Q: Is John 6:40 referring to a “seeing in faith”? Or some type of perception given to us since Jesus is invisible to us?

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:40‬ ‭NASB1995

Just as Christ is referenced to be unseen by us:

“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:7-8

The NKJV says:

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:40‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

So do we “see” Him in one sense, but not in another sense?

  • 1
    we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 30, 2022 at 22:53
  • @NigelJ Makes sense, the Christian life can seem paradoxical I guess.
    – Cork88
    Jul 1, 2022 at 1:23

2 Answers 2


that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40b, ESV)

This appears to allude to the bronze serpent Moses lifted up for people bitten by the fiery serpents could look on it and live. The act of looking at it was an act of faith. This also makes it a reference to Jesus' sacrificial death by crucifixion.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14–15, ESV)

Note "πᾶς ὁ ... πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον" in John 6:40 and "πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ⸂ἐν αὐτῷ⸃ ⸆ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον" in John 3:15 (NA28).

The context of John 6 here includes Moses in the wilderness:

Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat. (John 6:31, ESV)

Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. (John 6:49, ESV)

And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Num. 21:8–9, ESV)

Also, here in John 6 Jesus used seeing as meaning to also understand:

Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. (John 6:26, ESV)


So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” (John 4:48, ESV)

  • So a theophany isn’t necessarily involved, but we “look” to the Son in faith? As you said?
    – Cork88
    Jul 1, 2022 at 0:41
  • 1
    Yes, Jesus was pointing to his sacrifice for our sins.
    – Perry Webb
    Jul 1, 2022 at 0:51

Even in modern English, we use the idiom of "seeing" to sometimes mean, "understanding" or mentally grasping something. When someone clearly explains something, the "explainee" may often respond, "I see."

Indeed, BDAG explicitly provides this meaning for the verb θεωρέω

  1. to observe something with sustained attention, look at, observe, see, eg, Matt 27:55, Mark 15;40, Luke 14:29, etc
  2. to come to the understanding of something, notice, perceive, observe find, eg, Acts 4:13, 28:6, 17:22, John 4:19, 12:19, etc.

Further, we "see" the same idea in other places such as:

  • Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In this case, note the parallelism between Heb 12:2 vs v3: "fix our eyes on Jesus", vs "consider Him".

Further, Jesus mixes His metaphors by also saying the same thing a few verse along in John 6:

  • V29 - “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.”
  • V35 - “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.
  • V40 - For it is My Father’s will that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
  • V41 - “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
  • V48 - I am the bread of life.
  • V51 - I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And this bread, which I will give for the life of the world, is My flesh.”
  • V53-55 - “Truly, truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is real food, and My blood is real drink.
  • V56 - Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him.

... and so forth.

The great work of the Christian is disciple others by imitating Christ.

  • So we perceive Jesus without fully seeing Him? That’s what seems evident from your answer.
    – Cork88
    Jul 1, 2022 at 0:46
  • 1
    @Cork88 What is seen by the eye of faith is the (living) Person of Jesus Christ. We cannot see his physical presence. But by repentance and faith we are born anew and the Holy Spirit is in union with our spirit. Thus is Christ conveyed to our own being. This is the doctrine of the Gospel. Your original question up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 1, 2022 at 3:07
  • 1
    @Cork88 - Correct - See John 16:13, 14. We "see" Jesus by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit enlightening our minds.
    – Dottard
    Jul 1, 2022 at 4:49

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