QUESTION 8: THE EXISTENCE OF GOD IN THINGS
Since it evidently belongs to the infinite to be present everywhere, and
in all things, we now consider whether this belongs to God; and
concerning this there arise four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether God is in all things?
(2) Whether God is everywhere?
(3) Whether God is everywhere by essence, power, and presence?
(4) Whether to be everywhere belongs to God alone?
Article 1: Whether God is in all things?
Objection 1: It seems that God is not in all things. For what is above all
things is not in all things. But God is above all, according to the Psalm
(Ps. 112:4), "The Lord is high above all nations," etc. Therefore God is
not in all things.
Objection 2: Further, what is in anything is thereby contained. Now God is not
contained by things, but rather does He contain them. Therefore God is
not in things but things are rather in Him. Hence Augustine says (Octog.
Tri. Quaest. qu. 20), that "in Him things are, rather than He is in any
Objection 3: Further, the more powerful an agent is, the more extended is its
action. But God is the most powerful of all agents. Therefore His action
can extend to things which are far removed from Him; nor is it necessary
that He should be in all things.
Objection 4: Further, the demons are beings. But God is not in the demons; for
there is no fellowship between light and darkness (2 Cor. 6:14).
Therefore God is not in all things.
On the contrary, A thing is wherever it operates. But God operates in
all things, according to Is. 26:12, "Lord . . . Thou hast wrought all our
works in [Vulg.: 'for'] us." Therefore God is in all things.
I answer that, God is in all things; not, indeed, as part of their
essence, nor as an accident, but as an agent is present to that upon
which it works. For an agent must be joined to that wherein it acts
immediately and touch it by its power; hence it is proved in Phys. vii
that the thing moved and the mover must be joined together. Now since God
is very being by His own essence, created being must be His proper
effect; as to ignite is the proper effect of fire. Now God causes this
effect in things not only when they first begin to be, but as long as
they are preserved in being; as light is caused in the air by the sun as
long as the air remains illuminated. Therefore as long as a thing has
being, God must be present to it, according to its mode of being. But
being is innermost in each thing and most fundamentally inherent in all
things since it is formal in respect of everything found in a thing, as
was shown above (Question , Article ). Hence it must be that God is in all things,
Reply to Objection 1: God is above all things by the excellence of His nature;
nevertheless, He is in all things as the cause of the being of all
things; as was shown above in this article.
Reply to Objection 2: Although corporeal things are said to be in another as in
that which contains them, nevertheless, spiritual things contain those
things in which they are; as the soul contains the body. Hence also God
is in things containing them; nevertheless, by a certain similitude to
corporeal things, it is said that all things are in God; inasmuch as
they are contained by Him.
Reply to Objection 3: No action of an agent, however powerful it may be, acts at
a distance, except through a medium. But it belongs to the great power of
God that He acts immediately in all things. Hence nothing is distant from
Him, as if it could be without God in itself. But things are said to be
distant from God by the unlikeness to Him in nature or grace; as also He
is above all by the excellence of His own nature.
Reply to Objection 4: In the demons there is their nature which is from God, and
also the deformity of sin which is not from Him; therefore, it is not to
be absolutely conceded that God is in the demons, except with the
addition, "inasmuch as they are beings." But in things not deformed in
their nature, we must say absolutely that God is.
Article 2: Whether God is everywhere?
Objection 1: It seems that God is not everywhere. For to be everywhere means
to be in every place. But to be in every place does not belong to God, to
Whom it does not belong to be in place at all; for "incorporeal things,"
as Boethius says (De Hebdom.), "are not in a place." Therefore God is not
Objection 2: Further, the relation of time to succession is the same as the
relation of place to permanence. But one indivisible part of action or
movement cannot exist in different times; therefore neither can one
indivisible part in the genus of permanent things be in every place. Now
the divine being is not successive but permanent. Therefore God is not in
many places; and thus He is not everywhere.
Objection 3: Further, what is wholly in any one place is not in part
elsewhere. But if God is in any one place He is all there; for He has no
parts. No part of Him then is elsewhere; and therefore God is not
On the contrary, It is written, "I fill heaven and earth." (Jer. 23:24).
I answer that, Since place is a thing, to be in place can be understood
in a twofold sense; either by way of other things---i.e. as one thing is
said to be in another no matter how; and thus the accidents of a place
are in place; or by a way proper to place; and thus things placed are in
a place. Now in both these senses, in some way God is in every place; and
this is to be everywhere. First, as He is in all things giving them
being, power and operation; so He is in every place as giving it
existence and locative power. Again, things placed are in place, inasmuch
as they fill place; and God fills every place; not, indeed, like a body,
for a body is said to fill place inasmuch as it excludes the co-presence
of another body; whereas by God being in a place, others are not thereby
excluded from it; indeed, by the very fact that He gives being to the
things that fill every place, He Himself fills every place.
Reply to Objection 1: Incorporeal things are in place not by contact of dimensive
quantity, as bodies are but by contact of power.
Reply to Objection 2: The indivisible is twofold. One is the term of the
continuous; as a point in permanent things, and as a moment in
succession; and this kind of the indivisible in permanent things,
forasmuch as it has a determinate site, cannot be in many parts of place,
or in many places; likewise the indivisible of action or movement,
forasmuch as it has a determinate order in movement or action, cannot be
in many parts of time. Another kind of the indivisible is outside of the
whole genus of the continuous; and in this way incorporeal substances,
like God, angel and soul, are called indivisible. Such a kind of
indivisible does not belong to the continuous, as a part of it, but as
touching it by its power; hence, according as its power can extend itself
to one or to many, to a small thing, or to a great one, in this way it is
in one or in many places, and in a small or large place.
Reply to Objection 3: A whole is so called with reference to its parts. Now part
is twofold: viz. a part of the essence, as the form and the matter are
called parts of the composite, while genus and difference are called
parts of species. There is also part of quantity into which any quantity
is divided. What therefore is whole in any place by totality of quantity,
cannot be outside of that place, because the quantity of anything placed
is commensurate to the quantity of the place; and hence there is no
totality of quantity without totality of place. But totality of essence
is not commensurate to the totality of place. Hence it is not necessary
for that which is whole by totality of essence in a thing, not to be at
all outside of it. This appears also in accidental forms which have
accidental quantity; as an example, whiteness is whole in each part of
the surface if we speak of its totality of essence; because according to
the perfect idea of its species it is found to exist in every part of the
surface. But if its totality be considered according to quantity which it
has accidentally, then it is not whole in every part of the surface. On
the other hand, incorporeal substances have no totality either of
themselves or accidentally, except in reference to the perfect idea of
their essence. Hence, as the soul is whole in every part of the body, so
is God whole in all things and in each one.
Article 3: Whether God is everywhere by essence, presence and power?
Objection 1: It seems that the mode of God's existence in all things is not properly described by way of essence, presence and power. For what is by essence in anything, is in it essentially. But God is not essentially in things; for He does not belong to the essence of anything. Therefore it ought not to be said that God is in things by essence, presence and power.
Objection 2: Further, to be present in anything means not to be absent from
it. Now this is the meaning of God being in things by His essence, that
He is not absent from anything. Therefore the presence of God in all
things by essence and presence means the same thing. Therefore it is
superfluous to say that God is present in things by His essence, presence
Objection 3: Further, as God by His power is the principle of all things, so
He is the same likewise by His knowledge and will. But it is not said
that He is in things by knowledge and will. Therefore neither is He
present by His power.
Objection 4: Further, as grace is a perfection added to the substance of a
thing, so many other perfections are likewise added. Therefore if God is
said to be in certain persons in a special way by grace, it seems that
according to every perfection there ought to be a special mode of God's
existence in things.
On the contrary, A gloss on the Canticle of Canticles (5) says that,
"God by a common mode is in all things by His presence, power and
substance; still He is said to be present more familiarly in some by
grace" [*The quotation is from St. Gregory, (Hom. viii in Ezech.)].
I answer that, God is said to be in a thing in two ways; in one way
after the manner of an efficient cause; and thus He is in all things
created by Him; in another way he is in things as the object of operation
is in the operator; and this is proper to the operations of the soul,
according as the thing known is in the one who knows; and the thing
desired in the one desiring. In this second way God is especially in the
rational creature which knows and loves Him actually or habitually. And
because the rational creature possesses this prerogative by grace, as
will be shown later (Question ). He is said to be thus in the saints by grace.
But how He is in other things created by Him, may be considered from
human affairs. A king, for example, is said to be in the whole kingdom by
his power, although he is not everywhere present. Again a thing is said
to be by its presence in other things which are subject to its
inspection; as things in a house are said to be present to anyone, who
nevertheless may not be in substance in every part of the house. Lastly,
a thing is said to be by way of substance or essence in that place in
which its substance may be. Now there were some (the Manichees) who said
that spiritual and incorporeal things were subject to the divine power;
but that visible and corporeal things were subject to the power of a
contrary principle. Therefore against these it is necessary to say that
God is in all things by His power.
But others, though they believed that all things were subject to the
divine power, still did not allow that divine providence extended to
these inferior bodies, and in the person of these it is said, "He walketh
about the poles of the heavens; and He doth not consider our things
[*Vulg.: 'He doth not consider . . . and He walketh,' etc.]" (Job 22:14).
Against these it is necessary to say that God is in all things by His
Further, others said that, although all things are subject to God's
providence, still all things are not immediately created by God; but that
He immediately created the first creatures, and these created the others.
Against these it is necessary to say that He is in all things by His
Therefore, God is in all things by His power, inasmuch as all things are
subject to His power; He is by His presence in all things, as all things
are bare and open to His eyes; He is in all things by His essence,
inasmuch as He is present to all as the cause of their being.
Reply to Objection 1: God is said to be in all things by essence, not indeed by
the essence of the things themselves, as if He were of their essence; but
by His own essence; because His substance is present to all things as the
cause of their being.
Reply to Objection 2: A thing can be said to be present to another, when in its
sight, though the thing may be distant in substance, as was shown in this
article; and therefore two modes of presence are necessary; viz. by
essence and by presence.
Reply to Objection 3: Knowledge and will require that the thing known should be
in the one who knows, and the thing willed in the one who wills. Hence by
knowledge and will things are more truly in God than God in things. But
power is the principle of acting on another; hence by power the agent is
related and applied to an external thing; thus by power an agent may be
said to be present to another.
Reply to Objection 4: No other perfection, except grace, added to substance,
renders God present in anything as the object known and loved; therefore
only grace constitutes a special mode of God's existence in things. There
is, however, another special mode of God's existence in man by union,
which will be treated of in its own place (TP).
Article 4: Whether to be everywhere belongs to God alone?
Objection 1: It seems that to be everywhere does not belong to God alone. For
the universal, according to the Philosopher (Poster. i), is everywhere,
and always; primary matter also, since it is in all bodies, is
everywhere. But neither of these is God, as appears from what is said
above (Question ). Therefore to be everywhere does not belong to God alone.
Objection 2: Further, number is in things numbered. But the whole universe is
constituted in number, as appears from the Book of Wisdom (Wis. 11:21).
Therefore there is some number which is in the whole universe, and is
Objection 3: Further, the universe is a kind of "whole perfect body" (Coel. et
Mund. i). But the whole universe is everywhere, because there is no place
outside it. Therefore to be everywhere does not belong to God alone.
Objection 4: Further, if any body were infinite, no place would exist outside
of it, and so it would be everywhere. Therefore to be everywhere does not
appear to belong to God alone.
Objection 5: Further, the soul, as Augustine says (De Trin. vi, 6), is "whole
in the whole body, and whole in every one of its parts." Therefore if
there was only one animal in the world, its soul would be everywhere; and
thus to be everywhere does not belong to God alone.
Objection 6: Further, as Augustine says (Ep. 137), "The soul feels where it
sees, and lives where it feels, and is where it lives." But the soul sees
as it were everywhere: for in a succession of glances it comprehends the
entire space of the heavens in its sight. Therefore the soul is
On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Spir. Sanct. i, 7): "Who dares to call
the Holy Ghost a creature, Who in all things, and everywhere, and always
is, which assuredly belongs to the divinity alone?"
I answer that, To be everywhere primarily and absolutely, is proper to
God. Now to be everywhere primarily is said of that which in its whole
self is everywhere; for if a thing were everywhere according to its parts
in different places, it would not be primarily everywhere, forasmuch as
what belongs to anything according to part does not belong to it
primarily; thus if a man has white teeth, whiteness belongs primarily not
to the man but to his teeth. But a thing is everywhere absolutely when it
does not belong to it to be everywhere accidentally, that is, merely on
some supposition; as a grain of millet would be everywhere, supposing
that no other body existed. It belongs therefore to a thing to be
everywhere absolutely when, on any supposition, it must be everywhere;
and this properly belongs to God alone. For whatever number of places be
supposed, even if an infinite number be supposed besides what already
exist, it would be necessary that God should be in all of them; for
nothing can exist except by Him. Therefore to be everywhere primarily and
absolutely belongs to God and is proper to Him: because whatever number
of places be supposed to exist, God must be in all of them, not as to a
part of Him, but as to His very self.
Reply to Objection 1: The universal, and also primary matter are indeed
everywhere; but not according to the same mode of existence.
Reply to Objection 2: Number, since it is an accident, does not, of itself, exist
in place, but accidentally; neither is the whole but only part of it in
each of the things numbered; hence it does not follow that it is
primarily and absolutely everywhere.
Reply to Objection 3: The whole body of the universe is everywhere, but not
primarily; forasmuch as it is not wholly in each place, but according to
its parts; nor again is it everywhere absolutely, because, supposing that
other places existed besides itself, it would not be in them.
Reply to Objection 4: If an infinite body existed, it would be everywhere; but
according to its parts.
Reply to Objection 5: Were there one animal only, its soul would be everywhere
primarily indeed, but only accidentally.
Reply to Objection 6: When it is said that the soul sees anywhere, this can be
taken in two senses. In one sense the adverb "anywhere" determines the
act of seeing on the part of the object; and in this sense it is true
that while it sees the heavens, it sees in the heavens; and in the same
way it feels in the heavens; but it does not follow that it lives or
exists in the heavens, because to live and to exist do not import an act
passing to an exterior object. In another sense it can be understood
according as the adverb determines the act of the seer, as proceeding
from the seer; and thus it is true that where the soul feels and sees,
there it is, and there it lives according to this mode of speaking; and
thus it does not follow that it is everywhere.