From time to time I make new entries into this continuing series called “Theological Primer.” The idea is to present big theological concepts in around 500 words. Today we look at the divine attribute of infinity.
There are a number of ways to categorize the attributes of God, but the most common way is to divide them into God’s incommunicable and communicable attributes. Infinity is one of the incommunicable attributes, meaning this characteristic of God finds no analogy in the human person.
Most of us know the word “infinity.” Even kids love to use the word (“To infinity and beyond!” “I promise times infinity!”). We understand “infinity” to mean something like “going on forever and ever.” But what does the word mean when applied to God?
We can understand divine infinity in three ways.
First, God is infinite in relation to himself. We can call this God’s absolute perfection. All that God has he is, and all that God is he is ad infinitum. He possesses love and grace and sovereignty not largely or mostly or partially, but in infinite measure. His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3). His power and perfection know no limit. God does whatever he pleases, and no one can thwart his plans or purposes. “O LORD, God of our Fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you” (2 Chron. 20:6). The nations are as a drop in the bucket (Isa. 40:15). Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him” (Psalm 115:3).
Second, God is infinite in relation to time. We can call this God’s eternity. He is without beginning and without end (Psalm 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17). Unlike all created things, God has no origin and no starting point. There never was when God was not. God has always been God and has always been, even before there was matter or a universe or time as we understand time. Our God is Jehovan El Olam, the Everlasting God (Gen. 21:33).
Third, God is infinite in relation to space. We can call this God’s immensity. He is not constrained by physicality or geographic location. The God who made everything in heaven and earth does not live in temples made by human hands (Acts 17:24). “Am I only a God nearby, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? Declares the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:23-24). Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain God (1 Kings 8:27). Whereas omnipresence suggests God fills every part of space with his being (Eph. 1:23), the attribute of immensity stresses that God’s being is not subject to any limitations. The former emphasizes God’s immanence, while the latter emphasizes his transcendence. There is nowhere where God is not and no way God can be contained—by imperfection, by time, or by space.