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Don Stewart :: In What Sense Was Jesus Christ God and Man Simultaneously? (Hypostatic Union)

Don Stewart

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was the eternal God who became a human being - He did not possess a human nature until His birth in Bethlehem. This doctrine that Jesus Christ was both God and man simultaneously is known as the "hypostatic union." "Hypostatic" is derived from two Greek words, huper which means, "under" and histayme which means, "to stand."

The Hypostatic Union Defined

The hypostatic union can be defined as God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, came to earth and took human nature upon himself. Thus Jesus was fully God and fully human. He will remain this way forever.

Consequently when Jesus came to earth he took to himself an additional nature - one that is human. The result was that Jesus was God and humanity simultaneously - the God man.

Jesus Was The God-Man (Theanthropic Man)

A phrase that is often used to describe Jesus is a theanthropic man. Theanthropic comes from two Greek words, theos, which means God and anthropos which mean man or human being.

This Is A Difficult Doctrine

The hypostatic union is a difficult doctrine to comprehend. There are many questions that arise concerning Jesus' divine and human nature. How are we to understand His two natures in the one body? Did each of them work separately? Were they independent of one another?

God Became Human In Jesus Christ

The Bible says that Jesus came in human flesh

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).

John wrote.

The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

These passages tell us that Jesus came in human nature - human nature became an element in His one personality.

The Unity Of Jesus' Two Natures

The attributes of Christ, as well as his titles, are ascribed to the one Person. This can only be understood if his nature is understood as one single person who united with both the human and the divine nature. Both natures are highlighted in the New Testament. Paul wrote.

Regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David (Romans 1:3).

Peter spoke of his body that died.

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

The writer to the Hebrews stated.

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 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 (Hebrews 1:2,3).

Jesus Is One Person With Two Natures

Jesus had no human personality before He was born in Bethlehem. Once He became a human being, His human nature was never separate from the divine nature. Jesus was one person with two natures. He did not cease being God when He became a human, neither was He any less human because He was God. In one body He was God and humanity united. Jesus was the God-man. Thus He remained God when He became a human.

The Two Natures Are Complete

The union of the two natures was complete. Jesus did not act as God on some occasions and then as a human at other times. Therefore we cannot divide events in His life into the category of human or divine. He lived and suffered as a human being, yet all the while He was God. It is not correct to say that He performed miracles as God but died on the cross as a human. Jesus was both divine and human at all times. He is a single, undivided personality. The two natures are inseparably united. Thus He is not merely God and man but rather the God-man.

Jesus Was A Singular Person

Jesus spoke of Himself as a single person. There is no conversation back and forth between the human and divine nature as we find the members of the Trinity addressing each other. For example, in His prayer to the Father, Jesus said.

I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:23).

Jesus never spoke of Himself in the plural - us. The only possible exception to this is found in John's gospel.

I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony (John 3:11).

However this is not necessarily Jesus speaking. It could be John's commentary. If it was Jesus speaking he was probably referring to John the Baptist.

Isaiah's Prediction Of The Messiah

The prophet Isaiah predicted the Messiah would be both human and divine.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

The Two Natures Are Necessary To Save Humanity

The two natures of Christ are necessary for the salvation of the human race. As a human being, Jesus could represent humanity and die as a human being. As Deity, his death would have infinite value. Peter wrote.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers (1 Peter 1:18).

The Two Natures Are Necessary For Jesus To Be A High Priest The union of the two natures in one Person is essential for Jesus to be the Mediator between God and humanity.

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

His dual nature allows him to be involved with both God and humanity.

Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers in all things, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since he himself was tempted in that which he has suffered, he is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:17,18).

The writer to the Hebrews also said.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15,16).

He also wrote.

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

Summary

The biblical account of Jesus' life demonstrates that Jesus Christ was God and man simultaneously. This is known as the "hypostatic union." Though He possessed two natures, they were unified in one body. Christ had only one personality, one thought pattern. He lived His life as both God and man. It is not possible to divide His actions into categories of human or divine. He remains the God-man and forever will be. He suffered this humility because of His great love for us. For all eternity we will be reminded of that as we see Him in that body that was sacrificed on our behalf.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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