Scripture proclaims that God is “the Mighty One, God, the Lord!” (Josh. 22:22), the One who possesses power that is so unbounded that it is known among God’s attributes as His omnipotence, from the Latin omni (all) and potentia (power). This attribute is identical with God’s glorious being as it is revealed under certain circumstances. It pulses through His names, such as “the Lord” (Ps. 2:7) and the “only Sovereign” (1 Tim. 6:15). It resounds in Scripture’s anthropomorphic descriptions of His “right hand” (Ex. 15:6) and “mighty arm” (Ps. 89:13). And it is revealed in His works of creation (Jer. 51:15), providence (Acts 17:25), redemption (2 Peter 1:3), judgment (Rom. 9:17), and consummating all things (Phil. 3:21). Simply put, because God is God, He is unchangeably and everlastingly omnipotent.
Despite the simplicity of this biblical truth, misunderstandings can creep in. We will consider two questions that occasionally receive misguided answers. First, does God’s omnipotence mean that God can do anything, or stated another way, is there anything that God cannot do? Second, how does Scripture reconcile God’s omnipotence with the reality of evil?
the scope of god’s omnipotence
In response to the first question, Scripture affirms that God can do far more than what He has determined to do in the world. As Jesus declared, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53). God is able to raise up children of Abraham from stones (3:9). Indeed, He is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think (Eph. 3:20). So when God asks Jeremiah, “Is anything too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27), the right answer is no, for nothing is impossible with God (see Luke 1:37). Therefore, we ought to praise God for what He has determined to do, not because He is unable to do anything else but because what He has willed to do is best, precisely because He has willed it.