Seeing the Invisible -- By: Austin Robbins

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 13:3 (Summer 2000)
Article: Seeing the Invisible
Author: Austin Robbins

Seeing the Invisible

Austin Robbins

...since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and Godhead—have been clearly seen... Romans 1:20

What a paradox! Invisible things being clearly seen. How is it that the Scripture states such a contradictory proposition?

At first blush one would think such a thing to be impossible. If something is invisible it cannot be seen. Yet Paul writes that these invisible qualities are clearly seen!

What is it that, though invisible, is seen? Romans 1:19 states it is what may be known about God. One commentator, explaining this verse, said that the Greek words to gnoston are not what may be known but rather what is known, because if it is merely knowable there would be no need for God to reveal it. Man could find it out for himself. This phrase refers to what is universally known of God as the Creator by all mankind in varying degrees (Marvin Vincent as cited in Wuest 1966: 28).

Even pagan peoples have some knowledge of the Creator. There is no need for a special revelation on that score. As a missionary in Africa, over 30 years ago, I discovered that while tribesmen had a whole pantheon of deities, spirits in rocks, hills, lakes and rivers, they recognized universally one Supreme Spirit who made everything.

Yet this does not mean that God Himself is known by all. Far from it! It is His invisible qualities, eternal power and godhead or divine nature that are known. That word “godhead” is not the usual word for Deity. Used only twice in the New Testament, here and in Acts 17:29, it is the word theiotes and means Godhood or Godness. It emphasizes the quality of Deity—what it is to be God. The normal Greek term for Deity is theotes, used in Colossians 2:9, which emphasizes the person of Deity. God, therefore, has made plain to all men what He is but not Who He is (Wuest 1966: 30).

What is it in the creation that compels men to see the Creator? The marks of creation are, as the Bible says, plainly seen. What are these marks?

All of us can recognize the difference between an object designed to perform a certain function and one which occurs naturally, without apparent design. For instance, a pebble at the bottom of a stream, shaped by tumbling down the bed, bouncing off other stones, smoothed by running water could take on a rather bizarre shape. Sometimes its shape could mimic designed objects, as a triangle,...

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