Christology – A Study of the Doctrine of God the Son.
It is a false assumption that Christians are making a “God” out of the prophet Jesus of Nazareth. As Christian scholars study the Bible and systematize into logical order all that the Scriptures (which, as we have already established in an earlier lesson, are inspired by God) teach about Jesus Christ, they can come honestly to no other conclusion than that the Bible portrays Jesus as Diety.
“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.’” – John 14:8-10
I. The Diety of Christ – Jesus is fully God.
- Logical implications from the Trinity:
- God is eternal (Psa. 92:2; Jude 25).
- Jesus is eternal.
- Jesus is God (i.e. Deity).
- His pre-existence (Eternality) – Scriptural support:
- Micah 5:2 – Messiah is “from of old”.
- 9:6 – Messiah is “eternal Father.’
- John 1:1-14 – The Word was “in the beginning”; “the Word was God”; “the Word was made flesh”.
- John 8:56-58 – Jesus was “before Abraham”.
- John 17:5 – Jesus had glory “before the world began”.
- 2:6-7 – He existed “in the form of God”.
- 1:17 – He was “before all things”.
- His pre-incarnate work:
- In Creation (John. 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).
- As Sustainer of Creation (Col. 1:17).
- As the ‘Angel of the LORD’ (The Angel of the LORD is God – Gen. 16:3; yet distinct from God – Gen. 24:7).
- He possesses the attributes of Deity:
- Unconditional love (1 John 4:8; John 15:13).
- Omniscience (Matt. 16:21; Luke 6:8; John 2:24; 6:64; 21:17).
- Omnipresence (Matt. 18:20; 28:20; John 3:13).
- Omnipotence (Matt. 28:20; Mark 5:11-25).
- Eternality (See ‘Pre-existence’).
- All the attributes of Deity (Col. 2:9).
- He does all the works of Deity:
- Creation (John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).
- Preservation (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3).
- Forgiveness (Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:24).
- Resurrection (John 5:21; 11:43).
- Jesus possesses the titles of Deity:
- Son of God (Mark 1:1; John 10:36).
- Son of Man (Dan. 7:13; Mark 2:10 et al).
- “I AM” [YHWH] (John 8:58; Mark 14:61-62; Luke 1:76 compare w/ Mal. 3:10).
- God (John 1:1; 20:28; Heb. 1:8).
- Direct claims of Christ’s Deity in the New Testament:
- By Jesus (Luke 1:76; John 8:58 et al).
- By Apostles (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:19; 2:9; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8).
II. The incarnation of Christ – Jesus is fully Man.
- Kenosis – Phil. 2:5-11 “He emptied Himself”.
A) Old Testament predictions:
- Micah 5:2
B) New Testament fulfillment and evidence of His humanity:
- Virgin Birth (Matt 1:23).
2. Humanity of Christ:
- Human Body (1 Jn. 1:1).
- Hunger (Matt. 4:2).
- Thirst (John 19:28).
- Exhaustion (John 4:6).
- Death (1 Cor. 15:3-8).
- Emotions (John 13:23; 11:35; 15:11; Mark 10:14).
3. Purpose of the incarnation.
- Reveal God to Man (John 1:18; 14:7-11).
- Provide an Example (1 Pet. 2:21).
- Provide a Perfect Sacrifice (Lev.22:21; Heb. 10:11-12).
- Overcome Satan (1 Jn. 3:8).
- Overcome Death (1 Cor. 15:20-26).
III. The impeccability of Christ.
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15
- ‘Impeccable’ refers to something or someone without error or one who is spotless or clean. The word comes from the Latin ‘impeccabilis’ and means “to be sinless”.
- Theologians have debated for centuries whether Christ was “not able to sin”, or, “able not to sin”.
IV. The ‘hypostatic union’ – the union of the two natures of Christ.
- Hypostatic union (from the Greek: ὑπόστασις hypóstasis, “sediment, foundation, substance, subsistence”) is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of Christ’s humanity and divinity in one hypostasis, or individual existence.
- Christ is fully God and fully man united in one person forever.
- The Nicean Creed (AD 381) states the following concerning the doctrine of the ‘hypostatic union’:
“I believe in… one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the virgin, Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into Heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end…”
- Theological errors concerning the two natures of Christ:
- Ebionitism – This error was prevalent during the first century of the Christian Church. It denied the deity of Christ. It stated that Christ had a relationship with God after His baptism.
- Corinthianism – This was most popular during the days of the Apostle John. According to this error, Christ possessed no deity until He was baptized.
- Docetism – This error found its way into the Church during the latter part of the second century. It maintained that Christ did not possess a human body. He had a body, He had a celestial body. Thus Docetism denied Christ’s humanity. Such error is the “spirit of anti-Christ” (I John 4:1-3).
- Arianism – This error denied the divine nature of Christ. Arianism maintained that there was a time when the Son never existed, that God lived and then begat His Son after Him. Thus it denied Christ’s pre-existence.
- Apollinarianisin – This error maintained that Christ possessed an incomplete human body. The Apollinarians reasoned: sin is sown in the soul of all men; God had no sin; therefore Christ had no soul; therefore He had an incomplete body.
- Nestorianism – Nestorians took the two natures of Christ and made two persons out of them. That is, God came and dwelt in a perfect man; therefore God was in Christ, instead of Christ being God.
- Eutychianism – The Eutychians took the two natures of Christ and ran them together and made one new nature.
- Monothelitism – This error consisted of the belief that Christ had two natures, but only one will.
- Unitarianism – The Unitarians deny the Trinity. Thus they deny the deity of Christ altogether.
- Christian Science – This belief is a denial of the humanity of Christ.
- Millennial Dawnism – This belief denies the personal existence of our Lord Jesus Christ.
V. The purpose and ministry of Christ.
- Christ came to:
- Reveal the Father (John 1:14,18; Heb. 1:1-4).
- Offer His life a sufficient sacrifice for sinners (Eph. 1:7-12).
- His specific ministry to believers:
- Prophet – reveal God to Man (Acts 3:22-23; John 1:18; Heb. 1:1-2).
- Priest – bring Man to God (Heb. 5:1, 6-10, 20; 7:1-8:13; 10:12).
- King – establish the kingdom of God (Matt. 22:41-46; Luke 1:31-33; Rev. 1:5; 19:16; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:15-23).
- Propitiation – make payment for sin (1 Jn. 2:2).
- Redemption – purchase back a fallen race (1 Pet. 1:18; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:7 – Note: The New Testament teaches that Christ’s sacrifice was ‘sufficient’ for “the whole world” 1 Jn. 2:2, but only ‘efficient’ for those who believe, i.e. the “elect”).
- Reconciliation – restore the believer’s relationship with God (2 Cor. 5:18-21).
- Justification – sinners who believe are declared righteous, i.e. the “righteousness of Christ” is imputed to them (Rom. 3:24; Gal. 3:24 et al).
- Adoption – made members of God’s family (Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:3-12).
VI. The Gospel of Christ.
A) The word ‘gospel’ is derived from an archaic old English word ‘god-spel’, which meant “God’s news” or “good news”, and was a translation of the Greek word ‘euangélion’, which meant a “good declaration” or “good announcement”.
B) In its Biblical context, it refers to the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation resulting from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
2. The Apostle Paul gives this explanation of what ‘the Gospel’ is in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8,
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
A) A breakdown of Paul’s definition of ‘the Gospel’ is as follows –
- “Christ died for our sins” (His death on the cross was substitutionary and atoning).
- “He was buried” (Christ actually suffered the sentence of ‘death’ on our behalf).
- “He rose again the third day” (His bodily resurrection from the grave confirmed God’s acceptance of His sustitutionary sacrifice).
- “according to the Scriptures” (His death, burial and resurrection fulfilled Biblical prophecy – the promise of redemption).
- “and that He was seen” (There were eye-witnesses of these events, who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recorded what they saw and heard in the New Testament Scriptures).
B) Proofs of the Resurrection:
- The empty tomb, which had been secured with a Roman Guard and seal (Matthew 27:64-66 & 28:1-8).
- The undisturbed grave clothes (John 20:5-7).
- The appearances of Christ to eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).
- The transformation of the disciples, especially Peter, from cowardice to boldness (Matthew 26:73-75; Mark 14:69-72; Acts 2:14 & 38-39).
- The birth of the Christian Church (Matthew 16:13-18; Acts 2).
- The writing of the New Testament (John 20:30-31).
- The universality of the Christian experience throughout the centuries (Revelation 7:9-10).
VII. His Second Advent.
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” – 1 Corinthians 15:24
- The life of Jesus as recorded in the Four Gospels is referred to in Theology as His ‘First Advent’.
- Jesus promised to come again to consummate God’s kingdom, judge the world and deliver the kingdom up to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24; John 14:3; Acts 1:6-7). This is referred to in Theology as His ‘Second Advent’.
We will study more about this under the topic of ‘Eschatology – The Doctrine of Last Things’.