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Greek Word Study - Invisible

Is God invisible? According to 1 Timothy 1: 17 he is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God.” Colossians 1:15 also speaks of “the invisible God.” But what is the meaning of the word “invisible” as it applies to God?

When Josephus used the Greek word for “invisible” (aoratos -- ah OR ah toss) it usually meant “unseen,” rather than “unseeable.” Since he was about the same age as the apostle Paul and wrote in the same time period, this seems to be significant.

For instance, Josephus tells about the Roman general Pompey, who conquered Palestine in 63 B.C. “Of all the calamities of that time,” he said, “none so deeply affected the nation as the exposure to alien eyes of the Holy Place, hitherto screened from view” (Wars 1, 152). The word for “screened from view” was aoratos. The Holy Place was not invisible to Roman eyes; it was just previously unseen.

Similarly, Josephus used this word to describe a city “hidden” in the mountains, the “unseen” base of the Masada fortress, the “invisible” joints in a finely crafted wooden table, and an “unseen” cavern where Josephus once hid from his enemies. The only time he actually used it to mean “invisible” was in describing the human soul, which is “invisible to human eyes.”

Now, back to the question of our “invisible” God. He has not been seen and cannot now be seen by mortal man (see 1 Timothy 6: 16). But that situation will not last forever. When Jesus congratulated the pure in heart, he promised that “they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). In heaven God himself will live with his people and “they will see his face” (Revelation 21:3; 22:4). The unseen God, so long hidden from our view, will be “invisible” no more!