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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Trinity: One God in Three Persons

Don Stewart :: Did Jesus Become Exalted by God at His Baptism?

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Did Jesus Become Exalted by God at His Baptism? (Adoptionism)

The Trinity: One God in Three Persons – Question 24

During the early years of the church, as the Trinity doctrine was being understood by believers, a number of false ideas arose. One of these is known as Adoptionism. The idea behind this particular view is that Jesus was not God the Son for all eternity but rather a man who became the exalted at His baptism. God adopted Jesus as His Son at His baptism. Before this time, Jesus existed as a mere man.

Jesus Was a Mere Man to the Adoptionists

While the Arians believed that Jesus was a supernatural created being, the adoptionists assumed that Jesus was merely a man. Therefore, He did not exist before He was born. After the Father adopted Jesus, He was still not divine in nature but rather an exalted man. Therefore, when the New Testament describes Jesus as the “Son” it is only in the sense that He is specially chosen person by God; nothing more.

Adoptionism Has Never Been Popular

The Adoptionist heresy never became widespread. It is contrary to everything that is taught in Scripture. Jesus did not become the Son of God at His baptism. The divine voice of God the Father only confirmed His position as God the Son; it did not make Him the Son. Nowhere do we find that Jesus became exalted at some certain point in time.

Furthermore, Adoptionism has the problem of dealing with the many passages which teach that Jesus was more than a mere man, that He is God Himself. The evidence for the deity of Christ is widespread. Indeed, He is called God, has attributes or characteristics which only God can have, and has performed acts which only God can perform.

Adoptionism is, therefore, not the proper way to understand the nature of Jesus Christ.

Summary – Question 24
Did Jesus Become Exalted by God at His Baptism? (Adoptionism)

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, as God the Son, has been God for all eternity. While believers were attempting to understand the exact relationship between God the Son and God the Father a number of false theories arose. One of these is known as “Adoptionism.”

Adoptionism is a heresy that arose early in the history of the church. It treated Jesus as a mere man who was selected by God to be exalted. According to this heretical belief, Jesus was no different than any other human being. He was a specially chosen man, nothing more.

The Scripture teaches completely the opposite. Jesus is God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Though being God for all eternity, the Son took upon Himself a human nature when He came to earth. At His baptism, God the Father merely confirmed His identity. Indeed, He did not confer something upon Him that He did not previously have.

Fortunately, this false teaching of Adoptionism did not become very widespread.

Has God the Son Been Eternally Inferior to God the Father? ← Prior Section
Is the Holy Spirit Merely Another Name for Jesus? Next Section →
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