The Attributes of the Triune God


The Attributes of the Triune God

God possesses a number of attributes or essential qualities that are inherent in his essential being. These attributes are eternally held by the Triune God and are true of each member of the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Because human beings are uniquely created in God’s image (Gen 1:26), we share some of his attributes such as love and anger. These are called God’s communicable attributes. But God also possesses divine attributes that belong to him alone, known as his incommunicable attributes. These include perfections such as his eternality and absolute holiness.

The study below reviews these attributes of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because each person of the Trinity displays these attributes, the study below includes verses that speak to all three Persons, rather than separating each member of the Trinity into a separate list.

1. The Transcendence of God: God is before, above, and totally distinct or transcendent from his creation. God is unique, one of a kind. No comparison can be made between God and any portion of his creation because there is nothing or no one to compare him to (Is 6:1; 40:18; 55:8-9).

2. The Infinity of God: God is eternal with no limitations except those imposed by his own nature. He is not bound by the succession of events. Jesus claimed eternality in his dealings with the Jews. The Bible also calls the Holy Spirit “eternal” (Ps 90:2; John 8:56-58; Heb 9:14).

3. The Self–Existence of God: God does not depend on anyone or anything outside of himself for his life. He has the ground of existence in himself. God is independent in his Being and in everything else—his virtues, decrees, and works. He also causes everything in creation to depend on him (Ps 50:12; Jer 10:10-13).

4. The Self-Sufficiency of God: God is totally and absolutely complete within himself. Jesus claimed his self-sufficiency in predicting his death, making it clear that he retained complete control over his life (Ps 23:1-6; John 10:17-18; Acts 17:24-25).

5. The Holiness of God: God’s intrinsic and transcendent purity is the standard of righteousness to which the whole universe must conform. God’s holiness is the key to understanding everything else about Him; this attribute infiltrates all the other attributes. Jesus is called holy, and the Holy Sprit’s very name reveals his divine character (Isa 6:1-3; Luke 1:35; Acts 1:8; 4:27-30; 1 Pet 1:13-19; Rev 4:8).

6. The Sovereignty of God: God rules and controls all of his creation, including human affairs. God sits on the universe’s throne as Lord. Everything that happens comes about because he either directly causes it or permits it to occur. Nothing enters into history or could ever exist outside of history that does not come under God’s absolute control (Job 23:13; 42:2; Ps 115:3; 135:6; Dan 4:28-37).

7. The Glory of God: God’s glory is the visible manifestation of his attributes. The word translated “glory” in the Old Testament means “to be weighted, to be heavy.” When we discuss God’s glory, we mean someone with an awesome reputation because he has awesome splendor (Exod 33:12-23; Ps 29:3; Luke 2:9; 1 Tim 6:15-16; Rev 21:23).

8. The Omniscience of God: God has intuitive knowledge of all things both actual and potential. This word is a compound of two words: omni, which means “all,” and science, which has to do with knowledge. There is absolutely nothing God doesn’t know (Ps 139:1-6; 147:5; Isa 40:13-14; Heb 4:13).

9. The Omnipresence of God: God’s complete essence is fully present in all places at all time. There is no place in creation where God does not exist in all his divine fullness. God’s presence is in the sphere of immensity and infinitude. Infinitude (or infinity) means that which is without limit. Immensity refers to that which cannot be contained (1 Kgs 8:26-27; Ps 139:7-12).

10. The Omnipotence of God: God is all-powerful. But his omnipotence involves more than just raw power. Rather, it involves the exercise of his prerogative to use his unlimited power to reflect his divine glory and accomplish his sovereign will. The unlimited power of deity is also ascribed to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit (Ps 62:11; 147:5; Matt 19:26; Rom 1:4; 1 Cor 2:4; Eph 3:8-21).

11. The Wisdom of God: God has the unique ability to so interrelate his attributes that he accomplishes his predetermined purposes by the best means possible. God’s ability to use his attributes in perfect wisdom is unique because no one else can accomplish this (Exod 31:1-5; Dan 2:19-20; Rom 11:33; 16:27; Jas 3:13-18).

12. The Goodness of God: This attribute describes the collective perfections of God’s nature and benevolence of his acts. God is good by nature and good in what he does. The goodness of God is the standard by which anything called good must be judged. Jesus was also called “good teacher” (Ps 107:1-15; 119:68; Mark 10:17-18; Jas 1:17).

13. The Wrath of God: God’s wrath is his necessary, righteous retribution against sin. God’s wrath is not an easy subject to consider, but it is as integral to his nature as any of his other perfections. The Bible has more to say about God’s wrath than about his love. God’s wrath against sin arises by necessity because of the justice of his law and the righteousness of his character. God must judge sin, although he takes no pleasure in punishing the unrighteous (Exod 34:7; Deut 32:41; Ezek 33:11; Rom 5:8-9; 11:22).

14. The Love of God: God’s love is his joyful self-determination to reflect the goodness of his will and glory by meeting the needs of mankind. God did not become love after he made the world and mankind. God’s love is eternal. In and of himself, God is love. God’s love is also inextricably tied to his own glory (John 3:16; Rom 5:8; Eph 1:4-6; 1 John 4:7-21).

15. The Grace of God: Grace is God’s inexhaustible supply of goodness that does for mankind what they could never do for themselves. God has supplied every true believer with a magnificent provision of grace. We can’t earn it and we don’t deserve it, but he has made it abundantly available to all mankind in general (common grace) and to believers in particular. God’s endless supply of grace also means that it is sufficient for our every need (2 Cor 9:8; 12:9; Eph 2:1-10; 1 Tim 4:10; Heb 4:16).

16. The Veracity of God: God is always reliable and completely truthful. He cannot lie. The first challenge Satan made against God was to question his truthfulness to Eve (Gen 3:1-5). Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are also called true and “the truth” (Num 23:19; Heb 6:16-18; 1 John 4:6; 5:20).

17. The Immutability of God: The immutability of God means he never alters his purposes or changes his nature. Immutability means not having the ability to change. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus also does not change (Mal 3:6; Heb 12:17; 13:8; Jas 1:17).