What does "no one" and "God" refer to in

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ( ESV )


The interlinear bible says No one means no one, none, nothing.

and "God" I believe is the Father.

So does not "no one" include angels?

But Jesus said in

Matthew 18:10“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. ( ESV )

So what is Jesus meaning here? Two possibilities that come to my mind are:

  1. No man ( including Adam & Eve ) has ever seen the Father
  2. No created being has ever seen the Father in the same way/level/detail/intensity the Son has seen the Father
  • No one has seen God. Some have seen the Son and the Spirit; the Son has seen the Father. But no one has seen God (Father-Son-Spirit) Commented May 29, 2019 at 17:55
  • Thank you @RevelationLand Who has seen the Spirit? Commented May 30, 2019 at 3:44
  • 1
    John the Baptist said he saw the Spirit (John 1:32) Commented May 30, 2019 at 3:51
  • @RevelationLand, What about Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 1:27 )? Commented May 30, 2019 at 3:54
  • 1
    There are probably several others. The point is not all 3 at the same time. IMO the Trinity is the best explanation for what is stated. Commented May 30, 2019 at 3:58

4 Answers 4


"No one" means no man had seen the Father. When it is left in context of the time and place in which John the Immerser, a man, gave testimony of Yeshua (Jesus) who was "in the world" (vs. 10) manifested as a man, then the definition is restricted to no one of this world. "In the world" gives the place... the world of men. John the Immerser spoke to the priests and Levites who were sent out to ask who John was...men asking of a man.

John 1:18 is translated as "No man hath seen God..." in the ASV, the GNV, as well as the KJV, the AKJV, and a few others.

It is not speaking of the messengers (angels) that are in heaven, only of men that are in the world.

The time was while John was immersing (baptizing) at the river, before Jesus had come to be immersed....before Jesus' crucifixion, and before Jesus' ascension.

As Jesus was the first to rise from the dead, the first fruit of the resurrection (Acts 26:23; 1 Cor. 15:20), then no man had ascended to the Father before Jesus had. So no man had seen God before Jesus was crucified and before He had ascended in Acts 1:9.

When we put everything in context, in the proper time and place, the implications are very revealing. As no man (no one) had ascended to the Father before Yeshua, then the so-called Book of Enoch is a lie!

Further discussion of these points is available at my blog ShreddingTheVeil, specifically the posts "Frequent Mistakes - Part VII: The Translation of Enoch and Elijah" here, as well as "The Book of Enoch: Fable or True" here, "Nephilim - Fallen Ones?" here, and "Nephilim...Reprise: And The Sons of God" here.

  • Thank you @Gina, Whom did Adam see in the garden? Commented May 30, 2019 at 3:33
  • 1
    @Siju George - Might it have been Jesus that Adam talked with in Eden?
    – user25930
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 11:53

Concerning seeing God (the Father), some passages say "no one" while others say "no man". Logically, we conclude that "no one" specifically means "no man". But in Ex 33:18-23, God tells Moses that "no man can see my FACE and live." And then, God showed Moses His back. Logically, this HAS to be God the Father speaking to Moses, not Jesus. If this were the pre-existent Jesus, then we must conclude that no man can see Jesus' FACE, and live, and the most that anyone has ever seen of Jesus is his back. Are we going to go down that road?


What does "no one" and "God" refer to in John 1:18?

Based on the extensive use of 'no one' - Οὐδεὶς (Oudeis) elsewhere, it refers to all people and anyone in general. No exclusion is expressed or intended.

What does 'God' mean? The same it means everywhere else in the bible. Yahweh, the Eternal, the Most High, the Creator, the Father. The one that Jesus sits next to, the one that raised Jesus from the dead and exalted him above all others giving him eternal life.

When querying 'no one', we should also extend the enquiry to the related, 'has seen'.

No man has seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him. John 1:18

  • has made Him known
  • has revealed Him
  • has explained Him

From the Greek ἐξηγήσατο (exēgēsato) which comes from the root “exégeomai,” from which we get our words “exegesis” and “exegete” and means; I lead, show the way; unfold, narrate etc. Nothing to do with seeing with the eyes.

Jesus has made this connection between seeing and knowing already.

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and yet you have not come to know me Philip? John 14:8

The one who has seen me has seen the Father v9

We are told that God is invisible - He cannot be seen. Here are just two examples.

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

1 Timothy 6:16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.

Man is not spirit. God is spirit and He alone possesses immortality. Only spirits can 'see' spirits. Through Jesus, believers will know the Father too. By 'seeing' who Jesus is and 'knowing' what he is like is the same as seeing/knowing the Father as Paul also expresses.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened... Eph 1:18

Jesus knew how his mission was going to proceed. In Chapter 1, Jesus through John, has laid the broad brushstrokes of what his master would accomplish; in Ch. 14 it becomes crystal clear.

  • Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. John 14:1
  • If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him v7
  • The one who has seen me has seen the Father v9

Jesus has made it quite clear, that seeing is not about the eyes, but what the mind and spirit understand. We can see Jesus' invisible God through His son who is the image of Him.

  • Genesis 17:1-3 says, "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord APPEARED to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me and be blameless. Vs2, And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly. Vs3,"And Abram fell on his face, and God talked to him, saying etc." Who did Abram physically see with his eyes?
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 14:11
  • Dear Mr Bond, if God is spirit and invisible, then He cannot be seen. No one can see Me and live Ex 33:20. What they saw could be a vision, or any number of representations through an angel etc. a bush, a cloud. You have to allow scripture to be self-interpretive and resist drawing imaginative conclusions - which cause contradictions. Who did they see on the mountain with Jesus? We are told it was a vision, yet so many think that Moses and Elijah were resurrected. It says nothing like this, but that doesn’t stop people believing such nonsense.
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 14:31
  • @Steve, you're absolutely right. Simply put, the entity that appeared to Abram was not the Father God, but the viceroy of God, who is the only begotten Son of God, the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ as the "Angel of the LORD".
    – Joshua B
    Commented Feb 24 at 5:57

The word heroaken that is translated here as ‘seen’ or 'beheld' in most of the English translations is third person singular of herao which, according to Thayer, has three basic definitions. First, it means to see with the eyes. Secondly, it means to see with the mind, to know, to perceive. Thirdly, it means to become acquainted with through pragmatic experience (The 1981 New Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon, p 451).

If John is arguing from the first definition, this needs to be understood in the light of pragmatic Old Testament examples. We know from the many examples of theophonic manifestations in the Old Testament that God has repeatedly presented himself to man in a number of ways. At times, God availed himself only to man’s auditory senses. He spoke to Adam, to Cain, to Noah, to the Hebrew patriarchs, to Moses, to the prophets, and to others. Sometimes he visited himself upon man in the form of dreams or visions as to the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah chapter six. Other times, he appears as objects such as the cloud or the pillar of fire that went before Israel in the wilderness. Still, there are other times when he visited man in human form. There are some eight accounts of this type of theophany found in the Old Testament. It would seem then that this definition does not fit the evidence of scripture.

The word ‘theophany’ is derived from two Greek words, Theo's meaning God and phona meaning sound or voice. A theophany then is a hearing of the voice of God. Theophonic experiences in scripture assume many forms, yet all seem to have a singular function. They communicate the will of God to man. They provide man with a point of reference that man can comprehend. In so doing, God is demonstrating compassion for the limitations of the human mind to understand things that are beyond his ability to comprehend. In some theophonic experiences, God will accommodate only man’s sense of hearing. One only heard the voice of God. God speaking to Noah in Genesis 6 is just such an example. Another is Genesis 12 where God spoke to Abraham. Sometimes, these theophanies would be accompanied by some type of material phenomenon such as fire, wind, or earthquake as in the cases of Moses in Exodus 3, the nation of Israel in Exodus 13 and Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Each of these accompanying natural phenomena would appeal to a broader range of physical senses as God sometimes chose to speak in these things. Still, at other times, God chose to assume an anthropomorphic form as in Genesis 18 when he appeared to Abraham in the company of two angels, all in human form. For further reference, one might examine these examples of anthropomorphic theophanies. In each case, this is deity appearing in human form. In every example, those to whom The Angel of Jehovah appeared always understood, at some point, that he was God and they honored him as such.

The apostle Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 that Jesus was the Rock who followed Israel through the desert. Therefore, scripture shows us that man has after a limited fashion, experienced God in varying degrees at the sensory level. He has seen and heard God. However, if what John is talking about in verse eighteen is experiencing the essence of God, it is certainly true that man has never looked upon the unshielded essence of the Almighty. Of all men, Moses seems to have been granted the most intimate privilege of experiencing the presence of God in his essence in Exodus chapters 33 and 34. So, this definition does not fit either.

If heroahen is understood as an intellectual limitation, this would seem to fit better with the closing statement of this prologue. “He has explained him.” The Greek word ekagasato is third person singular aorist first indicative active meaning to detail, to set forth in language, to make known or to reveal (George V. Wagram’s Analytical Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 1983). This is the etymology of our word to ‘exegete.’ “Explained” is the corresponding word to “seen.” In other words, “No man has understood or comprehended God at any time. The only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has EXPLAINED him.” The Logos presents God to the mind of man through the medium of human language in such a way that man is now able to understand something of the nature and character of God that he could never know from his observation of the natural world. Only the one who came out of the very presence of God could have done this.

In the 1980 printing of The Expositors Greek Testament on the gospel of John p 692, the expositor makes an interesting observation in contrast to Meyer. He says that ekagasato refers to the “work” which Christ accomplished while he was on earth. This emphasizes a particular function of the Second Position. Having come from this eternal intimate relationship with the Father, he is thus “equipped” to translate the mind of God to the mind of man. The linking of these two minds is intended to create an isomorphic state of thinking. As man begins the process of learning to think and reason as God, he will learn to re-symbolize his relationship both to God and to the natural world. He will have to learn to think differently, to speak differently, and to behave differently. Reality will take on a new definition. This would not be met favorably among the majority of humanity, not in that generation nor in this one.

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