What is divineness?


Being equal to God is a disputed concept. Can a believer be or become ‘equal’ to God? Some think this is impossible, whilst others think it is. Is there also an intermediate state: divineness? Is each human divine by birth or can one become divine? What is written about it in the Bible?

Divineness represents equality to God or at least that Characteristics of God are shared with that which is created. Divineness is a human concept. For God, however, it is irrelevant [1]. Still, divineness has to exist, because according to the Bible God has a connection [2] with Creation and with that which is created in it. He maintains Creation. Divineness is a consequence of the nearness of God and of Him touching that which is created. Question is whether the created can influence divineness by approaching God. Can divineness also represent unification?

Word study
The word ‘divineness’ (or ‘divinity’, but this word is not used in this article), is not mentioned in the original text of the Bible. This confirms the explicit denial of the possibility that creatures have the ability to become literally equal to God, which excludes unification (Ps 86:8; Rm 3:23). But, that fact doesn’t answer the question of this article (Ps 82:6; Acts 17:28). Also, the confusion is increased because some Bible translations have the word ‘divineness’ in them. In Romans 1:20 the word theiotis in the original Greek text is often translated as such. Also, theios in 2 Peter 1:3-4. But these words only give adjectively meaning to other nouns, for example about God Himself, His power or Character.

The word afoomoioomenos in Hebrews 7:3 is also translated in the sense of divineness. But this is a word combination with the word homoioo – made equal. This last word is also found in the Greek translation of the Hebrew word demoet (likeness) in Genesis 1:26 (Septuaginta). The Hebrew word originates from the root damah – being like. All these words from the original text do not represent literal equality with God, but only in derived and indirect sense.

Many things are named ‘divine’ these days. This suggests that each meaning and definition of it is not always the same. In any case, divineness seems to have several grades, which are described [3] in the Bible [4]:
1. The Person of God
This only seems to be divineness. This top grade sets the ultimate endpoint (top end of the grades).
2. The Personal properties of God [5], which are used by Himself
These are different artifacts, like His Sjechienah, His ‘(Right)Arm’ or His glory (Hebrew: kevod) [6]. The gifts offered up to Him also receive this grade of divineness, although these are brought to God (come externally to God). This also implicitly shows that there are sub grades within this grade.
3. That which deals directly with Him and comes in close proximity of Him
Thus, this concerns creatures (officials) who serve God directly, like angels and kohaniem [7] (Israelite priests). These of course need to have been consecrated, which shows that there are sub grades within this grade [8].
4. What is suited to come into His Presence?
To be granted access to Him requirements have to be met [9], like being open unto God or making religious objects according to certain specifications determined by God.
5. That which was originally made by Him [10]
Creation and its purpose, functions, order and parts.
6. What humans image to have come from a god [11]
Magnificent human experiences, food, etc.

Link with holiness
Holiness seemingly has a connection with divineness. However, holiness only seems to exist at grades 2-3 [12]. So, holiness cannot be the same as divineness. Holiness is dependent on the grade of divineness (measure of ‘distance’ towards God). Holiness and divineness relate to each other like a matrix. Holiness is a religious concept (especially about that which is consecrated for and in worship). Divineness is a theological [13] concept.

Divineness and Creation
Divineness of Creation is grade 5. It is evident that Creation as a whole is to be regarded as unsuitable for God, unclean and unholy [14]. This is how it is described in the Bible (Gn 1:2). Would otherwise bringing structure to it be unnecessary [15] (Gn 1:3-2:3)? Like the construction of the Gan Eden (the enclosed courtyard where God and Adam met) and the command to build a sanctuary [16]. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that God announces that He will make a new, more divine Creation. Due to the war in heaven and Adam’s backsliding in faith Creation degraded even more and this process of corruption only worsens [17].

Still, living creatures seem to have or have received a higher grade of divineness then dead matter. Angels, for example, have grade 3 and kohaniem had that same grade. So, it seems that within Creation there is a basis or potency for increase of divineness. This also seems to argue that Creation originally had a higher grade of divineness (that it has degraded).

Man nowadays from birth on has grade 5 of divineness, but man is not holy and unclean (in any case through birth) and unfit for God [18]. According to the Bible God invites people to take hold of grade 4. He has made this possible for every human being. Through spiritual rebirth and bearing fruit a human can even reach grade 3 [19]. Due to the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem for the time being no one can reach a higher sub grade in grade 3, such as it was owned by the kohaniem. All this points to the fact that the divineness of Creation and all that is in it has degraded and even has become anti-divine.

Does the opposite exist?
Satan gained full control of the physical Creation by the willful doings of man. God had banished satan to that part of Creation after his attempt to gain the highest grade of divineness (grade 2). But satan is a creature of God and today has at least grade 4. Based on the Bible it seems however likely that he still has grade 3, like all angels. But his banishment to the physical Creation must have had negative consequences for his divineness [20]. In any case, he can no longer be in active service to God [21]. That he is bent on making the physical Creation lose its divineness and become anti-divine, doesn’t mean that he can break away from the limits God has set upon Creation.

Satan cannot go beyond the low-end of the grades of divineness. He even cannot take away divineness. A grade lower than 5 doesn’t exist and even that low-end grade still represents divineness. Within that grade he tries to bring new gods into existence. Real gods, to which he wants to bestow special honor and service. So, within the general scheme of the divineness God gave satan tries to bring in existence alternative, sub-divineness. The existence of grade 6 shows that. It actually represents pseudo- or crypto-divineness, but still is seen by many living creatures as factual and by some even think it is real divineness.

Change of divineness
Divineness comes from God. Next to God it doesn’t exist or it is irrelevant. Changing divineness seems no characteristic of Creation. Since it was God He took the initiative for the Creation and thus He alone can add divineness to it [22]. The latter continues until the present day. He gives it grades, structure and purpose and limits it. Still, it seems that Creation can actually change divineness. This is a dangerous, but also tempting area. Dangerous, since such changes in divineness next to God have to do with the occult. Tempting, since this points the way to the possibility to respond to the call of God in Creation: the ultimate goal of Creation (Gn 2:15).

But how does that ‘work’? Created substance that possesses its ‘own’ divineness and of which that divineness changes. It actually isn’t that difficult, since it is described in the Bible. Firstly, there is the decay in divineness. It has to be clear that humans originally had grade 3 of divineness, but because they chose to obey satan above God their grade was lowered to 4. Their divineness was decreased. Man, however, was tricked by satan [23]. Instead of opening their eyes, they became blinded. But the God-fearing people (the descendants of Adam through the line of Set) still had the Spirit of God that was given them. This Spirit was only just taken away when God punished them by bringing the great Flood upon the earth (Gn 6:1). Then man’s divineness decreased to grade 5.

And what about increasing divineness? God-fearing people, like Noah, Sem and Japheth and the God-fearing descendants they brought forth received grade 4 through their loyalty to God’s Covenant. Also, sometimes the Spirit of God took hold of people. Mostly only a short moment of time, but in a few cases even a large part of their lives. This happened, for example, to Moses and the kohaniem (Israelite priests). These thereby received grade 3. So, since Noah man already had received eternal blessing. But humans can, through disobedience, also lose their higher grade of divineness.

It seems that God wanted humans to have a permanent recovery at grade 3 [24]. But to facilitate that a spiritual revolution had to be established in that grade. On Pentecost right after the ascension of the Lord Jesus marks that special event. The recovery of the order of God’s power over the believers was reestablished by the Lord Jesus preceding it, and shared with the believers through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. From that moment on rebirth of the believer – the permanent state of grade 3 – became fact [25].

What is divineness?
Divineness means having Characteristics of God. As a rule, only believers are granted this, but there are examples in the Bible that also unbelievers, even worshippers of demigods and sorcerers, temporarily received this divineness. For example, the sorcerer Bileam to which God gave commandments and words and who prophesied on behalf of God (Nm 22-24). That shows that God controls the whole of Creation and He also mocks the demigods and its servants. He makes them succumb in favor of His people.

Which Characteristics represent divineness? This question is actually not answerable, since no one can know all the Characteristics of God and understand them. But the ones that are clear to all is messianic leadership, like that of Moses, priesthood of the kohaniem and above all that of the high priest, Bible teachership, like that of the Lord Jesus, and the ministry of prophet. But divineness can also be in very simple ways of thinking and doing, like blessing of and praying for the neighbor and giving (spiritual) help to someone who is old, handicapped or ill. To comprehend divineness, it is however needed that one looks at things from a God-like (Biblical) view and not in with a worldly (humanly) view. That ability to comprehend is on its own also a divine characteristic. Divineness is rare, but also divers.

[1] God is self-content and doesn’t seem to view Himself divine.
[2] God as Creator has to exist outside creation and precede it (see also note [1]).
[3] Comparable to the configuration of the sanctuary of God.
[4] The grades described here are given to ignite the thinking process, but do not presume to be all encompassing.
[5] Next to the general Properties of God, which are ‘Person specific’ or ‘Functional’. Examples of these properties are the Persons in the so-called Trinity.
[6] Through these God reveals Himself to living creatures. Thus, the question is whether God uses Creation itself or not. This grade represents the coming together of God and Creation.
[7] Of the kohaniem the kohen gadol (Israelite high priest) obviously is the first and foremost.
[8] Heaven and all that is in it clearly has a higher divineness then the physical Creation and all that is in it. So, there has to exist at least two sub grades within this grade.
[9] It is assumed that due to the existence of the Lord Jesus there are no longer any thresholds to come to God. However, this in conflict with the fact that God first needs to give belief, since no physical creature is longing for Him (Rm 3:11).
[10] Factually this is the lowest grade (the low-end).
[11] This grade actually has nothing to do with divineness.
[12] As grade 1 of divineness is only seemingly so (see grade 1 and notes 1 & 2) since that grade actually is above divineness. Grade 1 goes beyond the scale of divineness.
[13] Philosophical system within or from a religion.
[14] Pollution and damage that humans commit against Creation are separate from its negative status, but does worsen it.
[15] It seems likely that Creation originally did have a higher grade of divineness, since it was directly created by God. Then something has happened to it which made God’s restructuring and maintenance necessary.
[16] Mentioning Gan Eden and God’s sanctuary in one sentence doesn’t suggest that these have a direct relation/equality. This is not so.
[17] See endnote 14.
[18] This however doesn’t mean that humans with a higher grade of divineness are ‘better’ humans. Divineness only has meaning in relation to God, not so much in relation to other people.
[19] Although in its lowest sub grade.
[20] Which also happened to the Lord Jesus (Filip 2:7).
[21] Although almost all world religions, including Christianity, tend to believe – a grave misunderstanding – that satan must always be in the active service to God.
[22] This is not a static and inherent given, but dynamic and coming externally from Creation.
[23] Still, some think that Adam received precisely that which satan had promised or that this had to happen in order to facilitate the coming of the Messiah. Both are of course nonsense.
[24] That explains why the Son of God, the Messiah, came to man.
[25] Divineness thus is received through the Holy Spirit and not from the Lord Jesus.