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Hypostatic Union

Dr. Grant C. Richison


Hypostatic Union

(Union of the Deity and Humanity of Christ)

The hypostatic union (union of Christ’s deity and humanity) is when the Son set aside the voluntary USE of His incommunicable attributes. He never stopped existing as God, but He did not use His incommunicable attributes to function within true humanity. Eternality can never cease to exist. A key passage in this regard is Philippians 2:6 See my devotionals on this passage:

Stasis relates to person or substance, the essential essence of a person. The Son has one substance or person whether in His deity or humanity. He is of one substance with the Father. The words anhypostasis and enhypostasis relate to His human nature. Anhypostasis has an alpha privative negating the hypostasis; that is, the Son did not obtain a pre-existing human being when He took on human nature. He did not enter an already existing embryo. In that case, He would possess another person than His own.

Nevertheless, Jesus’ human nature was true humanity; He was a real person. The word enhypostasis (en=in and substance). He truly existed in a human substance. The eternal Son in His personhood stepped foot in true finite humanity (which could not stand alone as His divine nature could). He added true human nature to His divine nature, not another human person. He has two natures but one person, the same person who existed from all eternity as the Son. He is one united person, not two. The Trinity has one indivisible divine nature with three persons.

We understand the person of Christ best in His pre-incarnate state. His incarnation, however, did not diminish His deity in any way. In His humanity, Jesus’ personhood developed like any other human being (Lu 2:52; Mt 26:38), which cannot be attributed to His divine nature. This is related to His humanity rather than divine consciousness. He also experienced the limitations of ordinary human beings. He had a human spirit (Jn 13:21). Thus, He had a complete human body, soul and spirit (contrary to Bultmann).

Regarding the union of the divine and human natures Christ sometimes operated in the sphere of His humanity and other times within the sphere of His deity, in every case He was one person, not two. The Bible never considered Him a dual personality. However, both of His natures maintain their complete identity. The two natures maintain their unity without transfer of attributes. There is no third substance. Christ is theanthropic in one person.

We sort the function of His two natures by distinguishing what is different in each:

  1. Some attributes are attributed to His whole person such as Redeemer.
  2. Some attributes are true only of His deity, but the whole person is the subject (Jn 8:58). The whole person is the subject, but the attribute of deity applies only to His divine nature. Therefore, it is possible to say of the incarnate Christ that His person is eternal although His humanity was added in time.
  3. Some attributes are true only of His humanity, but the whole person is the subject (Jn 19:28). “I thirst” can be attributed only to His humanity but the whole person is involved.
  4. The person may be described according to the divine nature but the predicate of the human nature (Rev 1:12-18). Christ in glory is described “as dead” (Rev 1:18).
  5. The person may be described according to His human nature but the predicate of His divine nature (Jn 6:62). “Son of Man” describes His human nature, but the ascension up to where He was before could only refer to His divine nature.
  6. The person may be described according to the divine nature, but the predicate of both natures (Jn 5:25-27). Christ here is described as the Son of God, but the predicate of speaking is attributed to both natures. Human nature is specifically in view in future judgment.
  7. The person may be described according to the human nature, but the predicate of both natures (Jn 5:27; Mt 27:46). In the latter passage Christ is speaking from His human nature but “Me” refers to both natures (the whole person).


The true humanity of Christ is a crucial doctrine of Scripture. The death of Christ revolves around our Lord’s humanity. His deity could not die for deity is eternal and can never cease to exist. Other doctrines such as His Messiahship, inheriting the throne of David and offices of king and priest rest on Christ’s true humanity.


Clear evidence of His true humanity is that He possessed a human body of flesh and blood. His body was like other men except for a virgin birth and not inheriting a sin capacity. His life as a human being manifested normal human development and growth (Lu 2:52). His advance in “wisdom and knowledge” pertains to His Human rather than divine consciousness. He also suffered pain, thirst, hunger, fatigue, rest, death and resurrection. People could touch Him before and after the incarnation. Jesus carried human titles such as “the Son of Man,” “the man Christ Jesus,” “Jesus,” “Son of David” and “man of sorrows.”


Jesus said that His “soul” was “sorrowful even unto death” (Mt 26:38). Eternity cannot die but a human soul can. He was also “troubled in spirit” (Jn 13:21). Thus, Jesus not only possessed material aspects of humanity but also immaterial. He was more than a human body; He had a complete body, soul and spirit.


Although Christ operated sometimes in His deity and other times in His humanity (see 7 points above), in all cases what He was and did came from one person. He was not a dual personality. Normal pronouns are used of Him. The hypostatic union of His divine and human natures can be seen in John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:6-11; Romans 1:2-5; 9:5; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 1:1-3. The Son of God took upon a complete human nature. This human nature will exist forever (Mt 26:64). His humanity is foundational to His work as a mediator (1 Ti 2:5). Human personality once in existence is never terminated in the Bible.


“Nature” indicates either divine or human elements within the person of Christ. The Greek word for “nature” (physis)is found in several Scriptures (Ro 2:14; Ga 2:15; 4:8; Eph 2:3; 2 Pe 1:4). There has been a debate in church history about the definition of “nature” making it difficult to come to apodictic conclusions based simply on the word itself. “Substance” may be a better word (ousia in Greek). We can generally conclude that “nature” pertains to the essence or inner properties that manifest themselves. Christ’s nature then is the sum of all His attributes and their relationship to each other. Attributes must be compatible to the nature they represent. Or, they cannot be transferred to another nature or substance. Nature regarding Christ’s humanity is all that belongs to His humanity. Nature, as applied to His deity, is all that belongs to His deity. Both divine and human natures have their respective attributes. Both Christ’s divine and human attributes are united without loss of any essential attributes. Both natures maintain their separate identity, that is, there is no mixture or loss of their separate identity. There was no loss or transfer of any property of one substance to another. The union is one of person and of one person. Thus, the two substances maintain their separate identities though joined in personal union. Christ is a theanthropic single person; His natures are not theanthropic since infinity cannot be transferred to the finite. God cannot be transferred to man. To negate Christ’s deity of a single attribute would rob Him of that deity. To disavow Him of genuine human attributes would negate His humanity.

The union of the divinity and humanity of Christ is not deity possessing humanity; this denies His true humanity. Neither is it humanity simply indwelt by deity; Christ did not differ from other men in degree of divine influence. The union of His two natures was personal and constitutional. The Son of God did not unite Himself with a human person but human nature. While the two natures are never attributed to each other they are attributed to His person. Some attributes are true of His whole person; some only of His deity; some only of His humanity. In a more complex way, the person may be described of His divine nature, but the predicate is of His human nature (Re 1: 12-18), and the person may be described of His human nature, but the predicate is of His divine nature (Jn 6:62). Yet again, the person may be described by the divine nature, but the predicate is of both natures (Jn 5:25-27). Further, the person may be described according to human nature, but the predicate is of both natures (Mt 27:46; Jn 5:27).


Christ was always aware of His divine self-consciousness. His human consciousness developed a self-consciousness. Christ during His humanity on earth spoke from both consciousnesses.

Regarding the issue of Christ’s “will,” He can only have one will. “Will” in this case must be distinguished from desire. It was not the Lord’s desire to die on the cross but His will demanded that He do it anyway.


The union of Christ’s two natures relates to His incarnation. His divine nature was immutable, but His human nature could progressively develop, learn and experience life. He learned by suffering (He 5:8).

The priesthood of Christ rests on His hypostatic union. As a priest, He represented both God and man. His kingly office rested on both natures.

The incarnate Christ was worshiped as the sovereign God.

In the ascension, Christ was restored to pristine glory. His human nature was also exalted at that point. He sits at the right hand of the Father as the God-Man.