In the New Testament, there are several passages that talk about what God can and cannot do. At a glance, it would seem that the New Testament is contradicting itself. Jesus when he is speaking to God in the
Before we can talk about what is implied by “all things possible”, it is best to investigate how First Century reader would have understood such statement. The original language of the New Testament is Koine Greek, which is not formal Greek but the Lingua Franca of the day. It is probably safe to assume that it was not the first language of many first century readers, but it was the most widely spoken language in the
The word translated "impossible" is the same word δυνατός with an alpha privative in front of the word. This negates the word in the way that an "a" in front of "theism" is "atheism" meaning "without theism". It is no different in Greek, in that αδυνατός is the inability to do something. The references here is into salvation, which is something that man cannot do, in that only God can save people. Another word that is critical to understanding all things possible is the word translated "all". The root of the word is πάς which is most often translated "all". The word is used over 1,200 in the New Testament, making it one of the most common words in New Testament. Although the word is used often, it does not really have any other meaning, other than to imply something is whole and complete, in that it is not lacking in any part. Often words that occur often carry a variety of meanings, but this one does not.
Another passage where these words appear in tandem is Mark 14:36. In context, Jesus is praying before he is arrested in the
Peter Geach's sees God's omnipotence as "Almightiness". Almightiness in the New Testament stems from another word, but this one refers not to the ability to do something but the power over something as a king has power over his people. The word κράτως refers to dominion, and when coupled with a form of the word πάς, renders παντοκράτωρ which is translated "Almighty". This word, παντοκράτωρ is almost exclusively found in the book of Revelations and once other time in 2 Corinthians 6:18. In all cases, it is referring to Jesus as Lord or King over everything, seemingly in the form of a title, much like we refer to one as "Mister Smith" or "Doctor Evans". It is recognizing the proper position of God. While this view of God's power is certainly accurate concerning the realm of God’s power, it says nothing about particulars of what God can and cannot do. It says that God has power over all things, but it does not say that God can or cannot do particulars. This concern will be addressed more later on, but realizing this now will help address understand the intent of this work.
Elsewhere in Scripture, the word "pas" appears with the word ἰσχύω, which is translated "can do". This word similar in meaning to δύναμαι which means "I am able". δύναμαι is the verb form of the word, δυνατός that we have been discussing thus far. Paul in Philippians 4:13 makes the statement, "I can do all things through Christ". Taken as is, it would seem that Paul is saying he is omnipotent through Christ. In context though, I do not think this is what Paul is talking about. Prior to this verse, he talks about being in need and having plenty, being comfortable and being in the most dire circumstances, and other such disparities. Such are literary devices to show contrast, similar to John's use of Alpha and Omega. When Paul is talking about "all things", he is talking about all circumstances that he encounters, with form of πάς referring to these circumstances. This is somewhat unique from the aforementioned passages, with particular regard to the Mark 14 passage. In the same verse, Jesus talks about a singular scenario: men saving themselves, but then says all things are possible with God, referring to a larger group of scenarios. Similarly, with the episode in the
From these passages, we can establish that as Geach has suggested, God is the Almighty, in that he has dominion over all things and that with God all things are possible. The question remains however, what is included in all things possible? Is "All things are possible", "All things possible" and "All possible things" the same thing? In Greek, being verbs are generally optional, so from this point of view, these three phrases would essentially communicate the same thing. One could come up with several other permutations of these and other related words to communicate the same idea. What we really need to do then is focus on what is meant by "all things possible".