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Michelangelo: God creates Adam, ceiling fresco, Sistine Chapel (1508-1512)

The word God (derived from Germanic*guda- "God", literally "invocation") originated in the Germanic languages as a general designation for exalted spiritual beings.

Gods and Deities

Gods or Deities (from Greekθεός theós; Latindeus) are usually referred to as beings of the first and second hierarchy. Originally, the word God had a neuter gender, as it encompassed male and female deities equally. Today, the singular God is used primarily to refer to the Father principle of the divine Trinity.

„In those times it was not as it is in our time, where it is so easily objected to one when one speaks of spiritual things: you speak much of the spirit of the people or the spirit of the times or otherwise of spiritual facts, but you speak so little of God. - People do not realise why one does not speak of God: because no human concept can really embrace that in which we live, weave and are. In this, too, there are views, some of which are very interesting. When I recently gave a public lecture in a town and, as has become so common, questions were put up for answer, one person asked a very clever question. He asked: Yes, if one logically recognises an object by looking at it as an object, by being able to confront it - if we cannot have an objective image of an object that we have within us, like the eyeball, for the reason that we cannot look at it - what about the assertion of some mystics that one has to move away from God in order to be able to look at him as an object?

Certainly, some mystics have made the claim that one must move away from God in order to face Him. The question was a wise one, but it must be answered only by saying: You may move away from God as much as you like, but you remain within the God, you cannot move out of the God. - Some logic is quite logical, but it is also very short-sighted.

In the times when people were still closer to the spiritual, there was still a feeling of reverence for the divine in which we live and weave and are, which should not always be called by name, and that is why ancient Hebrew antiquity, in order not to pronounce the name, used the expression: "The face of Yahweh." The face of man is that which he turns outwards, by which he reveals himself. It is not the whole of man. One recognises him according to his inwardness by the features of his face, but one does not therefore fail to speak of the whole man when one means his face.

That is why Michael was called "the face of Yahweh", but rather the representative through whom Yahweh or Jehovah made himself known to mankind, as in a face turned towards mankind. In familiar circles, too, one much preferred to call the representative than to speak of Yahweh Himself.“ (Lit.:GA 152, p. 67f)

God is Spirit

In the Gospel of John, the Christ says to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well:

„God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.“

God is spirit and as such the pure, perfect actuality. He therefore gives all material and immaterial things and beings their being, for he is the ens a se, the being-in-itself. It is "pure act" (actus purus) in the sense of Aristotle's doctrine of act and potency[1]. His infinite potential does not unfold step by step, but is always already completely realised. He is perfect eternity without beginning and without end. Only for him is it true in the fullest sense: "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14). His attributes and his actions are identical with his being, and his existence is an inseparable part of his being. Created beings, on the other hand, always have unrealised possibilities, both in terms of their imperfections and their perfections.


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. Cf. Aristotle: Metaphysics, XI 7, 1072b ff. according to Regenbogen, Arnim, Uwe Meyer: Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe. Meiner, Hamburg 2005: actus purus.