Why is Jesus Human?

For the past six and a half years I have been working on a book whose end is now in sight. I’m calling it A Man Attested by God: the Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels.

The question that has pushed me to endure through all of the trials and tribulations of the writing has been this:

What does it matter that Jesus was fully human?

Through no fault of the churches I grew up in, I think that I had a fairly flat understanding of the identity of Jesus and what it meant:

  1. Jesus is God. Therefore, all of the awesome stuff Jesus does he does (a) because he is God and (b) for the express purpose of demonstrating his deity.
  2. Jesus is human. This is because (a) we suck, so (b) Jesus has to be able to die for us.

The only value to be found in his humanity was his death. Or, if we wanted to expand it a little bit, as in Hebrews, we might say that he occupied the same sucky existence we have (temptations to sin and the like) but managed to get to the cross unscathed.

So he could die for us.

Because we suck.

But the tide began to shift in my own thinking when I realized that proposition (1) above really only approximates the narrative strategy of John’s Gospel. When I tried to read the Mark with that same lens, the story didn’t hold together.

And so I began to dig.

“Son of God” was a title that did not mean “God,” at least, not in the sense that later Trinitarian theology would come to interpret it. “Son of God” is the Davidic King. It’s Israel. If you’re a Roman, it’s the reigning human king whose adopted father has been deified.

In these stories, the Father is God [in a way that] Jesus isn’t. Mark is a story where the Father might know something of which the Son is ignorant.

Jesus keeps calling himself “the Human Being” (“the son of man”). If we needed any clear indication that the way to read these Gospels is to see a human playing the decisive role in God’s eschatological act of salvation, this should have been it. It is the Human One who is given authority on earth to act and speak for God.

Jesus exorcises demons–like David did. Jesus brings the dead back to life–like Elisha did. Jesus controls the waters–like Moses did and Joshua did and Elisha did and the promised messiah of Ps 89 would.

The Synoptic Gospels are written to show us what kind of man it is to whom God is entrusting the rule of the world. This is not to deny Jesus’s divinity, but to show us that much of what we think of as pointing to Jesus’s divinity is actually (or, theologically speaking, “at the same time”) demonstrating what kind of human he is.

Here is what Paul and Mark and Irenaeus understood better than many of their theological heirs: God’s purpose for the world involves humans.

God’s work in creation, whether you’re looking at Gen 1 or Gen 2, is to have humans play the part of God on the earth.

In Gen 1, humans are the icons of God, the visible manifestations of the God who created them. These people are to play the role of God on the earth by ruling it and continuing to subdue the chaos that God had begun to order.

In Gen 2, humans are the caretakers of the divine garden. Standing in for God as interpreters of the space and those entrusted to its maintenance.

The story of scripture is not the story of God figuring out a way to get people out of this. It is not a story about God giving up on creation. It is a story of God trying to create a people who can live up to the majestic role that God assigned people in the beginning.

And so there is Adam, the image-bearing son of God. And there is Moses, made God to pharaoh and glory-bearing prophet of God. There is David the king whose rule is a manifestation of God’s own. There is Solomon who sits on Yhwh’s throne and receives part in the worship that the people render to God. There is Ezekiel’s prophesied shepherd, who plays the part of shepherd on earth only because God is the shepherd overseeing God’s people.

And so there is Jesus.

Jesus who is the answer to this story’s longing for the right kind of person. A person who is not merely “sinless” so that he can die as a sacrificial lamb. A person who faithfully rules. A person who faithfully bears the divine image, enacting the life of the divine theophany that humanity was created to be at the beginning.

Behold the Man!

While we spin our wheels thinking about humanness as something that marks Jesus out as the weak and dying, the biblical narrative finds its traction in Jesus who attains to the fullness of what it means to be truly human.

If Jesus could not do all that he did as a human, then the story comes to a dead-end. If no human could faithfully rule the world on God’s behalf then the power of evil to overcome the plan of God is greater than God’s power to bring it to pass.

Why did God become human? Because only a human can play the part of Adam. And Moses. And Israel. And David. And messiah who brings salvation. Because this is the storyline to which God bound Godself.

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113 thoughts on “Why is Jesus Human?

  1. Oh my goodness. This is ridiculously helpful. I have been recently struggling in the deeper significance of Jesus as man and why it is such a prevalent theme as I read the synoptic gospels (because Mark is my favorite for an emotional reason). I am stoked to read your book and wrestle with it even more.

    1. Hi Matt,

      I know this may sound like a silly question – but what is there to wrestle about? Jesus is a man. He had to be a man for us to be his brother (Heb2) in fact that He might be the first born among many brethren. What good would is it to me, as a man, for a god in human flesh to succeed? I need a man – a human person – to succeed. And thank God – and the man Christ Jesus – that He did!

      I realize I may be missing something so I am following up.

  2. This looks to be the beginning of a very enjoyable effort to educate the less educated among believers in Christ today regarding his humanity. I’m especially impressed by your kind and generous spirit in saying that your lack of education was “through no fault of the churches [you] grew up in.” After my nearly getting kicked out of an evangelical church for talking about Jesus being human and sounding like I didn’t believe Jesus was God I eventually felt mildly rewarded toward the end of a discipline process with the elders when the pastor came to the realization that Christ is still human! That was quite a revelation for him. One really doesn’t get to know who Jesus was and is even in seminaries. I pray your efforts will find a wide audience.

    1. I had a good upbringing. I think that most of the dysfunctions that came along were the fruit of my own desire to “take my faith more seriously.”

      You have been on quite a road. Glad you’re still walking along, and doing so, in part, here.

  3. I’ve been wrestling with similar ideas the last several years in various ways. I think you’re on to something big here. As a start to framing a theology I posed the set of questions below. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    What did God need for his creation project to reach it’s goal?

    Adam and Eve.

    After they failed as divine-image-bearers, what did God need for his creation project to reach its goal?

    Adam and Eve.

    Why did God send Jesus?

    A new, second Adam (and Eve).

    Why did Jesus die for us?

    To reclaim us (through forgiveness) and restore us to be Adam and Eve again in Christ.

    What is our task as new Adam and Eve?

    To be faithful image-bearers of God, representing and reflecting his character and will and protecting and nurturing the creation to its full flourishing. This is salvation.

  4. I like your point, and agree with much of what you write. This is a very important topic within Christianity. (You can sense the “but” coming, can’t you?) I did notice that your post is full of references to men: Adam, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus. Do women get to “play the part of /god on earth too? I have a feeling you would say yes to this question, but it might be an idea to include some female examples in your argument. Despite the fact that you do not use male pronouns to refer to God, your post portrays God as overwhelmingly male.

    1. A fair critique, Lora. I have had my head deep into the Jewish biblical and post-biblical tradition, where idealized human figures in the ways I’m talking about are almost always male. But Adam and Eve are both created to rule the world for God. So even though Adam gets more play as the glorious primal parent, and Jesus as a man gets more directly related to Adam, there is a restoration of all humanity, not just male humanity, in his work. Israel, too, as “son of God” consists of both men and women who are called to image God to the world.

  5. Unless Jesus was completely human, the story has no point for me. The faithfulness of Jesus yes, although I think it’s a big stretch to say that “ruling over” anything was what he was faithful at.

    1. So he doesn’t rule over the spirits over whom he exercises authority, or the broken bodies, or the turbulent seas? Ruling is a large term for exercising divine authority. Perhaps that’s a better way of putting it. But of course the Jesus of the Gospels doesn’t come fully into his rule until he goes the way of the cross and is enthroned at God’s right hand.

      1. “Rule” smacks too much of political power to suit me. I wouldn’t call setting captives free or healing broken people to be “ruling over” them. As I understand, people expected the Messiah to be a temporal ruler, mightier than Sennacherib or Augustus, smiter of nations, dealer of vengeance; but he chose instead to be a teacher and show us how to be (or move towards being) “fully human”, like him. I think it’s really important to keep that contrast in the forefront.

        I guess we can all look forward to being enthroned at God’s right hand since that’s where being fully human leads.

        1. I take your point, but I think that the only way for the story to hold together is if we allow Jesus to redefine what “rule” looks like, just like he redefines what it means to be truly human in a more general sense.

          I’m not sure about tone of your last line (serious? sarcastic?) but I would say, essentially, yes. Both Paul and Revelation speak explicitly of followers of Jesus reigning in life (Rom 5) and sitting on Jesus’s throne with him (Rev 3).

          1. No, I’m totally serious. As He was, so are We, in this world and for ever and ever. What he did, we can do, or at least it isn’t closed to us, because God wants to lift us up God’s level. Or so I believe.

            He authoritatively changed (or reinterpreted) The Rules, so in that sense fine, but many have thought that since he rules over me, I and mine should rule over the neighbors. We can’t all be King of Jerusalem (or Westeros), and look at what trouble as many try. I think in this age of the world we would do better to abandon that kind of hierarchical diction. Rather, let all things work together.

            Thanks for engaging!

      2. More to the point: “the Jesus of the Gospels doesn’t come fully into his rule until he goes the way of the cross and is enthroned at God’s right hand” and he has subjected all things to himself. 1 Corinthians 15:24-5,28 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power…. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet…When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

        1. Kind of an odd comment regarding one who was supposed to be a 3rd person of the all-almighty… (the subjection of Jesus to God…). Obviously simply throwing out something about his humanity here would be silly in light of the anhypostasis of his humanity…

            1. Sorry for the confusion – I was referring to the Biblical text as the “odd comment” – not your statement. It is odd that the 2nd co-equal person of a triune deity would end up being subject to what is apparently the first person of such an arrangement – and with no reference to the 3rd co-equal person (in other words, what a friggin’ mess!).

  6. I would love to have a conversation with you. What you are proposing here sounds like EXACTLY the insight that the Spirit has been leading me to for quite a while now. I’ve been writing about it quite a lot, and talking about it to anyone who is willing to listen.
    Jesus is the fulfillment of the “Logos” (blueprint) Christ-type that Abba ever and always imagined, intended, created, and guides and empowers humanity to be through intimate awareness and responsiveness to the Spirit. Abba’s hope for humanity is that we faithfully reflect and represent Abba’s nature and character in/to creation.
    That’s how I state it in just a couple of sentences.

    1. I think that this is generally on target, and is laid out in the Sermon on the Mount, in particular. The way of life to which Jesus calls people is for the sake of their works making known the Father whose character they should be demonstrating.

  7. Thank you for this, indeed the humanity of Jesus is very important, as important is his divinity. But, and there is alway a but… I have few comments and question hope you don’t mind me asking.

    1. Should you tell us what part does the Gospel of John play in the story?
    2. Though I agree with your pinot about God loving and caring for creation, and for us being called to be icons of the image. However, Jesus is not the icon of Adam and David…etc, it is the other way around, they are icons of Jesus… That is what St. Irenaeus says.
    3. I am not sure if your assertion of Son of God not being divine really holds water. Matthew 16: 16 “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” does not seem to be speaking about mere humanity. The Son of God the Messiah (Spirit anointed) is a strong divine Trinitarian confession, comes as a result of the Father’s revelation (cf. Matt. 16:17). See also John 20.32 ‘…these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’. the Church Fathers who gave us the synoptics also gave us John, and they did not see Son of God as having to meaning divine with John and human with Luke. (Cf. John Behr’s book ‘The Mystery of the Cross’ on the relation between the two).
    Further, still in the synoptics, when the High Priest asked Jesus if he is the Son of God, Jesus’ allusion to Daniel 7’s Son of Man was considered by the High P as blasphemy (Matt 26:64). I wander why?
    4. Finally, your post seems to suggest that all who were around Jesus, where simply in touch with a human being. It seems to suggest that Jesus made deliberate effort to shield himself from his divinity, and making sure that all he did was human. It seems to suggest that Jesus was simply here to affirm our humanity. I think, to try and stress one nature of the Son more than the other will alway end up in problems. Jesus is the Word who became flesh, he is God with us, he is Not God and man (some sort of two Son Christology), but God who became man, he is God who is man, and the man who is God, the Incarnate Son of God. Hence, all our discourse of him need to capture that at all times, I can’t shelve ‘bits’ of him in order to talk about other ‘bits’, I can’t part-him or divide him from himself. We need St. Cyril of Alexandra to guid us through this one.

    Jesus is not created in my image, but I, by his grace, will be made on his image.

    Thank you for your time

    1. (1) John works with a different, a divine Christology.
      (2) There are a couple of ways to get to Irenaeus via scripture. My main concern is to say that all these humans are icons are God. Jesus becomes the icon into whose shape we’re re-formed (Rom 8). In Col we learn that Christ is the original icon of whom Adam was the copy.
      (3) Matt 16:17 is one of the clearest examples of the point I make, that son of God is not a divine title in the Synoptics. Peter’s confession interprets for us what son of God means: “You are the Christ, the son of the living God!” Son of God means messiah, the anointed king. See also the birth announcement in Luke and the equation made at Jesus’s trial.
      (4) No–I tried to stave off this concern. To be with Jesus isn’t to be around our humanity, but to be around what God always wanted our humanity to be but to which none of us had ever attained.

      The point is that Jesus is remaking humanity, and yes, as you say, we are recreated in his image.

      1. Thank you, you replay is much more clear that the post..the post seems to suggest otherwise.

        Disagree with your interpretation of Son of God in the synoptics, Cf. John’s Behr’s ‘The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death’ who explains that both Synoptics and John meant divine by Son of God, but they are approaching it from different prospective. If the kings of Israel were be called Son/s of God does, it does not mean robing the title form its divinity, but simply to be a pointer to the ultimate Divine Son of God.

  8. How well do you understand the hypostatic union – particularly the anhypostasis of the human nature?

    1. With all due respect to the tradition, if we have to ask about the hypostatic union, then we are miles away (perhaps it’s better to say, centuries away) from being able to read the NT, and the Synoptic Gospels in particular. Our first reading needs to be within the context in which such parsing of the identity had not yet dawned on anyone. The stories the Gospels tell are worthy of their own hearing, first of all.

      1. J.R. I am totally good with your perspective and approach here. I only go to the this approach because others use it as a foundation to parse the Gospels themselves. I will phrase my questions with respect to your post and begin anew.

      2. So glad you are blogging again. You simply provide a great space for meaningful and respectful conversation. Thanks. With regards to your comment, does accessibility to the context you speak of exist? Does not the parsing of the identity take place in the writing of the material itself and therefore is presupposed?

  9. Please look at the paper that I have sent you SOONEST. The point of the allusion to Is. 7 in Mt. 1 is the with-us-ness of GOD in Jesus, not the virgin conception.

    1. Nice observation – and in fact this phrasing is used many times through scripture ultimately summed up at the end of Rev in which God’s dwelling place will once again be with men…

    2. It is interesting that the same phrase was used in Isa 7 to talk about God’s presence to save from an earthly threat, without any hint of incarnation. I wonder how that should shape our reading of Matthew?

        1. Priscilla – The notion of “God with us” is only used twice? In the whole Bible? I assume you are using a very limited reference – and I must be referring to something broader as the notion of God with us seems pretty common in my reading.

          And please don’t make do a paper on that – I have enough on my plate!

          Greg Logan

          1. Greg, my reference is to the expression in Isaiah rendered Εμμανουηλ in the Old Greek and taken up by Matthew, I believe programmatically, in ch. 1. Of course the idea is all-pervasive. Matthew closes his Gospel with an assertion of it, in “with you always”.

  10. Hey Daniel,

    This line of argument is one I’m super sympathetic to. Who am I kidding – I believe it with all my heart! However, there are parts of scripture that give me pause on it, that I’d really like to see seriously grappled with. I’m sure you will in your book, of course, but let me spell it out all the same.

    The whole “God = awesome, man = suck” thing is not without serious rhetorical use in the Bible. Man looks at the outward, the Lord looks at the heart. Get behind me Satan, you’ve got the things of man and not the things of God in mind. The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man. And I didn’t even pick from the gospel of John…

    Now, of course this is easy enough to qualify. This is man in his suckiness due to being in Adam and not the messiah. But with that qualifier in placw, the biblical story does go nuts with this dualism. So it can’t be too readily dismissed.

    A word about language, it should go without saying (but of course doesn’t in your circles), that “man” here includes both male and female men. In my opinion, the inclusive language crusade should have gone in the other direction – finding a new word to refer to the male men (Broman?) and reserving the core word “man” to refer to the species. You can say “human being” as a wordy clarification of what you mean by “man”, but “human being” just means “man-like thingey” (that horrible bigoted root word is sitting right in the middle of the innocent “human” right after the “hu” ). Chinese is much simpler, in that you always add a male modifier if you want to specifically refer to a male man. Though you still use the male “they” for plurals when there are mixed groups, but overall it is a lot clearer than English – and this all from a far more traditionally misogynistic culture than the west. Anyway, I know this ship has sailed for you and most of your colleagues, but I’m a curmudgeon and still wouldn’t be caught dead saying “Godself”.

    1. Wonders, you make a good point about the state of people to whom Jesus coming being one in which we suck. No, I don’t deal with this in the book. I am looking at idealized human figures, not the messy real ones!

      On language, what can I say? The notion that “human” is dubious because of the three letters it has in it m-a-n is foolish. Words mean in the ways that they are used. The fact is that man means both male and humanity. Because of this, its deployment for the latter conjures up the former even when we know what the more generic use is in play. It actually does take a specific mental step of adding women when people hear the word “man” and it means “human.” I don’t want my daughter to have to undergo those types of mental gymnastics to know that she is included in the saving work of God.

      When I was in seminary, L and I used to babysit for a precocious preschool-aged girl. One day when we showed up, her dad was finishing devotional Bible reading which included Ps 116, “All men are liars.” We watched in amusement as this little girl went around the table pointing at people: “Man. Man. Not a man. Not a man. [Then, pointing at herself with great delight] Not a man!”

      Man means male. Using it to mean both genders is a disrespectful hanger-on of patriarchy.

      Yes, Godself is clunky. But if there is something worse than communicating that all humans who matter are male, it is communicating that God is in some way male. I try to get around the clunky language in our church gatherings by alternating masculine and feminine pronouns. Clunky is better than false, as I see it.

      1. “Man means male. Using it to mean both genders is a disrespectful hanger-on of patriarchy.”

        See, this is false, and to say such is deeply disrespectful in its own right. Using it to mean both genders is just the way English works. It is not intrinsically privileging to men – anymore than distinguishing between “men and officers” means the army sees men as higher ranking than officers (quite the opposite). The patriarchal history exists quite independently of the language, and in the case of Chinese, was much more oppressive while having the exact language distinction we wish English had.

        No, something else is going on. People want boundary markers between the clean and the unclean – the enlightened and the dinosaurs. This sort of thing is quite common in academic circles, and it takes quite a bit of effort to really keep up with it as it constantly changes. Which words mark you as one of us on the inside, who thinks the right things, who doesn’t offend, and which words prove someone is an unsophisticated simpleton who still uses the language in the old way (to whom we can impute all the evils of the past – the killing of the prophets that WE surely would not have taken part of).

        It is quite possible that some choose to opt out of this linguistic circumcision, not because they disrespect women, but because they cry foul at the sophistry of those who vandalize language in their efforts to display their ideological purity.

        Anyway, that’s the polemic from the other side. The reality is that there are good motivations for either in a given context, and I suppose it would be best for both not to judge the other. If I resent being sneered at by you, I shouldn’t dish it out either. 😉

        The God question is a much bigger one, and hearing “I believe in God the mother almighty, birther of Heaven and Earth, and in Jesus Christ her only son our Lord” is far more jarring than “human one” as opposed to “son of man”. I do wonder if there’s an application of your point here – of what to do with the classic dualities between God and man, heaven and earth, male and female. The problem, which we agree on, is that the latter party was seen to be inferior – to exalt one is to demean the other. The solution might be to eliminate the duality altogether, and never distinguish at all, for fear of being oppressive. Or the solution might be to maintain the duality, but to do so in a way that they are mutually affirming rather than demeaning (where the one is the culmination and expression of the other). I see your argument as tending toward the second solution in some cases, but sticking firmly to the first solution in others.

        To be sure, there are intrinsically oppressive dualities that are meant to be done away with in the Biblical story – slave and free, outsider and insider. Where does male and female fit into this? In our history we’ve used elements of both – the beautiful creational dance of the two in love, vs. the demeaning oppressive crushing of one by the other. Where I see you tending is that the male-female duality is intrinsically oppressive, and therefore cannot be used to speak of the profound mystery of Christ and his church, or of God and creation. Or perhaps the reverse – a latent assumption that the God/man duality IS in fact still an oppressive “awesome/suck” one, so that we can’t apply it to the male/female duality without bringing the God/man oppressiveness into our male/female understanding.

  11. This is a great article and I’m looking forward to your book. But just as I thought you hit the nail on the head, you default to “not denying Jesus’ divinity” and “God becoming human.” Why is it really so difficult to let go of later enculturated dogma? If the glory and victory of God is achieved precisely in that: utter humanity; then why continue the disservice of clinging to Trinitarian thought?

    1. @Jaco

      Nicely said. Why even use the term “human”? Why not step up to the Messianic and Apostolic teaching and use the term “a/the man” just as they did??

    2. There is divine Christology in the NT as well. Each has its place, and eventually they need to be brought into conversation with each other. I don’t want my focus on one aspect to be taken as disregard for the other.

      1. Divine Christology does not by default mean Trinitarian Christology. If in redeemed humanity God is encountered, as demonstrated by Jesus, then this Christology is divine for different reasons than Evangelical Trinitarian Christology is divine. Using such ambiguous terms as “divine” is unfortunate. The God of Israel was revealed IN Jesus, but not AS Jesus. Sadly this distinction is often fudged.

        1. Nice distinction! And reflects exactly what Jesus stated time and again.

          Jn17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

        2. Completely agree with the bit at the end. One of my complaints in A Man Attested by God is that proponents of early high Christology either conflate “revealed in God” with “revealed as God” or else lead their readers to do so when they themselves are too careful to draw the conclusion.

          1. Daniel,
            Which particular “early high Christology” folks are you referring to here? I haven’t followed the recent scholarly discussions closely, and have only read Hurtado’s stuff. Any specific referrals and critiques would be appreciated.

          2. Yes, the conflation is exactly there where the distinction would make ALL the difference. It’s a fact – and it’s a pity – that theology often gets away with vague and ambiguous language with apparently no valid reason.

            Re. your reference to the Early High Christology club: Hurtado is a difficult one to pin down. Mostly promoted by Evangelical apologists (he even endorsed the rather embarrassing How God became Jesus), he nevertheless says things such as, “the NT Jesus is not worshipped ‘as God’ (whatever that may mean) but, instead, with reference to God, as the Son of God” (; This shape-shifting can be rather frustrating at times. Another EHC person is Bauckham, of course. His Christology of Divine Identity has also been warmly welcomed by Evangelicals most of the time. Some heavy criticism levelled against his novel proposal can be read here:;

            1. “he nevertheless says things such as, ‘the NT Jesus is not worshipped ‘as God’ (whatever that may mean) but, instead, with reference to God, as the Son of God’”

              Yes, that’s a perfect example of the sort of ambiguous language that’s often used by promoters of an early proto-orthodoxically “high Christology”. So, when Paul penned Philippians 2, and one of the readers approached him asking “You seem to present Jesus as someone worshiped as God. Can you explain how that squares with our monotheistic worldview in which only God himself should be worshiped?” Paul answers, “Ah, well, you see, I’m not saying that Jesus is worshiped ‘as God’, but ‘with reference to God’ as his Son.” “Oh, I see”, comes the reply, “Well that’s perfectly fine then, thanks for clarifying.” 😉

              I think that Hurtado’s historical model is highly problematic, and if I weren’t much too busy for a man my age, I’d spend some more time blogging about it. If you click on my name you’ll be taken to a blog entry of my from a while back entitled “On the Problem of Expectation”, which is a very brief (and incomplete) introduction to the problem.

              1. One of the things I like about Hurtado’s handling of these issues, in light of his exhaustive historical analysis, is that the language he uses to describe the Apostles’ beliefs and practices is appropriately and “accurately” ambiguous. Using all the admittedly limited time and abilities I had available I concluded I must be like the Apostles as unlettered new wineskins, hence unable and/or unwilling to give answers that God hadn’t. So, being aware that we limited humans do not have the ability to comprehend or adequately describe the nature of God nor exactly how he works in and through humans, specifically in the man Jesus the Messiah as a resurrected divinity, we ought to stop thinking and speaking as though we could. I concluded, after considerable study of who that Jesus the cosmic Christ of scripture whom I worshiped was, that scripture didn’t answer the questions answered by later church councils, even whether he was created or uncreated. Very unsatisfying perhaps, but that is where the biblical evidence leaves us as far as I can tell.

                1. Admittedly, I remain lost as to why we cannot use simply apostolic language –

                  Jesus is a M-A-N.

                  I won’t bother citing the specific texts that both formally state and even necessitate Jesus as a man person because you gents know them as well as I.

                  As to a man being worshiped, being called “god”, able to forgive sins, NONE of these are issues as I suspect you are all aware as well (contrary to the frothing at the mouth evangelical/vatican leadership who lead their disciples into becoming twofold more a child of hell than themselves (so to speak… not sure who used this language…:-) ).

                  Here is a great text that sums this all up (including asking at the end – why indeed would a god person need to receive authority from anyone…??) –

                  26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations

                  27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
                  They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—

                  as I also have received from My Father;

                  BTW – what a GREAT text for understanding how OT texts were applied in a NT environment – and perhaps an opening for understanding the confounding Heb 1 passages (Jaco – have you taken note of this??).

                  1. I think when you say “a man being worshiped, being called “god”, ,,, , NONE of these are issues” you go too far. A man, resurrected though he was (and is), is an ISSUE in the context and culture of biblical Jewish beliefs and practice. It is a majorly significant issue. Those are antinomies evidenced in the texts of the NT that need to be incorporated into what it means to be a worshiping believer in God in Christ Jesus (note the evocative yet equivocal phrase).

                    1. Richard

                      I appreciate your consideration as to illiterate Jewish thought. Jesus had to correct this more than once (Jn10:30ff).

                      My phrase “none of these are issues” references Biblical context, e.g. Rev 3:9 – Jesus is just fine with men being worshiped, in fact, commanded other men to do so…. You and I both familiar with the breadth of application of the term elohim/theos and likewise of men having the authority to remit sins, etc.

                      We recognize the ultimate authority as Jesus recognized the ultimate authority of His Father – and our authority within Him alone such that it is only God who is worshipped, forgives sin and is the only true God (Jn17:3).

                    2. I meant to say “A man, resurrected though he was (and is), being [WORSHIPED] is an ISSUE in the context and culture of biblical Jewish beliefs and practice.”

                    3. However not in the context of the Jewish Jesus and His Biblical belief as Rev 3:9 makes clear (though general usage of the word does it sufficient justice to not resort to this obvious text).

                2. I enjoy Hurtado’s work as well. As I state in my blog post called On the Problem of Expectation, the high esteem in which he is held is well deserved, for he is a very thoughtful scholar, whose writings are a paradigm of clarity (with some exceptions), elegance, and a tasteful touch of literary flair. Even when I disagree with what he says (which I often do) I can’t help but enjoy the way he says it;-)

                  However, while I grant that there are some biblical ambiguities, (a) I don’t think that leaning on such can justify the unhealthy (IMO) transformation undertaken by the later Church, whose thinkers and doctrine shapers were from a different time and intellectual place than the early Christians, and (b) I don’t think they justify the unhealthy and rather odd (IMO) modern perpetuation of those flawed traditions.

                  Note the irony in statement by Hurtado that Jaco highlighted and which prompted me to comment:

                  “the NT Jesus is not worshipped ‘as God’ (whatever that may mean) but, instead, with reference to God, as the Son of God”

                  As I pointed out, Hurtado was trying to bring clarity to the question, and correct the flawed understanding that “Jesus is worshiped ‘as God” (whatever that may mean) with what he felt was a more accurate statement “Jesus is worshiped ‘with reference to God’ as the Son of God'” (to which I responded with an illustration that’s the equivalent of Hurtado’s own words “whatever that may mean”).

                  The irony is that in attempting to clarify, Hurtado replaced one “whatever that may mean” with another “whatever that may mean”, which ultimately doesn’t *clarify* anything, it seems to me.

                  I would also contend that the question of whether Jesus is “God” or “fully God and fully Man” (whatever that may mean) or “fully divine and fully human” (again, whatever that may mean) or someone other than God is certainly not ambiguous. Jesus is God’s Messiah, which ipso facto makes him someone else. Contrary to a popular reply to such an observation, Jesus is not just someone other than “the Father”; he’s someone other than “God”. The divine title was applied to Jesus, yes, just as it was applied to other agents of God in the bibilcal period, which is typically mean representationally. I would also argue that the exalted language used of Jesus is not unexpected in light of the length and breadth of his status as God’s supreme agent.

                  To me, the only applicable ambiguity is the question of whether Jesus was worshiped. Opinion is varied, with Hurtado taking a firm albeit ambiguously qualified “Yes” and Jimmy Dunn offering a qualified “No.” I think Dunn’s answer is probably closer to the mark, but even if Hurtado should prove to have the better insight, this doesn’t cause a problem, because Hurtado himself offers the solution. To paraphrase: The early Christians treated Jesus as an object of veneration/devotion because they came to believe that God required that they do so. Well, if what they were doing can accurately be described as “worshiping Jesus” then this was done, not because Jesus was considered God in something other than a representational sense, bust because God Himself required such treatment. Again, I side with Dunn on this question, but even if we could legitimately infer that Jesus was given the sort of “worship” that was previously reserved for God Himself, this wouldn’t necessitate a problem or a redefinition of God’s being, because God Himself allowed or required the exception to the rule.

                  1. Sean

                    I assume you have read Rev3:9 with respect to the nature of “worship”? Etc. Worship of the man Christ Jesus was quite satisfactory. I worship the man Christ Jesus. All mankind will eventually bow the knee… and then Jesus will subject Himself to God.

                    I assume the nature of the case allowed an evolution of his nature – esp. in a pagan, polytheistic world though the Greek influences were very present, e.g. Tertullian.

                    1. Greg,

                      Yes, I’m familiar with Rev. 3:9, but I don’t read it the way you do. The Greek word that some might translate as “worship” is προσκυνήσουσιν (PROSKUNHSOUSIN in b-greek characters), and this term means to do obeisance, such as one would offer a king. In fact, it is used that way a number of times in the LXX with reference to King David (Isa. 25:23, 41; 2 Kings 1:2). The obeisance may or may not include the element of “worship.” One surprising text in which it probably did is 1 Chron 29:20, where both God and the King are joint recipients of PROSKUNHSOUSIN in a context in which it seems impossible to exclude the element of “worship”, as there is no plausible situation in which the ancient Hebrews would have prostrated themselves before God in recognition of his universal sovereignty yet that not involve worship. However, I see nothing that necessitates worship in Rev. 3:9.

                    2. Sean –

                      Acknowledged – the breadth of usage of proskunew was my whole point. However, if you don’t like proskunew for “worship”, what word are you specifically focused on that relegates real worship to God alone? And what are going to do with, just a very small sample, the following vss.

                      Lk4:8 – Jesus called us to “Worship God alone”. What word is used?

                      Ex 34:14 – Worship Jehovah only. What word is used? Ok, I understand it was presumably written in Hebrew but what word is used in the Septuagint?

                      Rev19:10 – John is not to worship the angel but to worship God alone. What word is used???? (OK, sorry for the emphasis…:-) )

                      Throw in Mt14:33, Mt 28:16, 17 just for fun…:-)

                      What is the real point of the word “proskunew” if it does not mean “worship”? What is the point of the above passages if proskunew does not mean worship in the sense of worshiping God?

                      I love the Bible – it is sharper than any two edged sword.

                    3. Greg,

                      I would distinguish between various uses of the word PROSKUNHSOUSIN by focusing on contextual *intent* rather than solely on the term itself, which was broader in its application that you seem inclined to allow, although you said that the broad applicability is part of your argument, which is now rather ambiguous to me, admittedly. Are you trying to follow in Hurtado’s footsteps? 😉

                      Interestingly, at Luke 4:8 the Lukan Jesus saw the need to qualify what sort of “worhsip” he was referring to by using the word LATREUSEIS. In other words, he was making clear that he wasn’t referring to just any old PROSKUNHSOUSIN, such as that which Kings were rightly due, but to PROSKUNHSOUSIN in its hardest possible sense.

                      The angel refused PROSKUNHSOUSIN because he was acting as a messenger, not as one ruling in behalf of God. In other words, the angel wasn’t designated to sit on God’s throne and rule in his behalf as the Dividic kings, Jesus Christ, and Christian co-rulers were. The Matthean verses again involve PROSKUNHSOUSIN being offered to the ultimate Davidic King, the Messiah himself. If David deserved such treatment, surely Jesus did as well, even more so.

                      When a word has a somewhat broad range of usage, it’s a mistake to assume that it can be used of anyone without reference to intent. While I’m not a Catholic, I think that they’re distinctions may be helpful, and may very well represent correspondingly similar distinctions that were present in the minds of ancient worshipers, though unstated/undeveloped. See:


                      Using that scheme as a guide, I would say that Jesus received dulia and hyperdulia , but not latria. Thus, I would reword one of Longenecker’s comments as follows:

                      “This also should be understood clearly: the dulia and hyperdulia which we give to [Jesus]…is ultimately honor given to God.”

                      Compare those words to Paul’s:

                      “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
                      that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, ***to the glory of God the Father.***” (Phil 2:10, 11).

                    4. Sean

                      I can buy all of this. This in fact is my very point.

                      In addition you added the distinction between Christians receiving worship, King’s receiving worship as representatives and as having been given such rulership authority. Great job on this – and that is exactly what we see in Rev2,3 (as the Father has given me authority – so I give you authority, etc.).

                    5. Greg,

                      I forgot to add that, if we grant that the treatment of Jesus can/should be described as “worship”, then we should bear in mind an important qualification: This wouldn’t really mean that Jesus was worshiped; rather, it would mean that God (=the Father) was worshiped in/through Jesus. As the cornerstone of the temple, Jesus isn’t the God worshiped, but the ‘place’ Christians come to worship God the Father. As the Lamb of God, Jesus isn’t the God to whom sacrifice is offered, but the sacrifice itself, offered to God in our behalf. If that doesn’t warrant hyperdulia then nothing does!

                    6. I am not sure we need to go quite that far HOWEVER I do recognize it is because of God’s vested authority in His agent, e.g. Jesus – and through Jesus, us, that allows for this worship. If this is what you mean vs. some kind of bizarre modalistic perspective of seeing God though the human thing, then i am good with that. Same with forgiving of sins, etc.

                      BTW – this has been a great discussion and demonstrates that we work best as a team. I would love to tie into White or Brown (strident trin apologists) on this very issue since they pound this to no end.

                    7. ” If this is what you mean vs. some kind of bizarre modalistic perspective of seeing God though the human thing, then i am good with that. Same with forgiving of sins, etc.”

                      Well, I’m certainly no modalist! :-) Christologically, I believe that the person who became Jesus the Messiah had real existence in heaven as God’s first begotten/created ‘Son’ (although spirit beings don’t have literal gender) before he became a man via a miraculous event, and that God his Father is the only one who rightly owns the appellation “the only true God” (Jn. 17:3). Admittedly, preexistence Christology can get a bit messy, as one then has to navigate the troubled waters of carefully discerning what texts are probably best explained as references to preexistence, but, IMO, that is the best reading of some texts, especially ones found in GJohn (e.g. John 17:5; 8:58).

                    8. Sean

                      You surprise me if I understand correctly that you are asserting what is popularly known as Arianism (I have been getting overmuch exposure to adherents lately which has pushed me to understand this less than popular Christology due to its insistence by certain objectionable organizations).

                      So you are seeing a personal divine entity, created by Jehovah – no doubt participating in the creation of this universe (? – most Arians seem to hold this due to faulty exegesis of Col1, and one or two other less obvious instances) that then somehow incarnated Himself into….. WHAT? That is the issue.

                      OK – before I meander further, I will make sure we are on board because I also see a genuine pre-existing Jesus (vs. a pre-incarnate Jesus as the Arians see…) who is neatly existing in the MIND of God as scripture explicitly discusses (Rev13:19, IPet1:20 – and just for fun lets through in Jn8:58…:-) ). I want to make sure that this latter is not what you have in mind since we would be preaching to the choir.

                      I would then find your comments re: the worship of a created being even more intriguing (I saved our thread for a baseline since I have recently run into this in a big way via Michael White) – and understand why you worked so hard in this area…:-)

                  2. Well, we all seem inevitably to get a bit ambiguous when trying to explain what manner of worship the Apostles enjoyed in their devotion to Jesus the risen Christ. Or at least so it seems as Sean concludes by saying:

                    “even if we could legitimately infer that Jesus was given the sort of “worship” that was previously reserved for God Himself, this wouldn’t necessitate a problem or a redefinition of God’s being, because God Himself allowed or required the exception to the rule.”

                    Unfortunately, I don’t think I discern a coherent argument even implied in this; perhaps too many “or”s.

                    My inclination in response to those here arguing for Jesus being “worshiped” in the NT merely as a human or as the preeminent agent of God–but not God himself–is twofold.

                    First, in reprising the arguments of Hurtado or Dunn there seems to be a failure to fully recognize the particular contexts in which these scholars are saying the Apostles believed this or that. I think both of them portray a process of development in the Apostles’ understanding of who Jesus was and is–when Jesus was known as “the man Christ Jesus” and when he was worshiped as the bodily resurrected personal manifestation of the God of creation and understood to be the unique divine agent of creation. There has not in most of these posts been attention to the detailed development of Apostolic beliefs as reflected in the particular chronologically placed practices described by the scholars referenced. I think this has resulted in a glossed over portrayal of their views–a bit of strawman argumentation to be blunt. Hurtado says the Apostles got to full worship of the resurrected Christ not long after they experienced him in his”divinized” state and Dunn (if I remember correctly) says they got there after some evolution in beliefs and practice. Neither denies that the NT reflects a devotion to the fully to be worshiped Jesus the man-god.

                    Second, there seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge and accept the profound significance of Christ being known by the Apostles as the the one through whom all things were created. The significance of Christ Jesus being worshiped as the only agent of creation, the Logos of God who is God, is either ignored or minimized. Jn. 1, Heb. 1, Col., these are not minor notes in the Apostolic symphony. I’m inclined to think that some of you have different perspectives from those of Hurtado and Dunn regarding Jn. 20:28 and Rev. 5:13-14, in which there are no delimiting references to “agency,” just pure worship in equivalence to “the one true God.” There are a number of OT references to YHWH that are applied by the Apostles to Christ in the NT that shouldn’t be discounted as substantial contributing factors in Hurtado’s analysis, but I don’t think anyone has made counter-arguments in reference to them.

                    In the simple language of the NT I worship Jesus as my Lord and my God. Do you? If not why not?

                    1. Richard –

                      I worship the Christ Jesus as my Lord and my God and as my only mediator – the man – not the impersonal human nature – but the man made in every respect like us in order that He might be the first born among many brethren. We are human persons.

                      Thus, the issues you adduce boil down to exegetical issues which once, when they begin to fall – open the eyes to a completely new paradigm that suddenly allows the text as a whole to be far more congruent and make much more sense (no more wrestling with 10,000 singular pronouns for Jehovah or ICor8:6 or Jn17:3, etc. Likewise, such use alone does not violate the basic hermenuetic of maintaining the standard meaning of words unless specifically defined otherwise. Man never is in these contexts but, in fact just the opposite is demanded –

                      21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

                      A man is conceived at a point in time – easily – but far more important – a man is a completely sentient, independently functioning entity without need for a divine entity of some sort of actuate an impersonal human nature as BOTH Arian and Trinitarian theology blatantly demand.

                    2. I think a few things need to be said here. Talking about an unwillingness to accept this or that, what has consistently been down-played is the scope of the practice of “worship.” Fortunately Dunn clarified this point. Furthermore, while worship has been used to redefine monotheism by pro-Trinitarian scholars, clear identity of who God and Jesus are explicitly said to be has hardly ever been used to redefine or clarify that worship. Fletcher-Louis’ work has also clarified much of this.

                      “Agent of creation” is also a theologically-driven misnomer. Agent of which creation? Of the New Creation, yes! Agent PRECISELY SINCE the Creator is Someone else. Taken the Jewish understanding of notional pre-existence seriously, much confounding and doctrinal hair-splitting would miraculously come to resolution. Jn 1, Heb. 1, and Col 1 have unfortunately been used as confirmation bias to support cherished doctrine. None of these sections refer to the Genesis creation. As long as Jesus reflects the Father, the Father (God) would be seen when Jesus is seen. Failure to accept this is the clearest indication of unwillingness. Claiming that Jesus is God because he is situated within the liturgical arena of worship would be as inaccurate as claiming the king to be God in 1 Chronicles 29:20-23. And referring to the quoting of OT passages in the NT while ignoring midrashic application introduces more problems than solutions (cp. Ps. 2 and Rev. 2:26, 27).

                      You worshiping Jesus as such and the original intent of doing it may be two completely different things.

                    3. Hi Richard,

                      You responded:

                      “Well, we all seem inevitably to get a bit ambiguous when trying to explain what manner of worship the Apostles enjoyed in their devotion to Jesus the risen Christ. Or at least so it seems as Sean concludes by saying:”

                      “'[Sean] even if we could legitimately infer that Jesus was given the sort of ‘worship’ that was previously reserved for God Himself, this wouldn’t necessitate a problem or a redefinition of God’s being, because God Himself allowed or required the exception to the rule.’”

                      “Unfortunately, I don’t think I discern a coherent argument even implied in this; perhaps too many “or”s.”

                      Well, there were only two “or”s and I think they were logically and appropriately placed, so perhaps you’re merely resistant to the implications of the observation. If it helps, omit the “allowed” part and go with “required” and then you’ll be down to only one “or”;-)

                      “My inclination in response to those here arguing for Jesus being “worshiped” in the NT merely as a human or as the preeminent agent of God–but not God himself–is twofold. First, in reprising the arguments of Hurtado or Dunn there seems to be a failure to fully recognize the particular contexts in which these scholars are saying the Apostles believed this or that. [snip]”

                      This comment reminds me of something I heard N.T. Wright say in a lecture while visiting the U.S. Someone lamented that Wright didn’t believe or give attention to “X” teaching (I forget the specific teaching), and Wright humorously noted that this is one of the problems with theological writing, i.e. if you don’t say _everything_ you know and believe about a topic every time you address it then people assume you either aren’t aware of the bits you omit or you don’t accept them.

                      “Second, there seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge and accept the profound significance of Christ being known by the Apostles as the the one through whom all things were created. The significance of Christ Jesus being worshiped as the only agent of creation, the Logos of God who is God, is either ignored or minimized. Jn. 1, Heb. 1, Col., these are not minor notes in the Apostolic symphony.”

                      Well, the Unitarians would argue the LOGOS was impersonal, and that Col and Heb are references to new creation. The arguments for such views are often insightful and thought-provoking, but I don’t make them myself. I have no problem acknowledging that the LOGOS was the agent through whom God accomplished his creative works. Indeed, I’ve affirmed that view for most of my Christian life, and continue to do so today. The very fact that he’s _the agent_ that God used to create shows that he’s someone other than God.

                      As for John 1:1c, I think that the immediate context and grammar actually favors “the LOGOS was a god” rather than “the LOGOS was God”. See my blog entries at the links below for my view of certain ill-conceived arguments that have become fashionable ever since folks came to realize that Colwell’s rule doesn’t answer the translational problem, as most erroneously had from the 1930s to about the 1970s (some still do!).


                      However, even if we go with “the LOGOS was God”, that doesn’t really cause a problem for my Christology, as far as I can see. In fact, while I favor “the LOGOS was a god” as the best equivalent in English of what the Evangelist wrote, I actually like the traditional rendering for theological reasons, as it would seem to be more consistent (perhaps) with Dunn’s suggested understanding, which I affirm as it is stated, irrespective of additional inferences that he or others may be inclined to tease out of it:

                      “The fact that even when describing the Logos as God/god (1.1), John may distinguish two uses of the title from each other is often noted but too little appreciated. The distinction is possibly made by the use of the definite article with theos and the absence of the definite article in the same sentence… As we see in Philo, in his exposition of Genesis 31.13 (De Somniis 1.227-30)…John’s Gospel does not attempt similar clarification in his use of God/god for the Logos… But in possibly making (or allowing to be read) a distinction between God (ho theos) and the Logos (theos) the Evangelist may have had in mind a similar qualification in the divine status to be recognized for Christ. Jesus was God, in that he made God known, in that God made himself known in and through him, in that he was God’s effective outreach to his creation and to his people. But he was not God in himself.” (pp. 134 & 135)

                      Marianne Meye Thompson also indicated that QEOS is applied to the LOGOS at John 1:1c in a manner consistent with the agency paradigm:

                      “Jesus is presented in the Gospel against the backdrop of the Jewish concept of agency and, furthermore, against the understanding that there is one chief agent through whom God acts. Such chief agents were variously understood to be a principal angel (Gabriel, Michael), an exalted patriarch (Enoch, Moses) or personified divine attributes (Wisdom, Word). Clearly the Word is understood as God’s chief and exclusive agent in creation (1:3). He is shown exercising the divine prerogatives in judging…in raising the dead….and in working on the Sabbath…, deeds which, according to various Jewish authors, were permitted to God alone. Because Jesus is the chief
                      agent of God, when one confronts him, one confronts God. When the concept of agency is coupled with speculation on the names or powers of God, we see that the name of ‘God’ for the Word is intended to show that the Word exercises the divine prerogatives. As Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate Word continues to exercise the divine prerogatives, and exactly these actions and this claim evoke hostility from the Jewish authorities who charge Jesus with blasphemy (10:31-38).” (See Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Intervarsity Press, 1992), pp. 376, 377

                      “I’m inclined to think that some of you have different perspectives from those of Hurtado and Dunn regarding Jn. 20:28 and Rev. 5:13-14, in which there are no delimiting references to ‘agency,’ just pure worship in equivalence to ‘the one true God.'”

                      Oh, you don’t need to merely be inclined to think that I differ with Hurtado and Dunn on any number of points, as I surely do. People rarely agree with every single argument another person makes, thank goodness! Can you imagine a world in which everyone replied to everything everyone else argued with “I agree”? I for one would not want to live in such a world. I think that both John 20:28 and Rev. 5 fit within the agency paradigm well enough.

                      If the common reconstruction of 11QMelchizedek is correct, then the hyper-purest Qumran sect could accommodate referring to an eschatological figure such as Melchizedek as “your God” where “your” is referring to the Jews. It’s hard to imagine that calling Melchizedek “your God” is o.k. but calling Jesus “my God” is a problem. Also, in Moses or Jesus: An Essay in Johannine Christology, M. Boismard glimpses an insight:

                      “In fact, when Jesus appears to Thomas in the fourth Gospel, the apostle makes the profession of faith: ‘My Lord and my God’ (Jn 20:28). Jesus is therefore the ‘God’ of Thomas. The use of the possessive could suggest that the title ‘God’ could be taken in what could be called a ‘functional’ sense. Jesus is Thomas’s ‘God’ in the sense that, saved from death, Jesus would be the principle of salvation for his disciples. But this does not seem to be the case, since in 1 John 5:20, probably by the same author, the title ‘God’ is explicitly given to ‘Jesus Christ’.” (ibid, p. 123)

                      Notice that Boismard understands that an interpretation in harmony with the agency paradigm is possible, but he rejects it based on the assumption that Jesus is called ‘God’ at 1 John 5:20. Interestingly, many scholars would say that Jesus is not called ‘God’ at 1 John 5:20, and so the only objection to a representational interpretation that Boismard offers can be set aside as inconclusive at best, and I would say almost certainly wrong. As Murray J. Harris observed:

                      “Although it is certainly possible that [hOUTOS] refers back to Jesus Christ, several converging lines of evidence point to ‘the true one,’ God the Father, as the probable antecedent. This position, [hOUTOS] = God, is held by many commentators, authors of general studies, and, significantly, by those grammarians who express an opinion on the matter.” (Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus), p. 253

                      “There are a number of OT references to YHWH that are applied by the Apostles to Christ in the NT that shouldn’t be discounted as substantial contributing factors in Hurtado’s analysis, but I don’t think anyone has made counter-arguments in reference to them.”

                      Well, I’ve interacted with one of them on Hurtado’s own blog, i.e. the one involving Isa 45/Phil 2. Following the insights offered by Thom Stark, I noted the similarities between Jesus and Cyrus in Isa 45. They are both referred to as “Messiah”; God gave Cyrus a “name” (though unstated) that seems to have signified conferred authority; both Cyrus and Jesus are “worshiped/given obeisance” (Cyrus receives PROSKUNHSOUSIN in the LXX); and the people bow before Cyrus and pray. Interestingly, the bowing before Cyrus in recognition of his role as God’s “anointed one” appears to me to be the initial fulfillment of Isa 45:23! Paul probably viewed Isa 45 as messianic, and that’s probably why he applied verse 23 to Jesus. Paul wasn’t suggesting that Jesus was Yahweh himself; he was suggesting that Jesus was the greater Cyrus.

                    4. Greg,

                      ‘Arian’, as a generic label, could be used as a sort of shorthand to describe my Christology, but only if this is understood in a highly qualified way. The only point about which I claim to agree with Arius is in the highly restricted sense that I agree that the one who became Jesus existed in heaven with God as his first created ‘Son’ (again, spirit beings don’t have gender, and so I’m using anthropomorphic language).

                      I agree with Maurice Casey’s understanding of Col 1:15:

                      “It begins with Jesus’ pre-existence and role in creation: ‘who is an image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation, for through him was created everything in heaven and on earth.’ This description must mean that Jesus, rather than Wisdom, or as Wisdom, was the first created being (cf Prov 8:22f; Philo, Qu in Gen., IV, 97). This was written centuries before Arius, when no one believed that Jesus was the second person of the Trinity. The assertions he was created before the world and participated in its creation were a significant advance on previous thought. They could not have been made unless it was supposed that Jesus was pre-existent, as Wisdom was perceived to have existed before the creation of the universe that she was believed to have created. Colossians 1.16-17 expands this midrashically, using Proverbs 8.22-29, and moving back from Proverbs 8.22 to Genesis 1.1.” (From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God), p. 115

                      And I think that Christ’s pre-existence as God’s first ‘Son’ is also supported by Rev. 3:14, as Adela Yarbro-Collins suggests:

                      “[Revelation]…depicts Jesus as ‘the beginning of the creation of God’ in 3:14, which recalls the Greek version of Prov. 8:22, ‘The LORD created me as the beginning of his ways for his works.’…In light of the evidence that the author of Revelation portrays Jesus as the heavenly messiah who is also the principal angel of God, these sayings are best interpreted as associating Jesus with personified wisdom as God’s first creature…The Gospel [John] and Revelation both present Jesus as preexistent and as divine in some sense…In revelation, the evidence suggests that he is God’s first creature, namely, the principal angel.” (King and Messiah as SON of GOD: Divine, Human, and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature), p. 203

                      “WHAT” did this spirit Son become when he became Jesus? That’s simple: a man.

                    5. Sean

                      Thanks for noting that Arian is sort of an easy catch-all rather than hard and fast position that you can label what your understanding the scripture to teach. I acknowledge that.

                      re: Man
                      Do you know any “man” ever that was a pre-incarnate created divine being and simply took on some kind of human flesh??????

                      No, you say….


                    6. Greg,

                      “Do you know any “man” ever that was a pre-incarnate created divine being and simply took on some kind of human flesh??????”

                      Is there any reason why I should?

                    7. Sean

                      Scripture states that Jesus is a M-A-N. You assert that Jesus is a pre-incarnate divine being that took on some kind of human flesh. A divine being taking on human flesh is NOT a man. The point of my inquiry is to see whether this type of entity could qualify as a man by seeing examples in human history. We see none. Therefore, such an entity is CANNOT be considered a man.

                      Basic hermeneutics is to maintain the standard meaning of the word unless clearly informed otherwise. We are informed otherwise in Gen and Daniel wherein a “man” is really an angel in human form (essentially an Arian belief actually). In these instances we are clearly informed that “man” only means in appearance. HOWEVER, when it comes to Jesus, we have not such clear information otherwise; in fact, not only do we not have information otherwise, we have tons of information in support of being a genuine man just like Adam and you and I. ICor15:21 is sufficient –

                      21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

                      I am disturbed by those who would overthrow the plain and standard meaning of words to shoehorn their Christology into the Word of God – it smacks of significant intellectual dishonesty. Sad to say. My Christology allows the words to mean exactly what their standard meaning is including clearly representational and metaphoric phrasing.

                    8. “Do you know any “man” ever that was a pre-incarnate created divine being and simply took on some kind of human flesh??????”

                      BTW, I don’t argue that the Son merely “took on some kind of human flesh”; I argue that he became a man.

                3. I’m not so sure. Much of the “ambiguity” is due to a HIGHLIGHTING and sometimes an IMPORTING of non sequiturs that were not such in the first century. And then also, of course the claim of modesty of “not knowing” that enables the person to continue to believe how he/she has always believed. Trinitarian of course.

                  So if the reigning cultural understanding guides one’s hermeneutics and one follows the rabbinical motto: Scripture in the light interprets Scripture in darkness, then much of this cleared up. Several of the questions wouldn’t even be asked, such as what God’s nature is. That is a question not raised or answered by Judaism. God is an identity, not a nature. Scripture and surrounding texts answer more than adequately who and what Jesus was in relation to the Jewish God, which is significantly different from what later Church Councils came to speculate about. Many of the assumptions of these Councils have also become the limiting assumptions and blind spots of modern interpretation.

                  As adequately demonstrated by Michael Peppard there is no dichotomous distinction between divinity and humanity, between Creator and created. Humanity and divinity exist along a continuum, therefore challenging the problematic novel proposal by Bauckham. Considering the work by Crispin Fletcher-Louis (who unfortunately explicitly assumes Bauckham’s proposal) redeemed and enlightened humanity was also a reference to and reflection of the Divine One. Much of this understanding is alluded to in reference to Jesus in Paul, “John” and Hebrews. The monotheism of original Christianity is not expanded in any way. As long as the ultimate recipient of worship is God, then worshiping Jesus as reference to God violates nothing (cp. the rabbinical understanding of worshiping the copper serpent).

                  1. Nice work!

                    I appreciated your noting rabbinic hermeneutic – kind of common sense…

                    Your comment – God is an “identity” not a “nature” is great. I use the word entity – encompassing whatever flavor of nature or person might be in vogue. We only see one – not a dichotomy. Further, the devilish word game of claiming monotheism with a tri-theistic rack of personages does diservice to any standard meaning. Sure – monotheistic as to nature – but definitely tri-theistic as to persons. And why are they to determine that persons is not the qualifier for oneness of God rather than nature….?

                    re: Worshiping the man Christ Jesus
                    Why the need for “reference”? Why not simply “having received such authority” to receive worship – as He received authority to forgive sins – and so GAVE such authority to receive worship to the church (Rev3:9) and GAVE such authority to the church to likewise remit sins… Neat trick that easily undoes the silliness of trinitarian rigidity when they need it (only worship God, only God forgives sins – therefore Jesus is God) – despite their immense textual flexibility as needed, e.g. 10,000 singular personal pronouns referring to God/Jehovah (irregardless of the only Biblical creed in ICor8:6…).

                    1. Reference would be the appropriate concept capturing the notion of reflection adequately. Considering the high regard given to Adam as well as the high priest reenacting creation in the temple cult; adding to this the explicit statements in Jn 14 and 17 that Jesus received glory and would dispense the same glory, and that seeing Jesus meant seeing the one he reflected, as well as the purposive clause in Php 2:11 that all honor given to Jesus ultimately leads to God’s (the Father’s) glory, then I think reference would be a necessary construct.

                  2. Greg,

                    I’m sorry to hear that your God is so limited that he is incapable of miraculously transforming a heavenly being into a man. I disagree. I think God is capable of doing such a thing, and did, just as Scripture teaches.

                    1. With all due respect, that is a silly statement.

                      Regardless, there is not a single text that even remotely states what you are saying. That is the real issue along with the complete avoidance basic hermeneutics and standard meaning of words.

                    2. Sean: “I’m sorry to hear that your God is so limited that he is incapable of miraculously transforming a heavenly being into a man. I disagree. I think God is capable of doing such a thing, and did, just as Scripture teaches.”

                      Greg: “With all due respect, that is a silly statement.”

                      I don’t think so. It’s a rhetorical statement that shows us that your assertion about what is impossible doesn’t have any bearing at all on what actually is possible for God.

                      “Regardless, there is not a single text that even remotely states what you are saying. That is the real issue along with the complete avoidance basic hermeneutics and standard meaning of words.”

                      On the contrary, I would say that the NT is so clear in telling us that the one who came to be known as Jesus existed in heaven with God before he miraculously became a man — not a Godman or an spiritman, but a man — that only a refusal to see it can account for the Unitarian catarack. Pre-existence denying Unitarians have to go through unnatural contortions to avoid this conclusion, e.g. the standard Unitarian answers to verses such as John 17:5 and, most especially, John 8:58. I hope to put something up on my blog about John 8:58 as soon as I’m finished with my series on the ill-conceived approach that many take to John 1:1c.

          3. It is more a matter of interpretation by default to claim that Jesus is God (himself) in GJohn. That God, when said in reference to Jesus, implies Jesus-as-reflecting-God is CONSISTENTLY ignored and downplayed by most NT scholarship. Few scholars have the integrity of JAT Robinson, Jimmy Dunn, Roger Haight, James McGrath and Hendrikus Berkhof in being brutally honest.

            1. Well stated. Interpretation by default indeed!! Jesus Himself claimed to be a man in Jn8:40 (NOT an impersonal human nature), John the B claimed He was a man in Jn1:30 and Jesus specifically told us who God was in Jn17:3 – the Father is the ONLY (read “ONLY”) true God. Not sure why there is so much confusion….

              1. “John the B claimed He was a man in Jn1:30 and Jesus specifically told us who God was in Jn17:3 – the Father is the ONLY (read “ONLY”) true God. Not sure why there is so much confusion….”

                To be fair to the other side, Trinitarians don’t actually deny that the Father is the only true God; what they deny is that only the Father is the true God. I would agree with Dale Tuggy that the two statements are logically equivalent, and so I ultimately agree with you, but it’s best to take the other side’s actual view into account when rejecting it, because otherwise it appears that you are just talking past each other.

                Here’s a historical question for our Trinitarian friends: When the original readers/hearers of GJohn read/heard the Jesus of GJohn say that the Father is the only true God, did they think or assume that this statement did not exclude other persons from the description?

  12. I appreciate the insights. I think Daniel’s vision of one like a “Son of Man” in chapter 7 is an important background text for Jesus’ use of the title. It already had a lot of messianic significance by Jesus’ time. It at once underlines the divine origin of Jesus’ reign AND the HUMANENESS of his kingdom in contrast to the “beastly” kingdoms of this world portrayed earlier in the vision. Jesus not only uses the title from this vision for himself, but God seems to re-enact the vision among other messianic themes on the mountain of transfiguration. I like to see the dual moment of the confession-with Jesus teaching about the messiah’s need to suffer (Isaiah’s servant songs) and the transfiguration as a climactic moment where God brings together many of the messianic images of the OT together to point to Jesus. Including the promises of a prophet like Moses (from Deut) who would be a shepherd to the people. This is echoed in God’s command to “Listen to him”

  13. Hebrews 1-2. There it is brought out that it is not the whole story, that Jesus was both divine and human, but what comes to be because of it, and to what end it goes. What comes to be through the Lord’s earthly life is His learning obedience through suffering. The goal of it is His tasting death for every man,

    1. I disagree with you. The Philonic echoes and allusions in the opening verses of chapter 1 exclude the possibility of divinity. The closing verses of chapter 1 indicate eschatological renewal, here necessitating agency, not ontological identity with God.

      1. I would certainly be intriuged to have a conversation with you re: Heb1:10 – 12. The bottom line is that the author is picking texts that are not even messianic in there initial writing (see “son” that relates to Solomon in context). But I have not gotten significantly further except that I don’t want to hang my hat on a quote from the OT in light of the flexibility that the NT writers have in applying the OT….

        1. Sure, you’re welcome. Divine – even pre-existent – Christology is certainly not the most plausible conclusion from Heb. 1:10-12. What say you?

          1. How are you understanding v10 – 12 if not as the Creator? That is the most surface sense.

            I realize that relying on how the NT writers use OT passages is, at best, a weak reed in light of the “flexibility” we see NT have with OT text. As a result, I am not willing to overthrow literally tens of thousands of passages – including scores of clear, formal, didactic passages which declare exactly the opposite of this one text. HOWEVER, that still leaves us with the intrigue of this text.

            As I may have noted, I find the author here applying texts that have nothing to do with the Messiah to the Messah (in fact, I don’t think any of them relate to the Messiah in their original context….??). Therefore, to use yet another text that doesn’t relate to the Messiah as relevant in his discussion – is, well, confusing – UNLESS there is some underlying thread/concept. It is this thread/concept that I have yet to hear meaningfully discussed.

            I will also be reflecting on Larry’s response. Though I take issue with the necessity of divinity if we are to contextualized this text with the remainder of scripture.

        2. In Hebrews 1, the author’s quotations are in support of the assertions of 1:1-4. How could this someone whom God spoke through be someone through whom God made the world? How could someone who is the radiance of God’s glory become anything, especially anything better? How could someone who upholds all things inherit anything? In explaining the superiority to angels, the author proves humanity and divinity with the quotations, in a series of couplets.

          In 1:5 the two quotations are in contrast because of the verbs: in one, it is who he is, and the second, who he will be! God tells someone that he already is his son in one verse, and that He will be a father to him, in another. 1:6 has the contrast in a single verse: someone is brought into the world, is also to be worshipped, by divine command. In 1:7 angels are described using images of the transitory (flame and wind), contrasting 1:8-9. But God describes the righteousness of the Son in 1:8-9 in two contrasting ways, that which always was, and that which is exercised in events among … companions!

          So seeing the structure of these couplets describing the Son, it becomes evident that 1:10-12 is only one half of the last couplet in describing the Son. 1:10-12 is to show that the Son is not a created thing, transcending time forever, the Lord, present at creation and the rolling up of creation as well, and 1:13, is equally true of him: he is someone who at a point in time is commanded to sit in a certain relationship to God while God causes events that alter the relationship of parts of creation to him.

          So the author has done — through quotation of what God has already said — so important to his audience — something far more than prove the Son’s superiority to angels, but also to prove Him both God and man.

          1. Good questions. But I think you may have missed the more obvious points: If the God who spoke through the OT prophets is identical to the God who spoke through His son, Jesus, then the OT Yahweh and the NT God is no-one else but the Father. If that one is the Father and no-one else, then Jesus is not that One.

            To answer your questions, that one through whom God spoke could be the one through whom God made the world if: 1) The world referred to here is the eschatological arrangement after Jesus’ resurrection and glorification;
            2) Jesus was the intended design of humanity ages before God decided to create the world.
            Someone who is the radiance of God’s glory is precisely that SINCE he became someone so much better. Because of the flood of Evangelical propaganda, particularly apologetic propaganda, first-century echoes are drowned by this doctrinal noise. Being the radiance of God’s glory frames Jesus in nothing else but the human sphere: See Philo’s Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres 181; Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres 38, 56, 57, 138; Legum Allegorae I.61; De Sacrificiis Abelis et Cain 60; Quod Deterius Potiori Insidiari Soleat 77, 83.
            Someone upholds something after inheriting it (see above).
            Glorified humanity is highlighted, and not divinity. Your (and Evangelical scholarship in general) excludes this alternative a priori, hence the consistent impasse encountered even among otherwise brilliant scholars like Dr. Kirk above.

            Your description of 1:5-8 ignores the Jewish understanding of proleptic or prophetic reality. Again the wrong conclusion due to misfit assumptions.

            The clearest divorce of the text from it’s Sitz im Leben is your understanding of 1:10-12. Taken from the LXX and not the MT, the source text itself assumes a non-divine referent. The author himself says what world he is referring to in 2:5. Using standard midrashic reinterpretation of ancient text and reframing it into an eschatological scheme, not the Genesis creation, but future messianic rule is what the author is pointing towards.

            Compare Isa. 51:16: “Yahweh introduces Himself again, but this time in terms of His control of the raging sea. He addresses the one He is using to put His words into his mouth and protecting him very carefully. The purpose of this care is to allow him to plant heavens and earth. That makes no sense if it refers to the original [Genesis] creation. It uses the word NaTaH [Jer. 10:12 + 10 times], stretch out, while the verb here is NaTA, plant [establish people]. In the other instances God acts alone, using no agent [Isa. 44:24]. Here the one he has hidden in the shadow of his hand is his agent. Heavens and land here must refer metaphorically to the totality of order in Palestine, heavens meaning the broader overarching structure of the Empire, while land is the political order in Palestine itself. The assignment is then focused more precisely: to say to Zion, you are my people.”-Word Biblical Commentary: Isaiah 34-66, Word Books, 1987, p. 212.

            Sadly it is still fashionable to allow doctrinal sentiment and social allegiances to cloud otherwise proper scholarship. Of all investigative disciplines, Theology gets away with murder, so to speak, when proper scholarship has to yield to cherished dogma.

  14. So excited about your work on this project. Can’t wait to read it. I think it fills a needed void in the discussion of Jesus being human.

  15. J.R.

    Why do you focus on calling Jesus “human” rather than “a man”? Scripture seems to focus on calling Jesus a man in particular the gospel of John (perhaps not such a “different Christology” after all…:-) ).

    Jn1:30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’

    Jn8:40but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.

    1. Greg,

      First things first, call me Daniel! J. and R. are superfluous initials.

      Second, you are reading translations that translate the Greek word for human (anthropos) into the English word “man,” rather than adopting the more accurate “human.” I find it interesting to note, especially in conversation with Wonders for Oyarssa’s post, that the use of “man” is actually confusing our understanding of scripture at this point.

      Greek has a word for man (aner or arsen). It also has a word for human (anthropos). By using the allegedly generic “man,” translations are enabling us to miss the point quite badly.

      John 1:30 uses the word for man, but John 8:40 uses the word for human.

      Perhaps more importantly, 1 Timothy 2:5 says that there is one God and one mediator between God and humans (anthropoi), the human (anthropos) Jesus Christ. Human is a better translation, and captures the fact that Jesus is not acting as a male for the redemption of males, but as the quintessential human for the redemption of all humanity. Man just won’t do.

      1. Hi Daniel – Sorry for the name miss – Daniel it is!!

        Hmmm… while I greatly appreciate your late 20th C concern re: gender inclusivity in language, I strongly suspect that aner and anthropos are much more interchangeable in normal speech and writing than you are making them to be. Jn8:40 seems to make much more sense translated “man” than human. Read both of the below and tell me which has the better sense to it…

        but now you seek to kill me, a MAN who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.

        but now you seek to kill me, a HUMAN who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.

        Likewise, to simple read “male” in Jn1:30 does a disservice to that context as well. We have Peter’s very clear aner statement in Acts2:26 along with John the Baptist in Jn1:30 (as you acknowledged) to see that aner is an excellent term to designate Jesus as a man rather than just simply applying a gender to him. I would look to ICor15:21 as absolutely necessitating “a man” (despite anthropos being used) because of the immediate comparison with Adam who is obviously a man. Simple read that passage a few times.

        I find the emphasis on the word “human” to be obscuring and sort of degrading who/what Jesus really is – NOT a male – but A MAN – just like you, I and every reader on this board.

        However, to not get lost in the above word fray, let me cut to the real point. The real point is what the adherents of hypostatic union have done to the word human (and man secondarily). The word human has been changed from a genuine personal entity to an impersonal human nature. So phrases like “Jesus is fully human/fully God” are easily thrown around and those uneducated (about 99.9%) of the religious masses nod their heads without having a clue that they are not talking about a man at all but about an impersonal human nature (anhypostasis) that is actuated by a divine entity – essentially a human puppet – but NOT a man.

        Therefore, with your tendency to use human, I see a slippery slope away from Jesus a genuine human person – a genuine man in the standard (rather than genderfied) sense of the word.

        Does this latter discussion make sense?

        What I want, as scripture compels us (Rom5:15ff, ICor15:21, ITim2:5, Heb2:11, 12) as a full recognition of Jesus as real man, a human person, that fully functions with NO divine entity needed – just like you and I do – at the most basic level. My whole point, goal and heart’s desire is to exalt the real Jesus for the real accomplishments and real suffering that He, as a MAN did – not some sort of meaningless human puppet in which the man disappears and it is really just God doing it all.

        Thanks for comments


  16. There is essential meaning, and there is specific reference in context.

    ανηρ always and everywhere in ancient non-biblical Greek prose means a biological male, human or otherwise animate, as opposed to a biological female. It may mean, and often does, a male in relation to a γυνη or biological female. So it comes to mean a (human) husband/husband&father/head-of-household. 5,000 of those were fed by the Lord, plus in at least one account their dependent families. The Lord used another term or terms for Himself, very frequently translated υιος ανθρωπου=Son of Man, and at least once, where ανηρ would have been reasonable, ανθρωπος (Jn. 8:40, see next para.).There are no genuine secular examples convincing to a decent Hellenist of aνηρ’s meaning a human person tout court, except a couple of archaic and poetic cases (e.g. in Homer) where my own explanation would be that the use originates in the demands of metre, and a couple of cases of hebraism in the New Testament (these originate in formulaic literalism in Old Testament quotations, where ανηρ is put in for Hebrew אִיש. This happens when אִיש serves as the indefinite pronoun ‘someone, anyone’, for which there is no other term in Classical Hebrew). Only twice in the whole of the Acts and the Epistles is our Lord designated as an ανηρ (Acts 10:38, 17:31) and that is by others.

    Aνθρωπος means a human person, as opposed to God, an animal, or an inanimate object, with no particular stress upon sex. The Lord is very frequently called this: the meaning here is ‘human person’, the specific reference is to a male person. All, or very nearly all, human persons are of one biological sex or the other, and certainly it is hard to see how the Son of God could have been born as one of that infinitesimally small number who are ambiguously so. Typology alone rules out his having been a γυνη, just as the representatives of the Twelve Tribes must be male. The use of aνθρωπος occurs especially in such passages as Rom. 3-5 and I Cor. 15, where He is Representative Man and Redeemer of all ανθρωποι. In Rom. 3-5 Adam represents mankind qua disobedient and Abraham represents mankind qua believing; both are called ανθρωποι throughout. Indeed the ‘male man’ term is never used of either of them in these places, though the reference is to male men, as we know.

    There is a specifically contemptuous use of aνθρωπος which is certainly present in Acts 6:13, and may be in Jn. 19.5. Cf. the Victorian “Madam, there is a ‘person’ downstairs wishing to speak to you”.

    For a very long time I have been impressed by how little stress there is in the NT on Our Lord’s sex as opposed to His humanity. I think that we are supposed to shed in Christ the specific weaknesses of our own sex, and meet in the middle in Him. Women too are ‘brethren’ and are exhorted to masculine virtues [I Cor. 16:13 τῇ πίστει ἀνδρίζεσθε κραταιοῦσθε]. It is I believe not the Lord’s will for us that we be thinking about sex all the time, whether about orgasm itself and how we may come by it, or about the sex of the priest/minister. Though of course we should be thinking about it within marriage, and perhaps more frequently and more deeply than some couples do. Don’t get me off onto the failure of some churches to think about it at all, let alone theologically …

    1. Ok Priscilla – that is quite a bite indeed!! Thanks!

      Do I understand correctly that your bottom line is that you are recognizing that Jesus was/is a human person – a complete man who can function independently of an incarnated deity – just like you and I can function independent of an incarnated deity. A genuine human person/consciousness, etc.

      I think your point re: anthropos mirrors my own albeit with copious supportive material – that its usage is in the much more standard sense of “man” and not so pallidly general as “humanity” as Daniel seemed to orient.

      1. I’m not really meaning quite that. There are two points at issue here, the English stylistic point, and the theological. On the English point, I think frankly that Daniel has a bee in the bonnet. The remedy for ignorance of English usage is education: the modern attempt to change so many centuries of usage is a mistake. But then I am the person (!) who several decades ago when presiding over meetings of the Council of Christian Churches of Greater Vancouver did not notice anyone who addressed me as anything other than “Madam Chairman”. That form goes back 700 years or more. And I still worship with the 1662 BCP, never feeling excluded. But this is a large red herring on this thread.

        The theological point that I want to make is that the humanity of Jesus is grounded absolutely in His Divinity. He was the only fully human, fully normal, person who ever was, but He did this by being God-with-us, the Man from Heaven. Or can you and I be like that just by aspiration and imitation? If so, where are the similar fully-human people who do it on their own? Why salvation? The Fathers got it right: (We believe in one LORD [the divine name] Jesus Christ [the historical human being]) Τὸν δἰ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ σαρκωθέντα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς Παρθένου, καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα etc. etc. Notice the recurrence of the ‘human being’ root in this clause. ἐνανθρωπέω is a Christian coinage for expressing this tremendous reality.

        1. With all due respect what does this phrase even mean – “the humanity of Jesus is grounded absolutely in His Divinity”?
          I have seen so much sort of untethered language just like this thrown around that I would like to stop the merry go round and take advantage of the moment for a clear explanation.

          To help – and be clear – I am looking back from the point of view of the anhypostasis – no real man – just an impersonal human nature actuated by a divine entity. Such a conception does so much disservice not just to pre-Messianic, Messianic and Apostolic teaching – but far more so to the human person of Jesus that actually did all the work that we are really focused on…. I would greatly appreciate your clarifying your statement in this regard.

          Thanks so much – and I did really appreciate your input on the words.


            1. Hi Priscilla

              Thanks so much for the dialogue – I greatly appreciate interacting rather than being a spectator on the sideline.

              Admittedly, I can read your language in this post in a couple of different ways. I want to make certain to capture the sense that you intend.

              re: First Sentence
              If I understand this right, you are saying that in order to fulfill God’s plan of re-establishing His image in man via Jesus Christ (so that He might have MANY brethren), we cannot rely on ourselves but on the working of His Spirit in us transforming us from glory to glory. Do I have this straight?

              re: Second Sentence
              This is the sticky one and has been for nearly two millennia it seems…:-) In what sense did God Himself visit us in the man Christ Jesus (and, likewise, in what sense do we say “the man Christ Jesus”)?

              Traditionally – as began and evolved from approximately the mid 2nd Century, God (better a “portion” of God since only one of those divine persons was so lucky…) visited us by taking an impersonal human nature which he actuated and did his works through, then he allowed the human nature to die, then he raised it up from the dead and zipped himself back to heaven (not too amazing). In contrast, a very old view (Dynamic Monarchianism) and, IMHO the Messianic and Apostolic view, Jesus was a human person – a man (born of a virgin) – who was sent by God (anointed at baptism – Messiah) with full authority – AND fully manifested the character, will, judgement and power of God having grown in wisdom/understanding – having learned obedience by the things He suffered. This is a VERY different view than the traditional view and one that I find not only scripturally necessary (ICor15:21) but, as one who is also a man, very compelling to see another man “make it” with God.

              Maybe I am missing the obvious, but it seems your wording be neatly construed in either way. Perhaps as an Academic that is a preferred approach; however, as a reader, I seek to eliminate confusion and understand the precise sense a speaker/author is intending to convey. Can you please clarify which sense you are intending? Can the man Christ Jesus that you are describing fully function without an any incarnate deity the same way you and I fully function without an any incarnate deity?

              Thanks so much for your patience and your assistance,


    2. BTW – and with all due respect, I actually don’t think Paul’s letters were written to the women of the churches in general (sorry – not my fault – simply reflected the culture) and, thus, the ICor16:13 was appropriately being used just to the men of the church. I am pretty sure Paul would not say this to the women…

      I do know at times he did specify women when it came to the marital relations and occasionally other such that they were not entirely excluded however my sense is that this was definitely a different culture and whether you or I or anyone else likes or dislikes that aspect (as with the allowance for slavery), we must still be honest with the text itself.

      Admittedly, I have long been moving from my more fundamentalist roots to the Bible as a “living document” ultimately pointing to a genuinely submitted relationship to the Lord of Glory as the final authority.

      1. About women: words (almost) fail me. But then from early youth I have been familiar with the grammatical concept of ‘masculine for common gender’.

        Rom. 1:1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ,
        Rom. 1:2 ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις
        Rom. 1:3 περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα,
        Rom. 1:4 τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν,
        Rom. 1:5 δι᾿ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ,
        Rom. 1:6 ἐν οἷς ἐστε καὶ ὑμεῖς κλητοὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,
        Rom. 1:7 πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
        1Cor. 1:1 Παῦλος κλητὸς ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Σωσθένης ὁ ἀδελφὸς
        1Cor. 1:2 τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ, ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ, αὐτῶν καὶ ἡμῶν·
        1Cor. 1:3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
        2Cor. 1:1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ,
        Gal. 1:1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος οὐκ ἀπ᾿ ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ δι᾿ ἀνθρώπου ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν,
        Gal. 1:2 καὶ οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ πάντες ἀδελφοὶ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Γαλατίας,
        Eph. 1:1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν [ἐν Ἐφέσῳ] καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,
        Phil. 1:1 Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις,
        Col. 1:1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς
        Col. 1:2 τοῖς ἐν Κολοσσαῖς ἁγίοις καὶ πιστοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ,
        1Th. 1:1 Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ,
        2Th. 1:1 Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ,
        1Tim. 1:1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ κατ᾿ ἐπιταγὴν θεοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τῆς ἐλπίδος ἡμῶν
        1Tim. 1:2 Τιμοθέῳ γνησίῳ τέκνῳ ἐν πίστει,
        2Tim. 1:1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ κατ᾿ ἐπαγγελίαν ζωῆς τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ
        2Tim. 1:2 Τιμοθέῳ ἀγαπητῷ τέκνῳ,
        Titus 1:1 Παῦλος δοῦλος θεοῦ, ἀπόστολος δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ κατὰ πίστιν ἐκλεκτῶν θεοῦ καὶ ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας τῆς κατ᾿ εὐσέβειαν
        Titus 1:2 ἐπ᾿ ἐλπίδι ζωῆς αἰωνίου, ἣν ἐπηγγείλατο ὁ ἀψευδὴς θεὸς πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων,
        Titus 1:3 ἐφανέρωσεν δὲ καιροῖς ἰδίοις τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ ἐν κηρύγματι, ὃ ἐπιστεύθην ἐγὼ κατ᾿ ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ,
        Titus 1:4 Τίτῳ γνησίῳ τέκνῳ κατὰ κοινὴν πίστιν,
        Philem. 1 Παῦλος δέσμιος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς Φιλήμονι τῷ ἀγαπητῷ καὶ συνεργῷ ἡμῶν
        Philem. 2 καὶ Ἀπφίᾳ τῇ ἀδελφῇ καὶ Ἀρχίππῳ τῷ συστρατιώτῃ ἡμῶν καὶ τῇ κατ᾿ οἶκόν σου ἐκκλησίᾳ,
        James 1:1 Ἰάκωβος θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ χαίρειν.
        1Pet. 1:1 Πέτρος ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς Πόντου, Γαλατίας, Καππαδοκίας, Ἀσίας καὶ Βιθυνίας,
        1Pet. 1:2 κατὰ πρόγνωσιν θεοῦ πατρὸς ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος εἰς ὑπακοὴν καὶ ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,
        2Pet. 1:1 Συμεὼν Πέτρος δοῦλος καὶ ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῖς ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν λαχοῦσιν πίστιν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,
        Jude 1 Ἰούδας Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος, ἀδελφὸς δὲ Ἰακώβου, τοῖς ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ ἠγαπημένοις καὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ τετηρημένοις κλητοῖς·

        is a complete account of the introductory epistolary greetings in the NT. Nearly all are addressed to the whole church in each place. And females have been full members since Pentecost. Unlike the Great Gentile Row, the full membership of women is everywhere taken for granted, with its duties and privileges.

        As for the slavery question, we all need in the light of modern propaganda against the NT to note what St. Paul said about slaving (it’s gross sin) and about buying oneself out of slavery if possible. And read Philemon, to see him effectively undermining the institution from within.

        1. Priscella

          While I might suggest this is a bit generous, I don’t have a horse in this race. I fully support the full freedom, sanctity and rights of each human (now the pre-born and mother thing is a tough little knot in that regard but that is another thread). Regardless, I will read in the future with these thoughts in mind.

          My focus remains on the person of Jesus Christ. If His adherents can’t even figure out who their Savior and Mediator is….well…. (admittedly after some communication elsewhere I have sort of been flaying at the Lord as to overmuch use of “representational” speech causing undue confusion – maybe He really is to blame for the whole mess…:-) ).


    1. Thanks for the link. I continue to be amazed at how much confusion there is over such simple things as what does Logos means (good God… it means what it always means…:-) ).

    1. I would be intrigued to read – but it would be fabulous if – when you have a genuinely convenient bit of time – to hear your response to my inquiry re: your Christology. I responded to your post of 05/20 with a query to confirm what your actual intent was since I did want to clearly understand without all the lingo obscuring your intent…:-)

  17. Daniel

    By your comment “What does it matter that Jesus was fully human?” Do you really mean “WHY does it matter that Jesus was fully human?

    If so, this question is easily answered in about a half dozen texts – ICor15:21 is clearest. We need a M-A-N to be resurrected if there is a meaningful hope of us – as M-E-N to be resurrected. Obviously Rom5:15ff, ITim2:5, Heb2:11ff, Phil2:7 and the Heb text re: being made like His brethren IN ALL POINTS, the Rom text about being the firstborn among many brethren (we are not brethren to an incarnated deity but to a man).

    Sorry for the emphasis.


    PS As you may have guessed, there are MANY of us who are working to return the Man Christ Jesus to His rightful place in the His own church (Behold, I stand at the door and knock). We are zealous for our Lord. Amen.

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