One – Word Nerd Wednesday

What better way to begin day one of a new year than by studying the biblical significance of the number one with Katie Chew!

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Deuteronomy 6:4

Hebrew: echad

Meaning: one

The Biblical Significance of the Number One

The Oneness of God. Quite possibly one of the most daunting truths we attempt to wrap our brains around as Christians. He is One. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but he is One. He is Echad.

Because of the theology and depth of response that would be required to explain the Trinity, I’m actually going to pass. With only 700 words, I wouldn’t do it justice and I would probably create more questions than I answer. Instead, I want to take this piece a different route. Instead, I would like to beg the question if God is truly One (as described in the doctrine of the Trinity which I hold), what does that mean to us? What does our Three in One God desire for his bride, the Church?

Jesus Prayed for our Oneness

We need look no further than the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane to see just how pivotal he found the unity of believers. The last night of his life, sweating blood and pouring out his heart before his Father, we see the cry of Jesus’ heart for unity.

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message (did you know that Jesus prayed for you?), that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 17:20-23, my parentheses added.

The Greek for unity in this passage is hen (root heis) or one. Used this way it means to be opposed to a division into parts (Strong’s 1520). Meanwhile, the Greek for complete is teteleiōmenoi which can be translated: to bring to an end, to complete, to perfect (Strong’s 5048). Jesus is praying that we would be One as he and the Father are One. That we would be perfectly, completely opposed to a division of parts.

The question beating in my heart as I read and research this is what are we doing?

Brought up in a culture that idolizes individuality, independence and competition, we strive to be different, alone and best at the same time. We strive for uniqueness, for a brand, for something that sets us apart from all else, then we point to it to boost our arguments that our brand is better than yours. It’s in our parenting, in our homes, in our churches, in our cities, in our politics. We would die for individuality.

But Jesus died with our unity in mind.

Unity is how the world will know about Jesus – it’s in the very same verse. As believers, we must come together under the banner of our Lord Jesus. We want unity within our nation, so let’s start in our churches. In Christ, there is no race, no economic standing, no class. Paul stated it to the Galatians that “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave or free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (3:28).”

Your common bond with your brothers and sisters in Christ is Jesus and that is all you need. So lock arms in His Name, let down your guard and put your pride on the shelf that says your way is the best and only way. Let’s be known by our unity, by our willingness to work together to see God’s kingdom come to earth.

And please note this one this doesn’t make us bland and boring. It doesn’t turn us into little Christian robots that are all the same. Quite the opposite, really. C.S. Lewis said it beautifully in Mere Christianity when he said, “Sameness is to be found among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints (Lewis, 176).” 

Humility and Unity

So in a divisive world full of tyrants and conquerors, let’s be humble and united. Let’s be known by our oneness and submission to our God that is One and his Word. Let’s be perfectly and completely opposed to division in our homes, in our churches, in our cities and so show the world our glorious Savior.

For more on this idea, read about how Christ Followers are Called to Community.


Strong’s Concordance: #259, #1520, #5048

Lewis, C.S. The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics, 2002.

Biblical significance of the number one

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