Hypostatic Union-Two wills but one person in Christ

A question was posed to me, and please need help responding to it:

*And that He have two natures, human and divine. And that He has two wills, also that of the human and divine.

On person, I can easily understand from scriptures that Christ is only one person.

On nature, I can easily understand from scriptures that Christ have two natures, yet being one person.

On will, it is true that there is a divine will and a human will. But will relates not on nature but on the person.

**So, if Christ is one person, how can he have two wills? Having two wills makes Christ not a single person, but two. ***

Any comment on the last (bolded part)?

This is the problem. We’re being asked to accept a premise that itself has not been proven.

Who’s to say will relates to Person and not to Nature? Who’s to say will relates to either at all?

Both wills are expressed in the one person.

A person as Boethius says, is an individual substance of a rational nature subsisting of itself. Now, the human nature of Christ which includes a human intellect and will does not subsist of itself or have an existence apart from the divine nature of Christ, but it exists only in something else, i.e., in its union with the eternal person of the Son of God.

The best and easiest answer is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, True God and True Man, paragraphs 464-483.
Warning. This is not a page turner.

CCC 475, Christ’s human will

Similarly, at the sixth ecumenical council, Constantinople III in 681, the Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations, divine and human. They are not opposed to each other, but cooperate in such a way that the Word made flesh willed humanly in obedience to his Father all that he had decided divinely with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our salvation. Christ’s human will “does not resist or oppose but rather submits to his divine and almighty will.”

Links to Catholic teaching


Intellect and will are aspects of one’s nature, which are exercised by the person. Since Christ was fully human, he has a fully human nature, including a human intellect and a human will. Since he is fully divine, he has a divine intellect and a divine will.

It is my understanding that the will does relate to nature. It is a faculty of the human and angelic souls, as well as of God’s divine nature.

I’ve taken a few Catholic philosophy courses in my lifetime. If I remember right, a “person” is the wielder of spiritual faculties. A faculty is one of your capabilities, like humans are capable of walking, eating, and growing. The spiritual faculties are our spiritual capabilities. Humans can think intelligent thoughts. We can will to do one thing or another. We can love. Those are spiritual because material beings are unable to do those things.

Whatever wields those faculties is a person. To wield something is to make use of it, like a soldier wields a sword. A being which is capable of using free will is a person. Angels, humans, and God are three examples. Animals, rocks, and trees, since they are not capable of using free will, are not persons.

Jesus, as God, has the spiritual faculties of the divine nature. These include intellect and free will. Therefore, Jesus is a person, a divine one. In taking the human nature, He added the faculties of human nature to the divine faculties that He already wielded. Thus, a divine person wielded the human faculties.

Your friend said that if there were two wills that would make two persons, but I think I just showed why that’s not true: a person already wielded those faculties. There was no need for a second person in Jesus because all a person is is the one who wields the spiritual faculties. Jesus’ human nature already had a wielder from the moment of His conception, and His wielder was the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

I hope that makes sense. I know it’s philosophical, but I tried to use short sentences until that last paragraph there.

A man who wields a sword in one hand and an axe in another does not need to be two persons to do that. Jesus does not need to be two persons in order to wield the divine will in one hand and the human will in the other. Perhaps that analogy can help you make sense of this.

The way I was taught (via St. Augustine)–was that the three Persons of God share one Will–‘the Will of God’. They are never in conflict with one another, because they are of the same Will; it’s how we reconcile 3 persons, one God. If the Holy Spirit has a distinct Will from the Son, or the Father…the Holy Spirit would constitute a distinct ‘god’.

Now, wrt to Christ–Christ had a distinct Will incidental to His humanity–that is, His human nature. Had Christ exercised His human will contrary to God’s Will…Christ could not have redeemed Man. Christ would in essence have chosen His human nature, over his divinity; He would have essentially sinned, just as Adam had–leaving Man damned.

This is the significance of the temptation in the dessert by Satan; His struggle/suffering in the garden of Gethsemane; the torture via the Passion; and the ‘bad’ thief’s last temptation, when he dares Christ to invoke His divinity, to save His humanity–IOW, to subordinate His divine Will–the Will of the Father–i.e.–the Will of God–to His human will, which cried out for reprieve from the brutal, torturous circumstances, including excruciating pain, loneliness, hunger, thirst, extreme fatigue, desire for love, fellowship, acceptance, and such.

After the Resurrection (and certainly after his Ascension), Christ’s human will is no longer in effect; it has been absorbed (if you will), into His divine Will. There is no longer any internal conflict between the wants/needs of the flesh, and his divine mission.

Mission accomplished–*“It is finished”/I].

Upon the Ascension, He has returned to His Father, and sent in His stead, ‘the Advocate’/‘Paraclete’/‘Holy Spirit’–His (and the Father’s) Will, ‘personified.’

CAVEAT: this is just my humble understanding (acknowledging St. Augustine’s influence, directly, and via 2nd/3rd parties, interpreting/applying St. Augustine–especially wrt to the unity of the Will of the three Persons of the Trinity) . As always, I welcome dissent, correction, or the like; I make no claims to authority, and IMHO, this topic (very intriguing one, I should add), falls within the non-dogmatic area of Church teaching, that essentially leaves some wiggle room for interpretation–the above, simply reflects mine–that is, my humble reconciliation of the challenging concept of the Trinity, with/vis a vis the similarly challenging and ambiguous concepts of ‘the will’ and ‘the Will of God.’


Thanks for the replies, everyone. As I initially suspected, the answers were indeed from Philosphy, which I am not one.:smiley:

Anyway, the reponses helped me respond to the person concerned. He has not responded back. He came from a denomination which denied the trinity…and is somewhat conflicted.

An interesting point also: Did Jesus have two souls? The will is a power of the soul, just as the intelligence is. If He had a human will with His human nature, and a Divine will with His divine nature, it would seem that He had two souls, Yet it is the soul of an individual that give him his personhood,his individuality, yet Jesus is a Divine Person Two natures, one Divine Person, two wills?
In human nature the will and intelligence are two separate operations, God is His attributes of will and intelligence, in God they are One. In any case I’m with the Church.
Another consideration: The soul is created by God in humans, Jesus is God, He wouldn’t have to create His human soul, for He is the origin of souls as God He was conceived by the Holy Spirit Can human nature be human nature without a human soul, the soul is the form of the body? Again I repeat, I’m with the Church

The soul is spiritual. The will is a capability of the spirit. God is a spirit. Thus God has a will due to His being a spiritual being. Man has a soul, which has will as a capability. There is no reason for Jesus to have 2 souls as He already is spirit (God) and thus has a will from that fact.

The soul is called spirit when it is directed toward God, but called a soul when interacting with the body, but there is really only body and soul.


The soul is the animating principle of a body. For man, the soul is a spirit.
God has no body, thus no need of an animating soul. God is pure infinite spirit.
The Divine Word, in taking on a human nature, assumed a full human nature: a human body and a human soul. The human soul has the faculties of a human intellect and a human will. So yes, Jesus does have a human soul. In his divine nature, he fully possesses the one divine essence. As one person, he acts both in his divine nature (as God) and in his human nature (as man.)

The Divine Mystery of the Incarnation!!

The human will is moved by the divine will, just as in the saints. St. Thomas states that: “the three Persons caused the human nature to be united to the one Person of the Son.”

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.