God is One

In Daily Devotional by D. A. Carson

Theme of the Week: The God Who Is

Bible Verse: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-25

There is only one of him. This emerges strongly in the Bible. God openly says, “Let there be this,” “Let there be that,” “God made everything,” “He saw that it was very good.”

Later on in the Bible this point is stressed again and again. For example, in verses that Jews reverently recite to this day called the Shema (found in the fifth book of the Bible: Deuteronomy 6), we read the words, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). There is only one of him.

Yet even in this first chapter of the Bible there is a hint of complexity to his oneness. It is just a hint, and it is hard to know exactly what it means, but it is quite striking. We read through the account of creation “God said this,” “God said that,” “God said the other.” Then when it comes to human beings, we read, “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness’” (Gen. 1:26, emphasis added). That could be a “royal we.”

If you listen to BBC broadcasts, you might have listened to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II saying “we” and “us” where she is clearly referring to herself. Even the comics pick it up and picture her saying, “We are not amused.” The Bible could conceivably be using a kind of editorial “we” here. But it is striking that it is introduced here when human beings are made and that the text goes on to speak of the first person plural not only when God says, “Let us,” but also in the expressions “in our image, in our likeness.”

We dare not build too much on these details just yet. It is strange language just the same, however, especially in a Bible that insists again and again that there is but one God and that God is one. Could it be that already there is a hint that this one God is a complex being, a complex unity?

However we understand the plural, the Bible here says that God makes creatures who bear his [singular] image.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created human beings in his [singular] own image, in the image of God he created them [plural]; male and female he created them [plural].

Taken from The God Who is There by D.A. Carson. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright © 2010 by D.A. Carson. Used by permission.


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About
D. A. Carson
D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is a founding member and currently president of The Gospel Coalition.
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D. A. Carson
D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is a founding member and currently president of The Gospel Coalition.