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What does it mean that God is omnipotent?

What does it mean that God is almighty?

God is almighty or, to use a difficult word, omnipotent. This word comes from the Latin language and means all-powerful (omni = all; potens = powerful) or almighty. But what does it mean when we say that God is almighty or omnipotent?

What does the Bible say about omnipotence?

The Bible frequently talks about God’s power. For example:

  • Exodus 15:6: Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
  • 1 Chronicles 29:11: Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.
  • Psalm 29:4: The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
  • Isaiah 40:26: Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.

Power in saving Egypt

Here we see that God himself is powerful (1 Chron 29:11), that his voice is powerful (Ps 29:4), and that he acts powerfully – both in creation (Isa 40:26), and also in salvation (Ex 15:6). Indeed, many of the references to God’s power in the Bible are linked with his might in saving Israel from Egypt:

  • Exodus 9:16: But for this purpose I have raised you [Pharaoh] up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
  • Exodus 14:31: Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.
  • Psalm 67:2: that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

Therefore, while we see that God is completely powerful (see also Ps 115:3), God’s power is often expressed in relation to salvation; firstly at the exodus (as seen in the Exodus verses above), but also at the cross:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:23: but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18: For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Power at the cross

Ironically, God’s power is seen most clearly at the cross of Christ – the very thing that looks most weak and foolish to us! But this should give Christians great confidence: God is his great power has saved us, and in his power will keep and bring us to our eternal inheritance:

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Therefore, we should understand God’s omnipotence to mean that God is powerful to do what he wants, and a particular focus of that power is on providing salvation.

Before ending, it’s worth saying that although God is all-powerful, there are some things that He cannot do! For instance, God cannot do anything that is against his own character; therefore God cannot lie, or sin. Therefore, we should understand God’s omnipotence to mean that God can do anything that is consistent with his character, and with his holy will.

Read also What Does It Mean That God is Omniscient?

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James Steer

James Steer

James had the privilege of growing up in Christian home, and decided to follow Jesus during his teenage years. After studying chemistry at university and working in the pharmaceutical industry, he began training for Christian ministry. After completing an M.Th. at Oak Hill Theological College he and his wife spent five years as missionaries working in Thailand. He now lives in Cambridge, England, and is the pastor for International students at St Andrew the Great church.

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What does it mean that God is almighty?