Who Has Seen God?

There is a fascinating question that puzzles some Christians. Has anyone ever seen God? The Bible appears to say both yes and no. If the Bible contradicts itself, then it's author could not possibly be God. How could One who is all knowing make an error that someone as lowly as I could discern? Here are the Biblical verses that say that someone has seen God:

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

Genesis 17:1 KJV

And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

Genesis 18:1 KJV

And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.

Exodus 6:2-3 KJV

Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

Exodus 24:9-11 KJV

And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

Numbers 12:6-8 KJV

And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,

Acts 7:2 KJV

Here are the verses that state no one has seen God:

And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Exodus 33:20 KJV

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 1:18 KJV

And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

John 5:37 KJV

Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

John 6:46 KJV

Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

I Timothy 6:15-16 KJV

There you have it. The first set of verses clearly say that God was seen. The second set of verses just as clearly say that God cannot be seen. This really is a great mystery for a Christian to ponder. Is there really a mistake in the Bible?

I have heard one explanation that says the people in the first set of verses did not mean they literally saw God. Rather than having directly seen God, these people saw God in a vision, in their dreams, or they really saw an angel. Believing that requires a very liberal Biblical viewpoint. For me to accept that viewpoint, I must accept as fact that although the author specifically said one thing, he means something else. Under those circumstances, the Bible could mean anything. "Right" could be "wrong", "yes" could mean "no". If I follow that belief, the next logical step is to determine who among us is in charge of determining what the Bible really says? This opens a very dangerous door. Peter addressed this type of behavior in one of his books.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

II Peter 1:20 KJV

I think I am in agreement with Peter when I state that the verses say what they say - nothing less, nothing more. The verses very clearly say that people saw God. Exodus 6:2-3 says God Almighty. This pretty much eliminates the angel theory. Numbers 12:6-8 eliminates the dream/vision theory. But what about the second set of verses?

The second set of verses clearly that no one has seen God. If you have read what I wrote in "Who is God?", this will be a very simple answer. If not, this may sound confusing. Logically speaking, if the Old Testament states that people saw God, the Almighty God, and Jesus said that no one has ever seen the Father (John 6:46), then the Old Testament people saw God Almighty, but not the Father.

Still confused? I believe three separate, but equal persons make up the one God. The three personages of God are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is therefore logically possible for some to see One, but not the Other.