Theology 101: What is God like?


When Paul spoke at the Areopagus in Athens, he found himself before a very religious people who had a distorted understanding of God. Before he could present the gospel in a meaningful way, he had to begin with God. Who is God, and what is He like? He established three truths.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "' For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. (Acts 17:24-29)

1. God is not limited to any particular sphere of authority. Paul begins with the fact that God made the world and everything in it. This establishes Him as supreme in authority. As Creator He is Lord of heaven and earth. Everything falls under His rule.


The ancient world had tribal deities; gods with authority over particular places or peoples. The true God has no such limitation. He made every nation and He is the one who determines their period of existence and their dwelling place. He is sovereign over all. This means all people are responsible to give Him the thanks, honour and obedience that are His due.

2. God is not limited to any particular place. Paul says, “He does not live in temples made by man.” In the Old Testament, God chose to manifest His presence in the temple built by Solomon. But even Solomon knew this didn’t limit God to that place. He said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).

The theological terms for this characteristic are God’s immensity and His omnipresence. God cannot be contained to one location; He is present everywhere. As Paul goes on to say, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” He is not everything, but He is everywhere. This means He is always close at hand. “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

3. God is not limited by any particular need. Paul says, “God is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything.” God has no needs. He does not get lonely or hungry or tired. He revealed His name to Moses as, "I AM WHO I AM." This name shows God's absolute freedom to ‘be’. The accompanying theophany (appearance of God) taught the same idea. God appeared in the form of a bush that was burning, but strangely wasn't being consumed. It is a scientific fact that fire needs fuel to live, but this fire's life came from itself. "I AM WHO I AM." Another way of saying this is that God is self-existent. He does not look to anything outside of Himself for existence. This means God cannot be bribed or bought. He cannot be manipulated. He is by nature absolutely free and unconstrained.



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