When we read that “God is Spirit” (Jn 4:24), we might assume that God is nebulous or disembodied—something akin to the wind or a cloud. This strictly spiritual understanding seems to align with the Israelites’ experience of God at Sinai when, although God had descended upon the mountain, they “saw no form” (Deut 4:12, 15). Yet, just because the Israelites didn’t see a form, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have one. To the contrary, the Bible is clear that God has an embodied, visible form in which the Divine interacts with humanity.

The Hebrew word for “form” is תְּמוּנָה (temunah). While it is true that the Israelites saw no “form” (תְּמוּנָה) at Sinai, God appears to others as a visible and embodied entity whose description mirrors the human form. For example, the psalmist declares of God, “I shall behold your face (פָּנִים; panim) in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your form (תְּמוּנָה; temunah)” (Ps 17:15). Notice how “face” parallels “form” in this verse; the psalmist equates God’s “form” with God’s “face,” so we know that this is a physical form.

God says of Moses, “With him I speak mouth to mouth (פֶּה אֶל־פֶּה; peh el-peh), clearly and not in riddles, and he beholds the form (תְּמוּנָה; temunah) of the Lord” (Num 12:8). While the Israelites standing at the foot of Sinai may not have been able to see God’s form, Moses certainly does! The reason that the Israelites couldn’t see the form of the Lord is not because God doesn’t have one, but because the divine form was obscured by a “cloud” and “thick darkness” (Deut 5:22). While it’s true that “God is Spirit,” it’s equally true that God has a bodily form.

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84 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Dr. Schaser. I appreciate the understanding you have given. GOD has an embodied entity but not everyone see HIM in this. When GOD does appear to someone embodied, would it be only in a male form? Years ago I had an experience talking with a lady who 'suddenly appeared' to help me out (emergency situation). She was reassuring me when management rushed in. They saw me standing there, but did not see this lady I was standing and talking with. This lady disappeared in thin air, just as she had appeared moments later to help me. My guess=Angel.
    • Thanks, Vida. When God appears it is neither in male nor female form, since God's body is beyond gender. We know this from Genesis 1:27 -- God creates both male and female in the divine image, which means that only what the two share anatomically (e.g., arms, legs, face, etc.) pertains to God's own image and likeness. In other words, what separates gender biologically (i.e., genitalia) is not a part of God's personal body. Likewise, angels may *appear* gendered (e.g., Gen 18:2) but they are, in fact, "other flesh" (σαρκὸς ἑτέρας; see Jude 1:7), not human, gendered bodies.

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    • Bless u Vida. Heb 11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Even Jesus manifests Himself. He did,when He manifested Himself to Abraham in the three men who appeared to him when the Lord(Melchizedek)brought him the confirmation of having a son(Abraham addressed them"my Lord")...and they ate meat and drank milk with Abraham...before two of them were sent to destroy sodom. When Moses asked if He could see Yahweh, He hid His face and passed...by...him...where...he...saw...the...back...of...a...man...God...is...man...and...man...is...God

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  2. When I have shared this on rare occasions, folks do not know how to respond. I know what I experienced but to this day, it never leaves me. No one can tell me that GOD did not intervene in the emergency-life-situation. I can only conclude GOD sent me an Angel when I had screamed JESUS! I know this seems rather wild and many think I am 'NUTS' but I don't care. They simply didn't experience what I have. There is much more to this event but, the lifeless body did live. What would you call that? An Angel? Shalom!
  3. I had a vision at night where I was standing on the shore of a lake in utter darkness. A form, like a man in a white robe was standing on the horizon and called me to come. I knew it was the Lord and I called out to Him "Lord, I can't walk on the water" He said: "If you keep your eyes on Me, you can walk over the water." And I began to move towards Him, but before I got to Him, I was suddenly back in my bed. The next day my husband had died.
    • Please, accept condolences on your husbands passing. May he rest in peace and may his memory be for blessing.
  4. I was 37 with 2 children and no money or family. I kept my eyes on Jesus and felt a peace beyond understanding for three days. Up to this day He is with me and takes wonderful care of me.
  5. God in His Pure Essence does not have either form nor body. I Tim 1:17. Also I Tim 6:16, and John 4:24 ( Spirit). At various times in the O.T. God appeared to man in a visible form in order communicate with humans. In Eternity past, before creation there was no time, space or matter. The references to His eyes, hands, etc are ANTHROPOMORPHISMS only. The ESSENCE OF God is SPIRIT, INVISIBLE without form, as clearly stated in HOLY SCRIPTURE.
    • The topic of the post, the Hebrew word תמונה (temunah), cannot be "anthropomorphic" because it's never associated with humans; it describes entities in the heavenly realm who have a "form" -- whether God (cf. Num 12:8; Deut 4:12, 15; Ps 17:15), or spirits (Job 4:16). It also appears in the context of not making a "form" of anything to approximate God (cf. Deut 4:23, 25; 5:8), but never with direct reference to "humanity." Thus, "temunah" cannot be *anthro*pomorphic (i.e., approximating humans). More, 1 Timothy says God is "invisible," not that God has no form.

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    • Brilliant seduction that's precisely how I understood scripture God of the bible has no form but is I AM and can be what he decides to be he can take on a form as needed and required to fulfill his divine purpose God is spirit. A spirit has no body

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    • Thanks for your note, Phil. "Temunah" (form) can't be anthropomorphism, because the term explicitly describes God, not humans. God can be both omnipresent, filling the whole earth (Isa 6:3), *and* embodied in a particular location at the same time. The biblical text reflects a divine "fluidity" to God's body and presence that humans (spatially and temporally bound as we are) do not have. For example, God can be enthroned in heaven (Isa 66:1) and also appear embodied within theophanies at the same time (see Gen 18:1-8).

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  6. God has appeared to us in Jesus. And (referring back to a previous piece) this definitely was 'in male form', fully man and fully God!
    • O thank you Maurice! I cannot fathom why the writer did not equate the "form" with Messiah Jesus. Too much 'form'ality and not enough of the deity that the form IS.
  7. John.5:37, Jesus said “you have neither heard His voice at anytime, nor seen His SHAPE. Does this mean that God doesn’t have a shape?
    • Good question, Sal. No, this doesn't mean that God doesn't have a shape or form. Jesus also tells his listeners that they haven't heard God's "voice," but God certainly has a voice. In the context of John 5, Jesus is speaking to certain Jews in Jerusalem (5:1), and he tells them that they haven't had a experience of seeing God's shape, but just because they haven't seen it doesn't mean that God doesn't have one. God has both a voice and a shape, it's just that Jesus' particular audience hasn't heard or seen them.

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  8. Neither space nor time, Kant argues, is an “empirical concept.” ... Each is a necessary a priori representation which grounds the possibility of representations of objects “in” space and time. Neither space nor time is a “discursive” or “general concept,” but rather a pure intuition.
  9. Form in Plato. "form" may be used to translate two distinct concepts that concerned Plato—the outward "form" or appearance of something, and "Form" in a new, technical nature “forms are timeless and unchanging”, physical things are in a constant change of existence. Where forms are unqualified perfection, physical things are qualified and conditioned. A Form is aspatial (transcendent to space) and atemporal (transcendent to time). Atemporal means that it does not exist within any time, rather it provides the formal basis for time. It therefore formally grounds beginning, persisting and ending. It is neither eternal in the sense of existing
    • Yes...almost; St.Aristotle perfected St.Plato in his idea of being (any) as a composition of matter and form (in humans: soul is the form of body). Formally, the principle is eternal -like any law or theorem on formal sciences(math,logic)- or aeternal;therefore, the term "God" as the "cause" of everything understood as the principle is eternal and invisible (like the soul of any body or any math's entity). This classic philosophy terminology fits perfectly with the Bible idea in Exodus 3,14 (I am) of God as the cause of liberation of the oppressed-St.Thomas Aquinas, S.Th.1a,13,1(On the name of God)
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