Anthropomorphisms and Theophanies

Anthropomorphisms and Theophanies By Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand anthropomorphisms and theophanies. What are they? How to avoid pitfalls in the interpretation of the Scriptures when anthropomorphism and theophanies are encountered in the Bible. As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:

Anthropomorphism:

Narrowly, the attribution of human form to God. More broadly, a description of God using human categories; language that speaks of God in human terms, ascribing human features and qualities to him. *

Anthropomorphism:

God relates to us in human terms. Anthropomorphism comes from two Greek words: anthropos (man) and morphe (form). Therefore, an anthropomorphism is when God appears to us or manifests Himself to us in human form or even attributes to Himself human characteristics. **

Theophany:

A theophany is a visible manifestation of God usually restricted to the Old Testament. God has appeared in dreams (Genesis 20:3-7; Genesis 28:12-17), visions (Genesis 15:1-21; Isaiah 6:1-13), as an angel (Genesis 16:7-13; Gen 18:1-33), etc.

There is a manifestation known as the Angel of the Lord (Judges 6:20f.) and seems to have characteristics of God Himself (Genesis 16:7-9; Gen 18:1-2; Exodus 3:2-6; Joshua 5:14; Judges 2:1-5; Jdg 6:11). Such characteristics as having the name of God, being worshiped, and recognized as God has led many scholars to conclude that the angel of the Lord is really Jesus manifested in the Old Testament. This does not mean that Jesus is an angel. The word “angel” means messenger.

Other scriptures that describe more vivid manifestations of God are Genesis 17:1; Gen 18:1; Exodus 6:2-3; Exo 24:9-11; Exo 33:20; Numbers 12:6-8; Acts 7:2. **

What is a theophany?

A theophany is a manifestation of God in the Bible that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form. ***

Scriptural examples of Anthropomorphisms:

Does God have hands?

“And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:5)

Does God have a face?

“And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)

Does God have feet?

“My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.” (Job 23:11)

Does God have eyes and ears?

“The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalm 34:15)

Is God a bird?

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:4)

Is Jesus a door?

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Properly understanding anthropomorphic passages are important to avoid errors in interpretation. A large Utah based religion interprets these passages literally to teach that God exists in a corporeal and human form. They would say God has feet, ears, eye, and hands and has a white beard.

We see in Scripture something altogether different. For example, God says he is not a man:

“God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)

“I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.” (Hosea11:9)

In response to these passages, the Utah based religion would say, “Yes it is true that God is not a man, although he looks like a man.”

This response would be countered with what the Bible says in the next two verses:

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39)

Comments:

Not only is God not a man, “God is a Spirit.” Negatively, God says he is not (a man) and positively, He says what He is (a Spirit)!

From the Pulpit Commentary on John 4:24:

Verse 24. – A still more explicit and comprehensive reason is given for the previous assertion, based on the essential nature of God himself in the fullness of his eternal Being. God is Spirit (Πνεῦμα ὁ Θεός; cf. John 1:1, Θεὸς η΅ν ὁ Λόγος, – the article indicates the subject, and the predicate is here generic, and not an indefinite; therefore we do not render it, “God is a Spirit”). The most comprehensive and far-reaching metaphor or method by which Jesus endeavoured to portray the fundamental essence of the Divine Being is “Spirit,” not body, not ὕλη, not κόσμος, but that deep inner verity presented in self-conscious ego; the substantia of which mind may be predicated, and all its states and faculties. The Father is Spirit, the Son is Spirit, and Spirit is the unity of the Father and the Son. St. John has recorded elsewhere that “God is Light,” and “God is Love.” These three Divine utterances are the sublimest ever formed to express the metaphysical, intellectual, and moral essence of the Deity. They are unfathomably deep, and quite inexhaustible in their suggestions, and yet they are not too profound for even a little child or a poor Samaritaness to grasp for practical purposes. If God be Spirit, then they who worship him, the Spirit, must by the nature of the case, must by the force of a Divine arrangement, worship him, if they worship him at all, in spirit and in truth. The truth which our Lord uttered was not unknown in the Old Testament. (1)

Spirit – From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

Spirit

[1, G4151, pneuma]

primarily denotes the wind (akin to pneo, “to breathe, blow”); also “breath;” then, especially “the spirit,” which, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful. The NT uses of the word may be analyzed approximately as follows:

(a) the wind, John 3:8 (where marg. is, perhaps, to be preferred); Hebrews 1:7; cp. Amos 4:13, Sept.;

(b) the breath, 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 11:11; Revelation 13:15; cp. Job 12:10, Sept.;

(c) the immaterial, invisible part of man, Luke 8:55; Acts 7:59; 1 Corinthians 5:5; James 2:26; cp. Ecclesiastes 12:7, Sept.;

(d) the disembodied (or ‘unclothed,’ or ‘naked,’ 2 Corinthians 5:3-4) man, Luke 24:37, Luke 24:39; Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 4:6;

(e) the resurrection body, 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18;

(f) the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, desires, Matthew 5:3; Matthew 26:41; Mark 2:8; Luke 1:47, Luke 1:80; Acts 17:16; Acts 20:22; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1; cp. Genesis 26:35; Isaiah 26:9; Ezekiel 13:3; Daniel 7:15;

(g) purpose, aim, 2 Corinthians 12:18; Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 4:23; Revelation 19:10; cp. Ezra 1:5; Psalms 78:8; Daniel 5:12;

(h) the equivalent of the personal pronoun, used for emphasis and effect: 1st person, 1 Corinthians 16:18; cp. Genesis 6:3; 2nd person, 2 Timothy 4:22; Philemon 1:25; cp. Psalms 139:7; 3rd person, 2 Corinthians 7:13; cp. Isaiah 40:13;

(i) character, Luke 1:17; Romans 1:4; cp. Numbers 14:24;

(j) moral qualities and activities: bad, as of bondage, as of a slave, Romans 8:15; cp. Isaiah 61:3; stupor, Romans 11:8; cp. Isaiah 29:10; timidity, 2 Timothy 1:7; cp. Joshua 5:1; good, as of adoption, i.e., liberty as of a son, Romans 8:15; cp. Psalms 51:12; meekness, 1 Corinthians 4:21; cp. Proverbs 16:19; faith, 2 Corinthians 4:13; quietness, 1 Peter 3:4; cp. Proverbs 14:29

(k) the Holy Spirit, e.g., Matthew 4:1 (See below); Luke 4:18;

(l) ‘the inward man’ (an expression used only of the believer, Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16); the new life, Romans 8:4-Romans 8:6, Romans 8:10, Romans 8:16; Hebrews 12:9; cp. Psalms 51:10;

(m) unclean spirits, demons, Matthew 8:16; Luke 4:33; 1 Peter 3:19; cp. 1 Samuel 18:10;

(n) angels, Hebrews 1:14; cp. Acts 12:15;

(o) divine gift for service, 1 Corinthians 14:12, 1 Corinthians 14:32;

(p) by metonymy, those who claim to be depostories of these gifts, 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 John 4:1-3;

(q) the significance, as contrasted with the form, of words, or of a rite, John 6:63; Romans 2:29; Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6;

(r) a vision, Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 17:3; Revelation 21:10.” * [* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp 204,205.] (2)

See below in the for more study # area for a biblical and philosophical examination of does God have a body.

Anthropomorphisms from Nave’s Topical Bible:

(Figures of speech, which attribute human forms, acts, and affections to God)

MISCELLANEOUS FIGURES

Genesis 2:2; Genesis 2:3; Genesis 2:19; 6:6; 9:16; Genesis 11:5; Genesis 11:7; Genesis 18:17-19; Genesis 18:21; Genesis 18:33; 19:29; 22:12; 28:13; 35:13; Exodus 2:24; 3:8; 14:24; 20:5; 31:17; 32:14; Numbers 11:25; Judges 2:18; 1 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:15; Psalms 31:2; 33:6; 35:1-3; 36:7; 57:1; 68:17; 94:9; 121:4; Isaiah 1:15; Ezekiel 1:24 Ezekiel 1:28; Habakkuk 1:13; 1 Peter 3:12

ATTRIBUTED TO DEITY

Memory

Isaiah 43:26; 63:11

Assisted by tokens

Genesis 9:16

Reason

Isaiah 1:18

Understanding

Psalms 147:5

Will

Romans 9:19

MISCELLANEOUS ACTS AND STATES OF MIND ATTRIBUTED TO

Walking

Genesis 3:8; Leviticus 26:12; Deuteronomy 23:14; Job 22:14; Habakkuk 3:15

Resting

Genesis 2:2 Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:11; 31:17; Deuteronomy 5:14; Hebrews 4:4; Hebrews 4:10

Does not faint

Isaiah 40:28

Amazement

Isaiah 59:16; 63:5; Mark 6:6

Laughing

Psalms 2:4; 37:13; 59:8; Proverbs 1:26

Sleeping

Psalms 44:23; 78:61

Grieved

Genesis 6:6; Judges 10:16; Psalms 95:10; Hebrews 3:10 Hebrews 3:17

Oaths

Isaiah 62:8; Hebrews 6 (3)

In addition to the anthropomorphic passages, there are occurrences of where God has revealed himself in human form. How do we explain this and what does this mean? These appearances are called theophanies. This is a new term. It is similar to an anthropomorphism.

Theophany from the Dictionary of Bible Themes:

1454 theophany

A temporary visible manifestation of the presence and glory of God. This may be in natural phenomena such as cloud or fire, in human form or in prophetic visionary experience.

God is manifested in nature

God’s presence in storms, thunder and lightning Ps 18:7-15; Ex 19:16 See also Ex 20:18; Job 37:5; Ps 29:3-9; Ps 77:18; Ps 97:4; Isa 30:27-33; Am 1:2; Hab 3:11; Zec 9:14; Rev 11:19

God’s presence in volcanic phenomena Ex 19:18 See also Isa 30:33

God’s presence in earthquakes Isa 29:5-6 See also Jdg 5:4-5; Ps 77:18; Hab 3:6

Specific phenomena associated with the presence of God

Fire signifies God’s presence Ex 3:2 Fire in particular represents the purity, holiness and unapproachability of God. See also Ex 13:21; Ex 19:18; Ex 24:17; Lev 9:24; Nu 14:14; Dt 4:11-12; Dt 5:4,22-26; Jdg 13:20-22; Ps 97:3; Joel 2:30

Smoke signifies God’s presence Ex 19:18 See also Ex 20:18; Ps 144:5; Isa 6:4; Isa 30:27; Joel 2:30; Rev 15:8

Cloud signifies God’s presence Ex 16:10 Cloud and smoke convey the mystery and transcendence of God. See also Ex 13:21 God speaks to Moses from the cloud: Ex 19:9; Ex 24:15-16; Ex 33:9; Ex 34:5; Dt 31:15

Lev 16:2; Nu 9:15-22; Nu 14:14; 1Ki 8:10-11; Eze 1:4; Eze 10:3-4 The transfiguration of Jesus Christ: Mt 17:5 pp Mk 9:7 pp Lk 9:34-35

Rev 14:14-16

God is manifested in human or angelic form

Ge 16:7-13 See also Ge 18:1-22; Ge 32:24-30; Jos 5:13-15

God appears in prophetic visions

God appears on a throne Isa 6:1 John interprets this verse to refer to Jesus Christ (Jn 12:41). See also Eze 1:26; Eze 10:1; Da 7:9; Rev 4:2; Rev 20:11

God appears attended by angels and other heavenly beings Isa 6:2; Eze 1:5-18; Eze 10:9-13; Rev 4:6-11

God appears like, or with, precious stones Ex 24:10; Eze 1:26; Rev 4:3

Functions and effects of theophanies

Theophanies reveal God’s glory Eze 10:4 See also Ex 16:10; Ex 24:16; Ex 40:34-35; Lev 9:23-24; Nu 14:10; 1Ki 8:11; 2Ch 7:1-3; Ps 29:3,9; Ps 97:2-6; Eze 11:22-23

Theophanies bring judgment Isa 30:27 See also Nu 12:9-10; Ps 18:13-15

Theophanies arouse the fear of God Ex 19:16; Ex 20:18-20; Isa 6:5

Theophanies commission God’s servants Isa 6:8; Eze 1:28-2:1

Theophanies authenticate God’s servants Nu 12:5-8

See also

1045 God, glory of

1065 God, holiness of

1310 God as judge

1403 God, revelation

1469 visions

2595 incarnation

4060 nature

4140 angel of the Lord

4180 seraphim

4805 clouds

4826 fire

4851 storm

“And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.” (Genesis 12:7-9)

There are other examples of theophanies in Genesis 18:1-33 and Genesis 32:22-30. (4)

Comments in conclusion:

The Bible uses many literary forms. For example, it uses genera’s such as law, historical narrative, wisdom, poetical, gospel, didactic letters, or epistles, predictive, and apocalyptic literature. When reading poetical portions of Scripture, you should recognize the difference from the didactic letters of Paul.

For example when you read:

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4).

In Psalm 91:4, you must understand the genera of literature as poetical and not interpret it literally. Whereas in contrast:

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9 ESV).

This passage in Romans is straightforward doctrinal teaching and every reason to take the passage literally.

Hermeneutical safeguards

Grammatico-Historical-Hermeneutical Method:

What is the Grammatico-Historical-Hermeneutical Method? This method of interpretation focuses attention not only on literary forms but also upon grammatical constructions and historical contexts from which the Scriptures were written. It is the literal school of interpretation. Knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and history is crucial to this process. With tools such as a Strong’s Concordance, any layman can utilize this method.

Exegesis, the interpretive norm:

Exegesis (from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι’ to lead out’) is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term is used for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage, it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text. The goal of biblical exegesis is to explore the meaning of the text, which then leads to discovering its significance or relevance.

Exegesis includes a wide range of critical disciplines: textual criticism is the investigation into the history and origins of the text, but exegesis may include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds for the author, the text and the original audience. Other analysis includes classification of the type of literary genres present in the text, and an analysis of grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself.

Eisegesis, the interpretive danger:

Eisegesis (from Greek εἰς “into” and ending from exegesis from ἐξηγεῖσθαι “to lead out”) is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one’s own ideas, reading into the text. This is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning of the text, eisegesis occurs when a reader reads his/her interpretation into the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective. An individual who practices eisegesis is known as an eisegete, as someone who practices exegesis is known as an exegete.

Understanding the Bible is not that hard; The Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (2 Pet. 3:16); yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Ps. 119:105, 130).

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, John, Vol. 17, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p.169-170.

2. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, (Iowa Falls, Iowa, Riverside Book and Bible House), p. 1075-1076.

3. Nave, Orville J. Nave’s Topical Bible “Entry for ‘Anthropomorphisms,’” Kindle p. 1799.

4. Martin H. Manser, Editor, Dictionary of Bible Themes, Kindle p. 6517.

5. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ, Unabridged, 1Volume, (Stief Books, 2017), p. 10-11.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

* http://www.rebecca-writes.com/theological-terms-in-ao/

** CARM theological dictionary https://carm.org/dictionary-hermeneutics

*** https://www.gotquestions.org/

A biblical and philosophical examination of does God have a body. #

From the Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas Question 3. The simplicity of God:

Article 1. Whether God is a body?

Objection 1. It seems that God is a body. For a body is that which has the three dimensions. But Holy Scripture attributes the three dimensions to God, for it is written: “He is higher than Heaven, and what wilt thou do? He is deeper than Hell, and how wilt thou know? The measure of Him is longer than the earth and broader than the sea” (Job 11:8-9). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 2. Further, everything that has figure is a body, since figure is a quality of quantity. But God seems to have figure, for it is written: “Let us make man to our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Now a figure is called an image, according to the text: “Who being the brightness of His glory and the figure,” i.e. the image, “of His substance” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 3. Further, whatever has corporeal parts is a body. Now Scripture attributes corporeal parts to God. “Hast thou an arm like God?” (Job 40:4); and “The eyes of the Lord are upon the just” (Psalm 33:16); and “The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength” (Psalm 117:16). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 4. Further, posture belongs only to bodies. But something which supposes posture is said of God in the Scriptures: “I saw the Lord sitting” (Isaiah 6:1), and “He standeth up to judge” (Isaiah 3:13). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 5. Further, only bodies or things corporeal can be a local term “wherefrom” or “whereto.” But in the Scriptures God is spoken of as a local term “whereto,” according to the words, “Come ye to Him and be enlightened” (Psalm 33:6), and as a term “wherefrom”: “All they that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth” (Jeremiah 17:13). Therefore God is a body.

On the contrary, It is written in the Gospel of St. John (John 4:24): “God is a spirit.”

I answer that, It is absolutely true that God is not a body; and this can be shown in three ways.

First, because no body is in motion unless it be put in motion, as is evident from induction. Now it has been already proved (I:2:3), that God is the First Mover, and is Himself unmoved. Therefore it is clear that God is not a body.

Secondly, because the first being must of necessity be in act, and in no way in potentiality. For although in any single thing that passes from potentiality to actuality, the potentiality is prior in time to the actuality; nevertheless, absolutely speaking, actuality is prior to potentiality; for whatever is in potentiality can be reduced into actuality only by some being in actuality. Now it has been already proved that God is the First Being. It is therefore impossible that in God there should be any potentiality. But every body is in potentiality because the continuous, as such, is divisible to infinity; it is therefore impossible that God should be a body.

Thirdly, because God is the most noble of beings. Now it is impossible for a body to be the most noble of beings; for a body must be either animate or inanimate; and an animate body is manifestly nobler than any inanimate body. But an animate body is not animate precisely as body; otherwise all bodies would be animate. Therefore its animation depends upon some other thing, as our body depends for its animation on the soul. Hence that by which a body becomes animated must be nobler than the body. Therefore it is impossible that God should be a body.

Reply to Objection 1. As we have said above (I:1:9), Holy Writ puts before us spiritual and divine things under the comparison of corporeal things. Hence, when it attributes to God the three dimensions under the comparison of corporeal quantity, it implies His virtual quantity; thus, by depth, it signifies His power of knowing hidden things; by height, the transcendence of His excelling power; by length, the duration of His existence; by breadth, His act of love for all. Or, as says Dionysius (Div. Nom. ix), by the depth of God is meant the incomprehensibility of His essence; by length, the procession of His all-pervading power; by breadth, His overspreading all things, inasmuch as all things lie under His protection.

Reply to Objection 2. Man is said to be after the image of God, not as regards his body, but as regards that whereby he excels other animals. Hence, when it is said, “Let us make man to our image and likeness”, it is added, “And let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea” (Genesis 1:26). Now man excels all animals by his reason and intelligence; hence it is according to his intelligence and reason, which are incorporeal, that man is said to be according to the image of God.

Reply to Objection 3. Corporeal parts are attributed to God in Scripture on account of His actions, and this is owing to a certain parallel. For instance the act of the eye is to see; hence the eye attributed to God signifies His power of seeing intellectually, not sensibly; and so on with the other parts.

Reply to Objection 4. Whatever pertains to posture, also, is only attributed to God by some sort of parallel. He is spoken of as sitting, on account of His unchangeableness and dominion; and as standing, on account of His power of overcoming whatever withstands Him.

Reply to Objection 5. We draw near to God by no corporeal steps, since He is everywhere, but by the affections of our soul, and by the actions of that same soul do we withdraw from Him; thus, to draw near to or to withdraw signifies merely spiritual actions based on the metaphor of local motion.

Article 2. Whether God is composed of matter and form?

Objection 1. It seems that God is composed of matter and form. For whatever has a soul is composed of matter and form; since the soul is the form of the body. But Scripture attributes a soul to God; for it is mentioned in Hebrews (Hebrews 10:38), where God says: “But My just man liveth by faith; but if he withdraw himself, he shall not please My soul.” Therefore God is composed of matter and form.

Objection 2. Further, anger, joy and the like are passions of the composite. But these are attributed to God in Scripture: “The Lord was exceeding angry with His people” (Psalm 105:40). Therefore God is composed of matter and form.

Objection 3. Further, matter is the principle of individualization. But God seems to be individual, for He cannot be predicated of many. Therefore He is composed of matter and form.

On the contrary, Whatever is composed of matter and form is a body; for dimensive quantity is the first property of matter. But God is not a body as proved in the preceding Article; therefore He is not composed of matter and form.

I answer that, It is impossible that matter should exist in God.

First, because matter is in potentiality. But we have shown (I:2:3) that God is pure act, without any potentiality. Hence it is impossible that God should be composed of matter and form.

Secondly, because everything composed of matter and form owes its perfection and goodness to its form; therefore its goodness is participated, inasmuch as matter participates the form. Now the first good and the best—viz. God—is not a participated good, because the essential good is prior to the participated good. Hence it is impossible that God should be composed of matter and form.

Thirdly, because every agent acts by its form; hence the manner in which it has its form is the manner in which it is an agent. Therefore whatever is primarily and essentially an agent must be primarily and essentially form. Now God is the first agent, since He is the first efficient cause. He is therefore of His essence a form; and not composed of matter and form.

Reply to Objection 1. A soul is attributed to God because His acts resemble the acts of a soul; for, that we will anything, is due to our soul. Hence what is pleasing to His will is said to be pleasing to His soul.

Reply to Objection 2. Anger and the like are attributed to God on account of a similitude of effect. Thus, because to punish is properly the act of an angry man, God’s punishment is metaphorically spoken of as His anger.

Reply to Objection 3. Forms which can be received in matter are individualized by matter, which cannot be in another as in a subject since it is the first underlying subject; although form of itself, unless something else prevents it, can be received by many. But that form which cannot be received in matter, but is self-subsisting, is individualized precisely because it cannot be received in a subject; and such a form is God. Hence it does not follow that matter exists in God. (5)

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