ArticlesQ&A

Does God have a body?

By October 20, 2014 13 Comments

Of course not !
Though we read in the bible of God’s arm, eyes, hand, his face etc. These are simply figurative ways of trying to speak of God’s utter simplicity. Our language of God is flawed since we might be unable to speak of him unless we make use of symbols. God cannot be in need of arms to act, of eyes to see, or legs to move, etc, He himself is pure Spirit who exists everywhere and is above all things. God’s infinity is incompatible with such, He cannot be “composed of parts”, he is simple and not composite like man is. The error of believing that God literally has eyes, hands etc is called anthropomorphism and a common error held by many without knowing it. We sometimes make the mistake of picturing God as a Magnified Man sitting in a huge throne somewhere in the skies, but this isn’t who God is, this is but our own image. The Fathers all agree to the truth of the Lord’s simplicity.

Tatian the Syrian

“Our God has no introduction in time. He alone is without beginning, and is himself the beginning of all things. God is a spirit, not attending upon matter, but the maker of material spirits and of the appearances which are in matter. He is invisible, being himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things” (Address to the Greeks 4 [A.D. 170]).
 

Athenagoras

“I have sufficiently demonstrated that we are not atheists, since we acknowledge one God, unbegotten, eternal, invisible, incapable of being acted upon, incomprehensible, unbounded, who is known only by understanding and reason, who is encompassed by light and beauty and spirit and indescribable power, by whom all things, through his Word, have been produced and set in order and are kept in existence” (Plea for the Christians 10 [A.D. 177]).
 

Irenaeus

“Far removed is the Father of all from those things which operate among men, the affections and passions. He is simple, not composed of parts, without structure, altogether like and equal to himself alone. He is all mind, all spirit, all thought, all intelligence, all reason . . . all light, all fountain of every good, and this is the manner in which the religious and the pious are accustomed to speak of God” (Against Heresies 2:13:3 [A.D. 189]).
 

Clement of Alexandria

“The first substance is everything which subsists by itself, as a stone is called a substance. The second is a substance capable of increase, as a plant grows and decays. The third is animated and sentient substance, as animal, horse. The fourth is animate, sentient, rational substance, as man. Wherefore each one of us is made as consisting of all, having an immaterial soul and a mind, which is the image of God” (Fragment fromOn Providence [A.D. 200]).
“Being is in God. God is divine being, eternal and without beginning, incorporeal and illimitable, and the cause of what exists. Being is that which wholly subsists. Nature is the truth of things, or the inner reality of them. According to others, it is the production of what has come to existence; and according to others, again, it is the providence of God, causing the being, and the manner of being, in the things which are produced” (ibid.).
“What is God? ‘God,’ as the Lord says, ‘is a spirit.’ Now spirit is properly substance, incorporeal, and uncircumscribed. And that is incorporeal which does not consist of a body, or whose existence is not according to breadth, length, and depth. And that is uncircumscribed which has no place, which is wholly in all, and in each entire, and the same in itself” (ibid.).
“No one can rightly express him wholly. For on account of his greatness he is ranked as the All, and is the Father of the universe. Nor are any parts to be predicated of him. For the One is indivisible; wherefore also it is infinite, not considered with reference to inscrutability, but with reference to its being without dimensions, and not having a limit. And therefore it is without form” (Miscellanies 5:12 [A.D. 208]).
 

Origen

“Since our mind is in itself unable to behold God as he is, it knows the Father of the universe from the beauty of his works and from the elegance of his creatures. God, therefore, is not to be thought of as being either a body or as existing in a body, but as a simple intellectual being, admitting within himself no addition of any kind” (Fundamental Doctrines 1:1:6 [A.D. 225]).
“John says in the gospel, ‘No one has at any time seen God,’ clearly declaring to all who are able to understand, that there is no nature to which God is visible, not as if he were indeed visible by nature, and merely escaped or baffled the view of a frailer creature, but because he is by nature impossible to be seen” (ibid. 1:1:8).
 

Athanasius

“God, however, being without parts, is Father of the Son without division and without being acted upon. For neither is there an effluence from that which is incorporeal, nor is there anything flowering into him from without, as in the case of men. Being simple in nature, he is Father of one only Son” (Letter on the Council of Nicaea 11 [A.D. 350]).
 

Didymus the Blind

“God is simple and of an incomposite and spiritual nature, having neither ears nor organs of speech. A solitary essence and illimitable, he is composed of no numbers and parts” (The Holy Spirit 35 [A.D. 362]).
 

Hilary of Poitiers

“First it must be remembered that God is incorporeal. He does not consist of certain parts and distinct members, making up one body. For we read in the gospel that God is a spirit: invisible, therefore, and an eternal nature, immeasurable and self-sufficient. It is also written that a spirit does not have flesh and bones. For of these the members of a body consist, and of these the substance of God has no need. God, however, who is everywhere and in all things, is all-hearing, all-seeing, all-doing, and all-assisting” (Commentary on the Psalms 129[130]:3 [A.D. 365]).
 

Basil the Great

“The operations of God are various, but his essence is simple” (Letters234:1 [A.D. 367]).
 

Ambrose of Milan

“God is of a simple nature, not conjoined nor composite. Nothing can be added to him. He has in his nature only what is divine, filling up everything, never himself confused with anything, penetrating everything, never himself being penetrated, everywhere complete, and present at the same time in heaven, on earth, and in the farthest reaches of the sea, incomprehensible to the sight” (The Faith 1:16:106 [A.D. 379]).
 

Evagrius of Pontus

“To those who accuse us of a doctrine of three gods, let it be stated that we confess one God, not in number but in nature. For all that is said to be one numerically is not one absolutely, nor is it simple in nature. It is universally confessed, however, that God is simple and not composite” (Dogmatic Letter on the Trinity 8:2 [A.D. 381]).
 

Gregory of Nyssa

“But there is neither nor ever shall be such a dogma in the Church of God that would prove the simple and incomposite [God] to be not only manifold and variegated, but even constructed from opposites. The simplicity of the dogmas of the truth proposes God as he is” (Against Eunomius1:1:222 [A.D. 382]).

John Chrysostom

“[Paul] knows [God] in part. But he says, ‘in part,’ not because he knows God’s essence while something else of his essence he does not know; for God is simple. Rather, he says ‘in part’ because he knows that God exists, but what God is in his essence he does not know” (Against the Anomoians 1:5 [A.D. 386]).
“Why does John say, ‘No one has ever seen God’ [John 1:18]? So that you might learn that he is speaking about the perfect comprehension of God and about the precise knowledge of him. For that all those incidents [where people saw a vision of God] were condescensions and that none of those persons saw the pure essence of God is clear enough from the differences of what each did see. For God is simple and non-composite and without shape; but they all saw different shapes” (ibid., 4:3).
 

Augustine

“In created and changeable things what is not said according to substance can only be said according to accident. . . . In God, however, certainly there is nothing that is said according to accident, because in him there is nothing that is changeable, but neither is everything that is said of him according to substance” (The Trinity 5:5:6 [A.D. 408]).
 

Cyril of Alexandria

“We are not by nature simple; but the divine nature, perfectly simple and incomposite, has in itself the abundance of all perfection and is in need of nothing” (Dialogues on the Trinity 1 [A.D. 420]).
“The nature of the Godhead, which is simple and not composite, is never to be divided into two” (Treasury of the Holy Trinity 11 [A.D. 424]).
“When the divine Scripture presents sayings about God and remarks on corporeal parts, do not let the mind of those hearing it harbor thoughts of tangible things, but from those tangible things as if from things said figuratively let it ascend to the beauty of things intellectual, and rather than figures and quantity and circumscriptions and shapes and everything else that pertains to bodies, let it think on God, although he is above all understanding. We were speaking of him in a human way, for there is no other way in which we could think about the things that are above us” (Commentary on the Psalms 11[12]:3 [A.D. 429]).
 

13 Comments

  • Pascal says:

    If God doesn’t have body parts, what is the meaning of the scripture in Genesis when he said “now let us make man in our own image”? What does the word “image” mean in that passage?

    • Gabe says:

      I’ve wrestled with this one myself and have come to the conclusion the image of God means that he made us conscious beings like He is a conscious being. In scripture it is said that are bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit meaning they are but shells and its the Holy Spirit which dwells within all humans which is the image of God.

    • Karl Jacques says:

      I believe that God being himself a spirit is invisible to us human ,but God exist. He was at the beginning of everything,He is with us and will always be . At the beginning, people knew the existence of God but they wanted to give him an image – where comes IDOLATRY. God thereby send his son JESUS (a spirit to the womb of Mary) .Jesus was born with the appearance of a normal human being. Jesus said “THOSE WHO HAVE SEE ME, HAVE SEE THE ONE WHO SEND ME, THE FATHER”. Before Jesus left this world ,he said “I won’t leave you alone but I will send you the HOLY SPIRIT. Does that means anything to you?

  • camz says:

    can we not say that God’s body is Jesus Christ’s body? Jesus is God isn’t He?

  • Karen Milasich says:

    I visualize God in my mind. Is that wrong?

  • Kenny says:

    when I was a young boy. I ask my dad were did God come from and how many are like him, my dad told me if I keep thinking of all that. I wi just go mad because no one knows.

  • Jerin says:

    Then why did God spoke to Moses these words in Exodus 33:21 “see there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by then I will take away my hand and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

    • Chiara Pio says:

      Indeed, and also His footsteps were heard in the garden of eden: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”. It begs one to ask how so, without a physical body?

  • Marta Njos says:

    One day I had a sach a bad day at work that when I was coming home driving, I was crying to God telling him how I was ready togive up. I ccouldn’t quit my job. I was dealing with people that wanted to kill men I told God that I didn’t want live anymore. And than I saw God. If you want to know you need to box me in. Next day I found out that the people who wanted to kill me were diagnosed with the last stage of cancer and they were removed from my past. I saw the sun.

  • If one reads there bible, as a devote Roman Catholic should, one would find passages that speak about the end days. Passages that say that anyone who teaches that Jesus is not God in the Flesh is of the anti-Christ. Jesus is God. He has a glorified body, one that is tangible. He is not just Spirit. He has a real body. Even as a type this response, Christ sits upon a throne in heaven, in a real body. One that is glorified, for this is our own hope. That Christ will resurrect our bones from the grave and give unto us a glorified body. Jesus is tangible by the miracle of the human blood that His Mother, our Queen, the Queen of Heaven gave unto Him, God. Don’t complicate it by being so up in the clouds. God has a body, OK. We think we have to reconstruct God into a form that is so apart from our own, Yet, that is the evil. God is not as far away from us as we think. After all, did He, God, not create us, after His own Image? Anyone who does not teach this but rather teaches that God, Jesus is just a wisp… this is anti-Christ. So beware.

  • Tonijo says:

    Jesus is one with the Father. Jesus is God, therefore God has both Body and Spirit

  • Dennis bush says:

    The father and the son are one and the same and Jesus was made in the image of man so yes God has all features just like us being one with the holy spirit who made mother Mary conceive without sin through our Lord Jesus our father is one with us being one with the son

Leave a Reply Brethren !