Did anyone ever see God face to face?


The Bible is very explicit on this question:

  • No one has ever seen God, but God the one and only who is at the Father's side has made him known. (John 1:18)
  • No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. (John 6:46)

These are key verses, since they tell us no one has seen God. Yet, we know from the Old Testament that people did see God. For instance, Exodus 24:9-11:

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel.
Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

The Hebrew word hazah translated as "see" in 24:11 means "to see or behold with the eyes", according to Brown, Driver, and Briggs in their Hebrew and English Lexicon, where they make specific mention of this very verse.

Notice also Genesis 18, where Abraham has three visitors, one of whom turns out to be the Lord: Yahweh. See also Isaiah 6:1-3 where Isaiah saw God "high and lifted up" in the same way he saw the Seraphim; Numbers 12:6-8 tells us that Moses spoke to God face to face, rather than through visions or dreams, and that he sees "the form of God"; Judges 13:20-23 explains that the father of Samson is afraid he might die because he has seen God. He is reassured by his wife when she points out that God would not have accepted their offering if he intended to kill them. Job 42:5 says that Job saw God.

To explain the apparent contradiction between John 1:18 and 6:46, which very clearly state that no one has seen God -- and Exodus 24 which very clearly says that Moses and seventy-three other folks did (not to mention the problems raised by the other passages), there is only one possible explanation: since no one has seen the Father, the only conclusion, then, is that the God of the Old Testament, Yahweh, is none other than the Son of God! This isn't so surprising considering that Romans 10:9-13 records:

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Everyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile -- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Paul has here quoted from Joel 2:32: "Everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved." Yet Paul applies the statement to Christ. Consider also Acts 2:21 where the same passage is quoted from Joel and Peter again applies it to Jesus. Or Acts 4:10-12, where Peter says:

Then know this, you and everyone else in Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you completely healed. He is "the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone." Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
Salvation is through the Son, whether in the Old Testament or the New. Notice also what Isaiah 43:11 says:
I, even I, am Yahweh,
and apart from me there is no savior.

Return to the Home Page