In a seeker's Bible discussion last week, I had explained that God created the physical world and, therefore, existed outside the physical world. I stated that He entered into the physical world in His incarnation. It seemed that God would not have a physical form until then.

However, Adam and Eve are said to have walked with God in the garden. Furthermore, it would seem that God spoke to Abraham regarding the destruction of Sodom. It is also believed by many that the fourth person in the fiery furnace was the pre-incarnate Christ. Moses also saw the glory of God. Jacob wrestled with God. Isaiah saw the throne of God.

However, this brings up the question of how God could have a physical appearance prior to His incarnation. Were the instances where people were enabled to see spiritual things with physical eyes?

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    ...this could probably be developed into a true answer, but God is omnipotent. Why couldn't He have a physical form before He was incarnated? :P Jun 27, 2012 at 16:04
  • @El'endiaStarman I certainly understand that He could. I'm just trying to understand how He did that and when He took on a physical form.
    – Narnian
    Jun 27, 2012 at 16:16

3 Answers 3


Methinks that the problem lies with this statement:

I stated that He entered into the physical world in His incarnation.

Your multiple examples demonstrate that God did manifest a physical form before He was incarnated in Jesus. However, this physical form wasn't necessarily human flesh and blood. Quite possibly a human appearance, like the angels (Mark 16:5-6 as an example), but not necessarily human "material", so to speak.

So, in essence, God may have had a flesh-and-blood body only after the incarnation, but there's no reason He couldn't have had a physical form (that looked like a human) before the incarnation.

  • +1 - I think this is a solid answer. Technically he could have even worn flesh, but it would have been a shell, not a nature that was mystically joined to Himself forever through the virgin birth. We will never know what the substance was as we have no swabs for analysis ;)
    – Mike
    Jun 29, 2012 at 15:56

Exodus 33:20 NET But he added, “You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.”

How does a God who can not be approached safely interact with man? Every instance of God communicating with men in some physical sense would require Him to assume some form that enabled that communication.

Quotes from Tektonics Article


Dunn puts it succinctly: "What pre-Christian Judaism said of Wisdom and Philo also of the Logos, Paul and the others say of Jesus. The role that Proverbs, ben Sira, etc. ascribe to Wisdom, these earliest Christians ascribe to Jesus." [James D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making,167] This conception of Wisdom parallels a less significant, general Jewish explanation of how a transcendent God could participate in a temporal creation. The Aramaic Targums resolved this problem by equating God with His Word; thus, in the Targums, Exodus 19:17, rather than saying the people went out to meet God, it says that the people went out to meet the word of God, or Memra.


Nor is a trinitarian concept entirely foreign to Judaism. O'Neill [JCO.WD, 94] records the words of the Jewish historian Philo, a contemporary of Jesus, who laid out this exposition upon the three men who came to visit Abraham in Genesis 18:2, and were presumed to be divine figures: ”...the one in the middle is the Father of the Universe, who in the sacred scriptures is called by his proper name, I am that I am; and the beings on each side are those most ancient powers which are always close to the living God, one of which is called his creative power, and the other his royal power.”

No one would question that Philo was a Jewish monotheist; yet here we have an exposition perfectly compatible with the Trinity: the Father, The Creative Power (the Son, or the Word), and the Royal Power (the Holy Spirit).


You're thinking of God the father, when in reality Jesus was the one walking with Abraham and wrestling with Jacob.

The word "God" used in Genesis is translated from the Hebrew word "Elohim" which is a plural referring to multiple Gods. We see why in Colossians 1 The Supremacy of Christ. In this chapter the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ created everything and sustains everything.

Jesus is God's Word, when God has something to say or do, He sends Jesus.

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    I understand, but Jesus, as the Son of God, would not have had a physical appearance, it seems, until the Incarnation.
    – Narnian
    Jun 27, 2012 at 15:05
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    The "Jesus in the OT" interpretation is far from universal, it should be noted. In fact it probably deserves a question by itself (not sure if we've had that one yet). Jun 27, 2012 at 15:32
  • Elohim can mean, "God," "Gods," or "Divine Beings" (eg. angels) Jun 27, 2012 at 16:34

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