- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Bible Questions and answers about Jesus Christ
- Published on Monday, 07 February 2011 09:24
Had the Lord Jesus Christ, a spirit, a soul, and a body, as a perfect Man, together with, yet different from, His being God?
This is no unnecessary matter for consideration, for not only is the Deity of Christ attacked to-day, but also His true Humanity, and that in circles where one might hope for better things. This arises partly from ignoring the labours of God’s servants in the past, especially in the first centuries of the Christian era, which we cannot afford to do. God overruled the early attacks on the Person of His beloved Son to consolidate and define the truths of His Deity and Humanity, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those whom He raised up to “contend earnestly for the faith.”
One truth which emerged as Scriptural from these conflicts was what is known as the “Hypostatical Union,” that is the union in the Lord Jesus Christ of two whole and perfect natures, the Divine and the Human, in equal relation with One Divine Person, the Eternal Son of God, of one substance with the Father. We cannot penetrate this mystery for “No man knoweth the Son but the Father;” we believe what is written. However, even the Arian heresy of the 4th century turned to the furtherance of the truth. The Arians taught the quasi-Godhead and quasi-Manhood of Christ. For them He was neither perfect God, nor true man, but something less than the former and more than the latter; and the spiritual element in His manhood (i.e., the spirit and soul) was replaced by His imperfect Godhead. The Arian controversy was a matter of life and death. Anus was a popular soft-spoken man and exercised a notable influence, as such men do to-day. However, the truth prevailed, and the Godhead of Christ, of the same substance as the Father, was established on a firm Scriptural basis, but His Manhood remained undefined.
It was the heresy of Apollinarius of Laodica (in Syria), an earnest opponent of Anus, that led to this. He taught that in the manhood of Christ the rational soul was lacking, and was replaced by the Godhead. This is virtually the error taught in some circles to-day. It was proved to be entirely unsatisfactory and unscriptural. If Christ were truly man, He must have been in possession of all that constitutes complete humanity—spirit, soul, body, will, etc. Indeed, His own words testify to this: “This is My body”; “My soui is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death”; “Father . . . not as I will, but as Thou wilt”; “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.” (Matthew 26:26, 38, 39; Luke 23:46). Thus the words, “The Word became flesh”, imply something much more than that a Divine Person took a body, which might have meant little more than a Theophany of the Old Testament, but rather that He entered into manhood, that He became incarnate as truly “born of a woman,” a virgin, with all that perfect unfallen humanity implies. He was not less man, because sinless; not less experienced in human joys, sorrows, affections, weariness, hunger, pain, because truly God; not less capable of death, because not liable to death.
He was, moreover, not a dual Personality, as Nestorius of Constantinople taught (430 A.D.), but one Divine Person, in equal relation with His dual natures. As man, He is able in all points to sympathise with His people’s infirmities; as God, He is able to succour them.