D1. Only begotten Son (Question
a. monogenes appears 9 times
- 7:12 -- a widow’s son as "the
only son of his mother"
- 8:42 -- Jairus’s daugther as
"his only daughter"
- 9:38 -- son of an unnamed man
in the crowd as "he is my only child"
b. In John’s writings, huios
(son) is reserved for Jesus alone; He is often referred to as huios theou
(Son of God). Christians are referred to as tekna theou (children
of God) although they are referred to as huios theou (sons
of God) in other NT books.
- 11:17 -- Isaac as to monogene
c. The word monogenes, with
its variants, occurred in Greek literature of 8th century BC poet Hesiod.
Thereafter it appears in works of many authors. Literally monogenes
means "sole descent" or "the only child of one’s parents".
d. The word was also used in the
sense of "peerless", "matchless", "unique", "incomparable", "of singular importance",
or "the only one of its kind". The ideas have more to do with quality than
derivation or descent. Later usage showed that both meanings were common.
e. The Septuagint usage of the word
was also varied. In the case of Isaac, he was described as Abraham’s "favoured"
, "chosen", or "unique" but not the only son. Some other usage may also carry
the idea of "beloved" or "best-loved".
f. In the 1st century, Clement of
Rome used the word to mean "the only one of its kind".
g. The term "only begotten" came
from the traditional translation of the Greek word monogenes. However,
the translation is inaccurate.
h. The term monogenes huios
in John is best translated as "one and only Son", not the traditional "only
i. When the Arians challenged that
the word indicated that Christ was created. The Church Fathers did not have
a satisfactory reply so they only added the words "not created" in the creeds,
with the explanation that "only begotten" means "the Son was the only begotten
by the Father from eternity past".
j. Church Fathers took the word as
connected with the root of the Greek verb gennao meaning generate or
beget, hence the English translation "only begotten". Study of Greek writings
before the 1st century proved that monogenes is not derived from the
root gennao, but is derived from genos, kind or class.
k. The word therefore means "in a
class by Himself" or "the only one of His kind" or in other words "unique",
"peerless", "matchless", "incomparable". Thus the NIV correctly translated
the term "the One and Only". The doctrine of eternal generation was thus a
D2. Person of Christ (Question
(1) Existed eternally before creation
(2) Participated in creation
- from the "beginning" (Jn 1:1;
- "with God" (Jn 1:1-2)
- "before the wold was" (Jn 17:5)
- the Word "became flesh" implying
a preincarnate existence (Jn 1:14)
(3) Manifested Himself in the OT
- "Let us make man" (Gen 1:26)
- the "craftsman" (Pr 8:30)
- the "firstborn over all creation"
- all things were created "through
Him" (Jn 1:3; Col 1:16)
- world created "through Him"
(Jn 1:10; 1Co 8:6)
- all things created "for Him"
- all things hold together "in
Him" (Col 1:17)
b. Divine nature:
- as Yahweh (to Abraham, Gen 18;
in judgment, Gen 19; in promise, Hos 1:7)
- as the "angel of Yahweh" (to
Hagar, Gen 16:7-14; to Abraham, Gen 22:9-18; to Jacob, Gen 31:10-13; to Moses,
Ex 3:2; to Israel, Ex 14:19; to Balaam, Nu 22:22; to Gideon, Jdg 6:11-24)
(1) Possesses divine attributes
(2) Possesses divine offices
- eternal (Jn 1:1; 8:58; 17:5)
- omnipresent (Mt 28:20; Eph 1:23)
- omniscient (Jn 16:30; 21:17)
- omnipotent (Jn 5:19)
- immutable (Heb 1:12; 13:8)
(3) Possesses divine prerogatives
- Creator (Jn 1:3; Col 1:16)
- sustainer (Col 1:17)
(4) Identified with the OT Yahweh
- forgives sin (Mt 9:2; Lk 7:47)
- raises the dead (Jn 5:25; 11:25)
- executes judgment (Jn 5:22)
(5) Possesses divine names
- "I AM" (Jn 8:58)
- seen by Isaiah (Jn 12:41; 8:24,50-58)
(6) Possesses divine relations
- "Alpha and Omega" (Rev 22:13)
- "Immanuel" (Mt 1:22)
- "Son of man" (Mt 9:6; 12:8)
- "Lord" (Mt 7:21; Lk 1:43)
- "Son of God" (Jn 10:36)
- "God" (Jn 1:1; 2Pe 1:1)
(7) Accepts divine worship
- the expressed image of God (Col
1:15; Heb 1:3)
- one with the Father (Jn 10:31)
(8) Claims Himself to be God
c. Human nature
- (Mt 14:33; 28:9; Jn 20:28-29)
(1) Had a human birth
(2) Had a human development
- born of a virgin (Mt 1:18-2:11;
(3) Had the essential elements
of human nature
- continued to grow and become
strong (Lk 2:50,52)
(4) Had human names
- human body (Mt 26:12; Jn 2:21)
- reason and will (Mt 26:38; Mk
(5) Had the sinless infirmities
of human nature
- Jesus (Mt 1:21)
- son of man (Mt 8:20; 11:18)
- son of Abraham (Mt 1:1)
(6) Was repeatedly called a man
d. Union of natures
- became weary (Jn 4:6)
- became hungry (Mt 4:2; 21:18)
- became thirsty (Jn 19:28)
- was tempted (Mt 4; Heb 2:18)
- The person of Christ is theantropic
(two natures in one person)
- Hypostatic union (two natures
in one personal substance)
- Both the human and divine qualities
and acts may be ascribed to Jesus Christ under either of His natures.
- His natures cannot be separated.
Possesses genuine love
- His human nature was created
holy (Lk 1:35)
- committed no sin (1Pe 2:22)
- always pleased the Father (Jn
- laid down His life (Jn 15:13)
- His love surpasses all knowledge
- took the form of a servant (Php
Lived a life of prayer
- was grave without being melancholy
- was joyful without being frivolous
- worked the works of His Father
(Jn 5:17; 9:4)
Christ emptied Himself (Question 43)
a. Kenotic (Gr. kenosis
) theories: (Php 2:7 "made Himself nothing", NIV; "emptied Himself", NRSV,
NASB; supporting verses: 2Co 8:9; Jn 17:5)
- "We declare that the one selfsame
Christ, only begotten Son and Lord, must be acknowledged in two natures,
without any co-mingling, or change or division or separation, that the distinction
between their natures is in no way removed by their union, but rather, that
the specific character of each nature is preserved, and they are united in
one person and one hypostasis" (Creed of Chalcedon, AD 451).
(1) Christ emptied Himself of
divine consciousness: The Son of God laid aside His participation in
the Godhead when he became a man. All the attributes of His deity literally
ceased when the incarnation occurred. The Logos became a soul residing in
the human Jesus.
(2) Christ emptied Himself of
eternity form of being: The Logos exchanged His eternity-form for a time-form
bound down by human nature. In this time-form Christ no longer had all the
attributes commensurate with Deity, though He could use supernatural powers.
(3) Christ emptied Himself of
relative attributes of Deity: This view differentiates between essential
attributes, such as truth and love, and those that relate to the created
universe, such as omnipotence and omnipresence. (Fairbairn)
(4) Christ emptied Himself of
integrity of infinite divine existence: At Christ’s incarnation the Logos
took up a double life. One "life centre" continued to function consciously
in the Trinity while the other became incarnated with human nature, unaware
of the cosmic functions of Deity. (Martensen)
(5) Christ emptied Himself of
divine activity: The Logos turned over all of His divine roles and duties
to the Father. The incarnate Logos was unaware of the happenings within the
(6) Christ emptied Himself of
actual exercise of divine prerogatives: The Logos retracted the mode
of the divine attributes from the realm of the actual to the potential. He
retained His divine consciousness but renounced the conditions of infinity
and its form.
(7) Christ emptied Himself of
the use of the divine attributes: The Logos possessed the divine attributes
but chose not to use them. (Walvoord, Carson)
(8) Christ emptied Himself of
the independent exercise of the divine attributes: The Logos always possessed
and could utilize the prerogatives of Deity but always in submission to and
by the power of the Father and the Holy Spirit. The incarnate Christ never
did anything independently by virtue of His own Deity. (Strong, Oden) Jn
3:34 "God gives the Spirit without limit" to the One sent by the Father.
(9) Christ emptied Himself of
the insignia of majesty, the prerogatives of Deity: The Logos emptied
Himself of the outward form of Deity. (This view is vague as to what is precisely
b. Erickson's Explanation:
c. Danger of believing any limitation
in Christ’s kenosis (Musick, Wheaton College):
- The incarnation was more
a gaining of human attributes than a giving up of divine attributes.
- At no point does the passage
say that he ceased to possess the divine nature. See Col 2:9: "For in Him
the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."
- "He emptied Himself by taking
the form of a servant" which contrasts sharply with "equality with God" (v.6).
Thus the emptying is the equality with God, not the form of God. He became
functionally subordinated to the Father during incarnation. By taking on
human nature, he accepted certain limitations upon the functioning of His
divine attributes. These limitations were not the result of a loss of divine
attributes but of the addition of human attributes.
- His actions on Earth were always
those of divinity-humanity. He still had the power to be everywhere (omnipresence).
However, as an incarnate being, He was limited in the exercise of that power
by possession of a human body. Similarly, He was still omniscient, but He
possessed and exercised knowledge in connection with a human organism which
grew gradually in terms of consciousness, whether of the physical environment
or eternal truths. Thus, only gradually did his limited human psyche become
aware of who he was and what he had come to accomplish.
- This should not be considered
a reduction of the power and capacities of the Son, but rather a circumstance-induced
limitation on the exercise of His power and capacities.
- Analogy: the world’s fastest
sprinter is entered in a three-legged race with a partner. Although his physical
capacity is not diminished, the conditions under which he exercises it are
severely limited. For that matter, he runs a lot slower.
- Conclusion: Christ’s incarnation
was a voluntary, self-chosen limitation.
d. Berkhof’s Explanation:
- They destroy the vital doctrine
of the immutability of God (Buntin). "If God laid aside one of His attributes,
the immutable undergoes a mutation, the infinite suddenly stops being infinite;
it would be the end of the universe" (Sproul).
- They destroy the integrity of
the atonement (Buntin). The redemption of all creation and everyone who would
ever believe in Christ required an infinite sacrifice that was also a perfect
human being. Limiting Christ’s Divinity would leave all of humanity, and
all of creation hopelessly subject to God’s curse and to His eternal wrath.
- They promote a polytheistic
view of God. Many Christians today believe that Jesus was fully God and that
His Deity was undiminished, but that He simply did not exercise the full
use of His Divine attributes when on earth. This belief is based on a misunderstanding
of the Trinity. The early fathers have clearly stated that there are three
Persons in the Godhead, but only one God. "We distinguish among the Persons,
but we do not divide the Substance... There are not three omnipotent Beings,
but one Omnipotent Being" (Creed of Athenasius). The only way to limit the
use of attributes of one person without limiting the attributes of all three
members of the Godhead is to divide the substance into three Divine beings
for each of the three Persons. This heretical view of the Trinity would then
allow Jesus to suspend His omnipotence, for example, while the Father and
Holy Spirit would continue to exercise dominion in the universe.
- They undermine Christ’s perfect
intercessory work for us. Christ’s current ministry for each of us is based
not only on perfect knowledge of us, but also on perfect knowledge of all
the times. He was tempted in every way as we are, but without sin. Jesus
is anywhere and everywhere any time and all the time. As our high priest
He prays for us with perfect, omniscient, transcendent knowledge. He transcends
space and time (Jn 8:58) and links our every temptation to His own temptation
(Heb 4:12-16) to come to our aid, to sanctify us (Heb 2:10-18), that in the
end He might present us before the Father "holy and blameless and beyond reproach"
(Col 1:22). [Argument (Hung): the intercessory work is being done only now,
after the period of incarnation.]
- Conclusion: Jesus was 100% God
while He was on Earth. The transfiguration and Christ’s affirmation before
His captors - Jesus did not empty Himself of His Divine glory; it was merely
e. Buswell’s Explanation:
- "emptied Himself" is a mistranslation.
The verb ekenosen is found in only 4 other NT passages (Ro 4:14; 1Co
1:17; 9:15; 2Co 9:3); they are used figuratively and means "to make void",
"of no effect", "of no account", "of no reputation" (KJV). It means Christ
made Himself of no account, of no reputation, did not assert His divine prerogative,
but took up the form of a servant. It does not support the kenosis theory.
f. Difficulty in Mk 13:32 and Mt
24:36 that the Son does not know the day of His second coming:
- Christ never gave up any of essential
divine attributes. The form (Gr. morphe) of God could not be given
up without His ceasing to be who He was. He took the form of a servant and
the essential attributes of man, but He also took the schema of humanity
in order that He might die upon the cross (Heb 2:14). This is confirmed by
Col 2:9. Thus the ekenosen here conveys the same thought (identical
in logical thought) as spendomai (poured out): "I am already poured
[like a drink offering] and the time of my departure has come." (2Ti 4:6).
of Atonement (Question 45)
[Italics indicate theories not
given in the notes.]
- Buswell: There are different
levels of consciousness in human psychology. It is not a contradiction to
say that a person may know something which he does not know. In one sense
of the word he knows it, in the sense of the power of recall. In another
sense he does not know it -- he does not hold it in his active consciousness.
Prior to the incarnation the Son chose, when He became flesh, to operate in
a normal human horizon so that He might literallh have common human experience.
Thus, though omniscient, He chose not to have in His active consciousness
at this time, the knowledge of the day and hour of His return.
- Traditional: As a human, He
does not know it although as a God, He knows it (at that moment). He was
simply speaking from the position of the Son who was a human at that point
in time. [Hung: arguable but difficult to defend]
- Erickson: He genuinely did not
know as He was limited while in a human body.
a. Ransom or Payment to Satan (Origen):
Christ’s death was a ransom paid to Satan to purchase captive man from Satan’s
claims (Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; 1Co 6:20).
b. Recapitulation (Irenaeus):
Christ in His life recapitulated all the stages of human life, in so doing
reversed the course initiated by Adam (Ro 5:15-21; Heb 2:10).
c. Dramatic (Aulen): Christ is
Victor in a divine conflict of good and evil and wins man’s release from bondage
(Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; 1Co 15:51-57).
d. Mystical (Schleiermacher):
Christ took on a human, sinful nature but through the power of the Holy Spirit
triumphed over it. A knowledge of this will mystically influence man (Heb
e. Example (Pelagius, Socinus,
Abelard): Christ’s death provided an example of faith and obedience to inspire
man to be obedient (1Pe 2:21; 1Jn 2:6).
f. Moral influence (Abelard, Bushnell,
Rashdall): Christ’s death demonstrated God’s love, which causes man’s heart
to soften and repent (Ro 5:8; 2Co 5:17-19; Php 2:5-11; Col 3:24).
g. Commercial or Satisfaction (Anselm):
Christ’s death brought infinite honour to God. So God gave Christ a reward
which He did not need, and Christ passed it on to man (Jn 10:18).
h. Governmental (Grotius): Christ’s
death demonstrates God’s high regard for His law. It shows God’s attitude
toward sin. Through Christ’s death God has a rationale to forgive the sins
of those who repent and accept Christ’s substitutionary death (Ps 2; 5; Isa
i. Penal substitution (Calvin): Christ’s
death was a vicarious (substitutionary) sacrifice that satisfied the demands
of God’s justice upon sin, bringing forgiveness, imputing righteousness, and
reconciling man to God (Jn 11:50-52; Ro 5:8-9; Titus 2:14; 1Pe 3:18).