Incarnation and Dual Nature
42. What do we know about
the incarnation of Christ in the Bible?
a. Definition of incarnation:
b. Virginal birth (Isa 7:14;
Mt 1:23, Lk 1:34-37)
Incarnation (Gr. sarkosis, Latin
incarnatus) means enfleshing, or becoming flesh, the union of human
nature with the divine in one person. The eternal Son assumed human nature
without ceasing to be God (Jn 1:18, Augustine).
The giant sacrifice that the Son voluntarily
took is simply beyond human imagination: a totally free God existing above
time and space now assumed human finitude and became slave to time and
space, suffering, and death.
The more accurate term for this doctrine
is "virgin conception" meaning that Jesusí conception in the womb of Mary
was not the result of sexual relationship. Mary was a virgin at the time
of conception and remained a virgin until after the birth of Jesus (Mt
1:25). The pregnancy was through a supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit
Importance of the doctrine:
It is not a first level doctrine (i.e.
those that are indispensable to salvation) as the doctrine was not mentioned
in the sermons in Acts.
One suggestion is: If Christ was born
of ordinary generation, he would be represented in Adam in the original
sin. However, Jesus was born of Mary who has the same original sin (with
the inherent depravity). It is likely that the influence of the Holy Spirit
was so powerful and sanctifying in its effect (Lk 1:35) that there was
no passing on of depravity or of guilt from Mary to Jesus.
The significance of the doctrine is:
(a) our salvation is totally Godís work, (b) Godís salvation is fully a
gift of grace, (c) Jesus our Saviour is unique.
Implications on the acceptance or rejection
of this doctrine:
c. Sinlessness of Christ (Heb
4:15): Christís temptations were real. He experienced struggle while
facing death (Mt 26:36-46). But Christ did not sin (2Co 5:21; Heb 7:26;
1Pe 2:22; 3:18; 1Jn 3:5).
The belief in virginal birth is long
regarded as a "testing stone" of the orthodoxy of faith of a person.
The reason is that this is a difficult
doctrine to accept. If someone accepts this doctrine, he/she most probably
also accepts many other orthodox doctrines, such as the infallibility and
authority of the Bible, the authenticity of miracles in the Bible, and
the supernaturalist view of Godís relationship to the world (as opposed
to naturalist view that God only works through natural laws).
a. When Jesus Christ lived in
this world, He was both fully (100%) God and fully (100%) man. He possessed
all the characteristics (attributes) of God and of man.
b. The divine nature of Christ while
What is the meaning of Christ being fully God and fully man?
(1) Possesses divine attributes:
eternal (Jn 8:58; 17:5), omniscient (Jn 16:30; 21:17), omnipotent
(Jn 5:19), immutable (Heb 13:8)
(2) Possesses divine prerogatives:
forgives sin (Mt 9:2; Lk 7:47), raises the dead (Jn 5:25; 11:25), executes
judgment (Jn 5:22)
(3) Identified with the OT Yahweh:
"I AM" (Jn 8:58), seen by Isaiah (Jn 12:41)
(4) Possesses divine names: "Immanuel"
(Mt 1:23), "Son of man" (Mt 9:6; 12:8), "Lord" (Mt 7:21; Lk 1:43),
"Son of God" (Jn 10:36)
(5) Possesses divine relations:
one with the Father (Jn 10:30)
(6) Accepts divine worship (Mt 14:33;
28:9; Jn 20:28-29)
(7) Claims Himself to be God (Jn
8:58; 10:30; 17:5)
c. The human nature of Christ while
(1) Had a human birth: born of
a virgin (Mt 1:18-2:11; Lk 1:30-38)
(2) Had a human development: continued
to grow and become strong (Lk 2:52)
(3) Had the essential elements of
human nature: human body (Mt 26:12; Jn 2:21), reason and will (Mt 26:38;
(4) Had human names: Jesus (Mt 1:21),
son of man (Mt 8:20; 11:19), son of Abraham (Mt 1:1)
(5) Had the sinless infirmities
of human nature: became weary (Jn 4:6), became hungry (Mt 4:2; 21:18),
became thirsty (Jn 19:28), was tempted (Mt 4:1-11; Heb 2:18)
(6) Was repeatedly called a man
(Jn 1:30; 4:9; 10:38)
e. Unity of two (dual) natures:
d. Importance of Christís humanity:
(1) to fulfil the Biblical prophesy, (2) to be the Messiah, (3) to reveal
Godís love, (4) to die on the cross, (5) to act as Mediator between God
Two natures (God and man) in one person
(Ro 1:2-4); the two natures cannot be separated.
Both natures are complete. There is
no change in Christís Deity, only different manifestation. He was weak
but at the same time omnipotent. His knowledge increased but at the same
time omniscient. He was limited but at the same time unlimited.
"Christ is both God and Man, no less
God because of His humanity, no less human because of His deity."
44. What is
the meaning of "Christ emptying himself" (Php 2:7)?
a. Php 2:7 -- "emptied
Himself" (NRSV, NASB) or "made Himself nothing" (NIV); supporting verses:
2Co 8:9; Jn 17:5
Self-consciousness: He knew He was
God even at birth. Sometimes He spoke from the position of God, but sometimes
from the position of man (Mt 24:36).
Will: His will is always the same as
the Father. There may be difference in desire but no conflict in moral
This doctrine is beyond human understanding.
b. Self-emptying (Gr. kenosis):
c. Analogy: Christ simply covered
His original glory like a veil (Jn 17:5; 18:6); this fact is proved by
the transfiguration (Mt 17:2) which represented a momentary lifting
of the veil.
Php 2:6 makes it clear that Christ
retained the "form of God" but emptied only the "equality with God", meaning
that Christ did not assert His divine prerogative, took up the outer appearance
of a servant, and became functionally subordinate to the Father during
His earthly ministry. At the same time, He was 100% God, as in Col 2:9:
"For in Him the whole fullness of Deity dwells bodily."
d. Other theories of self-emptying:
There are many kenotic theories about what was being emptied. The following
are the more commonly accepted theories among some evangelical theologians.
e. There are many dangers in such
theories. One such danger is the destruction of the doctrine of the immutability
of God. If God laid aside one of His attributes, the immutable undergoes
a mutation, the infinite suddenly stops being infinite.
Christ temporarily emptied Himself
of the use of divine attributes, that is, He abstained from using divine
Christ temporarily emptied Himself
of the independent use of divine attributes, that is, Christ might have
relied on the power of the Father or the Holy Spirit to do miracles (Mt
12:28; Lk 4:14-18). [However, the necessity of relying on the Holy Spirit
is not clear in either passages.]