No One Actually Means No One – John 1:18

No one has ever seen God (John 1:18).

If anyone is teaching that someone has seen the Father, they are teaching a lie. It makes no sense for people to proclaim that they believe the Bible and also believe that they or one of their prophets have seen the Father. The text of John is very clear here. There are no problems with translation or interpretation. No one has seen the Father. Not you. Not me. No one.

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10 responses to “No One Actually Means No One – John 1:18

  1. Luke 10: 22 (see also Matthew 11: 27)
    “All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”

    Gen. 32:30
    “I have seen God face to face” Jacob saw God.
    Ex. 24:11
    “nobles of the children of Israel … saw God”
    Ex. 33:11
    “Lord spake unto Moses face to face”
    Deut. 34:10
    “Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face”
    1 Kgs. 11:9
    “Lord … had appeared unto him twice” Solomon saw him twice.
    Isa. 6:5
    “mine eyes have seen … the Lord”
    Matt. 5:8
    “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”
    Matt. 11:27
    “Father … to whomsoever the Son will reveal him”
    Acts 7:56
    “I see … the Son of man standing on the right hand” Stephan saw the Father, with Christ on his right hand.

    With all the account of men seeing God, how is it that anyone can say that no man has?
    We read in Hebrews 12: 14 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”
    We also read, in John 6: 46 “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.”
    But it is in John 14: 23 that the promise is really stated directly.
    “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

    No man who is not living righteously will ever see the Father; but one who lives in holiness, and thus is of God, will have that privilege, as the Bible promises.

  2. Shematwater,

    If you read my post carefully, you will note that I say that no one has seen God the Father. In many of the verses you quote, the individual is said to have seen “God” or the “Lord”. I believe that the Bible teaches that God is a trinity – one God in three persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Many people (believers and unbelievers) have seen God the Son, Jesus, as he walked this earth for about 33 years. I note that you do not address John 1:18 directly. Since I believe in the whole Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God, I believe they must all be addressed. I will address each verse you provided. I would like to understand how you would interpret John 1:18.

    Luke 10: 22 (see also Matthew 11: 27)
    “All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”

    This pair of verses says that the Son will “reveal” the Father. Jesus reveals the nature of God the Father because they both share the same divine nature. Reveal does not have to mean make visible.

    Gen. 32:30: “I have seen God face to face” Jacob saw God.
    Ex. 24:11: “nobles of the children of Israel … saw God”
    Ex. 33:11: “Lord spake unto Moses face to face”
    Deut. 34:10: “Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face”
    1 Kgs. 11:9: “Lord … had appeared unto him twice” Solomon saw him twice.
    Isa. 6:5: “mine eyes have seen … the Lord”
    Hebrews 12: 14 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”

    Those 7 verses do not explicitly state that it was God the Father who was or will be seen. They merely say that either God or the Lord was seen. I believe that any time in the Bible where God was seen as a person, that it was God the Son who was seen. This allows for the entire Bible, including John 1:18, to be self-consistent.

    Matt. 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”

    This verse points to a future event – “they shall see God.”. Again, God can refer to God the Son. Also “see” could be figurative.

    Matt. 11:27: “Father … to whomsoever the Son will reveal him”

    Again, reveal does not have to mean make visible.

    Acts 7:56: “I see … the Son of man standing on the right hand” Stephan saw the Father, with Christ on his right hand.

    Are we really to take this that Jesus Christ was literally standing on the right hand of God the Father? Picture one man standing on the fingers of another man – would this be the type of image that would give you comfort when you are about to be stoned to death? Probably not. Rather, “standing at the right hand” is a description of Jesus being in a position of power and authority with the Father.

    John 6:46 “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.”

    If you read this verse in the context, you see that it is referring to Jesus who has come down from heaven. This verse actually supports my contention that no one, except Jesus, has seen the Father.

    John 14: 23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

    I will eventually die and will be brought into the presence of the triune God to live with him forever. In the meantime, I have God the Holy Spirit living in me. God the Holy Spirit has made his abode with me, yet he is not seen. Similarly, I do not have to visibly see God the Father to know him and be with him. As John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    Finally, you finish with “No man who is not living righteously will ever see the Father.” To that I would ask you, “Are you living righteously?” Are you perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect? God’s standard of righteousness is absolute perfection in thought, word and deed.

    • Dale

      I understand your interpretations, but they do not necessitate what you claim. Those verses saying that a man saw God can be speaking of the Father.
      Note in Acts 7: 56 that “On the right hand” easily refers to Christ standing beside the throne of God, on the right hand. No, it does not mean literally on the hand itself, but can easily mean that he was standing beside God, or the Father. It seems that if Stephen saw only Christ’s authority he would not have claimed to have seen him standing beside God.

      As to John 6: 46, we read in Romans 8: 14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Thus all those who are led by the spirit are of God, and thus may have the privilege of seeing the Father.

      Then we have John 14: 23. While you can see this as you state, that is not the only possible meaning. It can mean a very literal and visual visitation from the Father. Nothing precludes this.

      However, having said all this, I will also point out that I do not believe the Bible is inerrant, as I do think some errors have crept in. This actually illustrates why I believe this. Stephen saw the Son standing on the right hand of the Father. That is the clearest understanding of Acts 7. Yet, as you point out, in John 1: 18 it says this is impossible. Thus the two passages simply contradict one another. Thus one must be wrong. You choose to interpret the one in a way that allows you to believe both; and yet such an interpretation seems to be stretching the text. I choose to accept that one is wrong, which simply raises the question as to which one.
      If you didn’t know, I am a Mormon, and so I accept that John 1: 18 is not rendered correctly as we have it in the Bible today. I believe John 1: 18 should be rendered “No man hath seen God at any time, except he hath borne record of the Son; for except it is through him no man can be saved.”

      I know you will have your arguments against this, and that is okay. It really is a matter of faith, and neither side can prove themselves right in an argument.

      • Shem,

        Even if I can prove it, I may not be able to persuade you that my position is correct. In Acts 9:22, Paul proved that Jesus was the Christ, but not all believed. However, I would least encourage you to consider the consequences of our two positions.

        If you are correct that the teachings of the LDS church are correct, then you and I both will spend eternity in paradise. Perhaps you will have a more glorified state than me, but we will both be in paradise.

        However, if I am correct that the teachings of the LDS church are false, then you will spend eternity in outer darkness. I do not say that with any joy, but only sadness, as I have many friends and family who are LDS.

        Thank you for your polite discussion on this topic.

        Regards,

        Dale

  3. marcusmaxis

    Exodus 33:17 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

    Exodus 33:18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

    Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

    Exodus 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

    Exodus 33:21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:

    Exodus 33:22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:

    Exodus 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

    So as you can see Shem he or they did not see God, and if Moses did not see Gods face neither did Jacob. God was always in a cloud, in the fire, or his angels spoke to them for God. In the new testament it clearly says three times that no one has seen God at any time or heard his voice. God has worked through his agents since the beginning of time with man. The bible does not contradict itself.

    • Marcusmaxis

      So, we are to assume that all the statements that say that Moses saw and spoke with God face to face are in error. You say he was always in a cloud, but then why is it that it is not always described as such? And why does God point out how he spoke to Moses face to face, unlike other prophets, if it never actually happened. (Numbers 12: 6-8)
      Notice that in Exodus 33: 10-11 that the cloud is at the door of the Tabernacle so as to prevent Israel from seeing in, but that God “spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” Clearly he was not in the cloud, as a friend does not conceal himself while talking.

      While I am acquainted with Exodus 33: 20, it is a direct contradiction of these other accounts, and thus, again, something is wrong. Here is what this verse should say.
      “And he said unto Moses, Thou canst not see my face at this time, lest mine anger be kindled against thee also, and I destroy thee, and thy people; for there shall no man among them see me at this time, and live, for they are exceeding sinful. And no sinful man hath at any time, neither shall there be any sinful man at any time, that shall see my face and live.”
      And verse 23 should be rendered “And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen, as at other times; for I am angry with my people Israel.”
      And thus we bring all the scriptures into perfect harmony. The wicked will never see God, and as Israel was wicked at this time they were denied the privilege.

  4. marcusmaxis

    I am sorry but no one at any time has seen God. Just my view.

  5. marcusmaxis

    St. John 5:37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
    Ill take Christs word.

  6. marcusmaxis

    Also the translation of Exodus 33 is correct. The Septuagint is the same word for word.

    You know these little discussions never get anywhere. Everyone is sure of there interpretation and no one can ever change their mind. lol, So really whats the point?

    • Marcus,

      Many people do change their minds on these issues. Often people have never seen that there is another possible interpretation. Having these dialogues can occasionally help people who are trying to understand. Plus, God is glorified when his Word is proclaimed.

      Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

      Dale