Exodus 33:20

And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
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Ambrose of Milan

AD 397
“Who shall see my face and live?” Scripture said, and rightly so. For our eyes cannot bear the sun’s rays, and whoever turns too long in its direction is generally blinded, so they say. Now if one creature cannot look upon another creature without loss and harm to himself, how can he see the dazzling face of his eternal Creator while covered with the clothing that is this body? For who is justified in the sight of God, when the infant of but one day cannot be clean from sin and no one can glory in his uprightness and purity of heart? Death as a Good

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
As regards this life, Moses is told, “Nobody has seen the face of God and lived.” You see, we are not meant to live in this life in order to see that face; we are meant to die to the world in order to live forever in God. Then we won’t sin, not only by deed but not even by desire, when we see that face which beats and surpasses all desires. Because it is so lovely, my brothers and sisters, so beautiful, that once you have seen it, nothing else can give you pleasure. It will give insatiable satisfaction of which we will never tire. We shall always be hungry and always have our fill.

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
Another point that can trouble us is how it was possible for the very substance of God to be seen by some while still in this life, in view of what was said to Moses: “No man can see my face and live,” unless it is possible for the human mind to be divinely rapt from this life to the angelic life, before it is freed from the flesh by our common death.

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
And as a matter of fact the words which the Lord later says to Moses … are commonly and not without reason understood to prefigure the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the back parts are taken to be his flesh, in which he was born of the Virgin and rose again, whether they are called the back parts [posteriora] because of the posteriority of his mortal nature or because he deigned to take it near the end of the world, that is, at a later period [posterius].But his face is that form of God in which he thought it not robbery to be equal to God the Father, which no one surely can see and live. … After this life, in which we are absent from the Lord, where the corruptible body is a load upon the soul, we shall see “face to face,” as the apostle says. (For it is said of this life in the Psalms, “Indeed all things are vanity: every man living,” and again, “For in your sight no man living shall be justified.” In [this] life too, according to John, “it has not yet appeared what we shall b...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
Hence the answer made to Moses is true that no one can see the face of God and live, that is, no one living in this life can see him as he is. Many have seen, but they saw what his will chose, not what his nature formed, and this is what John said, if he is rightly understood: “Dearly beloved, we are the sons of God, and it has not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like to him, because we shall see him as he is”; not as men saw him when he willed under the appearance that he willed; not in his nature under which he lies hidden within himself even when he is seen, but as he is. This is what was asked of him by the one who spoke to him face to face, when he said to him, “Show me yourself,” but no one can at any time experience the fullness of God through the eyes of the body any more than by the mind itself. –.

Gaius Marius Victorinus

AD 400
No one sees the power itself alone, for “no one has ever seen God.” And since power is life in repose and knowledge in repose but life and knowledge are actions, if someone were to see God he must die, because the life and knowledge of God remain in themselves and are not in act. But every act is exterior. Indeed, for us to live is to live externally [in a body]; to see God is therefore a death. “No one,” says the Scripture, “has ever seen God and lived.” Indeed, like is seen by like. External life therefore must be forgotten, knowledge must be forgotten, if we wish to see God, and this for us is death. .

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
My face, even in my assumed form. (Menochius) The effulgence would cause death, as was commonly believed, Genesis xiii. 16. To behold the divine essence, we must be divested of our mortal body, 1 Corinthians ii. 9. (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, or. 49.) (Haydock) Moses, therefore, did not see it on earth, though he had greater favours shown to him than the other prophets, Numbers xii. 6. (Theodoret, q. 68; St. Chrysostom;) (Worthington)

Gregory of Nyssa

AD 394
He would not have shown himself to his servant if the sight were such as to bring the desire of the beholder to an end, since the true sight of God consists in this, that the one who looks up to God never ceases in that desire. For he says, “You cannot see my face, for man cannot see me and live.” Scripture does not indicate that this causes the death of those who look, for how would the face of life ever be the cause of death to those who approach it? On the contrary, the divine is by its nature lifegiving. Yet it is the characteristic of the divine nature to transcend all characteristics. Therefore he who thinks God is something to be known does not have life, because he has turned from true being to what he considers by sense perception to have being. –.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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