Sunday word of the Week: Omniscience

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.


The simple definition:

Omniscience: God's knowing all things that are proper object of knowledge, including all future events. Definition from Biblical Doctrine, MacArthur & Mayhue, p. 935

Longer definition & explanation:
God's omniscience is his perfect knowing of himself, all actual things outside himself, and all things that do not become reality in one eternal and simple (not having any parts but having distinctions) act (exertion of energy). One should note that this definition does not say that God knows things that are "possible", because in God's eternal mind and plan there are only actual things, not possible things. He does know what would have occurred if circumstances had been different, but since in his mind and plan they would never occur, they are not 'possibilities'. Source ibid.

Omniscience is considered by most theologians as an incommunicable attribute of God, though some disagree and believe omniscience will be communicated to us in glory. (Bavinck, Shedd, Hodge, Berkhof).

God's omniscience is a demonstration of and affirmation of His sovereignty. He knows all because He is the first cause of all. Every plan in the universe originates from God's all-knowing mind.

While in some ways it is a fearful thing to understand that God is omniscient, in many other ways, it is comforting. He is in control. He loves His believers, even though He knows us and He knows what we think, say, and do, now and in the future. He loves us sinners anyway.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
(Psalm 139:1-6)




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Further Reading:

Ligonier Sermon Sinclair Ferguson: A Knowledge with No End

Ligonier Devotional: Our All-Knowing, All-Seeing God

Alistair Begg Devotional: God's Thoughts




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Further reading

Previous entries in the Word of the Week Series

7. Orthodoxy
6. Glorification
5Sanctification
4. Propitiation
3. Immanence
2. Transcendence
1. Justification

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