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In John 1:18, it states

θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε
"No one has ever seen God."

Trinitarians believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is God [the Son], the second person of the Trinity. That being said, how do Trinitarians reconcile the belief that the Lord Jesus Christ is God with the statement in John 1:18, "no one has ever seen God"?

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From a Trinitarian standpoint there is nothing to reconcile.

As with most things, the answer is found in the context. The whole of John 1:18 reads:

"No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." (NASB)

The person John refers to here is the same one Jesus exclaims in John 6:46:

"Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father." (NASB)

Jesus explicitly states that he is "the One" when he says, "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father." (John 16:28 NASB)

I'm not aware of any arguments to the contrary, though I think it would be quite extraordinary if John were contradicting his own testimony from John 1:1 by excluding Jesus as the one from God who is God.

  • So, "no one has ever seen God" means "no one has ever seen the Father," correct? – user900 Sep 22 '15 at 3:37
  • Welcome to Christianity.SE! And thanks for offering an answer here. For a quick overview of what this site is about, please take the Site Tour. I hope you'll stick around, and spend some time browsing the questions and answers here. – Lee Woofenden Sep 22 '15 at 4:05
  • I would say yes simply because of Daniel 3:25 , but as one of the other answers states, it's a moot point. Anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the father. – Pistachio Sep 23 '15 at 1:36
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I agree, he is referring to God the Father who resides in heaven, the third heaven to be exact. Consider the following verses in John 14:

[7] If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” [8] Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” [9] Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview of what this site is about, please take the Site Tour. I hope you'll stick around, and spend some time browsing the questions and answers here. – Lee Woofenden Sep 22 '15 at 5:55
  • So the Father must look exactly like Jesus, then, with flesh and bones, and he's Jewish, too? – user900 Oct 22 '15 at 1:40
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    Jesus IS God, just as John 1:1 states. However, God the Father, Yawah, is discernable from Yeshua. Jesus, is the Father's ONLY begotton Son. Thus, Yeshua was flesh and blood to fulfill the OT prophesies in order for Gods greatest gift of love to be freely offered to all peoples. The Father remained in Spirit. – Qubit Oct 26 '15 at 2:43
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Jesus himself said that whoever has seen him has seen God:

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 14:9 (ESV)

Jesus himself has seen God the Father:

not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.

John 6:46 (ESV)

There is no contradiction. John 1:18 is only saying that 'no one has seen God' not that 'no one will ever see God.' The Bible told us that people will see God:

And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,

Job 19:26 (ESV)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Matthew 5:8 (ESV)

In fact, John 1:18 as a whole reveals that Jesus is 'God only begotten'(μονογενὴς Θεὸς) without being in conflict with the clause 'no one has seen God.'

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The Father is the one John meant in this context as may be understood from Jesus' words in John 4:46.

Direct seeing is what he means no man has experienced even though seeing the Son could be accounted for seeing God since the Son is the exact replica of the Father.

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The short answer is that they have seen God in the same sense that other prohpets have seen God: not His divine nature as is, but under some bearable visible form. So for Jesus, His flesh was seen.

No one has ever seen your spirit or my spirit. But they have seen you personally. The same goes for God in the various bearable forms He might appear under. Jesus is teaching that no one has seen God as He is, because that's impossible.

No one has ever seen God as He is (Ex 33:20), except those in heaven, who see God (Mt 5:8). They have seen visions and representations of Him which are bearable and fit for humans (Isa 6:1). As for the Son, He alone has seen the Father as He is in this life (Mt 11:27; Jn 1:1, 18).

No one has even seen Jesus', the Son's divine nature, since He became flesh and veiled His glory for the sake of our redemption (Phil 2:4-11). Even the Transfiguration wasn't a glimpse of Jesus' divine nature, since it is no less bearable than the Father's—the divine nature of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is one nature. The selected apostles saw the glory of the glorified saints (Mt 13:43)—His glorified human nature. (Although by showing it at will, and by conversing with the two great prophets, one of the Law, one of the Prophecies more generally, He shows that He is the summation thereof, and that He is veiling a state He already possesses, if not much better, voluntarily, making Him clearly something more than a mere man with a mission like another prophet: as John writes the Word who is God who became man: Jn 1:1,14,15.)

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The problem with our comprehension of the Scriptures lies in the fact that we are trapped in the twenty first Century. By that what I mean is that we are now forced to understand the Scriptures from the standpoint of what we have available, which is in most cases what someone understands them to mean in relationship to the present.

In some cases that is an advantage as in the case of:

Luke 17:34,35 and 36 KJV I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Now we know that because the World is a globe part of the World will be night while another part will day, but at the uttering of this the populous did not know that. So did they find those statements to be at odds? We do not know for sure since the Scriptures do not elaborate.

Therefore; the true answer to your question would only be possible if we had the advantage of being able to travel back to those incidents in time and also be able to understand the language used at those times. To translate those sayings from the language of the time to our present language is monumental task, and one that will be subject to the understanding of the interpreter.

Taking all of that into consideration, we can gain some insight into things by the studious comparing all Scriptures which address some facet of the subject. That means that we must research all instances where some facet of God is covered, and also all instances where Spirit, soul, and eternal property of the tripartite God is elaborated upon.

We are required to consider those instances where God is depicted in both the Old and New Testaments; from his appearance in the pillar of fire in Exodus to his appearance as judge in the Great white throne judgment in Revelation.

Bible students over the ages have come to varying conclusions, to this question and in some cases has spawned differing Denominations, none of which are provable. For instance some have concluded that Jesus is entirely human, while others have concluded that he is totally Spirit and only appeared on earth as an apparition, and still another has determined that Jesus was God in his entirety come down to Earth from Heaven.

Having entertained this very question at various times in my Christian journey, I have concluded that the human body in which Jesus abode while on earth was similar to a suit of clothing which we take on to go to Church; in that God in all three of his manifestations is Spirit. This concept is further supported in my mind by:

John 1:1,2,3,4 & 5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

If as John portends that Jesus is eternal and existed before creation, then the human body which Jesus inhabited was only a temporary abode, in the material realm which according to John was Jesus own creation. Which in turn necessitates that that human body was also a creation of the Spirit Jesus himself.

In short there is no EARTHLY answer to your question.