Q: #461. What does the Godhead mean (Acts 17:29)(Rom 1:20)(Col 2:9)?
A: The word “Godhead” is only used in three verses in the Bible (KJV) (Acts 17:29)(Rom 1:20)(Col 2:9). In each of these verses, a slightly different Greek word is used. In (Acts 17:29), the Greek word is “theion,” in (Rom 1:20) it is “theiotes,” and in (Col 2:9) it is “theotes.” However, these basically mean the same thing: “the Divine Nature” or “Deity.” In fact, in some versions like the NASB, NIV, and NKJV, we see these terms used instead of Godhead. In (2 Pet 1:3) and (2 Pet 1:4), “theion” is translated in the KJV (as well as other versions) as “divine.” Strong’s uses terms such as “essential nature,” or “divine essence” to describe the Godhead. Easton’s Bible Dictionary simply says, “the essential being or the nature of God.”
There are those who use the term “Godhead” to define the Trinity. I actually started to use this in my last study on The Trinity, but I couldn’t really make it work. While the Godhead, and its meaning clearly apply to each person in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), to me it really doesn’t really point to the Trinity, or help explain it.
In the three verses that use the word “Godhead,” we are told several things about it.
1. In (Acts 17:29), Paul tells us that the Godhead created man, and all created things, and is far above all creation. All of creation points to the one “true” God.
2. In (Rom 1:20), much like in Acts, Paul again ties the Godhead to creation, saying that since the creation of the world, “the invisible things of Him (God)… His eternal power and Godhead (divine nature),” have been clearly seen, so man has no excuse for not knowing the one “true” God.
***Note: “Creation” can be used to point to a triune God. By showing that the Father (1 Cor 8:6), Son (Jesus) (Col 1:16), and Holy Spirit (Ps 104:30) (and God: Isa 42:5), were ALL responsible for authoring creation, and tying this to (Gen 1:26)(Gen 3:22), in which “God” is called “Us” and “Our,” we have proof of a triune God at creation. Therefore, since the two verses above connect the “Godhead” to creation, we can show that the Godhead consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
3. Finally, in (Col 2:9) we see that in Jesus, “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” This is one of the clearest verses in the Bible pointing to the deity of Jesus. Putting it another way, all of the fullness of “Deity” (NASB / NIV) dwells (present tense) in the body of Jesus. My “Life Application Bible” says “the totality of God is embodied in Christ.”
(***Note: This was said, in part, to combat the false teaching of Gnosticism [explained more fully here] which was going on at that time.)
In many dictionaries, when you look up the word “Godhead,” it is said that this word (small “g”) was also used by Greek heathens and Pagans to describe their deities (gods and goddesses). For example, Plato said, “Do you mean that I do not believe in the godhead of the sun and moon, like other men?” (From: Plato: The Complete Works).