"Appearance" involves the outward visible aspect of something or someone. In John 1:18 we are told that: "No one has seen God at any time".

Here God the Son, "He, has declared Him" [Him the Father]. So Him refers to both God who has not been seen and the One in whose bosom the Son is. If this is so then it is the Father who has not been seen. But the Son is seen as in 1 John 1:1 it says "we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon". Here the physical reality of Jesus is strongly affirmed. ..The incarnation is Jesus being seen in time but "Jesus Christ is the same ..forever" Heb13:9. Jesus does not change. ..Whatever attributes Jesus ever had He always had. He was seen by John He could be seen by Abram.

For the Lord to appear to Abram it seems to me that this was Jesus appearing. Is "the LORD" definitely Jesus in Gen.17:1?

  • The only thing is whether ראה is interpreted only literally or also figuratively. Your question hinges tremendously on this word and how it is used. Otherwise it’s a very good question Jul 13, 2019 at 13:49

2 Answers 2


The phrase "the LORD appeared … " (or a slight variation) occurs regularly in the OT, Ex 3:2, 16:10, Gen 12:7, 26:2, 2 Chron 3:1, 7:12, 1 Kings 3:5, 9:2, Judges 6:12, 13:3, 18:1, Deut 31:15, etc, etc. In some of these, it is clearly in a vision at night (Gen 26:24, Judges 6:12, 2 Chron 7:12). At other times, it is visibly, in the open while the person is conscious and others can witness the event such as Gen 18:1. At other times, the exact visage the LORD was (at least partially?) veiled by either a cloud or flames (Ex 3:2, Ex 24:17, Num 16:42, etc).

Which of these occurred in Gen 17:1 we are not told. However, that should not prevent the second part of the question being answered - when the LORD did appear, was it perhaps, Jesus rather than the Father? we are not told explicitly but on the basis of John 1:18, the answer is presumably yes.


The LORD (YHVH) appearing to Abraham refers to one of God's messengers appearing to Abraham. He's called "YHVH" because he comes in the name of YHVH bearing His name as His agent. We find similar occurrences of this elsewhere such as in Isaiah 7:10 where it is said that YHVH spoke to Ahaz but the context shows that the Prophet Isaiah is the one who is actually speaking. Similarly, in the New Testament we read in Matthew 8 about how a centurion came to Jesus and spoke to him and asked him to heal his servant yet in Luke 7 where the same story is told we find out that what actually happened was that the centurion sent some friends and elders to speak to Jesus and so in Matthew they are simply called the centurion because they come in his name as his agents.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.