Has Anyone Ever Seen God?
The Bible’s answer
God can be seen directly by angels, though, because they are spirit creatures. (Matthew 18:10) Moreover, some humans who die will be raised to life in heaven with a spirit body and will then be able to see God.—Philippians 3:20, 21; 1 John 3:2.
How to “see” God now
The Bible often uses the idea of seeing figuratively, to represent enlightenment. (Isaiah 6:10; Jeremiah 5:21; John 9:39-41) In this sense, a person can see God now with “the eyes of [his] heart” by having faith so as to know Him and appreciate His qualities. (Ephesians 1:18) The Bible describes steps to build this kind of faith.
- Learn about God’s qualities, such as his love and generosity as well as his wisdom and power, through his creation. (Romans 1:20) After being reminded of God’s creative works, the faithful man Job felt as though God were right before his eyes.—Job 42:5.
- Get to know God by studying the Bible. “If you search for [God], he will let himself be found by you,” the Bible assures us.—1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 119:2; John 17:3.
- Learn about God through the life of Jesus. Since Jesus perfectly reflected the personality of his Father, Jehovah God, he could rightly say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father also.”—John 14:9.
- Live in a way that pleases God, and see how he acts in your behalf. Jesus said: “Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God.” As noted earlier, some who please God will be resurrected to heaven and will thus “see God” there.—Matthew 5:8; Psalm 11:7.
Did not Moses, Abraham, and others actually see God?
In accounts where it might seem that the Bible says that humans literally saw God, the context shows that God was represented by an angel or appeared by means of a vision.
In ancient times, God sent angels as his representatives to appear to humans and to speak in his name. (Psalm 103:20) For example, God once spoke to Moses from a burning bush, and the Bible says that “Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at the true God.” (Exodus 3:4, 6) Moses did not literally see God, though, for the context shows that he actually saw “Jehovah’s angel.”—Exodus 3:2.
Similarly, when the Bible says that God “spoke to Moses face-to-face,” it means that God conversed with Moses intimately. (Exodus 4:10, 11; 33:11) Moses did not actually see God’s face, for the information he received from God “was transmitted through angels.” (Galatians 3:19; Acts 7:53) Still, Moses’ faith in God was so strong that the Bible described him as “seeing the One who is invisible.”—Hebrews 11:27.
In the same way that he spoke to Moses, God communicated with Abraham through angels. Granted, a casual reading of the Bible might give the impression that Abraham literally saw God. (Genesis 18:1, 33) However, the context shows that the “three men” who came to Abraham were actually angels sent by God. Abraham recognized them as God’s representatives and addressed them as if he were speaking directly to Jehovah.—Genesis 18:2, 3, 22, 32; 19:1.
God has also appeared to humans through visions, or scenes presented to a person’s mind. For instance, when the Bible says that Moses and other Israelites “saw the God of Israel,” they really “saw a vision of the true God.” (Exodus 24:9-11) Likewise, the Bible sometimes says that prophets “saw Jehovah.” (Isaiah 6:1; Daniel 7:9; Amos 9:1) In each case, the context shows that they were given a vision of God rather than a direct view of him.—Isaiah 1:1; Daniel 7:2; Amos 1:1.