Genesis 18 English Standard Version (ESV)

1 And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks[a] of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth 3 and said, “O Lord,[b] if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”

The above is just the beginning of the chapter, for the full story see Genesis 18;



5 Answers 5


Gen 18:1 would indicate that this is a theophany.

Genesis 18:1 Then the LORD (יהוה)appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.

יהוה is Yahweh (Jehovah) see for example:

יְהֹוָה Jehovah, pr. name of the supreme God (הָאֱלֹהִים) amongst the Hebrews.

[Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (p. 337). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.]


יהוה S3068, 3069, 3070, 3071, 3072, 3073, 3074 TWOT484a GK3378c. 6823 i.e. יַהְוֶה n.pr.dei Yahweh, the proper name of the God of Israel

[Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (2000). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (electronic ed., p. 217). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.]

So ch 18:1 tells us that Yahweh (God) appeared to Abraham. This verse functions as a heading or introduction to the entire encounter. The narrator then describes the encounter between Abraham and God.

Consider Abraham's reactions to the appearance of these visitors

Genesis 18:3 and said, "My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.

Looking to verse 3 we see that Abraham addresses just one of the men and calls him Lord (אֲדֹנָ֗) singular noun and then Abraham has this individual not to pass him by (the verb is also singular). So, Abraham recognises that one of these vistors is 'the Lord'

In verse 22 we read,

"Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD."

Again then one of the visitors is identified as 'the Lord' (Yahweh). The two other men leave and travel to Sodom where they are identified as angels in Ch 19:1, 15.

  • 1
    can you provide the proof that Yahweh is being addressed by Abe, and proof of what you think, that angels (as we know them) are who is accompanying Him. Are we 'sure' that the angels who go to visit Sodom are the same two 'men' that are accompanying 'Yahweh', are we sure it is 'Yahweh', or 'an angel of the Lord'- why or why not? (I am asking for these details to also make them available on one page, for others reading the question, as well)
    – Hello
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 20:48
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    I don't understand what further evidence you want, repeatedly in chapter 18 the visitor is identified as Yahweh by the narrator (v1, v17 & V22). Abraham refers to him as adonay (Lord) that should be all that is needed to convince us that scripture presents this as a theophany. As for the Angel's being the same as the two men. We read of them departing for Sodom in v22 then in chapter 19:1 we read of two angel's arriving - I suppose it is possible that they are not the same two people but only if you are willing to break up the flow of the story. Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 7:49
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    Maybe if you enlarge upon your question and explain what the issue is in more detail it will allow me to explore a more specific answer but otherwise v1, v17 and v22 answer the question asked categorically as far as I can tell :-D Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 7:51
  • can you provide the source of proof in links, as in blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/…, ...so reader can click on source link and see proof of 'God Almighty being addressed' and angels being addressed, sep. link, w. explanation fr. Bible source books of what Bible angels are, etc. ( for a reader who may not know these things.
    – Hello
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 14:11
  • thankyou, is it possible for you to make it a link that people can just click on which will take them immediately to the proof text? thanks, -it's for those inquiring about this question in the future :)
    – Hello
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 14:59

The answer that was given "begs the question?" I know it says that the Lord God appeared to Abraham at vs1 with two other men at vs3. So how did the Lord God appear since Jesus Himself says at John 1:18 God cannot be seen. Furthermore, you have at Genesis 16:13 Hagar saying "Thou are a God who sees; for she said, "Have I even remained alive here AFTER SEEING HIM." This is backed up by Exodus 33:20.

Now, here is what Genesis 17:1-2 states, "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD APPEARED to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walke before Me and be blameless, vs2, And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.

What's significant about this is what the angel of the Lord says to Hagar at Genesis 16:10, "Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too many to count."

So what we have here is the fact that the angel of the Lord is the same being who multiplied Abram's descendants as well as Hagar's descendants. Now, how do I know that this is a visible physical appearance of the Lord God? Look at Genesis 17:22. "And when He/God finished talking with him/Abraham, God went up from Abraham. He went straight up due north.

Getting back to Genesis 18 at vs33, "And as soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the Lord departed; and Abraham returned to hsi place. What about the other two men/angels? Genesis 19:1, "Now the TWO ANGELS came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom etc."

So what can be concluded from this? The angel of the Lord is the preincarnate Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ the Son is the only manifestation and revelation of the Father. John 14:9. Also 1 Timothy 3:16. The Father has no separate manifestation from the Son. Lastly, I can provide additional and explicit proof that the angel of the Lord (Jesus Christ) is God Almighty from Genesis 22 and Hebrews 6:13-14.


Personal Visit There is no doubt, hermeneutically and exegetically, that God appeared to Abraham during the visit of the three men-looking individuals: the LORD and two angels. (Genesis 18)

However, it would be better, and most accurate, to label this event as a CHRISTOPHANY, than THEOPHANY. The appearance of God Almighty in His effulgent glory would be too overwhelming for any mortal to see and live! He is called "the God of glory" in Acts 7:2. Which is an understatement. Moses asked to "see God's glory" (Exodus 33:18), but he was "biting off more than he could chew." God allowed Moses to "see His goodness" in passing; but not "His face", that is His Person. Moses could only see "the departing of God."

This is reminiscent of God only letting one High Priest enter the Holy of Holies where the Shekinah Glory of God was over the Ark of the Covenant, between the cherubim...but only after thorough, ceremonial cleansing...with the blood of atonement. Anyone else would be slain!

Christophany But God appeared many times in the Old Testament...and eventually in the New Testament... in the form of Christ (also called The Angel of the Lord). This was a "bite-size portion of God Almighty that man could handle...that man could see and still live. Such that the Apostle John declared:

No one has ever seen God; but God the only begotten, who is at the Father's side, has made Him known. (John 1:18)

Jesus made the Father known through His appearances on earth. Christophanies in the Old Testament, and as the Son of Mary, in the New Testament. Indeed, Jesus appeared to Abraham...he saw God but didn't die. Jesus was a "form of God" that mortal men could handle safely. And Jesus was "God." Not just an angel...not just a mystical spirit...not a substitute image:

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered, "Don't you know Me...? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father...I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me... (John 14:8-10)

Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15)

The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being sustaining all things by His powerful Word. (Hebrews 1:3)

The writer of Genesis can truly say that YHWH (the LORD) appeared to Abraham, even though it was in the form of a man: the Christ-man, who was...and is...fully God!

And this is also why Hagar can declare that she had "seen God" (Genesis 16:13). And it is also why Gideon could see the Angel of the Lord, and yet the LORD say that, even though he saw God, "he would not die." (Judges 6:23-24). It is also why the parents of Samson could "see God" and yet not die." "We are doomed to die," Manoah said to his wife. "We have seen God!" No, the "Angel of the LORD" (Christ) was in a form of God that mankind could handle. (Judges 13:22-23)

There is no doubt that Abraham experienced a Christophany: God in the flesh!


The Bible tell us the answer in the scripture, He (God) "APPEARED", not manifested Himself. Big difference. An appearance is not the same as a manifestation.

An appearances is second person, meaning through, of, by someone, or something else. As an example, or case here in point, an angel. Just as He did Moses on the Mountain. He spoke through an angel, in fire.

But, a manifestation is first person, direct, as with God manifesting himself directly in first person, in his own body. See 1 Tim 3:16 and Matt 1:23. According to Matt 1:23, the way God was with us, is just what 1 Tim 3:16 states. He (God) was manifested in the flesh, DIRECTLY, first person, he had a "BODY", not an angel body, but he took upon him the seed of Abraham. (Heb 2:16)

This is how God visited Abraham, in appearance, through an angel. But, He visited his people directly, (Manifested), in flesh. See also, John 1:10 "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not".

  • What is the source of your definitions of "appearance" and "manifestation"? They don't match how I've ever heard the words used before.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 2:47

We heard Jesus confirm his visit that Abraham saw him and was glad. God can reincarnate to the beginning and to the end. We are just wrestling with the wonders of God and want spiritual and physical things to be rational and it becomes more complicated in thoughts as we can never fit it in our minds to believe. So like the scribes and Pharisees, we want to rubish it as impossible.

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    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 1:51
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    Your answer feels a little aggressive, and I'm not sure who you're addressing or why. Don't assume anyone here thinks it is impossible. Please flesh this answer our with supporting evidence and quotes.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 2:49

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