How could Abraham have possibly dined physically with God as suggested in Genesis 18, especially when "No one has ever seen Him"?

1 Timothy 6:16

He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light. No one has ever seen Him, nor can anyone see Him. To Him be honour and eternal dominion! Amen.

Genesis 18:1-8

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. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. 3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs[b] of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” 7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

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    For this question to work here, you would need to state a Christian denomination whose perspective you want. Otherwise it is a matter of opinion and interpretation. Nov 19, 2016 at 18:53

2 Answers 2


I have a feeling that there is not a Christian denomination on the face of the earth that does not believe God can do absolutely anything he wants to do-- anything, that is, within the scope of his character and attributes.

It is a trustworthy statement:

For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;  

If we endure, we will also reign with Him;

If we deny Him, He also will deny us;  

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13 NASB, my emphasis).

Yes, there are many things which God cannot do. He cannot lie. He cannot go back on a promise. He cannot sin. In short, God cannot not be God.

Having said this, there is, then, no great leap required to conclude that God can choose to appear to his creatures as a flesh-and-blood human being, as he apparently did to Abraham (and Jacob, and Moses, and others), or as a pillar of smoke or fire, a burning bush, the angel of the LORD, a mighty and rushing wind, a dove, a voice from the sky, or a little baby boy who is conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin.

To invoke Trinitarian concerns into the mix is to muddy things up unnecessarily. Some theologians talk about "Christophonies," or pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. Perhaps they are onto something. I don't know. What I do know is that God can do anything he wants, simply because he is God.

Too often when thinking about the omnipotence of God some people think perhaps of a spectacular, miraculous, impossible-for-any-human-to-accomplish feat of raw strength and naked power. And, indeed, Jesus did make the wind and the waves obey him (Luke 8:22-25; Mark 4:35-41).

One logical conclusion of that sort of reasoning would seem to be this, however: If God is able to control and manipulate the awesome forces of nature however and whenever he wills, why should even the worst doubter's natural incredulity be further stretched to believe that God could appear as a man and eat a meal? (Argumentum a minore ad maius.)

Or as King Solomon realized millennia ago,

But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! (1 Kings 8:27)

When God chooses to appear as a man to Abraham, is that man truly God? Of course not. Just as a temple cannot contain God, neither can a human body contain God. Even the Lord Jesus Christ, although he appeared to us as a flesh-and-blood human being who experienced everything we experience as human beings--except for sin (Hebrews 4:15) emptied himself, that self-emptying was only for a time, and for the suffering of death (Philippians 2:6-8). After his resurrection, however, his Father restored him to the highest place in heaven (Philippians 2:9-11), which is befitting only to the Son of God!

Again, Argumentum a minore ad maius.

  • Very good sir. May I ask Is your answer inspired by trinitarian belief?
    – David
    Nov 20, 2016 at 22:17
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    @David: I AM a Trinitarian, but my Trinitarian beliefs have little if anything to do with my answer. I guess you could say I approach your question by using a rhetorical strategy which Jesus used on many occasions; namely, the argumentum a minore ad maius. See, for example, Matthew 6:25-34. Call the argument the "how much more" argument if you like. The point is this: If you believe God can do anything, then his becoming a man wouldn't even cause him to break a sweat. Nov 21, 2016 at 5:54
  • After all, the bazillion stars in the heavens were the work of his fingers, and moreover he has names for each one (Ps.8:3; 147:4). Those are no small feats, yes?! Nov 21, 2016 at 5:55

How could Abraham have possibly dined physically with God as suggested in Genesis 18, especially when "No one has ever seen Him"?

My understanding something like this (my own Trinitarian version).

Before incarnation, all the 3 person of Trinity has one name which is in that time the name is called Yahweh.

After incarnation, all the 3 person of Trinity has one name which is in that time the name is called Jesus.

The First Person will never be seen by human because the world won't be able to contain it, while The Second Person is every event when human see Him in a "limited" state.

1 Timothy 6:16 and John 6:46 is speaking about Jesus the Father (First Person)

Genesis 18:1-8 (and maybe some other verses) is speaking about Yahweh the Son (Second Person).

I'm not sure though :).

  • Cheers Karma! your answer is similar to my vicars answer.
    – David
    Nov 20, 2016 at 16:13
  • Cheers David :)
    – karma
    Nov 20, 2016 at 16:31

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