Does God today have different knowledge than yesterday? In other words, did God not know yesterday what will happen today?

I'm mostly interested in Catholic and Protestant traditions

  • 1
    The answer to this question will depend on which Christian tradition you are addressing. Some would say yes, and some would say no. For the purposes of this site, it is necessary to target a particular tradition.
    – Narnian
    Aug 28, 2013 at 15:03
  • 5
    There's not much outside "Catholic and Protestant". Aug 28, 2013 at 15:17
  • 1
    This might work, "Which denomination believes that ......?"
    – Mawia
    Aug 28, 2013 at 15:40
  • 3
    There is not much to be gained by scoping this to a denomination.
    – pterandon
    Aug 28, 2013 at 18:37
  • I would think that a Christian would say that God's knowledge is infinite, and nothing is greater than infinity; therefore, whatever adds onto infinity is negligible or meaningless. It's still infinity.
    – Double U
    Sep 6, 2013 at 1:38

5 Answers 5


If God is increasing in knowledge, then God is by definition changing. As such, technically you would be rejecting the "immutability" of God, the doctrine that says God never changes.

While proponents of Open Theism would be more than happy to reject it, these are a fairly minor subset of Christians. Indeed, for the Open Theist, God is able to form relationships with humans only if he doesn't know what is happening in that relationship. And for the Open Theist, God's whole creation is a journey of discovery of the consequences of his Creation, hence God's knowledge is increasing.

That said, most Evangelicals and technically all Catholics would reject all of this. In a nutshell, if God is mutable, he cannot be omniscient nor can he be omnipotent. Many heresies spring from Open Theism and rejection of God's immutability. Amongst other mainline Protestants, you'll most likely find more reject the assertions of Open Theism than those who would accept it. Historically, the immutability of God was the point - that God never changes - and to deny it would be heresy.

There is much more in this question:

What is the basis of the argument that Open Theism is heretical?

and this one:

Can God Change his mind?

If you'd like to understand the relative merits of the positions.

  • Where is the traditional concept of immutability in your answer, or am I missing something? Impassibility seems to be somewhat off-point. Aug 29, 2013 at 12:39
  • Immutability = Impassibility Aug 29, 2013 at 12:58
  • Brian Leftow in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: "DDI [i.e., Divine Doctrine of Immutability] is sometimes conflated with the doctrine of divine impassibility, which asserts that nothing external can affect God . . .. Actually, DDI neither implies nor is implied by divine impassibility." Immutability, as I understand it, is linked particularly to God's incommunicable attributes (e.g., aseity, infinity, eternity, omnipresence, self-sufficiency, immutability) and impassibility to His communicable attributes (love, volition, rationality, and more), which we share with Him in mutable ways! Aug 29, 2013 at 19:28
  • @rhetorician Updated and corrected! Yup, I had the two backwards. You'd think a dev would have known better :) Thanks! Aug 29, 2013 at 19:38
  • @AffableGeek - the downvote was an error on my part: which I have now corrected :)
    – warren
    Aug 29, 2013 at 20:10

To supplement Affable Geek's answer...

According to Christian philosophy (especially Thomistic), the question, "Does God's knowledge increase in time?" is intrinsically invalid. God is eternal. Eternity, by definition, transcends time altogether.

What, then, is time? Philosophers use the word in two closely related senses; most of us find that one of these is sufficient for us. Time, say the philosophers, is the duration of that which changes; time, say the philosophers again and we with them, is the measurement of the changes of the universe. What is common to both statements is the relation of time to change. Where nothing changes, time has no possible meaning. Thus time and the universe started together. God is infinite and therefore changeless. He is “the Father of lights with whom there is no change or shadow of alteration” (James 1:17). He possesses the utter fullness of existence, so that nothing can go from Him, for He already possesses all. The universe He created is a changing universe. And because change belongs to it and not to God, time belongs to it and not to God. To repeat, time and the universe started together: time is the ticking of the universe. (1)

Our finite human intellects are so soaked and submerged in time that we struggle even to formulate sentence structures to effectively discuss God's nature.

The English language tends to break down when dealing with the true nature of God's existence. For instance, If we say, “Jesus was begotten before the universe was created,” then we are stating something that has no meaning at all. Before is a word of time, and there could be no time before the universe because time began with the universe. To say “before the universe” means when there wasn't any “when”; which is to say that it doesn't mean anything at all. The same is said about the question, “Does God today have different knowledge than yesterday?" "Yesterday" is what our finite intellects understand to be the measurement of change occurred in the universe 24 hours ago. "Today" measures the amount the universe has/will (has and will are verbs used to express past and future) change in the current 24 hour measurement period. Even the fundemental elements of our human languages cannot escape the effect that time has on our existence.

There is a constant struggle against time as we contemplate God's eternal nature. God created time, and therefore is not bound to be subjected by it. It is this reality of God's utter transcendence of time is precisely why the Incarnation is so mysterious. How can an eternal infinite God reduce himself to a crying infant?

There may still remain one error clinging to our knowledge of the processions of the Persons in the Blessed Trinity because of our own immersion in time. As far as the statement of it goes, we are not likely to make the error of thinking that the Son is in some way less eternal than the Father, or the Holy Spirit in some way younger than the Father and the Son. We know that there is no succession in eternity, no change in God. God the Father did not first exist as a Person and then become a Father. God, by the very act of being God, generates his Son; God the Father and God the Son, by the very act of being God, spirate the Holy Spirit. As I say, there is not likely to be any error in our statement of this: the error will tend to cling to our idea in such a way that when we are looking directly at it, we do not see it, yet it is profoundly there: and, because time is so deeply woven into all our experience, our advance in the knowledge of God depends upon our deliberate effort to rid our mind of it. (2)

  1. Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity, pg. 105
  2. Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity, pg. 108
  • Ha..I stole it from St. Thomas :)
    – user5286
    Aug 29, 2013 at 22:04

In the Judeo-Christian tradition within Protestantism and Catholicism, God is immutable. Simply put, He does not change (see 1 Samuel 15:29; Hebrews 13:8; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Numbers 23:19; and “Does God ‘Change His Mind’?” Bibliotheca Sacra 152:608 [October-December 1995]:387-99).

As for knowledge, God's omniscience precludes His acquiring knowledge (or as you put it, "different knowledge"). When God knows all there is to know, what is left to know? Obviously, nothing. As Paul put it in Colossians 2:

". . . a true knowledge of God's mystery . . . is Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (vv.2,3).

The Lord God said in Revelation 1,

"I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (v.8).

God's use of the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet (our English A and Z) is a merism, a figure of speech that encompasses everything, including the knowledge of the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning. Since God inhabits eternity, and since time is His creation, not ours, God exists, as some theologians put it "in the eternal present." From everlasting to everlasting, He is God (Psalm 90:2).

To suggest God somehow increases in knowledge is clearly unbiblical because it negates His omniscience. Being created in God's image, Human beings have knowledge and can increase their knowledge. Our knowledge, however, is imperfect and incomplete, but God's knowledge is complete and perfect.

Does this mean that God's foreknowledge of everything that will take place causes it to happen? No. Within a fairly circumscribed area, God has given human beings a measure of freedom. All the invitations of Scripture would not make sense otherwise. Clearly, God gives people the freedom to accept or reject His promises, and thus accept or reject Him.

"Come unto me," Jesus said. "All of you who are weary and heavily burdened, come. I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28-30).

If we come to Jesus, He will give us the rest and peace He promises. If we choose not to, we hurt only ourselves. God will not make us come to Him, though He does draw us, which is implied in every one of His gracious invitations (e.g., see Isaiah 55:1-3; John 7:37,38; 6:44).

While clearly beyond the scope of your question (so "tune out" if you'd like), the concepts of anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms help us to appreciate the impossibility of understanding fully the person and attributes of God, including His omniscience, or perfect and infinite knowledge.

First, anthropomorphisms (anthropo- + -morphism, man + form, shape or appearance) are figures of speech which ascribe to God human body parts (eyes, ears, a nose, hands, arms) or human limitations. These figures of speech do not constitute blasphemy or idolatry; rather, they make God more understandable to us, and for our benefit God moved the writers of Scripture to include them in holy writ. If He had not, our understanding of the person of God would be greatly diminished. God is certainly ineffable in so many ways, and yet He is also understandable, no more so than in the person of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15:2:9).

While God does not have eyes, He can see (2 Chronicles 16:9); He has no ears, but He hears (see Psalm 94:9); and so on. While God is omniscient and all knowing, that did not stop Him from asking His erring creatures, Adam and Eve, several questions after they had sinned:

"Then the LORD called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?'. . . [and] Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?'. . . Then the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?'" (3:9,11,13).

God knew the answers to these questions, but He asked them anyway to give our first parents an opportunity to confess. They did not; instead, they made excuses!

Second, anthropopathisms (anthropo- + -pathos, man + emotion) describe God as having human emotions, such as anger, jealousy, wrath, joy, happiness, frustration, and regret. Dr. Bruce Ware, in his series of articles entitled "Attributes of God: Incommunicable and Communicable" (at biblicaltraining.org) suggests that rather than labeling God's emotions as anthropomorphisms we should call them theomorphisms.

Whereas anthropopathisms denote the human tendency to project our fallible and imperfect emotions onto an infallible and perfect God (which is really a form of idolatry), theomorphisms denote the God-like emotions with which He endowed us when He created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26,27). Dr. Ware suggests theomorphisms is a more accurate word, and I concur.

When our emotions are not under God's control they often wreak havoc in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, however, they are manifest in "the fruit of the Spirit" (viz., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self control--Galatians 5:22,23).

God's emotions, on the other hand, are never out of control. While God's reaction to the idolatry of the Israelites in Moses' absence (Exodus 32) may seem to us to be "a fit of pique" or a "temper tantrum," these are projections of fallible human emotions onto an infallible God, and they are not only unworthy of Him, but they also minimize the legitimacy and holiness of God's wrath. God's wrath is never capricious, unpredictable, vindictive, or out of control.

In conclusion, there are attributes of God which are His alone (e.g., omnipresence, eternity, infinity, self-sufficiency, aseity, and immutability itself), which theologians call incommunicable. The attributes of God which we reflect, albeit imperfectly and finitely as His image bearers, are communicable (e.g., knowledge, wisdom, rationality, love, emotionality, and volition).

Within the Godhead, all God's attributes, whether incommunicable or communicable, are inherently and infinitely perfect in ways that are beyond human comprehension. As Isaiah tells us,

"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor 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'" (55:8,9).

Within God's image bearers, His communicable attributes, including His emotionality and His knowledge, are mere reflections or adumbrations of the ineffable, transcendent God, whom we will spend eternity worshiping and serving and getting to know, more and more.


To imply that God increases His knowledge is to imply that there is information that God doesn't already know.

Given that Heb 13:8 - God is the same yesterday today and forever and that 1 John 3:20; 1 Sam 2:3; Job 37:16 (and more) God is all knowing

I would say no God's knowledge does not increase, it is the same yesterday today and forever and it is complete and unending.

I do think the question of "Can God change His mind" in light of the above verses is an interesting discussion and a good followup.


God's being the same today as He was yesterday enables us to trust in His Word. What can be and must be increased is our own understanding of the Scriptures. As we will grow in a study, our questions about God's knowledge will be changed to the gratitude to God for the healing us from our misunderstandings.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .