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Q. Has God Been Seen Or Not? And, Is Soul Sleep True?

I have a question about this verse. John 1:18 “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.” It says that no one has seen God—- at any time. Well, if souls are in heaven, then surely they would be able to see the Father in his full glory.

And then, in this verse, Jesus called out to the Father. Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. But if the spirit of Jesus went to heaven, then he would still have been in the bosom of the Father. Or if his spirit was alive in Hades, he also would have been in the bosom of the father, just as Lazarus’ spirit went to the bosom of Abaraham (Luke 16:22 and 23). I mean, there is a big difference between being in the bosom of the Father and being in the hands of the Father. Of course, the symbolism of Jesus committing his spirit into the “hands” of the Father would seem to indicate that he was relinquishing all control of his spirit while his spirit was dead. That is what I have been wondering while trying to decide if soul sleep is true or not. So how would you explain these two things?

Some members of my family are divided on this issue.

In Christ, ********.


Dear ********,

Let’s start with your first question.

No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (Jn. 1:18 NAS)

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. (1 Jn. 3:2 NAS)

The solution here is to take note of the tense of the verb. John 1:18 is a past tense: “has seen.” The tense of the verb in 1 John 3:2 is future.

Up until the time of our Lord’s incarnation, no one had seen God. Then, with the birth of Christ, God was manifested in human flesh. And, in eternity, we will see Him as He is.

As to the second question, I have several observations. In the first place (not importance-wise), you are making an assumption that “entrusting” or “committing” our Lord’s spirit to the Father is synonymous with being in the bosom of the Father. I’m not sure that these two expressions are synonymous.

But beyond this, two Scriptures come to mind:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29 NAS)

“You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (Matt. 23:24 NAS)

The reason why your family may differ over this matter of “soul sleep” may very well be because it is an obscure matter, with little biblical support. In other words, it may be one of those “secret things” which does not merit our attention, or fixation. In order to substantiate our views, we may have to “strain gnats.” But Jesus tells us to focus on the “camels,” the important matters, which have much biblical support and emphasis.

When I look at those texts which spend considerable effort to talk about what lies beyond death (texts like 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians 15, I see no hint of “soul sleep.” Thus, I set it aside as a rabbit trail and a distraction (which I find tempting).

Consequently, I choose not to take the time to prove or disprove this matter. Truthfully, I am currently addressing the death of Christ, the Gospel according to Jesus (see home page of, and the matter of suicide and unpardonable sin. It seems clear that these matters deserve much more attention than soul sleep. I don’t mean to sound harsh here, only to encourage you not to get side-tracked in your study of God’s Word.

Related Topics: Christology, Theology Proper (God)

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