Only One God
Though the Jehovah's Witnesses try to tease Philo out of the monotheistic fold for their own
purposes, he doesn't want to go with them:
"Since then it has been shown that no mortal can in solid reality be lord of anything, and when we
give the name of master we speak in the language of mere opinion, not of real truth; since too, as
there is subject and servant, so in the universe there must be a leader and a lord, it follows that
this true prince and lord must be one, even God, who alone can rightly claim that all things
are His possessions." (On the Cherubim, XXIV, 83).
"But this work which is His own He has bestowed freely, for He needs it not. Yet he who has
the use does not thereby become possessor, because there is one lord and master of all, who
will most rightly say 'all the land is mine (which is the same as "all creation is mine"), but ye are
strangers and sojourners before me' (Lev. xxv. 23). (On the Cherubim, XXXIII., 119).
"By his account of the creation of the world of which we have spoken Moses teaches us among many
other things five that are fairest and best of all. Firstly that the Deity is and has been from
eternity. This with a view to atheists, some of whom have hesitated and have been of two minds
about His eternal existence, while the bolder sort have carried their audacity to the point of
declaring that the Deity does not exist at all, but that it is a mere assertion of men obscuring the
truth with myth and fiction. Secondly, that God is one. This with a view to the
propounders of polytheism, who do not blush to transfer from earth to heaven mob-rule, that worst
of evil polities. Thirdly, as I have said already, that the world came into being. This
because of those who think that it is without beginning and eternal, who thus assign to God no
superiority at all...
"He that has begun by learning these things with his understanding rather than with his hearing, and
has stamped on his soul impressions of truths so marvellous and priceless, both that God is and is
from eternity, and that He that really IS is One, and that He has made the world and has
made it one world, unique as Himself is unique, and that He ever exercises forethought for His
creation, will lead a life of bliss and blessedness, because he has a character moulded by
the truths that piety and holiness enforce." (On the Creation, LXI. 170-172).
"It says also in another case, 'Ye shall not make together with Me gods of silver, and gods of
gold ye shall not make to yourselves' (Exod. xx. 23). For he that thinks either that God
belongs to a type, or that He is not one, or that He is not unoriginate and incorruptible, or that He
is not incapable of change, wrongs himself not God; for it says, 'to yourselves ye shall not make'; for
we must deem that He belongs to no type, and that He is One and incorruptible and
unchangeable." (Allegorical Interpretation, Book I, XV, 51).
"'And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone, let us make for him a helper
corresponding to him' [Gen. ii. 18]. Why, O prophet, is it not good that the man should be
alone? Because, he says, it is good that the Alone should be alone; but God, being One, is alone
and unique, and like God there is nothing. Hence, since it good that He Who IS should be
alone — for indeed with regard to Him alone can the statement 'it is good' be made — it follows that it
would not be good that the man should be alone. [...] God is alone, a Unity, in the sense that His
nature is simple not composite, whereas each one of us and of all other created beings is made up of
many things. I, for example, am many things in one. I am soul and body....But God is not
a composite Being, consisting of many parts, nor is He mixed with aught else...The 'one' and the
'monad' are, therefore, the only standard for determining the category to which God belongs.
Rather should we say, the One God is the sole standard for the 'monad.' For, like time, all
number is subsequent to the universe; and God is prior to the universe, and is its Maker."
(Allegorical Interpretation, Book II, I, 1-3).
"But let Melchizedek instead of water offer wine, and give to souls strong drink, that they may
be seized by a divine intoxication, more sober than sobriety itself. For he is a priest, even
Reason ['logos'], having as his portion Him that IS, and all his thoughts of God are high and vast
and sublime: for he is priest of the Most High, not that there is any other not Most High -- for God
being One 'is in heaven above and on earth beneath, and there is none beside Him' [Deut. iv.
39] -- but to conceive of God not in low earthbound ways but in lofty terms, such as transcend all
other greatness and all else that is free from matter, calls up in us a picture of the Most High."
(Allegorical Interpretation, Book III, XXVI, 82).
"Knowing thoroughly that such judges are never deceived so as to wander from a sound opinion, but
that, having learnt from the beginning to understand who is the true king, namely, the Lord,
they indignantly refuse to worship him who deprives God of his honor, and seeks to appropriate it to
himself, and who invites his fellow servants to do him service. On which account they say with
confidence, 'Shall you be a king and reign over us?' [Genesis 37:8]. Are you ignorant that we
are not independent, but that we are under the government of an immortal king, the only God? And
why should you be a lord and lord it over us? for are we not under domination, and have we not now,
and shall we not have for ever, and ever the same one Lord? in being whose servants we
rejoice more than any one else can do in his liberty; for to be the servant of God is the most
excellent of all things which are honored in creation." (On Dreams, Book 2, XIV-XV, 99-100).
"...'thy weight shall be a true and just one.' [Deuteronomy 25:15]. But a true and just
measure is, to conceive that it is the only just God alone who measures and weighs everything,
and who has circumscribed the nature of the universe with numbers, and limitations, and
boundaries." On Dreams, Book 2, XXIX, 194).
"And it is the nature of unity not to be capable of either addition or subtraction, inasmuch
as it is the image of the only complete God; for all other things are intrinsically and by their own
nature loose; and if there is any where any thing consolidated, that has been bound by the word of
God, for this word is glue and a chain, filling all things with its essence. And the word, which
connects together and fastens every thing, is peculiarly full of itself, having no need whatever
of any thing beyond." (Who is the Heir of Divine Things, XXXVIII, 187-188).
"Therefore admiring this same disposition when thus taking to flight, and submitting to a
voluntary fall [Genesis 17:3] by reason of the confession which the mind had made
respecting the living God, namely, that he stands in truth and is one only, while all other
things beneath Him are subject to all kinds of motions and alterations, He speaks to it, and
allows it to enter into conversation with Him, saying, 'And I, behold my covenant is with thee.'
[Genesis 17:4]" (On the Change of Names, VIII, 57).
"'Whoever,' said he, 'is on the side of the Lord, let him come to me.' [Exodus 32:26]. It
was but a brief sentence which he thus uttered, but the meaning concealed under it was important; for
what was intimated by his words was the following sense: 'If any one does not think anything whatever
that is made by hands, or anything that is created, a god, but believes that there is one ruler
of the universe only, let him come to me.'" (On the Life of Moses, II, XXXII, 168).
"Let us, therefore, reject all such impious dishonesty, and not worship
those who are our brothers by nature, even though they may have received
a purer and more immortal essence than ourselves (for all created things
are brothers to one another, inasmuch as they are created; since the Father
of them all is one, the Creator of the universe); but let us rather, with
our mind and reason, and with all our strength, gird ourselves up vigorously
and energetically to the service of that Being who is uncreated and everlasting,
and the maker of the universe, never shrinking or turning aside from it,
nor yielding to a desire of pleasing the multitude, by which even those
who might be saved are often destroyed.
"Let us, therefore, fix deeply in ourselves this first commandment as the most sacred of all commandments, to think that there is but one God, the most highest, and to honor him alone; and let not the polytheistical doctrine ever even touch the ears of any man who is accustomed to seek for the truth, with purity and sincerity of heart; for those who are ministers and servants of the sun, and of the moon, and of all the host of heaven, or of it in all its integrity or of its principal parts, are in grievous error; (how can they fail to be, when they honor the subjects instead of the prince?) but still they sin less grievously than the others, who have fashioned stocks, and stones, and silver, and gold, and similar materials according to their own pleasure, making images, and statues, and all kinds of other things wrought by the hand; the workmanship in which, whether by statuary, or painter, or artisan, has done great injury to the life of man, having filled the whole habitable world."
(Decalogue, XIV, 65).
"Therefore, God, removing out of His sacred legislation all such impious deification of
undeserving objects, has invited men to the honor of the true and living God; not indeed that He has
any need Himself to be honored; for being all-sufficient for Himself, He has no need of any
one else; but He has done so, because He wished to lead the race of mankind, hitherto wandering about
in trackless deserts, into a road from which they should not stray, that so by following nature it
might find the best end of all things, namely, the knowledge of the true and living God, who is the
first and most perfect of all good things; from whom as from a fountain, all particular blessings
are showered upon the world, and upon the things and people in it." (The Decalogue, XVI, 81).
"The first law is the fountain of all those concerning the government of one supreme
Ruler, and they show that there is one first cause of the world, one Ruler and King, who guides
and governs the universe in such a way as conduces to its preservation, having banished from the pure
essence of heaven all oligarchy and aristocracy, those treacherous forms of government which arise
among wicked men, as the offspring of disorder and covetousness." (The Decalogue, XXIX, 154).
"And Moses is constantly prophseying and telling his people that there is one God,
the creator and maker of the universe; and at other times he teaches them that He is the Lord of all
created things, since all that is firm, and solid, and really stable and sure, is by nature so framed
as to be connected with Him alone. And it is said in the scriptures that, 'Those that are
attached to the living God do all live.' [Deuteronomy 4:4]" (The Special Laws, I, V, 30-31).
"There is also a third class, who have entered on the contrary path, guiding a multitude of men
and women, of old and young, filling the world with arguments in favor of a multiplicity of rulers, in
order by such means to eradicate all notions of the one and truly living God from the minds
of men. These are they who are symbolically called by the law the sons of a harlot. For
as mothers who are harlots do not know who is the real father of their children, and cannot register
him accurately, but have many, or I might almost say all men, their lovers and associates, the same
is the case with those who are ignorant of the one true God. For, inventing a great number whom
they falsely call gods, they are blinded as to the most important of all existing things which they
ought to have thoroughly learnt, if not alone, at all events as the first and greatest of all things
from their earliest childhood; for what can be a more honorable thing to learn than the knowledge of
the true and living God?" (The Special Laws, I, LX, 331-332).
"Now of those principles of justice relating to God, the first law enunciated is one which opposes
the polytheistic doctrine, and teaches us that the world is ruled over by one sole governor.
The second is one forbidding men to make gods of things which are not the causes of anything, by
means of the treacherous arts of painters and sculptors, whom Moses banished from his own
constitution which he proposed to establish, condemning them to everlasting banishment, in order
that the only true God might be honored in truth and simplicity." (Who is the Heir of Divine Things,
"Now if the God of the Universe, the only God, is also his God in
a special sense and by special grace, he surely must needs be
himself a man of God. . .Such a reasoning has the one and only God
for its owner; it becomes God's companion and makes straight the
path of its whole life, treading the true 'King's way,' the way of
the one sole almighty king, swerving and turning aside neither to
the right not to the left." (Philo Judaeus, On the Giants, Chapter
XIV, Loeb edition p. 477).
"Since then those men had undertaken this expedition of their own accord and spontaneously,
in the cause of piety and holy reverence for the one true and living God, not without great
danger to those who had entered in the contest, the Father of the universe received them with
approbation, and at once pronounced those who had slain those men to be pure from all curse and
pollution, and in requital for their courage he bestowed the priesthood on them." (The Special
Laws, III, XXII, 127).
"...the government to be undertaken is not one over any ordinary nation, but one which is the most
populous of all nations everywhere, and one which puts forth the most important of all professions,
the worship of the one true and living God, who is the Creator and the Father of the
universe...For whatever advantages are derived from the most approved philosophy to its students, full
as great are derived by the Jews from their laws and customs, inasmuch as through them they have
rejected all errors about gods who have been created themselves; for there is no created being
who is truly God, but such a one is so only in appearance and opinion, being destitute of that
most indispensable quality in God, namely, eternity." (On the Virtues, X, 64-65).
"All those men therefore who, although they did not originally choose to honor the Creator and
Father of the universe, have yet changed and done so afterwards, having learnt to prefer to honor a
single monarch rather than a number of rulers, we must look upon as our friends and
kinsmen...since even if they were blind previously they have now received their sight, beholding the
most brilliant of lights instead of the most profound darkness." (On the Virtues, XXXIII, 179).
"But that Governor or Guider, being surrounded on all sides by unalloyed light, was difficult to
be perceived and difficult to be understood by conjecture, since the power of sight was obscured
by the brilliancy of those beams. But nevertheless the sight, although a great violence
of fire was poured upon it, held out against it out of an immense desire of seeing what was before it.
And the Father pitied its sincere desire and eagerness to see, and gave it power, and did not
grudge the acuteness of the sight thus directed a perception of Himself, as far at least as a created
and mortal nature could attain to such a thing, not indeed such a perception as should show him what
God is, but merely such as should prove to him that He exists; for even this, which is better than
good, and more ancient than the unit, and more simple than one, cannot possibly be
contemplated by any other being; because, in fact, it is not possible for God to be comprehended by
any being but Himself." (On Rewards and Punishments, VI, 38-39).
"This is the mind in which the prophet says that God walks as in His palace; for the mind of the
wise man is in truth the palace and the house of God. And He who is the God of all things is
peculiarly called the God of this mind; and again this mind is by a peculiar form called His people,
not the people of any particular rulers, but of the one only and true ruler, the Holy One of
holies." (On Rewards and Punishments, XX, 123).
"I have now, then, without making any concealment or softening the truth in any degree,
explained the curses and punishments which it is fit for those persons to endure who have despised
the sacred laws of justice and piety, and who have submitted themselves to the adoption of
polytheistic opinions, the end of which is impiety through forgetfulness of the instruction originally
imparted to them by their forefathers, which they learnt in their earliest infancy, when they were
taught to look upon the nature of the One as the only supreme God, to whom alone those persons
may properly be assigned as His inheritance who pursue the genuine truth instead of cunningly
invented fables." (On Rewards and Punishments, XXVIII, 162).
"What is the meaning of the expression, 'Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil?' [Genesis
3:5]. Whence was it that the serpent found the plural word 'gods,' when there is only one
true God, and when this is the first time that he names him? But perhaps this arises from there
having been in him a certain prescient wisdom, by which he now declared the notion of the multitude
of gods which was at a future time to prevail amongst men; and, perhaps, history now relates this
correctly at its first being advanced not to any rational being, nor by any creature of the higher
class, but as having derived its origin from the most virulent and vile of beasts and serpents,
since other similar creatures lie hid under the earth, and their lurking places are in the holes
and fissures of the earth." (Questions and Answers on Genesis, I, 36).
"In the first place, then, we must say this, that there is no existing
being equal in honor to God, but there is only one ruler and governor and
king, to whom alone it is granted to govern and to arrange the universe.
For the verse -- 'A multitude of kings is never good, Let there one
sovereign, one sole monarch be [Homer Iliad 2.204]", is not more justly said with respect
to cities and men than with respect to the world and to God, for it is clear from the necessity of
things that there must be one creator, and one father, and one master of the one universe." (On
the Confusion of Tongues, XXXIII, 170.)
The Bible of course concurs: