Question about the Hypostatic Union


It’s accepted that Christ only suffered and died in His humanity, but not His divinity. However, what did this mean for the Hypostatic Union? Did the Hypostatic Union cease at the moment of Christ’s death? Or did it continue and how?

Thanks in advance and God bless.

No, it cannot be said he suffered and died only in his humanity. No, the hypostatic union did not cease at death.

It also cannot be said that His divinity suffered and died.

I really need to check whether an answer to any question is already in the Summa first before I post my question.

What do you think “dying” is SalamKhan?

You said:

It’s accepted that Christ only suffered and died in His humanity, but not His divinity.

Please show me from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, or a Council etc., what you are talking about and I will try to answer you.

God bless.


Well, it is accurate, to a degree. The common phrasing is that Jesus died as man, because as God, he could neither suffer nor die.

However, what did this mean for the Hypostatic Union? Did the Hypostatic Union cease at the moment of Christ’s death? Or did it continue and how?

Thanks in advance and God bless.

There are no implications for the hypostatic union because there was never a time when the Union was separated or broken. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, God Almighty, died on the cross.

Or, to put it in short: God died.

Yep. That’s a perfectly orthodox statement according to the communication of idioms. Of course it’s more technical than that. There is no suffering and death in divinity, but there is in humanity. So Jesus died in his human nature, yes, but the One who died, the Person who died was God. Humanity remained joined to the divinity in the sacred Body in the tomb, in the Blood that stained the Cross and soaked into the soil of Calvary, and in the Soul who descended into hell until the Resurrection. God died on the Cross, but he did not cease being God nor man.

This is how we were redeemed. Only God can atone for the infinite offense man committed against God, and only man can atone for his sin. This is why the Hypostatic Union is such an essential teaching of the faith.

No, the hypostatic union did not cease at Christ’s death. Christ, in his human nature has a soul and the soul is immortal just as our soul’s are when we die in the body but our soul lives on and we either go to heaven, purgatory, or hell. In the Apostles Creed, we recite ‘He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell.’ The human soul of Christ united to his divine nature descended into hell at his death to free the just held there and bring them into heaven. ‘On the third day he rose again.’ Christ’s soul reunited to his body at his resurrection and he afterwards ascended into heaven body and soul.

What “infinite offense” do Christians believe “man committed against G-d”? Are you referring to original sin?

Also, when you say “only man can atone for his sin,” are you referring to the humanity manifested in the Person of the Son of G-d in His human nature? If so, in what sense can man alone atone for his sin, given the Man in question is at one with G-d and therefore without sin Himself?

I can’t answer for porthos11 meltzerboy.

So this may differ.

But when you asked . . . .

What “infinite offense” do Christians believe “man committed against G-d”? Are you referring to original sin?

This might help.

Keep in mind, God is omnipresent, eternal, infinite, etc.

When Adam sinned against God, it is a transgression against . . . . God.

Seems painfully obvious but please bear with me here for a moment.

(The same is true for us incidentally. When we sin, we sin against ALL of God too.
But I will use Adam as an example here to eventually show the effect sin had on Adam [and Eve’s] progeny.)

I am not going to go through verses and catechetical proofs here significantly. I’ll do that later if you or someone else would like me to.

Adam (and Eve, but I will just use Adam for my example) sinned against God.

**A sin against God, is a sin against “ALL” of God.

That sin just “keeps on giving”.**

God is perfectly merciful, but God is ALSO perfectly JUST.

With God’s justice, God is going to have to demand a perfect atonement (but mere mankind could never give that to God because we are finite creatures and it would require and **infinite **sacrificial atonement).

In the Old Covenant we have prefigurements and foreshadowings of atonement for sin, but it is never enough.

It is never completely atoning.

That’s almost certainly WHY King David in Psalm 40, can say “sacrifices and oblation you desired not”. And Isaiah says, “I delight not in the blood Of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.”

But in another sense God DID desire sacrifice and oblation. (In the Levitical Priesthood RE: its teaching sense).

Since the Jewish people were custodians of “the Law”, these foreshadowings (especially circumcision) acted as an “advantage” for them as St. Paul says in Romans 3:1-2.

Yet in another sense (in a definitive permanent atoning sacrifice for sin sense) God did NOT desire “the blood Of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.”

BOTH are true but they are true in differing senses.

Keep in mind . . . . .

The Lord your God is one God!

But God also reveals to us that He is three Divine persons in this one God.

Jesus (one of those persons who is God) took upon Himself a human nature (but His Divine nature remains) via flesh of the Virgin Mary or as St. Paul says, “made of a woman” in Galatians 4:4 (sometimes translated as “born”)

That doesn’t surprise us. Eve was miraculously made from the flesh of a man.

When Adam was brought into the world, God “breathed” life into him.

And Eve was made from the flesh of Adam (again, in the New Covenant, the flesh of the Virgin Mary is used by the power of the Holy Spirit to give Jesus His human nature).

Adam (and Eve) did not have God dwelling in them in the fullest sense, but Adam and Eve DID have “Original Justice” (see CCC 384 and 400).

When Adam and Eve fell, their nature changed immediately. They in a sense, died.

Now they had only a dead or fallen nature.

St. Paul (who studied at the feet of Gamaliel) said mankind now became “children of wrath” by their very “NATURE”! (In Ephesians 2)

St. Paul also said “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” He is talking about the same thing. He is talking about mere perishable humanity.

So now the best Adam and Eve can do . . . . is pass on “their nature” to their offspring.

Even in this fallen state, their nature is still sublime. It is very lofty. But it is not enough to atone for sin.

God promises to send the kinsman-redeemer to redeem mankind to atone for sin (but so much MORE too).

But if He is our “kinsman” he must be fully human.

If he is not fully human He cannot be our “kinsman”.

Man cannot become God, but God can take flesh and a human nature upon Himself.

And He did (miraculously).

Jesus is THE Priest. His priesthood is not based upon genealogy. Jesus is a Jew (Kingly Tribe), not a Levite (Priestly Tribe).

But His priesthood is on the order of Melchizedek (As Psalm 110 reminds us, The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent: ‘Thou art a priest for ever After the manner of Melchizedek.’)

This singular priesthood that belongs solely to Jesus Christ (but we have varying “shares” in), is not within bounds of flesh and blood genealogies.

Caiaphas ripped his priestly garment interrogating Jesus. Something that the high priest should never do in this context.

Jesus, then acting as both High Priest and spotless victim on Calvary, has HIS seamless garment taken, but NOT rended, then offers Himself as an “acceptable” sacrifice to the Father on the hill just outside of Salem (Jerusalem).

Jesus is both Priest and Sacrificial Victim in the fulfilled sense.

Why could that help ME?

Because in Baptism, baptism doesn’t merely bring about the “forgiveness of sins”, but it puts us IN Jesus and He in us too!

We become “sons in the Son”. (We become united with one another in Christ too.)

St. Paul again . . . .

1st CORINTHIANS 12:12-13 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Still Baptism is but a beginning. And still the wages of sin is “death”. And this “wage” must be “paid” by US . . . but us IN Him.

We are able to be UNITED in a death like His.

So assuming we remain “in Him” and He “in us”, . . . their is a “completion” of sorts on the last day when we get our bodies back in Heaven.

God bless.


Cathoholic, you answered both my questions very well! Thank you.

Judaism has a different take on this. I’m not here to debate but will raise only one point with regard to something you mentioned, namely, that blood sacrifices and even following the Law to the letter were NEVER considered the chief means of atonement, and certainly not for INTENTIONAL sins. Rather, prayer and good deeds were, as the Hebrew Bible itself states. A discussion of original sin and what Judaism believes about it would demand a treatise.

I may be mistaken, but the Catholic Church has not officially declared whether a blood sacrifice was the only means of atonement. Anselm of Canterbury argued that the sacrifice at Calvary was the only means, whereas Thomas Aquinas argued it was the ideal means.

I winced at that one too! :wink:
I would have said immeasurable but not infinite.
The atonement of Jesus was infinite and therefore immeasurably greater than the sin of man, hence its effectiveness and the overflowing sanctifying grace that was won in addition to the atonement itself.

Man, meaning humankind, has no means for atoning himself for sin, due to the nature of sin against the Divine Person. However, in the Old Covenant, a sacrifice was a foreshadowing of the coming of the New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus Christ. Because of that, it had a certain efficacy, though far from pleasing to God, as the OT prophets have informed us.

But in the New Covenant, Jesus has ordained that even OUR sacrifice can be joined with His Perfect and Holy One, in what Catholics believe occurs as a re-presentation of the One , Holy and Perfect Sacrifice of our High Priest Jesus Christ on Calvary in the Mass.

I meant infinite. Sin carries a guilt of infinite measure against God which for man is impossible to pay. Even a completely sinless man cannot atone because even such a man is finite.

The gravity of a sin increases with the dignity of the one offended. If I hit my neighbor I will probably get fined or a few days in jail. If I hit the President of the United States I will probably get shot.

All sin is an infinte offense against the infinitely good God which is why a divine Person had to atone for it.

The problem is (for me) that infinite can be overused to the point where it essentially has no meaning. Like Buzz Lightyear’s motto “to infinity and beyond!!”

Example: I owe Bill Gates 5 Billion dollars because I lost a bet with him. For me it may as well be infinite, as I would have trouble paying him 5 hundred dollars. For Bill Gates it is puny and hardly infinite. Not an example of sin, but rather the use of the word infinite.

IOW, I don’t object to your use of the word infinite, I wince. :wink: :smiley:

Infinite is a technical term with regards to God. 5 billion is a lot but regardless of what that is to you or me, it is still finite. Another rich man can pay it for me and then forgive me the debt.

Any sin is against the infinite dignity of God and therefore carries an infinite guilt. It cannot be atoned for by any mere creature, even if that creature were perfectly sinless. Hence the need for the Incarnation.

Infinite is important because that is what God is. It’s not a misuse of the term, it is a precise one.

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