Let’s start with the simple definition of the word “Godhead”. The word means “divine nature”, that is, the characteristics or nature of God. We do not have the characteristic necessary to be God, we do however possess the characteristics and nature of Man, thus we have “Manhead” or “Manhood”, but we speak of God in terms of His “Godhead” or “Godhood”. Now, the word Godhead does not refer to how many have divine nature, whether it is one or three. I grew up learning that the Godhead is 3-in-1, but I don’t think that is understandable to anybody, at least not to me. So, let’s drop the various sayings concerning “Godhead” and get right to the scriptures, for it is only the scriptures that should be our source for understanding God.
When we first meet God, in Genesis chapter one, we meet a God who is actually an “us” and an “our”. Thus, God never even began to convey the idea that He is one single individual. Genesis 1:26, reads, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’”. Later, in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Moses says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” What did Moses mean by “the LORD is one”? Moses used the Hebrew word “echad” which means “one, united, collected”. It is helpful to see “echad” used elsewhere, such as Genesis 1:5, “the evening and the morning were the first day”, here “echad” is translated “first”, it was one day, but it’s oneness consisted of both evening and morning. Again, in Genesis 2:24, husband and wife are called “one flesh” (“echad”), should we understand that to mean literally one individual? No, rather we recognize that the one flesh is a union comprised of two distinct individuals, the man and the woman. These scriptures help us better understand the meaning of “echad”, so when we turn again to Deuteronomy 6:4 and read “the LORD is one”, we understand now that Moses is speaking to the unity of the divine nature. Jesus speaks of the oneness of God in the same way. In John 10:29-30, Jesus says, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” Does this mean they are the same individual person? In the previous verses, Jesus had spoken of both Himself and His Father, but spoke as if each were individuals, not the same person. If in the same breath as saying that He and His Father are one, He said: “My Father, who has given them [his sheep] to Me”, how then can they be the same individual? Or what about the many times that Jesus is found praying to the Father in heaven, are we to naturally conclude that Jesus is just talking to Himself? Certainly not. Let’s consider Jesus’ baptism for just a moment; while reading the text of Matthew 3:16-17, count how many distinct individuals are active at the baptism of Jesus: “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” I counted three! There is Jesus in the water, there is the Spirit descending from heaven, still yet there is the Father’s voice the sounds from heaven. This is in accordance with the same three that are spotted throughout the Old Testament text as well. But let’s get back to what Jesus meant when He said, “I and My Father are one.” Reading further in John’s account, Jesus, with great clarity, explains the meaning of His oneness with the Father.
In John 17:20-23, amid Jesus’ prayer to the Father, He says, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” Here, Jesus again speaks of how He and the Father are one. But He takes it a step further and prays for the oneness of the believers. Now, we can readily confess that unified believers in Christ have not become one and the same individual. Those united together in Christ still maintain their distinct identity and personage. So, according to Jesus, the way that His believers are one, is the exact same way that He and His Father are one. Thus, by Jesus’ word, the Father and Son cannot be the same individual. Jesus also prayed that the believers will also be “one in Us” (John 17:21); now the “one” grows ever greater. The Father and Son are one, the believers are one, and if so, then the Father, Son and believers are all together “one”. Again, we see the impossibility of one single individuality, but a distinction of individuals that make up a union. The apostle Paul will later highlight the fact that the members of Christ’s church are distinct individuals but function together as a united body: “If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:19-20).
After further study, let’s give a more specific definition to the word “Godhead” according to what the scriptures confirm concerning God. Godhead is the divine nature consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is not what some would call polytheism. Polytheism is the belief in more than one god. But the scriptures plainly speak of the “divine nature” as the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; there is no God when one or two of these individuals are removed. This is why, when the scriptures refer to all three at once, the word “God” is used, and the word “God” is singular in meaning. The Hebrew word for God is Elohim (Genesis 1:1), which is plural intensive but singular in meaning. The Greek word for God is theos, which is a singular word but used in John 1:1 (and many other places) to speak of the divine nature consisting of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, a distinction of individuals, but one God, one Godhead, one divine nature.
Article by Tanner Campbell.