“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name”
Verses 2:5-8 set forth the descent of the Lord Jesus. Verses 2:9-11 present His ascent. This is not His ascension but His ascent in the minds of both God and man.
Jesus went from the highest point imaginable, the “form of God” (the essence of God), to the lowest place conceivable, the “death of the cross,” a criminal’s death in the eyes of Rome.
Every time we see a “therefore,” we should look to see what it is there for! Because of the humiliation of Christ in incarnation and cross, God will exalt Him.
Jesus did not stay on the cross. He is in glory; He escaped the tomb. Most of the founders of religion are dead and buried, but not the Lord Jesus. He is alive today. If you want to start a religion today, all you have to do is die, be buried, and rise again! Obviously, the Lord Jesus is the unique Savior of the universe. He took the round trip from heaven to earth and back again.
“God also has highly exalted Him”
To exalt Him is one thing; to “highly” exalt Him is another thing. The Lord Jesus towers with towering superiority over anyone else. He is the Great Unlike, the single Son of God. He is the quintessence of exaltation.
Jesus is the center of worship in God’s mind:
“Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).
Worship must have content. To worship out of emotions void of the content does not honor the Lord. He is to be worshiped for something. It is content that allows for true worship. Jesus went from the heights of heaven to the depths of death for us. His sacrificial life and death were for us. Much of today’s music is without substance. Our lyrics lack content. On the other hand, some music today focuses our attention on the Lord in ways the old hymns wanted. In any case, true worship involves worshipping the Lord for something.
Worship requires content.
Jesus is the basis of true worship. The way we can measure whether we are truly worshipping is to take note of the content of our worship. Music that does not focus on some content such as the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus is a merely emotional vacuum.
I would value your help in resolving a problem.
I recently read an article on Philippians 2:5-11, in which it was said,
“Whatever Philippians 2:7 means, it can-not mean that Jesus divested himself of deity. Why? Because one cannot be deity temporarily; off again, on again. By nature, God is everlasting. Jesus cannot lay aside his divinity and remain divine”.
In other words, Jesus did not divest Himself of, “the name which is above every name”. That being the case, how does one explain ?,
Phl 2:9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
You will note that verse 9 starts with “Therefore” which draws our attention to the preceding verse, namely,
Phl 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
It is clear that the bestowal of that name was in recognition of what Jesus is described as having done in verse 8
Tell me, how is it possible to bestow on (give to) someone what they already have ?
Edwin, it is impossible for God to be reduced to man. Eternity can never be confined to time. Everywhere present cannot be located to a space. Jesus set aside the voluntary use of His incommunicable attributes (attributes that cannot be shared with man such as all knowing, all power, everywhere present; Attributes that can be shared with man are such attributes as love, mercy, truth, etc). The important factor is the voluntary use is what He set aside, not the attributes themselves.
Edwin, this does not mean that Jesus was not true humanity, He was. God took on true humanity in His person. He is undiminished deity and true humanity at once.
Thank you Grant for your posts.
Please have a look at the following, and let me have your comments.
May the Lord bless you, and keep you safe.
Let me first of all make it clear that I have no problem with the “Deity of Christ”. My understanding is that in eternity, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity is God, always has been God, and always will be God. Never at any time in eternity did Jesus, the Son of God, divest Himself of His Deity.
However, what we are now about to consider is not His existence in eternity, but His human life of 33+ years here on earth some 2,000 years ago.
I am well aware that what I am about to say on the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, is not accepted by most Christians, but I know that what has been revealed to me makes sense of all those verses of Scripture that appear to contradict each other. I know that the Holy Spirit will not confirm error as truth.
I want now to have a look at two versions of the Bible which I feel most accurately represent what was intended to be conveyed, but first some words about, the true meaning of the Greek word, “Harpagmos”,
Discoveries made during the latter part of the 20 th Century have shown this word to mean, “to exploit an advantage”, and this has led to the following Bible translations.
Philippians 2:5-9 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Christ’s Humility and Exaltation
5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. a
7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form,
8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.
9 For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name,
Footnote: a verse 6 Or to be grasped, or to be held on to
Philippians 2:5-9.New Revised Standard Version.
5 Let the same mind be in you that was* in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death” even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,
It has been said that we are not told just what it was, of which our Lord Jesus, “emptied himself “, in verse 7, I do not in fact agree with this opinion for the following reasons.
Firstly the expression, “emptied himself “, if translated literally from the Greek, would read, “emptied himself empty”, this is emphatic, that is to say totally, not partially, in other words, whatever it was Jesus emptied Himself of, it was, all of, not some of . Verse 7 can only refer to what was being considered in verse 6, namely the Deity of the second person of the Trinity, in other words it was His, “equality with God”, of which Jesus divested Himself. This is confirmed at verse 9, where Jesus has restored to Him, that of which He had previously, “emptied himself empty”.
Note: You cannot give someone what they already have.
Amplification of verse 9.
Phl 2:9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
Phl 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
Phl 2:11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It is clear that Paul has in mind.
Isa 45:22 “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
Isa 45:23 I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath.
Tell me what is, “the name which is above every name”, Could this mean I wonder that God restored to Jesus that of which He had divested Himself ?
Verses 7, and 8 make it quite clear that Jesus made Himself just as we are, but of course without sin, He imposed upon Himself the same limitations that are imposed on each one of us, in order to demonstrate that we also can please God as He did, but it must always be done in the same way that He did it, that is by complete and total submission.
Let me try to explain my understanding of what Phil 2:5-9, has to say about Jesus, with the following illustration.. Mr Richard Branson the owner of Virgin Trains, is at liberty to exploit his position, by traveling in Virgin Trains coaches free of charge, if however, he chose to purchase a ticket to ride, then he would not be “Exploiting his advantage”, but he would still retain this advantage, and could use it again whenever he chose to do so.. If however, he decided to do what Jesus did as described at verse 7, and “emptied himself empty”, that is he divested himself of his ownership of Virgin Trains, then he would no longer have any advantage to be exploited, and what’s more, he could not get it back again, he would have no power, or right to take back the ownership of Virgin Trains..The only way in which this could be done, would be for the new owner to give it back to him, exactly as verse 9, describes God giving back to Jesus the Deity which he had divested himself of.. It is not possible to give to someone what they already have.
Why are we told at Acts 2:22, “God did through him”, if it was Jesus who performed the Miracles?
Act 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know–
The miracles Jesus performed, were not intended to prove that He was God, but for the reason given bellow.
Jhn 20:30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;
Jhn 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Other Scripture verses in support of the above.
What follows might seem as if I am playing the Devil’s Advocate. This is not in fact the case, but the verses I shall refer to could be used by his servants to undermine a believers faith. Unfortunately this is helped along by those Preachers who will say “Although we are considering the humanity of Jesus, let it be clearly understood that at no time was He any less than God”. This teaching plays straight into the hands of the Evil one, who will try to use it to his advantage.
Psalm 121:4 says “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep”.
Jesus went to sleep in the back of a boat.
Jesus did not know the time of His second coming, only the Father knows that.
Mat 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Since when does God address Himself as, “To do Your will, O God”.
Hbr 10:5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.
Hbr 10:6 In burnt offerings and [sacrifices] for sin You had no pleasure.
Hbr 10:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come– In the volume of the book it is written of Me– To do Your will, O God.’ [fn] ”
How can God possibly say, “my God”,
Jhn 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
The Father speaking about His Son said,
Deu 18:18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.
Deu 18:19 And it shall be [that] whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require [it] of him.
Jesus as a man commenting on the above verses,said,
Jhn 12:49 For I have not spoken on My own [authority]; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.
Jhn 12:50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
Jesus is referred to as “My Servant” at Isaiah 52:13, which is where one should start to read Isaiah Ch 53.
Jesus also said,
Jhn 12:44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.
Jhn 12:45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.
Jhn 14:7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. [fn] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Jhn 14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Jhn 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Jhn 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
Note: It is the Father who is doing the works, not the Son, the Son enables the Father to be articulate.
(14:7) Or If you know me, you will know my Father also, or If you have known me, you will know my Father also
Jhn 17:6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.
Jhn 17:7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.
Jhn 17:8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received [them], and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
Tell me how can the servant of God, also at the same time be God?
Isa 52:13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
Hebrews 2:9. “Made lower than the angles”. Hebrews 10:7. “To do your will O God”. 1 Corinthians 15:28. “Then the Son himself will also be subjected to him…..God”.
Let me ask you four questions on.
John 5:30. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. ESV.
1. How can God possibly say, “I can do nothing on my own”.
2. How can God possibly say, “As I hear, I judge”.. Who does God take instruction from?
3. Since when did God not seek His own will?
4. Who sent God?
Upon reflection it occurred to me that what I have said above, might have given the impression that I have a problem with the “Deity of Christ”. Nothing in fact could be further from the truth.
My understanding is that in eternity, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity is God, always has been God, and always will be God. Never at any time in eternity did Jesus, the Son of God, divest Himself of His Deity.
PS: Here is,
PASSAGE RESULTS: PHILIPPIANS 2 (NEW CENTURY VERSION)
Be Unselfish Like Christ
5 In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus.
6 Christ himself was like God in everything.
But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.
7 But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.
He was born as a man
and became like a servant.
8 And when he was living as a man,
he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God,
even when that caused his death—death on a cross.
9 So God raised him to the highest place.
God made his name greater than every other name
10 so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—
everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
11 And everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
and bring glory to God the Father.
Further to my previous post from which the following has been extracted,
“What follows might seem as if I am playing the Devil’s Advocate. This is not in fact the case, but the verses I shall refer to could be used by his servants to undermine a believers faith. Unfortunately this is helped along by those Preachers who will say “Although we are considering the humanity of Jesus, let it be clearly understood that at no time was He any less than God”. This teaching plays straight into the hands of the Evil one, who will try to use it to his advantage”.
What I have in mind is shown in the copy below of a reply I sent to a lady who asked me a question
I refer to your post in which you said,
“Eve did not have a Divine nature”.
Yes this is true, as it is of you, and me also, for although we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are not G-d.
If we humans who are not Divine are to be shown how to behave towards the Lord our G-d in the way He requires, then this must be demonstrated to us by another human who is also not Divine otherwise there will be many problems as is made clear by what follows.
A young man who had not been a Christian for very long, spoke to the Pastor of the Church he attended, and said, “Please can you help me, as I am finding living the Christian life very difficult”.
The Pastor’s advised him to read the words of our Lord Jesus as found in the Gospels, and in particular in John’s Gospel, and to look for those verses where Jesus was talking about His relationship with His Father G-d, and especially the attitude that He continually adopted towards His Father.
Although this was indeed excellent advice, the young man went away with a heavy heart, for as he said to himself, “Why didn’t he tell me how Paul did it, how Peter did it, how James did it, how John did it, and not how Jesus did it, for He was Divine as well as being human”, “I would expect nothing less than perfection from one who is both G-d and man, and not just man as I am”.
You see the Pastor forgot that three weeks previously when speaking on Phil 2:5- 13, he had said, “Although we are about to look at the true humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, let it be clearly understood that never at any time was He any less than G-d”.
May the Lord bless you ######, and keep you safe.
Edwin, it is always dangerous to use illustrations from experience to try to understand the hypostatic union.
An important point to remember that it is the one and same Person who is in both the humanity and the deity.
Edwin, here is a summary of the hypostatic union:
The Relation of the Two Natures
Few subjects in the realm of theology are more difficult than the definition of the relation of the two natures in the incarnate Christ. Theologians are faced first with the problem of definition. The English word nature is derived from the Latin natura and is the equivalent of the Greek phusis (cf. Rom 2:14; Gal 2:15; 4:8 ; Eph 2:3; 2 Pet 1:4). In the history of Christian doctrine the usage of the term nature has varied, but the word is now commonly used to designate the divine or human elements in the person of Christ. In theology the expression substance from the Latin substantia is also used, corresponding to the Greek ousia. All of these terms are used to define the real essence, the inward properties which underlie all outward manifestation. As this refers to the person of Christ, nature is seen to be the sum of all the attributes and their relationship to each other. Necessarily, such attributes must be compatible to the nature to which they correspond and cannot be transferred to another substance or nature. As applied to the problem of defining the humanity and deity of Christ, nature as used of the humanity of Christ includes all that belongs to His humanity. As applied to the deity of Christ, it includes all that belongs to His deity. Hence, theologians speak of two natures, the human and the divine, each with their respective attributes.
Much confusion arose in the early history of the church on the problem of how such incompatible natures as a human nature and a divine nature could be joined in one person without one or the other losing some of its essential characteristics. The resulting discussion, however, led to the orthodox statement that the two natures are united without loss of any essential attributes and that the two natures maintain their separate identity. Through the Incarnation of Christ, the two natures were inseparably united in such a way that there was no mixture or loss of their separate identity and without loss or transfer of any property or attribute of one nature to the other. The union thus consummated is a personal or hypostatic union in that Christ is one person, not two, and is everlasting in keeping with the everlasting character of both the human and divine natures.
The proof that the two natures maintain their complete identity, though joined in a personal union, is based on a comparison of the attributes of the human nature and the divine nature. It should be clear that divine attributes must necessarily belong to the corresponding divine nature and that human attributes must belong to the corresponding human nature, though the attributes of either the human or divine nature belong to the person of Christ. Because the attributes of either nature belong to Christ, Christ is theanthropic in person, but it is not accurate to refer to His natures as being theanthropic as there is no mixture of the divine and human to form a new third substance. The human nature always remains human, and the divine nature always remains divine. Christ is therefore both God and man, no less God because of His humanity and no less human because of His deity.
Calvinistic theology generally holds that the two natures of Christ are united without any transfer of attributes. Just as any essence is composed of the sum of its attributes and their relationship, a change of any attribute would necessarily involve a change in essence. For instance, infinity cannot be transferred to finity; mind cannot be transferred to matter; God cannot be transferred to man, or vice versa. To rob the divine nature of Christ of a single attribute would destroy His deity, and to rob man of a single human attribute would result in destruction of a true humanity. It is for this reason that the two natures of Christ cannot lose or transfer a single attribute.
A significant variation, however, from this doctrine is the Lutheran teaching of the ubiquity of the human body of Christ. In connection with the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, it is held that while the elements are not transubstantiated into the body of Christ they contain the body of Christ. This concept is considered to be supported by the teaching that the body of Christ is everywhere. In sustaining this doctrine, Lutheran theologians have felt that the doctrine of omnipresence as it relates to the divine nature is properly also an attribute of the human body of Christ. The Lutheran doctrine is challenged by Calvinists principally on the basis of the lack of Biblical evidence for it and the contradiction involved in the concept of a body that is everywhere present. While it is normal for theology to consider Christ in His divine nature as omnipresent, the humanity of Christ always seems to have a local concept, and Christ is revealed to be seated now at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
In the incarnation no attribute of the divine nature was changed though there was a change in their manifestation. This is sometimes referred to as the kenosis doctrine or the self-emptying of Christ. It is clear that Christ, while on earth following His incarnation, did not manifest the glory of God except on rare occasions, but there were no attributes surrendered. Christ was still all that God is even though He had chosen sovereignly to limit certain phases of His activity to the human sphere. Even during the period of humiliation, therefore, there is no need for qualifying the basic doctrine that both the human and the divine natures retain all their essential characteristics.
The two natures of Christ are not only united without affecting the respective attributes of the two natures, but they are combined in one person. This union should not be defined as deity possessing humanity as this would deny true humanity its rightful place. It is not, on the other hand, humanity merely indwelt by deity. Christ did not differ from other men simply in degree of divine influence as sometimes advanced by modern liberals. In His unique personality He possessed two natures, one eternal and divine, the other human and generated in time. The union of these two natures was not one of sympathy alone nor merely a harmony of will and operation. Orthodox theology regards this union as personal and constitutional. As Charles Hodge put it: “The Son of God did not unite Himself with a human person, but with a human nature.”
One of the difficult aspects of the relationship of the two natures of Christ is that, while the attributes of one nature are never attributed to the other, the attributes of both natures are properly attributed to His person. Thus Christ at the same moment has seemingly contradictory dualities. He can be weak and omnipotent, increasing in knowledge anomniscient, finite and infinite. These qualities can, of course, be traced to their corresponding nature, but, as presented in Scripture, a variety of treatment can be observed. At least seven classifications of this aspect of the truth can be observed in what is called the communion of attributes.
1. Some attributes are true of His whole person such as the titles, Redeemer, Prophet, Priest, and King. As Redeemer, Christ is both man and God, both natures being essential to this function. It is therefore an attribute or characteristic true of His whole person.
2. Some attributes are true only of deity, but the whole person is the subject. In some cases the person of Christ is related to an attribute peculiar to the divine nature. For instance, Christ said: “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). The whole person is the subject, but the attribute of eternity applies only to the divine nature. It is possible, however, to say of the person of the incarnate Christ that His person is eternal even though humanity was added in time.
3. Some attributes are true only of humanity, but the whole person is the subject. In contrast to John 8:58, in some cases attributes true only of His humanity are mentioned but the whole person is in view. On the cross Christ said: “I thirst” (John 19:28). The statement can be attributed only to the human nature, but the whole person is involved. This type of reference disappears after His resurrection and ascension and the resulting freedom from the limitations of His earthly life.
4. The person may be described according to divine nature but the predicate of the human nature. A seeming contradiction is sometimes found when the person of Christ is described according to His divine nature, but that which is predicated is an attribute of the human nature. An illustration is afforded in the revelation of Christ in glory in Revelation 1:12–18 where the deity of Christ is in evidence. Yet Christ is revealed as the One who “was dead” (v. 18), an attribute possible only for the humanity of Christ.
5. The person may be described according to human nature but the predicate of the divine nature. In John 6:62 the significant statement occurs: “What then if ye should behold the Son of man ascending where he was before?” The title describes Christ according to His human nature, Son of man, but the predicate of ascending up where He was before could have reference only to the divine nature.
6. The person may be described according to the divine nature, but the predicate of both natures. According to John 5:25–27, Christ as the Son of God spoke to those who are spiritually dead, and those who heard lived. As the Son of man, however, Christ is said to execute judgment in the future. Hence, Christ is described as the Son of God, but the predicate of speaking can be attributed to both natures as demonstrated by the fact that the human nature is specifically mentioned as in view in the future judgment.
7. The person may be described according to human nature but the predicate of both natures. According to John 5:27 mentioned above, Christ will judge the world as One possessing both human and divine natures. Another example is found in Matthew 27:46 where Christ said: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Christ was speaking from the viewpoint of His human nature in his prophetic cry, addressing His Father as His God, but the pronoun me seems to refer to both natures or His whole person. Christ was being judicially forsaken because He was bearing the sin of the world. It was not simply the divine nature forsaking the human nature as some have held.
The Relation of the Two Natures to the Self-Consciousness of Christ
Much speculation has arisen over the problem of self-consciousness in such a unique person as Christ. In His own self-consciousness was He aware of His deity and humanity at all times? Liberals have tended to postpone any recognition of divine self-consciousness until some point in His public ministry. The orthodox doctrine necessarily implies that Christ in His divine self-consciousness was aware of His deity at all times. There was no point in the life of Christ when He suddenly became aware of the fact that He was God. His divine self-consciousness was as fully operative when He was a Babe in Bethlehem as it was in His most mature experience. There is evidence, however, that the human nature developed and with it a human self-consciousness came into play. In view of the varied forms of manifestation of the divine and human natures, it seems possible to conclude that He had both a divine and a human self-consciousness, that these were never in conflict, and that Christ sometimes thought, spoke, and acted from the divine self-consciousness and at other times from the human.
The Relation of the Two Natures to the Will of Christ
In view of the complete divine and human natures in Christ, the question has been raised whether each nature had its corresponding will. If by will is meant desire, it is clear that there could be conflicting desires in the divine and human natures of Christ. If by will, however, is meant that resulting moral decision, one person can have only one will. In the case of Christ, this will was always the will of God. Hence, when Christ prayed in the garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt 26:39), here, as in all other cases, the ultimate sovereign will of Christ was to do the Father’s will. It was natural to the human nature to desire to avoid the cross even as it was in keeping with the divine nature to avoid the contact with sin involved in substitution. The will of God, however, was that Christ should die, and this Christ willingly did. It is therefore no more proper to speak of two wills in Christ than it is of two wills in an ordinary believer who has both a sin nature and a new nature. A conflict of desires should not be equated with a conflict of moral choice.
Important Results of the Union of the Two Natures in Christ
The incarnation of Christ plays such a large part in the doctrine of the person of Christ that it is obviously tremendous in its significance. At least seven important results of the union of the two natures in Christ by the incarnation are revealed.
1. The union of the two natures in Christ is related vitally to His acts as an incarnate person. Though the divine nature is immutable, the human nature could suffer and learn through experience with the result that the corporate person can be said to come into new experiences. Thus Christ learned by suffering (Heb 5:8). In a similar way, the act of redemption in which Christ offered Himself a sacrifice for sin was an act of His whole person. It was traceable to both natures, not to the human nature alone nor the divine. As man Christ could die, but only as God could His death have infinite value sufficient to provide redemption for the sins of the whole world. Thus the human blood of Christ has eternal and infinite value because it was shed as part of the act of the divine-human person.
2. The eternal priesthood of Christ is also based on the hypostatic union. It was essential to His priesthood that He be both God and man. By incarnation He became man and hence could act as a human priest. As God, His priesthood could be everlasting after the order of Melchizedek, and He properly could be a mediator between God and man. Because of the human nature His priesthood could evince a human sympathy (Heb 4:15) and as the divine Son of God He was assured that God the Father would hear Him.
3. Though in ordinary cases a prophet does not need to have a divine nature, it is clear in examining the prophetic office of Christ that it is related to the act of incarnation. While God could speak from heaven as has been done on many occasions in Scripture, it was the purpose of God to reveal Himself through a man, and this required an incarnation. Hence, the eternal Logos, the Word of God, declared the nature of God by becoming man (John 1:18).
4. The kingly office of Christ was dependent on both the divine and human natures, and would have been impossible apart from the incarnation. Though it is possible for God to rule as God, it was a function of Christ to rule not only in the divine sense but as the Son of David fulfilling the Davidic covenant and its promise that the seed of David would sit upon the throne. According to the Davidic covenant, a son of David would sit on the throne of Israel forever (2 Sam 7:16), and David’s house, kingdom, and throne are declared to be established forever (cf. Luke 1:31–33). To fulfill His kingly office, therefore, it was necessary to have a human birth which would link Him with David and He had to have a divine nature that would assure Him the everlasting quality of His government and throne.
5. The incarnate person of Christ is worshipped as the sovereign God. In the period of His life on earth, He was worshipped even when His eternal glory was hidden, and it is now all the more fitting that He should be worshipped as the glorified God-man. The recognition of His deity and sovereignty is related to His dominion as the second Adam. In the original creation dominion was given the first Adam, and it was God’s declared purpose that man should rule creation. Though this prerogative was lost by Adam because of sin, it properly belongs to the incarnate Christ who will rule the earth, especially in the millennial kingdom.
6. In the ascension of the incarnate Christ to heaven, not only was the divine nature restored to its previous place of infinite glory, but the human nature was also exalted. It is now as the God-man that He is at the right hand of God the Father. This demonstrates that infinite glory and humanity are not incompatible as illustrated in the person of Christ and assures the saint that though he is a sinner saved by grace he may anticipate the glory of God in eternity.
7. The union of the two natures in Christ, while not affecting any essential attribute of either nature, did necessarily require certain unique features to be manifested such as the absence of the sin nature, freedom from any act of sin, and lack of a human father. This also of course was true of Adam before the fall and therefore is not a contradiction of the essential humanity of Christ. Though these elements find no parallel in the race after the fall of Adam, they do not constitute ground for denying the true humanity of our Lord.
Much necessarily remains inscrutable in the person of Christ. The problem of the theologian is not to understand completely, but to state the facts revealed in Scripture in such a way as to do full honor to the person of Christ. The portraits of Christ provided in the four Gospels as well as additional revelation provided in the rest of the New Testament fully support the orthodox theological statement of the person of Christ and the relation of the two natures. They justify the believer in Christ in worshipping the Son of God as possessing all the divine attributes and encourage the child of God to come to Him in full assurance of sympathy and understanding arising in His human nature and human experience.
MEANING OF HYPOSTATIC UNION
The hypostatic union may be defined as “the second person, the preincarnate Christ came and took to Himself a human nature and remains forever undiminished Deity and true humanity united in one person forever.” When Christ came, a Person came, not just a nature; He took on an additional nature, a human nature—He did not simply dwell in a human person. The result of the union of the two natures is the theanthropic Person (the God-man).
EXPLANATION OF HYPOSTATIC UNION
The two natures of Christ are inseparably united without mixture or loss of separate identity. He remains forever the God-man, fully God and fully man, two distinct natures in one Person forever. “Though Christ sometimes operated in the sphere of His humanity and in other cases in the sphere of His deity, in all cases what He did and what He was could be attributed to His one Person. Even though it is evident that there were two natures in Christ, He is never considered a dual personality.” In summarizing the hypostatic union, three facts are noted: (1) Christ has two distinct natures: humanity and deity; (2) there is no mixture or intermingling of the two natures; (3) although He has two natures, Christ is one Person.
PROBLEM OF HYPOSTATIC UNION
The major difficulty in this doctrine involves the relationship of the two natures in the Lord Jesus. Several opinions on this point have developed.
Calvinistic view. John Calvin taught that the two natures are united without any transfer of attributes. An attribute could not be taken away from a nature without changing the essence of that nature. Walvoord states, “The two natures are united without loss of any essential attributes and that the two natures maintain their separate identity.” There can be no mixture of the two natures; “infinity cannot be transferred to finity; mind cannot be transferred to matter; God cannot be transferred to man, or vice versa. To rob the divine nature of God of a single attribute would destroy His deity, and to rob man of a single human attribute would result in destruction of a true humanity. It is for this reason that the two natures of Christ cannot lose or transfer a single attribute.”
Lutheran view. The Lutheran view of the two natures teaches that attributes of the divine nature are extended to the human nature with some important results. One important doctrinal result is the ubiquity of the human body of Christ, that is, the omnipresence of the divine nature of Christ is transferred to the human body of Christ. Consequently, the human nature of Christ passed into a ubiquitous state at the ascension and is physically present in the elements of holy communion. Although the elements do not change, the person partakes of Christ who is “in, with, under and by” the bread and cup.
RESULTS OF HYPOSTATIC UNION
Both natures are necessary for redemption. As a man, Christ could represent man and die as a man; as God the death of Christ could have infinite value “sufficient to provide redemption for the sins of the world.”
The eternal priesthood of Christ is based on the hypostatic union. “By incarnation He became Man and hence could act as a human Priest. As God, His priesthood could be everlasting after the order of Melchizedek, and He properly could be a Mediator between God and man.”
KENOSIS AND HYPOSTATIC UNION
The kenosis problem involves the interpretation of Philippians 2:7, “(He) emptied [Gk. ekenosen] Himself.” The critical question is: Of what did Christ empty Himself? Liberal theologians suggest Christ emptied Himself of His deity, but it is evident from His life and ministry that He did not, or His deity was displayed on numerous occasions. Two main points may be made. (1) “Christ merely surrendered the independent exercise of some of his relative or transitive attributes. He did not surrender the absolute or immanent attributes in any sense; He was always perfectly holy, just, merciful, truthful, and faithful.” This statement has merit and provides a solution to problem passages such as Matthew 24:36. The key word in this definition would be “independent” because Jesus did on many occasions reveal His relative attributes. (2) Christ took to Himself an additional nature. The context of Philippians 2:7 provides the best solution to the kenosis problem. The emptying was not a subtraction but an addition. The four following phrases (Phil. 2:7–8) explain the emptying: “(a) taking the form of a bond-servant, and (b) being made in the likeness of men. And (c) being found in appearance as a man, (d) He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” The “emptying” of Christ was taking on an additional nature, a human nature with its limitations. His deity was never surrendered.
We spoke briefly of the early Christological heresies and the development of a “mainstream Christology” within the tradition that asserts that Jesus is “fully human and fully divine”. Some of the early heresies, as I understand them, are summarized as follows:
ARIANISM is the heresy that Jesus is not divine, and Christ was a created being (subordinate to God the Father). In this scheme of things, Christ had been the first created person. (Promoted by Arius, an Alexandrian priest, c 250-336 A.D. )
ADOPTIONISM is the heresy that Jesus was the adopted son of God, and NOT co-eternal with God the Father. (It is also known as Dynamic Monarchism). According to this error, Jesus was elevated to godhood either at His baptism or after His resurrection
DOCETISM is derived from the Greek term dokeo, which means to “seem” or “appear”. Docetism being the heresy that:
a.) Jesus was God the Father and only appeared to be human, and/or
b.) Jesus didn’t really die on the cross but was replaced there by Simon of Cyrene or by Judas Iscariot. (Some Moslems believe that Simon died in place of Jesus. There was also a Gnostic variant of Docetism. )
APOLLINARIANISM is the heresy that Christ took on only a fleshly human nature, and not full humanity. (So-called because it was originally promoted by Apollinaris the Younger (c. 310-c. 390), bishop of Laodicea in Syria). Apollinaris taught that Jesus had a divine mind and divine soul, but not a human mind or human soul. He conceded that Jesus had a human body; yet a spiritual one not fully human.
EUTYCHIANISM is the heresy that Jesus had neither a human nature nor a divine nature, but a third kind. This “theantropic” nature was part-God and part-human. A combined human/divine being not fully God or fully human.
NESTORIANISM is the heresy that Christ’s two natures (human and divine) are two different persons in one and not two natures inseparably joined in one person. (Nestorius was Bishop of Constantinople in 428 A.D.)
EBIONISM is the heresy that Jesus was a created being and not God. A prophet, perhaps even an angel, but in no way divine.
GNOSTICISM – promoters of this view were Simon Magus, Marcion, Saturninus, Cerinthus and Basilides. The dating of its origin is uncertain but it was the most ancient, predating Christ. This comes from the word gnosis meaning to know. This was a philosophical system built on Greek philosophy that taught matter was evil and the Spirit was good. They taught docetism which promoted a clear separation between the material and spiritual world. Christian Gnostics said that because matter was evil, God could not really incarnate in a human body, he only appeared in human form and only appeared to suffer; it was an illusion.
SABELLIANISM (Modalism, patripassionism) Sabellius, Praxeus, Noetus, Epigonus said the one God reveals himself in three modes of being. Although Dynamic modalism said that the deity was limited to the father alone Modalistic Monarchianism deified the Son also. Saying the unity of god is one essence that could be interchangeable as the Father, Son, Spirit.
MONOPHYSITISM is the heresy that the human nature of Christ was swallowed by the divine nature to create a new third nature – a tertium quid.
Jhn 7:17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.
It would appear from your posts above that you do not accept my understanding of Phil 2:5-9, if this is in fact the case, then please take each one of the verses I quote in turn, and show that they cannot possibly support my contention, If you are able to do this with, “all”, of the verses, not just some of them, then I will without hesitation apologize unreservedly for introducing false doctrine to this web site.
Edwin, The article that I sent you answered all your questions and verses in your blog.
To say that the Son of God stopped being God is heresy in evanglical doctrine. Your viewpoint has been dealt with thoroughly in theology, doctrine, and exegesis.
I have had a look at your post of June 13, 2011 at 5:56 am, on the subject of a summary of the hypostatic union:
Most of the Scripture verses quoted have nothing to do with the Deity of Jesus, those that do for example,
Revelation 1:12–18, John 5:25–27, refer to a time after His death, and only confirm what I have already said,
“Let me first of all make it clear that I have no problem with the “Deity of Christ”. My understanding is that in eternity, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity is God, always has been God, and always will be God. Never at any time in eternity did Jesus, the Son of God, divest Himself of His Deity”.
Luke 1:31–33 The future tense word “will” appears 5 times in verses 32 & 33 alone, in other words, after His resurrection.
“Another example is found in Matthew 27:46 where Christ said: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Christ was speaking from the viewpoint of His human nature in his prophetic cry, addressing His Father as His God, but the pronoun me seems to refer to both natures or His whole person. Christ was being judicially forsaken because He was bearing the sin of the world. It was not simply the divine nature forsaking the human nature as some have held”.
“Christ was being judicially forsaken because He was bearing the sin of the world”
How could His Father possibly forsake Jesus, as The Father in dwelt Him, see,
Jhn 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
Col 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
That is to say, that it was not only Jesus, but all three persons of the Trinity who paid for our sins.
When our Lord Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”, He was not if fact complaining, but was drawing the onlookers attention to Psalm 22, in which the following verses appear,
Psa 22:16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;
Psa 22:18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
In other words He was saying, “Read what David wrote some 1,000 years ago, and long before crucifixion was even thought of, it’s happening right now. You are seeing the fulfilment of Scripture prophesy”.
Note: “For dogs have surrounded Me”. The Jews always referred to Gentiles as, “dogs”.
Mat 15:26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
The Cross was surrounded by Roman soldiers, Gentile dogs.
At that time, whenever a Rabbi wanted to draw attention to a particular passage of Scripture, he always quoted the first few words, as there were then, no Chapter and verse divisions.
PS: More later, must close now, due to time.
Edwin, if you would have read the material I posted carefully, the argument is that some actions of the incarnate PERSON were attributed to His deity and others attributed to His humanity (Scriptures not exhaustive). The context makes the difference. His Person did not operate with His unconditional attributes in His humanity otherwise He would not be true humanity. However, it was the same PERSON who operates in His deity and His humanity. We cannot bifurcate Him from either His humanity nor His deity. Whenever he operates in His humanity, He functions truly as a human being, not as some super-human. Whenever He operates in His deity, He does not function as half-man, half-God.
No evangelical scholar has a problem with attributing human attributes to the humanity of Jesus. He functioned truly as a man.
Your use of the Greek word for “empty” is not accurate. You make to say more than it says. This is a form of interpolation of Scripture.
Grant , you sum up,
“No evangelical scholar has a problem with attributing human attributes to the humanity of Jesus. He function truly as a man”.
Amen, praise the Lord we are in total agreement.
However, you also say,
“Your use of the Greek word for “empty” is not accurate. You make to say more than it says. This is a form of interpolation of Scripture”.
Before using the expression “emptied himself empty” I consulted someone who spoke Greek fluently, and was assured that the literal translation was correct.
And now, the continuation of my previous post.
“Hence, the eternal Logos, the Word of God, declared the nature of God by becoming man (John 1:18)”.
Jhn 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
Amen, yes indeed, Jesus did declare His Father, but dose this make Him God ?
No one has seen God at any Time, but more than five hundred saw Jesus,
1Cr 15:6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
Exd 33:20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
Paragraphs 2 & 3 refer to John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Jesus is not saying “I am God now”, but rather “I was God then”, in other words He existed before His Human conception, and at that time He was also Divine.
“5. The incarnate person of Christ is worshipped as the sovereign God. In the period of His life on earth, He was worshipped even when His eternal glory was hidden,”
The only evidence I can find to support this is,
Mat 2:2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
As far as the rest of the four Gospel accounts are concerned, there is no further reference to the worship of Jesus prior to His death, in fact all his disciples deserted Him, and left Him to die alone, as evidenced by the two on the Emmaus Road, who said, ”we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel”,
Luk 24:19 And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
Luk 24:20 “and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.
Luk 24:21 “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
If Jesus as a man had retained His Deity, then He could have commanded angels, but He could not, see,
Mat 26:53 “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?
Mat 26:54 “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
Note Jesus did not say, “Or do you think that I Myself cannot call for more than twelve legions of angels?”, no, He could only ask the Father. Or why do you think that at John 11:41b, after the stone had been rolled away, and before Lazarus came forth, that Jesus said “Father I thank you that you have heard me”, if it was the Son, and not the Father who was going to perform the miracle?
The Jews said, “you, being a man, make yourself God”. Did He reply “I AM GOD”, or as below ?
Jhn 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, [fn] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Jhn 10:30 I and the Father are one.”
Jhn 10:31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.
Jhn 10:32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”
Jhn 10:33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
Jhn 10:34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?
Jhn 10:35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be broken–
Jhn 10:36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
Jhn 10:37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;
Jhn 10:38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
(10:29) Some manuscripts What my Father has given to me
The Lord our God is said to be.
Omnipotent, Having unlimited power; able to do anything.
Omniscient, Knowing everything.
Omnipresent, Present everywhere at the same time.
I have no doubt that our Lord Jesus Christ is God in eternity, but is this also the case in humanity ?
Having unlimited power; able to do anything. No, for as He Himself said,
John 5:30. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. ESV.,
Knowing everything. No, for as He Himself said,
Mat 24:36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
Present everywhere at the same time. No, During His lifetime, He was only ever in one place at one time.
Your comments Grant on the above will be appreciated.
Edwin, Once again, your interpretation of the Greek word for “empty” is wrong. It is always dangerous to get a modern Greek speaker’s interpretation of a Koine Greek word. I found that modern Greek speakers cannot fully read the biblical Koine. I have had 8 years of formal learning in Koine Greek.
Secondly, you constantly confuse the humanity of Christ with the deity of Christ. Each of these natures stands as an entity to themselves. You use the humanity of Christ in a way that is inaccurate because it is the PERSON who is God who dwells in a human body. His human body was finite and limited but not His person. No evangelical deifies the humanity of Christ in any form but also none, as well, bifurcate His PERSON from His humanity.
Note worship at the birth of Christ: We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him (Matt. 2:2); tell me that I may go and worship him (Matt. 2:8); they fell down and worshipped him (Matt. 2:11); they worshipped him (Matt. 14:33); they clasped his feet and worshipped him (Matt. 28:9); they worshipped him, but some doubted (Matt. 28:17); let all God’s angels worship him (Heb. 1:6)
The man born blind worshipped Jesus (John 9:38).
Note Berkower’s discussion on this topic: “In Reformed theology the question was discussed whether this worship might be accorded Christ as Mediator. Here too the controversy with the Lutherans played an important role. Of Lutheran theology it was said that there could be no problem at this point because the communication of divine properties to the human nature belonged to the essential elements of this Christology. Reformed theologians, however, concerned themselves explicitly with this problem because they wished in no respect to mix the two natures. Thus for them the problem arose, not from a secret sympathy for Nestorius, but from their attachment to Chalcedon. It was said, for instance, that worship of the human nature was possible only if one should teach, with the “Ubiquists,” that the divine properties are given to the human nature. And in this connection it was emphatically asserted that only God could be worshipped.32 Scholten who regarded Reformed theology as being in too close proximity with Nestorius, once posited the thesis that in Reformed liturgy the church abstains from prayer to Jesus, the exalted Mediator.33 But that is something which was never, in this form, an issue in these churches. The issue was not whether one might worship Christ but what is the ground of this worship. Indeed, Reformed theologians meant to guard against deifying the human nature of Christ in any form; and Bavinck, for this reason, says that the ground for this worship could not be derived from that which was creaturely in Christ.34 Not that they preferred, instead, the worship of the “divine nature” but rather approached the problem in terms of the irrefragable unity of the person. The worship of the church is addressed to the one person, Jesus Christ. Hence all Nestorianism was rejected as well as all deification of the human nature: In our faith we address ourselves to him who is our Mediator in the unity of the person and to whom Thomas, freed now from his doubts, cries out in adoration: My Lord and my God.35
Another question remaining on the agenda of this chapter is that which may be summarized in the word “theotokos,” the name given to Mary: Mother of God. As is well-known, this word, among others, ignited the Nestorian conflict, since Nestorius expressed his preference for the name “Christotokos.” Against him the council of Ephesus in 431 emphatically insisted on “theotokos,” while Chalcedon (451) and Constantinople (553) followed its example.
It is of some importance to compare the use of this word in the ancient church with the later appraisal of it in Protestantism. According to Roman Catholic theologians, the infrequent use which Protestants make of the term, and, indeed, their aversion to it, prove that Protestantism has distanced itself from the ancient church. One can compare the aversion of many to this term with what Bruce says of Nestorius: “Nestorius was jealous of the heathenish tendency of the name, mother of God.”36 Hence the Roman Catholic charge is to be taken seriously. It seems to me that the altered appraisal of the designation “Mother of God” is to be seen against the backdrop of the development of Mariology in the Roman Catholic Church in which this term (as also that of aeiparthenos) was given such a pronounced character. We do not mean that Rome consciously proceeded to a deification of Mary37 but that Mary has been assigned a place in the doctrinal system and practice of the Roman Catholic church which tended increasingly to erase the limits of creaturehood. Especially in response to this Mariological development, which culminated for the time being in 1854 (immaculate conception) and 1950 (the assumption into heaven), Protestant resistance to this designation “Mother of God” arose and developed.
But this does not at all mean that Protestantism would not be responsible for that which the council of Ephesus protected and maintained in 431 against Nestorius. Reformed churches have never felt the need to repudiate the decision of this council for the simple reason that they agree with the rejection of Nestorius’ views. His difficulties with “theotokos” and his preference for “Christotokos” arose from his inclination to separate the two natures in Christ and to speak of the human nature by itself—the nature of which Mary would be the mother. The church rejected this dualism and used the word “theotokos” to mean that Mary was the mother of him who was the eternal Son of God and that the Son did not assume a human being but the human nature. Another question is whether the term “Mother of God” is the most acceptable term for the expression of this truth. There is room for a difference of opinion on this point and some may judge that in a given historical situation the term may create misunderstanding.38 This was the case when in later periods Mary’s halo grew and became brighter, and the term “Mother of God” became an integral part of Mariological adoration. It is our conviction that in one’s use of terms also one is responsible for the life of the whole church and that one does not do anyone any good by using this term (however well intended by the councils in their polemic with Nestorianism) apart from its subsequent development; it is no longer obvious that the term implies a rejection of a dualism in Christology. We know that attempts have been made to break the aversion to “theotokos” and to settle the issue for good39 but, since the term may create the impression of elevating Mary and does not add anything to the confession of the church of all ages, it is subject to serious objections. But with indignation we reject the notion that Protestantism is secretly dissociating itself from the confession of the church, which always repudiated, against Nestorianism and Adoptionism, the idea that he who was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, should not be the eternal Word, and Light of Light.
When Bavinck begins his treatment of the communion of the two natures in Christ, he refers to a familiar distinction which used to play a role in theology: communion in properties, in actions, and in gifts.40 One might call in question whether this distinction does justice to the revelation concerning the communion of the natures. In the communion of properties and of actions we are in fact confronting the same reality. The properties of the one person Jesus Christ become manifest precisely in his actions, so that we can condense both distinctions in the statement that there is a communion of properties in the reality of the life of Christ. We may never isolate a given deed or property of Christ from his divine or from his human nature. At stake here is the unity of the person.
One cannot say that Christ performs certain deeds in such a way that his human nature is the subject of these deeds while he performs other deeds in such a way that the divine nature is the subject. It was sometimes described in this manner, lest one should have to say that God suffered on the cross. But one may not say in any case, at least if one maintains the unity of the person, that the human nature of Jesus Christ suffered in the abstract, for the simple reason that this human nature has never existed in abstraction from the divine. One must admit, indeed, that the church rightly stood on guard against any form of theopaschitism but the point is that we must strive rightly to understand the unity of the person. We must be concerned to maintain that all the deeds of Christ were performed by his one person and that in the suffering of Christ the human nature was indissolubly united with the divine. This communion of natures therefore comes to expression in a communion of actions. This communion of actions is not something additional to the communion of natures, but part of it: this communion, far from being static, is a permanently dynamic reality in the life and works of Christ. The Reformed creeds already give clear expression to this fact. In the Canons of Dordt we read for instance: “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world. This death is of such infinite value and dignity because the person who submitted to it was not only really man and perfectly holy, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which qualifications were necessary to constitute Him a Saviour for us; and, moreover, because it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin” (II, 3, 4). This creed obviously dissociates itself completely from the notion that the death of Christ was an act of his human nature in isolation from his divine nature. The infinite value of Christ’s death is here associated with the fact that he, who was true God and true man, was the single person, Jesus Christ, undergoing this death. Schilder rightly declared it to be a Reformed conviction that not a single work of the Mediator, either in the past or in the present, was performed “in” or “according to” a single “bare nature”41 and that one virtually eliminates the Mediator if one says that he performed his mediatorial work merely according to his human nature. At this point the church need not worry lest it slide into theopaschitism and lest it associate suffering too intimately with the living God. For at stake here is the unique mystery of the one Christ in the singleness of the person. He is the subject of all his deeds. And he is the object of our praise and worship as the One who performed his work in the absolute unity of and faithfulness to his office.
A moment ago we referred, in the above-mentioned distinction, to the communication of gifts. It is somewhat surprising to see this third “communication” next to the others. One may rightly wonder whether it belongs here. For in the communion of properties and actions we confronted the miracle of the union; but in the communication of gifts we confront the fact that God gives things to his son, Jesus Christ, in this union. This is the beautiful doctrine, as Bavinck says, of the communication of gifts, a doctrine which certainly cannot be put on a par with the communion of properties as an item in the same series. With it Reformed theology resisted every form of the deification of the human nature of Christ. In this doctrine they made room for the human development of Jesus Christ whom they saw, in the Gospel, on his way from infancy to maturity. Scripture also speaks of the anointing of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit “without measure.” This is something principially different from what the Lutherans intended with their communication of the divine properties to the human nature. With the gifts are meant those which equipped the man Jesus Christ for the fulfillment of his official calling. This is not a granting of the supernatural to the human nature but the equipment, by the gifts of the Spirit, of Jesus Christ for the completion of the work assigned to him.
The confession of the communication of gifts is a direct result of the confession of the church in Chalcedon. Christ was genuinely man, and assumed the likeness of sinful flesh—human nature in its weakness. We witness here that the human nature of Jesus Christ is not consumed in the union by the divine nature but that it was really united with that divine nature for the fulfillment of Christ’s office.
Now, however, the question arises whether we can say no more about the nature of this union than that it is a union which does not suspend the several properties of the two natures. Must we be content to speak of an incomprehensible mystery or is there perhaps an analogy somewhat illuminating the nature of this union? As is known to the reader, people have repeatedly tried to describe that which they confessed as mystery by means of an intracosmic analogy. Thus they did with the confession of the trinity, for instance, and so, too, with the unity of the person. It is especially the analogy of the relationship between soul and body which we encounter in this area. And it is important to consider this analogy with care. Obviously it is not an analogy derived from Scripture for the Bible nowhere compares the relationship between the two natures of Christ with that existing between soul and body in man. But this fact did not deter people, even in early times, from using the analogy. This can be explained to a certain extent from the idea, then current, that the relation between soul and body also involved mystery. The purpose of this analogy, with these people, often was not to make the unity of the person conceivable and transparent, but rather to make plain that as the one relationship is incomprehensible, so is the other.
The Athanasian symbol already contains the analogy.42 In its section on Christology we read: Jesus Christ is … “one altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ.” On account of the brevity of this statement it is impossible completely to fathom the intent of the author but we do realize that the symbol intends to stress the unity of the person and to illustrate it by means of the soul-body analogy in man. The question is, however, whether the intention of the author was merely to refer to a tertium comparationis—the unity of that which can be called a duality in another connection—or whether he intended really to help us understand the nature of this union.
One repeatedly gets the impression that the soul-body analogy is but incidentally used to stress the true unity of the person without a concomitant concern with the anthropological problem of the actual relationship between body and soul. The analogy therefore repeatedly returns in the same loose connection. It occurs, for instance, in Luther when he wants to point out the intimate connection between the two natures; he then elaborates by saying that the soul exists throughout the body, so that by striking at the smallest member of the body we strike at the soul. The intention of Luther is, obviously, to illustrate the personal union; and he adds the comment that the relationship between the divine nature and the human is still more intimate than that between soul and body.43 From the soul-body analogy Luther even made deductions with which to elucidate his doctrine of ubiquity: the human soul manifests itself throughout the body. Here we observe something of the danger of this analogy. This is not to say, however, that the analogy occurs only in Lutheran theology. Calvin also used it to illustrate the unity of the person. He too is concerned to stress the incomprehensibility of the union. He regards man as a unity composed, nonetheless, of two substances. He uses this picture in answering the question how the two natures of the Mediator constitute one person.44 He regards man himself as “the most opposite similitude; being evidently composed of two substances, of which, however, neither is so confounded with the other, as not to retain its distinct nature.” Of the soul is predicated that which cannot be applied to the body and, conversely, what is said of the body is not applicable to the soul. Calvin even proceeds further in elaborating the analogy because he discovers in it something corresponding to the communication of properties in Christ: “Lastly, the properties of the soul are transferred to the body, and the properties of the body to the soul; yet he that is composed of these two parts is no more than one man. Such forms of expression signify that there is in man one person composed of two distinct parts; and that there are two different natures united in him to constitute that one person. The Scriptures speak in a similar manner respecting Christ.”45
Calvin, it is plain, does not intend, by means of this analogy, to add something new to the teaching of the Scripture. He has only been struck by the peculiar relationship of the two substances and the one human being. And it deserves note that Calvin, before pointing out the analogy, says: “If anything among men can be found to resemble so great a mystery, man himself appears to furnish the most apposite similitude.” The words “if anything” seem to mean that Calvin himself felt that by means of the analogy he failed to say anything essential of the unity of the person in Christ.
Certain it is that in Reformed theology this analogy has no dogmatic significance, any more than in the Athanasian symbol.46 That would be the case only if concealed in this analogy there was a certain anthropological theory, intended to illuminate the personal union. But this is not true of Calvin. He does not mean to offer an ecclesiastical anthropology but speaks in non-scientific terms about soul and body which together form a unity. This diversity and unity constitute the occasion for him to point out, be it with some hesitation, the unity and the diversity of the two natures in the one person of Jesus Christ. But it is plain that we are not given a genuine analogy which could help us form some satisfactory conclusion about the nature of the union. For in man unity and diversity are components of creaturely coherences, while in the unity of the person of Christ we are confronted by the absolutely unique Incarnation of the Word. For this reason one can correctly assert that the unity of the person of Christ, in virtue of its unique character, does not have a single intracosmic analogy. There are no analogies to the Incarnation of the Word which can make it at all comprehensible. In the absolute sense of the word it is the mystery of God. Not a mystery in the sense that the unity of a human soul and body is a mystery—merely some thing incomprehensible to us—but the “mysterion” of God revealed in the flesh.
In the past the church defended this mystery against all sorts of heresy. It defended its confession against all who detracted either from the divine or the human nature of Christ, against the heresy of the separation and the mixture of the two natures, and against all later attempts to get beyond the doctrine of the two natures. The church was not concerned to canonize the terms which it employed to designate the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word. It was conscious that the conflict was not one of terms, as if they contained the ultimate in wisdom, but one involving the reality of Jesus Christ. But opposition to the terms of the church—as, for instance, to the expression “two natures”—repeatedly proved to be opposition to the content of the church’s confession that Jesus Christ was truly God and truly man. For this reason the church will have to watch closely the opposition to the terminology it employs.
When Bavinck considers the doctrine of the church and reviews various conceptions of it, he finally says: “For the time being theology can do no better, if it would be truly Scriptual and Christian theology, than to maintain the doctrine of the two natures.”47 The phrase “for the time being” is not meant to relativize the confession of Christ’s true deity and humanity, but rather to give account of the human factor in formulation. He then posits the confession of the two natures squarely in the midst of modern thought: “Theology may well be deeply conscious of the imperfection, certainly also in the doctrine of Christ, attending its language. But all other attempts, made thus far, to formulate the Christological dogma and to impress it on our consciousness, fail to do justice to the riches of Scripture and to the honor of Christ. And theology must guard itself against this first of all.”
All this applies, with special force, to the confession of the unity of the person. It is not an additional point of faith besides that of the Incarnation but an expression of it. Two natures in the unity of the person: All objections levelled against this formulation deny, again and again, that all depends on how the words of the church are understood in the light of Scripture. Throughout the history of the church there is perceptible a sort of nostalgia for a mental picture of the unity of the divine and the human nature. When this was not forthcoming, people frequently escaped into a contemplation, from a distance, of the mysterium tremendum and the mysterium fascinosum in which the true humanity threatened to be eclipsed. But in the light of Scripture we may say that when the church speaks of the unity of the person, it goes directly back to the message of Holy Scripture itself. No, we are not called upon to try to picture the unity of “the divine” and “the human,” but Scripture does come to us with a picture of the one Christ. At no point in Scripture does his true humanity threaten or eliminate the true deity. The tensions in his sacred life are not the tensions of an abstract connection between the divine and the human, but rather those of his humiliation in the unity of the person. It was the intent of the church to say only this and it was aware, that its words, often spoken antithetically in the heat of conflict, could never replace the preaching of the entire fullness of the Scriptures. It is the Scriptures which still witness of him—more richly and profoundly than the language of the church ever could. To open the eyes of man to this fact was the intent of the confessions, which meant, not to impoverish the treasure of the church, but against all obscuration of the image of Christ to maintain an open perspective toward the Word of God which speaks of him who, as the living Lord, stands in the midst of our lives with his cheering words “Be of good courage: I have overcome the world.” ”
The Man Christ Jesus the object of Worship.
Another obvious inference from this doctrine is that the man Christ Jesus is the object of religious worship. To worship, in the religious sense of the word, is to ascribe divine perfections to its object. The possession of those perfections, is, therefore, the only proper ground for such worship. The humanity of Christ, consequently, is not the ground of worship, but it enters into the constitution of that person who, being God over all and blessed forever, is the object of adoration to saints and angels. We accordingly find that it was He whom they saw, felt, and handled, that the Apostles worshipped as their Lord and God; whom they loved supremely, and to whom they consecrated themselves as a living sacrifice.
Hodge, C. (1997). Vol. 2: Systematic theology (396). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Perhaps the following will put into perspective what I have said so far, on this subject, and help you to understand just where I am coming from
You can rest assured that I have no intention whatsoever of introducing error, I know full well that I am answerable to the Lord for what I have told my fellow believers.
If our Lord Jesus retained His Deity during His humanity, and then said “I can do nothing on my own authority”. Then He was not telling the truth, and the Jesus I know is not a liar.
A universal problem with Christians is. How can I live the normal Christian life, as God wants me to ?
The answer is to find out how Jesus as a “man” some 2000 years ago, lived a life that was well pleasing to His Father.
It was not Jesus who performed the miracles, and preached the truth, but God the Father who dwelt inside Him (John Ch 14 v 10).
Jesus did it this way, because it is the only way in which you and I can do it. Remember “Christ in you the hope of glory”.
When Jesus came to earth some 2000 years ago, He not only came to offer Himself as a sinless sacrifice to pay for our sins, and thus enable God to forgive as many as will accept this fact. But also to demonstrate by His life just how we humans were, and are intended by our Father God to behave towards the one who made us in His own image, and after His likeness, the Lord our God.
By His life, I mean the attitude of, “Not My will, but thine be done”, that Jesus continually adopted towards His Father, thus enabling the Father who indwelt the Son, to be both seen, and heard.
The Father communicated Himself through the body of the man Jesus to all people with whom He came into contact at that time, and through Scripture now to us.
This is the reason why you, if you are a Christian are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, in order that you might allow the other resident within yourself to have right of way in your life, and to do just what He wants to do in and through you.
Apply that same method of, “Not My will, but thine be done”, to yourself, and you will find out how to overcome the problem you have.. Now read Phil Ch 2 verses 5-13. Also in John’s Gospel, Ch 1 v 18. Ch 5 verses 19, & 30. Ch 11 verses 41b & 42. Acts Ch 2 v 22, and best of all, John Ch 14 verses 9 & 10, Then ask yourself why is it that Jesus who is both God and man is doing things this way, and you will be told “Because it is the only way that you can do it”.
Jesus also said,
Jhn 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Jhn 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
Jhn 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Note “without Me you can do nothing”
Why do you suppose that Paul said
Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Phl 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain
Col 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which* is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Gal 4:19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,
There is only one person in this whole universe who can live the Christian life to perfection,,, that person lives inside you, and that’s why Jesus said what He said at,
Jhn 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.
Note: “the Father who dwells in Me does the works”.
Ask Him in prayer, why He did things this way, and He will tell you as He told me many years ago, “Because it’s the only way you can do it”.
Edwin, There is no question that Jesus operated in His humanity as I have said over and over. In that sense He received His authority from the Father. However, there is more to the issue as clearly demonstrated above. It is amazing that you have a limited understanding of this after all that has been presented. You take strictly statements about the humanity without due consideration of many other passages dealing with the PERSON of Jesus who was eternal God who also stepped foot in a human body by voluntarily setting aside His incommunicable attributes while operating in His humanity.
Thank you Grant for your most recent post, in which you say,
“Jesus who was eternal God who also stepped foot in a human body by voluntarily setting aside His incommunicable attributes while operating in His humanity”.
No problem, I agree, so let’s leave it at that, as I see no point in saying anything further except.
May the Lord bless you abundantly, and keep you safe.
God bless you as well, Edwin.