The Aseity of God: Before the Beginning

God’s many attributes are the object of much study and debate, and not without good reason. While we humans have attributes, God is His attributes, and therefore we must contemplate these attributes so that we might better know our God. We often hear and speak of God’s goodness, holiness, wisdom, mercy, justice, faithfulness, and more, but there is one attribute that is rarely, if ever, spoken of. This attribute is, as the title of this article suggests, God’s aseity. 

The Definition 

The term “aseity” is derived from the Latin “aseitas”, meaning “from one’s self.” [1] God’s aseity could be thought of as an attribute that combines aspects of His eternality, immutability, and omnipotence. In short, it is the incommunicable attribute by which He is absolutely self-sufficient and independent. But before we delve deeper into the implications of God’s aseity, let’s first look into the history of the philosophy around the idea. 

The Philosophy 

Parmenides of Elea is quite well known as the Greek Socratic philosopher who asserted that what is, is. He argued that “reality is in some sense a unified and unchanging singular entity”; that there is no becoming, but rather that there is only being. [2] 

In stark contrast to Parmenides’ ideas were Heraclitus’ teachings of universal flux. Heraclitus is most well-known for his beliefs that one cannot step into the same river twice, for not only has the river flowed on relentlessly, becoming different if not entirely new, but also, by the time one places a second foot into the river, they too have changed, even if only slightly, into a different person than they were a mere second before. Heraclitus substituted the state of being, towards which Parmenides was so inclined, for the state of becoming. He taught that the only thing constant is change itself, and that there is no such thing as pure, absolute being ( 

The Implication 

While neither of these men were entirely correct, their philosophies have powerful theological implications, for such is the distinction between us and God. While we are always changing, God is immutable; He simply is. He cannot change, for He is the Ens Perfectissimum: the Most Perfect Being. There is, of course, no difference between a perfect being, a more perfect being, and the most perfect being. We go so far as to use redundancies in our attempts to describe our God: He is holy, holy, holy, He is most perfect. 

God’s aseity is necessarily ontological, for without God, nothing can exist. There are really only two options for the origins of the existence of our universe: either it created itself from nothing, or there is a supreme being who created it. The former option is obviously and blatantly absurd. Newton’s First Law, the Law of Inertia, states that an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. Similarly, it is widely accepted that out of nothing, nothing comes, as expressed in the Latin phrase Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit. These laws do not state that, give or take a couple billion years, nothing will eventually turn into something. Nothing never becomes anything other than nothing, and if there ever was nothing, then today, right now, that is what there would be: nothing.

The Application 

God’s aseity gives us cause to worship His name. As Paul states in Acts 17:21, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” We cannot move a finger apart from God’s power or without His knowing it. People praise sports figures and other individuals who have achieved many great and excellent things in this life. How much more should we praise God, to whom we owe all things, who gave us life, and who has been, is, and shall always be most excellent? Without God there can be no being, and without being there can be [is?] no becoming. The truth that this was the beginning of all things screams loudly that there is One who has the power of being in Himself, One who is the fountain from which all life and being must flow.

Works Cited 

[1] Merriam Webster, 2023, 

[2] DeLong, Jeremy C. Parmenides of Elea (Late 6th cn.—Mid 5th cn. B.C.E.). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 

[3] Graham, Daniel W. Heraclitus. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2019,

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