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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

in'-fin-it, in-fin'-i-tud:

1. Scripture Use:

The word "infinite" occurs 3 times only in the text of the King James Version (Job 22:5 Psalm 147:5 Nahum 3:9) and once in margin (Nahum 2:9). In Psalm 147:5, "His understanding is infinite" it represents the Hebrew 'en micpar, "no number"; in the other passages the Hebrew 'en qets (Job 22:5, of iniquities) and 'en qetseh (Nahum 3:9, of strength of Ethiopia and Egypt; the King James Version margin 2:9, of "spoil"), meaning "no end." the Revised Version (British and American), therefore, renders in Job 22:5, "Neither is there any end to thine iniquities," and drops the marginal reference in Nahum 2:9.

2. Application to God:

Psalm 147:5 is thus the only passage in which the term is directly applied to God. It there correctly conveys the idea of absence of all limitation. There is nothing beyond the compass of God's understanding; or, positively, His understanding embraces everything there is to know. Past, present and future; all things possible and actual; the inmost thoughts and purposes of man, as well as his outward actions, lie bare to God's knowledge (Hebrews 4:13; see OMNISCIENCE).

3. Infinity Universally Implied:

While, however, the term is not found, the truth that God is infinite, not only in His understanding, but in His being and all His perfections, natural and moral, is one that pervades all Scripture. It could not be otherwise, if God was unoriginated, exalted above all limits of time, space and creaturehood, and dependent only on Himself. The Biblical writers, certainly, are far from thinking in metaphysical categories, or using such terms as "self-existence," "absoluteness," "unconditioned" yet the ideas for which these terms stand were all of them attributed in their conceptions to God. They did not, e.g. conceive of God as having been born, or as having a beginning, as the Babylonian and Greek gods had, but thought of Him as the ever-existing One (Psalm 90:1, 2), and free Creator and Disposer of all that exists. This means that God has self-existence, and for the same reason that He is not bound by His own creation. He must be thought of as raised above all creaturely limits, that is, as infinite.

4. Anthropomorphisms:

The anthropomorphisms of the Bible, indeed, are often exceedingly naive, as when Yahweh is said to "go down" to see what is being done (Genesis 11:5, 7; Genesis 18:21), or to "repent" of His actions (Genesis 6:6); but these representations stand in contexts which show that the authors knew God to be unlimited in time, space, knowledge and power (compare Genesis 6:7, God, Creator of all; 11:8, 9, universal Ruler; 18:25, universal Judge; Numbers 23:19, incapable of repentance, etc.). Like anthropomorphisms are found in Deuteronomy and the Prophets, where it is not doubted that the higher conceptions existed. In this infinity of God is implied His unsearchableness (Job 11:7 Psalm 145:3 Romans 11:33); conversely, the latter attribute implies His infinity.

5. Infinity a Perfection Not a Quantity:

This infinitude of God is displayed in all His attributes-in His eternity, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, etc.-on which see the separate articles. As regards the proper conception of infinity, one has chiefly to guard against figuring it under too quantitative an aspect. Quantitative boundlessness is the natural symbol we employ to represent infinity, yet reflection will convince us that it is inadequate as applied to a spiritual magnitude. Infinitude in power, e.g. is not an infinite quantity of power, but the potentiality in God of accomplishing without limit everything that is possible to power. It is a perfection, not a quantity. Still more is this apparent in moral attributes like love, righteousness, truth, holiness. These attributes are not quantities (a quantity can never be truly infinite), but perfections; the infinity is qualitative, consisting in the absence of all defect or limitation in degree, not in amount.

6. Errors Based on Quantitative Conceptions:

The recollection of the fact now stated will free the mind from most of the perplexities that have been raised by metaphysical writers as to the abstract possibility of the co-existence of infinite attributes in God (thus e.g. Mansel); the reconcilability of God's infinity with His Personality, or with the existence of a finite world; the power of the human mind to conceive infinity, etc. How, it is asked, can the idea of infinity get into our finite minds? It might as well be asked how the mind can take in the idea of the sun's distance of some 90 million miles from the earth, when the skull that holds the brain is only a few cubic inches in capacity. The idea of a mile is not a mile big, nor is the idea of infinity too large to be thought of by the mind of man. The essence of the power of thought is its capacity for the universal, and it cannot rest till it has apprehended the most universal idea of all the infinite.

James Orr


Faustus Seeks to Bring into Ridicule the Orthodox Claim to Believe ...
... Augustin expresses his despair of being able to induce the Manich├Žans to adopt right
views of the infinitude of God so long as they continue to regard the ...
/.../faustus seeks to bring into.htm

Whether God Can Know Infinite Things?
... Granted, however, an actually infinite number of things, for instance, an infinitude
of men, or an infinitude in continuous quantity, as an infinitude of air ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether god can know infinite.htm

The Christian Aim and Motive.
... Let us then endeavour to find out the evidences of this infinitude in the nature
of man. ... That man knows what it is to partake of the infinitude of God. ...
/.../robertson/sermons preached at brighton/xii the christian aim and.htm

Dionysius the Presbyter, to his Fellow-Presbyter Timothy.
... through the workings of the Divine goodness, the which in just care for our
preservation divinely tempereth unto finite measure the infinitude of things which ...
/.../rolt/dionysius the areopagite/chapter i dionysius the presbyter.htm

Whether an Infinite Multitude Can Exist?
... Therefore it is not impossible for others also to coexist with them, and so on to
infinitude; therefore an actual infinite number of things is possible. ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether an infinite multitude can.htm

Whether any Other Procession Exists in God Besides that of the ...
... Because, for whatever reason we admit another procession, we should be led to
admit yet another, and so on to infinitude; which cannot be. ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether any other procession exists.htm

The Various Hypotheses of Marcus and Others. Theories Respecting ...
... And thus, again, others are named by other letters, and others still by others,
so that the multitude of letters swells out into infinitude. ...
/.../irenaeus/against heresies/chapter xiv the various hypotheses of.htm

Seventh Tractate. Is There an Ideal Archetype of Particular Beings ...
... There is no need to baulk at this limitlessness in the Intellectual; it is an
infinitude having nothing to do with number or part; what we may think of it as ...
/.../plotinus/the six enneads/seventh tractate is there an.htm

To My Fellow Presbyter, Timothy, Dionysius the Presbyter.
... only as invisible and incomprehensible, but also as inscrutable and untraceable,
since there is no trace of those who have penetrated to Its hidden infinitude. ...
/.../dionysius/dionysis on divine names/caput i to my fellow.htm

Partakers of the Divine Nature
... And though on the one hand there be finiteness and on the other infinitude: though
we have to talk, in big words, of which we have very little grasp, about ...
/.../partakers of the divine nature.htm

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) The quality or state of being infinite, or without limits; infiniteness.

2. (n.) Infinite extent; unlimited space; immensity; infinity.

3. (n.) Boundless number; countless multitude.

... immensity; infinity. 3. (n.) Boundless number; countless multitude. Int.
Standard Bible Encyclopedia. INFINITE; INFINITUDE. in'-fin ...
/i/infinitude.htm - 12k

Infinite (8 Occurrences)
... 8. (n.) An infinity; an incalculable or very great number. 9. (n.) The Infinite
Being; God; the Almighty. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. INFINITE; INFINITUDE...
/i/infinite.htm - 15k

Infirm (25 Occurrences)

/i/infirm.htm - 13k

Infinitely (3 Occurrences)

/i/infinitely.htm - 7k

Immortal (3 Occurrences)
... It is the characteristic of spirit that it has in it an element of infinitude, and
aspires to the infinite. The best the world can give can never satisfy it. ...
/i/immortal.htm - 33k

Immortality (6 Occurrences)
... It is the characteristic of spirit that it has in it an element of infinitude, and
aspires to the infinite. The best the world can give can never satisfy it. ...
/i/immortality.htm - 35k

... The further objection that modern knowledge discredits the Biblical view by showing
how small a speck the world is in the infinitude of the universe is really ...
/c/cosmological.htm - 33k

World (2829 Occurrences)
... The further objection that modern knowledge discredits the Biblical view by showing
how small a speck the world is in the infinitude of the universe is really ...
/w/world.htm - 40k



Related Terms

Infinite (8 Occurrences)

Infirm (25 Occurrences)

Infinitely (3 Occurrences)

Immortal (3 Occurrences)

Immortality (6 Occurrences)


World (2829 Occurrences)

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