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What is a theophany?

Submitted: 6/5/2008
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Question: I heard some theologians mention the term theophany. What does it mean and how significant is this term in studying the doctrine of God.

Answer: The word 'theophany' means 'the appearance of a divine being.' It is used to describe the various appearances of God, especially in Old Testament times. For example, God in the burning bush was a theophany. It is very important to understand this, because the Bible tells us in a number of places that God is invisible and no one can see Him. Yet, it also records instances where people do see God. This is because the invisble God has the ability to appear in a visible form. The final and ultimate theophany is Jesus Christ, God manifested in the flesh. This is why Jesus could say, 'He who has seen Me has seen the Father' (John 14:9). For more on this subject, please read our articles 'Seeing the Invisible God' and 'God Manifested,' which can be found on Shelf 1 of the Apostolic Free Library on this web site.