How could the divinity of Christ have suffered?

People say that the divinity of Christ did not suffer because God is perfect and cannot admit change. And so, Christ only suffered in His humanity. Yet, it seems that somehow, God must have made it possible for Him to suffer because that is how Jesus could sacrifice Himself for our atonement. In the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we offer to the Father the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

How could the divine suffer and be sacrificed although He is perfect and unchanging? People say that it was only his human nature that suffered or that the divine suffered in his human nature. So that the divine suffered as it was in a human body but the divine itself did not suffer.

How do you explain this?


Nature’s don’t suffer. Persons suffer. Jesus had two natures, divine and human, but he was only one Person–the second Person of the Holy Trinity.

How can a divine Person suffer? Only by becoming man. By taking on a human nature. That is why he had to become man to suffer and die for us.

I question the truthfulness of the very first premise. Who says divinity cannot suffer, and how does a propensity to suffer negate changelessness?

Simple: There was no change.

In Modalism, the Father became the Son who became the Holy Spirit, that WOULD be change, but not in the case you bring up.

The human nature of Jesus did not suffer, JESUS suffered. This was by no means a change.

Jesus suffered, God suffered, the Divine can have experiences and still be the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Do you mean as in I am human but when I suffer it is not my humanness that suffers but I as an individual? So, human nature does not suffer. Is this what you are saying?

So, Christ did not suffer in his divine nature nor in his human nature because natures do not suffer - they are a type. The natures did not suffer, just the person suffered which had a human and divine nature.

When you suffer, YOU suffer.
The Divine God who came down suffered, simply as that.
I suppose one can argue that “human nature” suffers the Fallen State, I guess anyway.

So natures do not suffer, rather persons do.

Is God the Son the only person of the trinity capable of suffering? If so, can the other two persons of the Trinity be said to have any passions whatsoever?

I think I am finally getting this thanks to JimG, (and Judas Thaddeus for following through on the way he expressed it). That is if no one comes on and argues that this is all wrong.

You see, what made it confusing for me previously is that people were saying that Christ did not suffer in His divine nature (as the divine is impassible, unchanging etc…) but that He suffered in His human nature and that is why He became man.

But, JimG’s explanation is clear and makes sense. Neither the human nor divine nature of Christ suffered but He suffered as a person who had both.

That makes more sense. And this is how Jesus can offer His suffering and self sacrifice as divine in atonement for our sins, because He had a divine nature (type).

A person suffers, not the nature. Though Jesus had both a Divine and a Human nature, it was the person Jesus who suffered.

I think you have already answered your own question in a subsequent post, but I’ll answer anyway. A human nature tells us what we are–a human being. But it is always the person possessing the nature who experiences. I don’t say, after dropping a brick on my toe, “OW! that really hurt my human nature, but I’M fine!” No, it is always the person who suffers! Jesus is one person. He has both a human and a divine nature. He–the person–experiences whatever he experiences, whether suffering or joy, proper to either his divine or his human nature.

That is a good question.

For the moment, I was trying to understanding how it is that people understand that God cannot suffer, yet, Our Lord Jesus suffered in His divinity in atonement for our sins. Now, thanks to the posters on this thread, I finally got it. I am going to let that sink in for a little bit. Although it does not answer all the questions, since the Fathers of the Church have said that Jesus suffered in His human nature. Well, we cannot split Christ, so, as you can see, it’s complicated.

Regarding the question, “Can God suffer?”, I am still open to the answer. Here is a discussion I participated in some years ago which has a lot of quotes, references and arguments regarding the question “Can God suffer?”.

"I think that it takes a little courage to stand still and listen to the silence. It is much easier to follow the herd. Something makes me stand still before proceeding and it is not so simple as Weinandy wants to claim. It is not so easy to take the value away with a stroke of a pen. So far, all the arguments I have read have not convinced me. Including the anthropomorphic one and the one about the influence of modern culture. These arguments are not aiming at the heart of the question but, like Don Quixote attack the air surrounding it. It all sounds pretty, but, it is behind the veil that they need to attack to win.

In the end, it begs the question: What is Love? Can anyone claim to know the essences of God and how they function in harmony or to know him fully?

Dans l’ordre de l’être, la souffrance est une imperfection. Dans l’ordre de l’amour, elle est le sceau de la perfection (In order of being, suffering is an imperfection. In the order of love, it is the seal of perfection). LA SOUFFRANCE DE DIEU Franois VARILLON."

It’s because Jesus is a divine person and he took a human nature. He suffered in his human nature, therefore a divine person suffered.

Well, I think what has been said is that Jesus is both a divine and human person and He suffered as a PERSON.

It seems to me that the trick to understanding this is the word PERSON. So, Christ has a human and divine nature but it was the person of Christ that suffered. Yet, people say that he suffered in his human nature instead of saying the person and that gets confusing.

It was possessing a human nature that allowed him to suffer. To that extent, it is correct to say that he suffered “in his human nature.” That is, he suffered as a human being, but the one who suffered is a divine Person!

Got it!!! :idea:

Talk about being thick headed! :banghead:

Thank you JimG, Judas Thaddeus, Ignatius, and Oren.

A great birthday present!

Now I can move forward with the question on whether God suffers.


Can someone answer this?

At first the consensus of the thread seemed to be that it’s nonsensical to speak of natures suffering, and so it seemed likely that any and all three of the persons of the trinity (no matter their natures) are capable of suffering, loving, hating, being joyful, etc.

Now, JimG says that the only reason why the Person of Jesus was capable of suffering is because he took on a human nature. So it follows that God the Father and God the Holy Ghost do not suffer? If so, then are they capable of feeling anything? Why does it require a human nature to suffer but not to have joy? I would think that if any of the persons of the Trinity were capable of any of the passions then they’d be capable of all of them.

Hello Brandon Cal,

Let me try to help a little.

The posters do not present the idea of suffering in a nature as nonsensical. Although when I first finally got how people understand that Jesus can offer His suffering infinitely which is because Christ had both a divine and a human nature; it did seem to me to be ‘nonsensical to speak of natures suffering’ but at least now I get it. I wasn’t getting it because it is quite an extraordinary way to consider that someone suffers/suffered on account of their ‘type’. In actuality, then, it can also be said that maleness suffered on the cross too because, all things considered, Jesus was the type of human that was male. :shrug:

They are not saying that God Himself suffered, but, that since Christ had a divine nature, divinity suffered but not divinity itself. In other words, the Word did not suffer, the second person of the Trinity did not Himself suffer.

People who understand that Jesus suffered in His human nature and not His divine nature can still hold either of the views of one; God can suffer or two; God cannot suffer. So, they are saying that He suffered in His human nature because He was human. That is, on top of the ‘fact’ that His human nature and divine nature suffered; how He suffered was as a human.

The Trinity has one nature and it is divine.


They are not saying that it follows, they have not even touched on the question; Can God suffer?

They have just explained how it is understood that the atonement can be offered eternally because of the participation of the divine nature in the person of Christ.

Give the above clarifications - then your questions below remain. Can the divine itself suffer?

Traditionally, the thinking has been a flat “no”. The reason being that since God is inmmutable (non-changing) He cannot suffer. The argument goes that to suffer necessitate a change from point A (not suffering) to point B (suffering) and additionally it is a point in time and God does not exist in time but is eternal. Furthermore, God is perfect, and if He changes then there was a point where He was more or less perfect than at another.

But, all these traditional arguments have been challenged by some modern theologians :

Among Catholic theologians, while they may differ as to the exact manner and extent of God’s passibility, one nonetheless finds a strange mix of theological bedfellows. They include, among others, Raniero Cantalamessa, Jean Galot, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Roger Haight, Elizabeth Johnson, Hans Küng, Michael Sarot, and Jon Sobrino. Of course one must add the host of Process Theologians who, following the lead of Albert North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne, hold, by the very character of their philosophical position, that God is by nature passible and so can suffer. This theological shift has been so overwhelming, so thorough, and has been achieved with such unquestioned assurance that Ronald Goetz has simply, and in a sense rightly, dubbed it the “new orthodoxy.”

It begs the question, can we split Christ? I think not. I priest once told me that when we start splitting then we are no longer speaking of Christ because He was both…

Why does suffering require change?


To human beings suffering is physical or emotional. God does not have a body, so God cannot suffer physically. God is pure spirit, and not matter. He does not have ‘passions’ in the way that humans have passions. God is pure love, but for him, that is not a passion or an emotion, it is a permanent act of the will. That love is not a lesser love than human love, but a perfect love, which always wills the good of the beloved–that is, us.

But Jesus can suffer, and can have human emotions, because he has a human nature. (This is true even though he is not a human Person, but a divine Person, acting in his human nature. It is the nature of a being which determines what actions the Person does. We act as human beings, not as canines or avians, because of our human nature. Jesus acts as a human being because of his human nature. But in accordance with his divine nature, he acts as God.

The human heart is capable of touching the kingdom of heaven.

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. - Luke 17:20-21

Jesus heart occupies both material and spiritual kingdoms.

When a child is lost, the parent’s heart aches.

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