Section 4: Jesus
Week 2: Jesus Is Fully God
Day 3: Jesus Has Two Natures, Yet Is One Person
We saw yesterday, that God the Son didn’t give up any of his divine attributes when he became human. That means Jesus was (and still is) fully God. We saw last week that Jesus is also fully human. Jesus, therefore, has two distinct natures: a human nature and a divine nature. How do we put those two things together? It’s difficult to grasp how one person can be both human and God. So it’s no surprise that the early Church struggled to properly understand how Jesus’ two natures fit together.
In an attempt to clarify the biblical view on Jesus’ divine and human natures, in AD 451 the Church put together what is known as the Chalcedonian Definition. With respect to his divine and human natures, it said Jesus is:
To be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ…[i]
There are two main things to take away from this definition:
1. Even though he has two natures, Jesus is just one person.
2. Although the divine and human natures came together in Christ, they were not mixed together. Jesus’ humanity did not dilute his deity, as it were. And his deity did not alter his humanity. Both natures retained all of the attributes that belonged to them prior to their union. As a result, Jesus isn’t 75% God and 25% man or 50% God and 50% man. Because his divine nature retains all of its attributes, Jesus is 100% God. And because his human nature retains all of its attributes, Jesus is 100% human.
Make a list of the attributes you believe belong to Jesus’ human nature. Do the same thing for his divine nature.
Which of Jesus’ two natures do you find more comforting? More challenging? Why?
Want to Dig Deeper?
The truth that Jesus has two natures is a difficult one for us to understand. The early Church struggled with it as well. A number of different attempts were made to explain how Jesus’ divine and human natures could come together in one person. We take a closer look at some of those attempts in the first Digging Deeper topic.
[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House 1994), 1169-1170.