Pastor Daryl Hilbert
(Extension of “The Bible Institute of Texas”)
INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF CHRIST
A. One of the most important doctrines of Christianity is the Person and Work of Christ.
B. In one sense, we can say that the Study of Christ primarily deals with the person of Christ whereas the Study of Salvation deals with the work of Christ, in particular, Christ’s atoning work on the cross.
C. The Study of Christ will include some of Christ’s activities and ministries such as His pre-incarnate, earthly, and heavenly ministry.
D. Charles Ryrie states in his Basic Theology, The doctrine of the person of Christ is crucial to the Christian faith. It is basic to Soteriology, for if our Lord was not what He claimed to be, then His atonement was a deficient, not sufficient, payment for sin.
I. PREEXISTENCE OF CHRIST
1. Preexistence of Christ means that He existed before His birth. (Ryrie, Basic Theology, pg. 273)
2. Although technically the affirmation that Christ was preexistent, that is, existed before His birth in Bethlehem, is not precisely the same as to state that He is eternal, for all practical purposes, proof of His preexistence has been accepted by theologians as evidence of His eternity. (John Walvoord).
3. Preexistence refers particularly to Christ’s activity in the Old Testament (creation, Theophanies, etc.) whereas His eternality refers to the divine attribute of the second person of the Godhead. However, sometimes the terms are used synonymously.
B. Importance of the preexistence of Christ
1. Since the Scriptures teach the preexistence of Christ, if Christ did not preexist, then the biblical credibility is lost.
2. If Christ did not preexist, then Christ’s own credibility is lost.
3. If the credibility of those two facts are lost, then Christ could not be man’s Savior and all hope of salvation would be lost.
C. Proof of the Preexistence of Christ
1. Christ’s heavenly origin argues for His preexistence (Jn 3:13, 31; 8:23; 1Co 15:47).
2. The testimony of John the Baptist argues for Christ’s preexistence (Jn 1:15,30).
3. Christ’s activity as Creator argues for His preexistence (Jn 1:3; cp. He 1:2; Col 1:16-17).
4. Christ made His own claims of His preexistence (Jn 8:58; 17:5).
II. ETERNALITY OF CHRIST
1. [Eternality is]…existence that is without beginning and will never end…this divine attribute is necessarily included in that of God’s absolute independent existence. (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, pg. 326)
2. Louis Berkhof defines eternality as, that perfection of God whereby He is elevated above all temporal limits and all succession of moments, and possesses the whole of His existence in one indivisible present. (Systematic Theology, pg. 60)
3. Eternality means not only that Christ existed before His birth or even before creation but that He existed always, eternally. (Ryrie, Basic Theology)
4. The eternality of Christ declares that He is uncreated, without beginning or end, and possesses a divine attribute that can only be shared by members of the Godhead.
B. Importance of Eternality of Christ
1. The eternality of Christ is a basis for the Trinity. If Christ is not eternal, then there is no Trinity.
2. The eternality of Christ is a basis for the Deity of Christ. If Christ is not eternal, then He lied and man is still in need of a divine Savior.
C. Proof of the Eternality of Christ
1. Christ’s eternality was proclaimed from eternity past (Micah 5:2).
2. Christ’s eternality was proclaimed toward eternity future (Is 9:6-7).
3. Christ’s eternality was proclaimed when Christ claimed to be the great “I Am” (Jn 8:58 cp. Ex 3:14).
4. Christ’s eternality was proclaimed when Scripture claimed Him to be the eternal God (Jn 1:1).
a) The Word (lógos, Christ) existed in the beginning. “In the beginning” (en archế) is as far back in existence as Scripture reveals about God (cp. LXX Ge 1:1, (en archế).
b) The Word was “with” (prós – “to, toward, jn 1 18joh 16with;” can show interpersonal relationship cp. Ro 5:1) God and existed in union with Him.
c) The Word was God from eternity past. The verb “was” is the Greek “to be” verb ên,and is in the imperfect tense. The imperfect tense is continuous action in the past, showing that Christ existed as God continuously in the past. Therefore, He is the eternal Son of God.
d) Some have attempted to translate Jn 1:1 as, “the Word was a god.” They claim that theos (God) without the article translates, “a god.”
(1) However, definite nouns that precede the verb, as here, regularly lack the definite article. (Leon Morris)
(2) It is more common in the NT to find theos without an article.
(3) Here, the “Word” has an article to show that it is the subject and not the predicate.
(4) John 1 used theos frequently without the article in reference to God (6,13,18).
III. PRE-INCARNATE ACTIVITY OF CHRIST
A. ACTIVITY AS CREATOR
1. Christ was the creator of all things (Jn 1:3; He 1:2)
a) There is an emphasis in Jn 1:3 that Christ created “all things” (pánta – first in construction).
(1) All things came into existence in the universe came into being through Christ’s agency (diá autou – through Him).
(2) The passage further reiterates for emphasis, “apart” (choris – without, apart from) from Christ, nothing (oudé hén -“ not one thing, nothing) came into existence
b) If Christ created all things then it is impossible that He is a created being. Neither is Christ God’s first creation because He always existed.
2. Christ created for Himself and His own purposes (Co 1:16)
a) Not only was Christ the agent of creation, but Co 1:16 states that He was the architect and designer (“all things were created … “for Him,” that is, everything was created for His own purposes and glory.).
3. Christ is the sustainer of all creation (Co 1:17)
a) Co 1:17 reiterates that Christ was before (pró – before in time or place, both in Christ’s circumstance) all things. This fact proves His pre-existence.
b) Furthermore, it is in Him and by Him that all things “hold together” (sunístêmi – lit. “stand together”, continue existence).
B. ACTIVITY AS ANGEL OF THE LORD
1. Introduction to the Angel of the Lord
a) There are approximately 50 references concerning “the Angel of the Lord” in the O.T.
b) Lewis Sperry Chafer states that, One of the most compelling and indisputable proofs that Christ preexisted is found in the truth that He is the Angel of Jehovah whose various appearances are recorded in the Old Testament. (Systematic Theology, Vol. 5, pg. 31)
2. The Angel of the Lord is identified as God
a) There are numerous passages that declare that the Angel of the Lord is a Divine Being (Deity).
b) Hagar recognized the Angel of the Lord as God (Elohim) in Ge 16:4-14 and called Him El Roi (“the God who sees,” cp. Ge 16:13).
c) Abraham referred to the Angel of the Lord as Jehovah (LORD) in Ge 22:9-14 when he named the place, Jehovah Jireh (“the LORD will provide,” cp. Ge 22:14).
d) The name God was used interchangeably with “the Angel of the Lord” who spoke to Moses in Ex 3:1-4 (cp. Ac 7:30-32).
e) Other passages that confirm the identity of the Angel of the Lord as God are Ge 31:11-13; 48:15-16; Ex 13:21-22 cp. Ex 14:19; Judg 6:11-15ff; 13:21-22.
3. The Angel of the Lord is Distinct from Jehovah
a) While the Angel of the Lord is declared to be God, He is also seen as a distinct Person from the Father.
b) In reference to Abraham’s servant finding a wife for Isaac, the Angel of the Lord is seen as a distinct Person (Ge 24:7, 40).
c) Moses spoke of Jehovah sending the Angel of the Lord in answer to Israel’s prayers (Num 20:16 cp. Ex 14:19).
d) Zechariah records a conversation between the Angel of the Lord and Jehovah in 1:12-13, proving that they are distinct Persons.
e) Other passages that confirm the distinction between the Angel of the Lord as Jehovah are Ex 23:20 cp. 32:34; 1Ch 21:15-16; Is 63:9; and Da 3:25-28.
4. The Angel of the Lord is the Second Person of the Godhead
a) If we look at the identity of the Angel of the Lord logically we could reason this way:
(1) Only Divine Beings (Deity) are Members of the Trinity.
(2) The Angel of the Lord is a Divine Being (Deity)
(3) Therefore, the Angel of the Lord is a Member of the Trinity.
(4) We just have to deduce which Member of the Trinity is the Angel of the Lord.
b) The Second Person of the Godhead is the Son of God. His ministry has been to reveal the Father (Jn 1:18). In fact, it is the ministry of the Second Person to visibly make known the invisible God (He 1:3; Co 1:15). The Holy Spirit does not have the same ministry as the Son and was sent to replace the Son after His ascension (Jn 14:16; 16:7).
c) When Christ does come in His incarnation (became flesh) in the N.T., we do not read or hear from the Angel of the Lord any more.
d) Furthermore, the Church Fathers have held the interpretation that the Angel of the Lord is the Son of God.
e) When we look at the ministry of the Second Person of the Godhead and these other factors, we can draw a conclusion that the Angel of the Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ in His Pre-Incarnate ministry.
(1) There are no grounds for questioning the very early and traditional Christian interpretation that in these cases there is a preincarnation manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity, whether He is called the Lord” or “the angel of the Lord.” [i.e. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Theophilus – supplement mine] (Zondervan, Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol.5,, p. 720)
(2) As the Angel of Jehovah characteristically appears in bodily, usually human form, He could not be the Holy Spirit who does not appear bodily, except in the rare instance of appearing in the form of a dove at the baptism of Christ. It may, therefore, be concluded that the Angel of Jehovah is the second Person of the Trinity. (Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord, p. 46)
5. Other Theophanies of Christ
a) What is the definition of a “Theophany?”
(1) The word “Theophany” is literally made up of two Greek words, theos (God) and phainō (appearing) and means an appearance of God.
(2) A theophany is a manifestation of God in visible and bodily form before the incarnation. Usually the term theophany is limited to appearances of God in the form of man or angels, other phenomena such as the Shekinah glory not being considered a theophany, The theophanies are chiefly appearances of the Angel of Jehovah, who is clearly distinct from angelic beings. (Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, p.31)
b) Since the ministry of the Second Person of the Godhead is to reveal (visibly as well) the Father, anytime there was a visible manifestation of a Divine Being in the O.T., it can be deduced that it was a Pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ. In fact, the term “Theophany” could be called a “Christophany.”
(1) .[A Theophany]..is essentially a theological term, and is used of any temporary, normally visible, manifestation of God. It is to be distinguished from that permanent manifestation of God in Jesus Christ, called the Incarnation. (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, Vol.5, p.719)
(2) It is safe to assume that every visible manifestation of God in bodily form in the Old Testament is to be identified with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Walvoord,Jesus Christ our Lord, p.54)
c) Other Pre-Incarnate Appearances of Christ
(1) Christ appeared to Abraham Ge 18:1,2,10,17,22; cp. Ge 19:1)
(2) Christ appeared to and wrestled with Jacob (Ge 32:24-30)
(3) Christ appeared as the commander of the LORD’s army (Jos 5:13,15)
(4) Christ appeared as a man with the glory of the LORD (Ez 1:25-28)
(5) Christ appeared to Daniel as a man (Da 3:25; 10:1-21 cp. Re 1:13-14)
(6) Christ appeared as the pillar of fire, of cloud, glory (Ex.13:20-22 cp. 14:19, 33:9-23; 40:34-38)
(7) Shekinah Glory
(a) The Shekinah glory is God’s presence (“ that which dwells”)
(b) The Shekinah glory is linked with Christ in O.T. (See #6)
(c) The Shekinah glory is linked with Christ in N.T. (Lk 9:29; Jn 17:5; He 1:3; 2Co 3:12-18; 2Co 4:6)
IV. INCARNATION OF CHRIST
A. Definition of Incarnation
1. The word “incarnation” is not mentioned in the Bible, though the word accurately defines the two Greek words (en sarkí – “in flesh”) relating to Christ’s incarnation. The word “incarnation” comes from two Latin words in (in) and carnis (flesh). Therefore incarnation means “in flesh” or “embodied in flesh.” Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, took upon Himself humanity and came “in flesh.”
2. No human mind can ever grasp the significance of the occurrence and consequence of the incarnation. That a Person of the Godhead should become one of the human family – the sphere of His own creation – with a view to remaining in that form, though glorified. (Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, p. 421)
3. Upon it [incarnation], the whole superstructure of Christian theology depends. In one sense, the remaining discussion of Christology as a whole is an amplification of the incarnation.(Walvoord, Jesus Christ our Lord, p. 96)
B. Related Scriptures of the Incarnation
1. OT Prophecies
a) Is 9:6
(1) This Scripture tells us that Christ would be “born” into the human race (i.e. “in the flesh”).
(2) However, we also see that the “Son” will not be born but will “be given.” This alludes to the eternal existence and deity of the Son (“Mighty God,” “Eternal Father”).
b) Is 7:14
(1) A prophecy was given regarding the Messiah’s human birth by a human mother. It was accompanied by supernatural events through which a virgin would give birth to the Messiah.
(2) Reference to Christ’s deity is made when the child’s name will be called, “Immanuel” (i.e. God with us”).
2. NT Fulfillment
a) Matthew concludes that Jesus’ birth into the human race was a fulfillment of Is 7:14 (cp. Mt 1:22).
b) John testifies that the Eternal Word (Christ) became flesh at the time of His incarnation (Jn 1:14).
c) Paul writes that Christ’s incarnation consisted of “having been born in the likeness of men” (en homoiōmati anthrōpōn, Phil 2:7).
d) The church’s dogma has always been that the eternal Son “was revealed in the flesh” (1Ti 3:16).
e) In fact, the apostle John states that anyone who denies Christ’s incarnation is a deceiver and false teacher (2Jn 1:7).
C. Means of the Incarnation (Virgin Birth)
1. The term “virgin”
a) The word “virgin” from Is 7:14 has been hotly debated. For if it can be proved that Jesus was not born from a virgin, then His deity and office as Messiah would be in question.
b) In Is 7:14, the Hebrew word for virgin is almah. Apparently, almah is not a technical term for virgin, but a general term for “maiden or young woman.”
c) However, almah certainly can include the meaning, a young woman, one of whose characteristics is virginity. As always, the context must determine the meaning of the word.
d) In Ge 24:43, it is clear that the meaning of almah is a young woman who is a virgin, especially when cross-referenced with Ge 24:16. Both passages are speaking of Rebekah and she is clearly identified a virgin (Hb. bethulah) with whom “no man had had relations.”
e) Though almah does not necessarily mean a virgin outside biblical literature, there are no clear instances in the OT where almah refers to anything other than a virgin (cp. Ex 2:8; Ps 68:25; Pr 30:19; Song 1:3; 6:8).
f) Furthermore, Matthew quotes Is 7:14 and uses the Greek word parthénos (Mt 1:23). Parthénos clearly means one who is in the state of being a virgin or in time of one’s virginity. The LXX uses the word parthénos to translate Ge 24:16.
g) The context is clear when Luke claims that Mary is a virgin (Lk 1:27). Mary confirms her virginity with her own words in Lk 1:34. Literally, Mary said, “I am not knowing (having sexual relations with) a man.” The Scriptures state that Joseph kept Mary a virgin (lit. “did not know her) until she gave birth to Jesus (Mt 1:18, 25).
2. The Implications of Christ’s Virgin Birth
a) The virgin birth pointed to Jesus as the Messiah (Mt 1:22-23).
b) The virgin birth declared Jesus to be the Son of God (Lk 1:35).
c) The virgin birth revealed Jesus to be sinless and “holy” (Lk 1:35).
(1) Mary was prevented from passing on her sinful nature (Lk 1:47).
(a) It follows therefore, that whatever part of this unique child is wrought by the Holy Spirit will be as sinless as the Creator who produced it. … The fallen nature of the mother is divinely precluded. (Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 5, p.50)
(b) What was the purpose of the Virgin Birth? It need not be the necessary means of preserving Christ’s sinlessness, since God could have over shadowed two parents so as to protect the baby’s sinlessness had He so desired. It served as a sign of the uniqueness of the Person who was born. (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, p.243)
(2) Jesus had no biological earthly father, which proves that He was the Son of God and that God was His Father (Lk 1:35 cp. Mt 11:27; Jn 8:42)
d) The virgin birth gave Jesus His humanity.
(1) Jesus was fully human but did not share in man’s sin nature (2Co 5:21).
(2) Other than the supernatural virgin birth, Mary would have had a normal pregnancy (Lk 2:6) and delivery (Lk 2:7).
(a) After the miraculous conception through the Holy Spirit, this was a normal physical pregnancy, consisting of a normal nine-month term, three typical trimesters, normal fetal stages, and cell division within the embryo.
(3) Jesus would have resembled Mary’s side of the family and would visibly appear to be a member of his earthly Jewish family (Mt 13:55).
D. Christ’s Genealogies and the Incarnation
1. Matthew’s Genealogy: Joseph (Mt 1:16)
a) Genealogical records were kept with the utmost accuracy in order to identify the line from which the Messiah would come.
b) Matthew records Joseph’s lineage, which goes back to Abraham and has some 41 names.
c) Though Joseph’s line was considered a royal line, technically, Joseph’s lineage was forfeited from sitting on the throne. Jeconiah (Mt 1:11-12) was cursed and his descendants were denied the throne (Jer 22:30).
d) God sovereignly prevented Joseph’s biological sons from sitting on the throne, but not his legal son Jesus. Jesus was primarily regarded as Mary’s son (cp. Mt 1:18; 2:11, 13, 14, 20).
2. Luke’s Genealogy: Mary (Lk 3:23)
a) Luke records Mary’s lineage, which goes back to Adam and has some 77 names. There were no forfeitures from the throne in Mary’s line.
b) Joseph was not regarded as Jesus’ biological father (“as was supposed” Lk 3:23).
E. Purposes of the Incarnation
1. Reveal God: One of the purposes of the Incarnation was that the Son would reveal and explain the invisible God to mankind (Jn 1:18, exegeomai – explain, Eng. exegete, Jn 14:7-9).
2. An Example: Having become a man, Jesus provided the supreme example of the only one who lived a completely righteous life (1Pe 2:21; 1Jn 2:6).
3. Provide a Sacrifice for Sin: God cannot die; therefore, God the Son took on humanity so that He could taste death for everyone (He 2:9; 10:10).
4. Fulfill the Davidic Covenant: In 2Sa 7:13, David was promised that his descendant would sit on the throne of David forever. Jesus, a physical descendant of David, is the promised Messiah who will fulfill that promise (Luk 1:31-33; Re 20:4).
5. Destroy the Works of the Devil: Jesus’ death is linked with removing the devil’s advantage over man. Having become a man and dying for man, Jesus destroyed the works of the devil (He 2:14 cp. 1Jn 3:8).
6. Sympathetic High Priest: Because Christ took on humanity, He can be the believer’s high priest and can also be sympathetic to his temptations (He 4:14-16).
7. Qualified Judge: It is the “Son of Man” (a name linking Jesus to humanity), who is both in the flesh and sinless. He therefore, is qualified and commissioned to judge man (Jn 5:22, 27).
V. PERSON OF CHRIST
A. Historical Views of Christ
1. Docetists (late 1st Cent.) – Denied Human Nature
a) Marcion, Cerinthus, and other proponents of pre-Gnosticism taught that Christ only appeared to be a man.
b) Their name comes from the Greek word dokéō, which means to seem, think, or appear.
c) While they affirmed Christ’s deity, they denied the reality of the Incarnation and thus rejected His atonement and bodily resurrection.
(1) [Cerinthus] … represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men.
(2) Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being (Irenaeus Against Heresies Book 1, Ante – Nicene Fathers Vol 1)
d) The apostle John opposed such teaching in 1Jn 4:1-3.
2. Ebionites (2nd Cent.) – Denied Divine Nature
a) Ebionites were remnants of extreme Judaizing Christianity and taught that keeping the Mosaic Law was necessary for salvation.
b) Concerning Jesus, they taught that he was the natural son of Mary and Joseph and kept the Mosaic Law. As a result, God chose this Jesus to be the Messiah.
c) Obviously then, they rejected the human Jesus’ pre-existence, deity, and virgin birth.
d) They believed a similar doctrine of Christ to the Docetists.
(1) [The Ebionites] … opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. (ibid.)
3. Gnostics (full-version, 150 AD) – Denied Divine Nature
a) The Gnostics believed in a super mystical knowledge (gnṓsis – knowledge) that only the elite obtained.
(1) The Gnostics, against whose errors it is supposed this epistle was written, were great pretenders to knowledge, to the highest degrees of the Divine illumination, and the nearest communion with the fountain of holiness, while their manners were excessively corrupt. (Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary The New Testament, Vol 8 in loc.)
b) They believed that matter was evil and therefore it would be impossible for God to become flesh.
c) They believed in intermediate gods who spanned from evil matter to perfect spirit.
d) They also held to a type of Docetic view that a “phantom” spirit came upon the human Jesus for a time.
e) The apostle Paul opposed such teachings (Col 1:15-20; 2:9).
4. Arians (4th Cent.) – Denied Divine Nature
a) They were followers of Arius, who denied the deity of Christ, but affirmed his humanity.
b) They believed that Christ was similar to God (homoiousia – similar in being) but not the same as God (homoousia – same in being).
(1) Arius of Alexandria championed the position that though Christ may be called God, he was not true God and in no way equal with God in essence or eternity. (Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, pg. 207)
(2) Before time was, Christ was created. He, the ‘Logos of God,’ was the first-born of all creation, and the agent in fashioning the world. (ibid.)
(3) Arian slogan: There was a time when he was not. (Gilley, Christology)
(4) They teach that Christ is subordinate to the Father. (House, Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine, pg. 53)
c) Arianism was condemned at the Council of Nicea (325)
(1) And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;
d) The Jehovah Witnesses and Mormonism hold to a type of Arianism in regard to Christ. Both deny the deity of Christ (See Deity of Christ).
5. Apollinarians (4th Cent.) – Denied Human Spirit
a) Theology is always having to defend and re-articulate it positions. The two natures of Christ (divine and human) had not been clearly defined.
b) Apollinaris, the younger, was the bishop of Laodicea in Syria and an opponent of Arianism.
c) However, in his attempt to support the deity of Christ, he denied Christ’s human spirit (nous – spirit, mind) declaring that it was replaced by the divine logos (divine reasoning). Though he maintained that Christ had a soul (emotions) and a body, he glorified and spiritualized Christ’s humanity.
d) Though some of Apollinaris’ beliefs were accepted, this particular belief was condemned by Constantinople in A.D. 381.
(1) who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man (Nicene Creed in 381)
(2) The Faith of the Three Hundred and Eighteen Fathers assembled at Nice in Bithynia shall not be set aside, but shall remain firm. And every heresy shall be anathematized, … and that of the Apollinarians. (First Council of Constantinople, Canon I)
6. Nestorians (5th Cent.) – Denied Union of Natures
a) Nestorius (c. 386 – 451), allegedly promoted that Christ existed as two persons (or personalities), the man Jesus, and the Logos (Son of God).
b) This was different from the accepted position of one divine person consisting of two natures (True God and True Man).
c) H. Wayne House, explains Nestorianism from his Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine,
(1) [The] union was moral, not organic – thus two persons. The human [person] was controlled by the divine [person] (pg. 54).
d) It was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
(1) If anyone shall divide between two persons or subsistences those expressions which are contained in the Evangelical and Apostolical writings, or which have been said concerning Christ by the Saints, or by himself, and shall apply some to him as to a man separate from the Word of God, and shall apply others to the only Word of God the Father, on the ground that they are fit to be applied to God: let him be anathema. (Canon IV)
7. Eutychians (5th Cent.) – Denied Distinction of Natures
a) Eutychian (c. 378 – 454), reacted against Nestorianism, but erroneously taught that Christ only had one nature (also known as Monophysitism).
b) Eutychianism, because it did not view Christ as fully divine or genuinely human, viewed Christ having a mixed or third nature (tertium quid).
c) Eutychianism was condemned at the Fourth Ecumenical Council: The Council of Chalcedon in 451.
(1) lest we also deny what is the chief thing of the dispensation for our salvation … renewing the malignancy of Arius, Apollinaris, Eutyches and Severus (The Prosphoneticus to the Emperor).
(2) we teach that one of the Holy Trinity, our Lord Jesus Christ, was incarnate, and must be celebrated in two perfect natures without division and without confusion (ibid).
d) Eutychianism was again condemned at the Third Council of Constantinople in 681, having merged into the erroneous doctrine known as Monothelitism (Though Christ has two natures, He only had one will).
8. Orthodoxy (5th Cent. to present) Affirmed Divine and Human Natures
a) Orthodoxy has held that Christ was always fully God while adding perfect humanity at the Incarnation. He can be described as now having two natures (one divine and one human) subsisting in one person.
b) Simply put, [Christ possesses] two natures united in one person. (H.Wayne House, Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine).
c) Charles Ryrie maintains in his Basic Theology, Christ incarnate being full Deity and perfect humanity united without mixture, change, division, or separation in one Person forever.
d) This was affirmed and defined at the Fourth Ecumenical Council: The Council of Chalcedon in 451.
(1) Following the holy Fathers we teach with one voice that the Son [of God] and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same [Person], that he is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very man, of a reasonable soul and [human] body consisting, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood; made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted; begotten of his Father before the worlds according to his Godhead; but in these last days for us men and for our salvation born [into the world] of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God according to his manhood. This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Prophets of old time have spoken concerning him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ hath taught us, and as the Creed of the Fathers hath delivered to us (The Definition of Faith of the Council of Chalcedon).
B. Full Deity of Christ
1. Divine Attributes of Christ
a) Eternality (declares eternal uncreated existence)
(1) These attributes are shared only by the other members of the Godhead and constitute Deity
(2) Proclaimed from eternity (Micah 5:2; ls 9:6a)
(3) Proclaimed as eternal God (ls 9:6b; Jn 1:1)
b) Omnipresence (declares Divine ability to be everywhere present)
(1) Universal presence with all believers (Mt 1 8:20)
(2) Continual presence with believers (Mt 28:20)
c) Omniscience (declares absolute Divine knowledge)
(1) Divine knowledge of events (Mt 16:21 )
(2) Divine knowledge of people (Lk 11:17; Jn 4:29)
d) Omnipotence (declares absolute Divine power)
(1) Divine power and authority (Mt 28:1 8; Mk 5:11-15)
(2) Divine power over life and death (Jn 11:38-44)
e) Immutability (declares Divine changelessness)
(1) Divine changeless character (He 13:8)
2. Divine Works of Christ
a) Forgiveness of sins (Mk 2:1-12)
(1) This is different from “Absolution,” which is the formal remission of sin imparted by a priest in the sacrament of penance. Some point out that the priest is not doing the forgiving but merely affirming that God has forgiven the pennant sinner.
(2) However, Christ Himself makes no limitation but clearly forgives from His own divine person.
b) Life & Resurrection (Jn 5:21; 11:43)
(1) In Jn 5:21, Christ claims the same divine work as the Father in regard to giving life and resurrection.
(2) Giving life would mean giving eternal life in the presence of God.
(3) Resurrection would mean the raising of the believer’s body to unite it with his soul already in the presence of the Lord.
(4) The raising of Lazarus was not a resurrection but a raising of the dead back to life (in this life). Lazarus would again die physically and later would receive a resurrection body.
c) Judgment (Jn 5:22,27)
(1) This is more than just a human agent carrying out God’s judgment.
(2) God has literally handed over the divine authority to judge to the Son after His humiliation (Phil 2:9-11).
(3) As the Son has authority to give eternal life, so He possesses the divine authority to give eternal death (Mt 25:46).
d) Sent the Holy Spirit (Jn 15:26)
(1) The work of Christ sending the Holy Spirit is a proof of His deity.
(2) The Holy Spirit is a member of the Godhead and only a member of the Godhead can send another member.
3. Divine Names and Titles of Christ
a) Son of God
(1) The term can mean and male offspring (Lk 1:13; He 11:17).
(2) The term can mean a physical descendant or relative (Mt 1:1; 12:23).
(3) The term can mean a characterization of personality (Mk 3:17; Ac 4:36).
(4) The term can be used as a description of endearment (1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2).
(5) The term is used specifically for God’s Son the Messiah.
(a) This term explains that Jesus did not have a human father, but that God was His Father (Lk 1:35).
(b) The term “Son of God” when applied to Jesus, means that He is God the Son, the Second Person of the Godhead (Joh 19:7; Joh 20:31; Joh 1:1; Col 2:9).
(c) [The term Son of God is] …a strong and clear claim of full Deity. – Ryrie.)
(d) Thus for Christ to say, “I am the Son of God” was understood by his contemporaries as identifying Himself as God, equal with the Father, man unqualified sense. (J. Oliver Buswell, Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion)
(i) Son of Man (Mt 8:20; 9:6; 11:19; 10:23; Mk 2:10; 9:9; Jn 1:51; 3:14)
(ii) This term identifies Christ with mankind in that He added humanity to His deity (Phi 2:6-8), but did not partake of man’s sinful nature but took man’s sin and punishment (He 4:15; 2Co 5:21).
(e) Christ’s claim to be the Son of God (Mt 26:63-64; Lk 22:70; Jn 10:36)
(f) Called “Son of God” by others
(i) Satan (Mt 4:3, 6); Demons (Mt 26:63; Mk 3:11)
(ii) Centurion (Mt 27:54)
(iii) Angel Gabriel (Lk 1:35)
(iv) Apostle John (Jn 20:31; 1Jn 5:13)
(v) Apostle Peter (2Pe 1:17)
(vi) Apostle Paul (Ac 9:20; Ro 1:4; 2Co 1:19)
b) Other Names and Titles of Christ
(1) Lord and God
(a) Jehovah as Yahweh (Lk 1:76; cf. Mal 3:1)
(b) Jesus as Yahweh (Jn 20:28; He 1:8)
(a) Jehovah as Creator (ls 40:28)
(b) Jesus as Creator (Jn 1:3; Col 1:16-17)
(a) Jehovah as Savior (ls 45:22)
(b) Jesus as Savior (Jn 4:42)
(a) Jehovah as the Light (Isa 60:19-20)
(b) Jesus as the Light (Jn 8:12)
(5) I AM
(a) Jehovah as I AM (Ex 3:14)
(b) Jesus as I AM (Jn 8:58)
(a) Jehovah as Shepherd (Ps 23:1)
(b) Jesus as Shepherd (Jn 10:11)
(7) Glory of God
(a) Jehovah as Glory of God (ls 42:8)
(b) Acjoh Jesus as the Glory of God (Jn 17:1, 5)
(8) First and Last
(a) Jehovah as First and Last (ls 41 :4)
(b) Jesus as First and the Last (Re 1:17)
(a) Jehovah as Redeemer (Hosea 13:14)
(b) Jesus as Redeemer (Re 5:9)
(a) Jehovah as Bridegroom (ls 62:5)
(b) Jesus as Bridegroom (Re 21 :2)
(a) Jehovah as the Rock (Ps.18:2)
(b) Jesus as the Rock (1Co 10:4)
(12) Creator of Angels
(a) Jehovah as Creator of Angels (Ps 148:2)
(b) Jesus as Creator of Angels (Col 1 :16)
(13) Addressed in Prayer
(a) Jehovah addressed in prayer (throughout OT)
(b) Jesus addressed in prayer (Ac 7:59)
C. Perfect Humanity of Christ
1. Christ’s Human Birth
a) Orthodoxy has always held that Christ is fully divine while adding humanity at His incarnation. That humanity was not a diffused mere appearance of humanity but normal, complete, and sinless humanity.
b) To prove that Jesus was fully human, it is established that Mary had a normal and full-term pregnancy with nine months and three-trimesters (Lk 2:5-6).
c) Jesus’ conception was supernatural to prove that He was the Son of God, but His birth was fully human with all the normal needs of a newborn (Lk 2:7).
d) Jesus’ birth was completely normal and proves that He was fully human (Ga 4:4).
2. Christ’s Human Body
a) To prove that Jesus was fully human, it can be shown that Jesus had a normal physical body with normal physical development (Lk 2:52).
b) The word “stature” can indicate physical maturity (cp. Lk 19:3 – same word).
c) Jesus’ growth, both physically and intellectually, was well within the realm of human development (Lk 2:40; 52).
d) It is very possible that Jesus was a healthy physical specimen (cp. Mt 5:1; 8:1ff, 20).
3. Christ’s Human Soul & Spirit
a) In proving that Jesus was fully human, it can be pointed out that He possessed a human soul (Mt 26:38) and spirit (Lk 23:46). The soul (psuchế) is the immaterial part of man.
b) It was not that the human nature provided Christ’s body while the divine nature consisted of soul and spirit. The humanity was complete and included both material and immaterial aspects. (Ryrie, Basic Theology)
4. Christ’s Human Characteristics
a) In keeping with the proof’s of Christ’s full humanity, Christ demonstrated all of the characteristics of humanity:
(1) He was hungry (Mt 4:2).
(2) He was thirsty (Jn 19:28).
(3) He was fatigued and slept (Jn 4:6; Mk 4:38).
(4) He exhibited compassion (Mt 9:36).
(5) He exhibited emotions (Jn 11:35).
(6) He experienced testing (He 4:15).
5. Christ’s Human Titles
a) The Scriptures gave numerous titles to Christ which could only be relevant if He were human
b) The “Son of Man” is a reference that has allusion to Christ’s identity with humanity (Mt 8:20).
c) The “Son of David” refers to the Davidic Covenant that could only be fulfilled by a human descendant (Mt 1:1).
d) The “Son of Abraham” refers to the Abrahamic Covenant that could only be fulfilled by a human seed (Mt 1:1).
e) The “Son of Joseph” is a title that proves Jesus’ humanity by referring to Joseph as His legal stepfather (Jn 1:45; 6:42; Lk 3:23).
6. Christ’s Human Death
a) Since God is eternal and cannot die, Christ had to become human in order to die as man’s substitute (1Ti 2:5).
b) Christ’s human body experienced crucifixion and eventually death (Phil 2:8).
(1) As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. (Condensed from “The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ” by C. Truman Davis, M.S. March, 1965.)
(2) Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. (ibid.)
(3) The compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues – the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasps, “I thirst.” (ibid.)
(4) He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” (ibid.)
(5) Apparently to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. Immediately there came out blood and water. We, therefore, have rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Out Lord died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium. (ibid.)
c) The Son of God’s death proved that He was human, but more importantly that He was the atoning sacrifice (Jn 19:33; He 2:14; 10:5, 10).
D. Christ’s Self-Emptying (Kenosis)
1. Introduction to Kenosis
a) In regard to Christ becoming a man, Philippians 2:7 is a good biblical reference. However, it also gives rise to a theological difficulty.
b) Christ was made in the likeness of man at the Incarnation. In order to do this, Phil 2:7 states that He “emptied” Himself (literal translation – NASB, NET, and RSV; “made Himself of no reputation – KJV; “made himself nothing – NIV, gave up His divine privileges – NLT).
c) The question is in what aspect did Christ empty Himself. The Greek word for “empty” is kenóō, thus we have the name for this concept called, “Kenosis.”
2. False Views of Kenosis
a) Christ gave up all of His divine attributes.
b) Christ gave up some of His divine attributes.
(1) Christ did not empty Himself of some or all of His divine attributes. Had Christ emptied Himself of some or all of His divine attributes He would have ceased to be God for a time.
(2) It would be impossible for any member of the Godhead to cease to be God, even for a time. Not only would the Trinity have ceased to be, but all of creation, which lives, moves, and has its being, would have ceased to exist (Ac 17:28).
c) Christ acted in disguise as if He did not possess divine attributes.
(1) This would suggest that Christ was deceiving mankind.
(2) This view does not sufficiently explain in what aspect Christ emptied Himself.
3. Biblical View of Kenosis
a) Christ’s glory was veiled by His humanity and therefore, man was unable to see it (Jn 10:33). However, there were times when Christ’s humanity could not veil His glory (Mt 17:2; Mk 9:2-3; 2Pe 1:17-18; He 1:3; cp. Da 3:25; 7:9). Christ’s glory was unveiled after He accomplished redemption on the cross (Jn 17:5, 24; Re 1:13-16; 19:12; 21:23).
b) Christ voluntarily limited the use of His divine attributes (cp. Mt 24:36). It was voluntary because the Scriptures emphasize that Christ “emptied Himself” (eautou ekenōsen).
c) Though Christ could still utilize His divine attributes (Lk 8:46; Jn 2:24-25), He gave up the independent exercise of His divine attributes in order to become a human and a servant doing the will of God (Phil 2:6-8). It is this humble servanthood that believers are admonished to emulate (Phil 2:5).
4. Definitions of Kenosis
a) The self-emptying (kenosis) of Christ, which was a voluntary act, consisted in the surrender of the independent exercise of the divine attributes. (Bancroft, Elemental Theology, pg. 148)
b) Christ surrendered no attribute of Deity, but that He did voluntarily restrict their independent use in keeping with His purpose of living among men and their limitations. (Walvoord, Jesus Christ our Lord, pg. 145)
c) The concept involves the veiling of Christ’s pre-incarnate glory, the condescension of taking on Himself the likeness of sinful flesh, and the voluntary nonuse of some of His attributes of deity during the time of His earthly life. His humanity was not a glorified humanity and was thus subject to temptation, weakness, pain and sorrow. Choosing not to use His divine attributes is quite different from saying that He gave them up. Nonuse does not mean subtraction. (Ryrie, Survey of Bible Doctrine, pg. 59)
E. Christ’s Impeccability
1. The Sinlessness of Christ
a) Christ’s thoughts, words, and deeds never violated the character of God or the Law of God, even though Christ experienced human temptation.
b) The Scriptures are the evidence that attests to the sinlessness of Christ.
(1) The angel Gabriel, who announced Christ’s birth, called Him the “holy” child (Lk 1:35).
(2) Christ claimed to obey and please God. Therefore, He claimed to be sinless (Jn 8:29; 15:10).
(3) The apostle Paul claimed that Christ was sinless (2Co 5:21).
(4) The apostle Peter claimed that Christ was sinless (1Pe 2:22).
(5) The apostle John claimed that Christ was sinless (1Jn 3:5).
(6) The author of Hebrews claimed that Christ was sinless (He 4:15).
(7) There are no biblical references that show that Christ sinned.
2. Impeccability vs. Peccability
a) The issue is not whether or not Christ sinned. The Bible and all conservative evangelicals agree that He did not. The issue is whether or not He was able to sin. Not all conservative evangelicals are agreed on the Impeccability of Christ
b) Some claim that Christ was “able not to sin” (Peccability, Lat. potuit non peccare), while others claim He was “not able to sin” (Impeccability, Lat. non potuit peccare).
3. Arguments for Peccability
a) Those who hold to the Peccability of Christ make several logical deductions from He 4:15, 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.
(1) Their claim is that in order for Christ to be genuinely tempted, there had to be the possibility of sin.
(2) Thus it follows that if Christ could not sin, then He could not genuinely be sympathetic to our temptations.
(a) If He was a true man He must have been capable of sinning. That He did not sin under the greatest provocation; that when He was reviled He blessed; when He suffered He threatened not; that He was dumb, as a sheep before its shearers, is held up to us as an example. Temptation implies the possibility of sin. If from the constitution of his person it was impossible for Christ to sin, then his temptation was unreal and without effect, and He cannot sympathize with his people. (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol 2:457).
b) The problem is that the genuineness of Christ’s temptation is not dependent on whether or not Christ was able to sin.
(1) For in a similar sense, Christ did not have man’s sinful nature, yet the Scriptures tell us that Christ is able to sympathize with sinful man in his temptations.
(2) Furthermore, the purpose of the temptation of Christ was not necessarily to see if He would sin, but to show that He could not sin.
c) The other problem is that this view does not take into consideration Christ’s person. Impeccability (“not able to sin”) is an attribute of the other members of the Godhead. If Christ is God, then He also possesses impeccability and it would have been impossible for His divine nature to permit His human nature to sin. This is the premise of the arguments for Impeccability.
4. Arguments for Impeccability
a) Because Christ is divine, He is immutable and unable to change (He 13:8). If Christ could not sin before His incarnation, He would not be able to sin after His Incarnation. Or put another way, If Christ was able to sin on earth, what would keep Him from the possibility of sinning in Heaven?
b) Because Christ is divine, He is omnipotent (Mt 28:18). If He is omnipotent, then Christ cannot give into sin through weakness.
c) Christ became human, not sinful. Adam was fully human while he was still innocent in the Garden. However, the difference between Christ and Adam is that Christ was God and man, unable to sin, and whose purpose was to be man’s Mediator (1Ti 2:5-6).
d) Since Christ is divine, he could not partake of a sinful nature; temptation had to have come from without. In order for sin to take place, there would have to be an inner response (Ja 1:14-15).
e) In conclusion, not only is Christ able to be sympathetic to us and an example in times of testing, but the impeccable Christ is able to give His grace and aid to the believer in temptation. The impeccability of Christ gives even more optimism to the believer’s view of victory in Christ.
VI. WORK OF CHRIST
1. The work of Christ is embodied in Christ’s death on the cross (1Co 2:2; Ga 6:14; Phil 2:8).
2. The work of Christ on the cross was the focal point of God’s plan (Ga 4:4; 1Pe 1:10-11). History becomes His story.
3. The work of Christ on the cross was determined before the creation of the world (1Pe 1:20).
4. The work of Christ on the cross is what achieved man’s salvation (Jn 19:30).
5. Therefore, the work of Christ on the cross deserves to be studied as a separate doctrine (See Soteriology, “Study of Salvation”).
1. The Importance of Christ’s Resurrection
a) To His Person
(1) In regard to Christ’s resurrection, Charles Ryrie comments, If Christ did not rise from the dead then He was a liar. (Basic Theology, pg. 308).
(2) It was Christ Himself who prophesied His own resurrection (Mt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 28:6; Lk 18:31-33; 24:6-7).
(3) The resurrection proved that Christ was the Son of God (Ro 1:4).
(4) If there is no resurrection (1Co 15:13) or if Christ was not raised from the dead, then He was either a lunatic or a liar.
b) To His Work
(1) If Christ was not raised then Christ would also have lied about His promises to the church, including indwelling it (Ga 2:20).
(2) If Christ was not raised then there would be no post-resurrection ministries. Christ would not be our High Priest, Intercessor, Advocate, or Head of the church.
c) To Man
(1) Without the resurrection, there would be no gospel or good news (1Co 15:1-4).
(2) If Christ was not raised then there would be no redemption for man. Christ’s resurrection is proof that He paid the penalty for man’s sins (1Co 15:17).
(3) If Christ was not raised then preaching would be in vain (1Co 15:14a), faith would be in vain (1Co 15:14b), the apostles would be liars (1Co 15:15), Christian would not see their loved ones (1Co 15:18), and Christians would be hopeless and pitiful (1Co 15:19).
2. The Evidence of Christ’s Resurrection
a) Christ’s resurrection was not without evidence. In fact, many are surprised to find out how many actually witnessed the resurrected Christ.
b) The following are Christ’s post-resurrection appearances in chronological order:
(1) Mary Magdalene (Mk 16:9; Jn 20:11-18)
(2) The Other Women (Mt 28:8-10)
(3) Disciples traveling to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-32)
(4) Peter (Lk 24:33-35 cp. 1Co 15:5)
(5) The Other Disciples (Mk 16:14; Jn 20:19-20)
(6) Thomas (Jn 20:26-31)
(7) Jesus’ Disciples by the sea (Jn 21:1-2)
(8) Jesus’ Disciples in Galilee (Mt 28:16-20)
(9) 500 brethren (1Co 15:6)
(10) James, his brother (1Co 15:7)
(11) Jesus’ Disciples in Jerusalem (Ac 1:3-8)
(12) Jesus’ Disciples at His Ascension (Ac 1:9)
c) In addition to actual eyewitnesses, there were undeniable effects of the resurrection that changed the course of history:
(1) The Empty Tomb
(a) There was the great controversy over the empty tomb. The dilemma still stands that we have an open tomb but no body.
(b) The Roman soldiers were placed by the tomb to secure it from being broken into and the body stolen (Mt 27:63-66). It is inconceivable that the disciples would have been able to overtake the trained Roman soldiers.
(c) After hearing the account of the Roman soldiers regarding the empty tomb, the Pharisees protected the soldiers and instructed them to lie (Mt 28:11-15). However, if the Pharisees would have had Jesus’ body, they would have publicly displayed it in order to dispel the rumor of His resurrection. The stone was rolled away from the tomb, not to let Jesus out, but to prove that He had been raised.
(2) The Day of Pentecost
(a) The Day of Pentecost is the birth of the church. It is that day that the Holy Spirit came to indwell the church.
(b) Jesus Himself said that He must go before the Holy Spirit would be sent (Jn 16:7). Furthermore, Peter said that the coming of the Holy Spirit was related to the resurrection of Christ (Ac 2:33).
(c) Had there been no resurrection, the church would not have had a birth.
(3) The Day of Worship
(a) The day of worship had always been on the Sabbath (Saturday). But after Christ’s death and resurrection God was worshipped on the first day of the week (Sunday).
(b) The reason for the change in the day of worship was that Christ was raised on the first day of the week. Therefore, every time the church meets on Sunday it proclaims Christ’s death and resurrection (Acts 20:7; Joh 20:1,19,26; 1Co 16:2; Re 1:10).
(c) Christ’s resurrection was the cause of these three effects. Without a cause, there would be no effect. These effects are evidence of the resurrection of Christ.
3. The Results of Christ’s Resurrection
a) Christ’s bodily resurrection was a “first fruits” of the believer’s bodily resurrection (1Co 15:20, 23).
b) The believer’s resurrection body will be like Christ’s resurrection body (Phil 3:21; 1Jo 3:2).
(1) Christ’s resurrection body is a material body.
(a) Christ’s resurrected body, though a new type, is a physical body that is gloriously transformed.
(b) Christ’s resurrected body was not merely a spiritual or immaterial body, but flesh and bones (Luk 24:39-40).
(2) Christ’s resurrection body was made of heavenly material.
(a) Christ’s resurrected body was able to enter rooms without opening doors (Joh 20:19; Luk 24:36).
(b) This would explain why Christ’s resurrected body was not in the tomb when the stone was rolled away (Mat 28:5-6).
(3) Christ’s resurrection body resembled His earthly body.
(a) Christ demonstrated that he was not an apparition by the fact that he could eat, though there was no need (Luk 24:41-43).
(b) One would assume that Christ’s resurrected body would not be limited by other earthly needs such as sleep etc.
(4) Christ’s resurrection body was recognizable.
(a) Christ’s resurrected body was visibly recognizable (Joh 20:20).
(b) However, there were times when the Lord prevented his disciples from recognizing him immediately (Luk 24:16, 31).
(5) Christ’s resurrection body was marked.
(a) Christ retained the wounds inflicted by crucifixion in his resurrected body as a proof to his identity (Joh 20:25-27; Rev 5:6).
(b) Jesus will be the only one in heaven with marks on his body, an eternal reminder of the grace of God on our behalf. In Rev 19:13, His robe was dipped in blood.
(6) Christ’s resurrection body was glorified.
(a) At times, Christ appears in all His glory. The “face” of Christ, like the brilliant sun, portrays his divine glory, preeminence, and victory (Mat 17:2; Rev 21:23 cp. Mat 13:43).
(b) The “eyes” blazing like fire parallels Daniel’s vision (10:6) as piercing judgment under the scrutiny of the all-seeing One (Rev 19:12).
(c) The sword (romphaia – javelin type) out of his “mouth” depicts the Written Word and Living Word (Rev 19:13, 15; Heb 4:12).
(d) He wore a diadem as the, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev 19:12, 16).
C. The Ascension
1. O.T. Claims
a) Ps 68:18 speaks of the Messiah’s ascension with allusion to moving Paradise to heaven and giving spiritual gifts to men on earth.
b) Ps 110 is a Messianic psalm referring to the Christ having ascended and sitting on the right hand of God (vs. 1), not David (Ac 2:34).
2. N.T. Claims
a) The Ascension was recorded in the historical narrative of the Gospels (Mk 16:19; Lk 24:51; Jn 1:51).
b) The Ascension was recorded in the historical account of Acts (Ac 1:6-11; 2:34; 5:31; 7:56).
c) The Ascension was recorded in the doctrinal instruction of the Epistles (Ro 8:34; Ep 1:20; 4:10; 1Ti 3:16; He 1:3; 1Pe 3:22).
a) The Ascension took place appropriately on the Mt of Olives (Ac 1:12; Lk 24:50), where among other things (Lk 22:39-41), Jesus gave His final discourse (Mt 24:3–25:46; Mk 13:3–37; Lk 21:5–36). The discourse centered on the revelation of future events.
b) Christ’s ascension was not a quick disappearance (Ac 1:9-10).
c) Included in this event was the promise of Christ’s return in a similar manner (Ac 1:11), at a similar spot on the Mt. of Olives (Zec 14:4), and in view of the world (Re 1:7).
4. Problems of the Ascension
a) It Was Contrary to Nature
(1) The fact that the ascension was against the laws of nature and had never happened before does not invalidate the Ascension.
(2) There could not have been a bodily ascension before Christ’s resurrection. In addition, there was no resurrection before Christ’s resurrection.
(3) The resurrection body is a divinely glorified body outside the normal laws of nature. Also, Christ is the Creator and Sustainer of all natural laws.
b) There Were Several Ascensions
(1) In Jn 20:17, when Jesus said to Mary Madeleine, “I ascend to my Father (KJV),” He did not mean that He would ascend and descend several times.
(2) Here the verb anabaínō (go up, ascend) is a futuristic present which does not emphasize so much duration but immediacy and certainty (Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics).
(3) Literally it would be translated, “I am returning” and carries the sense of “I am returning soon.”
c) Mary Could Not Touch Jesus
(1) In Jn 20:17, when Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Touch me not (KJV),” He did not mean that He would be contaminated, ceremonially unclean, or hindered from ascending.
(2) Rather Jesus was reemphasizing to Mary that He was not going to stay on earth, had been resurrected, and eventually would ascend to the Father. Mary had not understood Christ’s resurrection.
(3) Jesus literally said, “You must stop holding on to Me” or “Stop clinging to Me (NASB).” To put it another way, Jesus meant, “You must let me go, I am not here to stay.”
5. Significance of the Ascension
a) The Ascension marked the end of Christ’s humiliation (Phil 2:7-8)
b) The Ascension marked the beginning of Christ’s exaltation (Phil 2:9-11)
c) The Ascension marked the end of Christ’s earthly ministry and the beginning of His Post-Ascension ministry.
d) The Ascension marked the timeframe of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16ff; 15:26).
D. Post-Ascension Ministry
1. Past Ministry
a) In considering Christ’s Post-Ascension Ministry, there are certain events that have already taken place due to this ministry.
(1) Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit to indwell and be the believer’s Paraclete.
(a) The sending of the Holy Spirit would happen after Christ’s ascension (Jn 16:7).
(b) The Holy Spirit would replace Jesus as Paraclete (Jn 14:16).Paraclete literally means “one called alongside” as in an encourager, comforter, or helper. The Holy Spirit is “another” (állos – another of the same kind) divine Paraclete like Jesus
(c) The Holy Spirit exalts Christ’s person and work (Jn 15:26).
(2) The promised Holy Spirit was validated on the Day of Pentecost (Ac 2:1, 32-34).
(a) The coming of the Holy Spirit marks the birth of the church.
(b) The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to the church (Ep 1:13; 4:4, 30; cp. Ac 20:28).
b) There are other Post-Ascension ministries which are occurring presently and which will take place in the future.
2. Present Ministry
a) Christ is presently the Head of the “body” of true believers called the church (Ep 1:22-23).
b) Christ is ministering as the believer’s High Priest, who not only sympathizes with believers’ weaknesses but also aids believers in time of need (He 4:14-16).
c) Christ’s ministry is also as an Advocate (paraklêtos – which can also mean Intercessor or Defender) for the believer as a heavenly Defender (1Jn 2:1). When the Devil “accuses the brethren” (Re 12:10) of sin, the believer has a just Defense Attorney who has acquitted him (Ro 8:1, 34) as his Propitiation (1Jn 2:2) and High Priest.
d) Not only does the Holy Spirit intercede for the believer (Ro 8:26, 27), but Christ Himself engages in a Post-Ascension ministry of intercession (Ro 8:34; He 7:25). Intercession (entugchánō) means to approach another with a petition or prayer. Not only does Christ defend and aid the believer, but He also prays for him according to the will of God.
e) Finally, Christ is presently preparing a place for believers (Jn 14:1-3). The New Jerusalem (Re 21:1-22:5) is a description of the believer’s permanent home in the new heaven.
3. Future Ministry
a) Christ’s future ministry begins with the coming Rapture (and Resurrection), when Christ comes to remove His bride from the world (1Th 4:13-18).
b) Another future ministry is the Bema Seat of Christ where believers will be rewarded for their service to Christ but not judgment against their sin (1Co 3:11-15; 2Co 5:10 – bêma – elevated platform where Olympic Games were judged).
c) Christ will also execute His Second Advent where He will come with the saints (Re 19:13-14; 2Th 1:7), to Jerusalem (Zec 14:4), and defeat Israel’s enemies (Zec 14:1-3).
d) Christ will also institute His Millennial (thousand year) reign (Re 19:15; 20:1-7) where Christ will sit literally on the throne of David (2Sa 7:12-16; Is 9:6).
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