Let’s place his two natures side-by-side with verses from Scripture to see who he really is.
As noted in the other posts in this series, theologians have to work out how these verses (and many others) fit together.
These key verses refer to Christ Jesus:
|ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ,
7 ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος, καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος
8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ·
|[Christ Jesus] who, though being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, coming into existence in the likeness of men; and when he was found in the appearance as a man,
8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, that is, death on a cross.
That is my translation. HT: Lidija Novakovic, Philippians: A Handbook of the Greek Text [Baylor UP, 2020]. If you would like to see the verses in many translations and in context, please go to biblegateway.com.
For more exegesis of the Greek words, please click on this post:
And Col. 2:9 indicates the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form, now in heaven and while he was on earth:
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.
John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
What does his emptying look like?
As I write in every post, professional theologians use biblical logic to sort out this proposition:
Jesus = True God and True Man
How exactly was he the God-man at his incarnation and during his ministry?
Don’t feel frustrated if you don’t get this at first and you have to read it several times. Sooner or later, things will “click.” It’s a profound mystery, after all!
Orthodoxy says Jesus was true man and true God divine united in one person. Where do they get the notion of a God-man? From thin air? No, from Scripture.
Not all the verses in the Bible that discuss his two natures are included here. But a sound Bible study can be done from the ones that are here.
A critic may say that these verses below are proof-texting, which is an inferior method. However, Paul proof-texted in Rom. 3:10-18. Sometimes verse seen together with similar themes and in a pattern can be very instructive.
First let’s cover the Scriptures that reveal his humanity, and then we move to his deity.
I use the NIV in this post. If you would like to see the following verses in many translations and in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.
The time in his life on earth during his ministry is called the State of Humiliation or Days of Humiliation, when he voluntarily laid aside or hid the full display of his glorious deity in its fullest divine attributes, though not completely hidden.
People near Jesus almost always saw only a man (Matt. 13:53-58). Here are why their limited perspectives were mostly, but not entirely, accurate.
1.. Jesus is called man even after his ascension.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5)
2.. He had half-human parentage.
And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son (Luke 2:7).
From this man’s [David’s] descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised (Acts 13:23).
Regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David (Rom. 1:3).
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law (Gal. 4:4).
For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah (Heb. 7:14).
Note: He had half-human parentage because he was conceived by the Spirit, the virgin birth (Matt. 1:23 and Luke 1:27).
3.. He has a human genealogy.
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1).
Luke 3:23-38 is too long to quote, so it is linked.
4.. He had human flesh and bones.
Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have (Luke 24:39).
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14).
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe (John 20:27).
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— (Heb. 2:14).
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God (1 John 4:2).
5.. He got tired.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well (John 4:6).
6.. He slept.
Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping (Matt. 8:24).
7.. He hungered.
Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry (Matt. 21:18).
8.. He thirsted.
Jesus said, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28).
9.. He suffered pain and sweat and drops of blood.
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44).
10.. He died.
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (Matt. 27:50)
And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3).
11.. He had human mind and limited knowledge.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).
Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs (Mark 11:13).
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Mark 13:32).
12.. He had a human soul and spirit and emotions.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them (Matt. 9:36).
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matt. 26:38).
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant (Mark 10:14).
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it (Luke 19:41).
So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:15-16).
Jesus wept (John 11:35).
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour (John 12:27).
After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me” (John 13:21).
13.. He was tempted in every way, but without sin.
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Heb. 2:18).
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Heb. 4:15)
Note: To be tempted is not sinful, but to give in is. Jesus overcame temptation and was sinless—his divine nature and the Spirit enabled him to resist successfully.
14.. He was made like his brothers—the Jews of his time—in all things.
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17).
15.. He had to pray to sustain himself and hear from his Father. (His praying is mentioned 25 times.)
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone (Matt. 14:23).
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35).
He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:41-42).
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission (Heb. 5:7).
16.. He ministered in the power and anointing of the Spirit.
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him (Acts 10:38).
Note: We too are anointed, and we too partake of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), but it is only in seed form (1 Pet. 1:23 and 1 John 3:9). In contrast, his anointing is built into his Messiahship. He was truly and fully divine and truly and fully human (without sin). We are sinfully human and limited in the divine nature. We are not the Messiah, the Anointed one. He is.
1.. He was born of the Spirit.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. … But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18, 20).
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
2.. He was omnipotent (all-powerful) and had power and sovereignty over nature.
Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matt. 8:26-27).
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake (Matt. 14:25).
“But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours” (Matt. 17:27).
Note: Christians claim miracles over nature, but God did it, not their human natures or (reduced) divine nature. Jesus acted in his own authority and power—from God of course, but it was part of his divine nature. As far as I know, no “faith teacher” who says that it is his own power who works miracles can walk on water at will. Jesus is sovereign; they are not.
After his ascension he was all-powerful, though it is clear that his words while on earth shows his authority, as seen above:
[God] raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (Eph. 1:20-23).
[Christ] who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Phil. 3:21).
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb. 1:3).
3.. He was omniscient (all-knowing).
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? (Mark 2:8).
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people (John 2:24).
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? … Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him (John 6:61, 64).
“Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God” (John 16:30).
After his ascension:
In whom [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).
4.. Hints of omnipresence (all-present).
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20).
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’[c] the Son of Man” (John 1:51).
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man (John 3:13).
After his ascension:
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you (John 14:20).
The fullness of him who fills everything in every way (Eph. 1:23).
Note: the Bible does not explicitly say that he was omnipresent in his earthly ministry, because he was limited in his body, but on the other hand not everything he did is recorded (John 21:25). He certainly had contact with heaven in a special way, enjoying a very clear channel.
It is more likely that he did not have the need to express omniscience or omnipotence since his Father in heaven was overseeing everything. But logically, to be true God he had to retain those two attributes and other omni- attributes to remain true God.
5.. He is eternal, without beginning or end.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Is. 9:6)
Note: “Father” in this context means that he will watch over the nation of Israel and lead them, much like he is called the “Prince of Peace.” He is a paternal figure, much like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings (a maternal image), but they rejected him (Luke 13:34-35).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-2).
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58).
And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began (John 17:5).
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again (Rev. 2:8).
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Rev. 22:13)
Note: The phrase “first and the last” and the other ones mean he was the first before creation and will be the last at the end of creation as we know it. He is the source (first) and the last (goal).
6.. He was equal with God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
[Christ] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage (Phil. 2:6).
7.. All the fulness of deity dwelt in bodily form.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that was made . . . 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him . . . 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:1-3, 10, 14)
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Col. 2:9).
8.. He is the Creator.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that was made . . . 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him (John 1:1-3, 10).
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him (Col. 1:16).
He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands (Heb. 1:10).
9.. He preserves the universe by the word of his power.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col. 1:17).
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word (Heb. 1:3).
10.. He is unchanging (immutable).
“You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end” (Heb. 1:12; cf. Ps. 102:25-27).
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8).
Note: He changes in his human nature, when he feels emotions, for example, but his divine nature never changed in its essential attributes (eternality, omniscience, omnipotence, and so on).
11.. He can forgive sins, reserved only for God, in this context.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:5-7).
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:48-49).
Note: You can forgive someone who sins against you, but you have no right to forgive some one who sins against a third person (not you) or against God. And you and I cannot take away the sins of the whole world (John 1:29). He can, however.
12.. He can raise the dead, even at the last day of humanity (as we know it).
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:39-40).
13.. He judges all of humanity, the living and the dead.
“Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).
He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42).
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:10).
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom (2 Tim. 4:1).
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Tim. 4:8).
14.. He is the Savior of the world: Jesus-Yeshua-Joshua means “the Lord saves.”
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins (Acts 5:31).
and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:11).
15.. He bestows eternal life.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10:28).
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him (John 17:2).
16.. He is one with the Father.
“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one (John 17:22).
17.. He accepted and received worship.
“All this I will give you,” [Satan] said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him” (Matt. 4:9-10).
Note: Jesus said to worship only God, yet he is about to receive worship, as follows:
Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matt. 14:33).
Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him (Matt. 28:9).
Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy (Luke 24:52).
And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him” (Heb. 1:6; cf. Deut. 32:43)
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11).
18.. He is called God and even proclaimed as such.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known (John 1:18).
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen (Rom. 9:5).
While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom” (Heb. 1:8; cf. Ps. 45:6-7).
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours (2 Pet. 1:1).
And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20).
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called … Mighty God (Is. 9:6).
What do theologians say about the two natures?
I like how Wayne Grudem summarizes this wonderful doctrine of the deity and humanity of Jesus united together in one person, Jesus (the hypostatic union):
At the end of this long discussion, it may be easy for us to lose sight of what is actually taught in Scripture. It is by far the most astounding miracle of the entire Bible—far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing than the creation of the universe. The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most mystery in all the universe. (p. 563)
Renewal Theologian J. Rodman Williams concludes his section on the God-man, saying it is a paradox:
The essential matter is to maintain the full paradox of the Incarnation. Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man in one person. Any abridgement of either His humanity, or any dilution of either His divinity or His humanity, or any dilution of His personhood, only brings distortion. The paradox must be maintained not only for a proper appreciation of the reality of Jesus Christ, but for a true understanding of His work in redemption.
We should always remember that, no matter how much it is described, discussed and analyzed, it is ultimately beyond all human comprehension. For in the Incarnation a new reality has entered the world—the God-man, Jesus Christ. As human being this is too high for us: it is finally a paradox of mystery. (p. 344, emphasis original)
So how do we get to know Jesus more deeply?
Let’s not take things for granted, two thousand years after the New Testament was written. It is stunning that average and educated Jewish monotheists would write those verses about a man they either saw with their own eyes or heard about from reliable eyewitnesses. It is astounding that these authors would proclaim his deity. No one reading this article at this website would feel comfortable making these statements about himself, as Jesus did about himself, or feel comfortable receiving those words. Would you?
Some skeptics assert that Jesus’ deity comes from primitive imagination and paganism. But these Jewish monotheists were careful about that. And they could not ignore or cover up the truth. These skeptics focus on his humanity to the neglect of his divinity.
On the other hand, New Agers and eastern gurus focus on his divinity. This too is shortsighted.
To keep the balanced image of Jesus in the Scriptures, we must observe both his true divinity and his true humanity.
In Jesus Christ’s true humanity, God the Father can relate to us. In Jesus Christ’s true deity, the Father can redeem us from our sins.
This doctrine goes right to our salvation and our eternal life and our relation with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
ARTICLES IN THE “TWO NATURES IN ONE PERSON” SERIES
2. Two Natures in One Person: He Was Human and God (Scriptures in Part 2)