If you could ask for one thing to make your life better, what would it be? If your answer is anything but “God,” you are missing out on the greatest possible good.
Where the Bible Says There is Only One God
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”
– Isaiah 44:6
Fundamental to knowing God is understanding His profound uniqueness as a divine being – there is none like Him and there is no other than Him.
Two Aspects to God’s Oneness
When theologians talk about God being one, they often list two aspects of this oneness:
- God’s singularity – there is numerically only one God.
- God’s uniqueness – there is no one like God
Sometimes God’s simplicity (the oneness of His divine essence) is also included when talking of God’s oneness but we will discuss this in another article.
We will also discuss how God can be numerically one in essence yet exist as three persons without violating that oneness (the Christian doctrine of the Trinity) in another article.
Where the Bible Teaches There is Only One God
The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man. In it, He declares numerous times that He is the one and only God:
- Isaiah 44:6 -Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”
- Deuteronomy 4:35 -To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.
- Deuteronomy 6:4 -“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
- Deuteronomy 32:39 -“ ‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me”
- 1 Samuel 2:2 -“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
- 2 Samuel 7:22 -Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
- 1 Kings 8:60 -that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.
- Psalm 18:31 -For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?
- Isaiah 37:16 -“O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.”
- Isaiah 45:21 -“Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.”
- Hosea 13:4 – “But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.”
- Joel 2:27 -You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
- Malachi 2:10 -Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?
- Mark 12:28–29 – And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
- 1 Corinthians 8:4 – Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”
- Ephesians 4:4–6 – There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
- 1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
- Galatians 3:20 – Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
- John 17:3 – And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
- James 2:19 – You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
Those verses are only a selection – there are many more.
In the verses above, God is clearly exerting the truth of His singularity and uniqueness. Yet several other facts are revealed about Him in these verses that tell us more about which God He is:
- This one God is the God of Israel, not the supposed gods of other nations
- He has no rivals, no competitors, no others can rightfully claim to be God
- He is Yahweh (often translated Lord in English Bibles)
- He is the one who redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt.
- He is enthroned above all the kingdoms of the earth
- He is Creator of heaven and earth
- He is a Savior, there are no other Saviors like Him
- He is a Father
All these facts (and so many more we will get to in our Knowing God series), contribute to His uniqueness.
How the Truth of God’s Oneness and Uniqueness Should Affect Your Life
- Relationship – God should be the ultimate and highest priority relationship in your life. There is no one more important than Him.
- Love – God is worthy of your highest love and affection and should be loved before all other things.
- Worship – God alone should be worshiped . Conversely, no other being should receive worship. God must hold a special place in your mind above all other things. To worship anything other than, or more than, or alongside of, the true God is idolatry and a great sin.
- Truth – You can have confidence that all the competing gods of other religions outside of Christianity are utterly false. These claims have no merit and are blasphemous toward the true and living God. Do not be intimidated by a culture that says all beliefs are equal and valid. This is a lie. Only God has the right to tell us about who He is and He has done this in His Word, the Bible.
- Help – There is no one else that can ultimately help you in life. Yes, God uses people and circumstances to accomplish His will, but He is in control of all things and Him alone. Our ultimate source of help in life is Him alone.
- Prayer – This God is the only one to pray to as He has the ultimate power to help and no other beings are worthy of receiving prayer.
- Listening – God is the ultimate source of truth – what to believe and how to act – and should be listened to.
- Judgment – God is the only one you are ultimately accountable to and the final judge of your life
- Forgiveness – God is the only one who can forgive you and remove His judgment upon your sins through His appointed means – the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
Related Quotes from Great Theologians
#1 – Tertullian (c.155-220 A.D.)
“But the Christian verity has distinctly declared this principle, “God is not, if He is not one;” because we more properly believe that that has no existence which is not as it ought to be. In order, however, that you may know that God is one, ask what God is, and you will find Him to be not otherwise than one.”
Tertullian, “The Five Books against Marcion,” in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Peter Holmes, vol. 3, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 273.
What Tertullian is saying here is that if we believe God to be the most supreme and ultimate being in existence, there can only be one of Him. To be supreme and ultimate implies both singularity and uniqueness in comparison to all other beings.
#2 – Francis Turretin (1623-1687)
“Reason also confirms the same thing. It is a contradiction to suppose more infinite, eternal, omnipotent and most perfect beings (such as God should be) and also more rulers of the world. . . . “If God is not one, he is not at all” (Tertullian, Against Marcion 1.3* [ANF 3:273; PL 2.249])—for if there are more, they would either be equal (and so neither would be the first and most perfect); or unequal (and so the inferior would not be God); or one would be the cause of all the rest (and so he alone would be the true God); or not (and so no one of them would be God because he would not be the cause of all).”
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger, vol. 1 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 181–182.
Turretin is elaborating on Tertullian’s comment above and is once again stressing the necessity of God’s singularity and uniqueness.
#3 – John of Damascus (c.676-749 A.D.)
“The Deity is perfect, and without blemish in goodness, and wisdom, and power, without beginning, without end, everlasting, uncircumscribed, and in short, perfect in all things. Should we say, then, that there are many Gods, we must recognise difference among the many. For if there is no difference among them, they are one rather than many. But if there is difference among them, what becomes of the perfectness? For that which comes short of perfection, whether it be in goodness, or power, or wisdom, or time, or place, could not be God. But it is this very identity in all respects that shews that the Deity is one and not many.”
John Damascene, “An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith,” in St. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. S. D. F. Salmond, vol. 9b, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1899), 4.
John says that the idea of perfection also necessitates uniqueness and singularity. You cannot have two beings that are different and both perfect because one would have qualities the other does not have. One being would thus have to be superior or inferior to the other because the qualities that one possesses that the other doesn’t are either contributing or detracting to perfection.
#4 – Herman Bavinck (1854-1921)
“By the [unity of singularity] we mean that there is but one divine being, that in virtue of the nature of that being God cannot be more than one being and, consequently, that all other beings exist only from him, through him, and to him. Hence, this attribute teaches God’s absolute oneness and uniqueness, his exclusive numerical oneness, in distinction from his simplicity, which denotes his inner or qualitative oneness.”
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol.2: God and Creation. John Bolt, ed. John Vriend, trans. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 170.
Confessional Statements and Catechisms
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. – Apostle’s Creed
We believe in ONE GOD THE FATHER Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible.
And in JESUS CHRIST, his only Son, our Lord; And in one Lord JESUS CHRIST, the only-begotten Son of God – Nicene Creed
For there is one Person of the Father: another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is: such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated: the Son uncreated: and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible: the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal: the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated: nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated: and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almightly: the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty. So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods: but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord: the Son is Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords: but one Lord. – Athanasian Creed
The churches, with common consent among us, do teach that the decree of the Nicene Synod concerning the unity of the divine essence and of the three persons is true, and without doubt to be believed: to wit, that there is one divine essence which is called and is God – Augsburg Confession
We all believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God – Belgic Confession
There is but one living and true God – Thirty Nine Articles
There is but one only living and true God – The Westminster Confession of Faith
Q – Are there more Gods than one? A – There is but one only, the living and true God. – Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Lord our God is but one only living and true God – 1689 London Baptist Confession
When God created everything, did He “become” Creator and thereby change? Or was God always Creator even before things began to exist? This advanced theology lecture touches on God’s unchangeableness, His eternal nature, and how He interacts with His creation.
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