhead of two persons only” implies the early Church of God believed in a Godhead of two persons.

          What does the Bible say?

            The Apostle John (John 1: 1-14), stated this belief or concept clearly when he wrote:  “In thebeginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and not even one thing was made that was created came into being without Him.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  There was a man sent by God, whose name was He came for a witness, that he might testify concerning the Light, so that through him all might believe.  He was not the Light, but came that he might testify concerning the Light.  The true Light was that which enlightens everyone who comes into the world.  He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, but the world did not know Him.   He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave authority to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were not begotten by bloodlines, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but by the will of God.  And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, (and we ourselves beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten with the Father), full of grace and truth.” John.

          John clearly stated that the Godhead is composed of God and the Word.

          The Apostle John made it clear that Jesus (the Word) was both with God and was God.

          When the Apostle Paul stated that Jesus had existed in the form of God he also made it clear that Jesus was God and that He gave up being God to become a man.

Philippians 2:5-11 (ANET) (6) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, He existed in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, and  was made in the likeness of men and took the form of a servant.  And being found in the manner of men, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore, God also has also highly exalted Him and bestowed upon Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of beings in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-6 (NLT) You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.

          Paul also wrote that the One who gave Israel water in the wilderness was the One who later became Christ or the Messiah.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (ANET) Now I do not wish you to be ignorant of this, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea, and all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and they all ate the same spiritual meat, and they all drank of the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them.  And that Rock was Christ.

          Matthew also confirmed that the Godhead is composed of two individuals when he used the same Greek word “Kurios” to describe each “LORD” in Matthew 22:44 (NKJV) (7)  “The LORD (Greek “Kurios”) said to my Lord (Greek “Kurios”), “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool?”

          Luke also confirmed the Godhead being composed of two beings when he used the same Greek word to describe both “LORDS” in Luke 20:42 (NKJV) “Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms: ‘The Lord (Greek “Kurios”) said to my Lord (Greek “Kurios”), Sit at My right hand,” And again in Acts 2:34NKJV) “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord (Greek “Kurios”) said to my Lord” (Greek “Kurios”)

          The Greek word “Kurios” is No. G2962 in Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary and is said to mean “supreme in authority”. 

          Since both the Father and the Son are referred to by the use of the same Greek word meaning “supreme in authority”, this is a clear reference to a Godhead of two equal beings.

          The translators for both the King James and the New King James translations used mixed case letters for the second occurrence of the word LORD in Matthew 22:44 (KJV) “The LORD said unto my Lord” making it read as though the second LORD is a lesser personage than the first LORD even though the same Greek word is used for both “Lords”.

          Jesus Christ showed us what faith is when He put His full and complete trust in His fellow God or “Partner” and became subject to death, fully trusting His “Partner” to return Him to His former state!  He opened the way for us to become His “brothers and sisters” in the God family!

          How Jesus could be both man and God is a great mystery to us as Paul said in 1 Timothy 3:16 (ANET):

“And undeniably great is the mystery of godliness:  God was manifested in the flesh, was justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, was proclaimed among the Gentiles, was believed on in world, was received up in glory.” the

          The member of the God family who became the Father did so when Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit.  As far as we can know, he was not a Father before that time, nor has been since.  But He was definitely the Father of the Man Jesus Christ!

Luke 1:35 (ANET), “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you; and for this reason, the Holy One begotten in you shall be called the Son of God.’”

          Jesus became the only begotten of the Father when He, Jesus, was formed in Mary’s womb!  The Angels reference to Jesus as the “Holy One” to be born”, was a statement that Jesus was and is God.

          Jesus was the Son of God because God was His Father and He was the Son of Man because he was born of a woman.  Jesus was wholly man through his human birth and was wholly God through the Spirit or Mind of God being given to Him without measure.

John 3:34 (ANET) “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God: and God gives not the Spirit by measure unto Him.”  The translators added the words “unto Him” in this verse as they realized John the Baptist was speaking of Jesus when he made this statement.

          When God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, He told Moses His name was I AM.

Exodus 3:13-15 (ANET) And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they shall say to me, What is his name?  What shall I say to them?  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM.  And he said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.   And God said to Moses again, You shall say this to the children of Israel,” The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me unto you.  This is my name for ever, and this is my title from generation to generation.”

          When Jesus spoke to a group of Pharisees, He made a very definite statement which they understood and tried to stone Him for saying it.

          Jesus said it first in John 8:24, (ANET) That is why I said to you that you shall die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins.”

          And again in John 8:28 (ANET) Then Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you yourselves shall know that I AM, and that I do nothing of Myself.  But as the Father taught Me, these things I speak.

          And again in John 8:57-59 (ANET) Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not even fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?”  Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born,.I AM”  Then they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus concealed Himself and went out of the temple, passing through the midst of them, and in this manner departed.


          When Jesus answered with the statement I AM, he declared that He was the God who appeared to Moses and the Jews understood what Jesus said as is demonstrated in their having picked up stones to stone Him!


          Jesus stated this again in John 13:19 (ANET) I am telling you at this time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may believe that I AM.


          And again in John 18:5-8 when he confronted the soldiers in the garden.


John 18:5-8 (ANET) They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarean.”  Jesus said to them, “I AM.” And Judas, who was betraying Him, was also standing with them.  But when He said to them, “I AM,” they went backward and fell to the ground.  Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?”  And they said, “Jesus the Nazarean.”  Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM.  Therefore, if you are seeking Me, allow these to go their way,”


          The Apostle John made it very clear that after Christ’s resurrection He, Jesus Christ, was returned to the state of glory He had given up to become a man!


John 17:5 (ANET) “And now, Father, glorify Me with Your own self, with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.”


        How is God one?


John recorded Jesus addressing the question of God being one when he wrote in John 17:20-22 (ANET) I do not pray for these only, but also for those who shall believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, in order that the world may believe that You did send Me. And I have given them the glory that You gave to Me, in order that they may be one in the same way that We are one:


        Jesus clearly said that He and the Father are one in unity!


          This has been a brief look at what the scriptures reveal regarding the oneness of God.  We’ve seen that the Lord our God is the one and only true God and is one in unity, a family consisting of Father and Son.


          God is a family and all truly repentant individuals have been promised the wonderful blessing of being made part of that family as stated by John in John 1:12 (ANET): “But as many as received Him, to them He gave authority to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name:”


As children of God we have the opportunity of becoming part of the God Family.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently!


Kenneth G. Parker

June 6, 2010


Notes:


(1) (NIV) stands for New International Version.


(2) (KJV) stands for New Living Translation


(3) (NASB) stands for New American Standard Bible.


(4) (NLT) stands for New Living Translation.


(5) Francis I. Andersen taught the Bible in Australia, the United States, and around the world before retiring as Professorial Fellow in the Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Melbourne, Australia.  Out of his pioneering work on the poetics and metrics of biblical texts, he has produced over seventy scholarly articles and many books. He lives with his wife, Lois, in Donvale, Victoria, Australia.


(6) (ANET) stands for “A New English Translation” and is available at cbcg.org.


(7) (NKJV) stands for New King James Version.