God Can Do Anything

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2018 24 Apr

An image of the mouth of a volcano at dusk, the bright plume of its molten core shining in the dim light around it.

What do volcanoes and fruit flies have in common? One thing at least—the volcano’s power to erupt and the bug’s power to overcome gravity through flight both come from the hand of an all-powerful God. The Bible speaks of a God who is omnipotent—able to do anything. All other power in the universe is limited and derivative, coming as it does from God himself. From the first page of Scripture, which highlights God’s creative power, to the last, which celebrates his triumphant power, we see a Being to whom the words “unable,” “incompetent,” or “weak,” never once apply.

Two biblical titles for God are closely associated with God’s power: El Shadday, usually translated God Almighty, and Yahweh Tsabaoth, variously translated Lord Almighty, the Lord of Armies, or the Lord of Hosts. In the New Testament Paul calls Jesus the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Towards the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus foretells a time in which he will return with “power and great glory” (24:30). And the Book of Acts introduces us to the powerful work of God’s Holy Spirit among believers.

Some have questioned the doctrine of God’s omnipotence by saying that God cannot be all powerful because he can’t do things contrary to logic or to his nature. For instance, he can’t draw a circle in the shape of a square or sin because he is good. To the more practical minded among us, such arguments seem a bit absurd. As C.S. Lewis has remarked, “It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of his creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because his power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.”1

The New Testament word commonly translated as “power” is dynamis, from which comes our English words “dynamic” and “dynamite.” It describes the miracles, or acts of power, performed by Jesus and it is also used to describe “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16) The New Testament tells us that Christ’s power is still available through his Holy Spirit who shares it with us according to God’s plan and purpose.

Another Greek word for power is exousia. It is often translated as “authority, power, right.” Jesus had the authority, or the power, to forgive sins (Matthew 9:8). In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. (28:18)

1. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: NY: HarperCollins, 2001), 18.