2

It says in Genesis God appeared to Abraham but other places no one has seen God

Genesis 12:7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your [a]descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. & 17:1 - When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am [a]Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.

Exodus 33:17-20

17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”

John 1:18 - 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten [a]Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

  • Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” ... 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:53, 56–58 ESV) – Perry Webb May 5 at 9:03
  • Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?" (Jonn 14:9 ESV) – Perry Webb May 5 at 9:06
4

If you are trying to understand the theophonic appearances of God in the O.T, in light of John 1:18, you need to understand the meaning of the word John uses.

In verse 18, John says,

“no man has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”

There are two words that need to be addressed in this statement by John. The first is the word “ἑώρακεν” that is translated here as "seen" in most of the English translations. The word is third person singular of “ὁράω” 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.

The second word is “ἑώρακεν”. If “ἑώρακεν” is to be 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 “ἐξηγήσατο” means to set forth in 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 ‘exegete’. 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.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you for your answer very interesting, much appreciated and looking at the previous question arguably open to a lot of debate. With the added problem that it was probably in Hebrew before Greek. – another theory May 6 at 22:19

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