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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus

Don Stewart :: Could Jesus Have Sinned?

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Could Jesus Have Sinned? (The Peccability of Christ)

What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus – Question 23

There is an age-old question that has been discussed among believers and unbelievers alike with respect to the sinfulness of Jesus. Was He able to sin? Could He do something wrong or was this something impossible for Him to do? What does the Bible say?

The view that Christ could have sinned is called, “peccability” (from the Latin term meaning sin). This position states that Christ’s human nature was susceptible to sin. There are three ways in which this view is expressed. They are as follows.

View 1: Christ Had a Sinful Nature and Did Sin

Liberal Christians, as well as unbelievers, believe that Jesus Christ possessed a nature that could sin and did sin. They do not seem Him as different from any other human being in that respect.


The Scripture is very clear that Jesus did not sin. If a person takes the New Testament seriously they cannot hold the position of Christ’s sinfulness. Consequently, for Bible-believers this is not an option.

View 2: Christ Had a Sinful Nature but Did Not Sin

There are those who held that God the Son, Jesus Christ, had a sinful nature when He was here upon the earth but He overcame it by the power of the Holy Spirit. This false doctrine is based on a misunderstanding of Romans 8:3, which reads as follows:

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh... (Romans 8:3 KJV)

The idea that Christ came in the likeness of sinful humanity caused some to believe that He Himself had a sin nature. The Bible does not teach this.

Furthermore, this has a mistaken idea of human nature. Human nature does not have to be sinful. When God created Adam and Eve He created them with a human nature that was sinless. Likewise Jesus human nature was without sin. Jesus was called the last Adam:

The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45 NLT)

He was the last human to have a sinless nature.

View 3: He Did Not Have a Sinful Nature, Could Have Sinned, but Did Not

It is also widely believed that Jesus Christ could have sinned but did not. Though He was fully God, the fact that He was also human meant that He potentially could have sinned. Since the Bible says that Christ was tempted it proves that He could have sinned. Jesus Christ, as this theory goes, could not have been a sympathetic High Priest to us when we are tempted unless He himself could have sinned.

This sums up the three main theories with respect to the idea that Jesus Christ could have sinned.

Summary – Question 23
Could Jesus Have Sinned? (The Peccability of Christ)

The idea of Christ’s peccability means that He was able to sin when He was here upon the earth. Three different views are expressed from this position.

One theory holds that Christ could have sinned and did sin. This, however, has no basis whatsoever in the New Testament. Those who hold this perspective do not have the Bible seriously in what it has to say about Jesus. Thus, Bible-believers reject this idea.

Another theory is that Jesus Christ had a sinful nature but overcame it by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is assumed in this argument that to be a human being one must have a sinful nature. But this is not the case at all. However, having a human nature does not mean that Christ had a sinful nature. Indeed, Adam and Eve had human natures when they were created but each of them was without sin until the time they decided to rebel against God.

The main theory of Christ’s peccability is that He was fully human without a sinful nature yet it was possible for Him to sin. Although it is admitted that He did not sin, it is claimed that the possibility was still there. There are many Bible-believers who hold to this theory.

This is a brief summation of the three main views held by those who believe that Jesus could have sinned.

Did Jesus Ever Sin? ← Prior Section
Was It Impossible for Jesus to Sin? Next Section →
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