Genesis 3:8 (NASB)

"They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden."

Was it Jesus Christ who was physically walking in the garden? The broader question, perhaps, is that whenever God is said to have come to earth and physically interacted with man, was He manifested in Jesus Christ or someone/something else? (Jacob wrestling with God, the person in the flame with shadrach meshach and abednego, etc.)

  • um, Jesus wasn't born yet?
    – Steve
    May 24, 2020 at 13:05

4 Answers 4


The short answer to this is, we are not told whether it was the pre-incarnate Jesus or not. However, the usual reasoning (which is not completely air-tight) goes something like this.

We note that three times in the writings of John (John 1:18, 6:46, 1 John 4:12), we are told that "no one has ever seen God". Of these, the most significant for our purposes here is John 1:18 (BSB)

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Thus, we conclude that the most likely person of the Godhead that revealed himself in the OT was probably the pre-incarnate Jesus. This means there are several Christophanies including (one cannot be absolutely sure of this and so this list is tentative):

  • Gen 3:8 - Adam walking with the Lord God in Eden
  • Gen 18 - Abraham's discussion and bargaining with the LORD (YHWH)
  • Ex 3 - Moses at the burning bush
  • Josh 5:13-15 - the commander of the LORD's army (compare Rev 19:9, 10)
  • Dan 3:25 - the "Son of God" in the fiery furnace

There are many others that could be added to this list but this illustrates the point.


That is a very good question. Please allow me to offer this by way of an answer. Scripture reveals God operating in three distinct functions. These three distinct functions involve intelligent design, active cause, and organization. I prefer to use the idea of triadic position to show the functional relationship that each appears to have with the other members and to define the role that each has within the triadic structure.

The First Position, that of the Father, will always appear as the one who represents the idea or the planning. It is also the position of command. The Second Position, the Son, always appears to be the avenue of communication between the natural world and the unseen world. He also serves as the causative agent. He is always the one who gives substance to the idea. He takes what is abstract (the idea) and gives it form and substance. The Third Position, that of the Holy Spirit, will always serve as the linking agent. He is the one who brings order to the work of the Second Position. He organizes the work of the Second Position so that it conforms exactly to the idea of the First Position. He shapes a finished product.

The positional functions of each appear to be somewhat exclusive. In all of my studies in scripture, I find it quite rare that one member of the Triadic Unity is ever seen operating in the function of another member. For example, we never seem to find the Third Position functioning as the active cause or the Second Position functioning as the linking agent. Each member of the triadic unity always appears to function within the parameters of his exclusive dynamic. There are places where some of these may appear to overlap but this does not change the basic parameters of positional function.

As the agent of communication, the Son always seems to be the one who serves as the conduit between God and man. If this is true then any time we see communication between God an man, it almost alway seems to be through the agency of the Son. The only exceptions I find in scripture where this is not the case is at the baptism of Jesus and the command of the Holy Spirit in Acts 13:2 where he says,

“Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

It would seem then that all theophonic manifestations recorded in scripture always represent to appearance of the second position of the triadic unity. So, I would suggest that the one who is spoken of as walking in the garden with Adam would have to be the pre-incarnate Son.

  • Interesting way to see it - I had noticed this but had not put such formal thoughts around it. Many thanks.
    – Dottard
    May 23, 2020 at 22:41
  • I wish you and I could spend some time discussing this in greater depth. There is so much more to this idea. It would be good to share them with someone who understands what I am talking about.
    – oldhermit
    May 23, 2020 at 22:45
  • Agreed - that would be wonderful. A simple extension of you idea is that Jesus often (not always) appears in the OT as "The Angel of the LORD", communicating important messages.
    – Dottard
    May 23, 2020 at 22:50

I will start with my primary answer saying that Jesus is not in the Word (e.g. the Torah), but the Word is in Jesus and is Jesus. Searching the Torah for Jesus is like trying to bite your own teeth. John 1:14a, "the Word became flesh and pitched its tent among us." Jesus ain't in there any more than the forest is somewhere among the trees.

Second, the doctrine of the trinity translates poorly into English from Latin. The trinity does not consists of "three people(persons)" as we conceive of a person today (e.g. an independently willed agent), but, since God is inescapably ONE (Deut 6:4), and Christians are monotheists, not polytheists, the latin word is persona (not person). A mask worn by an actor to project a certain character. The only trick is that God wears three masks at the same time.

God is not separate from the son. The Son is God, the Father is God, the spirit is God, but the Son is not the Father, the Father is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the son. That's the old latin formula.

I think of it like a mathematical coordinate system (X/Y/Z - cartesian coordinates). All those "is not" claims are the same as "orthogonality." The space is one, but the space is also three dimensional.

Doctrinally one is to avoid "modalism" where one says that God switches from form to form (mode to mode), and one avoids polytheism where God is three different beings.

  • 1
    I agree that modalism should be avoided - but your mask analogy sounds a lot like modalism.
    – Dottard
    May 24, 2020 at 8:08
  • God has three personas simultaneously. Modqlism says that God switche between BEING one aspct of the trinity
    – Gus L.
    May 24, 2020 at 8:12
  • You don't want to ever say that the Trinity is like a mask, that's a catch phrase of modalism. Find another metaphor to explain what you mean.
    – curiousdannii
    May 24, 2020 at 13:52
  • That is literally what the latin word “persona” means. Mask. That is the catholic dogma on the trinity. God wears three masks. Do you have a citation for “persona” being catch phrase for modalism?
    – Gus L.
    May 24, 2020 at 14:11
  • Words have multiple senses. The Latin word "persona" also means "person", but the English word "mask" does not. I didn't say that "persona" was a modalist catch phrase, but "mask". Maybe I overstated how much it's really a catch phrase. But you still shouldn't say it. It's a gross misrepresentation of Trinitarian theology.
    – curiousdannii
    May 24, 2020 at 14:19

About seeing Jesus in The Torah. Seth Postell has written a book called " Reading Moses Seeing Jesus" I think you may be interested in checking that out. Makes a whole lot of sense to me.


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