Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week: Archetype

“The original. In theology, God is the archetype; the creature made in his image is the ectype (the imitation or copy or image).”1 God’s knowledge, for instance, is archetypal. His knowledge of himself and everything that exists is perfect and infinite. His knowledge is the original, and all human knowledge is derived from his revelation.

  • From scripture:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)
So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:11 ESV)
  • From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof, on God’s archetypal knowledge: 

The knowledge of God differs in some important points from that of men. It is archetypal, which means that He knows the universe as it exists in His own eternal idea previous to its existence as a finite reality in time and space; and that His knowledge is not, like ours, obtained from without. It is a knowledge that is characterized by absolute perfection. As such it is intuitive rather than demonstrative or discursive. It is innate and immediate, and does not result from observation or from a process of reasoning. Being perfect, it is also simultaneous and not successive, so that He sees things at once in their totality, and not piecemeal one after another. Furthermore, it is complete and fully conscious, while man’s knowledge is always partial, frequently indistinct, and often fails to rise into the clear light of consciousness.

  • From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof on God’s archetypal personality: 

Since man is created in the image of God, we learn to understand something of the personal life of God from the contemplation of personality as we know it in man. We should be careful, however, not to set up man’s personality as a standard by which the personality of God must be measured. The original form of personality is not in man but in God; His is archetypal, while man’s is ectypal. The latter is not identical with the former, but does contain faint traces of similarity with it. We should not say that man is personal, while God is super- personal (a very unfortunate term), for what is super-personal is not personal; but rather, that what appears as imperfect in man exists in infinite perfection in God.


Learn more:

  1. Amy Mantravadi: What Kind of Knowledge Can We Have About God?


Related terms:

1 From None Greater by Matthew Barrett.

Filed under God’s Nature and His Work 


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