What does this mean and is the hypostatic union a mystery of faith? IOW did Jesus ever explicitly state that He is both fully human and fully G-d or did the Church figure this out, and if the latter, on what scriptural basis? Finally, why is the Messiah supposed to be BOTH human and divine according to Christian teaching? Is it because of G-d’s love for humanity? (In Judaism, the Messiah is believed to be only human.) Thanks in advance for whatever information you can contribute.
Jesus the person is the second person of the Trinity, the divine Word from all eternity. It is this person who possesses the One divine nature along with the Father and Spirit. It is this person (and not the Father or Holy Spirit) who assumed a human nature. He is thus one person with two natures, human and divine.
While he was living on earth, it was pretty easy to tell that he was a human being. His divinity had to be demonstrated through miracles and testimony, such as when he said things like, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” and “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. The Father and I are One.”
Since it is the nature of a thing or a person that determines what actions are proper to a being, Jesus can act both in his human nature and his divine nature.
In his divine nature, he knows all thing; as man, his human knowledge is limited. As man, he had to learn, just as other human beings learn.
Regarding the last question: Christ, in virtue of his humanity, could represent the human race; in virtue of his divinity, he could make sacrifices of infinite value. Thus he was able to atone for the sins of mankind and reconcile us to God – among other things.
A matter of language; I would not say Christ is a “human being” but rather a divine person with a human nature.
There are Scriptural supports in the New Testament for the Divinity of Christ and for His humanity.Here are some of the verses that support the Divinity/humanity of Jesus-- but it is a vast mystery that is hard to comprehend. Of course, I realize that your understanding of the OT verses is different than ours.
Yes, the hypostatic union is a mystery of faith, there is no way to fully understand what happened and exactly why it happened that way. We do know from the letter to the Philippians that “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance”. Jesus never said “I am fully human, fully Divine”. But He does make 23 “I am” statements in the NT to testify to His belief that He was the Son of God. He says anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father and that the Father is in Him and He is in the Father. He refers to Himself as the Son of God and the Son of Man. He does say that He is the Messiah to the Samaritan woman (John 4:26). At the same time, we see His humanity when He is tired or hungry or tempted by the devil. As to FULLY human and FULLY Divine, that took a couple of centuries for the Church to define (at Nicea and Constantinople, but there is a lot of Scriptural support, IMO. Additionally important, I think is that the Jews at the time interpreted Jesus as claiming divinity, which of course, they didn’t believe.
Why both man and God? I think that only the purest offering of a blemish free “Lamb” was enough to atone for the sin of mankind and reconcile God fully to mankind. I don’t know why God made it so, but according to the Scriptures “without the shedding of blood there is no atonement for sin”. Leviticus 17:11 tells us the the blood tells us that the life of a creature is in the blood. But Jesus is LIFE (Divine Life) so when His blood was shed it was human/divine and brought about the perfect and everlasting atonement. This is something that no ordinary man could offer up to God.
Jesus did at least imply He was God. In the second chapter of Mark, He forgives a paralyzed man’s sins. The Pharisees think to themselves that Jesus blasphemes, for God alone can forgive sins. And Jesus heals the paralyzed man, to prove He was not speaking in vain. That is probably the earliest implication in any of the Gospels that Jesus was God. There are many others, but this is the earliest - and certainly a very clear one.
On the other hand, is He a man? As John says in the beginning of his Gospel: “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Also, do not the genealogies of Matthew and Luke seem in vain, whatever their discrepancies, if Jesus was merely God? (It is funny to say, “merely God”.) And in his first sermon to the Jews in Acts 2, Peter refers to Jesus as a man - the question of His Divinity is not addressed, nor is it centripetal to his sermon.
Not that you would be the first one to say either/or. Of course modern men think Jesus merely a good philosopher, a mere man. But, perhaps you know, there were men called “Docetists” who believed Jesus only appeared to be man. Others called “Modalists” believed Jesus was merely God wearing a human-shaped masque. The Arians, and Monarchians, and Adoptionists, all taught that Jesus was the “Son of God” in the sense of adoption, and Jesus was not really God, at least at first.
But the orthodox position always was, “not one or the other, but both”. And, it seems to me, this is a constant pattern in the Catholic Church. Whenever two opposing sides seem to create a split in theology, morality, or what have you, the Church proclaims them both right, to some degree, and usually wrong only in excluding the other part. One might say the Church was trying to appease both sides. If only both sides of a heresy were not so much “purists” as to be unhappy with “compromise” of their “solas” (i.e, sola scriptura).
The tough thing is that one could very well make that argument but at the same time there are other verses that suggest that he was not God!
Hrmm…which verses are you referring to?
Hi Meltzerboy! The dual nature of the Messiah is in Isaiah Chapter 9 “6For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.” He is going to be born so that indicates he is going to be human but goes on to say He will be God the Mighty. The book of Daniel also set the Messianic clock in motion. In Daniel 9:21-25, the archangel Gabriel gives a most wondrous prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. Consider the words of Scripture:
 As I was yet speaking in prayer, behold the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, flying swiftly touched me at the time of the evening sacrifice.  And he instructed me, and spoke to me, and said: O Daniel, I am now come forth to teach thee, and that thou mightest understand.  From the beginning of thy prayers the word came forth: and I am come to shew it to thee, because thou art a man of desires: therefore do thou mark the word, and understand the vision.  Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, that transgression may be finished, and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished; and everlasting justice may be brought; and vision and prophecy may be fulfilled; and the saint of saints may be anointed.  Know thou therefore, and take notice: that from the going forth of the word, to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ the prince, there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: and the street shall be built again, and the walls in straitness of times.
Gabriel speaks of the “seventy weeks” and of the “sixty-nine weeks”, which refer to “weeks of years”, that is four-hundred ninety and four-hundred eighty-three years, respectively – (“weeks of years”, as in Leviticus 25,8: Thou shalt also number to thee seven weeks of years, that is to say, seven times seven, which together make forty-nine years). On this passage from Daniel, the commentary in the Douay-Rheims Bible states:
Seventy weeks: Viz., of years, (or seventy times seven, that is, 490 years,) are shortened; that is, fixed and determined, so that the time shall be no longer.
From the going forth of the word: That is, from the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes, when by his commandment Nehemias rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, 2 Esd. 2. From which time, according to the best chronology, there were just sixty-nine weeks of years, that is, 483 years to the baptism of Christ, when he first began to preach and execute the office of Messias.-- Ibid.
Whether we accept the precision of the chronology, it is quite clear that the archangel Gabriel gives one of the most precise prophecies of the coming of the Christ. Hence, it was fitting that he who had announced the mystery of old, should announce the same when the fullness of time had come.
Jesus said it very plainly and officially at His trial that He is God, but it looses a bit of shock value in our Bible translation. The members of the Sanhedrin asked if he was the Son of God. He said, “I am”. Then members tore their garments showing the shock was not lost on them. It is blasphemy. for saying “I am” is forbidden and means I am God for the name of God is “I am, who am”. They go on to say they have no need of witnesses for we have heard for ourselves His own statement to be God.
Our Lord Jesus Christ being fully human and full divine hypostatically unified in One Person is most definitely a mystery of the Catholic faith and the Truth.
As previous posters mentioned, Jesus said, “Before Abraham came to be, I AM” and “The Father and I are One.” Also, Saint John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory.” The Word Incarnate is Jesus Christ, God the Son and the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity Who is God.
Also, from SalvationHistory.com, we can see the Truth of Jesus being God the Son and the Son of God, made Incarnate along with His eternally divine nature:
I. The Annunciation
A. How Can This Be?
Of all the Gospel writers, Luke gives us by far the most information about Mary. Most of that information is simple and literal: the stories of the Annunciation, the Nativity, and so on. But some of what Luke has to tell us is conveyed in a less obvious way, by means of parallels in words and images.
In the first lesson, we looked at the story of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would conceive a child who would inherit the throne of David.
Naturally, Mary was surprised. She asked the obvious question: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (see Luke 1:34).
Gabriel replied that it would happen by the power of God: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (see Luke 1:35).
B. The Power of the Most High will Overshadow You
The word translated “overshadow” is used nowhere else in the New Testament. In fact, it occurs only one other place in Scripture, if we refer to the Greek translation of the Old Testament that Luke was familiar with.
The book of Exodus tells us how Moses had the Ark of the Covenant placed in the Dwelling, the holy place in great tent that was to serve as the dwelling-place of God among His people. (The word translated “Dwelling” is often translated “Tabernacle.”)
“Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling” (see Exodus 40:34-35).
In the Greek version of the Old Testament, the word translated “settled down upon” (“the cloud settled down upon it”) is the same as Luke’s word “overshadow” (“the power of the Most High will overshadow you”).
Luke is telling us that the power of God will overshadow Mary just as the power of God overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant in the tent.
Also regarding the Messianic countdown the Gospel of Luke states when the Wise Men or magi who were Eastern astrologers figured out the prophecy of Balaam: “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel”(Num. 24:17) that Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Herod was an Edomite not an ethnic Jew and puppet of Rome, we know why was Herod was troubled but why was all of Jerusalem troubled when the Magi wanted to see the newborn King of the Jews. Daniel’s prophesy was at fever pitch they knew the Messiah was expected at any moment and this group comes in and tells them He is already here, this was absolutely shocking news because He apparently was born and God didn’t tell anyone.
That is why we can’t isolate the Scriptures from each other. They have to be taken at a whole. Some verses attest to His humanity, some to His Divinity-- we take them together in context to come up with the whole picture (or at least as much of it as we can understand). This is another area where trust in the Church that we believe He founded is very important. He told the Apostles that the Spirit would guide them (the Church) to all truth. But this is a matter of authority and probably better suited for a new thread. However, I just wanted to make the point that the Scriptures have to be read as a whole.
“I go unto the Father, for my Father is greater than I.”
“But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father”
John 10:30-34 is particularly revealing. The fourth Gospel describes how when the Jews heard Jesus proclaim, “I and my Father are one,” they immediately wanted to stone him. When Jesus asks them why they wanted to kill him, the Jews responded because “you claim to be God.” Upon hearing this, Jesus asked, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’?”
The verse is found in Psalm 82:6 where the Bible refers to judges who teach God’s divine law as gods. This title was bestowed on them because they were teachers of the Almighty’s divine Law and sacred Oracles, not because they were actually God in any way. This usage is quite common in the Jewish Scriptures. For example, in Exodus 7:1 Moses is called a god because he was God’s representative to Pharaoh. In essence, Jesus, as depicted by John, is explaining that his identification with God is comparable to that of a Jewish judge.
D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:
Ver. 28. The Father is greater than I. According to the common exposition, Christ here speaks of himself, as made man, which interpretation is drawn from the circumstances of the text, Christ being at that time, going to suffer, and die, and shortly after to rise again, and ascend into heaven, all which agree with him, as man, and according to his human nature. But the Arians can take no advantage from these words, (though with divers of the ancient Fathers, we should allow them to be spoken of Christ, as the Son of God:) the Father may be said in some manner to be greater than the Son, if we consider the order of the divine processions, that is, that the Father is the first person, and proceeds from no other; whereas the Son proceeds from the Father. If any one, says St. Chrysostom, will contend, that the Father is greater, inasmuch as he is the cause, from which the Son proceedeth, we will bear with him, and this way of speaking: provided he grant that the Son is not of a different substance, or nature. St. Athanasius allows the same, and takes notice, that though the Father is said to be greater, yet he is not said to be better, nor more excellent, than the Son; because they are one and the same in substance, nature, and other perfections. (Witham) — The enemies of the divinity of Christ here triumph, and think they have the confession of Christ himself, that he is less than the Father. But if they would distinguish the two natures of Christ, their arguments would all fall to the ground. Jesus Christ, as man, and a creature, is inferior to his Father, the Creator; but, as God, he is, in every respect, equal to him. (St. Basil, St. Augustine, &c.) — Others, likewise, answer it thus: Following the confused opinion of the world, and even of the apostles themselves, who as yet only considered Christ as a prophet, and as a man, eminent in virtue and sanctity, he was less than the Father. (St. Chrysostom; Leont.; Theophylactus; Euthymius) — And likewise the title of Father, (as we generally use the word) is greater, and much more honourable, than that of Son; and in this respect, Christ is inferior to his Father. (St. Athanasius; St. Hilary; St. Epiphanius; St. Gregory of Nazianzus; and St. Cyril) —But this appellation, though really true, does not destroy the equality of the persons, because Christ has declared, in numerous other places, that he is equal to the Father; that he is in the Father; and that he and the Father are one. The apostles ought to have rejoiced that Christ was going to the Father, who was superior to him, considering him in his human nature; because, then, would the Son shew forth his honour and glory to be equal to the Father’s, in heaven. This would have been a mark of a pure, solid, and disinterested love, which ought to have inspired the apostles, if they truly loved their divine Master. (Calmet) — Protestants assume to themselves the liberty of making the Bible only, the exclusive rule of faith, yet refuse this privilege to others. Thus Luther insisted, that his catechism should be taught, and followed. Calvin burnt Servetus for explaining his faith, by his own interpretation of the Bible, particularly of these words, the Father is greater than I. The Church of England compels every clergyman to swear to the Thirty-nine Articles, and has inflicted the severest penalties on such as interpreted the Bible according to the principles of Socinus; and on Catholics, who understand the words of Jesus Christ, This is my body: this is my blood, in the literal and obvious sense of the words. As long as each individual is at liberty to expound Scripture by the private spirit, it is a great injustice to compel any one, by penal laws, to yield his judgment to any authority, that is not less fallible than his own.
D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:
Ver. 32. But how can the Son be ignorant of that last day? Were this the case, we must thence conclude that his nature was imperfect: since he was under the necessity of a second coming, and yet was ignorant when that time should be. But we must remember, that the meaning of this sentence is not, that Christ was really ignorant of this circumstance, but only that it was not then a convenient time to disclose the secret. (St. Augustine) — Not as if Christ were ignorant himself, as certain Eutychian heretics, called Agnoitæ, held; but because he knew it not as our teacher, to teach it others, as being not expedient. (St. Ambrose, de fide, lib. v. chap. viii.) — The Son of God is ignorant of this day, not according to his divinity, which sees and knows all things; but according to his humanity, which does not know it of itself, of its own light, but by revelation which is made to it by the divinity, which is intimately united to it. In naturâ quidem divinitatis novit, says St. Gregory, non ex naturâ humanitatis. See St. Matthew xxiv. 36.
D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:
Ver. 30. I and the Father are one, or one being, not one person, nor one by an union of affection only, but in nature, substance, power, and other perfections, as appears by the whole text: for Christ here tells them that none of his elect shall perish, because no one can snatch them out of his hands, no more than out of the hands of his Father: and then adds, that he and his Father are one, or have one equal power: and if their power, says St. Chrysostom, is the same, so is their substance. Christ adds, (ver. 38.) that the Father is in him, and he in the Father; which also shews an union of nature and substance, and not only of love and affection, especially when taken with other words of our Saviour Christ. (Witham)
Ver. 31. Then took up stones, &c. because, said they, being a man, thou makest thyself God. The Jews, says St. Augustine, understood well enough what the Arians will not understand, that from Christ’s words it followed that he was one and the same God with the eternal Father. (Witham) — The Jews, in opposition to our Saviour’s doctrine, took up stones to destroy him, in order that he might preach no more to them. So heretics at the present time exercise the odium of their impiety against the same Lord, by perverting his holy doctrines, and, as much as in them lies, pulling him and his servants down from the glorious seats of heavenly bliss. (St. Augustine)
Ver. 34. This is addressed to princes established to govern the people of God. They are the image of God on earth by the authority they exercise, and which they have received from Him. — Is it not written in your law, (under which were also comprehended the Psalms) I have said: you are Gods? &c. Christ here stops the mouths of the Jews, by an argument which they could not answer, that sometimes they were called Gods, who acted by God’s authority. I have said: you are Gods. (Psalm lxxxi. 6.) But then he immediately declares, that it is not in this sense only that he is God. 1st, Because he has been sanctified by the Father, which St. Augustine and others understand of that infinite sanctification, which he has necessarily by always proceeding from the Father. Others expound it of a greater sanctity and fulness of grace above all other saints, given to him, even as he was man. But 2ndly, he adds at the same time, and confirms what he had often told them, that he was the Son of God, sent into the world: that his works shew that he was in the Father, and the Father in him. by this they saw that he was far from recalling or contradicting what he had said before. And therefore (ver. 30.[39.?]) they sought to apprehend him, and put him to death for blasphemy. (Witham) — Eloim, which name of God was so called from judging, and may be interpreted judges. (Menochius)
Thanks to all for the very informative comments and stimulating discussion. While I have my own views on the matter, I’m mainly interested in understanding the Christian view(s).
One sometimes reads in Christological textbooks, such phrases as “Jesus as man,” and “Jesus as God,” to distinguish when he is acting in his human nature and when he is acting in his divine nature.
When speaking as man, Jesus is limited to his human knowledge—knowledge that is finite and limited, and that he had to learn just as any human being does. When speaking “as God,” he uses the divine intellect which is infinite and unlimited.
When we say that he is fully man, I think that means that as man, he is as truly a human being as we are—he has a human body and a human soul, a human intellect and will just as we do. But as the divine Word—the Person whom he is—he possesses from all eternity the divine nature of God.
One can say that he is not a human person. That is correct. But one cannot say that he is not a human being, because his one person “as man” operates using a fully human nature. He is a human being. And also a divine person who has a divine nature.
But Jesus has a “fully human nature” that cannot sin although He may be tempted?
What does “person” mean and how does it differ from “nature”?