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Genesis 18:1-2

1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby.

I didn't include the entire chapter of Genesis 18 here, but, it seems that three men appear to Abraham just before Sodom is destroyed. They have come down so that "the Lord" can see for himself before he judges them. Over and over one of the men, in particular, is referred to by Abraham and the narrator as 'the Lord'.

Is this appearance understood to be a Christophany?

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Just in case I'm not the only one... "A Christophany is an appearance, or non-physical manifestation, of Christ." Wikipedia –  Wikis Sep 2 '11 at 7:49

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Looking at the opening verse you've quoted "The LORD appeared...", where the proper name of God, YHWH, is used, seems to set the context as being a Christophany. That it then goes on to say Abraham "saw three men", is not discounting that - it's quite common for angelic apparitions and Christophanies to be described in human terms, since they often initially appear to be normal men (I am reminded of Hebrews 13:2, "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it").

Then again, a little further on we read the proper name of God again:

Gen 18:13-14

13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Further indicating that God himself was actually present.

Now since God is Spirit and John's Gospel tells us:

John 1:18 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

this indicates that it's the incarnate Son who makes God known within this creation; indeed Jesus is the image of the invisible God

Colossians 1:15 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

and Jesus himself says:

John 6:46 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.

Getting back to our passage, we see:

Gen 18:16-19

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.[c] 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Which very much seems like God himself discoursing with the other two angels who are with him.

Finally, we have the famous discourse between Abraham and God about Sodom and Gomorrah, in verses 27-33.

The only two interpretations other than a Christophany would be either (a) God the Father was manifest in this creation, or (b) angels are indistinguishable extensions of the presence of God, so much so that encounters with them are recorded with the proper name of God.

The sheer weight of evidence in this passage indicating the God himself was there, and the understanding that it is the Son who is the manifest presence of God in this word, leads me to conclude unequivocally that this was indeed a Christophany.

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I do not believe that this is a Christophany at all (a spiritual representation). The verse clearly states that three MEN were standing there.

We know that Jesus Christ is the one that created the heavens and the earth from Colossians. So it would seem to me that this is Christ in the flesh, yes, prior to His actual birth as the messiah.

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Hey.. First time for everything ;) –  Ecommerce Consultant Sep 2 '11 at 14:00

I stand corrected, as furthered study of God's word, it truly was Jesus with two angels. YHWH is Jesus, as also in Isaiah 6:1 .."I saw The Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up"...And Isaiah 44:6- .."I am the first and the last"...Ties in with Revelation 1;17-.."I am the first and the last". Then in Genesis 19:1- "And there came two angels to Sodom at even"...So Jesus stayed back in verse 18 to talk with Abraham while the two angels went forward towards Sodom.

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And yes curiousDanii..I should have waited until I researched before I answered, and let God's word speak for Himself. Hallelujah and God bless you. –  Anthony Valle Jan 8 at 13:37

it is definitely a christophany... it is true that there were three men: the preincarnate christ and two angels.. note that the 2 angels left and went to sodom and gommorahha while Christ stayed and talked with Abraham (genesis 18:22).. abrahamed bargined with Christ, (who is addressed as Lord) over the fate of sodomm knowing his nephew lot was still there...

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Hi and welcome, could you perhaps expand this a bit, some sources that support your claim. Have a look at the help center when you get some time. –  wax eagle May 27 '14 at 17:43

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