Has anyone seen God?

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QUESTION: Has anyone ever seen God face to face? The Old Testament states Jacob, Moses and others did. On the other hand, Jesus said no one has seen him.

ANSWER: The surprising answer to your question about anyone seeing God is both "no" and "yes!" No, no one has ever seen the Father face to face except Christ. That said, many people have heard, seen and even interacted with God, the Son. The apparent contradiction comes from a grave misunderstanding of the Godhead.

The easiest way to understanding this sometimes difficult subject is to review the first verse in the book of John. In the opening of his gospel he states something profound but straightforward about what we would call the Godhead. He says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).

As the context shows, John is speaking of Jesus who was eternally with the Father as the "Word" and was, himself, also God. His statement clearly shows that the Godhead is composed (at least at the present time) of two divine Beings.

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This, of course, begs the question that if no one has ever seen or spoke to the Father then who, in the Old Testament, interacted with the patriarchs, ancient Israel and so on. When Moses was being commissioned to save the Israelites from Egyptian slavery he asked who it was who was sending him. The answer to his request was the following.

And God said to Moses, 'I AM THAT I AM.' And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'" (Exodus 3:14, HBFV).


God creating Adam, Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel
God creating Adam
Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel

Many years later, when Jesus was on this earth living as a man, He admitted that He was the "I AM" or God who spoke to Moses! When he was speaking to the religious leaders of Israel who thought highly of themselves because they had Abraham as their father he told them that "before Abraham was born, I AM!" (John 8:58).

The above example was not the only time Christ admitted to be the great "I AM" or God who interacted with mankind. John 18 contains the record of Jesus being arrested in Gethsemane by a group of religious leaders and armed guards. Upon their arrival they are asked whom they are looking for (verse 4). They respond they are looking for Jesus. Christ's answer is both dramatic and revealing.

Jesus said to them, "I AM" . . . But when He said to them, "I AM," they went backward and fell to the ground (John 18:5 - 6, HBFV).

In the KJV and other Bibles, the word "he" is added to the phrase "I AM" in John 18:5 in an attempt to make the passage more understandable. It does, however, just the opposite!  Such an addition obscures the fact that when Jesus said "I AM" He was admitting that he was God in the flesh! Such a declaration was so powerful that it knocked armed soldiers to the ground!  

The Bible declares that no one has ever seen the Being in the Godhead known as God the Father (Exodus 33:19 - 20, 1Timothy 6:15 - 16, etc.). Several people, however, did see and interact with a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ such as Jacob (Genesis 32:30), Moses (Exodus 33:11, Deuteronomy 5:4, 34:10) and Job (Job 42:1, 5). Still more people, in the New Testament, saw Jesus or God the Son during his ministry on earth (1John 4:14).

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