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Will We See God the Father after We Are Glorified? Part 4
by Karl Kemp
3/26/2017 / Bible Studies
We continue the discussion of Isaiah 6:1-5 here in Part 4 of this paper.
I don't believe the evidence for seeing God the Father here in Isaiah is as strong as it is in Ezekiel. For one thing, whereas in Ezekiel chapters 9 and 10; Daniel chapter 7; and Revelation chapters 4 and 5 (which are all discussed above), the Son of God came on the scene along with God the Father, providing very strong evidence that God the Father was being seen in those passages, this isn't the case here in Isa. 6:1-5, which leaves some room to argue (argue wrongly I believe) that Isaiah did not see God the Father, but the Son of God, here in Isa. 6:1-5. Anyway, there are very significant prophecies of the Son of God throughout the book of Isaiah, and He is clearly distinct from God the Father:
I'll mention some of these super-important prophecies: Isaiah 7:14 prophesies that God will give the sign of the virgin birth of the Son of God, who will be called "Immanuel," which means "God with us." Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesies that God will cause a child to be born to us, that He will give a son to us. That child/son is the Son of God, the Messiah. Several very important passages in Isaiah prophesy of the Servant of Yahweh (Servant of God the Father), who is the Son of God: See Isa. 42:1 (with 42:1-9); Isa. 49:3, 5, 6, 7 (with 49:1-13); and Isa. 52:13 and 53:11 (with 52:13-53:12; these verses prophesy of the super-important atoning death of the Son of God, the Lamb of God, and the resultant full salvation for believers). My paper on selected passages from Isaiah (that is located on my internet site; Google to Karl Kemp Teaching) discusses all of these passages except for Isa. 52:13-53:12. Some of the key verses from this super-important passage in Isaiah (52:12-53-13) are discussed in my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin." See the "Passages of Scripture that Are Discussed in this Book" at the front of the book.
Many Christians believe Isaiah saw the preincarnate Son of God, not God the Father. Those who believe that Isaiah saw the Son typically refer to John 12:41: "These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory." There is a widespread assumption that the apostle John, in John 12:41, was saying that Isaiah was seeing the Lord Jesus and His glory in Isa. 6:1. John 12:40 was taken from Isa. 6:10. I cannot be dogmatic on this point, but I believe it is far more likely that John meant that Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord Jesus through the many glorious revelations he received about Him that are recorded throughout the book of Isaiah. I listed many of those passages in the preceding paragraph. (John chapters 10-12 are discussed verse-by-verse in my paper on John chapters 10-12 on my internet site.) As I mentioned, Isaiah probably saw God the Father on His throne in Isa. 6:1 as Ezekiel and others in the Old Testament saw God the Father on His throne and as the apostle John saw Him on His throne in Rev. 4:2-5:7. Isaiah and Ezekiel were both permitted to see God the Father (in a vision, theophany) at the time they were being commissioned as prophets.
Some Christians believe that Isaiah saw the Trinity in Isa. 6:1 and in other verses. Based on my studies that show the strong emphasis on the three distinct Persons of the Trinity, who interact with one another in various ways (including many passages in the Old Testament and very often in the New Testament), I believe the viewpoint that the Trinity was seen causes confusion, rather than bringing clarity to this passage and many similar passages. Typically the name LORD [Yahweh] is reserved for God the Father in the Old Testament and the word "God" is reserved for Him in the New Testament, but the few verses where these words are used for God the Son in both Testaments are very important in that they strongly confirm His deity.
Those who believe Isaiah saw the Trinity (again, that is a confusing idea to me) often appeal to the "Holy, Holy, Holy" of Isa. 6:3. I agree with the commentators who don't believe the threefold Holy of 6:3 has anything to do with seeing the Trinity. I'll quote a footnote from John H. Oswalt that deals with this topic ("The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1-39" [Eerdmans, 1986], page 181): "There is nothing in the context to cause us to take this as a reference to the Trinity as the church fathers did. As early as Calvin, the weaknesses of the argument were pointed out. ...."
Some who believe Isaiah saw the Trinity here also appeal to the words, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us" of Isa. 6:8. I agree with the commentators who believe the "us" refers to God's heavenly council who reign with Him, but who are clearly stationed far below Him (cf., e.g., Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; 1 Kings 22:10-23; Job 38:4-7; Psalm 89:5-7; and Rev. 4:4). God didn't clearly reveal the Trinity in the Old Testament.
4. NOW LET'S LOOK AT SOME PASSAGES FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT (BESIDES REVELATION 4:2-3 WITH 5:7) THAT CONFIRM, I BELIEVE, THAT WE WILL SEE GOD THE FATHER: HE ISN'T INVISIBLE. He is invisible to the physical eye, and we have to be glorified before we can see Him as He is, but He isn't invisible in His being, essence, nature as far as I can see. This is important to me, but I want the truth! We cannot change reality! I want the truth!
4.1. MATTHEW 5:8. JESUS said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God [It is clear that Jesus, the Son of God, meant see God the Father]." This is one of quite a few verses that seem to clearly show that God the Father is not invisible. We will see Him after we are glorified. True Christians might be able to see God the Father after they die, but perhaps in a fuller sense after they receive their resurrected bodies and are glorified at the end of this age.
I'll quote a sentence from what D. A. Carson says under this verse: "The pure in heart will see God - Now with the eyes of faith and finally in the dazzling brilliance of the beautific vision in whose light no deceit can exist (cf. Heb. 12:14; 1 John 3:1-3; Rev. 21:22-27)" ("Expositor's Bible Commentary," Vol. 8 [Zondervan, 1984], page 135).
I'll quote part of what H. A. W. Meyer says here: "...of the seeing of God who gloriously reveals Himself in the Messiah's kingdom, a seeing which will be attained in the condition of the glorified body. [He has a footnote: Rev. 7:15; Rev. 22:4; 1 John 3:2; Heb. 12:14.] Passages like Ex. 33:20, John 1:18, 6:46, Col. 1:15, Rom. 1:20, 1 Tim. 6:16, are not opposed to it, because they refer to seeing with the earthly eye. The seeing of God, who, although Spirit (John 4:24), has His form of manifestation (Phil. 2:6), will one day be the consummation of the "prosagoge" [Greek; "freedom/right to enter"] obtained through Christ [These last three words confirm that Meyer is speaking of seeing God the Father] (Rom. 5:2). ..." ("H. A. W. Meyer's Commentary on the New Testament," Vol. 1 [Alpha Publications, 1980 reprint], page 115).
4.2. 1 CORINTHIANS 13:12: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known [by God]." The word "then," which is used twice in this verse, refers to the time after we are glorified. Then we will know God fully, face to face. For one thing, WE WILL SEE HIM FACE TO FACE. This doesn't mean that we will fully know or understand everything about God the Father (or the Son) and the depths of His infinite being. In this context our knowing will not be limited to knowing God in a very full sense: We will see Him face to face.
4.3. HEBREWS 12:14. "Pursue [This is a strong word exhorting all Christians to make it a top priority to be at peace with all people and to live in a state of holiness (by grace through faith).] peace with all men [[I'll quote ROMANS 12:18: "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." And MATTHEW 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." We should have a high level of peace with all of the other Christians. To the extent we don't there is something wrong. For one thing, we all need to really walk by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis (which is far from being automatic) and make it a high priority to hold and walk in the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. It isn't always the other Christians who need to humble themselves before God and consider that they might need to modify what they believe and do.]], and the sanctification [Greek noun "hagiasmos," which is used ten times in the New Testament; I would translate "holiness"; the ESV, KJV, NKJV, and the NAB, for example, have holiness; the NIV has "to be holy."] without which no one will see the Lord [I was somewhat surprised, but pleasantly surprised, to find out that most commentators agree that "the Lord" here refers to God the Father.]." I have to believe that the writer of Hebrews believed that we will actually see God the Father after we are glorified.
Holiness here, and often, in the New Testament, refers to an abiding state of holiness (a state of being set-apart by God, and for God, and set-apart from everything that is sinful, Satanic, and defiling), which is the ideal state that we are called, and enabled, to live in on a continuous basis. Hebrews chapters 8-10 deal with the fact that the new covenant, which has been established on the Perfectly Worthy Shed Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (The God-man and the Lamb of God), was designed to accomplish what the old-covenant sacrifices could not begin to accomplish: His atoning death has overthrown spiritual death and bondage to sin, and Satan and his evil angels and demons have no more legal authority over those who submit to new-covenant salvation, by grace through faith.
This includes enabling us to live in an abiding state of holiness. I'll quote Heb. 10:10, which is a key summarizing verse: "by this will [the will of God spoken of in Heb. 10:7 and 9] we have been sanctified [or, "we have been made holy," speaking of the (ideal) abiding state of those who have been sanctified; Greek verb "hagiazo"; the Greek noun "hagiasmos" that is used in Heb. 12:14 was derived from the verb "hagiazo." Again, this is the ideal, and God's grace is sufficient, but it is very clear that this victory is not automatic and it isn't always easy. We still have powerful enemies arrayed against us: the world; the flesh (the old man that wants to live in sin); and the devil and his evil angels and demons. But God's enabling grace is sufficient. It is much greater than the power of our enemies.] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Hebrews chapters 8-10 are discussed in some detail in a paper on my internet site. Holiness is discussed in some detail in my two books that deal with this topic: "Holiness and Victory Over Sin," and "Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin." The second book, which was taken from radio broadcasts and is easier to read, should typically be read first. Both books are available at amazon.com.
The verses at the end of Hebrews chapter 10 warn us that we must press on in faith until the end (to the time that the Lord Jesus returns, or to the end of our lives). We must not shrink back in unbelief. Then Hebrews chapter 11 exhorts us to press on in faith until the end. And Heb. 12:1-3 exhorts us to press on in faith (by grace) as we run the race to the end, keeping our eyes focused on Jesus, who has perfectly finished His race, and making it a top priority to avoid all sin, which is dangerous for runners. Hebrews 12:4-13 continues the exhortation to press on in faith, making righteousness (living in righteousness) a top priority. The writer makes it clear in these verses that Christians can sin and that God will discipline and chasten His people, as required, always aiming for their repentance and righteous lives. Hebrews 12:10 says God disciplines us as required "so that we may share His holiness." Hebrews 12:14 to the end of the chapter continues with the theme of exhorting Christians to make God and the things of God top priority, with an emphasis on our living in His righteousness and holiness.
4.3.1. THE GREEK WORD "KURIOS" (LORD) IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS. "Kurios" is used of the Son of God in the book of Hebrews in Heb. 1:10; 2:3; 7:14 and 13:20. All of the uses between 7:14 and 13:20 refer to God the Father (7:21; 8:2, 8, 9, 10, 11; 10:16, 30; 12:5, 6, 14; and 13:6, twelve verses). You don't have to strain to see God the Father in Heb. 12:14.
4.3.2. SOME COMMENTS FROM COMMENTARIES AND OTHER SCHOLARLY BOOKS ON HEBREWS 12:14. Most of these writers who speak of our seeing God the Father in the future when commenting on Heb. 12:14 (and as I mentioned most commentators believe the word "Lord" refers to God the Father in 12:14) do not elaborate on the details of our seeing Him or on the fact that many Christians believe He will always be invisible.
184.108.40.206. I'll quote part of what Franz Delitzsch says under Heb. 12:14 ("Epistle to the Hebrews," Vol. 2 [Klock & Klock 1978 reprint of 1871 original], pages 328-330): "... Only holy beings can rise to the sight of the Holy One. Some...take "ton kurion" ["the Lord"; "kurion" is the same Greek noun as "kurios," but in a different case] here to be Christ; others...think that it cannot be decided whether Christ or God] ...but it is to us more than probable that "ton kurion" is here meant of God.... The ["shall see"] of Heb. 9:28 is not to the point, for the coming of the Son of man at His second coming in the clouds of heaven will be common to all, good and bad: 'every eye will see Him.' Rev. 1:7. 'The Lord' ('ho kurios,' Yahweh [Delitzsch is speaking of God the Father]) in Scripture is the God of the covenant of redemption, who reveals Himself here in grace, and will be manifested 'as He is' [referring to 1 John 3:2] hereafter. Whenever Scripture speaks of 'a seeing' as the future reward of righteousness or sanctity, it is seeing God [God the Father] that is meant or expressed (Matt. 5:8; 1 John 3:2; compare Psalm 17:15...); yet inasmuch as the throne of God and of the Lamb is one, the seeing God is at the same time a seeing of the Lamb (compare Heb. 8:1; 12:2 with Rev. 22:1, 3)."
220.127.116.11. I'll quote a small part of what Gareth Lee Cockerill says under Heb. 12:14 ("Epistle to the Hebrews" [Eerdmans, 2012], pages 634-635): "... Although on earth the faithful of old did not enjoy the access to God now available through Christ, they kept the eyes of faith on the 'invisible' God whose presence they would enter at journey's end. [As we have discussed in this paper, some of them saw Him, but in a way that was quite limited.] The faithful since Christ enjoy a present access to God, so beautifully described in vv. 22-24 below, but they still, by faith, keep their eyes fixed on 'Jesus' at God's right hand (12:2; cf. 2:9; 8:1) in anticipation of final entrance into the divine presence, when the faithful will 'see' God. [[He has a footnote: In this verse 'Lord' probably refers to God (7:21; 8:2, 8, 10, 11; 10:16, 30; 12:5, 6) though it could refer to Christ (1:10; 2:3; 7:14; 13:20). It makes little difference since Christ is seated at God's right hand (8:1, etc.). ....]] The pastor's focus here on the ultimate vision of God fits well with his concern for perseverance." It seems clear that Cockerill anticipates seeing God the Father and the Son of God in the eternal state.
18.104.22.168. In 22.214.171.124 later in this paper, Wilhelm Michaelis, a Greek scholar, comments on seeing the Lord in Heb. 12:14. He says that Heb. 12:14 and Matt. 5:8; 1 John 3:2; and Rev. 22:4 all speak of our seeing God the Father in the future (after we are glorified; in heaven).
126.96.36.199. I'll quote a long paragraph from what F. F. Bruce says under Heb. 12:14 ("Epistle to the Hebrews" [Eerdmans, 1964], pages 364-365; I appreciate what Bruce says here, but I'm not sure that he believes we will literally see God the Father.): " 'The sanctification [better, "holiness." Bruce has a footnote which I'll skip.] without which no one will see the Lord' is, as the words themselves make plain, no optional extra in the Christian life but something which belongs to its essence. It is the pure in heart, and none but they, who shall see God (Matt. 5:8). Here, as in verse 10 [Heb. 12:10]. It is practical holiness of life that is meant, the converse of those things against which a warning is uttered in the verses which follow. We are reminded of Paul's words to the Thessalonians: 'This is the will of God, even your sanctification [better "holiness"; this is another one of the ten uses of "hagiasmos" in the New Testament], that ye abstain from fornication [and every other sin; the apostle was dealing with fornication in this context, but he called for all Christians to be separate from all sin, by grace through faith)]...' (1 Thess. 4:3) - for the things that are 'unholy' effectively debar those who practice them from inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9f.). [I'll mention several other uses of hagiasmos that are the equivalent of the uses in Heb. 12:14 and 1 Thess. 4:3: 1 Thess. 4:4, 7; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 6:19, 22; 1 Tim. 2:15; the other two uses of hagiasmos in the New Testament are a little different because of the context in which hagiasmos is used.] Our author is as far as Paul was from encouraging antinomianism [being against God's Law/laws] in his readers. [Bruce doesn't believe the apostle Paul wrote the book of Hebrews. I agree with him.] Those who are called to be partakers of God's holiness must be holy themselves; this is the recurring theme of the Pentateuchal law of holiness, echoed in the New Testament: 'Ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy' (Lev. 11:45, etc.; cf. 1 Pet. 1:15f.). [[1 Peter 1:15-25 are powerful verses exhorting all Christians to be holy as God is holy. That certainly doesn't leave any room for sin. I'll quote 1 Pet. 1:15-16: "but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy [or, "Be holy"], for I am holy.' " There is a very big difference between the holiness attainable under the old covenant and under the new covenant. The blood of Christ (see 1 Pet. 1:19) that has set us free from spiritual death and from bondage to sin and Satan's kingdom of darkness makes a very big difference. For one thing, the Holy Spirit is poured out in the new-covenant dimension in the new covenant. The Spirit brings spiritual life, the power to be holy, the gifts of the Spirit, etc.]] To see the Lord is the highest and most glorious blessing that mortals can enjoy, but the beatific vision is reserved for those who are holy in heart and life. [He has a footnote: "Rev. 22:4. ...."]."
Bruce refers to Matt. 5:8 and Rev. 22:4 that seem to clearly speak of our literally seeing God the Father, but I'm not sure he believes that we will literally see God the Father after we are glorified. Some use the words "beatific vision" to mean something less than literally seeing God the Father. In his brief comments under Rev. 22:4 (in the "New Layman's Bible Commentary" [Zondervan, 1979], page 1711), Bruce doesn't specifically say that we will see God the Father. I'll quote part of what he says under Rev. 22:4: "...John describes the climax of that [sanctification] process [having now been glorified at the end of this age], for the beatific vision involves the perfect glorification of those who receive it." We could have the "beatific vision" and "perfect glorification" and not see God the Father. I'll quote the sentence that the online "Merriam Webster" Dictionary has for "Beatific Vision": "The direct knowledge of God enjoyed by the blessed in heaven." With this definition a person could say they believe in the beatific vision of God the Father, but not include the idea of literally seeing Him, because He is supposedly invisible, and not having a localized existence/body in that He is everywhere (omnipresent). F. F. Bruce might fit here; many Christians fit here.
4.4. 1 JOHN 2:28-3:3.
((One reason we are considering these verses here is that I believe, in agreement with many Christian commentators, but not the majority, that 1 John 3:2 prophesies of our seeing God the Father when he appears/comes at the end of this age. The majority believe 1 John 3:2 prophesies of our seeing the Son of God, not God the Father. I agree that the Lord Jesus will come at that same time and that we will see Him.
This has turned out to be a serious study of these verses that covers some twenty pages. These verses deserve a serious study. The interpretation of 1 John 2:28 is quite important, and it typically affects the interpretation of 3:2. The large majority believe 2:28 speaks of the coming (Greek "parousia") of the Lord Jesus at the end of this age and of the need for us to be ready to stand before Him so that "we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." In the course of doing this study, I have come to the opinion, without being dogmatic, that 2:28 speaks of the coming (parousia) of God the Father at the end of this age. Again, I agree that the Lord Jesus is coming at the same time and that He will be quite active in the end-time judgment of the world.
The other verses we will consider here along with 1 John 3:2 (2:28-3:1 and 3:3, especially 2:28) are relevant to the interpretation of 3:2. Another reason to discuss these verses is that they are difficult to interpret: With a typical translation of these verses, including the NASB, John seems to jump from the Son to the Father and the Father to the Son without making the transition clear. This isn't a real big deal, but I, and many others, have wondered about this over the years. As we will discuss, there is a way to interpret these verses that eliminates the confusion. And it is significant that this other interpretation is very relevant to the topic of our seeing God the Father at the end of this age. This other interpretation hasn't been accepted much yet. I don't believe most commentators have seriously considered it, if they have considered it at all, since the viewpoint that 1 John 2:28 is speaking of the appearing and coming (Greek "parousia") of the Lord Jesus at the end of this age has been so widely accepted. As I mentioned, I cannot be dogmatic, but I rather strongly favor the viewpoint that 2:28 speaks of the coming of God the Father. I won't deal with this other interpretation, which I prefer, hardly at all until we have finished the initial discussion of these verses.)):
"(28) Now, little children, abide in Him [There is very widespread agreement that "Him" here and "He" and "Him" that follow in this verse refer to Christ. I suppose that the dominant reason for this viewpoint is that the New Testament often speaks of Christ's coming to save and to judge at the end of this age and the Greek noun "parousia" is often used for His coming (see below).] so that when He appears [or "is manifested"], we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming [[(This double bracket goes on for three paragraphs.) Greek "Parousia." This Greek noun is often used for the coming of the Lord Jesus at the end of this age (cf., e.g., Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8; 1 Pet. 3:4).
One reason this verse (1 John 2:28) is important for this study is that it is a primary reason that many interpret 1 John 3:2 of our seeing the Lord Jesus, not God the Father, at the end of this age. They believe 2:28 and 3:2 both speak of His appearing (manifestation) when He comes.
Many translations start a new section with 2:28, with 2:29 being part of the section. This includes the NASB, NIV, ESV, NLT (New Living Translation), NKJV, RSV, CEB (Contemporary English Bible), and NAB. However, the NRSV and Phillips translations start new sections with 2:28 and with 2:29, and some commentators follow this procedure. They undoubtedly translated it this way (starting a new section with 2:28 and with 2:29) because they believe 2:28 refers to God the Son and that 2:29 refers to God the Father. Breaking the continuity of verses 28 and 29, by making 2:29 a new section, helps eliminate some confusion (which I'll discuss under 2:29), but it is doubtful whether John intended to separate 2:28 and 2:29 this way, and it doesn't eliminate all of the discontinuity. (The KJV and Amplified Bible don't show sections like the translations listed above do.)]] (29) If you know that He is righteous [[If you don't start a new section with verse 29 (and, as I mentioned, it probably isn't legitimate to begin a new section with verse 29, you have a hard time not taking the "He" here to refer to the Lord Jesus if Jesus is the One spoken of in verse 28. However, if you take "He" to refer to the Lord Jesus here in the first part of 2:29, it causes big problems with the end of this verse: Most agree that we are born of God the Father (not the Lord Jesus). I believe that the "He" in "He is righteous" at the beginning of verse 29 refers to God the Father. (We won't discuss the other interpretation of 2:28 yet, but the problem disappears if verses 28 and 29 both refer to God the Father. I should point out that 3:1 goes on to speak of God the Father, and I believe 3:2 goes on to speak of Him too, as does the first part of 3:3. Also later in this study we will discuss 2:26 and 27 and the evidence rather strongly favors seeing God the Father there too.)]], you know that everyone also who practices righteousness [or "everyone who is doing righteousness," which, in the ideal case, should be true of all those who are born of God the Father (born again) through the indwelling Spirit of life (the Righteous, Holy Spirit); see 1 John 3:3 and 7, for example; they are clear and powerful verses] is born of Him [of God the Father (cf., e.g., 1 John 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18)]. (3:1) See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us that we would be called children of God [born-again children of God, with a clear connection back to 2:29, "born of Him" (God the Father)]; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him [God the Father]. We will continue this verse-by-verse discussion of 1 John 2:28-3:3 in Part 5 of this paper, starting with 1 John 3:2.
© Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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