No One Has Ever Seen God

No One Has Ever Seen God… Really?

No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made Him known.” John 1:18 (emphasis mine)

Have you ever thought about that verse?

I mean stop and think about what John has just said.

“Nobody has ever seen God.”


Not Moses?

“And He said, ‘Hear My words when there are prophets among you, I The Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. Not so with Moses; he is entrusted with all My house. With him I speak face to face – clearly not in riddles; and he beholds the form of The Lord.'” Numbers 12:6-8 (emphasis mine)

What about this time when Moses and 73 other people saw God

“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.” Exodus 24:9-11 (emphasis mine)

Then there was Isaiah:

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw The Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty, and the hem of his robe filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1 (emphasis mine)

Job said the following:

“I had heard of you by the hearing of my ear, but now my eye sees you” Job 42:5 (emphasis mine)

Abram, Issac & Jacob?

I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘The Lord’ I did not make myself known to them.” Exodus 6:3 (emphasis mine)

A couple more for Abram:

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.” Gen 17:1 (emphasis mine)

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day.” Gen 18:1 (emphasis mine)

These are just a few examples of many people who saw God before Jesus showed up in Bethlehem.

I won’t bother going into details of the many others who did. That’s not the main point of this article.

So what is your point Phil?

This is my point.

Is the scripture full of lies? Did these accounts not really happen?

Or is John lying in his Gospel account when He says until Jesus nobody had seen the Father?

I don’t personally think it’s either.

In fact Jesus Himself backs up John’s statement:

“And the Father who sent Me has himself testified on My behalf. You have never heard His voice or seen His form,” John 5:37 (emphasis mine)

Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.” John 6:46 (emphasis mine)

I think each and every account recorded is true. Those people saw God.

But I think John and Jesus are pointing out something important.

While those people saw God, they did not see Him clearly.

They did not see Him as He was.

Without Jesus as a lens through which to see the Father we have all perverted the image of God.

We read our fears and failings into God. We assume the worst rather than seeing Him for who He is.

People’s number one response to seeing God in the Old Covenant was fear. They grew fearful and aware of their sin.

[Tweet “Jesus came to show us the Father wants to provoke love in us, not fear.”]

He wanted to point out our value to Him not our failings.

So what is John saying?

If we build our knowledge of God on the way He was perceived by those in the Old Covenant we will surely fail to recognise Him.

This of course is what the Pharisses did. They stood right in front of Jesus and failed to see He was God! He wasn’t what they expected to see!

But John highlights what Paul does in His letter to the Colossians – that “Jesus is the image of the invisible God”. We don’t know what God is like, and we will always mess up figuring out that. The only way to truly see Him as He is, is to look upon Jesus. As Jesus said – “if you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father.”

I think John is challenging our preconceived images of God. We tend to make Him in our image.

Let’s not fall into that trap. Let’s instead trust this:

[Tweet “God looks like Jesus. He always has and always will.”] [Tweet “Any view we have of God doesn’t look like Jesus is a view that we need to change.”]

*Image by Gabriel Doyle

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  1. Wonderful article Phil!

    Heb 1 says God who at sundry time and in various manners spoke in time past to the father by the prophet, BUT in this last days spoken to us THROUGH HIS SON, who being the brightness of God’s glory and the EXPRESS IMAGE of His person.

    So from this scripture, Jesus is the fastest and express representation of God. Also, the way Jesus will respond to an issue is THE SAME WAY God does.

    No wonder Jesus said: He that has seen me as seen the father!

  2. I always used to think it mean that no-one has seen Father God as he truly is, because he is spirit, and we can’t see him as he truly is because of that realm not being where we are at present. I don’t think there is a instance where the Father has taken on human form? Only Jesus right? Angel of the Lord and that type of thing? When it talks about the Lord – i always took that to be the pre-incarnate Christ. I know Jesus is God, but he’s different from the Father…. what do you think Phil? Or am I just not getting what you mean?

    • Hey Tracy, I’m sure in some sense you could be very well correct. Ulitmately we kind of get ourselves tied in knots over this don’t we. Because we simply aren’t qualified to discuss it… we have nothing to tether that reality to… we can’t really understand the “spirit realm” enough to discuss it.

      William P. Young got in a lot of trouble when he published the shack for that very reason. To describe God as a woman… heresy! Well… it’s not as if He’s an old wizened man with a big white beard either? That was kind of His point… we aren’t qualified to discuss what He looks like.

      I mean, ultimately – we don’t know what the Father is… we have no idea what it means to only be Spirit, or if we could describe God as only Spirit.

      I think that brings me full circle back to the point I make in the post – hypothesising over what God “looks” like is irrelevant – because Jesus came to clear it up once and for all. “He looks like ME!” was His bold declaration.

      Thanks so much for sharing a great point.

  3. Great article Phil! I could split some hairs about what’s being said (God is a spirit, thus cannot be seen with a natural eye), but spiritually speaking, God is clearly communicating that Jesus is the only way to know the father (as he truly is).

    This point is a major stumbling block for many, preventing them from receiving a proper understanding of bible. The apostle Paul expressly states this point in Acts 28:17-29 and Jesus confirms in Luke 24 (walk to Emmaus) that scripture is all about him. It’s only when we see Christ in bible, our we actuallyl hearing what God is saying in the spirit.

    Again Phil, great post!

    • Hi Karl – I just touched on the God being a spirit thing on Tracy’s comment above – I totally agree.

      Great scriptures to further hammer home this point – Everything in scripture was pointing to Jesus and Jesus points to His good Father… and amazingly, as His image and likeness, us!!

  4. I have always enjoyed the way the NAS translates this verse: “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has EXPLAINED Him.” – emphasis mine. It’s kind of like, “Let me explain to you what you cannot seem to wrap your minds around.”

    So, here’s one I have often wondered about. Depending on how you read Genesis 32, Jacob not only saw God, but he wrestled with God all night long, and WON!! I have always found that entire incident so bizarre.

    • I like that a lot Damon! A great translation that really highlights this side of that passage.

      As for Genesis 32 – pretty crazy right… it seems funny to me that not only did he see God and wrestle with God… but he didn’t realise it was God till the very end when he asks for His name! haha

  5. Phil,
    Great point! I loved what you wrote! I have been writing about this very same thing for 3 months now but have not released where the Lord led me. It is TOO big and to dramatic. I hope he will release me to do it soon. I love sharing the truth as it is so free. I started on this current topic with the very same verse after stumbling upon Exodus 24:9-11 and Acts 7:39-43. I have concluded it was an Angel acting on behalf of God who would administer his wrath via the Law. He was the actual “God of (physical) Israel” which was but a type and shadow of the TRUE (spiritual) Israel who are believers. Romans 2:28-29 One of his servants who’s job is to be the “left” arm of God (administering God wrath to those under law) while Jesus is the right arm to those under grace. This servant called the “God of Israel” runs the very “ministry of death” that 2 Cor 3:7 and the ministry of “condemnation” of 2 Cor 3:9. Do you know who he is yet? I am sure God has revealed it. This is very shocking. Check out Acts 7:38 and 2 Cor 11:14. Also, notice Exodus 24:11 it said they saw “God”. Well, who is the “god of this world”? 1 John 5:19, John 16:11, John 14:20. Who is the one who has the power of “death”? Hebrews 2:14 Well, I know you know how “death” is the power of the “law” and the strength of sin. Now, can we see why it would be this being who would be giving the physical Israelites the Law????

    Now, you can see why I haven’t released it in my blog at I am confident it is the one that the verses point to. I have tons more scripture and evidence. The Church is going to be so shocked when they find out and I am confident it will happen soon at the end of this age as things are being revealed my friend! Thank you so much for speaking the truth in so much grace! I totally know how hard that is. I was very “legalist about Grace” too when my eyes were first opened.
    God bless,

    • This is a very interesting train of thought I’ve never heard someone teach on Duane. Will need to have a look into all the verses you referenced as I’ve personally never seen it that way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I will check out your website too :)

  6. Could some of the manifestations of God in the OT have been Jesus, and not the Father? When the Father manifested, you had to be put in the cleft of a rock and covered by His hand so you didn’t get annihilated by His Glory. Or He shook mountains to the point where you would be too terrified to approach. In both cases, He manifested Himself, but no on saw Him. But Jesus you could wrestle with – until He decided He had had enough and dislocated your hip. Thoughts?

  7. I think that Abram, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses saw God as a man who appeared to them, that is, The Son veiled in human flesh as the angels likewise appeared to those in the OT. God appeared similarly to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as The Son veiled in human flesh in the fiery furnace. This wasn’t the same flesh that The Son took on when he was born to Mary through natural child birth, though. Moses, though he met with God face-to-face, desired to see God’s glory and he asked God for that because he knew that there was more to who he was talking to. But God only let Moses see his back. God probably saw The Father’s back . . . or perhaps The Spirit’s. Isaiah saw a vision like John did in his description in Revelation. God caused them to see a vision but they were probably not really seeing God. A vision is more like a dream of some sort rather than really seeing with your eyes. But even those who interacted with Jesus when He walked the earth, who did see him with their own eyes, did not get to see Him in His glory until a few saw him transfigured before them . . . and a few saw Him rise up into the clouds. So really, I think that no one has actually seen The Father or The Spirit . . . at least not from the front. Only Moses, who saw one of Their backs. Though many have seen The Son veiled in human flesh, OT and NT, only a few have seen him in His glory. I could be wrong . . . but it seems right to me.

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