Understanding the Word, "Godhead"

Understanding the Word, "Godhead"

By Mihaela Williams

In discovering and studying the truth about the Father and Son, I also discovered that I was taking certain terms and concepts for granted just because I had heard them or read them so many times that they were now ingrained in my mind with a certain meaning. One of those terms was the word “Godhead.” I had heard it spoken, all the time, as meaning “a family of Gods.” Have you heard people say “in the Godhead this” .... and “in the Godhead that”....? I used to hear that, all the time, among trinitarians and I also hear it among non-trinitarians. In my studies I noticed that the expression “in the Godhead” does not exist, in either the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. I only find the term “of the Godhead” being used. I also noticed that in some Bible verses, and Spirit of Prophecy quotes, the word “Godhead” did not line up with the concept of a “family” of Gods. Romans 1:20 falls into that category. If the word “Godhead” refers to a “family” of Gods, then the verse does not make any sense:

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” — Romans 1:20

So, I decided to do a study of the word “Godhead,” which I am happy to share with you all.The word “Godhead” is used three times in the NT, in three different forms, according to the concordance. Notice that for all versions the root of the word is “Theos.”

  • 2304 — θεῖος theios, thi´-os; from 2316; godlike (neuter as noun, divinity): — divine, godhead.
  • 2305 — θειότης theiotes, thi-ot´-ace; from 2304; divinity (abstractly): — godhead.
  • 2320 — θεότης theotes, theh-ot´-ace; from 2316; divinity (abstractly): — godhead.

Below are the three Bible verses that use the word “Godhead.”

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead [2304] is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” — Acts 17:29

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead [2305]; so that they are without excuse:” — Romans 1:20

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead [2320] bodily.” — Colossians 2:9

2 Peter 1:3-4, uses the same greek word [concordance #2304] that was translated in Acts 17:29 as “Godhead” but this time it is translated as “divine.”

"According as his divine [2304] power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine [2304] nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” — 2 Peter 1:3-4

So, the word “Godhead” simply means “Divinity,” “Deity,” or “divine nature” according to the Bible. With this meaning all the verses make perfect sense.Now, let’s see if the Spirit of Prophecy is in agreement with the Bible. We know that all the fulness of “Divinity” is the Father. That He is the “Great Source” of everything. Christ is the fulness of Divinity manifested or revealed. According to the following quotes, the “fulness of the Godhead” is defined as “all the glory of the Father.” The Father dwells in Christ, so all of His fulness and glory is revealed in Christ.

"In Him is gathered all the glory of the Father, the fullness of the Godhead. He is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person. The glory of the attributes of God is expressed in His character." — Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 115.1 • EGW

"Christ was God manifest in the flesh; in him dwelt “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” — Youth’s Instructor, March 21, 1901, par. 8 • EGW

Let me add a parentheses here. Do we see the difference? The Father IS all the fulness of the Godhead ... and ... in Christ DWELT all the fulness of the Godhead ... The difference between Father and Son also helps us understand the issue about “In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived.” It was the Father’s life dwelling in Christ and that life is “original, unborrowed, underived.” Going back to our subject, we know that, as God’s Son, Christ is fully divine, having been begotten of the Father. In these next quotes, the word “Godhead” applies to Christ’s divinity as well:

“The power of the Saviour’s Godhead was hidden. He overcame in human nature, relying upon God for power. This is the privilege of all. In proportion to our faith will be our victory.” — Youth’s Instructor, April 25, 1901, par. 11 • EGW

“But although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man. The human did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human. … Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own. His Deity could not be lost while He stood faithful and true to His loyalty.“ — Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899, par. 11 • EGW

It was interesting for me to notice that, when it says above “the power of the Saviour’s Godhead was hidden,” it was the power of His Father on which Christ was relying on. Also, notice how the second quote explains the word “Godhead.” “... the Godhead was still His own. His Deity could not be lost ...” Obviously, inspiration explains the term in accordance with what we found in the Bible. Godhead=Divinity or Deity.As I said at the beginning, if the word “Godhead” means a “family” of Gods, these last two quotes would not make any sense. Obviously the “Saviour’s Godhead” is an attribute that the Saviour has. Also, the words “the Godhead was still His own” show that the term, as used, is something that He possesses, not something He is a part of or has membership in.

Conclusion — According to both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy writings, the word “Godhead” is used as an attribute meaning “Divinity,” “Deity,” or “Divine nature.” Using the correct meaning of the word, in our publications and conversations, could solve a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about God and His Son. Now, every time I read the word “Godhead,” I replace it in my mind with the word “divinity” or “diety” and the passage opens up with a much clearer meaning. When we read quotes that are more difficult to understand, or more controversial, remember to apply to correct meaning of the word “Godhead”. Like, for example, in the next quote:

·       “The eternal Godhead [Divinity]—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—is involved in the action required to make assurance to the human agent, ... confederating the heavenly powers with the human that man may become, through heavenly efficiency, partakers of the divine nature and workers together with Christ.” — The Upward Look, p. 148.4 • EGW (bracketed comment added for clarity)

The “eternal Godhead” = Divinity—the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost = “the heavenly powers.”


Qusestions and Answers

Questions:
So.. How do you explain the term 'Godhead', when EGW uses it in such phrases as:

Those who have by baptism given to God a pledge of their faith in Christ, and their death to the old life of sin, have entered into covenant relation with God. The three powers of the Godhead, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are pledged to be their strength and their efficiency in their new life in Christ Jesus.
AUCR Oct. 7, 1907.

The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fulness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ.... SpTB07 63.2

Response:
The phrases in your quotes would be explained in accordance to the Bible use of the word "Godhead," which I showed in the document that it means DIVINITY, DEITY, or DIVINE NATURE. "The three powers of the Godhead" would be "The three powers of DIVINITY" and ..." is the Spirit in all the fulness of the Godhead" would be understood as "...is the Spirit in all the fulness of DIVINITY". Also, notice that the phrase is always "OF the Godhead" not "IN the Godhead." We have to apply the Bible definition of words in order to understand the subject properly. Like I showed in the document, EGW uses the word "Godhead" with the same meaning as the Bible does. Adopting the INSPIRED explanations of biblical words keeps us safe from interpreting the Word of God according to our own ideas and thus be liable of making mistakes.

Question: Here it says, 
“It is the glory of the gospel that it is founded upon the principle of restoring in the fallen race the divine image by a constant manifestation of benevolence. This work began in the heavenly courts. There God decided to give human beings an unmistakable evidence of the love with which He regarded them. He “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” PH148 5.2
The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption. In order fully to carry out this plan, it was decided that Christ, the only begotten Son of God, should give Himself an offering for sin. What line can measure the depth of this love? God would make it impossible for man to say that He could have done more. With Christ He gave all the resources of heaven, that nothing might be wanting in the plan for man’s uplifting. Here is love—the contemplation of which should fill the soul with inexpressible gratitude! Oh, what love, what matchless love! The contemplation of this love will cleanse the soul from all selfishness. It will lead the disciple to deny self, take up the cross, and follow the Redeemer.” PH148 5.3

Are you saying that the “divine nature” was stirred, or was it the Persons OF the Godhead stirred ?
Answer:
"DIVINITY was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption". I know that some interpret this quote to say “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption”, meaning they ‘worked the plan out’ together, however, this is not in harmony with many other Spirit of Prophecy statements. In the 1828 Dictionary, ‘work out’ means ‘to effect by labor and exertion’. It does not mean ‘to devise a plan of labor’, but the actual working out of the plan already formulated. A text given as a reference in the dictionary is Philippians 2:13. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. This does not mean to devise a plan, but to co-operate with God in working out His plan. The very next sentence in the statement makes this very clear “In order to fully carry out this plan, it was decided that Christ, the only begotten Son of God, should give Himself an offering for sin.” 

Remember, Christ is the only being who can enter into all the counsels and purposes of God (Patriarchs and Prophets, p.34). There was no third being present in the formation of the plan of salvation (the counsel of peace). There were only two Beings present in that counsel of peace.

Zechariah 6:13 “Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

“Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and the Son had united in a covenant to redeem man if he should be overcome by Satan. They had clasped Their hands in a solemn pledge that Christ should become the surety for the human race.” {E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 834}

“The plan of salvation devised by the Father and the Son will be a grand success.” {E. G. White, Signs of the Times, June 17, 1903 par. 2}

“Before the fall of man, the Son of God had united with his Father in laying the plan of salvation.” {E. G. White, Review and Herald, September 13, 1906 par. 4}

“A covenant has been entered into by the Father and by the Son to save the world through Christ.” {E. G. White, The Signs of the Times, October 10, 1892 par. 1}

“In counsel together, the Father and the Son determined that Satan should not be left unchecked to exercise his cruel power upon man.” {E. G. White, Manuscript Releases Vol.18, p. 345}

Christ the Word, the Only Begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father,--one in nature, in character, and in purpose,--THE ONLY BEING in all the universe that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God.” {The Great Controversy, p. 493}

Note: There is no other being in all the universe who can enter into the counsels of God. The councils of the Godhead are between the Father and the Son. This raises a very important question regarding the Holy Spirit. Either the Holy Spirit is a god-being who cannot enter into the counsels of God (which would contradict the statement above), OR the Holy Spirit is not a being at all, but is rather the life and character and mind and personal presence of both the Father and the Son. It was decided that this life would be given (when the Father and Son were in counsel) to be the regenerating agent for man should he fall. It was to be given to the working out of the plan that was formulated between the Father and the Son.

“The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that he could solicit from his Father for the exaltation of his people. The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail.” {E. G. White, Review and Herald, November 19, 1908 par. 5}

In light of this if you read the Ellen White reference again, you will see that the three great powers of heaven “gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption”, a plan that had been formulated by the Father and the Son in the councils of heaven prior to the creation of the earth. At the fall of man, the working out of the plan began.