Bible Questions and Answers – Does God Have a Body?

“Brother Thurman: God is a Spirit, but doesn’t he have a shape or body parts, such as hands, face, eyes, ears, etc.? Are we not fashioned after Him?  D.W., TX”

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). We can tell from these verses that God is fundamentally different from those He created. He is a spirit and is invisible. The Lord God “alone possess immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1
Timothy 6:16). Obviously, God is not like the creation. After all, God existed before He created anything. That is, before there was matter, God existed. That means He is not made of matter and is not bound by physical limitations as we are.

We are told that God has a face (2 Chronicles 6:42), that He has hands (Isaiah 59:1), that he had a back, because Moses could not look God in the face and live, and instead could only glimpse the Lord’s back (Exodus 33:18-23). However, most of these references are probably using poetic license to try to make an unapproachable deity more approachable. We do the same when we speak of the face of the mountain, or the eyes of big brother, or the hands of industry. None of us really think a mountain has a face or that industry has literal hands or that the government has actual eyes. These are all phrases we use to make the unfathomable more fathomable.

Yes, we are indeed created in God’s image. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.‘ God created man in His own image, and in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). However, that image is not a physical image, but a different image. I know this because I am visible, God is not. God is spirit, I am flesh. However, God is emotional, expressing love and anger and sorrow. I am emotional also, able to experience the same emotions. God is rational, able to think and decide for Himself. I am the same, although my decisions are nowhere as good as His. He is also spiritual. I believe that is the most basic way in which we are made in His image. We are made to be spiritual beings. Mankind throughout history has worshiped something. Idols, money, power or politics, or the one, true God. Our desire to worship some power higher than us is the fundamental way the image of God has been stamped on us. We are not like God in form, since He is spirit and we are flesh and blood. But we are like Him spiritually, emotionally, and rationally. – David Thurman

Excerpted from Volume 64, Number 34 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Co-Editor, David Thurman, Co-Editor.

 

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4 comments

    1. Hi, Ernie.

      You’re right about Jesus having a body, but to those who would ask about that I would say the Bible teaches that Jesus (the Word) became flesh, not that the Word self-existed as flesh (John 1:1,14; 17:5).

      Jesus lived wrapped in flesh but from all indications his resurrected body (which is the body that all Christians will be given when the Judgment/Resurrection Day comes – 1 John 3:2) was different from the body in substance/essence (1 Corinthians 15:35-55) that he lived in pre-resurrection. Hence his ability to gain entrance into a secure room (John 20:19) even all the while being able to eat solid food (Luke 24:37-43). Which brings us back to 1 John 3:2 in my mind.

      For those who are honestly seeking to understand the point you raise I think such an explanation should be sufficient to the extent that it offers a scriptural answer that distinguishes between who God is in essence and who Jesus came to be in the flesh (Philippians 2:5-8).

      Thanks for commenting, Ernie. I enjoy the input you make from time to time.

      1. This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. Something I heard my pastor say that made me think, “No wonder JWs, Muslims, and Mormons (perhaps to a lesser extent) think we believe in three gods.” We consistently treat God the Father and God the Son as two completely different entities, yet we keep insisting that they are One. I know you and I don’t disagree on the concept of the Trinity – the Triune God – but the language we use consistently says something else. I know you are familiar with the triangle graphic that illustrates the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; The Father is not the Son, and not the Spirit, The Son is not the Father and Not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Son and not the Father. Together the three are the “Godhead,” all separate yet united.

        In your discussion, you use the generic term for “God” when you are really referring to “the Father,” in which case you are correct that the Father does not have a physical body – Jesus said so: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). But Jesus is God, and Jesus does have a body — even now, sitting at the right hand of the Father.

        I’m not saying this to be critical other than perhaps to be critical of all of us. In Christian circles, we understand the distinctions. But those outside our circle, I think, can be easily confused by our language. I just wish there was a clearer way to communicate this awesome truth to outsiders who lack the benefit of the indwelling Holy Spirit (God) to lend understanding.

      2. I understand your point, but I would still point out that Jesus (the Word – John 1:1) wasn’t his body due to the fact that he pre-existed before being clothed in flesh (John 1:13; 17:5). And that the essence of the answer to the question (the post itself that comes from a publication and not me) revolves around the idea that references to God’s face, feet, hands, ears, etc. are anthropomorphic in nature due to the fact (especially in the O.T. letters) that the God of Heaven was using language that would relate to human minds. Even in the N.T. letters (as you referred to in John 4:24), the idea of God’s features were in no way to be related to a physical body in and of itself. When Thomas asked to see the Father, Jesus’ answer had nothing to do with the disciples being able to see Jesus physically, but rather spiritually (John 14:8-9). Therefore Jesus’ physical attributes had nothing to do with who he was (outside of being the only begotten Son of God in the fleshly sense – John 3:16), but instead pointed to his self-humility in that he took on a temporary form that was previously non-existent.

        The reason I say the above is because when John the apostle said that no man has seen God (1 John 4:11), and we know that John saw Jesus, I believe the point there refers to the fact that there is a glory (the Being beyond the flesh and unrelated to his body) that belongs to Jesus that humanity has yet to see (hence Jesus’ prayer in John 17:5). The Godhead was sure enough present in Jesus’ bodily form (Colossians 2:9), but to relegate Jesus’ deity to his body in any way (as in the idea that God “has” a body) I think misses the point that his deity had nothing to do with his body. And I think that distinction separates him from the bodily demi-god status that so many pagan religions have had.

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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