Does John 8:17-18 teach that the Father is a man?

Here Jesus makes reference to the law by saying that every matter must be established by “two men,” and then He claims that He is one and the Father is the other.  Jesus never explicitly tells us that the Father’s nature is a man. 

The context of this passage is judgment, not the nature of God.  It is important to note that the Old Testament never uses the term “men.”  Instead, it always used the term “witnesses” (cf. Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15).  So why did Jesus use the term “men”?  It seems He was simply wanting to draw attention to the huge contrast between the witness of men and the witness of God as evidenced by the works the Father was doing through Him.  Obviously their testimony should matter even more although one of those Persons isn’t really a man in His nature.  A similar thing appears to be going on two chapters later when Jesus contrasts the “gods” of Psalm 82 with the God He was making Himself out to be.  The former pales in comparison to the latter.  The great New Testament scholar Leon Morris put it this way: "In view of what follows it may be significant that Jesus does not cite Deuteronomy exactly.  ...The Law accepts the testimony of two *men.*  What shall we say then of the testimony of the Father and the Son?" ("The Gospel According to John," The New International Commentary on the New Testament, F. F. Bruce, ed. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971, 442]).

The Bible is quite clear what God’s nature is and is not.  He is God by nature (Galatians 4:8), and He’s not a man (Numbers 23:19 and Hosea 11:9).  Just four chapters earlier in John’s Gospel, Jesus explicitly taught that God is an omnipresent spirit (4:21-24).  Men are not omnipresent spirits.  Therefore God is not a man.  This is why 1 Kings 8:27 says He is not a containable being.  Men are containable beings.  Therefore, God is not a man. 

The LDS assumption that John 8 is teaches that the Father is a man distorts God’s word to make it contradictory.  However, Jesus taught scripture cannot be broken (Jn. 10:35).  So the only way to make sense of this apparent contradiction is to understand John 8 emphasizing judgment, not God’s nature.


R. M. Sivulka

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