Matthew 24:36

How can the Son not know when will the end happen, if he is omniscient?

From the Catechism:

472: This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man,” and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience. This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave.”

474: By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal. What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.

Jesus was not omniscient. He was a human, like us in every single way except for sin.

While on the one hand He testified that only the Father knows the day and hour of His return He did make a lengthy discourse describing the signs to watch for leading up to it.

Jesus was also divine, and, because of His divine nature, He was omniscient.

Scripture says He knew all things in John 16:30, John 21:17, and Colossians 2:2-3. See also this link: Biblical Evidence for Jesus’ Omniscience.

My understanding is that Jesus said He did not know because His divine will forbade His human mind from accessing that knowledge until the proper time. If my understanding is correct, then Jesus had access to that knowledge because He was God, but He was speaking as man, in which nature He had not yet accessed that knowledge. Anyway, that is my understanding of this matter.

No He wasn’t omniscient. If you say He is omniscient then you are denying the Incarnation. The Logos didn’t just unite Himself to a human or indwell a human, He really, truly, completely became an actual human. Humans are not omniscient.

According to Catholic teaching, Jesus retained His divine nature and all its powers when He became man. Human qualities were added without the divine qualities diminishing. I don’t think the Orthodox faith disagrees with this, do you think it’s possible that we are just talking past one another while actually meaning the same thing?

I hope this clarifies something: the Third Ecumenical Council, which is accepted by both Catholics and Orthodox, solemnly declared, “Neither do we say…that the ineffable nature of the Word of God was laid aside for the nature of flesh; for he is unchanged and absolutely unchangeable, being the same always, according to the Scriptures. For although visible and a child in swaddling clothes, and even in the bosom of his Virgin Mother, he filled all creation as God, and was a fellow-ruler with him who begot him, for the Godhead is without quantity and dimension, and cannot have limits.” source

…while being fully divine…in regards to the incarnation, you can’t separate the two, otherwise it would not be just that the word became flesh, but that the word became flesh while ceasing to be divine.

Jesus Christ has two natures, a divine nature and a human nature. Each of his natures has its own knowledge base but they are not equal, not even close. The knowledge base of his human nature necessarily contains only a tiny fraction of the knowledge base of his divine nature. His divine nature has a knowledge base that is infinite but his human nature has a knowledge base that is finite, limited by the physical capacity of his human brain to about 2.5 million gigabytes of information. Not deeming it essential to his earthly mission to teach and redeem mankind, he did not impart knowledge of the exact day the world will end from his infinite divine intellect to his finite human intellect. So, with respect to his human nature, Jesus did not know the day. Either that or he simply told his disciples that he didn’t know because he didn’t want to tell them and didn’t want them to keep pestering him about it.

If Jesus was omniscient then He wasn’t a human, then the Logos didn’t really become a man. St Paul didn’t say “He became like unto us in every way except sin…and that He was omniscient.” He said He became like us in every way except sin. The Logos voluntarily chose to become circumscribed, to enter time and space. To say otherwise is to say that Jesus became some different kind of human, that He took on some other human nature that is not our own. To say that denies a central point of our salvation. St Gregory said “that which is not assumed is not saved.”

I don’t think that is true because of the following argument:

If Jesus was omniscient because of His divine nature, while His human nature retained its limitations, then He could still be human while being omniscient.

Do you think that is a reasonable argument?

No because He chose to become circumscribed in His humanity. There are quite a few occurrences in the Scriptures that don’t make any sense otherwise. That’s the entire reason He can be depicted in iconography. I think the quote earlier from your own catechism makes that perfectly clear.

Again, he became both, having the full human and divine nature…as I stated he didn’t give up on to gain the other.

Your claim, “To say that denies a central point of our salvation” is applicable to the claim that Christ when he took on human nature could not retain his divinity.

Would you conclude that the gospel, instead of showing Christ as an omniscient God, is showing his prowess as a magician who could read minds while performing parlor tricks?

Mat 9:4 - Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts?

Matt 12:25 - But he knew what they were thinking and said to them,* “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand.

Luke 9:47 - Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side

Jn 1:48 - Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

Jn 13:1 - Before the feast of Passover,* Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.

Jn 13: 3 - fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God,

Jn 18:4 - Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”

Jn 19:28 - After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled,* Jesus said, “I thirst.”

If I believed as you believe, I don’t think I could accept the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, because the argument would follow, if his body and blood became the bread and wine, then it was no longer him.

Often the mysteries of our faith cannot be neatly fit into conventions we need for understanding, but instead, faith is required.

Peace and all good!

It’s not about Him losing His divinity it’s about Him being circumscribed in His humanity. Your own catechism expresses this. Simply because He knew certain things doesn’t mean He was omniscient. Plenty of saints could see the future, read people’s thoughts, were aware of things happening in other places, could talk to animals and even control nature. None of them were God. It’s plain even from Scripture that Jesus was not omniscient and was really human. How else could He have been tempted? Why did He weep for Lazarus? Why didn’t He know the woman who touched the hem of his robe? How is He amazed by a person’s faith? Why did He say only the Father knows the hour? Why did He have to grow and develop? How could St Paul say He was like us in every way if He wasn’t? If He was omniscient He was not human. It can’t be any other way.

I’m sorry but what you seem to be espousing is leaning towards Docetism or perhaps Nestorianism. Of course I know you’re not doing it on purpose but it’s a pretty common error. People don’t really, really believe in the Incarnation. They say they do, they think they do, but they really don’t. The point is that the Logos who is divine voluntarily chose circumscription. There is no other way to affirm both His divinity and His humanity.

I can’t change your mind, and you can’t change mine…so for the sake of others we have confused here is an old CAF clip:

Nov 11, '04, 11:06 am

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers Apologist

Join Date: May 3, 2004
Posts: 4,934
Religion: Catholic
Re: Was Jesus omniscient?
Jesus was, and is, fully God and fully man. As God, he was omniscient; as man, his experiential knowledge (i.e., knowledge that is gained through human experience) could grow through learning. St. Thomas Aquinas asserted that Christ, in his human intellect, knew all things through the beatific vision but that in his human mind – which is a created thing and therefore finite – he could not know all the possibilities. If this sounds mysterious, that’s because it is mysterious, not in the more limited sense of puzzling, but in the theological sense of a truth of the faith that we cannot fully comprehend.

Recommended reading:

The Human Knowledge of Christ by John O’Connell
To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed


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Last edited by Michelle Arnold; Nov 11, '04 at 11:40 am.

Maybe it’s just the difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism.

But even your own quote shows that He was not omniscient. The catechism says the same thing. Could you please address the quote from the catechism earlier in this thread?

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