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Monday
May042009

Theological Term of the Week

humanity of Christ
The teaching that Jesus was truly human, with a human body, mind, soul, emotions, and with human limitations and weaknesses, so that all the essential elements of unfallen humanity were found in him

  • From scripture:
    Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18 ESV)
    For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 ESV)
  • From The Westminster Larger Catechism:

    Question 39: Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be man?

    Answer: It was requisite that the Mediator should be man, that he might advance our nature, perform obedience to the law, suffer and make intercession for us in our nature, have a fellow feeling of our infirmities; that we might receive the adoption of sons, and have comfort and access with boldness unto the throne of grace.

  • From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, a list of reasons that Jesus’ full humanity was necessary:
    1. For representative obedience.
    2. To be a substitute sacrifice.
    3. To be the one mediator between God and men.
    4. To fulfill God’s original purpose for man to rule over creation.
    5. To be our example and pattern in life.
    6. To be a pattern for our redeemed bodies.
    7. To sympathize as High Priest.
  • From Herman Bavinck in The Divine and Human Nature of Christ:
    [T]he Christ became very man and perfect man, like us in all things, sin excepted. He was infant, child, youth, and man, and He grew in wisdom and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:40 and 52). All this is not appearance and illusion merely, as those must say who hold that the Divine properties belong to the human nature, but it is the full truth. There was in Christ a gradual development, a progressive growth in body, in the powers of the soul, in favor with God and man. The gifts of the Spirit were not given to Him all at once, but successively in ever greater measure. There were things which He had to learn, and which at first He did not know (Mark 13:32 and Acts 1:7). Even though He was in possession of the not-able-to-sin state of being, there was in Him, because of His weak human nature, the possibility of being tempted and of suffering and dying. So long as He was on the earth He was not according to His human nature in heaven, and hence He too did not live by sight but by faith. He fought and He suffered, and in all this He clung fixedly to the word and the promise of God. Thus He learned obedience from the things which He suffered, continually established Himself in obedience, and so sanctified Himself. And in this at the same time He left us an example, and became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him (Heb. 5:9).

Learn more:

  1. Arthur Pink: The Humanity of Christ
  2. David Legge: The Humanity of Christ
  3. Greg Johnstone: Human, Body and Soul
  4. Phil Johnson: Christ as Man (mp3)
  5. At my old blog: Quiz on Jesus As a Human Being with answers.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. Credit will be given for any of these suggestions I use, too.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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