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Is Jesus God? Explaining the Hypostatic Union
One of the major claims within Christianity is that Jesus is not merely a prophet or a wise man, but that Jesus is God Himself come in human form. Among the most aberrant heresies against historical, biblical Christianity is the denial of Jesus' divinity. Among the more modern deniers of Jesus' divinity are Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses. But before them, were some "Christan" sects, such as the Nestorians.
The question before the Church in 3rd and 4th centuries was how Jesus is God. Is Jesus the man merely a vessel into which divinity was "poured"; especially as it relates to the "dove/Holy Spirit descending on Him" in Mt 3:16 and Mk 1:10. At what point is Jesus, divine or God?
The Cerinthian and Nestorian heresy has Jesus merely a receptacle for divinity. In that receptacle were two natures; human and divine.
The importance of understanding this concept correctly is that a misunderstanding of it can affect everything from how we understand the purpose and function of Jesus' death on the cross to the concept of the Triune God. If Jesus is merely a man, and not "blended" with the divine nature of God, then there would always be the nagging question of which part of Jesus was speaking at which parts in the Bible? The man-Jesus or the deity-Jesus and can we ignore those we consider the man-Jesus? This undermines Jesus' message; the Gospel.
As this question pressed on the Church, various councils were held to finally settle the issue. The Council of Chalcedon in 451AD is perhaps the most defining moment of that settlement. Among the statements produced from that council, comes this:
To down play Jesus' divinity, or to ignore His humanity are both types of heresy. Jesus is the God-man. It is not merely "Christ" which is divine, but the "one and the same", the "union" of God and man into one. Thus, the Triune God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- not The Father, Son, Christ, and Holy Spirit.
Biblically, this doctrine is confirmed in texts such as Heb 1:3 (see Heb 1:1-3 for context)
Clearly, Jesus the Son is being shown as not merely a "prophet" but the "express image" of God. No where in this context is there any distinction of Jesus and Christ. Jesus is as fully God as Jesus is fully man. Christ is a function or title; not a second nature. The only "two natures" Jesus has is that of being fully man and fully God -- "blended" or as the Chalcedonian Creed says, "in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction". Anyone claiming otherwise is advocating something other than Christianity. Or if they in one place agree but in another say Jesus was a man and not "blended" with the divine "express image" of God, then that person is in convolution of this doctrine and teaching error.
In full context, Jesus was explaining how He is God; how He existed before Abraham and is to be honored and worshiped before Abraham -- that Abraham is merely a man; Jesus is God. This is the obvious intent of Jesus' words since the Jews themselves understood and attempted to kill Jesus for Him saying so.
So, to claim Jesus only became divine (God) at some point during His humanity is wrong teaching.
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