The Godhead
A Collection of notes and thoughts.

In Theology, a difference is made between the Ontological aspect of deity, which has to do with the quality of deity itself (i.e., all three are equal in deity); and the Economical aspect which refers to the relationships between the three (i.e. all three are not equal in roles). So when considering authority, which should be considered? Obviously the economical relationship or else all three are not equal in deity. That is the way the Bible divides the two within the marital relationship and spiritual relationship. That is also why the term adonai in the NT is used in reference to Jesus where the O.T. used the term YHWH (i.e., Heb.1:10; Ps.102:25). Jesus is YHWH, but He is not the only personality/person who is YHWH. In fact, even in some places in the O.T. we see YHWH sending YHWH (Zech.2:8-11).

The reasons for the theological terms are:
1) Man is trying to explain something God has not. Somebody asked in another post why the greater N.T. distinction in the explanation of God (i.e., three persons). While the answer is not given, I do believe the answer is illustrated. God only tells us what we need to know. We needed to know about having a Father, a Savior, and a Comforter. We needed to know that each is divine since each helps to save us.
2) a second reason is, having singular terms such as Economical and Ontological help to concisely say what those initiated in the studies already know. For example, although the Bible never uses the term autonomous, we have created that word to describe a Biblical concept. Since this type of study has fascinated me, plus I have had a debate with a Oneness Pentecostal, I use these terms with which I am familiar.

Furthermore, I believe the marital relationship is a good parallel to understanding Deity. Husband and wives are equal Ontololgically in that we both are made in the image of God. And yet the man is over the wife, which has nothing to do with WHO either is, but rather WHAT their roles are. The Father had His role, and the Son had his. So Ontolological describes WHO; and Economical describes WHAT.

Also, the N.T. uses the names of God found in the O.T. in reference to Jesus. YHWH is the Hebrew personal name of God. Since the N.T. is written in Greek, and because the Jews in Jesus day refused to write or pronounce that name, the N.T. uses a Greek equivalent. This simply shows that not only is Jesus Divine, but He is (Ontologically) YHWH, the God of the Jews. Economically, He is the Son of God. And as to the use of the term godhead, may I add a thought? We often speak of the three being in the Godhead which makes the Godhead a collective noun. But scriptures do not use it thusly. It uses the Godhead or Godhood as a quality possessed. For example, Col.2:9 does say, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity (i.e., Godhead/Godhood) dwells in bodily form." This is not saying that Jesus was in the Godhead, but rather the Godhead was in Jesus. Now either we have to understand it to mean that the Father and the Holy Spirit "dwelled in bodily form," or understand that it is simply teaching that Jesus was fully divine.

For those interested in a further word study, I will paste in some of my notes. It is long, but someone else did ask for a more detailed word study. I hope such a long post is not against the rules.

B. Godhead (biblical)

1. We often state that three are in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Please listen carefully. I believe that is an inaccurate statement that has possibly led some to a tri-theistic misunderstanding. I do not believe the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in the Godhead. I believe the Godhead is in them. This is not a semantical argument. There is, in my opinion, a significant difference between those two propositions. The difference is between monotheism and polytheism.

a. Life Experience: Three Gods? You might be like a friend of mine who thought this point mute. Of course, he also doubted the wrongness in speaking of three Gods. We should not look upon the Godhead/hood as a classification or genus, or even a collective noun (i.e. herd, flock, gaggle, church), but rather a quality.

b. Take the two statements: Humanity is in a human person; and a human person is in humanity. While both statements are by definition correct, they each have a different meaning. The first statement uses humanity as a quality or state or essence or substance that is in a human person and which makes that person human. The second statement uses humanity as a class or category or group.

1) Humanity -

1. the fact or quality of being human; human nature

2. [pl.] human qualities or characteristics, esp. those considered desirable

3. the human race; mankind; people.

b. Charts often have compared the oneness of the godhead with the oneness of humanity. One humanity, many individual human persons. One godhead, three individual divine persons. I have always felt uncomfortable with this explanation, although I have personally used it in debate. The reason for my uneasiness is that many individual human persons equates many humans. To be logically equivalent then, three individual divine persons equates three divinities or at least three gods. That is, if you look at humanity as a class and godhood/head as a class of persons. I spoke to one gospel preacher who questioned whether it was wrong to speak of us worshiping three Gods. Later I will give my own interpretation using the human comparison.

c. Referring back to the glass visual aid; you would not say the glass is in the water, but the water is in the glass.

2. Godhead - "The term `Godhead' is a doublet of `Godhood' and is used to designate the state, dignity, condition of quality of a deity, or in Christian theology, of the self-revealed God.... "The word `Godhead' was used by KJV trs. to tr. three related Gr. words in three different passages; theion (Acts 17:29); theiotes (Rom.1:20); theotes (Col.2:9)."3

3. "Some associate this word (Godhead- PDH) with the concept of the Trinity, but without warrant. It never has the connotation of Trinity."

4 C. Theotes/Godhead [KJV] (2320)

1. "deity i.e. the state of being God.

2. Col.2:9; N-GF-S [Noun - Genitive, Feminine - Singular]
KJV For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
NAS - For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
NIV For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
RSV For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily,
DBY For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;
YLT because in him doth tabernacle all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,

3. Theotes "emphasized deity at the highest possible level, (and) is applied by Paul to the incarnate Logos; all the fullness of the godhead dwells in Christ bodily."5 Notice Paul did not say Jesus dwells in the godhead; but the godhead dwells in Jesus.

4. "...Paul is declaring that in the Son there dwells all the fulness of absolute Godhead; they were no mere rays of divine glory which gilded Him, lighting up his person for a season and with a splendour not his own; but He was, and is, absolute and perfect God; and the Apostle uses theotes to express this essential and personal Godhead of the Son...."

6 D. Theios/Godhead [KJV] (2304)

1. "divine...; neut. to theion, divinity, deity...."7

2. "divine (from theos, God), is used of the power of God, 2 Pet.1:3, and of His nature, ver.4, in each place, as that which proceeds from Himself."8

3. Acts 17:29 (2 Pet.1:3,4); AP-AN-S [Adjective, Pronominal - Accusative, Neuter - Singular]
KJV - Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
NAS - "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and though of man."
NIV - "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone__an image made by man's design and skill.
RSV - Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man.
DBY - Being therefore [the] offspring of God, we ought not to think that which is divine to be like gold or silver or stone, [the] graven form of man's art and imagination.
YLT - `Being, therefore, offspring of God, we ought not to think the Godhead to be like to gold, or silver, or stone, graving of art and device of man;

4. Theion "was in general Gr. use for `the divine,' which pagan religions saw in almost everything, and Paul employed it in addressing a heathen audience, but in a context that urges personal faith in the living God.9

5. Therefore, Theios/Godhead does not refer to a class or group, but rather a state of quality. You would not say, "Jesus is in the divinity;" hence you should not say, "Jesus is in the Godhead." It is more correct to state the Godhead, or divinity is in Jesus.

E. Theiotes/Godhead [KJV] (2305)

1. "divinity, derived from theios...and is to be distinguished from theotes...."10

2. divinity, divine nature"11 3. Rom.1:20; N-NF-S [Noun - Nominative, Feminine - Singular
KJV For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
NAS - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
NIV - For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities__his eternal power and divine nature__have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
RSV - Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
DBY __ for from [the] world's creation the invisible things of him are perceived, being apprehended by the mind through the things that are made, both his eternal power and divinity, __ so as to render them inexcusable.
YLT for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world, by the things made being understood, are plainly seen, both His eternal power and Godhead __ to their being inexcusable;

4. Theiotes "was used by non-Christians both of Artemis at Ephesus and also later of the imperial cult, and emphasized that quality that gives the divine, as deity, the right to man's worship; Paul used the term in association with the Creator's power upon which all creatures are dependent."12

5. "...Paul is declaring how much of God may be known from the revelation of Himself which He has made in nature, from those vestiges of Himself which men may everywhere trace in the world around them. Yet it is not the personal God whom any man may learn to know by these aids: He can be known only by the revelation of Himself in his Son; but only his divine attributes, his majesty and glory."13

6. Therefore, theiotes/Godhead does not refer to a class, but rather a state or quality. You would not say, "Jesus is in the divine nature;" hence you should not say, "Jesus is in the Godhead." It is more correct to state the Godhead, or divine nature is in Jesus.

7. "The Greek Fathers (never used) theiotes, but always theotes, as alone adequately expressing the essential Godhead of the Three several Persons in the Holy Trinity."14

F. "[Syn. Theotes, Theiotes: Theotes deity differs from theiotes divinity, as essence differs from quality or attribute...."15 In order to have the essence of deity, one must possess the attributes of divinity. They are correlative.

G. Theotes indicates the Divine essence of Godhood, the Personality of God; theiotes, the attributes of God, His Divine nature and properties.

H. As is hopefully apparent, we often use the term Godhead to refer to three specific persons (i.e. Father, Son, Holy Spirit). I think we misuse the term; it should apply not to the persons, but to their attributes and essence. In other words, the term Godhead may not refer to "WHO is in the Godhead," but WHAT those persons are, and WHAT those persons are like. Questions such as the title of a tract, `The Godhead - One or Three?' I think are non-sensical.

I. "The traditional Trinitarian view is that God is one in nature/essence/being/substance. What does this mean? In what sense are all three persons one? The problem here avoid modalism on the one hand and tritheism on the other. Modalism says Father, Son and Spirit are one in the sense that they are absolutely and numerically identical; they are the same individual. `I and the Father are one' (John 10:30) means `I am the Father.' At the other extreme, tritheism says that Father, Son, and Spirit are one in the sense that they belong to a common genus or class (as Godhead is often used to parallel Humanity - PDH). I.e., they are three distinct and separate beings or individuals, all `made out of' the same kind of divine `stuff,' but each existing in his own discrete portion of that `stuff.' "It is important that we not allow terminology to be a stumbling block in our effort to understand the oneness of God. I have used the term stuff, which some may find objectionable in this context. Some object to the Latin word substantia, or substance, and to the Greek word ousia, or being, as well. There simply is no absolutely satisfactory word to refer to the essence of God's being. Whatever word we use, it will always conjure up in the backs of our minds (if not the fronts) the idea of physical substance."16

J. The term Godhead and God's Oneness How are they one? We often speak of their being one in many secondary ways, such as one in purpose, one in work, etc. Although that might be practical and correct in answering other questions, I do not find it helpful in answering how three divine persons can be one divinity? I believe the answer is found in understanding what Godhead is, the attributes and essence of deity. Father, Son, and Spirit all share the exact same attributes. In polytheism, the gods possess different attributes. In Trinitarianism/Triunitarianism, all the attributes are equally shared. What makes one divine, makes all three divine. If they differed at all in what makes them God, then we would have three gods.

Personally, while it might not be the more current belief, I believe it scriptural to interpret all the scriptures in the O.T. which refer to YHWH to refer to all, unless the text specifies otherwise. If my understanding is correct, we should not say that "the Godhead" did anything. It is not a collective noun, but a quality. Elohim acted in Gen.1:1. That is a collective noun.

Compiled and arranged by Perry D. Hall

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