Omnipotence Not in Scripture

November 27th, 2022 / 6 Comments

I’m currently writing a book that rejects the doctrine of divine omnipotence. I’ll suggest a replacement I call divine amipotence – the power of love. I introduced the writing project in this previous blog essay.

One chapter in my book addresses God’s power described in what Christians call the Old and New Testaments. I’ll argue that omnipotence — even the Hebrew and Greek words often translated “almighty” or “all-powerful” — are not in the biblical texts.

God’s Power in Scripture

Authors of sacred writ describe a God who does amazing things, including creating the heavens and the earth, enacting miracles, providing salvation, and promising ultimate victory over evil. While English translators typically avoid “omnipotence” when translating Hebrew and Greek texts, they do use “almighty.” Many people believe biblical writers portray God as all-powerful.

Given this reading of scripture, Arthur Pink puts the significance of omnipotence this way: “If God were stunted in might and had a limit to His strength, we might well despair. But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great for Him to supply, no passion too strong for Him to subdue, no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for him to relieve.”[1]

According to many, only an omnipotent God can save.

The Hopelessness of Omnipotence

Omnipotence does not inspire hope in everyone, however. It leads many to despair and unbelief. To those who suffer, a God who can singlehandedly liberate seems asleep. Or this God doesn’t care enough to rescue the hurting from horrors and holocausts. Fervent prayers for healing go unanswered; cries for help from the sexually abused elicit few godly rescues.

Consequently, many people have no desire to live forever with a deity who allows evil now. An almighty God isn’t trustworthy.

I will argue that Christian scripture does not support omnipotence, at least as understood in the three ways I’ve identified. God doesn’t have all power, there are many things God cannot do, and God can’t control others.

Biblical authors talk about divine action, and they consider God’s power immense. But the Hebrew and Greek words translated “almighty,” “sovereign,” and the like support neither classic nor popular understandings of God as all-powerful.

In fact, writers of scripture acknowledge limits to divine power. And they point to the role creatures play in bringing about outcomes.

Omnipotence isn’t born of scripture.

Issues to Address?

As you see it, what words, passages, or issues should I address when talking about God’s power described in Scripture?

[1] Arthur Pink, 67.

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Jonathan McEntire

While God’s power acts in the Old Testament are important and I am excited to see you address them, I personally am most interested in how you would explain the miracles of Christ. How can he walk on water? How can he command the wind and the sea? How can he conjure food out of thin air to feed five thousand people? How can he heal blindness and paralysis? These all seem to point to a God who is capable of directly intervening in and disrupting the natural world.
I eagerly anticipate the release of the book.


Great questions, Jonathan! I address miracles in several books, and I affirm them. But you can find several blog essays here on the subject. Just search “miracles” on this site.

Janet Waugaman

I would be interested in your take on Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:36 where Jesus says “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” Looking forward to the book!


Compare God can’t vs God doesn’t


Thanks, Janet. I have a whole section on the “all things are possible” line found here and a few other places. Thanks for the suggestion!


Thanks, Erik. I’ve compared “God can’t” to “God won’t.” Do you see a difference between “God won’t” and “God doesn’t?”

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