The Incomparable Greatness of God

“Thus God the Father, the Founder and Creator of all things, who only knows no beginning, invisible, infinite, immortal, eternal, is one God; to whose greatness, or majesty, or power, I would not say nothing can be preferred, but nothing can be compared;” (Novatian, On the Trinity, Ch 31).

“Concerning Him, therefore, and concerning those things which are of Himself, and are in Him, neither can the mind of man worthily conceive what they are, how great they are, and what they are like; nor does the eloquence of human discourse set forth a power that approaches the level of His majesty. For to conceive and to speak of His majesty, as well all eloquence is with reason mute, as all mind poor. For He is greater than mind itself; nor can it be conceived how great He is, seeing that, if He could be conceived, He would be smaller than the human mind wherein He could be conceived. He is greater, moreover, than all discourse, nor can He be declared; for if He could be declared, He would be less than human discourse, whereby being declared, He can both be encompassed and contained. For whatever could be thought concerning Him must be less than Himself; and whatever could be declared must be less than He, when compared in respect of Himself. Moreover, we can in some degree be conscious of Him in silence, but we cannot in discourse unfold Him as He is. For should you call Him Light, you would be speaking of His creature rather than of Himself — you would not declare Him; or should you call Him Strength, you would rather be speaking of and bringing out His power than speaking of Himself; or should you call Him Majesty, you would rather be describing His honour than Himself. And why should I make a long business of going through His attributes one by one? I will at once unfold the whole. Whatever in any respect you might declare of Him, you would rather be unfolding some condition and power of His than Himself. For what can you fittingly either say or think concerning Him who is greater than all discourses and thoughts? Except that in one manner — and how can we do this? How can we by possibility conceive how we may grasp these very things?— we shall mentally grasp what God is, if we shall consider that He is that which cannot be understood either in quality or quantity, nor, indeed, can come even into the thought itself. For if the keenness of our eyes grows dull on looking at the sun, so that the gaze, overcome by the brightness of the rays that meet it, cannot look upon the orb itself, the keenness of our mental perception suffers the same thing in all our thinking about God, and in proportion as we give our endeavours more directly to consider God, so much the more the mind itself is blinded by the light of its own thought. For — to repeat once more — what can you worthily say of Him, who is loftier than all sublimity, and higher than all height, and deeper than all depth, and clearer than all light, and brighter than all brightness, more brilliant than all splendour, stronger than all strength, more powerful than all power, and more mighty than all might, and greater than all majesty, and more potent than all potency, and richer than all riches, more wise than all wisdom, and more benignant than all kindness, better than all goodness, juster than all justice, more merciful than all clemency? For all kinds of virtues must needs be less than Himself, who is both God and Parent of all virtues, so that it may truly be said that God is that, which is such that nothing can be compared to Him. For He is above all that can be said. For He is a certain Mind generating and filling all things, which, without any beginning or end of time, controls, by the highest and most perfect reason, the naturally linked causes of things, so as to result in benefit to all.” (Novatian, On the Trinity, Ch 22)

The Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples to believe that the one God, His Father, is “greater than all” (Jn 10:29); and this “all” did not exclude Himself, for He also said “the Father is greater than I.” (Jn 14:28). It is well established then that the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the only one Christ teaches us to believe to be “the only true God” (Jn 17:3), is greater than all.

But if we may ask “how much greater than all is God?”, scripture answers us, “incomparably greater than all”:

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.” Psalm 40:5 NASB

Here the scripture, declaring God’s greatness, proclaims that He is so great that there is none to compare with Him. This incomparability to all is absolute; there is in some real sense, none Who compares with God- even His Son; for these words are spoken from the person of the Son Himself. We know this because in the New Testament, Hebrews quotes from this Psalm as Christ speaking to His Father:

“5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

“Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,
But a body You have prepared for Me;
6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.
7 “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come
(In the scroll of the book it is written of Me)
To do Your will, O God.’” (Hebrews 10:5-7 NASB)

These last lines are directly quoted from Psalm 40:6-8, and so, we can most appropriately see Psalm 40 as a prayer of the Son to the Father; a prayer in which, in proclaiming the glory and greatness of God, the Son declares that there is none who compares with Him.

This is not to say that there is literally no comparison to be made between God and His creatures; scripture is full of comparisons for our benefit, and even man is said to be made in the image and likeness of God, and we are commanded to imitate God -to be like Him- to His glory. Rather it is to say that if we compare God with all else, God is so much greater than all else, that it is as though, in comparison to Him, all else is nothing and less than nothing:

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?
13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;
Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
16 Even Lebanon is not enough to burn,
Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before Him,
They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.
18 To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare with Him?” Isaiah 40:12-18 NASB

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
23 He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
24 Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.
25 “To whom then will you liken Me
That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:21-25 NASB

These are important truths scripture reveals about God. Scripture declares God’s glory- God proclaims His own glory- in terms of His being incomparably greater than all; so much greater is He than all else, that in comparison, even the greatest nations are as nothing and less than nothing in contrast to Him. This is something to be grasped and believed by faith as revealed by God; this is something to worship God for, as His own Son also did, Who has taught us to follow His example.

This truth about God is not one readily accepted by many professing Christians. In the name of the entirely unbiblical concept of a “co-equal” Trinity, it is professed that God is not truly incomparably greater than all; instead, it is taught, in contradiction to scripture, that there are two others Who may so closely be compared to God, that They may be proclaimed His equals. But God makes the point, especially in contrast to idols, the gods of the ancient world that men attempted to rival Him with, that He has no equal:

“To whom would you liken Me
And make Me equal and compare Me,
That we would be alike?
6 “Those who lavish gold from the purse
And weigh silver on the scale
Hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god;
They bow down, indeed they worship it.
7 “They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it;
They set it in its place and it stands there.
It does not move from its place.
Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer;
It cannot deliver him from his distress.

8 “Remember this, and be assured;
Recall it to mind, you transgressors.
9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;” Isaiah 46:5-10 NASB

God then has no equal, and the prevailing doctrine that God is merely one of three of a kind is shown a blasphemous lie; we are forced to choose if we will believe the very words of the Son to the Father, “There is none to compare with You” (Ps 40:5), or the extra-biblical traditions of men, of Whom God declared “But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” (Matt 15:9 NASB).

We see this same truth of God’s incomparable greatness taught in the New Testament so many times as well; for so many of God’s glorious attributes, are attributed to Him exclusively:

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:4 NASB)

“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18 NASB)

“which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,” (1 Timothy 6:15 NASB)

“who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:16 NASB)

“to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27 NASB)

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17 NASB)

We read that God (the one God, the Father) is alone holy, good, wise, immortal, sovereign, and God; these things are spoken of in this way, not to exclude these descriptors to all other beings, but to declare the incomparable greatness of God in these things. For God Himself declared all creation to be good; the Temple of Solomon was holy, as are the saints; Solomon was wise; men are blessed by God with immortality; and even the judges of Israel were called “gods”; it is absurd, then, to suppose that such qualities being ascribed to God alone, then, are meant to declare all other beings void of them. Rather, we must understand that God alone is holy, good, wise, immortal, sovereign, and God, inasmuch as in all these things, He is incomparably greater than all others; and so, when contrasted to all others, it is as though God alone is these things. For the goodness, the wisdom, the holiness, etc, of all else, however great it may be, in comparison with that of God Himself, is as nothing and less than nothing; and so, by way of this incomparable contrast, it is as though God alone is these things.

For God is what He is originally, absolutely, and supremely; while all else that exists is from God, participating in such qualities, which properly and originally belong to God, according to God’s grace and will. God simply is, and is as He is, eternally, and unchangingly, without cause, source, or origin; while all other beings which possess such qualities receive them from God Himself. God’s divinity, for instance, His dominion over all things, He possesses originally, as having it from Himself and no other; absolutely, as there is no exception or qualification to God’s divinity or dominion over all things; and supremely, as God alone is Most High over all, having supreme dominion over all. And so God is “the only God” in contrast to all others, even while others, and especially His only-begotten Son, are also properly called “God” on account of the divinity they have from Him.

Such exclusive language then, is indicative of the same thing taught elsewhere by scripture, that God is incomparably greater than all, such that all else in contrast to Him is as nothing; and so in contrast to all else that is good, and holy, and god, He alone is good, and holy, and God, as being incomparably greater than all else in such things, than whatever else may be described by such terms. For as the Son says of Him “There is none to compare with You.” (Ps 40:5).

One may then reasonably ask, what of the Son of God? Is He not like the Father? Indeed, He is; He is the Son of this one Who is incomparably greater than all; He is the Image of that Invisible God, the exact representation of His person, the brightness of His glory, His Word, and Wisdom, and only-begotten Son; God over, and greater than, everything else in the universe, but Himself having the Father, the one God, as His God, and confessing Him as greater than Himself. He is not equal to the Father, but subordinate to the Father; He does not make the Father one of several equal beings, but as the beloved and obedient Son and Image of the one Supreme Being, the only true God, makes His Father’s glory known, Himself being properly like the Father, but not equal with Him.

Would you desire to know the wisdom of the only wise God? Look to His Son, Who is His Wisdom, created by Him as the beginning of His ways for His works (Prov 8:22). Would you desire to know His goodness? Behold the good Word He begat (Ps 45:1), the Good Shepherd of His sheep (Jn 10:11). Would you desire to see His character, His actions, His dominion, His will? Look to the Son and you will see them in Him Who is the Image of the Invisible God, through Whom God performs His great works of creating, sustaining, ruling, redeeming, and judging the universe, for the Father and He are one in the unity of their actions toward the universe, the unity of Their will, and in the moral likeness to the Father which the Son shares (Jn 10:30).

And in this very expression “the Image of the Invisible God” (Col 1:15) we see at once the Son’s likeness to the Father, and subordination to the Father; for certainly to be the Image of Father, He must bear the Father’s likeness; and yet, there is an obvious inequality between a thing and its image, the image being derived from the original, and serving to reflect the original, not the other way around. And in the case of Christ we see this difference also, that obviously, as Image, He is visible; for nothing which cannot be seen is properly regarded as an Image, and we have testimony from the scriptures that not only was He seen by men when He took on flesh, but also prior to this, as the Messenger of the LORD. Yet the one God, Whose Image He is, the “the invisible God”, “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16 NASB) is invisible, and mortal men are wholly incapable of viewing Him except through the mediation of this one Who is His visible Image, His Son. And so the Son declares “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9 NASB). For by seeing that glorious being Who is the Son of the one and only God, and His proper Image, we behold the incomprehensible glory of the invisible only true God, in and through His Son.

The Son then is truly like the Father; but not so as to deny the very thing which He praises the Father for, that He is “greater than all”, and “greater than I”, and “There is none to compare with You”; He shows Himself to be good, and wise, and holy, and far greater and better than the universe which He has made at the will and command of the Father, yet never to the denial that His Father is alone good, is alone holy, is the only wise God, is alone sovereign, and that the His Father is “the only true God”, but rather He declares the incomparable greatness of His Father.

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