John 6:46 – “he hath seen the Father”
The key to understanding John 6:46 is knowing that the phrase “seen the Father” does not refer to seeing with the eye, but to “knowing the Father.” Jesus knew God because God revealed Himself more clearly to Jesus than to anyone else. Jesus made this clear in other teachings, saying, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does…” (John 5:20 NIV).
In both Hebrew (H7200) and Greek (G3708) the words translated “see” also mean “to discern, to perceive.” The Hebrew word ra’a is used of both seeing with the eyes and knowing something, or perceiving it (Gen. 16:4; Exod. 32:1; Num. 20:29). Similarly, the Greek word horao, translated “see” in John 1:18, 6:46; and 3 John 1:11, can mean “to see with the eyes” or “to see with the mind, to perceive, know.” Even in English, one of the definitions for “see” is “to know or understand.” For example, when two people are discussing something, one might say to the other, “I see what you mean.”
The usage of “see” as it pertains to knowing is found in many places in the New Testament. For example, Jesus said to Philip, “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9). Here again the word “see” is used to indicate knowing. Anyone who knew Christ (not just those who “saw” him) would know the Father. In fact, Christ had made that clear two verses earlier when he said to Philip, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:7). In this verse Jesus says that those who know him have “seen” the Father.
One of the verses that uses the word “seen” in the sense of “known” is (John 1:18 GW).
The phrase “seen God” is parallel to the phrase “has made Him known,” and both phrases refer to knowing God. No man fully knew God, but Jesus made Him known. Throughout the Old Testament, what people knew about God was very limited. In fact, 2 Corinthians 3:13-16 refers to the fact that even today, the Jews who reject Christ have a veil over their hearts. The full knowledge, the “truth” about God, came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). He was the one who “saw” (fully understood) God, and then he taught others—which is what John 1:18 says. Before Jesus Christ came, no one really knew God as He truly is, a loving heavenly Father, but Jesus Christ “saw” (knew) God intimately, because the Father revealed Himself clearly to him.