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John 1:18 New International Version

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.

has ever seen
ἑώρακεν (heōraken)
Verb - Perfect Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 3708: Properly, to stare at, i.e. to discern clearly; by extension, to attend to; by Hebraism, to experience; passively, to appear.

The same John wrote in 1 John 4:12

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

has ever seen
τεθέαται (tetheatai)
Verb - Perfect Indicative Middle or Passive - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 2300: A prolonged form of a primary verb; to look closely at, i.e. perceive; by extension to visit.

What is the significance that John used two different Greek words for seeing God?

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  • ... so that there would be no doubt? – Dottard Mar 1 at 0:38
  • Looking at Thayer's comments, (Biblehub/Strong) there appears to be a definite difference between θεάομαι Strong 2300 (observe, notice, gaze upon a spectacle) and ὁράω Strong 3708 (perceive, discern, see with the mind). Up-voted +1. – Nigel J Mar 1 at 6:04
  • Thank you for this informative question. – Nhi Mar 3 at 17:18
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According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon the word ἑώρακεν as used in John (1:18) means “to see with the mind, to perceive, know.” This definition is consistent with the idea in this and other verses that Jesus has made God known or “visible” to our minds:

  • 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. (Jn 1:18)
  • “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:16)
  • He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; (Col 1:15)

Thus though no one has seen God, Jesus has been made God known or “visible” to our minds.

The word τεθέαται as used in 1 John (4:12), on the other hand, is defined as simply meaning “to see with the eyes.”

  • No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 Jn 4:12)

Here, though no one has seen God, if we love one another, God lives in us and his love then becomes “visible” through us.

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