One afternoon, after our regular ladies’ Bible class, a sister put forward a question that had been bothering her for some time. She asked, “Is there a contradiction between Matthew 17:5 and John 5:37? The first scripture says that God spoke from heaven, but the other says that people had not seen his shape nor heard his voice.”
While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him (Matt. 17:5).
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape (John 5:37).
God’s word understood will not contradict itself. God has given us all truth (John 17:17)—complete truth, without contradictions (1 Cor 13:9, 10). But how do we view this seeming discrepancy in the two quotes from the Gospels?
We have to consider other related scriptures to help us understand what is meant by what is said. Consider another account in the Gospel of John, which sheds light on the first two.
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes (John 12:27-30).
Again we can be comforted by the fact that God has not left us without a witness to his word and work. Let us pray every day that out hearts will not doubt Him or his word.
By inspiration, the Psalmist David has honored the Lord with these words:
Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron (Psa. 77:14-20).