This question is based on four texts dealing with this matter.

John 3:3 where Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

John 6:40 where Jesus promised that "every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

John 20:29 where Jesus said to Thomas, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

1 Peter 1:8, speaking about believing Jesus, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

All from the A.V. and bold emphases mine.

What kind of 'seeing' is this? It's clearly not seeing material things (like a literal kingdom on earth, or a person visible to our eyes.) Though people at first did literally see Jesus and believed in him, he spoke of those not seeing him, yet being begotten again' with a heavenly inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Only those who believe what Jesus said about being 'born again' as an adult (as he said to Nicodemus) are being asked, which effectively rules out many Christians who believe babies or little children are 'born again' when baptized as such. In other words, answers are not sought from those who equate membership in a religious organization with being born again and/or seeing the kingdom of God.

So, what kind of 'seeing' is this, and how is 'seeing Jesus' key to this?

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    Compare with "now I see what he meant" or "I saw the truth", where physical vision is not involved. Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 1:49

1 Answer 1


Paradox of Isaiah: seeing vs. perceiving The answer for the verses in John is simply the commission of Isaiah. Its the key theme that is driving this narrative in John for the purpose of the question, this being the paradox between physical versus spiritual sight described in Isaiah 6:9 and cited in John 12:40:

9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

Again, John cites this in 12:40 and continues,

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

Those at the time of Jesus could physically see Jesus standing before them but refuse to recognise him spiritually, "ever seeing but never perceiving" (Isaiah 6:9). It's the judgement of Isaiah proclaiming the salvation (heaven) of God to the ever seeing which is rejected and therefore never perceiving.

It's that simple and is the heart of John's gospel.

John is very hard hitting in this message, particularly John 9:5-30 where the man born blind could see Jesus, but the Pharisees born sighted refused. I have gone on to explain each verse in the context of Isaiah, which together with light/dark its theme and interplays across the entire Gospel of John. However, on reflection for simplicity the above answer IMO suffices to explain physical sight versus spiritual sight and salvation "turn and be healed".

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