“But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” ‭‭Exodus‬ ‭33‬:‭20‬

I was having a conversion online (different Fourm) by which they were saying that God doesn’t necessarily have a “Face”.

Q: Is Exodus 33:20 an anthropomorphism or does God have an actual face?

Similar questions:

Exodus 33:20, "see my face" or "see me"?

Exodus 33:18, Did Moses see the Glory of the LORD?

Could Isaiah 6:1-2 be an allusion to Exodus 33:20?

In what sense did Job see God? (Job 42:5)

Has anyone seen God or not?

Note: By “face” I don’t mean physical flesh since God is Spirit.

  • You agree that God doesnt have a face, since he is a Spirit, hence you accept anthropomorphism; and your ques is misguided.
    – Michael16
    Mar 27 at 16:56
  • @Michael16 Incorrect, I accept that God has an actual face, by “Face” I don’t mean “physical face” I mean a “frontal dimension of a Person”. Of course God is a Spirit.
    – Cork88
    Mar 27 at 17:37
  • @Michael16 It would appear that either 1.) you didn’t see my “Note” or 2.) you misinterpreted my “note”.
    – Cork88
    Mar 27 at 17:41
  • 1
    Then you know and agree that face is a metaphor, not a manly physical face. So, that's anthropomorphism. Maybe you misunderstood what's anthropomorphism.
    – Michael16
    Mar 28 at 7:00
  • @Michael16 I take the position that it’s not an anthropomorphism, why keep drawing illegitimate inferences? Some might object to that, but I am curious if my interpretation is false.
    – Cork88
    Mar 28 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


Exodus 33:23 "My face shall not be seen". NKJV.

God says He has a face. At the time of the conversation between God and Moses it shall not be seen, but what about other times and other places?

Matthew 18:10 "for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven".

The Father's face is always seen by angels if not by men.

John 1:18 "No one has seen God at any time".

In John 1:18 Jesus "has declared Him", "Him" being the Father in whose bosom the Son is in. No human has seen the Father in the past [has seen], but that does not tell us what may or may not be seen in the future.

Matthew 17:2 "His face shone like the sun".

At the transfiguration Jesus' face shone like the sun so it was not an ordinary face, but it was a literal face, an actual face, a foretaste of what His face would be like in heaven.

Hebrews 10:5 "But a body you have prepared for me". 10:12 "But this Man".

A real body, a man's body, a body with a face.

Acts 1:11 "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven".

That body, with its face, went to heaven and is going to come back to earth.

Revelation 22:4 "They shall see His face".

Whether this is the face of Him whom they crucified, or of the Father, there is a face here which belongs to God.

Anthropomophism is attributing human traits to something that is not human. Christ Jesus, the second Adam, is Man and God whether on earth or in Heaven. Because He is human/man it is not anthroporphism to attribute human traits to Him. He would have to be non-human for that.

With Jesus are human attributes e.g. a face, but also He is God, God beyond all describing.

Edit: To understand "God is spirit" John 4:24, I think we have to look at its context of Jesus explaining to the woman at the well that God can be worshipped anywhere because "God is spirit". i.e. It was not intended as a full definition of who God is.

When Jesus said "God is spirit" His lips moved. Jesus was/is God and these words came out of an actual face.

  • Before Jesus said "God is a spirit" he said " Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews" Thus, Jesus is a worshiper of the God whom he said he knows. It seems that the singular God that Jesus knows whom he say is a spirit is inconsistent with your assertion "When Jesus said "God is spirit" His lips moved. Jesus was/is God and these words came out of an actual face." Can we expect your "full definition of who God is" to clarify this? Mar 28 at 22:48
  • 2
    @Alex Balilo No, I will not try a full definition, But the Bible says more about God than "God is spirit" e.g. God is Light 1 John 1:5; God is Love 1 John 4:20; "and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life". 1 John 5:20.
    – C. Stroud
    Mar 29 at 9:41

I don't think the statement "you cannot see my face" logically requires the existence of a face. The implied reason could be "because I haven't got one". So it does not imply anthropomorphism. It is simply a way of saying "you cannot see me".

We are told that "no one has ever seen God" (John ch1 v18). This does make sense, because it would surely be impossible for any finite mind to take in the full reality of God. It would be like trying to pour a gallon into a pint pot. Moses is shown instead the "back" of God (v23), which must mean something less than the full reality. The difference between "face" and "back" ought to be understood metaphorically rather than literally.

I suggest that when people are said to have "seen" God, what they have seen is a visual image designed to accomodate itself to their understanding and give them a sense of "being in the presence of God". That would help to explain why these appearances differ in details.

  • Exodus 24:9-11, 16, 17 would appear to contradict your statement: “It is simply a way of saying "you cannot see me".”
    – Cork88
    Mar 27 at 17:51
  • @Cork88 No, that passage is just one of the standard illustrations of my last paragraph. "An image accomodating itself to their understanding". Otherwise, it would be contradicting John ch1 v18, which cannot be allowed. If you look at other "sightings", like Ezekiel ch1 and Revelation ch4, you will see that details differ, as I predicted. Mar 27 at 17:59
  • That cannot be directly maintained, the children of Israel could see God, but not clearly. This answer shows the distinction quite well: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/56142/…
    – Cork88
    Mar 27 at 19:22
  • I refer you once again to John ch1 v18. All reports of "seeing" have to be reconciled with that statement. Mar 27 at 19:30

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