SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM

The concept of "monotheism" (one and only one personal, ethical God with no female consort), not just the "high god" of polytheism or the good god of Iranian dualism (Zoroastrianism), is unique to Israel (Abraham and Job, 2000 b.c.).  Only one rare exception briefly in Egypt (Amenhotep IV, also known as Akhenaten, 1367-1350 or 1386-1361 b.c., who worshiped Aten, the sun god, as the only god).  See J. Assmann, The Mind of Egypt, pp. 216-217.

This concept is expressed in several phrases in the OT.

1. "no one like YHWH our Elohim," Exod. 8:10; 9:14; Deut. 33:26; 1 Kgs. 8:23

2. "no other besides Him," Deut. 4:35,39; 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:2; 2 Sam. 22:32; Isa. 45:21; 44:6,8; 45:6,21

3. "YHWH is one," Deut. 6:4; Rom. 3:30; 1 Cor. 8:4,6; 1 Tim. 2:5; James 2:19

4. "none like You," 2 Sam. 7:22; Jer. 10:6

5. "You alone are God," Ps. 86:10; Isa. 37:16

6. "Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me," Isa. 43:10

7. "there is no other; besides Me. . .there is no other," Isa. 45:5,6,22

8. "He is the source of all things," Isa. 45:7 (cf. Amos 3:6)

9. "there is none else, no other God," Isa. 45:14,18

10. "there is none except Me," Isa. 45:21

11. "there is no other;. . .there is no one like Me," Isa. 46:9

It must be admitted that this crucial doctrine has been revealed in progressive ways. The early statements could be understood as "henotheism" or practical monotheism (there are other gods, i.e., Jos. 24:15; 1 Kgs. 18:21), but only one God for us (cf. Exod. 15:11; 20:2-5; Deut. 5:7; 6:4,14; 10:17; 32:12; 1 Kgs. 8:23; Ps. 83:18; 86:8; 136:1-9).

The first texts that begin to denote a singularity (philosophical monotheism) are early (cf. Exod. 8:10; 9:14; 20:2-3; Deut. 4:35,39; 33:26). The full and compete claims are found in Isaiah 43-46 (cf. 43:10-11; 44:6,8; 45:7,14,18,22; 46:5,9).

The OT depreciates the gods of the nations as

1. human creations – Deut. 4:28; 2 Kgs. 19:18; Ps. 115:4-8; 135:15-18; Isa. 2:8; 17:8; 37:19; 40:19; 41:7,24,29; 44:10,12; 46:6-7; Jer. 10:3-5; Rev. 9:10

2. demons – Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:37; Isa. 8:19; 19:3c; 1 Cor. 10:20; Rev. 9:20

3. vanity, empty – Deut. 32:21; 2 Kgs. 17:15; Ps. 31:6; Isa. 2:18; 41:29; Jer. 2:5; 10:8; 14:22; Jer. 2:5; 8:19

4. no gods – Det. 32:21; 2 Chr. 13:9; Isa. 37:19; Jer. 2:11; 5:7; 1 Cor. 8:4-5; 10:20; Rev. 9:20

 

The NT alludes to Deut. 6:4 in Rom. 3:30; 1 Cor. 8:4,6; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:5; and James 2:19.  Jesus quotes it as the first commandment in Matt. 22:36-37; Mark 12:29-30; Luke 10:27.  The OT, as well as the NT, asserts the reality of other spiritual beings (demons, angels), but only one creator/redeemer God (YHWH, Gen. 1:1).

Biblical monotheism is characterized by

1. God is one and unique (ontology is assumed, not specified)

2. God is personal (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 3:8)

3. God is ethical (cf. Exod. 34:6; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 103:8-10)

4. God created humans in His image (Gen. 1:26-27) for fellowship (i.e., #2). He is a jealous God (cf. Exod. 20:5-6)

 

From the NT

1. God has three eternal, personal manifestations (see Special Topic: The Trinity)

2. God is perfectly and completely revealed in Jesus (cf. John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-19; Heb. 1:2-3)

3. God's eternal plan for fallen humanity's redemption is the sacrificial offering of His only Son (Isaiah 53; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 2:6-11; Hebrews)

 

Copyright © 2014 Bible Lessons International