Posts Tagged ‘Christology’

Two Natures in One Person

The Chalcedoinian Definition (451 A.D.) says, in part, that Jesus is “to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved…” He is fully human (without sin) and he is fully divine.

In Jesus, these two natures don’t mix into something else (“inconfusedly”) and they are not “active” in him at different times (“indivisibly”). His human nature does what sinless, unfallen human nature does and his divine nature does what undiminished divinity does. The two natures must remain distinct from each other and yet united in the one person of Jesus because the distinction is not taken away by the union.

This raises very rich questions when you think of Jesus as one person with two natures. For example,

  • When Jesus was tempted could he have sinned?
  • Is Jesus’ humanity omniscient? Is it omnipresent?
  • Did Jesus’ divine nature sleep in the stern of the boat?
  • Can divinity die?
  • Did the will of infant in the manger hold the universe together?
  • Did Jesus create Mary who gave birth to him?
  • Did the Second person of the Trinity “grow in wisdom and stature before God and man”?

As you contemplate these questions, remember to keep his natures truly human and truly divine, not mixed, confused, or separated.

As difficult as this is to understand, it is the only way that God could become human and still be fully God and fully human at the same time. And that means that our salvation depends on this union of natures in Jesus. It is confusing and mysterious and glorious. We worship an amazing God.

What’s in a Title?

You know those titles of the Psalms? The ones that are usually in small caps? Did you know that those are part of the original Hebrew text? There isn’t a known edition of the Hebrew scriptures that doesn’t have those titles so we should assume they are inspired along with the rest of the text.

I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:1–3)

The title of Psalm 30 is, as best as we can determine, inspired. Psalm 30 is written by David or about David (“of” can mean either) and it is about the dedication of the temple. David had died before Solomon built or dedicated the temple (1 Kings 2:10) so this may be a song David had written to be sung at that event. Or it is written to describe David and his relationship to the dedication.

Now, David didn’t rise from the dead and attend the dedication of the temple (Acts 2:29), but David and the temple mean more in the Bible story than they do solely in the Psalms and so they mean more in the Psalms than they do at first read there.

There is a Biblical promise of David’s son who would build the temple and reign forever (2 Sam. 7). In one sense, that was Solomon since he built the temple. But in another sense it isn’t since he didn’t reign forever.

The connection between the temple and resurrection in the New Testament is clear:

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:19–22)

The Psalm goes on in verse 9:

What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?

Again, death is involved but the question the Psalmist asks is if there was to be profit in his death. Will the dust praise God? Again, Jesus gives the answer:

As [Jesus] was drawing near [to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey]—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:36–40)

Jesus is heading to his execution, his crucifixion. His death, complete but not final, will ensure that the rocks and the dust they will become don’t need to praise God. His death will draw in people who will praise God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).

Firsthand Knowledge

Who did John the Baptist go before, to prepare the way for? The standard Sunday school answer is correct here. Jesus. But consider how Gabriel introduced John:

And he [John] will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he [John] will go before him [?] in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared. – Luke 1:16-17

Pay attention to the pronouns in this sentence. John will turn many to the Lord their God. And he will go before him. Before whom? The only “him” in this sentence that makes sense is “the Lord their God”. That’s who John is preparing people for. Look that phrase up in the Old Testament in a concordance. It is used over and over as “the LORD their God” meaning Yahweh. John didn’t prepare the way for Jesus who prepared the way for Yahweh. Jesus is God and I know that to be true because of who said all of this. “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.” (1:19) Gabriel know it firsthand and angels don’t lie.