by Matt Slick
We would first have to define what “person” means before we can determine if God is a person. Some people think that a person must have a body of flesh and bones, but theologically speaking “personhood” does not necessitate that. Instead, personhood is defined as having a will, self-awareness, emotions, being able to recognize others, speaking, etc. Therefore, angels would be persons since they have wills, speak, etc. God would be a person too. However, the Christian doctrine of God is that he is comprised of three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We call this the Trinity. We say that God is three persons because we see that the Father is called God (Phil. 1:2), the Son is called God (Heb. 1:8), and the Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:1-4). Each has a will (F, Luke 22:42; S, Luke 22:42; HS, 1 Cor. 12:11) and speaks (F, Matt. 3:17; S, Luke 5:20; HS, Acts 13:2). For more information see Trinity.
However, we do find that in the Bible “God” also speaks in the singular. For example,
- Gen. 1:29, “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth…’”
- Exodus 3:14, “And God said unto Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM’: and he said, ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.’”
This is not a contradiction between God being expressed as one person and being a Trinity of persons. The totality of the Godhead as a Trinity can certainly speak as one.
So, can God be said to be a person? Yes. And how do we tell if he is a person? We simply look at the requirements of being a person, such as speaking, being aware of others, having a will, loving, etc., and we see that God most certainly expresses the attributes of personhood.