This attribute means God knows himself in all his absolute perfections and takes calm delight in who he is. He exists and lives in totally and absolutely perfect blessedness.
This attribute is considered a summary of all the other attributes. It is a complement and capstone of all the others, because it expresses the sum-total of who God is when he knows himself, as he is. No self-loathing in him!
It is a blessing that this attribute is communicable or “shareable” or “transferrable” to us humans because we are made in his image, and he grants us the capacity to be blessed and enjoy blessedness.
What do scholars and theologians say?
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the main word for blessing is the verb barak, used 327 times throughout the Hebrew Bible: Genesis 76 times, Deuteronomy 40 times, and Psalms 76 times. Each time it is people-related. The noun is beraka, used 71 times, and “denotes the pronouncement of good things on the recipient or the collection of good things” (Mounce, 70).
The New Testament was written in Greek, and the verb is eulogeō, which is used 41 times and means to “bless, thank, or praise.” The adjective eulogētos, which is used 8 times, means “blessed, praised.” A more common adjective is makarios, used 50 times, and has an extensive meaning: happy or fortunate, privileged. The noun is eulogia, where we get our word eulogy, and is used 16 times. It means to “speak well.” It is mostly translated as “praise.” The log– stem is rich in Greek, and it can include speaking a word. (Mounce, pp. 67-71).
But only two times in the New Testament is the frequent word makarios used to describe God’s state of being—he is blessed in his being and essence. But Scripture-based logic tells us this is one of his attributes.
Here’s what one prominent theologian says about the blessedness of God.
First, God’s blessedness corresponds to his degree of perfection. Since God is absolutely perfect in the sum-total of all his virtues (attributes), the highest essence in his goodness and truth, and life, “he is the God of absolute blessedness.”
Second, God’s absolute blessedness is the object of his love and knowledge, and his knowledge and love are absolute and in the highest, sum-total measure. He realizes that his being and nature is absolutely complete and whole and therefore totally and absolutely blessed. He knows that he is pure and infinite blessedness. And since he is absolute and perfect love, then he loves his being and essence. This self-knowledge and self-love means he exists in a state of total blessedness.
Therefore, third, he delights in himself in an absolute sense. “God is his own blessedness. Blessedness and God are the same. By means of his intellect he is fully conscious of his own perfection, and by means of his will he supremely loves it, i.e., he regards it with calm delight; and from this delight inward joy springs forth: the joy with which God delights in himself as the highest good” (Bavinck, Doctrine, 248).
God is not a narcissist or self-absorbed, but let’s use logic. God is perfectly loving and knowing, and he sees this in himself, along with all his other attributes, so he takes calm delight in them and himself. How could he not?
God’s attribute or perfection of blessedness means that he takes calm delight in all his being and excellencies and attributes and prompts him to bless his creation.
What do the Scriptures say?
I use the NIV here. If you would like to see the following verses in many translations and in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.
In this section, we focus on makarios. Here are the two verses that use it for God:
[T]hat conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Tim. 1:11)
God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Tim. 6:15b-16)
The latter passage reveals who God is—immortal, and lives in unapproachable light. We can approach the throne of grace boldly (Heb. 4:16), but it is by God’s grace, and we do not see God in his pure essence or his total splendor. No wonder he is blessed!
How do I come to know God better?
Nearly ever verse where bless or blessing is mentioned, it is about people. God communicates this attribute to us. We can be blessed and live in a state of blessedness. We don’t have to be narcissists, but we can consider ourselves complete and whole and blessed in Christ.
It starts with receiving God’s forgiveness:
Blessed [makarios] are those whose transgressions are forgiven, who sins are covered. Blessed [makarios] is the one whose sin the Lord will not count against them. (Rom. 4:7-8; Ps. 32:1-2)
When you receive God forgiveness you enter his kingdom. Now what? You are blessed.
In God’s upside-down kingdom, even the outcasts and misfits can be considered blessed—fortunate and happy. Here is the famous opening of the Sermon on the Mount, where the word makarios is used:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5:3-11)
Not many people are meek, merciful, peacemakers, and pure in heart, but when God transforms them into being those things, they are blessed. They are happy and fortunate!
Best of all, when you go through persecution because of righteousness, the kingdom of heaven / God belongs to you.
When you know God better and his blessing on you, you can live better and a blessed life.
Written by James Malcolm
ARTICLES IN “DO I REALLY KNOW GOD?” SERIES