A Series of Answers to Common Questions

Sam Shamoun


The Bible says that God has never been seen (cf. John 1:18), and yet Jesus was seen and heard. This again proves that Jesus cannot be God.


Just as in Part 1 (on John 5:37), a careful reading of the passage helps to resolve the problem. Notice that in John 1:18, the Evangelist says that God's Son, WHO HIMSELF IS GOD, has made God known. How did he do this? By becoming flesh. John therefore affirms that GOD has appeared visibly and revealed himself to others when the Son took on human nature. (Cf. John 1:1-3, 10-11, 14)

Furthermore, the God whom no one has seen is the Father. Note the text again:

"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." NRSV

So this in itself suffices as a response since John is not denying that God has ever been seen, but that the Father has never been seen.

With that said, we must now understand what John meant that the Father has never been seen.

A careful examination of the context shows that John is actually expounding upon the Greek Septuagint (LXX) of Exodus 33:7-20:

"And Moses took his TABERNACLE (ten skenen autou) and PITCHED IT without the camp, at a distance from the camp; and it was called THE TABERNACLE of Testimony (skene marturiou): and it came to pass that every one that sought the Lord went forth to THE TABERNACLE (ten skenen) which was without the camp. And whenever Moses went into THE TABERNACLE (ten skenen) without the camp, all the people stood every one watching by the doors OF HIS TENT (tes skenes autou); and when Moses departed, they took notice until he entered into THE TABERNACLE (ten skenen). And when Moses entered into THE TABERNACLE (ten skenen), THE PILLAR OF THE CLOUD DESCENDED, and stood at the door of THE TABERNACLE (tes skene), and God talked to Moses. And all the people SAW THE PILLAR OF THE CLOUD standing by the door of THE TABERNACLE (tes skenes), and all the people stood and worshipped every one at the door OF HIS TENT (tes skenes autou). And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as if one should speak to his friend; and he retired into the camp: but his servant Joshua the son of Naue, a young man, departed not forth FROM THE TABERNACLE (ek tes skenes). And Moses said to the Lord, Lo! thou sayest to me, Lead on this people; but thou hast not shewed me whom thou wilt send with me, but thou hast said to me, I know thee above all, and thou hast favour with me. If then I have found favour in thy sight, reveal thyself to me, that I may evidently see thee; that I may find favour in thy sight, and that I may know that this great nation is thy people. And he says, I myself will go before thee, and give thee rest. And he says to him, If thou go not up with us thyself, bring me not up hence. And how shall it be surely known, that both I and this people have found favour with thee, except only if thou go with us? So both I and thy people shall be glorified beyond all the nations, as many as are upon the earth. And the Lord said to Moses, I will also do for thee this thing, which thou hast spoken; for thou hast found grace before me, and I know thee above all. And Moses says, Manifest thyself to me. And God said, I will pass by before thee WITH MY GLORY (te doxe mou), and I will call by my name, the Lord, before thee; and I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and will have pity on whom I will have pity. And God said, Thou shalt not be able to see my face; FOR NO MAN SHALL SEE MY FACE, and live. Exodus 33:7-20

Carefully note that the passage states that the pillar of cloud descended upon the Tent (skene) in full view of Israel. The cloud represented God's glory:

"Then the cloud covered THE TENT OF MEETING (ten skenen tou marturiou), AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE TABERNACLE (kai doxes kuriou eplesthe he skene). Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE TABERNACLE (kai doxes kuriou eplesthe he skene). In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out-until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels." Exodus 40:34-38

Furthermore, in Exodus 33 Moses asked God to manifest himself, to show Moses his face. In other words, Moses wanted to see a full blown manifestation of God's glory as opposed to seeing a small veiled glimpse of it. God responds by saying that no one can see the fullness of his Divine glory, the visible revelation of his complete essence. We know that this what Moses meant since Exodus clearly says that God appeared to Moses and the latter saw him:

"Then He said to Moses, 'Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance. Moses alone, however, shall come near to the LORD, but they shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.' ... Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, AND THEY SAW GOD OF ISRAEL; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; AND THEY SAW GOD, and they ate and drank. Now the LORD said to Moses, 'Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.' So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. But to the elders he said, 'Wait here for us until we return to you And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him approach them.' Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top. Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights." Exodus 24:1-2, 9-18

Therefore, Moses was asking to see the whole bare essential Divine glory visibly manifested before him, not just a small veiled portion of God's glorious majesty.

With this in mind, let us now turn to John's prologue:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh AND PITCHED HIS TENT AMONG US (kai eskenosen en hemin). WE HAVE SEEN HIS GLORY (ten doxan autou), THE GLORY OF THE ONE AND ONLY (doxan hos monogenous), WHO CAME FROM THE FATHER, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, 'This was he of whom I said, "He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me."' From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known."

The verb eskenosen comes from skenoo, where we get skene or tabernacle, the very word used in the Greek version of Exodus 33 and 40! It is clear that by using the terms skene and doxa, and by referencing Moses, John is presenting the Lord Jesus as the very glory of God who pitched his tent among us. In other words, Jesus' physical body is the permanent tabernacle for the fullness of God's glory to reside in. This means that when John says no one has seen God, John is referring to the fact that no one has seen God fully manifestating his glorious essence. Yet Jesus permanently houses God's glory and essence in the flesh. This is why Christ could speak of his physical body as God's tabernacle, and why the glory cloud descended upon him, just as it had descended upon the tabernacle:

"Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three TABERNACLES (skenas) here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!'" Matthew 17:1-5

"Jesus answered them, 'Destroy THIS TEMPLE, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?' But He was speaking of THE TEMPLE OF HIS BODY. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken." John 2:19-22

Thus, John's prologue is essentially saying that the unseen, invisible God has visibly manifested his glory by appearing in human form. And that human form just so happens to be the human nature, the very physical body, of God's eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Far from disproving the Deity of the Lord Jesus, John's prologue does a superb and masterful job of demonstrating it (obviously due to divine inspiration of course)!

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