John 14:7 – If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on, you know him, and have seen him.”
John 14:8 – Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
John 14:9 – Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’
John 14:10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father living in me does his works.
World English Bible translation
John 14:9, especially, is often referred to as proof that Jesus is God Almighty. However, very few seem to present any information as to how this is supposed to mean that Jesus is God Almighty. If one reads many trinitarian writings, you will often see this scripture listed or quoted as proof of the doctrine, but with no serious explanation given as to how this is supposed to show that Jesus is a person of God Almighty. On the other hand, we can see that one could read into this that Jesus was saying that he was the Father, as do our “oneness”* neighbors.
*While some “oneness” believers point to this scripture as proof that Jesus is the Father, not all do so.
However, Jesus is certainly not saying here that he is his Father, which would be the logical conclusion one would reach if one were to read into this that Jesus is saying that he is God Almighty. He said: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Did he mean that everyone who saw him walking around on earth had seen the Father? No, because he also had earlier said to the unbelieving Jews: “The Father himself, who sent me, has testified about me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form.” (John 5:37) And again in John 8:19: “You know neither me, nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
This indicates that Jesus meant that if his disciples had seen him, that they also had seen his Father, for he did the works of his Father. (John 8:38) As John said: “No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.” (John 1:18) And Jesus also had said: “Therefore everyone who hears from the Father, and has learned, comes to me. Not that any man has seen the Father, except he who is from God. He has seen the Father.” — John 6:45,46.
However, Jesus in the context does tell us what he meant when he said that he who had seen him had seen the Father also: “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father living in me does his works.” (John 14:10) Rather than claiming to be God Almighty, he is saying that he spoke the words of God Almighty his Father, and thus in this manner the Father could be seen in him. This is in harmony with the prophecy that Yahweh would put his words into his mouth, and that he would speak in Yahweh’s name. — Deuteronomy 18:15-19.
Jesus was stating in John 14:9 that he so reflected the Father’s character, that to observe and learn of him was tantamount to observing and learning of the Father. Literally, of course, “no man has seen God at any time”. — John 1:18; 1 John 4: 12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15.
One claims that we go beyond the statements Jesus made, claiming: that it is clear no one sees him as the Father, since the Father did not have a physical body but was Spirit; that the Spirit was in Christ, and so the Father was in Christ, making Jesus the Father, and one that has seen Jesus would have seen the Father, only didn’t understand that; and that Philip asked to SEE the Father, in verse 9, evidently with the thought that since Philip asked to see the Father, then Jesus was saying that he was the Father.
According to this reasoning, every believer would be the Father or God, since the spirit of God is in him. When Jesus sent out his twelve apostles, he told them: “For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” (Matthew 10:20) Should we assume from this that all of the apostles are the Father, since the spirit of the Father spoke in them?
And Jesus said: “Though you don’t believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:38)
And he further said: “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father living in me does his works.” (John 14:10)
Nevertheless, he also said: “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)
Are we to think that all of Jesus’ disciples are Jesus since he said that he is in them, and that they are in him?
Yet he also prayed: “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us.” (John 17:21) Jesus also says concerning the Comforter: “You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:7) John later says: “By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13) “he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. ” (1 John 4:16) “If that which you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son, and in the Father.” (1 John 2:24)
If the fact that Jesus uses the expression that he is in the Father and the Father is in him means that Jesus is God Almighty, or that he is the Father, then logically one should follow through and say that his disciples *are* also God Almighty, or the the Father, for they are in the Father and Jesus, even as the Father is in Jesus and Jesus in the Father, etc. Of course, this it is nonsense to think that the believer is God or the Father because the scripture says that the Father is in him.
Someone else objects that the word “seen” means to actually see with the eyes, and thus when they actually saw Jesus, they were actually seeing the Father with their eyes. The word translated “seen” is Strong’s #3708, which is defined as: “1. to see with they eyes; 2. to see with the mind, to perceive, know; 3. to see, i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience; 4. to see, to look to, a. to take heed, beware, b. to care for, pay heed to; 5. I was seen, showed myself, appeared.”* Thus we see that the word, like our English word “see”, can be used in both a literal and figurative sense.
*Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for Horao”. “The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon”.
No mortal being could literally see the God and Father of our Lord Jesus and live. (Exodus 33:20) Furthermore, if seeing the flesh of Jesus phyically meant seeing the God and Father of Jesus, then this would also mean that Jewish leaders also saw the God and Father of Jesus when they saw his flesh. This cannot be true, however, since Jesus stated to them: “The Father himself, who sent me, has testified about me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form.” — John 5:37.
Jesus’ statement in John 14:9 is to be understood in harmony with other scriptures. As it was impossible for the Lord’s followers to actually see God, the Heavenly Father, the only way then in which they could see God was in the representative sense. Our Lord Jesus, fully and perfectly represented the Father. According to many translations, Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. (1 Timothy 3:16, KJV) Indeed, the Father’s love, and mercy, justice, and wisdom, were all manifest in the Life and teachings of the Lord Jesus. Those then, who became closely associated with the Lord Jesus, were seeing the Father in him, while those who did not become closely associated with him, or who opposed him, did not see the Father in hijm.
The Lord Jesus never claimed to be the Heavenly Father personally; but always taught that He was the Son of his God and Father. The Scriptures declare that God sent His only begotten Son into the world. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself in the same sense in which He will be “all in all” when the Son shall have delivered up the Kingdom to the Father at the close of Christ’s millennial reign. — 1 Corinthians 15:17,28.