A Person and a Community

Dancing in the Kingdom – Table of Contents

Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom, Chapter 2 – The God who created

[Bible references: Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 48:14-16; Matthew 3:16-17]

It is sometimes said that a picture is worth a thousand words, as it would take many words to describe the colors, shapes and expressions detailed in a picture. But sometimes, it can also be said that a word is worth a thousand pictures, as it is possible that one word in one document can be linked to many other documents where that same word is used with the meaning in each instance add to the meanings in the other instances. For example, the first sentence in the Bible says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Let’s consider the word “God.” In the Hebrew language that was used in the original writing of the first part of the Bible, that word is “Elohim.” The curious thing is that “Elohim” is a plural noun which could be, and often is, translated as “gods” while the verb “created” (“bara” in Hebrew) is singular.[1] This combination of “Elohim” with a singular verb happens throughout the Old Testament part of the Bible and in all those cases, “Elohim” is translated as the singular noun, “God”. So, what’s the story with this?

On the one hand, the Bible is very strident in insisting that there is only one God. One of the central doctrines taught to the Jews is, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” In the time frame that the Bible was written, this statement strongly contrasted with all the other cultures which had multiple gods. On the other hand, the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments, talks about God as Father and also God as Son and also God as Holy Spirit. This phenomenon shows up even as we look at Genesis 1, where we can see that God created and that the Spirit was hovering over the water. We continue to see this concept of one God, but three persons referred to as God develop throughout scripture, both in the Old Testament as the New Testament.[2]

So how do we make sense out of the insistence on there being one God while also revealing that there are multiple personalities associated with “God.” This is certainly a tough question that has created problems in the church (more on that later) and is but one thing among many that God seems to have revealed to us without explaining it. The church has referred to this complexity as the “Trinity.” It is from the outflowing of love between the members of the Trinity that God created us, desiring us to join each other in community and together join the community of love that is present in the Trinity.


[1] Biblehub “Elohim” Strong’s Concordance, Bible Hub biblehub.com/hebrew/430.htm

[2] Stewart, Don. “Is the Doctrine of the Trinity Found in the Old Testament?” Blue Letter Bible, ?”  Blue Letter Bible www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_330.cfm

Reflect

Chapter 1 introduced perichoresis as a way of trying to picture the relationship of the persons of the Trinity. How do you think of love as an integral part of not only that relationship but the desire to expand that relationship to include us?

Observe

Read Genesis 1:1-2; Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 48:14-16; Matthew 3:16-17.  This passage in Genesis uses the plural word “Elohim” to identify God. Deuteronomy is insistent that there is one God. Isaiah and Matthew indicate three persons as God. The word, “Trinity,” was invented to describe this phenomenon. The word, “perichoresis,” was used to try to describe this phenomenon. How could you use these words to explain this phenomenon to other people?

Author: transcendenttouched

I have been teaching the Bible to children and adults for over twenty years. Most recently, including teaching Discipleship/Confirmation classes. I have also been involved in various church leadership roles for many of those years. Until recently, my writing endeavors have been confined mainly to poetry. I've written an anthology of my first 40 years of writing poetry in my book, Growing. I have also written an overview of the Bible called, God Reveals Himself.

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