The short answer is, “No.” This verse is taken completely out of context when people try to use it to say that he said no one has ever heard or seen the Father. That would be a contradiction since Moses and other prophets heard from YHWH.
Looking at the context gives us a better view of what was going on. John 5 starts with Jesus (Yehoshua) healing the man who couldn’t walk, and that story ends with:
John 5:12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. 15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. 17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
Remember it wasn’t all Jews who persecuted Jesus (Yehoshua) since many of his followers were Jews. In fact, Jesus said that the Jews, in general, knew who they worshiped. They worshiped the Father. It would be the others (Gentiles) who would, one day, worship the Father also. And this passage was just in the previous chapter, written by the same author:
John 4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we (Jews) know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
So, returning to John 5, Jesus (Yehoshua) is upsetting some Jews by healing people on the Sabbath. Obviously he wasn’t upsetting gentiles for doing work on the Sabbath because they wouldn’t care. This is the reason it says Jews, but, as we’ve seen, doesn’t mean all Jews.
John 5:15 tells us that these Jews (who were upset at the Sabbath healing) sought to kill Jesus (Yehoshua). They also thought he was calling himself equal with God, but he wasn’t. They just couldn’t understand what he was saying which is why he told them the Father was greater than him, and by himself he could do nothing (vs. 19, 30).
So the layout of John 5 is as follows:
- Jesus (Yehoshua) heals someone on the Sabbath.
- The religious Jews get upset at the healing on the Sabbath, and then misunderstand Jesus (Yehoshua) because they’re spiritually deaf.
- Jesus (Yehoshua) tries to explain that he didn’t say what they thought he said, tells them that he can’t do anything unless YHWH, the Father, allows it, and then…
- Jesus (Yehoshua), still speaking to the men who wanted to kill him because they’re spiritually deaf and falsely accusing him of saying he’s equal with YHWH, says you can’t hear the Father, and you can’t see the Father, and I know this because you’re not listening to what I’m saying.
Jesus (Yehoshua) says that he’s proved that YHWH sent him by the works he’s performed because without YHWH as His witness he couldn’t have performed the miracles, just as Moses proved YHWH was him by the miracles he performed. But they see the miracles and don’t believe that YHWH was with him.
John 5:37 And the Father Himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 And you have NOT His Word abiding in you: for whom He hath sent, him ye believe not….41 I receive NOT honour from men. 42 But I know you, that you have NOT the love of God in YOU. 43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44 How can YOU believe, who receive honour from each other, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
He’s said a mouthful here. He says in verse 41 that he doesn’t receive his honor or glory from men, but only from God. He said he only seeks to do YHWH’s will and please YHWH, and then accuses these particular men (who want to kill him) of seeking after glory and honor from men, meaning each other (vs. 44), rather than seeking to please and receive honor and glory from YHWH.
He says these men don’t have YHWH’s word abiding in them, and they don’t have the love of God in them.
How could he possibly be talking to the disciples and random crowds? He couldn’t; he wouldn’t. He would not say these things to the people who did believe him, as he specifically says these men do NOT believe him.
He is specifically saying to the murderous Jews who don’t believe him and are falsely accusing him that they don’t have the word of God in them, don’t believe Moses, because if they were following the Holy Spirit (word of God) they wouldn’t be falsely accusing him and they wouldn’t want to kill him.
Those who hear from YHWH, have His word in them, will believe His prophets (thus the messiah) and will not want to kill him. This is why he is not contradicting the Tanakh where the prophets did hear from YHWH.
And Jesus (Yehoshua) even tells his disciples, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father (John 14:9). But he wasn’t claiming to be the Father. He was claiming to do the works of the Father. They saw the works the Father did through Jesus (Yehoshua). It’s obvious that Jesus (Yehoshua) believed those who believed him, believed in the Father also, and thus had seen the Father.Follow | Contact Links