Does Matt. 5:8 contradict 1 Tim. 6:16 about not seeing God?

Does Matt. 5:8 contradict 1 Tim. 6:16 about not seeing God? No, it does not, especially when we consider the immediate context of each verse and the overall context of Scripture.  Matt. 5:8 is a poetic style of wisdom literature that contains poetry and prose, where 1 Tim. 6:16 is more literal and doctrinal. Matt. 5:8 is housed in the Beatitudes, which are the teachings from Jesus Christ that appear in Matthew 5:3-12 and Luke 6:20-23.

The Beatitudes are a form of wisdom literature that uses poetic repetition. They can be taken literally and figuratively and are designed to induce inner examination of motives as well as shape proper behavior. Since they are a poetic-prose form of literature, we can ask in what sense “seeing God” is meant. Jesus does not tell us the type of “seeing” that will occur and who is being seen. Is it in a visionary form, but not literal due to 1 Tim. 6:16 and John 6:46?  Does it mean to see God in this life or in heaven? We can ask if it is God the Father, Jesus, or the Trinity that is being seen. Of course, the questions are many.

I believe that it could be possible that the true believers in Christ will see God in some form, probably something like Steven did when he saw the glory of God – but not God literally (Acts 7:55). Since 1 Tim. 6:16 and John 6:46 negate the possibility of seeing God the Father, then Matt. 5:8 could have several meanings.

Admitted into the presence of God, where they see His glory (Acts 7:55).
Seeing God spiritually, in a vision, in creation, in the gospel, etc.  After all, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12).
Seeing God’s work and presence in their lives. The impure in soul cannot see the work of God in their lives.
Being comforted by the grace of God

“The phrase “see God” does not refer to any manifestation of His glory visible to the eye of sense. It is to the far deeper sight of the soul that Christ refers. Your best friend is not seen by the eye of the body; you see him spiritually, his qualities of mind and heart. 1. None but the pure in heart can see Him. It is useless to tell the selfish about the beauty of unselfishness; you might as well tell the blind about the glory of colour. 2. That to the pure in heart the full glory of the Divine nature reveals itself. God is light and love. These are seen by the pure soul.” (Exell, Joseph S. The Biblical Illustrator: Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1952.)

So, since Matt. 5:8 is in the beatitudes and since it is poetic-prose, we can conclude that there is no contradiction. We can see that there are a variety of possibilities related to seeing God. And, since God the Father cannot be seen (John 6:46), then we can conclude that the pure in heart will be in God’s presence and, at the very least, see His glory.


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