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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

SF-See Father


"No Man Has Seen the Father"

John 5:37 - "The Father who sent me ... his form you have never seen" - RSV.

Numbers 12:8 - "with [Moses] I speak mouth to mouth ... and he beholds the form of [Jehovah]."

Therefore, some trinitarians claim, Moses saw the form of Jehovah. And since Jesus said that men have never seen the form of the Father, the Father must not be Jehovah. Jehovah God of the Old Testament must really be Jesus, they say.

First, we should note that Jesus was speaking to first century Jews at John 5:37. Of course they had never seen the "form" of Jehovah. That does not necessarily mean that Moses did not see the "form" of the Father more than a thousand years earlier!

Second, John tells us that no man has ever seen God (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12). And yet many men have seen Jesus (hundreds saw him even after his resurrection). Therefore, Jesus cannot be God, but Jehovah certainly is God. Therefore Jesus cannot be Jehovah!

Furthermore, we know Jehovah is not Jesus:

Psalm 110:1 - "Jehovah saith unto [Jesus - compare Acts 2:34-36]" - ASV;

Ps. 2:2 - "the rulers take counsel together against Jehovah, and against his anointed [Messiah - compare Acts 4:24-27]" - ASV;

Ps. 2:7 - "I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me, thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee' [compare Acts 13:33,34]" - ASV;

Micah 5:2, 4 - "And he [Jesus] shall stand, and shall feed his flock ... in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God." - ASV.

We also know that Jehovah is the Father, not the Son. Jehovah is never called "the Son," "the Messiah," "the only-begotten," "the firstborn," etc. But he is called the Father: "O Jehovah, thou art our Father" - Is. 64:8 ASV (compare Is. 63:16; Jer. 3:19, 20; Deut. 32:6; Ps. 89:26, 27).

And we know that Jehovah alone is the only true God.

"Father,.... This is eternal life to know thee who alone art truly God..." - Jn 17:1, 3, NEB. Cf. Ps. 86:6, 10; Is. 45:5, 6, 21, 22.

So, how can we reconcile Nu. 12:8 ("[Moses] beholds the form of Jehovah") with the rest of the Bible? Especially when Jehovah Himself said just before he showed Moses His "form": "man shall not see me and live" (Ex. 33:20 - ASV)!

First, trinitarian Robert Young tells us in Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible, "Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation":

"What a SERVANT says or does is ascribed to the MASTER."

That is why angels sent directly from God and perfectly speaking God's very words to humans are frequently called "God" or "Jehovah": Ex. 3:2, 4; Gen. 32:24-28, 30 and Hosea 12:3, 4; Gen. 31:11, 13; Gen. 16:11, 13; Judges 13:21, 22. Therefore, seeing the form of one of God's perfect representatives was spoken of as seeing God. (E.g. Manoa knew he had spoken with an angel of Jehovah and yet said: "we shall surely die because we have seen God." - Judges 13:21, 22 ASV.)

Second, the Hebrew word translated "form" at Nu. 12:8 is temunah which is used 10 times in the entire Old Testament. It can be translated "form," "likeness," "image," or "similitude" (as in KJV). "Similitude" means "one that is like or similar; a facsimile."

In fact, trinitarian Dr. William F. Beck, noted Lutheran scholar, translated Nu.12:8 - "[Moses] sees what the LORD is like." - The Holy Bible in the Language of Today.

And the very trinitarian Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version translates Nu. 12:8 - "Moses can look at the very image of the Lord." (Examine uses of temunah at Ex. 20:4; Deut. 4:16, 23, 25; and 5:8.)

So, just because Jehovah's angel, speaking and acting for Jehovah, showed Moses a portion of his glory as a "likeness" or "image" of God does not mean that Moses literally saw God "face to face." (For another interpretation of Nu. 12:8 examine the footnote in the NIVSB.) In fact, we see that, even though Moses had just spoken "face-to-face" with God (Ex. 33:11), God says that no man (including Moses, of course) can actually see His "face" and live! (Ex. 33:20, 23).

We can see, then, that when John said that no man had ever seen God, he meant it in the literal, physical sense: no man has actually seen the very person of God (who is the Father, Jehovah, only) with his physical eyes. We can also be confident that, since many men have seen Jesus (both before and after his resurrection - and, probably, in his pre-existent form as the Angel of Jehovah whom Moses saw, as even some trinitarian reference works show ), Jesus cannot be God!

* * * * * * *

Walter Martin uses his version of this trinitarian "evidence" on pp. 69-70 of The Kingdom of the Cults (1985 ed.) to show that "Jesus ... was truly an incarnation of Jehovah":

"As recorded in the eighteenth chapter of Genesis, Abraham had three visitors. Two of them were angels (Genesis 19:1), but the third he addressed as Jehovah God, fourteen times! .... To further confuse the Witnesses' peculiar view of God as a solitary unit [only one person], Jesus Himself said concerning His Father, `... you have not at any time either heard his voice or seen his form ... for God is a Spirit ...' (John 4:24; 5:37). Now then, here is the evidence. Moses declares that God spoke face to face with Abraham (Gen. 18:26), and Jesus and John say, `No man hath seen God at any time.' But Jesus makes it clear that He is referring to the Father, and so does John [?]."

So, again, we find people in the Old Testament "seeing" God and the New Testament denying that any human has ever literally, physically seen God.

Martin then tells us that there is only one "solution to this dilemma": God the Father was in heaven while "God the Son" spoke face to face with Abraham (see the IMAGE study, p. 6 and f.n. #7). We already have seen another, more honest, "solution to this 'dilemma'" above. Now notice what Martin himself admits about this "dilemma" in a later place in this same book.

Martin tells us that the Mormon idea that the Father and the heavenly-resurrected Son are persons with bodies of flesh who can, therefore, be seen and touched by humans is totally false. He tells us that the angels in heaven are

" 'ministering spirits' (Hebrews 1:7), beings who have immaterial 'bodies' of spiritual substances and yet exist." - p. 205.

He then points out that God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son (before coming to the earth as Jesus Christ) had "immaterial bodies" of spirit - p. 206.

Martin continues (p. 207):

"The Mormon teaching that God was seen 'face to face' in the Old Testament (Exodus 33:9, 11, 23; Exodus 24:9-11; Isaiah 6:1, 5; Genesis 5:24; Genesis 6:5-9, etc.) is refuted on two counts, that of language and the science of comparative textual analysis (hermeneutics).

"From the standpoint of linguistics, all the references cited by the Mormons to prove 'that God has a physical body that could be observed' melt away in the light of God's expressed declaration, 'Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live' (Exodus 33:20).

"Exodus 33:11 (face to face) in the Hebrew is rendered `intimate' and in no sense is it opposed to verse 20. Similar expressions are utilized in Deuteronomy 5:4, while in Genesis 32:30 it is the angel of the Lord who speaks, not Jehovah himself. The Old Testament is filled with theophanies (literally, Godforms), instances where God spoke or revealed Himself in angelic manifestations...."

Isn't it strange that when he wants to defend a trinity idea, Martin can find only one explanation for God speaking face to face with someone: Jesus was God! And yet, when he needs a different understanding for a different purpose, he can see a different (and more honest in this case) explanation.

Notice that Martin claims that Jesus is equally God with the Father and that they both had immaterial spirit bodies during the time written about in the Old Testament. Having immaterial spirit bodies and being God, neither of them could have been seen by humans! However, if Jesus had had the same type of spirit body that the other sons of God (angels) had, and if he were not God, he could have temporarily assumed a body of flesh during a meeting with humans upon earth just as they did at various times in the Old Testament.

But God (whether father, son, "cousin," "uncle," "nephew," etc.) has never been seen by man - Jn 1:18; 1 Jn 4:12.

As Martin tells us,

"all the references cited ... to prove 'that God has a physical body that could be observed' melt away in the light of God's expressed declaration, 'Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live' (Exodus 33:20)."

* * * * *


Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian `proof' being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the preceding information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian "proofs," may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah's Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. - RDB.


E.g. - "Angel of the Lord - occurs many times in the Old Testament, where in almost every instance it means a supernatural personage to be distinguished from Jehovah (Gen.16:7-14; 22:11-18; 31:11,13; Ex.3:2-5 [etc.]). Some feel the preincarnate Christ is meant." And, "Titles and Names of Jesus Christ. .... Angel of the Lord (Ex.3:2; Judg.13:15-18)." - pp. 39, 624, Today's Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House Publishers, 1982.

Traditional Christian interpretation has held that this "angel" was a preincarnate manifestation of Christ as God's Messenger-Servant." - footnote for Gen. 16:7 in The NIV Study Bible, 1985, Zondervan.

For a discussion of John 14:9 ("He who has seen me [the Son] has seen the Father") see the OMN study paper.

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