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What does it mean that God is great?

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Question: "What does it mean that God is great?"

Among many other places, Psalm 145:3 declares, “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” Dozens of verses describe God as “great” and give as evidence His wondrous works (e.g., Psalm 86:10; 96:4; 135:5; Job 5:9; 9:10; 1 Chronicles 16:24). In describing a person, the word great means “preeminent, above the norm, or distinguished.” It also implies superior character or quality, such as saying that Abraham Lincoln was “a great man.” So, when the Bible describes God as “great,” it sets the Lord apart from human beings we may consider “great” and calls attention to His worthiness to be worshiped and adored (2 Kings 17:36; Psalm 5:7).

The word great is used in many English versions of the Bible to capture the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words describing God’s superior character qualities. First John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (emphasis added). Romans 9:22 speaks of God’s “great patience.” Lamentations 3:22–23 praises the Lord for His great love and His great faithfulness.

Ephesians 1:19 indicates that God’s might is unsurpassed—it is an “incomparably great power.” Titus 2:13 calls Jesus “our great God and Savior,” meaning that the Lord is of the highest rank, eminent in His authority. Hebrews 10:21 says that Jesus is “a great priest over the house of God,” signifying that Christ surpasses all other priests throughout history in nature, in power, and in ability. When Jesus cast a demon out of a boy, the crowd was “amazed at the greatness of God” (Luke 9:43).

All through the Bible, we see evidence that God is great, from the creation of the world, to the parting of the Red Sea, to the miracles of Christ, to the final judgment. Our response to God’s greatness is to humbly worship and adore Him: “Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness” (Psalm 150:2).

God is so great that He cannot be compared with anything or anyone else (Psalm 71:19). Since He created everything in existence, He is far superior to those creations. He is bigger, in the sense that He cannot be confined by time or space. He is wiser, using foolish things to confound those who think themselves wise (Isaiah 40:13; 1 Corinthians 1:27). He is infinite, while all created things are finite (Psalm 90:2). God, in fact, defines greatness, and all other uses of the word are mere echoes of that greatness.

Recommended Resource: God is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible by Craig & Meister

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