Has Anyone Ever Seen God?

Exodus 24:9-11

King James Version (KJV)

9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:

10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.

11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

Exodus 33:11

King James Version (KJV)

11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

Exodus 6:2-3

King James Version (KJV)

2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord:

3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.

John 1:18

King James Version (KJV)

18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

I have a couple of new, young, Mormon friends. Elder Adam Van Cleve and Elder Stephen Moore visited our home last week and we had an enjoyable time getting to know one another and speaking of a number of topics concerning Mormonism and Orthodox Christianity. Where we found agreement was in the area of the bible (yet we are not in total agreement). Both Mormon’s and Orthodox Christian’s hold the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, however the Mormon’s add the caveat that it is only so, “in so far as it is correctly translated.” To illustrate that caveat Elder Moore spoke of contradictions within the pages of the bible. When I asked him to give me an account of some of the contradictions he knows of he gave me one: “The bible says that Moses spoke with God face to face and also that no man has seen God at any time” (loosely quoted). I quoted verses from the KJV above to illustrate what Elder Moore had said. Interestingly, he is correct in that statement, but incorrect in his understanding that there is a contradiction there. Of course if we stop there it certainly appears to be contradictory, but we shall not stop there. 

For Orthodox Christian’s, (by Orthodox I simply mean those of us who believe the doctrines as they have been passed down since the beginning of the Church and as they appear in the bible), the bible is it’s own interpreter. That is to say that we use scripture (bible) to interpret scripture (bible). Therefore the solution to the supposed contradiction, if there is one, should be found in the bible itself....and so it is.

The Old Testament speaks of those, including Moses as seen above, who have seen the Almighty God. We accept that as true if we truly believe the bible. 

In the New Testament Jesus Himself tells us, ” “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. - John 6:46. Again, we accept that as true if we truly believe the bible.

Jesus has made a distinction in his description. He refers to the one no “man hath seen” as the Father. If that is true, as we believe it is, just who did Moses, Abraham, etc., see? They were seeing the pre-incarnate Word (John 1:1), that is they saw Jesus prior to His incarnation on this earth. 

“No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” - John 1:18. If God is triune, this verse makes sense, as do the verses in the OT which declare that there are those who saw Almighty God. They saw the pre-incarnate Christ (who is Almighty God), but did not see the Father (who is Almighty God). 

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John the distinction is clear. There John refers to Jesus as the Word (1:1) and states that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (1:14).  John speaks of both the Word (Jesus) and God (the Father) in these verses. Thus John 1:18 is not a problem if God is a Trinity for the word “God” in that verse refers to the Father (verified by Jesus’ own words in John 6:46). 

In the OT occurrences of people seeing the Almighty God, then, they saw the pre-incarnate Jesus, not the Father. Thus we see that there is no contradiction and the scripture is true. It also becomes clear that there is more than one person in the Godhead which gives credence to the doctrine of the Trinity as well.


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